Shopping Basket
Your Basket is Empty
Quantity:
Subtotal
Taxes
Delivery
Total
There was an error with PayPalClick here to try again
CelebrateThank you for your business!You should receive an order confirmation from Paypal shortly.Exit Shopping Basket

Alpha Ministries, Inc

Church in the Woods at ....

Freedom Ranch

Choices

Dear Saints,

All of us are confronted with a multitude of choices to make daily. Many of them seem small and almost inconsequential while others seem overwhelming and life threatening. What makes life so complicated and hard is not just the choices we make but often it seems we really have no choice at all. Much of our confusion and frustration in life comes from the fact that we are not sure what choices we have, if we even have a choice, and exactly what choice we should make in any given situation. Welcome to the world of a control freak!

Seeking to control the people and circumstances in our life comes from a deep need to make ourselves secure in an insecure world. There is no guarantee that we will be unconditionally loved, accepted, and forgiven in this dog-eat-dog and often hostile world. In fact, chances are that we will be neglected, abandoned, or even abused. Likewise, unless we can control the people and circumstances in the chaos of this world it is impossible to find a real sense of importance, purpose, and competence. Wrong or bad choices seem naturally to lead to a meaningless and unsatisfying life.

Underlying all other choices we must make is the most important and basic choice. It is the choice the Bible urges us to make daily and describes it in a variety of terms. Jesus invites us to take his “yoke” upon us (Matthew 11: 28-30). Paul urges us to “present our bodies as living sacrifices unto God” (Romans 12: 1-2). James tells us to ask for wisdom from above (James 1: 5). Peter calls on us to “humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God” (1 Peter 5: 6). All these directives (and many more) have one thing in common…surrender. We give up trying to make it happen and let God do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

In the AA program of recovery the 3rd step describes this kind of surrender as deciding to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God. Making the choice to surrender all our decisions as well as our very lives to the control and care of God is the foundation and start of a new and satisfying lifestyle of grace in which God, through his indwelling Spirit, leads us, guides us into all truth, comforts us in our choices, reminds us who we are, and produces the very character of Christ in us. As Paul instructed the Philippians 2: 12-13, “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have obeyed, not in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which works in you both to will and do of his good pleasure. “

The fundamental choice we all must make each day is whether we want to let God control our lives. It is really a no-brainer since he is the sovereign creator and sustainer of the universe and loves us so much he gave his life for us. For me it boils down to one simple prayer each morning, “Lord please remind me of who you made me to be in your son and guide me in how you want me to love others around me today”. I really do not have any other choice that makes sense.

John

Blog

Blog


view:  full / summary

We Cannot Lose

Posted on 4 February, 2021 at 10:30

Dear Saints,

 

Regardless of who you talk to these days there seems to be a lot of uncertainty and unrest in our land. The so called “culture war” between those who hold to the more traditional values and those who embrace the more progressive ideals has been brewing for some time now. The political divide between those who are conservative in their views and those who are liberal has been escalating to the point of violence in the streets. Despite the exponential increase of knowledge and information via the worldwide web along with the incessant flow of daily news reports people seem more polarized and confused than ever. As a result there seems to be a dramatic rise in both fear due to a lack of faith and hatred due to excessive pride.

 

So where is the good news in all this mess? How shall we deal with the present and prepare for the future? The good news is that Jesus is still our King, the Father holds our future, and the Holy Spirit will continue to lead and comfort us regardless of what comes our way. The answer to fear is faith while the answer to hate is love. Believing the truth of who God has made us to be in Christ gives us the hope we need to love others. Knowing that God has made us secure in his love and significant in his plan allows us to make the choices we need to make today and guarantees our victory in the future.

 

Does believing this good news mean that we will avoid all suffering in this world? Of course not! Because we live in a sin-cursed world that is falling apart we all will face suffering of various kinds. Our focus is not to be on avoiding such suffering but rather to endure it through the comfort of the indwelling Spirit. Jesus told his followers, “In this world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world”. Likewise Paul assures us of God’s gracious provisions in the midst of our suffering saying, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death , nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 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.”

