Devotional Thought for Today – 02/22/2021

Christian, let God’s distinguishing love to you be a motive to you to fear Him greatly. He has put His fear in your heart, and may not have given that blessing to your neighbor, perhaps not to your husband, your wife, your child, or your parent. Oh, what an obligation should this thought lay upon your heart to greatly fear the Lord! Remember also that this fear of the Lord is His treasure, a choice jewel, given only to favorites, and to those who are greatly beloved. —John Bunyan

18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love 1 John 4:18

1 John 4

Some of you who have followed my posts for a while may remember me saying the 1 John is my favorite book of the bible.  That is because of 1 John 1:3-4 One of the key verses (at least for me) in understanding fellowship with God and other believers. You can read a little about it in Part V of my series called Biblical Contentment.

Today, however, John is speaking on one main theme with two applications. The theme is LOVE, and he says to apply it by testing all the spirits v.1-6, that is be sure of all who claim to speak in Christ’s name for they may act all-loving and such but can be the devil in lamb’s clothing. Secondly, v.7-21, God is Love so we are to Love as God loves us.

Our text found towards the end of this part in the meat of the application v.11-19,  Beloved if God so loved us…because he first loved us. John in v.17 mentions that this Love is made perfect in us through the union with Christ. That this union makes our eternal status secure. 

Thus our text, There is no fear in love; a perfect union with Christ leaves no room for fear of our eternal state because but perfect love casteth out fear: Why because fear hath torment yet a TRUE BELIEVER has been fully and completely forgiven of their sins, and has nothing to fear. It is only the fake, the lukewarm, the Laodicean who wants to live in both worlds that have to fear because He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 

Is your relationship with God complete, or maybe better put mature today? Do you still have doubts or fears about your eternal state? We can daily FEAR GOD, that is as Bunyan said,  fear of the Lord is His treasure be in awe of His majesty, to have reverence for His mercy and thankfulness for His Grace. All the while not Fearing God’s judgment or wrath. 


Heavenly Father, I pray that I would let the words of truth found in 1 John 4:18 settle in my heart. There are times in my life when I am very fearful. I know that when I am fearing things in life, I am not exhibiting trust in You. I pray that You would surround me in Your perfect love, where fear has no room and must be forced out of my mind and spirit. As I ponder Your love, I pray that I would experience the peace the passes understanding, whatever situation of life I am in help me to seek you first. And as I come to a deeper realization of the depth of Your amazing love for me, may I be used by You to love as I am loved. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

Adapted from:


“What is the eternal state of the believer?”

“How can I know for sure that I will go to heaven when I die?”

Daily Devotional – Darkness Rather than Light



As many of you know one of my life verses is John 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

I had finished reading a few weeks before Jonathan Edwards classic Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.  It had shaken me to my core for I was just beginning to understand the true sovereignty of God.  My current studies had me in John Chapter 3 and at the about the same time I reached  v.16 a friend gave me a copy of John MacArthur’s book  Why One Way. These three writings forever changed my theology on man and God. I understood from from that time forward that the only thing natural man has to offer God is sin. 

20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. John 3:20-21

AMP and RVR 1960


It is hard not to include v.16-18 as the set the pretext for our main text today.  Of course everyone, even most unbelievers know about John 3:16, God’s Love for the world and the Apostle Jon insures we understand just how much God loved us in v.17 and the requirements if you will to receive the free gift of that love in v.18.  All is good here folks love to speak about this “Good News”, God’s Love, the Joyful Union of God’s children. 

Then we get to the ugly stuff. In v.19 John makes it plain that man’s  sinful ways condemn him before a Holy God; for God did indeed send His only begotten Son (light) to save mankind but mankind prefers darkness and evil. 


20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. –  No One likes to be called out for their wrongdoings whether those were intentional or accidental mistakes.  How much more so those who deny the Christ, who purposely do evil always try and hide from others but there is no hiding from God.

21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. – The exact opposite is true for those who practice righteousness. Their deeds are always open for public scrutiny because they are done for and with God’s help. 


In my studies back in day, of these verses v19-21 I found that the  Greek word translated as “evil,” is phaula, which also means “worthless,” “base,” or “no good.”  Now I am not sure about you but the last thing I want to be called or even considered is a worthless no good person.  Yet that is exactly how God looks upon those who refuse His free gift of Grace, eternal Life through Christ Jesus. Their works, even if mankind looks upon them as ‘good” are worthless and no good in the kingdom of God. 

