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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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After Resurrection

Posted on 8 April, 2021 at 9:45

Dear Saints,

 

History reveals some exciting but also tragic times for the followers of Jesus after his victorious resurrection from the dead. The excitement felt by those who loved Jesus and mourned his death could not be contained when they saw him alive and in his glorified body. They were eyewitnesses to the fulfillment of his promise to rise again from the dead. Luke simply says, “They worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God.” Although they did not yet fully understand all that it meant, they could not help but share their ecstatic joy with others.

 

In strong contrast to the disciple’s joy was the fear, guilt, and pride of their rulers. They were afraid of losing their control over the people, guilty because they had violated their own laws in murdering Jesus, and so proud they refused to admit the obvious fact of his resurrection. These fleshly motivations would culminate in their hatred for and persecution of those who believed. In the historical book of Acts Luke describes in detail both the rejoicing of the followers of Jesus and the tragic persecution they suffered at the hands of their government. While the times and culture have changed the battle between good and evil remains the same today.

 

In anticipation of the conflict between good and evil Jesus gave his followers the key to victory. His promise to all of us who believe in his resurrection is to be with us always amid this battle. To those first disciples he said he would not leave them helpless as “orphans” in this world but would send “another of the same kind of Comforter”, the “Spirit of Truth” to not only be with them but also be in them. Luke records the great audio-visual display of the coming of the Spirit to empower the followers of Jesus in Acts chapter two as well as other historical events through out his account. Clearly, the resurrected Christ has come into the world through his Spirit to continue his work among men insuring his victory over evil through resurrection power.

 

That same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead now lives in us to make our sin-cursed mortal bodies come alive with the very life of Christ (Romans 8: 11). Through his resurrection power the indwelling Holy Spirit is continually leading us, teaching us, guiding us into all truth, and empowering us with the mind and character of Christ. What that looks like practically is not in religious activity, but in the very character of Christ described by Paul as the “fruit of the Spirit”. He produces in us the same love, joy, and peace that Jesus experienced while he was here in this world. He empowers us with the longsuffering, gentleness, and goodness that makes us act like Jesus did in our relationships. And finally, he gives us the faith, meekness, and self-control that allowed Jesus to fulfill his ministry on earth.

 

It is the fruit of the indwelling Spirit of Christ that gave his followers the name “Christian” meaning Christ-like. The disciples of Jesus not only rejoiced in his resurrection but also displayed his character through the resurrection power of his Spirit living within. It is the display of the character of the living Christ in those who follow him that tells the world today “he’s alive!” In our homes, on our jobs, and in our communities displaying the character of Christ in the power of his Spirit makes each of us witnesses of the fact that he is risen.

 

John

 

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