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MondayTamar… Genesis 38

Tamar wondered what was wrong with her husband-selecting skills. Husband #1 was wicked, so God killed him. She married his brother, but he was a jerk and God killed him too. Her bio clock was ticking loudly when Tamar and her father-in-law Judah turned eyes on the youngest brother. Since he was just a kid, Judah advised Tamar to go back to her father’s household and wait for the little guy to grow up. (That’s how they did it back then). But Tamar’s hubby-track-record made Judah nervous, so when it came time for little brother to marry, his dad picked a safer bride. When word came through the grapevine that her double-crossing father-in-law had married off little brother and bypassed her altogether, bitterness set in. Tamar disguised herself as a prostitute and seduced her father-in-law. Only when she revealed that she was pregnant with twins did he discover who he’d slept with. Talk about a shock! Tamar got her babies and her revenge, but at great cost to herself and her family.

When bitterness sets in, minds close, hearts harden, and we say and do things we never imagined we would. Bitterness is staircase that leads downward to broken dreams, broken relationships, and broken fellowship with God. But God promises to redeem even our worst mistakes when we trust Him with them. He can turn bitterness into praise, hurt into joy. Despite the fact that Tamar’s son Perez was conceived in disgrace, God chose him to be a great-great-granddaddy of Jesus Christ.

Final Thought: What has bitterness cost you? God will redeem it if you let go and trust Him with it.

Prayer: Father, I’ve been bitter many times. I hold on to hurt. But it’s making me into someone I don’t want to be. It’s destroying my relationships and my joy. I forgive those who wronged me and surrender this bitterness. In Jesus’ name, amen.


Tuesday Rahab…  Joshua 2, 6

Rahab made her living in the red-light district of Jericho, a pagan city filled with idol worship and evil of every sort. God commanded Moses’ successor, Joshua, to destroy it. So Joshua sent spies in and they would have been caught and killed if Rahab had not hidden them. She had heard of Israel’s God, and she begged the spies to spare her family when Israel moved in. They agreed and when Jericho fell, Rahab and her family joined the Israelite community where they learned to worship the one true God. Because of her heart change, Rahab was accepted into their company and even married an Israelite man.

God included people like Rahab in Jesus’ lineage to prove to us that no one is too sinful, too broken, or too late to be used by God. Rahab is a perfect example of the kinds of people Jesus came to save. Her past ceased to matter when she repented and turned toward God. His grace transformed a woman of the night into a woman of virtue. He further honored her by choosing her to be in the line of Christ. Her son, Boaz, became the great-grandfather of King David. God loves to honor those who honor Him (Prov. 8:17). He blesses those who bless Him. Only God can make a filthy heart clean. And only He can transform a tattered past into a promising future. When Rahab repented, God blessed her legacy. He’ll do that for you too.

Final Thought: If you fear that you or someone you love is too broken for God to use, Rahab’s story should encourage you.

Prayer: Father, I give up on people too easily. I’ve even given up on myself at times. Thank you that you are a story-changing God. You changed Rahab’s immoral story and made her virtuous. Please change my story too. In Jesus’ name, amen.


Wednesday Ruth  Book of Ruth

Some people love being single. They enjoy their freedom and the ability to go wherever God sends them without worrying about a spouse. The apostle Paul preferred singleness and encouraged others to see it as a way to avoid trouble and follow God without distraction (1 Cor. 7:32-35). But others feel the sting of loneliness and wonder what is taking Miss/Mr. McDreamy so long to show up. Sadly, many get tired of waiting on God and try to meet their needs in unwise and ungodly ways. But before there was Match.com or Tinder, there was the book of Ruth. Ruth’s story should encourage frustrated singles.

Ruth’s husband had died and there were no likely prospects on the horizon. Her mother-in-law, Naomi, was a Jew and decided to move back to Israel. Rather than remain in her own homeland of Moab, Ruth went with her. A widow, a foreigner, and the sole caretaker for an elderly mother-in-law, Ruth could have drowned in self-pity or pursued self-interest. Instead, she devoted herself to helping Naomi. Her beautiful spirit caught the admiration of one of Israel’s most eligible bachelors—the dashing Boaz. Naomi shared some expert flirting tips with her daughter-in-law and after a whirlwind romance, Ruth and Boaz married. Ruth, the outsider, became the great-grandmother of Israel’s King David and eventually an ancestor of Jesus Christ. Ruth speaks from the pages of history to encourage single women: “Wait for your Boaz!” And Boaz advises: “Look for a Ruth!”

Final Thought: God’s best often arrives while we’re busy doing the work He’s given us to do. What work has He given you?

Prayer: Father, I get impatient waiting, so I take matters into my own hands and end up with a mess. Help me devote myself to doing the work you’ve given me to do so that when your best comes along, I’ll be in place to receive it. In Jesus’ name, amen.


Thursday Bathsheba…   2 Samuel 11-12

Imagine your name forever linked with public scandal. Bathsheba knew how that felt. It didn’t matter how many wonderful things she did after that fateful bubble bath on the roof. It didn’t matter that she may not have known she was being ogled or that she didn’t feel she had a choice when David summoned her. No matter how she may have tried to defend herself or clear her name, one huge mistake defined her from then on. Because of that mistake, her name became synonymous with immorality and she would be forever remembered as the woman who got beloved King David into hot water with God.

Maybe you’ve had a label plastered across your reputation. No matter what good things you may do, there are pockets of people who will forever think of you the way you used to be. And that knowledge brings shame. Sometimes our choices have lifelong repercussions, but that does not mean God has turned away from us. It was God who sent Nathan the prophet to confront David about his sin. It was God who brought consequences for that sin—the death of their infant son. Bathsheba had to suffer those consequences along with David but Psalm 51 is David’s cry of repentance. It reminds us that God forgives and restores when we turn from our sin. Then…God gave them another son named Solomon. This son would grow up to become the wealthiest, wisest king who ever lived. God chose a woman with a disgraced name to be part of His plan.

Final Thought: What negative labels have been plastered across your name? God is in the repent-and-restore business.

Prayer: Father, you know the mistakes I’ve made that have left scars on my soul. I have carried labels, if only to myself. But if you can redeem Bathsheba’s story, you can redeem mine. I repent. Please restore me. In Jesus’ name, amen.


Friday Mary…   Luke 1-2

A pregnant teenager, a wild story that no one believed, and a bewildered fiancé. There was nothing unique about Mary’s situation to all who knew her. So why was this unplanned pregnancy any different from a million others? Some people argue that it wasn’t. They claim that the idea of Jesus’s virgin birth was fabricated years later. However, those who assert that haven’t flipped a few pages back in their Bibles to the prophecies given hundreds of years earlier that describe the coming Messiah. He would be: born of a virgin (Is.7:14), born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), flee to Egypt (Hosea 11:1), and survive infanticide (Jer. 31:15).

Mary’s role in all this was surprisingly small. Perhaps one reason God chose her was that she was willing to stay in the shadows, obey no matter what, and endure the heartache that would be her lot as mother of the Messiah. Mothers often find it difficult to stay a safe distance from an adult child’s life. They want to protect, advise, lecture, and make certain nothing bad happens to them. But we learn from Mary how to surrender ourselves and our children to the plan of God. Even when it means that we or our children will suffer, we can entrust our families into the hands of the Creator as He works in their lives.

Final Thought: Are you clinging too tightly to your children, your parents, or close friends? It’s time to let go and trust.

Prayer: Father, I cling tightly to the ones I love, fearful that something might happen. But you love them more than I do. You created them, I didn’t. They are yours. Use them as you see fit for your glory and praise. In Jesus’ name, amen.