Unlike some who may not be converted, (saved) I was convinced I already was, this caused me as noted above, to reconsider my relationship with God. Was it all about me and satisfying my needs using God or as (I later learned) and the Westminster Shorter Catechism says :

Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

a. Ps. 86:9. All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name. Isa. 60:21. Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified. Rom. 11:36. For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. 1 Cor. 6:20. For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. 1 Cor. 10:31. Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Rev. 4:11. Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

b. Ps. 16:5–11. The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage. I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons. I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. Ps. 144:15. Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD. Isa. 12:2. Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Luke 2:10. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. Phil. 4:4. Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Rev. 21:3–4. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

putting God first and not me. 

For those who are not believers, who think “Christianity” is a hoax may I suggest reading any one (or more of the following books: The 10 Best Books for Skeptics of Christianity. I have read #1,4,6 and 8 but all of them lead the reader to draw the own conclusions. Numbers 4 and 6 especially; were written by two men who set out to disprove the bible and “Christianity” as  basically nothing more than a crutch. What they found was so much more. 



QOTW – All things work together for good?

This is one of the most misused and abused “false doctrines” based on Romans 8:28, in modern evangelical circles. (See Other Resources Below) 

May 1, 2020, 9:23 AM
Question: “What does it mean that all things work together for good (Romans 8:28)?”

Answer: When a Christian utters the phrase all things work together for good, he or she is referring to a portion of one of the most quoted, claimed verses in the New Testament, Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Or, as the KJV translates it, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

God works all things together for good—both His good and our good. As God is glorified, His people benefit.

In Romans 8, Paul contrasts a life lived in selfish pursuits (the flesh) and one lived in league with, or in accordance with, God (the Spirit). He impresses upon readers that our sovereign God is all-knowing, all-wise, and all-powerful.

Those who love God can trust His goodness, His power, and His will to work out all things for our good. We journey together with Him.

The promise that God works all things together for good does not mean that all things, taken by themselves, are good. Some things and events are decidedly bad. But God is able to work them together for good. He sees the big picture; He has a master plan.

Neither does the promise that God works all things together for good mean we will acquire all that we want or desire. Romans 8:28 is about God’s goodness and our confidence that His plan will work out as He sees fit. Since His plan is always good, Christians can take confidence that, no matter our circumstances or environments, God is active and will conclude things according to His good and wise design. With this knowledge we can learn to be content (see Philippians 4:11).

The fact that God works all things together for good means God’s plan will not be thwarted. In fact, we are part of His plan, having been “called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). When we trust God and His way, we can be sure that He is active and powerful on our behalf (see Ephesians 3:20).

God knows the future, and His desires will be accomplished. “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please’” (Isaiah 46:10). Even when things seem chaotic and out of control, God is still in charge. We sometimes worry about what’s happening to us because we do not know what is best for us. But God does.

The principle of God working all things together for good is well illustrated in the Old Testament account of Joseph’s life. Early in Joseph’s life, Joseph’s jealous brothers sold him into slavery. In Egypt, Joseph rises to a position of responsibility. Then, he is unjustly imprisoned and forgotten about by his friends. God gifts him the ability to interpret dreams, and through that ability Joseph is once again raised to a place of honor and power. When drought forces Joseph’s brothers to seek food elsewhere, they travel to Egypt and encounter Joseph, who eventually saves them from starvation and grants them a livelihood in his new land.

Throughout his life, Joseph trusted God no matter his good or bad circumstances. Joseph experienced plenty of bad things: kidnapping, slavery, false accusations, wrongful imprisonment, rejection, and famine. But in the end God brought things to a wonderful, life-affirming conclusion. God blessed Joseph’s entire family through those painful circumstances and through Joseph’s faith. (You can read about Joseph’s life beginning in Genesis 37.)

Paul’s life is another testament to how God works all things together for good. Paul suffered shipwrecks, beatings, imprisonment, murder attempts, temporary blindness, and more—all within God’s plan to spread the gospel (see Acts 9:16 and 2 Corinthians 11:24–27). Through it all, God was steadfastly working to bring about good and glorious results.

