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 Great Grace of God 7/13/2014
Dear friend,

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

If you typed in your name in an internet search engine, how many sites would come up? For me it was 6390. If we did the same search for the name Samson, how many sites would come up? 13,700,000

If one searched for his name in the Bible, it would be 36, with only one of them being in the New Testament. His name is found in chapter 11 of the letter to the Hebrews and it stand alongside the names of the other people of faith. Let us read a short portion of that account in order to get an idea of what kind of a testimony was given of Samson, the strong man.

As he is encouraging the persecuted believers in the early days of Christianity, the writer is pointing to the faith of those who came before and after mentioning Enoch, Noah, Moses and others he comes to the time of the judges, which was around 1300-1000 BC.

Hebrews 11:32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:
33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

Samson was a man of faith, whom God allowed to be born into this world in order that through his life, God's purposes would be fulfilled. Samson's parents were told by God through an Angel that he would be born, that he would be born for the purpose of beginning to deliver His people from the bondage of being under the Philistines, and they were given specific instructions as to how to raise him for the Lord.

Samson was a man of faith, but it was through his weakness and tendency to live for himself that he came to understand the magnitude of the grace of God. We will see that as we recount his life today from the book of Judges.

Date - From 1425 to 1120 BC Approximately
Theme - 7 cycles of idolatry, oppression, repentance, and deliverance during the first 300 years in the land of Canaan
Types and Shadows - In Judges Jesus is the great judge and deliverer of His people

Grace:Unmerited Favor

When a person works an eight-hour day and receives a fair day’s pay for his time, that is a wage.

When a person competes with an opponent and receives a trophy for his performance, that is a prize.

When a person receives appropriate recognition for his long service or high achievements, that is an award.

But when a person is not capable of earning a wage, can win no prize, and deserves no award—yet receives such a gift anyway—that is a good picture of God’s unmerited favor. This is what we mean when we talk about the grace of God.

Grace: God's Riches At Christ's Expense

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Faith unites us to the Promises and Purposes of God.

After being visited by the angel of the Lord, and after being given specific instructions as to the raising of their son, the bible says this in the last verses of chapter 13..

KJV Judges 13:24 And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him.
KJV Judges 13:25 And the Spirit of the LORD began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.

KJV Judges 14:1 And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines.
2 And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife.
3 Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well.
4 But his father and his mother knew not that it was of the LORD, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines: for at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel.

In our day of the New Testament, it is difficult for us to understand this place as Samson went directly against his parents, but it was the leading of the Lord. Perhaps it is good to remember the saying of "The will of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you." to help us understand what is going on here. The inclinations of Samson are used by the Lord to "bring an occasion" against the Philistines, the very ones whom Samson would begin to pester on his way to begin to deliver his people from.

On three occasions, the "Spirit of the Lord" came upon Samson. Here they are:

14:6 And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done.

14:9 And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and slew thirty men of them, and took their spoil, and gave change of garments unto them which expounded the riddle.

KJV Judges 15:14 And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him: and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands.

God was moving his plan forward to use Samson, things were heating up between Samson and the Philistines which eventually would lead to Samson being in prison grinding for the Philistines.
God used the weakness of Samson to accomplish His purpose in the life of Samson. So after all is said and done, we find Samson grinding in the mill having had his eyes put out......As he went round and round, what was he thinking? Had his parents told him that he would be a deliverer? As he thought of his mother, and how they had warned him not to marry the woman from Philistia, who turned against him, what was he thinking? Many thoughts of disappointment in himself would most likely have filled his mind and heart as he went round and round.....round and round, who knows how long it was, for it could have been months.....but....but God was working by His grace, for His purposes will always be fulfilled, in His time and in His way. Please check out and consider the huge significance of this little verse hidden in the story. seeminglly buried in between the important verses.....

ESV Judges 16:21 And the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes and brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze shackles. And he ground at the mill in the prison.
ESV Judges 16:22 But the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.
ESV Judges 16:23 Now the lords of the Philistines gathered to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to rejoice, and they said, "Our god has given Samson our enemy into our hand."
KJV Judges 16:24 And when the people saw him, they praised their god: for they said, Our god hath delivered into our hands our enemy, and the destroyer of our country, which slew many of us.

In between all that was going wrong, God was working by his grace. Perhaps Samson was sweating, and as he went around and around, he wiped the sweat off of his head, and suddenly he felt some hair growing. We cannot be sure what really happened, for if the Philistines would have been worried about his hair growing back, they would have cut it everyday. Or perhaps Samson had a hood on his head. We just do not know. But we do know this that God was working to bring about his purposes and He extended grace to Samson and sign of it was that his hair began to grow back. This is kind of like a story that we read in which there are a couple of plots which switch back and forth. As the Philistine Lord and their subjects were rejoicing that their god had delivered their enemy into their hands, the Most High God was working quietly behind the scenes to accomplish His purposes through His weak and sinful vessel, Samson.

