Could have been different.

How different things would have been if God’s people had been faithful to Him. He set before them the way of life and the way of death (21:8; Deut. 30:15,19). He told them to choose which they would have. He spoke to them of incredible blessings if they would obey His voice, and warned them of terrible curses for rebellion (see Deut. 28).

Jeremiah 50:4 In those days and in that time, says the Lord, The children of Israel shall come, They and the children of Judah together; With continual weeping they shall come, And seek the Lord their God.5 They shall ask the way to Zion, With their faces toward it, saying, Come and let us join ourselves to the Lord In a perpetual covenant That will not be forgotten.6 My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray; They have turned them away on the mountains. They have gone from mountain to hill; They have forgotten their resting place.7 All who found them have devoured them; And their adversaries said, We have not offended, Because they have sinned against the Lord, the habitation of justice, The Lord, the hope of their fathers.

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Trying to make ourselves more acceptable.

In our presentation of the gospel, many of us are guilty of diminishing the significance of biblical words, such as “repentance,” “hell,” “Judgment Day,” and “sin.” Perhaps we downplay these words because we fear persecution and are trying to make ourselves more acceptable to the unsaved.

Jeremiah 26:2 Thus says the Lord: Stand in the court of the Lords house, and speak to all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the Lords house, all the words that I command you to speak to them. Do not diminish a word.

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“Why is there pain and suffering?”

“In one-on-one witnessing encounters, a common question asked is, ‘Why is there pain and suffering?’ If you have your Bible with you at the time, open to Isaiah 24:5-6, and have the person you’re talking with read it aloud. When he finishes reading, explain that the Bible tells us that because human beings have broken God’s holy Laws, the entire earth is suffering under a curse. You can then redirect the conversation by asking him how many of God’s Laws he thinks he has personally broken.” Anna Jackson

Isaiah 24:5 The earth is also defiled under its inhabitants, Because they have transgressed the laws, Changed the ordinance, Broken the everlasting covenant.6 Therefore the curse has devoured the earth, And those who dwell in it are desolate. Therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, And few men are left.

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Fear God.

To those who fear God, Jesus Christ is the Rock of Salvation, the chief cornerstone upon which everything else is built. But to the proud, He is a rock of offense, a stumbling stone. Truly, blessed are all those who are not offended in Him.

Isaiah 8:14 He will be as a sanctuary, But a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense To both the houses of Israel, As a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

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Joy unspeakable.

Joy in the Bible is the means by which we are sustained in suffering…and joy is that for which suffering is preparing us.” John Piper 

“For the Christian, joy is not the absence of suffering and adversity, but the nearness of God in our adversity.” Bob Deffinbaugh 

1 Peter 4:13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christs sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.

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The steering wheel!

In the late 1980s, TV commercials in the U.S. asked, “What goes through the mind of a driver who is not wearing a seat belt in a head-on collision?” Then they showed a crash dummy having its head crushed by a steering wheel in a collision, and said, “The steering wheel!” Those were scare tactics, but no one complained because they were legitimate scare tactics. We should fear what happens in a head-on collision if we are foolish enough to not put on a seat belt.

Fear itself is not a bad thing. Fear stops us from stepping off a 500-foot cliff. It keeps us away from fire. It holds us back from sticking a fork into a live power outlet. These types of fear are self-preserving, but the ultimate self-preserving fear is the fear of the Lord. That fear is called “the beginning of wisdom,” and because of it, the Bible says men “depart from sin.”

To warn of hell is fearful, but it is absolutely legitimate, because the Bible says that it is a fearful thing for a sinner to fall into the hands of the living God.

Hebrews 10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

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A world of nice people.

“A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world—and might even be more difficult to save.”  C. S. Lewis 

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