After promising that God works all things together for our good, Romans 8 concludes with the wonderful fact that God trumps everything that comes against Him and those who belong to Him. The Christian is assured that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35–39). God’s love is everlasting, and His wisdom is infinite. It doesn’t matter who or what attempts to thwart God’s plan; no one and nothing can. God will work all things together for the good of those who love Him. Our decision to align our will with God’s and to always trust Him will be rewarded.

Recommended Resource: The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God by D.A. Carson


Frequently Abused Verses: For What “Good” Is God Working All Things Together?

Why All Things Work for Good – Romans 8:28 BY THOMAS WATSON

Effectual Calling – Romans 8:28 BY THOMAS WATSON

All things work together for good – Romans 8:28 Audio/MP3 by Geoff Thomas



Saturday’s Military Devotional – Sacrifice for Others

For years I have seen the following all over social media: Only 2 defining forces have ever offered to die for you ...As someone retired from the US Army I fully understand the meaning behind this, and while the sacrifice made by members of the Armed Forces for our Freedom can never and should never ever be minimized, that of Christ far exceeds it. 6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.

8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. ROMANS 5:6-8 
Porque Cristo, cuando aún éramos débiles, a su tiempo murió por los impíos. Ciertamente, apenas morirá alguno por un justo; con todo, pudiera ser que alguno osara morir por el bueno. Mas Dios muestra su amor para con nosotros, en que siendo aún pecadores, Cristo murió por nosotros. (RVR 1960) 

Why do I say Christ’s sacrifice far exceeds that of any service member, let me break it down.  

v.6 Is saying that while we were totally incapable of making a right(eous) decision. An analogy would be, like being wounded on the battlefield and unable to self extract from the fields of fire, scary crap to say the least. In other words we are POWERLESS. 

v.7 – It maybe easy to understand or see yourself running to the aid of someone you know to be a “good” person in need. Yet how many of us would or know someone who would run to a person of questionable character in need? Would we hesitate to die for a person we didn’t like or thought was morally lacking or beneath us? Note as an Army Medic we didn’t have this choice. 

v.8 – 

But God,  sometimes little words in the bible have so much meaning, here is and example, it forces us to think and comprehend that God took action that was contrary to Human Nature. 

Commendeth his love toward us, what was that action, God loved us, now that on the surface is no big deal, but God did it 

while we were yet sinners, that is while we hated God, it was not that He  thought we were morally lacking, He knew it and still He loved us. We ( all mankind) deserves a wrathful judgement for our sinful and immoral nature. God chose LOVE. Would you have? Doubtful! 

Christ died for us, Christ while  we were morally corrupt and powerless died for our soul. Our eternal (forever) life. His sacrifice was sufficient for all mankind those who on the surface act in a “good” manner and those who are morally corrupt. 

I encourage you to read one of these devotionals daily for the next week. 




Assured by Love

God’s Display of His Love

A Condition for Forgiveness

Justified by His Blood

God’s Love for the World

Encourage One Another

Today’s Questions

Say What?

Observation: What did I read? What struck you as most meaningful?

So What?

Interpretation: What does it mean? Overall and the most meaningful? Did it change your view on Sacrifice for Others?

Now What?

Application: How does it apply to me?

Then What?

Implementation: What do I do? How can I start living it out today?

Saturday’s Military Devotional – LOVE

18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love 1 John 4:189 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Romans 13:9-10

11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:11-1238 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39


I found the verses above in my Inbox this week and then started looking into all the articles I had posted about Biblical Love recently; the list was far more extensive than I remembered. So this weeks challenge is to look over these past posts, below, and then answer the questions below. As always I pray you are edified and God is Glorified. – Mike

Today’s Questions

Say What?

Observation: What did I read? What struck you as most meaningful?

So What?

Interpretation: What does it mean? Overall and the most meaningful? Did it change your view on Biblical Love?

Now What?

Application: How does it apply to me?

Then What?

Implementation: What do I do? How can I start living it out today?

He Loved Us

It is Sunday “The Lord’s Day” and here is something to contemplate throughout the day. This verse has two key components; God’s Love and Christ’s Mission in Relation to God’s Love. 

Note this verse makes it clear true love (Biblical) is can ever anything we attempt to do on our own. God must Love us before we can consider Love. I offer John Gill’s Exposition of the Whole Bible on this for further consideration and reading.  

