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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

Blog

Blog

Dead to Sin

Posted on 18 July, 2014 at 13:45

Dear Saints;

As believers in Jesus Christ we have been born again and now have a brand new life in Christ. But like new born babies we are not fully aware of whom we really are as a child of God. This is why Peter tells us to desire the sincere milk of the Word so that we might grow up in grace and knowledge of our Savior. The milk of the Word is all the Bible says God has done for us that we could never do for ourselves. Paul promises us that as we steadfastly focus our attention on who God has made us to be in Christ a miracle takes place. We are actually transformed into the very image of Christ from the inside out. (2 Corinthians 3:18) Although this change is developmental in that it is "from glory to glory", it is a continual process of the indwelling Spirit of God changing us from the inside out.

Perhaps the most radical change we believers may experience concerns our sin problem. Romans 6:11 tells us to count on the fact that we ourselves are dead indeed unto sin but alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Most, if not all, believers have trouble thinking this about themselves. We are so used to trying as hard as we can to quit sinning that we never bother to consider this command or take it seriously. I had been saved since I was 11 and was 33 years old before I started to think of myself this way. I had always thought of myself alive unto sin and dead to God! I was trying as hard as I could to quit sinning, and constantly asking God to forgive me for sinning, but I never once thought of myself as being dead indeed to sin.

The reason Paul wants us to think of ourselves as dead to sin is so that we will quit obsessing with sin and focus on what will actually change us. He tells us earlier in that chapter that as many have been baptized into Christ (joined to him when we are born again), have been joined to him in his death. This means that when Jesus died on the cross, the old man or natural person we were as descendants of Adam was crucified with him. He goes on to tell us that we were buried with Christ and when he rose again from the dead we were raised up with him as brand new persons that are dead indeed to sin! Isn't that amazing? God killed the old sinful, dysfunctional, self centered persons we were, and created us as new persons in Christ with his righteousness. This means that we have never sinned, we are not now sinning, and we will never sin because we are in Christ and he is in us!

When we believe what we are commanded to believe in Romans 6:11, we count on the fact that we ourselves are dead indeed to sin and alive unto God; we are free from worrying about our sin and spending all our time and energy on trying to quit sinning. Instead, we are free to turn our attention to an intense study of all that God has done for us as revealed in the Scriptures. As Paul advised his disciple, Timothy, we can study to show ourselves approved of God a workman that doesn't need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of God. And as we steadfastly behold in the Bible the "glory of the Lord", that is, who we are in Jesus; we are changed (not change ourselves) into the same image by the power of the indwelling Spirit of God. Changing us "from glory to glory" the Holy Spirit does the work Jesus promised he would do as the Comforter.

As the Spirit of truth he guides us into all truth, makes Jesus real to us, comforts us, leads us, teaches us, and empowers us to do the ministry we have been called to do in loving others as Christ. In short, we are able to begin "walking in newness of life" as we learn a new lifestyle of grace and truth in a world full of law and lies. However, none of this is possible without that essential faith we are called to exercise in Romans 6:11 as we count on the fact that we are dead indeed unto sin and alive unto God. Unless we believe this good news about ourselves we will continue to obsess on our sins and desperately try to save ourselves according to our own knowledge of good and evil. Count on the good news!

John

Categories: Sin