Free will and finding faith

I will never understand how someone can force another person to accept their faith by following their religion or be killed.

Finding faith is all about free will. God gave us free will to chose how we live. He even gave us free will to decide if we believe in Him or not. So how can someone forcefully with the threat of death expect someone to convert?

In the beginning the Bible tells us that God created the world and the first people – Adam and Eve. He walked and talked with them and cared for them. He was intimately involved in their lives. It was a two way loving relationship.

After the fall, when sin entered the world, mankind became separated from God. Since this time God has been trying to win people back to Himself. He has sent Prophets, His son Jesus into the world and the Holy Spirit to draw people to Himself. He even calls Christians to be missionaries to reach out with Christ’s love. But He never forced anyone to believe.

Real love and real relationship happens best when people have a choice and freedom to choose to love. When people find God through coming to faith in Jesus Christ, that is how it is meant to be. God draws us and reaches out to us, but we need to make a free will choice to respond.

God did not make us robots who automatically believed. He gave us choice. He is also a gentleman who does not force His way in. He knocks on the door of our lives, but the door handle in on the inside and we must open it ourselves and let Him in.

The Bible tells us in 2 Peter 3:9 that, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent”.

God wants us to all find faith and relationship with Him. He wants all of us to walk with Him. He wants no-one to perish, but He is not going to override the free will He has given us. It must be our choice.

Finding faith starts and finishes in the free will God has given us. It is about us responding to God and His attempts to reach us as a personal choice. Only then is the faith and relationship real. This is the type of love that God wants.

Forcing people to convert with threats is not in God’s character or in God’s plan.

God Bless,
Dave

Made alive with Christ

Today’s reading comes from Ephesians 2:1-10. It is titled, “Made alive in Christ”. In this passage I relate to three things.

1. I was dead in my sins

Verses 1-2 tells us, “Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God”.

This is a description of me before Christ. I lived the world’s way and was only interested in myself. I wasn’t interested in God and unknowingly was following the devils ways. I was unhappy, alone, depressed and had no purpose.

2. I was given life in Christ

Verses 4-5 give us some good news. “But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)

God did not want to leave me that way. He reached out to me and drew me to Himself. Slowly over time I started to see what God had done for me. That Jesus came and died for me on the cross to give me life – both abundant and eternal. I gave my life to Christ in 1989 as a result.

3. I was given a new purpose

Verse 10 says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago”.

God gave me new life in Him to do good things in His name. I learned that He created me a certain way, with certain gifts, to make a difference in this world at this time in history. I was not an accident. I was not here because of evolution, but I was purposed in God’s heart and mind. I had a new purpose and a new mission.

Knowing that my sins were forgiven, knowing that I was in relationship with God and that He had made me for His mission in the world made me alive in Christ. From that day in 1989 I have never been the same again.

If you would like to commit your life to Christ and experience peace with God, forgiveness of you sin and a new mission in life, you can pray this prayer now.

Heavenly Father, right now I come to You and ask You to forgive my sin. I am sorry for all the wrong things I have done. I am sorry for ignoring You and following the ways of the world. I thank You that Jesus died on the cross to take the punishment for my sin. Right now I ask Jesus Christ to come into my heart and life. I ask Him to be my Lord, Saviour and King. I pray that You will guide me and lead me by the power of Your Holy Spirit. Help me to live my life the way You want me to live and do the good things you planned for me long ago. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

If you have just prayed this prayer, it is great news. You are now alive in Christ. I would encourage you to visit our “New Christians” page here.

God Bless,
Dave

PS. There is an audio version of this here.

Paul’s prayer for spiritual wisdom

In Ephesians 1:15-23 we see Paul’s prayer for spiritual wisdom for the Ephesian church. In this passage he says “I pray” several times.

1. Paul prayed for spiritual wisdom and insight so they might grow in their knowledge of God.

“I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.” V16-17)

2. The he prayed that they would understand the confident hope he has called us to.

“I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.” (v18)

3. Finally he prayed that they would understand the greatness of God’s power.

“I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. ” (v19)

These are three great things to pray for when praying for others. Imagine if someone prayed that constantly for you and I. Imagine how we would grow in our faith and understanding of God.

Imagine if we prayed that for our brothers and sisters in Christ who we know and come in contact regularly. I wonder how their lives would change?

God Bless,
Dave

Spiritual blessings

In Ephesians 1:3-11 NLT there is a section titled, “Spiritual blessings”. It is about the spiritual blessings we have in Christ.

In verse 3 Paul says, “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ”.

As believers and disciples we have all the benefits of knowing God. We are blessed with every spiritual blessing as it tells us in today’s reading.

We see that we are chosen for salvation, adopted as His children, completely forgiven and set free from sin, we have spiritual insight in His will, we have the gifts of the Spirit, fruit of the Spirit, power to do God’s will, the hope of eternal life.