 

The scriptures in both the Old and New Testaments are replete with examples of God’s people victoriously enduring suffering in this world. Whether it be David and the giant, the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace, Daniel in the lion’s den, or Elijah fighting the 400 false prophets of a corrupt government they all were victorious by the grace of God. What enabled Peter and John to endure threats and persecution by the government, Paul, and Silas to sing praised to God in jail, and thousands of first century martyrs to face death with joy in their hearts and praise on their lips is the same Comforter that lives in us today. Hearing his voice and following his directions in faith puts us in a “supernatural bubble” of love, joy, and peace even in this chaotic world we are living in today.

 

That “supernatural bubble” known as the fruit of the Spirt is what allows us to display longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control as the very character of Christ. Our Father has not left us in this world to be fat, dumb, and happy but given us the Spirit of his Son to be Christ to others despite our circumstances. Jesus promised us that both he and the Father would be at home with us as we endure the opposition we must face. Even though it may look and feel like we are going to lose be assured the victory is coming.

 

John

 

God of the Impossible

Posted on 28 January, 2021 at 13:00

Dear Saints;

 

Lately I have been impressed with the fact that our God is the God of the impossible. He continues to do for us what is impossible for us to do for ourselves. Every aspect of our salvation is a miracle of God doing the impossible. He has saved us from the guilt and penalty of sin by crucifying the old, selfish persons we were and creating a new person in holiness and true righteousness. He continues to save us from the habit and power of sin in our daily lives by indwelling us with the Holy Spirit, who comforts us, teaches us, guides us, reminds us, and leads us to do the works he has before ordained that we should do. He will save us from the very presence of sin by giving us that glorified body that is already reserved for us in heaven and a mansion in his own eternal house.

 

Even a casual knowledge of the Bible (which is an impossible book itself) proves our God to be the God of the impossible. To Noah he said to build and ark because he was going to destroy the world with a flood…impossible. To Abraham he said he was going to make a great nation through his barren wife…impossible. To Moses he said tell the people trapped between the Red Sea and Pharos army to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord…impossible. To Joshua he promised to bring down the walls of Jericho…impossible. To David he said go kill that giant with a sling shot…impossible. To the three Hebrew children he said walk with me in the fiery furnace…impossible. To Daniel he said relax and sleep in the lion’s den…impossible. To his only begotten Son, Jesus, he said heal the sick, open the eyes of the blind, cleanse the leper, feed the multitudes, and raise the dead…impossible. It seems our God delights in doing the impossible!

 

The biblical record is all well and good, but what about my life today? Is our God still the God of the impossible? I know he has done the impossible in saving me, but what about my everyday life and circumstances? Most of us run into situations in life that seem impossible. We worry and fret and rack our brains trying to figure out how we are going to get through this time or situation. Often, we pray asking God to do this or that to make things work out for us and still find ourselves in a state of confusion. We are still facing an impossible situation.

 

Being a loving God, he has promised us that all things, even this troubling situation, work together for our own good. Even though we may not know what to pray for we are encouraged to let our requests be known to God through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving. By simply turning our worries into prayers God does the impossible…He gives us a peace, His peace, that is beyond our understanding. We do not know why we have peace, but we do. Nothing has changed, but we have a peace about it now because our God is a God of the impossible and will do whatever is best for us. Whether he miraculously changes our situation or simply gives us the satisfaction we need to endure the situation is up to Him. Either way he will do the impossible.

 

To maintain that miraculous peace God gives us what we need to focus our attention on the positive things that are currently and could possibly happen. All too often our minds are filled with negative self talk especially in difficult times. It is easy to focus only on the bad things that are threatening us rather than the good things we must be thankful for. Remembering our God is the God of the impossible will help us recognize the many ways he has already blessed us and provided for us in the past. As we meditate on the blessings in the past and present, we are more likely to think positively about our future. Trusting God’s promise gives us the hope (joyful and confident expectation of our future) we need to fulfill our calling to love others like Christ. No matter what it looks like now, we know we cannot lose!

