Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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The Comfort of God 7.19.2015
Dear friend,

May the grace, mercy and peace from God our Heavenly Father and from His Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ be with you now and always, Amen!

Word of Meditation: 2 Corinthians 1:1-11

Well, the last month has been quite a busy time as we spent the third week of June in the Upper Peninsula at Confirmation Camp, the last week of June in New York Mills at our annual ALCA convention and the nearly the first three weeks of July with family in the state of Washington. I must say it feels good to be back home and am looking forward to gathering together this morning in worship of our Living God and in fellowship with our beloved brothers and sisters in Christ.

What a rich time of fellowship we have enjoyed in all three places; what a great time of fun we had with family in the west, and what wonderful times we had being with our children, our grandchildren and with some of my siblings. As we got home last night, I must say it is somewhat difficult to switch gears from being in a relaxation mode to resuming my duties of pastor in our beloved congregation....But it is time to do so, so from Apostle Paul's 2nd letter to the Corinthian church, from the first chapter, we will ask Him to speak with us this morning from His Word. May His Spiirit enlighten us to be able to understand, think about and to apply this Word into our life today.

Let us remember that the Corinthian congregation was a divided congregation which had become followers of men and of gifts to the point that they were living in disharmony and in disfellowship. Being humans, we understand the tendency to fall into these states and therefore one must continually be before the Word of God so that the Spirit may search our minds and hearts so that we may be kept in the right mind and heart through repentance and faith. The addressee's to this letter also included all of Achaia, which would comprise most of modern day Greece.

KJV 2 Corinthians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia:
2 Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

After revealing who the writer of the letter is, and to whom it is written, Paul gives the great greeting of grace and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. The greetings are not from him and Timothy, but they are from our God and from our Lord Jesus Christ. These greetings are to you and I also, dear friend, and they are greetings of unmerited favor and of peace. Far above any other point we would make here we must first and foremost understand that God has extended His grace to us while we were yet sinners, as it is written in Paul's letter to the Romans. Please not verses 6, 8, 10.

5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

He decided for you, for me even before the foundation of the world, as is written in the letter to the Ephesians by Paul.....a letter that starts out in a similar fashion to the one we are considering today. Let us not miss how after Paul gives the same greeting of grace and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, he blesses God for what has been given to us by Him.

1:2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

How do we properly contain the joy that is ours as a result of having been chosen by God from eternity in Christ Jesus so that we might be His forever and forever? Not only do we have this grace and this assurance of life eternal, but we live in peace that has come to us through and in Jesus Christ. We have been bought not with silver or gold, but with the precious atoning blood of Christ, we have received this gift by faith and we are living in harmony with our Creator and our Redeemer. This is all because of His grace towards us which results in us living in peace. Dear friend, do you live in this peace today? Have you come to know the Prince of Peace, have you received all that He has come to give to you?

A proper knowledge and understanding of just what His grace and peace are will allow one to richly be blessed by the following part of our text this morning. For when one has come to live in the grace and peace of God in Christ, praise and thanksgiving will flow from our hearts regardless of our outward circumstances. As one gets to know the Apostle in a more intimate way through the reading of his letters, it is very difficult to miss of how much he suffered for the sake of Christ. It is also difficult to miss as to how he responded to the rejection, the hostility, the physical abuse and all the others things that came to his due to his being identified with Christ. This letter (2nd Cor) details many of these sufferings, esp in the latter part of chapter 11 and the first part of chapter 12.

It is important to remember that the Apostle wrote this letter after the fact, and not as things were unfolding. You may think, why is that important? Well, it is very important since what he writes in the beginning of this chapter is a result of having experienced many difficulties in his life in Christ. What he writes about in chapters 11 and 12 will bring a lot of clarity to the text we are considering today when they are read. In fact, let us put that part of the letter here in this writing so that it will be easy to see what I am referring to.

2 Cor 11:22 Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I.
23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.
24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?
30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.
31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.
32 In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me:
33 And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.

KJV 2 Corinthians 12:1 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.
2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.
3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)
4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.
6 For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.
7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

Now consider the beginning words of our text, and of how Paul has the ability to look at life through his state of being: He was the recipient of mercy and comfort from God!! Just think of how difficult that must have been to go through all those things!! Living in these United States of America, it is difficult to relate to Paul who not only experienced these sufferings for Christ, but he survived them and thrived in these circumstances due to the strength of Christ in Him.

After all that, let us now join in the heart of praise with Paul as he begins to write his second letter to those minds and hearts he wished to lift into the proper way of being in Christ.

