• 2 Kings 23:26-27

I have watched the transition. You probably have seen it too. The person without children expressing all sorts of opinions on the “horrid” behavior of children and how they would expertly make sure that never happened with their kids becomes the parent of the child with the exact same “horrifying” behavior. Whether “horrifying” is an accurate description or an exaggeration of a normal child pattern is not the point. The truth of the matter is, things are different with your own children.

These two brief verses in 2 Kings show the provocation of God. Revealing the inner heart of He with whom we are in covenant, it highlights how much I do not want to be the one poking a stick at the Man Upstairs. Yes, I am sealed by His Spirit and covered by Jesus’ sacrifice. Yes, I am forgiven, redeemed, and justified. Yes, He continues to sanctify me as I work out my own salvation by the power of the Holy Spirit. All of this is true.

And in the midst of it all, am I still poking Him with a pointing stick? Given His grace and His mercy, I still do the things I know I should not do. Though He will not cut me out of the kingdom, and He is not disappointed with me, am I respecting Him? Fearing Him for His almightiness? Given a stick of bad behaviors, do I take it and poke Him? Or do I throw it away so it had nothing to do with me?

As our Heavenly Father, His approach to His children will differ. Provocation will not result in being forsaken, but it can, and most often does, result in discipline. Not because He cannot or will not control the feelings of provocation, but because He knows we will not do well in the stick-poking behavior. We will, eventually, self-destruct and in order to protect us, He will use discipline.

Taking a moment, review your past few days. We will never be perfect this side of heaven, but if you had to summarize the past few days, are they more characteristic of obedience or provocation? Prayerfully ask Him where He would have you to go from here.

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