 

John

 

Confidence of the Comforter

Posted on 21 January, 2021 at 11:05

Dear Saints;

 

I can’t think of a greater blessing from God than that which Jesus gave to his followers concerning the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I know it is incredulous to the world, but for anyone who has experienced the new birth by faith in Christ that first “taste” of their personal salvation is amazing. Wonderful as that might have been, however, it was just the beginning of what Jesus promised for our lives in this world.

 

Being a realist Jesus knew by first hand experience the troubles we would face in this ungodly world. In fact, he told his followers to expect all kinds of hassles, persecution, tribulation, etc. But in the same context he gave us the assurance that we would receive “another of the same kind of Comforter” that he was with his disciples. He referred to him as the Spirit of truth and noted that the world could not receive him because they couldn’t see him and couldn’t relate to him. In strong contrast to those of the world Jesus promised his disciples they would would recognize him because lived with them and would be in them (John 14: 17). That promise was fulfilled the night Jesus met with his disciples after his resurrection saying, “Peace be unto you: As my Father has sent me, even so send I you” (John 20: 21). John notes that after he had said that he “breathe on them” and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit”.

 

The apostle Paul describes same experience for all believers by saying, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man hath not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his” (Romans 8: 9). All who are born of the Spirit have the Spirit of God living in them to fulfill the promise Jesus gave to his disciple concerning his comfort in this world. The indwelling Spirit of God comforts us by teaching us, guiding us into all truth, reminding us of what Jesus has said, and making Jesus real to us. What he produces in us is called the “fruit of the Spirit” by Paul in Galatians 5: 22 and includes love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance-the very character of Christ.

 

Followers of Christ are not left to their own devices to figure out how to live in this world. Neither are they faced with the task of trying to figure out what is right and what is wrong in any given situation. More importantly, believers are not required to try as hard as they can to make themselves do what is right and quit doing what is wrong. Jesus has not abandoned us as orphans in this world trying to survive on our own. Instead, he has given us the indwelling Spirit of God to lead us personally in all that we do or say. Learning to relying on the personal leadership and comfort of the indwelling Spirit of God is the greatest privilege we have this side of heaven.

 

No matter what we are faced with in this world, we can be assured of the leadership and comfort of the Spirit living within. We are never left on our own to flounder in confusion and suffer in sorrow and pain alone. The Comforter within is with us regardless of our circumstances in this world and will go with us to the end. It is this supernatural resource within that gives us the confidence we need to truly overcome the world.

 

John

 

God and Mammom

Posted on 13 January, 2021 at 13:05

Dear Saints,

 

In his sermon on the mount Jesus spoke to an issue that concerns us all, our money. After telling us to quit trying to get rich on earth and instead get rich in heaven he explains, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” He further explains that what we focus on will determine our understanding and tells us bluntly, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”

 

All of us have been conditioned by this world to trust our money for not only our physical needs for food, clothing, and shelter, but also our personal needs for worth. In fact, when we ask the question concerning a man’s “net worth” we are asking how much money does he have? In reality our personal need for worth has nothing to do with our money or wealth but rather a sense of security from knowing we are loved unconditionally and a sense of significance from knowing we are important. Although money provides a false sense of security and significance in this world, it never really satisfies these deep personal needs. “Serving mammon” as Jesus put it is the slavery of relying on money for our physical and personal needs and prevents us from serving God. The two are mutually exclusive.

 

Paul gives us more insight on the subject in his first letter to his disciple Timothy. He writes, “For they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into may foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” Note that Paul said it was the love of money, not simply the money itself, that is the root of all evil. Trusting money rather than God to meet our physical and personal needs is where the danger lies. So Paul further writes, “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works; ready to distribute, willing to communicate”. (1Timothy 6)

 

The present evil in our world is due to a failure to trust God to provide for our personal needs. Whether it be on a national level or a personal level the love of money and the associated power that comes with it betrays a lack of trust in the living God. Trusting mammon to meet our needs is not just a problem for those we consider to be rich in this world, but for those who we may consider poor as well. Both the rich and the poor may think they need more than what God provides for them. In his sermon Jesus went on to address the poor saying don’t worry about tomorrow, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”. And to the rich Paul says use your riches to bless others and share what you have.