3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

The Apostle thanked God for the comfort (for His coming alongside) that he had been given when he had been stretched beyond his ability to endure. But he also recognized that because he had suffered, he was now equipped and empowered to comfort those who are experiencing tribulation (being pressed together) with the comfort that he had been comforted with and by. It is all from God. This suffering was because of Paul's being drawn into union with Christ whereby the desires and wants of Christ for the soul's salvation of mankind's souls became his desires and wants. Wow, this is deep stuff and hard to grasp, but yet we see the principle that is contained in this part of scripture. "The closer we are identified with the mission of Jesus Christ, the more we will suffer with Him and for Him." But let us not miss the second part of the verse (5) which states that just as the sufferings abound, so also the consolation (Christ coming to our aid) will abound. Not just be enough, but will abound!!!!!

ESV 2 Corinthians 1:6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.
7 And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.

Now we see the great heart of Paul, who did not look to please himself, but looked as to how he could serve the other. He viewed his afflictions as being beneficial for their comfort and salvation, at his comfort as being beneficial for their comfort. He had joy in being an example for them, with the hope that it would encourage them and help them to persevere in times of adversity and struggle.

8 For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:
9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:
10 Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;

He refers to a personal experience, wanting them to know of how when he was in desperate straights that it was a reminder that he was not to trust in his own abilities, but in God who raises the dead. He then went on to point out that God is the same in the past, in the present and in the future by saying that He had delivered him from death, He is delivering today and He trusts (hope with full confidence) that He will deliver in the future.......Which one of us has not experienced the reality of this in our lives?

Martin Luther is said to have had this take on what Paul writes about here: "God allows us to experience fear so that we would despair of ourselves and reach out to God in hope, while Satan wants to use fear to cause us to doubt the power of God and lose hope."

Job came to a crisis in his life, struggling with doubt, and came to this place:

KJV Job 13:15 Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.

Have you ever been pressed to that degree that you earnestly uttered those words to our God? I have.................and I will never forget the occasion.........

11 Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.

We close our meditation today with this verse in which Paul speaks to the power of corporate prayer, of a congregation praying together for the benefit of a particular person, in this case for their teacher, Apostle Paul. Why is this significant? Is it because of the fact that through the ministry of the Apostle many had been blessed in the knowledge of Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of their sins? Is it because that through him they experienced Christ in human flesh before them, as Paul wrote

2 Cor 6;9 As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed;
10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.
11 O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged.

KJV 2 Corinthians 8:9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.

KJV 2 Corinthians 11:29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?

Who would not want an advocate like that? We all have those who are over us, who need our support and our encouragement so that they would continue on in the calling that they have been given by God. In our right mind, why would we cast doubt or suspicion on one who loves us dearly, wants the best for us according to God's purposes and has given their life to that end that we would be blessed?

And let us hang together, so that through the strength of the body of Chirst we will support and encourage one another, for there is strength in numbers when they are united in purpose.

May we be assured, encouraged and inspired to follow after Christ in our lives, recognizing that when we experience weakness, it is not a sign of condemnation, but rather it is our state of human weakness that should cause us to look to the Strong One, Christ Jesus. May we quietly wait upon the Lord in our times of struggle, knowing that He has delivered in the past, and even if it does not feel like it is so, He is delivering us in our present circumstance, and that if tomorrow comes, He will deliver us from our distress.

May our meditations be acceptable in your sight, our Lord and our Redeemer?

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 19 Jul 2015 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Living in the Victory of Christ 6.28.2015

May the grace and peace from God our Father and from His Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ be with you today, Amen.

Colossians 1:24-2:15

Today we continue our study in the letter that Apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians, a message which will not be a verse by verse one, but will focus on the "bottom line' of this letter:

The Battle Has Been Won through Christ.

The Victory is Ours in Christ

Let's Celebrate and Proclaim This Victory in Christ.

As we celebrate our 239th year of freedom as a nation in these United States of America, we thank God for all the freedoms that are ours that continue to allow us live in peace, in safety and in harmony with our neighbors. May we thank the Giver of these freedoms as we gather to celebrate with family and friends on July 4th. Just as we live in freedom from oppression from foreign powers, likewise we live in the freedom that Jesus Christ has won for us from the power of darkness and which freedom He desires that we would always continue in.

From prison, Apostle Paul wrote words of truth, of encouragement, of warning and of inspiration to the Christians in the congregation at Colosse. (Located in modern day Turkey) He had heard from their minister, Epaphras, that looming on the horizon were threats to their life in the freedom that Christ had won for them and which they lived in through faith. Even though the freedom that we enjoy as a citizen of the USA and the freedom that we enjoy in Christ as a citizen of heaven may seem to be separate realms, they are not, for all of us who live in the freedom of Christ are enlightened and empowered to live as citizens of both kingdoms; our heavenly kingdom and the country which we live in. Please read on, and notice by whom and by what means ALL this spiritual freedom has been attained for all.