If we look at the above text we see some of these things mentioned…

v3 – we are blessed in Christ
v4 – chosen by Him
v5 – adopted by Him
v6 – given grace in Christ
v7 – redeemed and forgiven
v8 – wisdom and understanding
v9 – knowledge of His will
v11 – chosen and predestined
v12 – hope in Christ
v13 – marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit
v14 – guaranteed our inheritance in Christ

These are things we have in Christ. All the blessings of knowing Him personally. These are things that all religions want and strive for, but as believers we are freely given them in Christ.

Knowing and walking with Jesus is the most amazing experience. It allows us to live our best life and the life God intended for us all before the creation of the world.

God Bless,
Dave

Morning devotions

Over the last couple of months I have shared blog posts of my morning devotional readings of the Bible.

This is what I do when I first get up in the morning. I sit in my favourite comfy chair with a coffee, open my Bible app on my iPad and prayerfully read a passage.

I usually pray and ask God which book of the Bible I should read, then I read the whole book one section heading at a time. It usually takes about two weeks to read a small book.

After I read the passage I sit back and look for some things that jumped out at me. Usually a verse or a few verses speak to me. So I think about them for a while in the context of the section heading.

Some questions I also ask are –

– what was going on at the time of writing?
– what was the author trying to say to the people?
– what did they want them to do or not do?
– how am I going with this idea or thought?
– what can I apply to my life from this passage?

As I sit and ponder I am open to the Holy Spirit to speak to me and I also try to think if there is anything I can remember from prior reading or study on this passage.

My ultimate goals in my morning devotions is to connect with God by reading His Word and to start my day off by focussing on Him and His Kingdom. I also want to apply God’s Word to my daily life.

If you want to download some of my devotional reflections you can visit my free booklets page here.

God Bless
Dave

Reminders from Philippians

Today for my devotions I looked back over the things I had been reminded about from Philippians. There was a few things that were quickened to me again.

1. Paul wanted the Philippians to grow in Christ – In verse 1:9 Paul says, “I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding”.

2. Paul’s life was all about Christ – In 1:21 explains Paul’s heart. “For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better”.

3. We need to live as citizens of heaven – 1:27 says, “Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ.

4. We need to have the humble attitude of Christ – 2:7 says, “Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being”.

5. Knowing Christ is everything – 3:8 says “Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ”.

6. We need to press on in Christ and His will – In verses 3:12 Paul says, “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.

7. We need to focus on what is good – In 4:8 it says, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise”

These are seven reminders I got from this reading and reflection of Philippians. There is a lot more than this in the Book, but these are the ones that spoke to me this time around.

God Bless,
Dave

Paul thanks them for the gift

In today’s reading Paul thanks the Philippians for the financial gifts and support. It is found in Philippians 4:10-20.

As I read this passage two main ideas jumped out at me…

1. The importance of supporting church planters

Verse 10 starts with, “How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me”.

Paul thanked them for their support in the past and said they were the only ones who supported him on his work through Macedonia. In verse 18 he says there gifts were a sweat smelling offering to The Lord.

This reminds me of the importance of supporting people who travel and plant churches. As history tells us, church planting is the best way to reach people for Christ and make disciples.

2. Paul knew what is is to be content

Philippians 4:13 says, “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength”.

This is a verse we often quote when we are nervous or trying someone new. Paul used it in the context of trials, suffering, and hunger. He knew what it was to be content in the good times or the bad.

Paul said in verse 11, “Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have”. Paul knew Christ was enough. If he had lots, it was enough. If he had nothing, that was enough too.

As I am coming to an end of my devotions in Philippians these two thoughts will stay with me. It is important to support those who reach others for Christ and that if we have lots or nothing, if we have Christ we have all we need.

God Bless,
Dave

Words of encouragement

Today’s reading and devotion is from Philippians 4:2-9. It is titled, “Words of encouragement”. In this passage three things spoke to me.

1. Get on well with each other

In verse 2 Paul appeals to Euodia and Syntyche. “Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement”.

It is so important that we get on well because the world is watching and Jesus said people will know we are His disciples because our love for one another.

2. Don’t worry, pray

Verse 6 says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done”.

Sometimes I think worry is the default setting for us who live in this world. This is why prayer is so important. We connect with God and exchange our needs and concerns for His peace (v7).

3. Focus on what is good

In verse 8 Paul says, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise”.

Finally Paul encourages us to focus on what is good. He says to “fix our thoughts” on these things. We need to keep a Kingdom focus.

So today let us get on well with each other, don’t worry and keep praying, and focus on what is good. If we do these things, then “the God of peace will be with us” (v9).

God Bless,
Dave