Broken People, Faithful God
Day 1: On Sunday, Cory continued our journey through Judges by recapping the mess the people of Israel were in when they stopped following God after the death of Joshua’s generation. It’s indeed easier to serve God when strong leaders like parents, pastors or Christian mentors are present in our lives. Yet God wants us to have a direct, independent relationship with Him. Think of your own life. Did you follow God while growing up in a Christian family only to “walk away” when you left home? Do you follow God around your believing friends, but not when alone or around unbelieving friends? If we serve God from a concern to please others, we are not truly serving Him. He wants a direct relationship with each of us individually so no matter where we are or who we are with we will respond to life’s circumstances through His eyes. As we did last week, continue to pray for the Holy Spirit to uncover areas in your life where peers and other worldly pressures have seeped in to take your eyes off Jesus.
Day 2: Throughout the book of Judges, the people choose to reject God. Seven times they fail to obey God’s command and choose other idols offered up by the culture. And as we see in Judges chapters 2 & 3, sinning against God has its consequences! No one gets away with it. They defy God by making alliances and treaties with those He says to drive out of their land. They even marry the people of Canaan thinking they’ll be able to worship God unimpeded by their defiant choices. Their “I am an exception to the rule” attitude leads to punishment and oppression. Where are you believing this narrative in your life? Do you believe you’ll abruptly alter course from a worldly choice before it negatively affects you or those you love? We can say things like, “I can manage (fill in the blank)”. We can often tell ourselves these lies, and the culture we live in reinforces them constantly. Ask a friend or family member (parent, child, sibling) who is pursuing Christ if they see any influences from the culture that you may have failed to recognize?
Day 3: We were reminded on Sunday, man’s defiance and “getting what they deserved” could have been the end of this story. After all, the Israelites got what they wanted – freedom from God’s laws and covenant – which led to consequences by removing His protection. But instead, God raised up rescuers (Judges) to save the Israelites from their attackers. Read Judges 2:18-21; 3:7-11 and 3:12-15 for examples of the continual cycle of man sinning and God rescuing. As you read these verses, note how each time God extends his mercy BEFORE repentance. How does this change your view of God’s mercy? Do we have to first get our act together, our mess cleaned up, before He will reach out in love? While the choice to sin results in punishment, God steps in with mercy and grace instead of wrath and judgment as soon as we cry out. Even before we admit or commit to changing our sinful ways, He acts. Reflect on specific examples where God has shared mercy and grace in your life.
Day 4: The cycle of rescue we see in Judges is a message of hope for us today. No matter how far we have walked away from God, as we turn back toward Him in true repentance, He will grant rescue. However, rescue is not necessarily a relief from the hardship we face from our sin. For example, a rescue from irresponsible spending does not make the debt disappear. But by bringing our sin of overspending out of darkness and into the light of God’s path, we no longer add to its strength. We are still in debt, but no longer under its power to destroy us. What are the places in your life in need of God’s rescue? What next steps can you take to invite God’s guidance, mercy, forgiveness and grace into these places?
Day 5: Read out loud: Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regrets, but worldly sorrow leads to death. 2 Cor 7:10 The godly response leads to spiritual formation and transformational change. While worldly sorrow reflects a sadness on the effects of someone’s sin and being caught. Compare Peter’s remorse with that of Judas. Both disowned Jesus but one repented and was restored to faith and service while the other’s sin led to his death. Revisit Travis’ question from last week: what areas of your life are you failing to drive out because you’re more familiar with the practices of our culture than the commands of God? Pray for repentance with godly sorrow and write down your thoughts in a journal.