One man or woman outside the will of God can be a menace to themselves and to everyone else. A case in point: Jonah. The Lord had told Jonah to go and preach to Nineveh, and Jonah said no. Then he boarded a boat going in the opposite direction. A storm came, and the boat was shaking and tossing back and forth in the sea. Everyone was affected because of Jonah, and they figured out that he was the problem. He told the men, "Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you. For I know that this great tempest is because of me" (Jonah 1:12). So off Jonah went, and the storm stopped.
As believers, we are interconnected. The sin of one will affect many. That is why the apostle Paul said the church should never tolerate evil. He said, "And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it" (1 Corinthians 12:26).
The story of the Israelites' victory over Jericho is of the greatest stories ever told. But after Jericho came Ai. It was a small city compared to Jericho, which was lying in smoldering ruins. The Israelites apparently thought they could have essentially done this one in their sleep. They didn't even need the whole Israeli army, they reasoned—just a few thousand. This argument was based on the supposition that Israel had captured Jericho.
I remember when I was a child and we would drive by Disneyland on the freeway. I would look up at the Matterhorn jutting out above the park, and I remember making a vow: "When I become an adult, I will go to Disneyland every single day!"
Have you ever noticed that Jesus never really healed people in exactly the same way? Sometimes He would touch a person, and sometimes a person would touch Him. At other times He would speak the word, and they would be healed.
Have you ever been talking with someone who wasn't paying attention? Or to put it another way, have you ever been talking with someone who was texting? You're saying, "And so I said this—are you listening to me?"
How was Jesus known when He walked this earth? He was known as "the friend of sinners." We might think that sounds like a compliment now, but it wasn't meant as a compliment then.
In the song, "Positively Fourth Street," Bob Dylan sings, "I wish that for just one time, you could stand inside my shoes. You'd know what a drag it is to see you."
God wants us to be constantly reassured that He will keep us. We need this reassurance in such an evil and uncertain world because we worry about safety and security for ourselves and our families. And sometimes believers even wonder about their personal salvation. Even mature believers may have times of doubt when they wonder whether they are saved.
We use the word bless a lot. It's an apropos response to someone who is sneezing, or we might use it to end a conversation: "Well, it's really good to see you! God bless!" And sometimes we may hear someone who has no interest in Jesus Christ say this or that is a blessing. But they don't even know what the word really means.
Believers and nonbelievers both die. Believers as well as nonbelievers get cancer, have auto accidents, have heart attacks. But, as believers, we have the promise that we will go straight into the presence of God at death.
We may look at the life of Moses in the Scriptures and say, "I wish I could have been Moses. I wish I could have a friendship with God like he had."
When Jesus laid out for His disciples what it really meant to follow Him, many of His so-called disciples left. Then Jesus turned to Peter and the others and said, "Are you also going to leave?" (John 6:67).
My youngest granddaughter, Allie (short for Alexandra), has a little rabbit that her older sister, Rylie, named Fuzzie.
I find it amazing that Moses negotiated with God and got away with it. But he wasn't the only one. Another man who negotiated with God was Abraham, and he was called the friend of God.
Israel committed a great sin. They knew better. They were God's chosen, covenant people. They had seen his power demonstrated time and time again. They saw the Red Sea parted as they passed through, and they saw it close on the pursuing Egyptian army. They saw manna provided every morning. They saw God's fire by night and His cloud by day. They saw miracle after miracle. They made a promise to obey God on three separate occasions. Much had been given to Israel, and much was expected from Israel.
Are some sins greater, or worse, than others? Our knee-jerk reaction might be that all sin is the same. But actually that is not true. All sin is not the same. According to the Scriptures, some sins are more offensive to God than other sins are.
Maybe you have had some serious setbacks in life. As a child, you were mistreated, neglected, abused, or even forgotten. You, like so many kids today, were just left to yourself. Maybe people haven't given you much hope; you've been written off by your parents and teachers.
A jeweler will display a ring or a fine piece of jewelry against a dark backdrop so that our eyes are automatically drawn to it. And that is what Noah was like against the dark backdrop of wickedness in his day. He was a rare jewel, a radiant light in a very dark place. The Bible tells us that "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord" (Genesis 6:8), which means that God extended grace toward him.
Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. (Jude 1:11)
A number of years ago I read an interesting book called Death in the Long Grass. Its author, a big-game hunter, recounts stories of not only hunting lions, but also of lions hunting people.
The film Les Misérables, adapted from Victor Hugo's book by the same name, is the story of Jean Valjean, who was sent to prison for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his family.
There is so much stealing in our culture today that we have almost become accustomed to it. In fact, I read about a study that was done on stealing in which people were asked why they didn't steal. The number one reason given by those polled was the fear of getting caught. The next most common reason was concern that the other person might try to get even. The third most-cited reason was that the item might not be needed. What apparently didn't occur to anyone was the fact that stealing is a sin.
Many of us would never murder a person, but we may wish someone were dead. Have you ever hated anyone? Let me rephrase the question: Have you ever driven on a freeway anywhere in Southern California?
Alexis de Tocqueville, a French political thinker and historian wrote a book entitled Democracy in America. This book was published after his extensive travels in our country when it was still young.