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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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Do Not Worry, Love Others

Posted on 30 July, 2020 at 13:10

Dear Saints;

 

One of the main problems I have with walking by faith is that it has a tendency to cause me to worry so much! Because faith is “the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen” it is impossible to walk by faith and see how everything is going to work out. In fact, the more I want to walk by faith the more evidence I see that things are not going to work out. I can imagine how they could work out, but I’m usually disappointed as one scheme after another seems to fall apart. This walking by faith business is really a pain in the butt sometimes!

 

I think this is why Jesus broke it down for us in the Sermon on the Mount when he calls on us to quit worrying about our lives so much. Using the analogy of the birds and wildflowers in nature, he illustrates the faithfulness of God to meet our needs continuously. Reminding us that no amount of worry can change us in anyway, he calls on us to focus our attention on God’s kingdom and his righteousness instead. Living “on the edge” like most of us do, this admonition to stop worrying is just as relevant today as it was when Jesus gave this sermon 2000 years ago.

 

Jesus hits the nail on the head when he refers to us as, “ye of little faith”. This is not so much a rebuke as it is an explanation of our problem. It’s not that we don’t have enough faith (the faith as small as a mustard seed is enough to move mountains), but that we seldom use the faith we have been given. Rather than trust God to do what he says he will do; we prefer to complain and freak out. Have you noticed that we still worry about things even after God has miraculously provided for us in the past? That’s because faith must be exercised daily rather than just once in a while.

 

Knowing that we are going to worry about our lives each day, Jesus directs us to “seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness”. Instead of thinking about our own needs and planning how we are going to get them met, we are told to seek the kingdom of God. This is the place where God is in charge and makes all the decisions. Seeking this kingdom means that we actually want him to decide what needs to be done regardless of what it may mean to us personally. In addition, we are to seek his righteousness meaning that we are to concern ourselves with living out the life of Christ in the midst of our circumstances. Our lives are much more than what we have and experience in this physical world, we are really awesome spirit beings who are inseparably joined to Christ. We are not here to be comfortable and have a good time, but to be Christ to others! We are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works which he before ordained that we should walk in them. We will fulfill his purpose in our lives no matter what.

 

Focusing our attention on who we really are and why we are here is the exercise of faith that guarantees we will have all that we need to get the job done. Instead of worrying about what is going to happen to us tomorrow, we are called to deal with who we are and what our purpose is today. Do you have what you need to love others like Christ right now? Can you actually care about others around you today? We have enough problems to deal with today; don’t worry about those that are coming tomorrow. Our high calling of God in Christ Jesus is summarized by the new command to love others like Christ. That we can do no matter what circumstances we face each day. Today I have a choice: love others like Christ or worry about how I am going to make it. Exercising that tiny faith, I have been given, I choose to love others believing the promise of God to meet my needs. I’ll face tomorrow the same way…seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.

 

John

 

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