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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What is Faith? 10/19/2104
Grace mercy and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Our meditation is in the book of Hebrews, 11:1-16 and I present the text in outline form.

Today, Sunday, October 19, 2104, we have a guest speaker from the Spruce Grove Apostolic Lutheran Church to share the Word of God with us. In lieu of that, I will place here a writing that was written a couple of years ago which should help us understand the next two chapters that we are coming to in our study in Paul's letter to the Romans. If God so permits next Sunday the message will be from the 4th and 5th chapters of the letter, with the bulk of time being in chapter 5. May the Lord continue to bless our studies in this letter during the month of October as se remember the Protestant Reformation and its emphasis on the reality that we are justified by faith, i.e. that God is faithful to His promises and by trusting in Him we are declared right before Him as being without sin......

What is Faith?
KJV Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.
3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

Abel lived by faith
4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

Enoch lived by faith
5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Noah lived by faith
7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

Abraham lived by faith
8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.
9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:
10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

Sara lived by faith
11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.
12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.
13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.
15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.
16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

Dear friend,

Have you met Abraham, whom the Bible calls the father of faith? He is well known in the Bible and if one is somewhat familiar with the Bible, it is difficult to miss his role in the history of the church. He is first mentioned in Genesis 11:26 by the name Abram (exalted father) and later his name was changed to Abraham (father of a great multitude) in Genesis 17:5. He was the ancestor of Jesus Christ and it was through his descendants that Christ was born into this world. (Matthew 1:17) God called him and gave him this promise of the blessing that would come through his family, sayiing that ALL the families of the earth would be blessed. My friend, that includes you and I.

KJV Genesis 12:1 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:
2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

He like all of us at times struggled with taking God as His Word, and therefore had conversations with Him about the future. Here is one of those conversations....

KJV Genesis 15:1 After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
2 And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?
3 And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.
4 And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.
5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.
6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

Abram had heard the voice of the LORD speak to him (Genesis 12:1-3) and in time the LORD brought him more information/details about the future. He told him not to fear the future, for "I am your shield (defender/protector) and your exceeding great reward." In other words, what I have promised through you and for you is very very great!

Abram, like any interested person, asked for clarification of that vision that came to him from the Lord. He was told that it would not be someone else's seed through whom the Promise (Christ) but it would be through his seed. To encourage Abram, the LORD then took him outside, pointed him to the heavens and all the stars, and told him that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars of the heavens.

Abram took God as His Word, and it was chalked up as rightness with God for Abram. This is why Abraham is called the father of faith in the Bible.

Faith means to place our trust in God through Christ, believing God for our future. We are trusting our life in the hands of God, for the future that He has in store for us through Christ.

Hope we think of as our desire, something we would like to see happen, but in biblical language hope refers to the future promises of God, which have not yet taken place, but will most certainly happen. Our hope is like the anchor of the soul, for we believe God for our future.

Even though faith and hope may be distinguished from each other, yet they are very closely related. Faith is what gives substance to our hope.

How do we know that the future promises of God will come to pass? Because we trust God, for people of faith are those who trust God. It is because of the faithfulness of God that we have assurance for the future. Because we have faith, there is hope. Without faith, there is no hope. People have hope today, but not all are putting their hope in the Promise of God, which means they have a hope that is not biblical and it is a hope that will leave them disappointed.

All these people lived their lives in trust of God. They were sinners just like we are which means that they yet struggled with doubt and disappointment which caused them to forget the Promise at times. But through it all they took God as His Word. May we do the same in our lives.

When we succumb to unbelief, it causes us to fear the future, by making assumptions about the future. Here are two more examples of our forefathers who looked to the future, one lacked faith and the other possessed faith. David thought he knew the future, but did he? He knew that Samuel had anointed him to be king of Israel, but fear caused him to lose sight of God's promise.

David´s fear
KJV 1 Samuel 27:1 And David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul: there is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines; and Saul shall despair of me, to seek me any more in any coast of Israel: so shall I escape out of his hand.

And Apostle Paul's faith
KJV 2 Timothy 1:12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

Is tomorrow seen by us? No, we are finite humans and cannot see tomorrow. We don't know about tomorrow, but we know He holds the future. Many things about tomorrow, we don't understand, but we know He holds our hand.

Recently when I asked a brother as to how I could pray for him, this is what he said: "Pray that I would trust in God who is unseen and that I would not fear the seen circumstances!"

May that be our prayer for one another.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 19 Oct 2014 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Righteous by Faith 10/12/2014
Dear friend,

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

Last week we began a short series in Apostle Paul's letter to the Romans since it is the month in which we celebrate the anniversary of the Reformation, which began in the year 1517, some 497 years ago. This letter to the Roman congregation has been called a mini bible and which means that if one had only this letter, the essence of our Christian faith would be at one's fingertips.Last week I encouraged us all to read the entire letter, but for this study I am shortening our assignment, asking us to read chapters 1-8. It is my plan to bring two more messages from this letter, from chapter 5 and from chapter 8.

