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 Mercy of God 8/24/2014
Dear friend,

May the mercy of God be renewed in our minds, hearts and souls today through the revelation of the Holy Spirit.

In the past couple of years it has been one of my sighs before the Lord that I would grow in the knowledge of his mercy toward us as those created in His image and whom He calls His offspring. We understand that the basic definition of mercy is that God has commuted our death sentence by sending His Son to die our death so that through Him we might live. So instead of dying in our sins, we have forgiveness of our sins through Christ. In that way, we have received mercy. We will not receive that which we deserve...

The area that I have been asking Him to show me more is concerning of what is behind His heart of mercy: His kindness, His compassion, His pity, His longings and so on. For myself in the ministry having a regular schedule of teaching and preaching, it often times is easy to fall into somewhat of a rote pattern whereby one feels as if one is repeating just the hard and cold facts minus the heart felt compassion and care for those one is ministering to. So as I thought on the message of this day, I thought that I would take a fly over of the topic of the mercy of God beginning with the Old Testament. So, Lord, may we hear Your Voice as we do so.....

The first announcement of the mercy of God was given in:

KJV Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

The day of Christ was prophesied in this place, which was given immediately after we lost our fellowship rights with Him due to our believing the lie of the Devil.

King David in his later years of life, having grown in the knowledge and experience of his great need of the abundant mercy of God wrote this way.....

Psalm 103:8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.
9 He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.
10 He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
13 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.
14 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.
15 As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.
16 For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.
17 But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children;
18 To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.

Jeremiah in the midst of difficult circumstances cried out to the Lord...

Lamentations17 And thou hast removed my soul far off from peace: I forgat prosperity.
18 And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the LORD:
19 Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall
20 My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. bowed}
21 This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.
:22 It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
24 The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.
25 The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.

And last week we heard the cries of the woman who would not give up asking for mercy from Jesus for the sake of her daughter......

Matthew 15: 22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.

As it was with blind Bartimeaus.....

Mark 10:46 And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging.
47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.
48 And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.
49 And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee.
50 And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.
51 And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight.
52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.

The fundamental factor in each act of God is mercy: God's compassionate love for his creation that leads him to do for it what it cannot do for itself. Before the Ultimate Act of mercy in which God gave His Son for us, Jesus foreshadowed His coming sacrifice through His merciful acts of healing.

It is because we have received the kindness and mercy of God that we present our bodies to be living sacrifices, which are holy and acceptable to God. How could it be any different than that? This is what Paul tells his Roman readers as he moves from the theological teachings in his letter to the to the practical aspect of their Christian life. He beseeches them, comes alongside them in order to appeal to them on the basis of the revelation that they have received from God concerning His mercies toward them. He like comes alongside them, puts his arm around them and reminds them of the compassion, the pity and the longing of God for them to the end that they would not only remember that they have received mercy, but that it has been given out of great kindness and caring. He desires for us to demonstrate His presence by His indwelling Spirit in us through our offering of ourselves for the sake of others.

KJV Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

He tells them that it is logical/rational to do such, for it is as their act of worship. He tells them to not be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of their mind. The ESV translation is a little clearer.

ESV Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.2

Our mind is renewed by regularly and continually by being exposed to the mind and heart of God through His Holy Scriptures and through the illumination of the Holy Spirit. The Greek word that is used to describe the transformation process is metamorpho, from which we get our word metamorphis. It is in the passive sense, which means that it is something that is being done to us and in us.

As we read and hear Him speak through the Bible, our attitudes and actions are brought before Him and if we have been self serving rather than serving, His Spirit will rebuke us, correct us and instruct us from His Word.

3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly,(with a sound mind, thinking godly) according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

Paul here points to humility, that we consider the other as above us and not ourselves above the other. This is all in preparation for what is to follow in the rest of the chapter. He first points out that we are all part of one body, but that we are given different gifts, which are to be used for the benefit of the entire body.

4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:
5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

He then gives seven examples of the gifts that are given to an individual, and which are given for the benefit of the body. Here they are in verses 6 and 7.

6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;
8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

1) Prophecy: He speaks of the gift of prophecy which in this application seems to point to the office of preaching the Word, and he emphasizes that it needs to be consistent with the entire Scriptures. It may be easier to understand if we use the word "in agreement with faith" in place of "according to the proportion of faith."

