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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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Thanks Be To God

Posted on 24 November, 2020 at 10:05

Dear Saints,

 

There seems to be a general consensus that the year 2020 has been a bad year, at least for our country. Beginning with a shortage of toilet paper it seems like things kept get progressively worse as the year went on. The Covid-19 pandemic, the lockdowns, the economic setbacks, the call for defunding the police, violent protests in the streets of major cities, and unprecedented voter fraud during the elections all add up to make this year seem like the worst in recent history. Add to that a hidden undercurrent of frustration and rage in the average American today and I wonder what we could possibly be thankful for this year.

 

I interpret the toilet paper crisis as a sign from God that also explains all the other crazy things sweeping our country. In a nutshell our concern over a shortage of toilet paper is a literal expression of our worry about how we are going to save our own butts on many levels. The fear of not being able to get enough toilet paper is a fear of not being able to save your own butt literally, and that fear extends to how you are going to keep from getting the virus, how you are going to survive a lockdown, how you are going to pay your bills and buy groceries, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. The real problem here is our natural tendency to panic in fear rather than trust God to provide. Fear and faith are mutually exclusive.

 

Despite all the fear mongering by the media and the various threats we face as a nation, we still have many reasons to express our thanks to God in this crazy year. Above all I thank God that he has “not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” The greatest gift we have received from the Father is the indwelling Spirit of Truth, the Comforter as Jesus called him, who continually leads us, teaches us, reminds us, and guides us into all truth. Because of his work in us there is no need to scramble around trying to save our own butts on any level. Each of us have the amazing privilege to be personally led and directed in our everyday lives by the Spirit of Christ.

 

Although the spirit of anti-Christ has been actively working in the world since the beginning of these “latter times’, the events of this past year suggests a sudden escalation in the spiritual war between God and Satan. While much of biblical prophecy has already been fulfilled in the first coming of Christ, there remains a significant number of prophesies to be fulfilled concerning his second coming to establish his kingdom on this earth. Regardless of the various interpretations of specific events the overall picture is an intensification of spiritual battles culminating in the ultimate defeat of Satan and his forces. That tells me things are likely to get a lot worse before they get better. But it also tells me that our ultimate victory in Christ is assured and drawing near.

 

Because of the promises of God concerning his working in us as well as our world, we have much to thank him for no matter how crazy things are. Knowing that he has made us brand new persons in Christ and given us his Spirit gives us the confidence we need to face this ”present darkness” we are living in. Knowing the Father has given all power in heaven and earth unto his Son in whom we are blessed with all spiritual blessings we are assured our own ultimate victory. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15: 57-58, “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as ye know that you labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

John

 

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