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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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Daily Easter 2021

Posted on 15 April, 2021 at 11:10

Dear Saints.

 

Now that Easter is over we can get back to life as usual. All the special plans to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus have been completed and we are ready to move ahead with our own agendas, whatever they may be. The holiday weekend is over, and we are back to our routine.

 

Wait a minute! Is that all there is to Easter? Do we just celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead for a day or a weekend once a year? Isn’t there something more to the death and resurrection of Christ than that? Sure there is! Whether or not we recognize or understand it; Easter is a life changing event. It doesn’t just impact our lives once a year, but everyday all year long. The death and resurrection of Jesus is the very foundation of our lives and, if better understood, would actually change our normal agendas and routine life.

 

This was the point Paul was making in that section of his letter to the Romans I call “the gospel for believers” (Romans 6-8). In chapter six he tells us we are dead to sin. In chapter seven he tells us we are dead to the law. And in chapter eight he tells us we are alive in Christ. In short, the good news for believers is the very meaning of the Easter message and reason for our celebration. Let’s try to understand it.

 

When Jesus was crucified on the cross we were crucified with him. The person we have always thought we were joined to Jesus in his death. Paul calls this person “the old man” meaning that it was the person we were as a natural, self-centered descendant of Adam. Our “old man” is who we were born into the world as: selfish, depraved, sinful, worthless, etc. It is the person we have been trying so hard to clean up and make acceptable to others and God. That “old man” was crucified by God on the cross with Jesus, buried with him, and a “new man” was raised up to take the place of the old man. This is what Jesus referred to as being “born again” saying that which is born of the flesh is flesh, but that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. When the new man replaces the old man we are “born again” and are said to be a new creation even though we still live in the same physical body.

 

Because we still have the same body we were born with we have a tendency to believe that we are not a new person even though God says we are. This is especially true when the flesh (the left-over conditioning of the old man we used to be) takes control of our bodies and causes us to do and say things that don’t match our new identity in Christ. It is for this reason we have so much trouble doing what Paul commands in Romans 6:11, “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord”. We hardly ever consider ourselves as being dead to sin (not ever sinning) because we have the flesh that keeps on flashing in our bodies. The good news of Easter is that you died and rose again just like Jesus. Just as surely as Jesus rose again from the grave, you also have become a new person. It is no longer your job to clean up your life and try hard to be good, but rather to believe that God has already done that for you.

 

Doesn’t that sound way too easy, almost like a cop out? Just try to believe that you are dead to sin and alive unto God and notice the opposition. Despite our track record, our circumstances, and the opinion of others we are called to count on the fact that God has crucified the old person we were and raised us up as brand-new creations. It is a daily fight to believe the truth about ourselves regardless of how we look or feel. Such an exercise of faith is far from easy. In fact, it takes the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit to renew our minds in order for us to truly believe the gospel. Much more will be said about this later, but for now it is enough to count on the fact that we ourselves are dead indeed unto sin and alive unto God through our resurrected Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! We need to learn to celebrate Easter every day.

 

John

 

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