Secondly Christ’s propitiation, the Amplified Bible adds “[that is, the atoning sacrifice, and the satisfying offering]” was sent for our sins, yes, but equally so to prove and satisfy God’s love for His chosen children. I offer Alexander MacLaren’s Expositions of Holy Scripture for your consideration and reading.

I pray your day is blessed and God is Glorified.  

10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:10

En esto consiste el amor: no en que nosotros hayamos amado a Dios, sino en que él nos amó a nosotros, y envió a su Hijo en propiciación por nuestros pecados. (RVR 1960)


Grace to You – “God is Love” Series

For your edification here is the 12 part series from John MacArthur and Grace to You ministries entitles “God is Love”. Please note they are listed here in reverse order from that which they were published. I have numbered them as such to make it easier to review them.  – Mike



The Sum of It All: God Is Love

God is love. His mercy is over all His works. He manifests His love to all. But the highest expression of His love is manifest to those who by sheer grace He lovingly draws to Himself.

No Separation


No Separation

God’s love for His people is an unstoppable force. The energy that has driven God’s plan of redemption from eternity past flows from the power of His love. He chose us and predestined us “in love” (Ephesians 1:4–5).


No Condemnation

No Condemnation

Why do bad things happen to good people? The fundamental problem with that common question is that it’s back to front. The right approach is to ask why good things happen to bad people. That question reflects an accurate reading of Scripture and an honest evaluation of ourselves.

Not Sparing His Own Son


Not Sparing His Own Son

God loves us regardless of the cost. The cross is proof of that. Consider what God’s love for us has already cost Him: He gave His own beloved Son to die in order to accomplish our salvation.

No Opposition


No Opposition

Someone has said that God plus one equals a majority. The truth is that God alone makes a majority. If every creature in the material and immaterial universe combined to oppose God together, still He would not be defeated.

Finding Security in God’s Love


Finding Security in God’s Love

God’s love for His own simply has no parallel in human experience. It is a powerful, immutable love that extends from eternity past to eternity future. It is a love that is not deterred by our race’s sinful rebellion against God.

The Ultimate Demonstration of God’s Love


The Ultimate Demonstration of God’s Love

God’s love for sinners is a well-documented historical fact. Its verification doesn’t hinge on the consensus of theologians, nor does its validation rest on something we feel. The apostle John points us to the cross as the consummate and undeniable proof of divine love: “God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:8–9).

Unmasking Unbelief


Unmasking Unbelief

Love is intrinsic to God’s character. It is also a critical arbiter for distinguishing who is—and who isn’t—one of God’s people.

The Mark of True Belief


The Mark of True Belief

Sixty-five percent of Americans readily identify themselves as Christians. But it’s a statistic that completely fails to square with reality.

The Heart of God’s Character


The Heart of God’s Character

God is love.

That statement doesn’t only reflect popular modern sentiment. It is actually a direct quote from God’s Word—1 John 4:8, to be precise. But in what sense is it true?

More than a Feeling


More than a Feeling

On a cross-country domestic airliner some time ago, I plugged in the earphones and began to listen to the music program. I was amazed at how much of the music dealt with love. At the time I was preaching through 1 John 4, so the subject of love was very much on my mind. I couldn’t help noticing how glib and shallow most of the lyrics were. “She Loves You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah)” is a classic by worldly standards. But few people would argue that its lyrics are truly profound.

Making Sense of God’s Love


Making Sense of God’s Love

Love is the best known but least understood of all God’s attributes. Almost everyone who believes in God these days believes that He is a God of love. I have even met agnostics who are quite certain that if God exists, He must be benevolent, compassionate, and loving.


Making Sense of God’s Love

Making Sense of God’s Love


by John MacArthur | Monday, January 6, 2020

Love is the best known but least understood of all God’s attributes. Almost everyone who believes in God these days believes that He is a God of love. I have even met agnostics who are quite certain that if God exists, He must be benevolent, compassionate, and loving.

All those things are infinitely true about God, of course, but not the way most people think. Because of the influence of modern liberal theology, many suppose that God’s love and goodness ultimately nullify His righteousness, justice, and holy wrath. They envision God as a benign heavenly grandfather—tolerant, affable, lenient, permissive, devoid of any real displeasure over sin, who without consideration of His holiness will overlook sin and accept people as they are.