What does it take for me to stop looking at the sins of others as greater than mine?

Today we will use the third chapter for our basis of study, but before doing so we will connect last week's scripture (Romans 1:1-18) with todays text through an overview of what is written in Romans 1:18-2:29. I will attempt to make it as brief as possible, but yet clear so that the context of our text today will be kept intact.

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

After this important assertion that we are made right with God through faith in Christ, the Apostle begins to point out as to why the Gospel is necessary. It would be important for us to place verses 19-25 here.

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

This is the overall state of mankind after the fall, having changed the truth of God into a lie, therefore worshipping and serving the creature more than the Creator. Paul goes onto list the downward spiral into ungodliness and unrighteousness in the remainder of this chapter.

In chapter one, the letter is written in the third person, which is like "those people", and now as we take a look at chapter 2 we see the writer addressing the hearers in second person, "you guys." He is telling them that you have no excuse if you are judging "those people", while you are doing the same things they are doing. He goes onto say that there is a problem with your understanding of God when you judge "those people" while excusing yourself. You are interpreting God's goodness, forebearance and longsuffering as God being soft on sin, not knowing that it is God's desire to bring all people to repentance and to worship of Him.

He then points out that the Gentiles, the non Jews, have their own system of right and wrong, even if they have not received the outward law of ordinances, for not all sense of conscience was lost in the fall. The judgment that they receive will be according to that which they have received, which at the very least goes back to verse 20 of chapter 1.

20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

In the last portion of chapter 2, the Jews are addressed as the one who have received the oracles of God, have trusted in them, and have boasted in God in all their teaching responsibilities, but neglected to learn for themselves. The true Jew is then pointed out as one having an inward change of heart.

2:28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

So far we have heard about the sinfulness of "those guys", of "you guys" and now Paul anticipates the questions of the Jews after they just got their mouths stopped. Here are the questions and his answers.

KJV Romans 3:1 What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?
2 Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.

3 For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?
4 God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.
Even if all the world does not believe, God remains true.

5 But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man)
6 God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?
7 For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?
8 And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.

Well, the Jews say, if God is glorified through sin, why should we be judged sinners? Is God unjust to punish us for our sins? Absolutely not, for God is God who alone has the right to judge the world.

9 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; No, you are not, for all are under the same judgment of sin. Comparisons, comparisons.....

What does it take for me to stop looking at the sins of others as greater than mine?

What does it take for my mouth to be stopped, to the place where I have nothing to say to God, but to ask for His mercy?

10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:
14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:
15 Their feet are swift to shed blood:
16 Destruction and misery are in their ways:
17 And the way of peace have they not known:
18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.

19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. {guilty...: or, subject to the judgment of God}
20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

So far it was "those guys', "you guys," and now it is "me." We are going to hear much more about the law as we continue in our study, but for now it is important to understand that the law if like a line that is drawn as a boundary. If one steps over the line, one is guilty and therefore under the judgment of God. We have heard the words, all and none repeatedly. All are guilty and none are righteous. Am I, are you included in that judgment or am I, are you still looking at others sins as greater than mine, yours and therefore remain "not guilty?"

As we come to this place, Oh Lord, help us to see our complete bankruptcy of soul and of our need for your provision to be made righteous in your sight. It is clear that there is nothing of my own that I can bring to the table, but sin. Is that my only qualification, Lord, to bring to the table, my sin and the acknowledgement of it? Yes, I think so. Upon receiving that there could be no sweeter words ever heard by one than the next words.......

What does it take for me to stop looking at the sins of others as greater than mine?

What does it take for my mouth to be stopped, to the place where I have nothing to say to God, but to ask for His mercy?

What does it take to begin to praise God for His forgiveness?

21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; {set forth: or, foreordained} {remission: or, passing over}
26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

Here the Gospel that the Old Testament prophets saw in shadows is poured out, through the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary righteousness is bestowed upon us, upon you, when we believe upon that which God has done for us. For all. For anyone who believes.
He is just, for He punished sin, but not in us, but in His Son. He declares us not guilty because His Son took the guilt for us and through faith we are not guilty.

27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
29 Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:
30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.
31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

Therefore I can only boast in what He has done, of His great mercy and pardon. And we retain the law but use it for that which it has been given. We have crossed the line and deserve death and condemnation. But.........We remember the words of the song we sang earlier today....

Behold the man upon a cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

May His rich grace be realized by us all today for the forgiveness of our sins, for our righteousness in Him by faith.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 12 Oct 2014 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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What is Faith? 10/19/2104
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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Carol Fischer and her family as they grieve the loss of Bob