 

No matter whether we are rich or poor our faith in God’s provisions for our physical and personal needs will be demonstrated in a joyful confidence about our own future that frees us to love others. Our faith in God is not that he will give us more money, but that he will lead us by his Spirit to do what he wants us to do with what money we have. Rather than the normal attitude of using people and loving money, we are free to use our money to love people.

 

John

 

The Bread of Life

Posted on 6 January, 2021 at 10:35

Dear Saints,

 

I recently read that Americans have lost faith in our institutions. They don’t trust the various systems they once relied upon for their sense of security. They don’t trust the government at all levels. They don’t trust the media. They don’t trust the educational system. They don’t trust big corporations. They don’t trust their healthcare systems. They don’t trust law enforcement, etc., etc., etc. This lack of confidence in our institutions may be seen as a problem for many, but I tend to see it as a good start for believers. In order to exercise our faith in God, we have to quit trusting everything and everyone besides him.

 

For years I have known that the one thing that God wants from his people more than anything else is their faith in him. The writer of Hebrews makes it clear saying, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11: 6). By faith in God we are justified (declared righteous by God) and have peace, and by faith we have access into the grace of God that does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. It is our faith in God that gives us hope in this present world of darkness and allows us to love others despite our most desperate circumstances.

 

So what keeps us from trusting God? It’s the natural conditioning of this world we grew up in that teaches us to trust everything and everyone but God. From the time we are born into this world we learn to rely on everything and everyone other than God to satisfy our basic needs. Before we are old enough to develop an abstract concept of God, much less learn how he meets our needs, we naturally trust our caretakers and ourselves to satisfy both our physical and personal needs. Even when we are old enough to provide for our own physical needs we continue to trust our own performance, the approval of others, and our circumstances in life to determine our personal worth. Faith in our institutions is a natural extension of trusting everything and everyone other than God.

 

For Americans it is especially difficult to trust God to meet our needs when our wealth seems to be doing such a good job of it. Even the poorest American is rich compared to the rest of the world. It’s ironic that we print “In God We Trust” on our money when it’s really the money we are trusting. Despite having our physical needs met by our wealth our personal needs cannot be satisfied by physical things. One of the most shocking statements Jesus made occurred after he had miraculously fed the multitude to illustrate his ability to meet our needs. After announcing that he was the Bread of Life he said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.” (John 6: 53-56)

 

The graphic language used by Jesus was meant to break our obsession with trusting in physical things for our security and significance as persons and focus our attention on what he offers to all who will believe. “Eating his flesh and drinking his blood” describes how we trust him for all aspects of our lives. He is the only one who can meet both our physical and personal needs. The fact that we live in him and he in us, our union with him, is the basis for our personal security and importance in this world. No other person or institution can truly satisfy our needs.

 

John

 

New Year 2021

Posted on 29 December, 2020 at 10:25

Dear Saints;

 

As I look forward to the New Year, I have mixed emotions. On the one hand I am ready for an exiting year of growth despite the challenges we may face, but on the other hand I am concerned about the condition of our world. Part of me, the new man that I am in Christ is rejoicing in the hope of glory in the coming year, while another part of me, the flesh, is filled with resentment, despair, and anxiety. Yes, I realize this makes me somewhat schizophrenic from a clinical perspective, but it really just means that I am a Christian fighting my own flesh while living in a sin cursed world.

 

As I face the threats of 2021, I have a choice to make within the context of God’s sovereignty. I can choose to enter 2021 in faith, or I can choose to live the natural lifestyle of fear. While this choice may not make any real difference in what is going to happen in the next year, it will dramatically affect my attitude. Exercising faith in God’s Word I can be assured of some amazing promises regardless of what lies ahead in the New Year. I can be sure that I am and will be personally secure in God’s love and significant in God’s eternal plan no matter what happens. In faith I can see the end of all trials at the beginning and know I cannot lose. Faith in who I am guarantees that all things will work together for my good in 2021!