People in past generations often went to the opposite extreme. They tended to think of God as stern, demanding, cruel, even abusive. They so magnified God’s wrath that they virtually ignored His love. Little more than a hundred years ago, nearly all evangelistic preaching portrayed God only as a fierce Judge whose fury burned against sinners. History reveals that some dramatic shifts in how we think of God’s love have taken place over the past three centuries.

Love in the Light of God’s Wrath

Perhaps the most famous sermon ever preached in America was Jonathan Edwards’s “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Edwards was a pastor in colonial Massachusetts and a brilliant theological mind. He preached his most famous sermon as a guest speaker at a church in Enfield, Connecticut, on July 8, 1741. This sermon sparked one of the most dramatic episodes of revival in the Great Awakening. Here is an excerpt that shows the preacher’s graphic and frightening bluntness in portraying God’s dreadful wrath against sinners:

O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment.

The language and imagery were so vivid that many people who heard Edwards trembled, some cried out for mercy, and others fainted.

Our generation—weaned on “Jesus loves me! this I know”—finds Edwards’s famous sermon shocking for an altogether different reason. Most people today would be appalled that anyone would describe God in such terrifying terms.

But it is important that we understand the context of Edwards’s sermon. Edwards was no fiery emotionalist; he appealed dispassionately to his hearers’ sense of reason—even reading his message in a carefully controlled tone lest anyone be emotionally manipulated. His message ended with a tender appeal to flee to Christ for mercy. So the overall tenor of that evening’s service was decidedly uplifting. It signaled a time of great revival throughout New England.

Edwards has been falsely caricatured by some as a harsh and pitiless preacher who took great delight in frightening his congregations with colorful descriptions of the torments of hell. Nothing could be further from the truth. He was a warm and sensitive pastor as well as a meticulous theologian, and he stood on solid biblical ground when he characterized God as an angry judge. Scripture tells us, “God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day” (Psalm 7:11, KJV). Edwards’s sermon that night was an exposition of Deuteronomy 32:35–36: “To me belongeth vengeance, and recompense; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste. For the Lord shall judge his people” (KJV). Those are biblical truths that do need to be proclaimed. And when Jonathan Edwards preached them, he did so with a humble heart of loving compassion. A broader look at his ministry reveals that he also heavily emphasized the grace and love of God. This sermon alone does not give us the full picture of what his preaching was like.

Yet Edwards was not reluctant to preach the unvarnished truth of divine wrath. He saw conversion as the loving work of God in the human soul, and he knew the truth of Scripture was the means God uses to convert sinners. He believed his responsibility as a preacher was to declare both the positive and the negative aspects of that truth as plainly as possible.

Wrath at the Expense of God’s Love

Unfortunately, a later generation of preachers were not so balanced and careful in their approach to evangelism, and not so sound in their theology. Charles Finney, an early nineteenth-century lawyer-turned-revivalist, saw conversion as a human work. Finney declared that revival could essentially be manufactured if preachers would employ the right means. He wrote:

There is nothing in religion beyond the ordinary powers of nature. It consists entirely in the right exercise of the powers of nature. It is just that, and nothing else. . . . A revival is not a miracle, nor dependent on a miracle, in any sense. It is a purely philosophical result of the right use of the constituted means—as much so as any other effect produced by the application of means. [1]

Finney believed that people could be psychologically manipulated into responding to the gospel. One of his favorite measures for heightening emotions was preaching passionately about the fiery threats of divine vengeance. By this he sought to intimidate people into responding to the gospel. Whereas Edwards had looked to the Holy Spirit to use the truth of Scripture to convert sinners, Finney believed it was the preacher’s task to evoke the desirable response—through artful persuasion, browbeating, manipulation, or whatever means possible. He found that terrorizing people was a very effective method of arousing a response, and his repertoire was filled with sermons designed to heighten the fears of unbelievers.

Preachers who adopted Finney’s methods often carried them to preposterous extremes. Preaching about divine wrath was often theatrical. And the subject of God’s wrath against sin began to be preached to the exclusion of God’s love. All this had a very profound impact on the popular perception of God. The typical Christian of the mid-1800s would have been scandalized by the suggestion that God loves sinners. But as is so often the case in history, an obvious error ends up being remedied by an even greater one.

