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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

We Cannot Lose

Posted on 4 February, 2021 at 10:30

Dear Saints,

 

Regardless of who you talk to these days there seems to be a lot of uncertainty and unrest in our land. The so called “culture war” between those who hold to the more traditional values and those who embrace the more progressive ideals has been brewing for some time now. The political divide between those who are conservative in their views and those who are liberal has been escalating to the point of violence in the streets. Despite the exponential increase of knowledge and information via the worldwide web along with the incessant flow of daily news reports people seem more polarized and confused than ever. As a result there seems to be a dramatic rise in both fear due to a lack of faith and hatred due to excessive pride.

 

So where is the good news in all this mess? How shall we deal with the present and prepare for the future? The good news is that Jesus is still our King, the Father holds our future, and the Holy Spirit will continue to lead and comfort us regardless of what comes our way. The answer to fear is faith while the answer to hate is love. Believing the truth of who God has made us to be in Christ gives us the hope we need to love others. Knowing that God has made us secure in his love and significant in his plan allows us to make the choices we need to make today and guarantees our victory in the future.

 

Does believing this good news mean that we will avoid all suffering in this world? Of course not! Because we live in a sin-cursed world that is falling apart we all will face suffering of various kinds. Our focus is not to be on avoiding such suffering but rather to endure it through the comfort of the indwelling Spirit. Jesus told his followers, “In this world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world”. Likewise Paul assures us of God’s gracious provisions in the midst of our suffering saying, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death , nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 

The scriptures in both the Old and New Testaments are replete with examples of God’s people victoriously enduring suffering in this world. Whether it be David and the giant, the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace, Daniel in the lion’s den, or Elijah fighting the 400 false prophets of a corrupt government they all were victorious by the grace of God. What enabled Peter and John to endure threats and persecution by the government, Paul, and Silas to sing praised to God in jail, and thousands of first century martyrs to face death with joy in their hearts and praise on their lips is the same Comforter that lives in us today. Hearing his voice and following his directions in faith puts us in a “supernatural bubble” of love, joy, and peace even in this chaotic world we are living in today.

 

That “supernatural bubble” known as the fruit of the Spirt is what allows us to display longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control as the very character of Christ. Our Father has not left us in this world to be fat, dumb, and happy but given us the Spirit of his Son to be Christ to others despite our circumstances. Jesus promised us that both he and the Father would be at home with us as we endure the opposition we must face. Even though it may look and feel like we are going to lose be assured the victory is coming.

 

John

 

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