 

Entering the New Year in the natural lifestyle of fear is a radically different story. Rather than hope we might be able to muster a little wishful thinking but endure an underlying dread of the worst-case scenario. We are afraid we will lose our money and

all the satisfaction that it brings us. We are afraid we will lose our health and must face our own mortality. Such fears create a morbid dread of 2021 at best, and a pervasive sense of gloom and doom at worst. In addition to becoming a self-fulfilling prophesy our natural fears may even produce a variety of psychosomatic illnesses consuming most of our time, energy, and money.

 

The personal benefits of entering in to 2021 in faith are just the beginning…the genuine hope that comes from believing produces many more. In addition to the endurance of various trials we may face, hope gives us a sense of confidence in all that we do and speak. Having the experience of being tried and found approved we are confident in the other decisions we must make daily. From the simple choices of our everyday lives to the life altering decisions we sometimes must make; we can do so without the paralyzing anxiety so common to the natural lifestyle. Reliance upon the personal leadership of the indwelling Spirit of God we can be at peace even under extreme circumstances. We can truly know the “peace that passes all understanding”, the peace of God, himself.

 

Faith and hope free us to actually think about and love others around us. When I feel secure in God’s love and significant in his plan for my life, I have a joyful, confident expectation about my future. Knowing that my needs are and will be met frees me up to

 

be able to care about others. As we enter 2021 in faith, the hope that sustains us personally will also allow us to fulfill our high calling of God to love others like Christ. Regardless of the coming events of this New Year our purpose here remains the same…love others like Christ. Authentic faith will, in fact, always work itself out in love for others. No matter what we may face in 2021 we can be sure that we will have the opportunity to love others in a variety of ways. Despite the daily struggle with the flesh, I am going to believe who God has made me to be in Christ so that I can live and love like him in 2021. I choose to trust his indwelling Spirit to set me free each day to continue loving others. I hope you will join me.

Happy New Year!

 

John

 

Emmanuel

Posted on 21 December, 2020 at 13:00

Dear Saints,

 

Christmas 2020 has lost much of its glitter for many. It’s hard for people who are locked down, wearing masks, and living in fear to get excited about a holiday celebration. Those who have suffered from unemployment and are short on cash find this season anything but jovial. Celebrating with friends and family and even attending various Christmas programs is looked upon with suspicion and even forbidden in some places due to the social distancing mandated by the powers that be. The panic over the corona virus has put a real damper on our traditional Christmas celebrations this year.

 

Maybe shaking up our traditional celebrations of Christmas will help us get back to the real reason for the season. In Matthew’s account of the birth of Christ he refers to the message of the angel to Joseph as a fulfillment of an ancient prophesy of Isaiah. Naturally, Joseph was having trouble deciding what to do with his fiancée, Mary, when she showed up pregnant before they had consummated their marriage. So God spoke to him by an angel in a dream to assure him that her story was true. She was, indeed, pregnant by the Holy Spirit with the Son of God. And this whole incident fulfilled the prophesy of Isaiah 7: 14, “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel. Which being interpreted is, God with us.”

 

The context of Isaiah’s prophesy reveals that it was a sign from God to a people who were fearful and helpless before their enemies. The virgin-born son is named Emmanuel meaning God with us and Isaiah further promises in 9:6-7, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” Clearly, the birth of Jesus by the virgin Mary fulfills this ancient prophesy that God is with us and that he is in charge.

 

Regardless of the circumstances surrounding our Christmas celebration this year we can be sure of Emmanuel, God with us. That same Jesus born in Bethlehem promised his disciples he would not leave us as orphans in this world, but would come to us through his Spirit, the Comforter. Through the personal leadership and power of the indwelling Spirit of God each of us can experience the love, joy, and peace to celebrate the birth of our Savior. Despite the growing darkness of the world around us we can rejoice in the fact that God is with us and he is in charge. And because he is we can have a Merry Christmas even in 2020.