Love at the Expense of God’s Wrath

With the rise of liberal theology the pendulum swung hard in the opposite direction. Liberalism (sometimes called modernism) was a corruption of Christianity, based on a wholesale denial of the authority and inspiration of Scripture. It was a growing trend throughout the nineteenth century, influenced strongly by trends in German theology.

While retaining some of the moral teachings of Christianity, liberalism attacked the historic foundations of the faith. Liberals denied the deity of Christ, the historicity of the Bible, and the uniqueness of the Christian faith. Instead, they proclaimed the brotherhood of all humanity under the fatherhood of God—and consequently insisted that God’s only attitude toward humanity was pure love. In fact, the overarching interpretive principle for liberals became the theme of love. If a passage didn’t reflect their definition of divine love, it was disallowed as Scripture.

In the early part of the twentieth century, liberalism took mainline Protestant churches by storm. Evangelicalism, which had dominated Protestant America since the days of the founding fathers, was virtually driven out of denominational schools and churches. In a few decades, liberalism virtually destroyed the largest Protestant denominations in America and Europe.

Love Rendered Meaningless

Sadly, what was true of liberalism then is all too true of evangelicalism today. We have lost the reality of God’s wrath. We have disregarded His hatred for sin. The God most evangelicals now describe is all-loving and not at all angry. We have forgotten that “it is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). We do not believe in that kind of God anymore.

Ironically, this overemphasis on divine beneficence actually works against a sound understanding of God’s love. Some theologians are so bent on this perception of God as all love that when things go wrong, they see it as evidence that God can’t really control everything. They believe if God is truly loving, He can’t be fully sovereign. This view makes God into a victim of evil. [2]

Multitudes have embraced the disastrous idea that God is impotent to deal with evil. They believe He is kindly but feeble, or perhaps aloof, or simply unconcerned about human wickedness. Is it any wonder that people with such a concept of God defy His holiness, take His love for granted, and presume on His grace and mercy? Certainly no one would fear a deity like that.

Yet Scripture tells us repeatedly that fear of God is the very foundation of true wisdom (Job 28:28Psalm 111:10Proverbs 1:79:1015:33Micah 6:9). People often try to explain the sense of those verses away by saying that the “fear” called for is a devout sense of awe and reverence. Certainly the fear of God includes awe and reverence, but it does not exclude literal holy terror. “It is the Lord of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, and He shall be your dread” (Isaiah 8:13).

Love in Harmony with God’s Other Attributes

We must recapture some of the holy terror that comes with a right understanding of God’s righteous anger. We need to remember that God’s wrath does burn against impenitent sinners (Psalm 38:1–3). That reality is the very thing that makes His love so amazing. We must therefore proclaim these truths with the same sense of conviction and fervency we employ when we declare the love of God. It is only against the backdrop of divine wrath that the full significance of God’s love can be truly understood. That is precisely the message of the cross of Jesus Christ. After all, it was on the cross that God’s love and His wrath converged in all their majestic fullness.

Both God’s wrath and His love work to the same ultimate end—His glory. God is glorified in the condemnation of the wicked, and He is glorified in the salvation of His people. The expression of His wrath and the expression of His love are both necessary to display His full glory. Since His glory is the great design of His eternal plan, and since all that He has revealed about Himself is essential to His glory, we must not ignore any aspect of His character. We cannot magnify His love to the exclusion of His other attributes.

Nevertheless, those who truly know God will testify that the deepest spiritual delights are derived from the knowledge of His love. His love is what drew us to Him in the first place: “We love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). His love—certainly not anything worthy in us—is the reason He saved us and bestowed on us such rich spiritual privileges:

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4–6, emphasis added).

The right approach is to study God’s love within its biblical context. This series will proceed with that goal in mind, considering some of the major aspects and implications of God’s unsurpassed love. And next time we’ll begin by considering God’s love as it is biblically defined.

(Adapted from The God Who Loves)

Have You Ever Felt So Broken?

