Introduction: Some of us can look back over our lives and the lives of our loved ones and see how we have patterns of getting into some types of trouble over and over again. We are tempted to say to ourselves, “Here we go again.” This discussions centers around how, “We should be mindful of our sins, God’s punishment, and our crying to the Lord.”
1. God determines what is good and what is evil. Notice in vs. 1 that the Israelites did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord. In America, we have three branches of government – legislative, executive, and judicial.
Our government is by the people and for the people. However, God is not restricted or obligated to abide by the products of our democracy. God makes His own laws, executes His own initiatives, and judges what is good and evil without our elections or votes.
We may be surprised when God walks into His courtroom and revisit and perhaps overturn some of the things that we, as a society, have decided on and consider closed cases.
Think about God’s judgment on abortion, sexual immorality, oppressing the weak, breaking laws, and putting profit and pleasure above the harm being caused to people (e.g., gambling, tabaco, sugar, etc.).
Let’s live like we believe that God is the ultimate judge. This calls for abiding by what God says more than by what people say, especially when God and the people are saying two different things.
2. Be like wheat, not weeds. Notice in Matthew 13:36-43 that some people are like wheat and others like weeds. There will be a day of separating the weeds for burning and the wheat for harvesting.
Let’s make sure that we are like the wheat. This calls for prayerfully studying and obeying God’s word with the support of other disciples.
3. Our obedience should be tied to God, not people. Notice in Judges 4:1 that the Israelites seem to have drifted from obeying the Lord, when Ehud died.
Some people seem to drift, when respected people die today. Think about those who drift from the church and the Lord, when a beloved Pastor, mama or dad, or spouse dies.
On one hand, it is good to have respected people who help us understand and live by God’s word. But on the other hand, each one of us should have a personal relationship with the Lord that is strong with or without the people of this world.
Psalm 90:1-2 reminds us that the Lord is our dwelling place from everlasting to everlasting. Let’s live like we have independent relationships with the Lord. This means obeying God, no matter who dies, leaves, or falls by the way side.
4. We should strive to avoid God’s punishment. Notice that Hebrews 12:6 teaches that God punishes sin. God can send pain (e.g., mental anguish, sickness, financial woes, relational drama, and more).
God can withhold goodness (e.g., the peace and joy that we crave, the health and wealth that we pray for, the harmony and joy that we like to have among our loved ones, etc.).
Let’s stop and turn from our sins before God sends the pain. Our lives are challenging enough without God sending His punishment.
5. Don’t waste anymore time. Notice in Judges 4:3 that the Israelites cried to the Lord, after 20 years of pain. The difference between 20 years and 20 minutes of pain is how long it will take for us to repent and turn to God.
Matthew 23:37-39 teaches that God wanted to bless Jerusalem, but Jerusalem was not willing. So they laid desolate until they demonstrated appreciation for what God was doing and through whom God was doing it.
If you or we are experiencing punishment, the best thing for us to do is to turn back to God immediately. We don’t have to experience 20 years of pain in our mindsets, health, wealth, relationships, nor our churches. God is willing to acceptance our repentance, now (see I Jn 1:8-9). Let’s repent immediately, instead of wasting more time in a season of punishment.
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