We spend a good deal of time together in this space exploring the things God has done, is doing or has promised to do. The list is long and impressive. But I’m not going to do that today. Instead, I want to talk about things you’ll never get from God. (And then, ONE thing you can get from Him.)

You’ll never get a “Dear John” letter from God. (Or a “Dear Jane” letter either, for that matter.) Nope, God will never tell you He’s done reaching out to you. Every day you walk this planet is a day that God’s love is appealing to you; offering His love in exchange for yours. Before you acknowledge His lordship and begin to follow Him, He will draw you towards salvation. After you’ve placed your life into His hands, He will draw you towards service. Both of these will be founded in His love. His first appeal is, “Come to Me.” He knows that, without Him, you’ll never be forgiven and sin will reign in and ruin your life. So He invites you. His second appeal is, “Come with Me.” He knows that, unless you follow Him, you’ll never be fulfilled and life will lack purpose and meaning.

But when I said “every day you walk this planet,” that was more significant than you might have thought. It wasn’t just a turn of a phrase, it was a key timing element. Because some of God’s promises only apply while we are alive. The timer of your life is ticking; if you haven’t responded to Jesus before it goes off, you lose. It’s like a check that says, “Not valid after 180 days.” The money to cover the check is in the bank, but only if you present it in time. Tick – tock. We don’t know how much time is left on our timer.

You’ll never get a termination notice from God, either; you can’t be fired from God’s call on your life. The bible says clearly that the gift and call of God are irrevocable. That’s not to say you can’t be benched for a while. Sin impacts our ability to serve Him, and can remove us from places of leadership and responsibility. But the Church is not supposed to shoot our wounded. If anyone is called to walk through a plan of repentance, recovery, refinement and restoration it is the Church.

When leaders fail they are removed from places of leadership. Trust and responsibility are earned over time. If you violate the trust you’ve been given then you will likely be removed from a position of responsibility. That is when those who remain in authority over you ought to call you to repentance. Recovery and restoration of the repentant is the call of the Church. Circumstances may require years of rebuilding, but the goal is to employ God’s gifts and fulfill God’s call.

You’ll never be led into sin by God. Not ever. When you are tempted to do wrong (and you will be), don’t blame God. You will never say, “God is tempting me” and be right. The source is always from the other side of the spectrum. You would do well to remember that you have an enemy who wants to destroy you.

The bible is clear in its teaching in this regard. Because He is purity personified, God cannot be tempted. Since God cannot be tempted Himself, God will never tempt anyone. You’re tempted to do wrong when you let yourself be led by what your bad thoughts tell you to do. When you act on those bad thoughts and do them, that is sin. The evil thoughts are the bait, the act is the trap. When you commit the act the trap springs closed. Temptation gives birth to sin; when sin completes its work, it gives birth to death.

I’ve known church leaders that have fallen seriously and publicly. I was on staff at a church where the senior pastor abandoned his marriage vows, took his secretary (literally), and then left his wife and the church. He utterly refused to recognize his sinful actions, and he refused to repent. His refusal prevented his recovery. He lost his wife, his reputation, his character and his license to minister. But HE did that, it was his personal choice. God’s choice was a different one, and could have led to a much better outcome; but this “pastor” would have none of it. God had better plans. By the way, with regard to my previous point that you’ll never get a termination notice from God; he wasn’t fired, he quit. Big difference. To quote Johnny Paycheck’s country music song, you can’t tell God to “take this job and shove it” and then accuse Him of firing you. They call that adding insult to injury.

I’ve also had the joy of walking through the recovery and restoration of a minister whose sin required his removal from the “active line up” and his placement “on the bench” for a period of years. His process of restoration was much like a birth as well. It was long anticipated and it was very difficult at times. Like labor, there were a few times that required a lot of pushing! But his restoration to ministry was one of the most spiritually powerful events of my life. It was utterly marvelous. THAT is what real Christianity is supposed to be.

The next thing you’ll never get from God finally brings us to today’s verse:

God does not give His children a spirit of fear. God anointed Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit; and with that Spirit came power, not fear. It was by the power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil. God was with Him, and so He walked about as a living expression of the power of God and the love of God. Just pause and think about that for a moment, if you will.

Let the Holy Spirit speak to you. God has also promised that YOU will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and for the very same reason! So that you can be His witnesses. Witnesses of His power and His love – even to the remotest part of the earth. God has given you a spirit of power, love and self-discipline, if you belong to Him.

Contained within every command of God is the power to obey fully. Peter could never have walked on water in his own power; but as soon as Jesus told Him to come, Peter had the capacity to obey. We can do whatever God tells us to do. It doesn’t matter if He tells us to heal the sick, raise the dead or feed thousands of people with a burger and fries from Burger King. It is the King of Kings, not the Burger King, who will enable our witness.

We are the Army of the Lord; and the Lord of the Armies (because that is what the term often translated “the Lord of hosts” means) tells us that we will be victorious “not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit.” It is the demonstration of the Spirit’s power that shines the light of God’s love into the darkness of our sinful lives. We need His power.

Power without love will not win the heart of another. He places His heart within us, He gives us the desires of our heart. His desires, not ours. But His desires and His love win others into the Kingdom of God. That is the purpose of the power – to enable us to express His love.

And we desperately need self-discipline, because deciding to be a powerful and loving witness is not easy. As has been said, salvation is a free gift; but becoming a disciple of Christ will cost you everything. His total dedication calls for ours. He laid down His life, and calls us to take up our cross and follow Him.


Power. Love. Self-discipline. They combine within us to make us abound in hope and make us effective witnesses for Jesus Christ.

Okay, that was three things, not one. But I’m not good at math.

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