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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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A Blessed Easter

Posted on 24 March, 2021 at 14:15

Dear Saints,

 

The yearly Easter celebration is centered on the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. While there have always been those scoffers who deny this fact and see the celebration as nothing more than a religious tradition, for believers the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a fact full of personal meaning worthy of daily celebration. The fact that Jesus rose again from the dead is especially relevant to our lives when we understand our own personal connection both to his death and resurrection.

 

In his letters the apostle Paul explains at length this personal connection every believer has in the death and resurrection of Jesus. In Romans he writes, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” The word “baptism” literally means “joined together with” so that Paul clearly states we were joined to Christ in both his death and resurrection. As he goes on to explain, the old person you have always thought yourself to be was put to death with Jesus and a new person was raised up in his resurrection so that you could live a new life.

 

In Ephesians Paul emphasizes our resurrection with Jesus writing, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” For those who are worried about whether you are going to heaven you are already there! When God raised Jesus from the dead the new person he has made you to be in Christ went with him. As far as God is concerned you are seated in heaven with Christ right now.

 

In Colossians Paul calls on believers to open their eyes and truly celebrate our resurrection with Jesus writing, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. Set you affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” There is nothing on earth that can give you the personal security and significance you need more than your death and resurrection with Jesus. Celebrating the resurrection of Jesus includes our own resurrection with him and all the benefits of his eternal victory over death.

 

Finally, Paul records his own testimony in Galatians saying, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” The center of our Easter celebration is the “faith of the Son of God” meaning we have the same faith Jesus has in the Father raising both him and us from the dead. Have a blessed Easter.

 

John

 

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