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Have you ever felt so broken,
like a bunch of scattered old bones…
Feeling like you are in a million pieces,
with no human form shown?
Unable to catch your breath
with no lungs to even hold your air…
with indescribable wails of brokenness,
yelling for God in your despair.
Have you ever felt so broken,
like you would never again be whole.
Feeling totally shattered…
body, spirit, and soul.
Unable to mentally function,
like your brain is scrambled eggs…
but unable to move forward
like having detached arms and legs.
Have you ever felt so broken,
by abuses from another’s hand…
or loss of the life you knew,
to a level you can’t understand.
For these scattered bones of brokenness,
are difficult to explain…
Unless you have felt this brokenness,
and all it’s devastating pain.
Have you ever felt so broken,
crying to God in devastation…
then finally submitting to His plan,
for your healing and restoration.
Remember, He feels all your pain,
and hears all your groans.
And nothing is impossible with God,
Who can give life to even dry bones.

© Secret Angel and The Abuse Expose’ with Secret Angel, 2014.

“Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.” Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.” Ezekiel 37: 2-6


Daily Devotion – God’s Love Never Fails

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2 Corinthians 4:8-9

We are pressured in every way [hedged in], but not crushed; perplexed [unsure of finding a way out], but not driven to despair; 9 hunted down and persecuted, but not deserted [to stand alone]; struck down, but never destroyed; (AMP)

que estamos atribulados en todo, mas no angustiados; en apuros, mas no esesperados; 9 perseguidos, mas no desamparados; derribados, pero no destruidos; (RVR 1960)

As always we need to start with some context. Paul in writing a second time to the church at Corinth begins this part of his letter, Chapter 4:1-6 with a continuation of the previous chapter. He makes it abundantly clear that he and his fellow laborers preach Christ and Christ alone. It is not now nor will it ever be about himself. 

I consider verse 7 a set up verse. To use a baseball analogy, a pitcher will use one pitch to set up another to get a strike out. Here Paul uses the content of v.7 to set up our main text for today. He says v.7: But we have this precious treasure [the good news about salvation] in [unworthy] earthen vessels [of human frailty], so that the grandeur and surpassing greatness of the power will be [shown to be] from God [His sufficiency] and not from ourselves. The message of Christ alone must be delivered in and by this frail human body so that the power and glory of God may be manifested to all. So what does that mean for us, simple put our frailties mean we will at times suffer. But through it all God is there with us. Which brings us to our main text: 

We are pressured in every way [hedged in], but not crushed: In the Greek it says “being pressed hard” which is different from totally or completely crushed. We will experience times in our lives when things just seem to being in total chaos, but know that God is there. 

perplexed [unsure of finding a way out], but not driven to despair: We have all been there, a point in our lives when we stop and say how in the world did I get here? Then we ask the question how can I get out of this mess I am in? Note what Paul says here that no matter the circumstance, no matter the depth of the mess God has a way out and we are not {to be} driven to despair.

hunted down and persecuted, but not deserted [to stand alone]: Jesus made it clear Matthew 5:10, Luke 6:22, Mark 10:29-30 that true believers and Gospel workers would endure persecution. Does that mean everyone will be hunted down, jailed, beaten, etc. No of course not, everyone will experience different levels of hate and evil against them but all who are truly working for God’s Glory Alone (Sola Deo Gloriawill undergo some persecution. If not they are probably not working for the right king or kingdom. 

The second part of this phrase is critical to our Faith as Christians. Paul under inspiration of the Holy Spirit writes but not deserted that is we never have [to stand alone]. Again the bible makes it clear that God will never leave us or forsake us in times of trouble Deuteronomy 31:8, Matthew 28:20, Philippians 4:6-7Hebrews 13:6. 

God’s Love Never Fails and he is always there for us. In fact Paul in writing to the Romans reminded them of the same thing Romans 8:35-39 asking Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Most answer no one and nothing. The correct answer is only ourselves and our unrepentant sin. 

struck down, but never destroyed: This one is a hard pill to swallow for some, how can a loving God allow some of His children to be struck down?  Again the Greek word here clearly means struck down as with a arrow in the hunt. Some of God’s Gospel workers will be persecuted unto death. BUT, praise God, they are never destroyed; for they may be gone from their earthly body but they are eternally with the Lord;Death 2 Corinthians 5:6-8  So then, being always filled with good courage and  confident hope, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight [living our lives in a manner consistent with our confident belief in God’s promises]— 8 we are [as I was saying] of good courage and confident hope, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

In closing, we as believers must understand that persecution is coming and that God will always stand beside us. Our best defense is a strong offense, that is to be armed with the knowledge of the Word of God (Sola Scripura).