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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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God's Eternal Plan

Posted on 4 November, 2020 at 15:30

Dear Saints,

 

Before writing this message I was waiting on the outcome of the presidential election yesterday. But this morning it seems we still don’t know for sure and it occurred to me that it really doesn’t matter. The message I have is not dependent on who the president is or what the political landscape in our nation looks like. This is not to suggest political apathy or indifference, but to focus on a deeper issue concerning God’s eternal plan for humanity and his power to fulfill that plan in his own time. It finally boils down to the single question of who is really in charge of our destiny. And can we live with that?

 

Each of us has a natural desire to control people, situations, and circumstances hoping to make ourselves secure and significant by our own efforts. This primal drive of self-preservation takes many forms depending on the culture we live in, but the goal remains the same. In the political process we choose to give power and control over to those we think will best achieve our basic goal of self-preservation and represent our personal interests. All politicians promise to use the power and control you give them to insure your personal security and significance through their policies and directives. All politicians fail to keep that promise. No matter how hard they try to give you a personal sense of security and significance, they simply can’t deliver.

 

What we have been trying to do for ourselves and elect others do for us can only be done by Jesus. When he miraculously fed the multitudes he proved he is more than capable to satisfy our deepest need for personal security and significance. As he explained in the synagogue of Capernaum he wasn’t just giving them a free lunch but illustrating how he could satisfy the hunger we each have for security and the thirst we have for significance. After declaring that he was the bread of life he went on to say, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” And again, “He that eats my flesh , and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him.” (John 5: 53, 56)

 

What Jesus was telling us is that our personal security and significance comes only from being one with him. Because we are in him and he is in us we have eternal life that can never be taken by people, situations, or circumstances. Our personal security and significance does not rest on our own efforts to control and neither does it depend on the control we give to others. It comes only from the fact that we are one with Jesus. The immediate response of the disciples was, “This is a hard saying, who can hear it?” because they, like us, had been conditioned all their lives to depend on their own performance, the approval of others, and everything except their union with Jesus to satisfy their need for security and significance as persons.

While it is , indeed, a “hard saying” it is the absolute truth. Only our personal relationship with Jesus can give us the security and significance we crave in this world. Only Jesus and who or what he provides for us at any given time will satisfy these deep personal needs. The very heart of the gospel message is that God has done everything necessary to make you secure in his love and significant in his eternal plan. I’m not going to trust a political candidate to meet these needs, but rather my personal savior, Jesus.

 

John

 

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