Devotional Thoughts for This Morning
Lk. 15:11-2 (TLB): To further illustrate the point, [Jesus] told them this story: “A man had two sons.  When the younger told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now, instead of waiting until you die!’ his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.”
Gn. 2:16-7 (NIV): “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”
To a typical Middle-Eastern father, this was a preposterous request. A brazen son making such an inappropriate request would’ve been thrown out of the house instead of being “coddled.” So why does Jesus allow this father to appear so weak? While that certainly doesn’t depict the Father in heaven whom we love and fear, Jesus is implicitly showing what free will is capable of: rejecting or accepting God; or obeying or disobeying Him.
Who hasn’t complained to God who allows evil in the world, but have we considered its alternative: A world without free will wherein the push of a divine button set in motion human actions that would be predetermined? Loving God in this manner wouldn’t glorify Him in the least. Thus, one great gift that God bestowed upon humanity is free will, beginning with the first man; and whatever man decides—whether good or bad—God will honor. And God has equipped us to make the right choices, but the responsibility of making those decisions belong squarely to man.
Around Christmas time in 1981, I made an important decision that would affect the rest of my life. A few months after I became a believer in Los Angeles, my church sent me to Fresno to study at a Bible college. While there, my faith had become so weakened that I decided to return home to Virginia. Despite a friend’s plea to reconsider, I took a ride with another friend who lived in Silver City, NM. While there, I was hoping to earn enough money to fly home, but while attending the church pastored by my friend’s father, an inner voice (i.e., the Holy Spirit) kept telling me to go back to L.A. After struggling with this decision, I took a bus back to L.A. with borrowed money. Upon meeting my pastor, I asked him to disciple me at his church, which he did for the next two years; and that became the spiritual foundation for the rest of my life.
So, what decision are you facing today? Don’t be hasty; spend time in the Word and prayer to discern God’s will for your life. You are free to disobey, but that would be an unwise usage of God’s great gift to us: free will (to choose His will).
Dear God, I praise and exalt You this morning. I especially thank you for the gift of free will that I would choose You out of my own volition. What an awesome and terrifying responsibility, but at the same time, I am at peace knowing that You have not left me alone to figure this out on my own. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 2
Lunch Break Study
Read Joshua 24:15 (ESV): “And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
John 14:26 (ESV): “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
Question to Consider
- What similarity do you see between what Joshua did with the Israelites to what the father in the parable did?
- What are some important ways in which God helps us (the believers) to make the right decisions?
- What are some decisions you are facing right now? How are you approaching them? What changes do you need to make to wisely use your free will to submit to God’s will for your life?
- Joshua, recognizing the free will that the Israelites possessed, showed what the choices were. The father in the parable simply honored the choice his son made, even though it wasn’t the right choice. They both showed the importance of making the right decision.
- At the moment of salvation, God pours out the Spirit on us generously (Tit. 3:6). The Holy Spirit’s main task is to guide the believers toward the right path by reminding them of the Words of Christ. In this way, God has provided the necessary means—the Spirit and the Word— to make the right decisions. Of course, this works best in the context of belonging to a body (i.e., church) where the different parts with unique giftings can minister to each other.
- As I am writing this, I am thinking about how I can help my children to make the right decisions for their lives that would honor God (such as, why go to college, and what to do afterwards).
As you look back to today, what important decisions did you face? Did you already make them? If not, spend some time in prayer, reflecting on the Scriptures (e.g., Proverbs 16:1-4), and to be led by the Spirit.