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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

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Blog

Indwelling Spirit of God

Posted on 6 May, 2014 at 10:25

Dear Saints;

 After his resurrection from the dead Jesus spent time assuring his disciples that he was, in fact, alive and preparing them for their work as his witnesses in the world. Each of the gospel writers; Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all record their own version of what is called the great commission. Taken together these accounts reveal what Jesus expects from his disciples as witnesses. Since his ascension back into heaven from the Mount of Olives over two thousand years ago the only Jesus the world can see is that which is revealed by the witness of his disciples. Paul refers to our collective witness as disciples being the "body of Christ" or the church, and assures us that Jesus as the "head of the body" is in absolute control of his church.

 The most detailed commission Jesus gave to his disciples is recorded by Matthew, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." Based on his own God-given power in heaven and on earth, Jesus commanded his disciple to teach all nations. Every believer is given the privilege of being a witness for Jesus as they fulfill their high calling of God to love others like Christ. In a gathering of two or more such believers in identity and union with Christ their power to witness increases as they fulfill the commission Jesus gives them. The book of Acts provides us with the history of the first churches established and empowered by the Holy Spirit working through the disciples of Jesus following his ascension back into heaven.

 Today we enjoy the same privilege in our generation as did those early disciples. As individual believers in Christ we are promised the indwelling Spirit of God just as the first disciples received him. Although we do not have any eyewitnesses of his resurrection as were the first disciples, we are witnesses none the less. Every believer is indwelled with the same Spirit of God that led and empowered both Jesus and his early disciples. In addition, we have both the historical record of the early church as well as the detailed description of the gospel in the New Testament scriptures. To the extent that we are enlightened by the Spirit to the truth of the New Testament we are witnesses to the full meaning of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

 Like those first disciples we too are commissioned to not only make disciples of all nations, but also to baptize them in the name or identity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. This refers to more than the symbolic ritual of water baptism. It means that we are to teach new believers about their spiritual union with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is this union that gives us a new identity and satisfies our deepest personal needs. The rite of baptism symbolizes our death with Christ on the cross, our burial with him in the tomb, and our resurrection with him to eternal life. It is because of our new identity in Christ that we are able to live a new lifestyle.

 Finally, we are to teach others to observe the commands of Jesus. This means that we are to instruct others to hear and follow what Jesus is telling them to do with their lives. This is the new lifestyle of grace and truth as opposed to the old lifestyle of law and lies. It centers on the believer's faith in their new identity and the personal leadership of the indwelling Spirit rather than trusting the opinion of religious men. This we do by providing an example for them in the way we live our new lives as Christians. Trusting the indwelling Spirit to produce his fruit (the character of Christ) in us and empower us to love others like Christ; we become true witnesses for Jesus at home, in the work place or market place, in our community, to the utter most part of the world.

 John 

 

 

Categories: Indwelling Spirit of God