2) Ministry, or service. The Greek word is diakonia, from which we get our word deacon, or we could refer to an elder, or a board member.

3) Teacher: To Explain and Instruct

4) Exhortation, (parakaleo, called to one's side) let us do so. We note that Paul began this 12th chapter with the word "beseech" which is from the same parakaleo Greek word.

5) Giving: Give with singleness, simplicity, sincerity, mental honesty 1a) the virtue of one who is free from pretence and hypocrisy 2) not self seeking, openness of heart manifesting itself by generousity

6) Ruling: to be over, to superintend, preside over 1c) to be a protector or guardian 1c1) to give aid 1d) to care for, give attention to 1d1) profess honest occupations

With diligence: (1) haste, speed; (2) as a quality of genuine commitment zeal, diligence, eagerness (3) as an expression of active concern devotion, care, goodwill

7) Showing Mercy: with cheerfulness, gladness, as a mark of genuine benevolence

Dear friend. As you and I reflect on the goodness and the kindness of God towards us in His mercy, what will be our response to what He has shared with us here today? We were brought face to face with the reality that we have received the mercies of God through Christ Jesus by the Apostle Paul who himself was a recipient of the great mercy of God. He came alongside us to exhort us to offer our bodies unto the Lord, he shared with us that we are not to be puffed up since the gift that we have has been given by God, he told us that there are many other members in the body who have been given a variety of gifts and that we are to use our gifts collectively. He then listed seven gifts, listing them in order of importance with preaching and teaching the first two given. He then lists five general gifts that are useful and beneficial in the support of the members in a congregation.

May the Lord guide our meditations and reflections over this passage of Scripture so that we may be able to discern through testing what is the will of God for each of us as relating to our participation in the life of our congregations. May we be transformed into His image and as a result be one who offers ourselves for the benefit the other, whoever that might be.

One who has received mercy,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 24 Aug 2014 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Heart Worship and Perseverance of Faith 8.17.14
Dear friend,

Today we consider two thoughts from Matthew 15:1-28.
1) Worship is not in ritual or tradition alone, but it is a worship of the heart.
2) Faith in Christ empowers us to persevere through the waiting times of life.

The people are loving the healing that Jesus is doing, they are bringing their sick to him to be healed, seeing that even by just touching the hem of Jesus' garment, healing takes place. Meanwhile the leaders of the Jewish church, who have their authority solidly anchored in the fact that their ancestors are Abraham, Moses and David, are not happy with the increasing popularity of Jesus and so rather than joining in the celebration at the blessing that people are receiving from the healing ministry of Jesus, they come to him with an accusation that He is not keeping His disciples in line, for they are eating without washing their hands.

KJV Matthew 15:1 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying,
2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.

Those who came with the question had it right, that it was the tradition of the elders that was being violated, as there was not any Scripture that taught that which they called "the tradition of the elders," but it was the interpretation of the Scriptures by the elders.

Jesus countered with a question of his own and gave them some instruction:

3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
4 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.
5 But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;
6 And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.

In His counterquestion and reply, He gave Old Testament references by which they were bound to obey, but through their interpretation of it they had made a loophole by which they got around that which the Scripture commanded. Below is an explanation of what this was all about, taken from a Bible dictionary.

00897 897 897 Corban, a Hebrew word adopted into the Greek of the New Testament and left untranslated. It occurs only once Mr 7:11 It means a gift or offering consecrated to God. Anything over which this word was once pronounced was irrevocably dedicated to the temple. Land, however, so dedicated might be redeemed before the year of jubilee Le 27:16-24 Our Lord condemns the Pharisees for their false doctrine, inasmuch as by their traditions they had destroyed the commandment which requires children to honour their father and mother, teaching them to find excuse from helping their parents by the device of pronouncing "Corban" over their goods, thus reserving them to their own selfish use.

7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,
8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

Speaking directly to them, Jesus quoted from the book of Isaiah, written 700 years earlier and pointed out that outwardly they appear to be worshipping God but that their heart is far from the Lord. He calls it vain, or futile or worthless worship, for they teach as truth their own commandments. In so doing, they reject the commandments of God.

10 And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand:
11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

Jesus then says: "Hear and understand: What you eat has nothing to do with your righteousness, it has no bearing on it, but that which is spoken out of your mouth is an indicator of that which is in your heart, that area of a human being that no one can see but God. That is what defiles you!"

