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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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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

 

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