 

John

 

 

Peace on Earth

Posted on 9 December, 2020 at 11:20

Dear Saints,

 

As we approach the Christmas season, I’m a little confused by the angelic message given to the shepherds on the night Jesus was born. In Luke 2: 8-15 we have the story of an angel appearing to some lowly shepherds and announcing, “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people”. The angel further explains the “good tidings” as the nearby birth of a savior he calls Christ (the Messiah) who is the Lord. After telling them they could identify this savior as a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger there suddenly appeared an entire army of angels praising God with him saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.”

 

The King James translation of their praise is what confuses me because it seems to imply that the birth of Jesus would glorify God in heaven and bring peace and goodwill on earth. The glory to God in heaven part I understand, but where is the peace and goodwill toward men on earth? Maybe it’s just that we have higher expectations during the Christmas season, but there seems to be more conflict, suffering, and violence during the holidays than other times of the year. The “good tidings” seems to lose some of it’s “great joy to all people” when we correlate the increase of social ills with the Christmas season.

 

A literal translation of the angelic praise, however, both lowers my expectations for the season and eliminates my confusion and disappointment. A better translation of verse 14 would be, “Glory to God in heaven and on earth peace toward men of goodwill.” The phrase “men of goodwill” can also be interpreted as men in whom God is well pleased. This translation makes more sense to me considering the historical conflicts and violence since the birth of Jesus. In fact, his birth caused an increase in conflict in the spirit realm which spilled over to the political realm as the puppet king, Herod, sought to kill the child. Jesus himself said that his coming into the world would cause conflict even in the social and family realm.

 

The miraculous birth of our savior glorified God in heaven by displaying his true character of love. For the Creator to take the form of his created beings so that he could personally demonstrate his love for them is amazing love. To so identify with fallen humanity as to be born of a woman and experience this life with all its conflicts and sorrows is a love beyond our comprehension. Truly, God was glorified in the highest heaven for all to behold. And the effect of such love on earth was not the removal of conflict and violence but the peace of God that passes all understanding when “men of goodwill” receive his love. In the midst of all the turmoil, conflicts, and sorrows the peace on earth will be within those who have received by faith the love of God through Jesus.

The only time we will see peace on earth is when the Prince of Peace establishes his kingdom as he promised he would do. That kingdom will be established by Jesus when he comes again into this world. His first coming was as a suffering savior, but his second coming will be as a conquering king. Although the complete fulfillment of that promise is yet to come, he graciously gives us inner peace here and now as we believe on him. This “peace on earth toward men of goodwill” is good news to all who live in a fallen world of conflict and violence as they trust that babe in a manger as the Lord of all.

 

John

 

Thanks Be To God

Posted on 24 November, 2020 at 10:05

Dear Saints,

 

There seems to be a general consensus that the year 2020 has been a bad year, at least for our country. Beginning with a shortage of toilet paper it seems like things kept get progressively worse as the year went on. The Covid-19 pandemic, the lockdowns, the economic setbacks, the call for defunding the police, violent protests in the streets of major cities, and unprecedented voter fraud during the elections all add up to make this year seem like the worst in recent history. Add to that a hidden undercurrent of frustration and rage in the average American today and I wonder what we could possibly be thankful for this year.

 

I interpret the toilet paper crisis as a sign from God that also explains all the other crazy things sweeping our country. In a nutshell our concern over a shortage of toilet paper is a literal expression of our worry about how we are going to save our own butts on many levels. The fear of not being able to get enough toilet paper is a fear of not being able to save your own butt literally, and that fear extends to how you are going to keep from getting the virus, how you are going to survive a lockdown, how you are going to pay your bills and buy groceries, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. The real problem here is our natural tendency to panic in fear rather than trust God to provide. Fear and faith are mutually exclusive.

