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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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New Creature

Posted on 7 August, 2014 at 10:15

Dear Saints;

 

 

Our new identity in Christ is, in my opinion at least, the most profound concept of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The fact that, as Paul stated in 2 Corinthians 5: 17, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature" is amazing in itself. The good news involves not only the forgiveness of sin, but also the brand new identity we have in Christ! When Jesus died on the cross as a sacrifice for us, the person we were as a natural descendent of Adam was also put to death. And when Jesus rose again from the dead we also were raised up with him as brand new persons who are now able to "walk in newness of life". In order for us to live a new lifestyle we must have a new identity. When by faith we are joined to Christ in his death and resurrection we become a brand new creature. Jesus called this being "born again" since it gives us a new identity and life.

 

 

Our new identity in Christ means that we are no longer the persons we have always thought of ourselves as being. We have been radically changed on the inside and are in the process of being changed on the outside as well. The natural person we were born into the world as, did not and could not meet God's standards for humanity. His standard is the character and life of his only begotten son, Jesus. He has never accepted those who sincerely try the best they can to behave themselves. All our self-improvement programs and efforts are not sufficient to gain God's approval. The Law as described in the Ten Commandments given through Moses not only reveals the righteousness of God, but also proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that all humanity is guilty and in need of a savior. The good news is that for his great love and by his amazing grace God not only forgives our sin, but also makes us absolutely righteous so that we meet his standards.

 

 

Unfortunately not all people are willing to accept the righteousness of God as a free gift of his grace. They insist on trying as hard as they can to make themselves righteous by their own efforts to know and keep the Law. They are trying desperately to earn God's love and forgiveness rather than simply receive it by faith in Jesus. Even among believers who trusted Jesus as their personal savior there are those who fall back under the Law by trying to rehabilitate their old identity. They, too, refuse to believe that Jesus has done all that is necessary to make us acceptable to God in his sacrifice on the cross. Still thinking of themselves as being the same old person they were before they trusted Jesus and were born again, these baby Christians engage in a flurry of religious good works to hopefully earn God's blessings in their lives. Obsessing on their own knowledge of good and evil and self-improvement programs, they remain as self-centered as they were before they were saved and cannot love others like Christ.

 

 

In strong contrast to this religious lifestyle of law and lies, we are given a new identity in Christ so that we can live a new lifestyle of grace and truth. As new creatures in Christ we simply chose to believe that we are new persons who are "dead to sin, but alive unto God". The exercise of that faith regarding our new identity in Christ allows us to enter into grace as our new lifestyle. That faith in who God has made us to be in Christ gives us the hope, (joyful, confident expectation of our future) we need to actually begin to think about and love others like Christ. Although we still live in the same old body we were born with, we have been radically changed into a new person in Christ. Despite the presence of the conditioning and left over thinking, attitudes, and coping strategies (the flesh) still left in these mortal bodies we live in on earth, we are brand new creatures in Christ and have just begun to live out the eternal life we received by faith. While we have a battle ahead with our flesh we are assured that sin shall not have dominion over us because we are not under law but under grace. We are right now more than conquerors through Jesus our Lord.

 

 

John

Categories: New Creature