After Ehud died, the Israelites once again did evil in the eyes of the LORD. So the LORD sold them into the hands of Jabin, a king of Canaan,… Judges 4:1-2 (NIV, my emphasis)

For the most part of my ‘early’ Christian years, I read the New Testament. I’ve never been a history buff and, generally, I am not a person who looks back. I look forward and anticipate what is to come…not what has been. So the Old Testament has never held much an appeal. But there is something to be learned from history…so that I don’t repeat it!!!

It is not always ‘fun’ to talk about consequences of our actions. No child wants to be disciplined. If a child doesn’t do their homework and as a consequence is not allowed to go to a football game on Friday night THAT is not fun! However, as much as we may not want to study this passage, learning about consequences when we want to grow spiritually means that we recognize that there is a need to mature; to GROW UP! God, our very loving Father, wants us to grow up. He does it with His never-ending love AND with consequences when we choose not to be obedient. The Israelites had been given many chances to make choices and they continued to want it their way!

I admit that I have also tried to convince myself that I do not always know what God really wants me to do. Yes I do. It’s not as complicated as I try to make it. Jesus said to love God, love my neighbor, and love myself. Everything else is connected to those two simple commands. Paul said to think about those things that are noble, right, pure, lovely, excellent, admirable, and praiseworthy. (Philippians 4:8) He also said that if I what I am doing produces “fruit” like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control – then I am living my life with God’s Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23) These are good “tests” to know the “good” and “avoid every…evil”. (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22) Paul also said that he, too, knew what he was supposed to do but that he struggled not to do what he knew he shouldn’t. (Romans 7:15) Paul knew that if he just stopped trying to be so right by his own strength and in his own pride and got weak and humble – God would show forth His strength and Paul would follow God’s way.

I’ve shared the story often about my oldest son, John, when he was just a toddler. He was playing on the kitchen floor while I was cooking one day. I had something baking in the oven and John continued to want to touch the oven door. I told him “NO!” in a stern voice but he tried again. I slapped his little hand and said “NO!” once more. I turned to the sink and saw him move toward the stove once more. I knew if he touched the oven he would hurt his fingers but it wouldn’t cause a third-degree burn…so I didn’t stop him the third time. Of course he cried and looked at me with such reproach like “Mama, how could you let me do that?!!” I gathered him up and stuck his fingers in a cold ice bath and rocked him, probably gave him a sippee cup of juice until all his tears were dry. And my tears, too. I hated he had to hurt but he learned a consequence then would help him to grow and learn that there are consequences to disobedience.

Our Lord is so loving and so perfect as my Father. He wants me to grow up and grow closer to Him. He would rather that I grow through love but He is willing to use consequences so that I can become ALL that He has created me to be!

But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him.

He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.

It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.

It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NIV)

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