 

Despite all the fear mongering by the media and the various threats we face as a nation, we still have many reasons to express our thanks to God in this crazy year. Above all I thank God that he has “not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” The greatest gift we have received from the Father is the indwelling Spirit of Truth, the Comforter as Jesus called him, who continually leads us, teaches us, reminds us, and guides us into all truth. Because of his work in us there is no need to scramble around trying to save our own butts on any level. Each of us have the amazing privilege to be personally led and directed in our everyday lives by the Spirit of Christ.

 

Although the spirit of anti-Christ has been actively working in the world since the beginning of these “latter times’, the events of this past year suggests a sudden escalation in the spiritual war between God and Satan. While much of biblical prophecy has already been fulfilled in the first coming of Christ, there remains a significant number of prophesies to be fulfilled concerning his second coming to establish his kingdom on this earth. Regardless of the various interpretations of specific events the overall picture is an intensification of spiritual battles culminating in the ultimate defeat of Satan and his forces. That tells me things are likely to get a lot worse before they get better. But it also tells me that our ultimate victory in Christ is assured and drawing near.

 

Because of the promises of God concerning his working in us as well as our world, we have much to thank him for no matter how crazy things are. Knowing that he has made us brand new persons in Christ and given us his Spirit gives us the confidence we need to face this ”present darkness” we are living in. Knowing the Father has given all power in heaven and earth unto his Son in whom we are blessed with all spiritual blessings we are assured our own ultimate victory. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15: 57-58, “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as ye know that you labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

John

 

Napping in the Storm

Posted on 19 November, 2020 at 11:35

Dear Saints,

 

How do you take a nap in the middle of a ragging storm? The story of Jesus being sound asleep in the boat during a mini hurricane on the lake of Galilee amazes me (Mark 4: 35-40). Just getting in a boat usually makes me nervous never mind being caught in a storm. The fact that experienced fishermen who knew how to sail were freaked tells me this was no small storm threatening to destroy their boat. In fact, the situation was so dangerous as the boat began filling up with water they thought it necessary to interrupt Jesus getting some rest to prepare for the worst. Of course, Jesus quickly dealt with the situation and rebuked them for their foolish worry.

 

Mark tells us how Jesus took care of this life-threatening situation by simply rebuking the wind and telling the sea, “Peace, be still”. Clearly Jesus, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, was not in the least bit worried about the raging storm because he knew he was in charge and “even the wind and the sea obey him”. So he asked those with him, “Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?” Silly disciples. There was no need to freak out over the storm when they were in the same boat as the Master. Yet Mark reports they thought they were going to die, and the Master didn’t care. That’s why they woke him from his nap in the first place. Even after Jesus calmed the sea Mark tells us they “feared exceedingly” and asked themselves what kind of man was in the same boat with them.

 

Like those early disciples we are in the same boat as Jesus in this world. Because we have been joined to him ( he in us and us in him) and he has sent us into the world just as the Father sent him, we are in the same boat with him. What happens to us happens to him. When the storms arise and threaten to destroy us they threaten him as well. The reason he can take a nap in the middle of the storm is because he, as Paul put it in Colossians 3: 15, “let the peace of God rule” in his heart. Because Jesus and the Father are one he experiences the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. And because we are in him and he in us we too can experience the peace of God in the middle of the storms of life.

 

Likewise Paul admonishes us to, “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts” in the same way it did for Jesus. Believing that Jesus is in the same boat as we, that we are in him and he is in us, is allowing the peace of God to govern our decisions in life. No matter how threatening the storms may seem to be, the Master is there to command, “Peace, be still”. Rather than being controlled by fear and worry about what might happen, we can live in peace having the confidence we need to make the right choices for ourselves and others.

 

I’m not sure I will ever get to the point where I can take a nap in the middle of the storm. But I can honestly say that I see the storms as an opportunity to hear the Master command, “Peace, be still”. Even in these dark days of the latter times we live in, we have a confidence and boldness in the peace of God ruling in our hearts to rebuke the wind and calm the waves. No matter how threatening the storms of life may be, Jesus remains in charge even when it seems he is taking a nap. You can trust him because he’s in the same boat with you.

 

John

 


Rss_feed