Colossians 1:15 He (Jesus Christ) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities- all things were created through him and for him.
17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.
19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,
20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Why was he writing about the One who is first born (the original) of all creation, who created all things that have been created, who is the head of the church, in whom all the fulness of God dwells by God's good pleasure, and who reconciled all things to Himself? And for us, what meaning does it have today?

In that culture, people did not blame others for their problems, but they blamed supernatural beings who were responsible for things going wrong in people's lives. The principalities and powers in the invisible world were connected to the events that happened on earth and so there was a constant awareness that these gods needed to be appeased in order to earn their favor. In many people's minds, there was a distinct connection between those unseen gods and the events in their lives on earth.

Politicians blame the economy for people being out of work and attempt to fix it. World leaders cannot stop the bloodshed from happening and continuing. We blame others for our bad circumstances, and refuse to take responsibility for our attitudes and actions. World leaders are pushing for climate control to ward off our planet's extinction. It is not often that we will admit that our sinful hearts are the source many of our problems, both individually and nationally, and instead of examining our own hearts and actions, external means will be offered as the way to control and stop the violence and bloodshed that is on a rampage in today's world.

Why did Paul say what he did in light of the powers that people believed to be responsible for the problems of their world?

He emphasizes thankfulness, and the main reason for it is: (1:13) He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, (1:14) in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is writing that because of our sinful human hearts evil exists and continues to war against the kingdom of light within us and outside of us: the rule and reign of God. It is only through Christ that anyone can be delivered from the powers of the world, the powers of darkness. God has delivered the world, but only those who believe and trust Him for that reality experience the deliverance, and therefore the power to live in the freedom of love and service to all of mankind.

But what powers has He delivered us from?

All things were made by Him.
KJV Colossians 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

We as humans gave up our privilege and responsibilty to manage the world and handed it over to the powers of darkness. When we refuse to use our human sexuality to God's glory, we are essentially handing it over to the powers. When money manages and controls us, we give it over to Mammon. When this happens, humans get crushed in the process.

In chapter 2, Paul is telling the Colossians that since they belong to Christ, they do not need to submit to the powers of darkness. We ask ourselves: Why do nations war against each other? Why does one go into a church, sit in a bible study for awhile, and then proceed to kill most of the people attending the bible study. They are yet in the grips of the powers of darkness. Jesus totally changed the way that humans are to live. Instead of serving money, he said that we cannot serve both God and Mammon. He taught that if you live by the sword you will die by the sword. The powers said that Caesar was the Lord of the world, but He said that God was reigning over the world in His kingdom.

What did the powers do to Jesus? What do the powers to do anyone who stand in their way today? They crush those who are in the way, just as they did Jesus, thinking foolishly that they now have the upper hand. But wait....

2:13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

Instead of the powers crushing Christ, He crushed them. Even more, He has reconciled the powers of darkness unto Himself, with the hope that they would recognize of that which He has done for all, as well as for them.

1:20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

God intends for all powers to serve him and not to work against him.

All the powers have been defeated at the cross, and they have no right to dictate our lives so that we would live in the power of lust, the power of greed, the power of anger and so on. These were all defeated at the cross. They have no rights over us. The Battle is won.

We are called to thanksgiving, where we stand at last in the truly human relationship to our Creator and the world; and we are called to thanksliving, where we behave as the free subjects of the true King, and we owe the powers nothing at all. There is now only one Power we are to follow, and that Power has a human face, a face once crowned with thorns. We serve Him and in serving Him, we serve all our neighbors.

How do we live in the Victory of Christ today?

When we say the Lord's Prayer: We are saying that Jesus is Lord and that powers are not.

When we say grace at a meal, we are saying that Jesus is Lord and that the world and all that it offers is His and that they (powers of darkness) have no independent authority.

When we celebrate Holy Communion (Eucharist-thanksgiving) we are celebrating His victory in a way which we remember that God is God, Jesus is His visible image and that He has defeated the invisible powers of evil but yet which still enslave and crush humans today. Eucharist means thanksgiving and thanksgiving for what Christ has done for us is the highest existence we can ever possess. We are called to celebrate and to broadcast the victory of the cross as we work in our vocations. (our individual Let us not forget that the victory is won.

The Battle Has Been Won through Christ.

The Victory is Ours in Christ

Let's Celebrate and Proclaim This Victory in Christ.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 28 Jun 2015 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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The Comfort of God 7.19.2015
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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*Wendy and Dan Salo: Strength & courage to trust Him w/her health concerns