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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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Be Christ to Others

Posted on 27 August, 2014 at 9:45

Dear Saints;

 

Lately I’ve been catching myself using the phrase, “Being Christ to others”, to describe our ministry as believers. Like any other phrase this one can become trite and almost meaningless when it is used too often without explanation. Just what does it mean to “be Christ to others”? And how in the world are we supposed to do it? More importantly, how are we to be Christ without becoming religious or self-righteous?

 

To begin with this phrase is meant to describe a lifestyle rather than a certain behavior. Each believer is given the “high calling of God in Christ Jesus” which simply means to relate to and love others like Jesus. The very term, “Christian” means to be Christ like in the way we live our lives. That means we are going to live a new lifestyle of grace and truth rather than the natural lifestyle of law and lies. We enter this lifestyle of grace and truth by the exercise of our faith in our new identity in Christ and the personal leadership of his spirit in our daily lives. Believing that we have been joined to Christ, we also believe that we have been given the mind of Christ and have received the indwelling Spirit of Christ to guide us as well as comfort us. As believers we live by faith in all that God says he has done for us in Christ trusting him to meet our every need.

 

Having our own need for love and respect as persons met in Christ, we are free to care about and love others. Having a genuine sense of hope (a joyful, confident expectation concerning our own future) we are able to have compassion on those around us. Being joined to Christ in spirit gives us the ability to live like Christ in this world and “be Christ” to others. Being Christ to others simply means that we love them like Christ and are led by his indwelling Spirit to say and do the things he would say or do for them. This may involve confronting their inappropriate behavior without condemning them as persons. Or it might be simply comforting them when they are hurting without enabling them in their dysfunction. Finally, it will likely involve supporting them when they are weak in the faith and have a hard time believing they are secure in God’s love and important in his plan.

 

As we live our everyday lives in grace and truth we will learn to trust the personal leadership of the indwelling Spirit to lead us, teach us, remind us, comfort us, and empower us in all we do or say. Just as Jesus relied entirely upon the personal leadership of the Spirit while he was here on earth, so we also have the same Spirit to produce the character of Christ in us. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control all of which are a perfect description of the character of Christ. Allowing the indwelling Spirit to produce this fruit in us causes us to display the character of Christ to others in our day to day lives. It is by his resurrection power working in us that allows the Spirit to cause us to “be Christ” to others.

 

Paul commands all believers to, “Be not drunk with wine wherein is excess, but be ye filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18) In order to “be Christ” to others we must be controlled by the Spirit in the same way a drunk man is controlled by wine. The command to be filled with the Spirit is written in the imperative mood so that we know it is not an option, but a command. It is also written in the present tense so that we know it we are to be continually controlled by the Spirit 24/7. And finally, it is written in the passive voice so that we understand that it is not something we do to ourselves, but rather something we allow to be done to us by the Spirit. Therefore, we might say we are to continually allow ourselves to be controlled by the indwelling Spirit of God so that we may speak and act like Jesus. In short, “being Christ to others” is simply letting the indwelling Holy Spirit empower you to act like Christ in love others like he does. This is why Paul refers to us as “ambassadors for Christ” throughout our lifetime here on earth. In fact, the only Jesus others will see with the natural eye is you. Just as his disciples could see the Father by looking at Jesus, so others can see Christ by looking at his disciples.

 

John

 

Categories: Christ like, Our Union with Christ