12 Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?
13 But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.
14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

The disciples evidently were worried that Jesus had spoken too directly, for they came to Him and asked Him if He know that He had offended the Pharisees with His direct approach? He replied by saying that plants that are not planted by His heavenly Father will be rooted up. Don't worry about them, for such plants are blind leaders of the blind, for if the blind lead the blind, both the leader and the follower will fall into the ditch.

15 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable.
16 And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding?
17 Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?
18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.
19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

Peter, seemingly not quite getting it, asked for clarification from Jesus. He was mildly rebuked by Jesus, but then Jesus clearly brings out the difference between natural eating and of that which comes out of the mouth. He lists those things that our fallen nature loves, thoughts which proceed from a heart that is self oriented and which wants to be served rather than to serve. He is illustrating the practice of Corban, whereby one by saying the word Corban over some property that belongs to the Lord, one is excused from obeying the commandment which calls upon children to honor the father and mother. All sin is against God, which is rebellion of the heart and then which reveals itself outwardly through speech and actions.

The three P's come into play here as they do in all temptation: Pride, Power, Possessions. Our flesh by nature is self sufficient with no need of God, our flesh by nature desires to control or use others and our flesh by nature wants more and more of material things. The Spirit in us is needy for his mercy, the Spirit in us desires to serve others for their blessing and the Spirit in us is content with that which we have been given by God.

Jesus then leaves that area, heads north to the coastal towns of Tyre and Sidon, where a non Jewish woman meets him with a big need.

21 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.
22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.

She testifies of her knowledge of Jesus as the Messiah by using the words, O Lord, thou Son of David. The testimony of the Scriptures that the Messiah would be born of the line of David, so that when one made the statement "thou Son of David" witness was given of that knowledge. Please note that she cried for mercy for herself and not for her daughter. That cry demonstrates to us of her deep identification with the needs of her daughter making her cry as if it was herself who had the sickness. Now let us not miss the fact that she was an outsider as far as people were concerned, as the disciples were concerned, and at first glance, as far as Jesus was concerned. For by Jesus was silent at her first cry........

23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.
24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

As the disciples listened and watched her cry to Him, they instructed their Master to send her away, for she is crying after us. At this point, they did not understand what it meant to love their neighbor. Jesus seemingly rebuffed her by saying that He was here only for the Jewish people. That did not stop her, for she came and kneeled for Him............. she did not give up at His silence, she did not give up at His statement that He was not here for her. She cried the more, "Lord, help me....."

25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.
27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.

There are various thoughts as to what the term dog means. Some it refers to all who are not Jews, some say that it is like a house pet and so on. It seems okay to see here that in His final test to the woman Jesus bringing her faith to its final test: Faith clings to the object of its worship, it will not settle for anything less than that which comes from Him. So be it if it is the crumbs that are left for the dogs, the leftovers so to speak. All the mattered to her at this point is that her only hope was that which came from the hand of the Messiah. Whatever He wanted to give, she would gladly receive.

28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

May we in our circumstances of life be instructed and encouraged by this teaching. Our worship is a worship of the heart and not merely the following of some rituals or traditions which do not illustrate or magnify the heart of God through Christ for the world. We all know and understand that our fallen hearts are continually trying to delude us into making idols of something or someone. We are to guard our hearts for out of it flow the issues of life.

May we also be encouraged by the example of the faith of the woman from Canaan, who believed in the Messiah, and did not faint at His "hiding" of Himself. He rewarded her faith, for her faith did not let go of the Promise who was standing before her and who by all outward appearances, did not care about her and her needs. Instead of giving up, she persisted in her request that He grant unto her her request on behalf of her daughter.

The encouragement to persevering prayer, especially to parents anxious for their children, is so obvious that it need only be named. That silence first, and then these apparent refusals, are trials of faith, to which many earnest hearts have not been strangers. To all such the example of this woman of Canaan is of great value. Her earnestness in making the case of her daughter her own (she does not say, "Have mercy on my daughter"; but, "Have mercy on me"; and again, "Lord, help me"), and her unconquerable perseverance till the answer came, have been an inspiration ever since, and will be to the end of the world.

May the Holy Spirit give unto you/me application into our lives today so that we may not only be assured and empowered, but that we might perserve through trust in the One from whom all blessings flow, Jesus the Christ!

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 17 Aug 2014 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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The Mercy of God 8/24/2014
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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