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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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Changing from the Inside Out

Posted on 27 May, 2020 at 15:30

Dear Saints,

 

One of the most critical functions of the indwelling Spirit is called the “renewing of the mind”. Even though all believers have been given the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:14) when they were created in Christ Jesus, the “carnal mind” of the flesh is still present in these mortal bodies we still inhabit. To use the mind of Christ rather than the mind of the flesh in our daily lives requires the power of the indwelling Spirit who is continually teaching us and guiding us into all truth. As with all other issues in the believer’s life this renewal process requires the exercise of faith on our part as well as the resurrection power of the Spirit.

 

In Romans 12: 1,2 Paul tells us to present our bodies as “living sacrifices to God” by refusing to be conformed to the natural conditioning of this world system and allowing our selves to be transformed “by the renewing of the mind”. Likewise, in Ephesians 4: 17-24 he counsels us to put off the old lifestyle and “be renewed in the spirit of the mind” so that we might live a new lifestyle of holiness and true righteousness. The key to healthy, functional living in this world is the spiritual enlightenment from the indwelling Spirit changing our natural, self-centered thinking. This is a process, not an event, that will continue from the moment we are “born again” until we are glorified.

 

Our part in the renewing of our minds is a willingness to allow the Spirit to change the way we think, feel, and act. Like King David said after the Bathsheba affair, “Create in me a clean heart, O God: and renew a right spirit within me” we too must acknowledge our need for renewal and trust God to do the changing. The same inner transformation is described by Paul in 2 Corinthians 3: 18, “But we all, with open face beholding in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord”. What Paul means by the phrase. “with open face beholding in a glass the glory of the Lord” is an honest and continuous study of the Bible (the glass or mirror) to see who God has made us to be in Christ. The Bible is not a rule book to tell us what we must do to change ourselves, but a revelation of what God has already done to make us brand new persons. When we look into the glass or mirror, we see ourselves in Jesus! Believing in our new identity is our part, changing us into the image of Christ is God’s part.

 

By continually seeing ourselves in Christ Jesus we are changed (passive voice in the Greek) into the same image. We do not change ourselves but rather are changed “from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord”. Our part then is to believe what the Word of God says about who we are and be willing to allow the Spirit to change us from the inside out. This is why Paul told Timothy to “study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed” (2 Timothy 2: 15). Rather than worry and fret over how we are going to change ourselves, we simply believe who God said he made us to be and trust his Spirit to transform us from the inside out by the renewing of our minds. It is this simple, child-like faith in our new identity in Christ that gives us “access into this grace wherein we stand” and allows us to “rejoice in the hope of the glory of God”. Our part is to want to believe what God says he has done for us; the Spirit’s part is to make it real to us in our daily lives.

 

John

 

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