In the exhuberance, they called for Samson to make sport for them, again according to God's plan as He uses sinful men like pawns to accomplish His purposes. They bring Samson out and place him just where God wants Samson to be. By now faith has reconnected Samson to the promises and purposes of God, and he ask the lad to place him between the pillars so that he could lean upon them. The house was filled, with 3000 on the roof to watch the spectacle of their humbled prisoner making sport. For the Philistines, life could not be better, their enemy was serving them, they were having a wonderful party, and all because their god had delivered Samson to them. They must have been thinking; "Life is good, let us drink and be merry."

But Samson, having tasted of the wonderful grace of God and now reunited to God's promises and purposes by faith, prayed and said:

"O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes".

Samson then did what he had been born for in the purposes of God, for now he used his strength one last time, to serve the Lord.

ESV Judges 16:29 And Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and he leaned his weight against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other.
ESV Judges 16:30 And Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines." Then he bowed with all his strength, and the house fell upon the lords and upon all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he had killed during his life.
ESV Judges 16:31 Then his brothers and all his family came down and took him and brought him up and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. He had judged Israel twenty years.

O how I pray that you have been blessed by this story of the man of faith, Samson, who for the most of his life probably thought that he was not being used by God, but was living for himself. We do not know of course what he thought, but we do know that God used the weaknesses of Samson to accomplish His purpose in the life of Samson. Let us remember what God told the parents of Samson:

KJV Judges 13:5 For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.

It was a rocky road that let Samson to the place that he needed to be in order to accomplish the purpose of the Lord concerning his call to begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. For some of us, we may struggle even knowing what God is leading us to do, it may seem like we are serving ourselves in many ways, but behind all of that God is working his deliverance plan. It may be in our home, it may be in our church, it may be in our work place, it may be in our community, it may be in our church federation and so forth.

Through weakness that we struggle with, perhaps a doorway is being opened which will provide an opportunity to bring deliverance to someone else that we come in contact with. Samson like us most likely at times was sick of himself as he considered his weakness of the flesh and at times surely felt like giving up. But God never gave up on him just like he never gives up on you or me. Through his weakness, Samson came to know his greatest strength and therefore in the end the grace of God was sufficient for his weakness. For in strength is made perfect in weakness, as Apostle Paul wrote in one of his letter to Corinth, for he knew that through that the power of Christ would rest upon him.

KJV 2 Corinthians 12:9 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.

"The will of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you."

Dear friend, be of good cheer today, for when we are weak, then we are strong, for it is then that the power of Christ rest upon us.

May the Holy Spirit illuminate your mind and heart and bring this message into your soul in a way that you will be reminded and refreshed in the abundant grace of God through Christ Jesus. And my you rejoice in your weakness, knowing that through weakness in ourselves the power of Christ rests upon us.

In His grace,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 13 Jul 2014 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Freed To Serve Through Love 7/6/2014

Dear friend,

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

In the three scripture portions today from John 8:31-36, 1 Timothy 2:1-8 and Romans 13, we are reminded that we are to maintain the spiritual freedom that Christ has won for us by continuing to believe and obey His Word, we are to pray for those in government so that we may live in this natural freedom to the end that the Gospel could be preached, we are reminded that all governments are ordained of God and lastly, we are taught that
True Freedom means that we have been set free to serve our neighbor through love.

In Apostle Paul's letter to the Galatians, the principle of what it means to be set free is outlined very clearly in these three verses from chapter five. Galatians is a letter that teaches of how through believing that Christ has set us free through his life, death, resurrection and ascension, we are commissioned and empowered to serve our neighbor through love.

KJV Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

True Freedom means that we have been set free to serve our neighbor through love.

Each Sunday we celebrate this freedom; each year we celebrate our freedom in our United States of America. These freedoms have many similarities and we are called to use our freedom in Christ to serve our neighbor in love and in truth.

Let us begin our session by remembering the roots of our country, and how our forefathers declared independence from Great Britain and also declared Dependence on God. The Declaration of Independence, President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address during the Civil War, and the history of the Pledge of Allegiance.

National Independence/Dependence

In the writing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, we read the following words:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."

The Civil War 1861-1865
Following the July 1–3, 1863, Battle of Gettysburg, reburial of Union soldiers from the Gettysburg Battlefield graves began on October 17. The committee for the November 19 Consecration of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg invited President Lincoln to give a speech...Here are the words of the Gettysburg Address.

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.
It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

The Pledge of Allegiance
The original Pledge of Allegiance, "I pledge allegiance to my flag and the Republic for which it stands -- One nation indivisible -- with liberty and justice for all," was written in September of 1892 by Francis Bellamy for "The Youth's Companion" magazine in Boston. The phrase was printed on leaflets and sent to schools throughout the United States.
The first organized use of the Pledge of Allegiance came on Oct. 12, 1892, when some 12 million American school children recited it to commemorate the 400-year anniversary of Columbus' voyage.
In 1923, the first National Flag Conference in Washington D.C. voted to change the words "my flag" to "the Flag of the United States of America."
Congress officially recognized the Pledge of Allegiance in 1942, but in 1943, the Supreme Court ruled that public school students could not be forced to recite it.
The words "under God" were added in 1954 by then President Eisenhower, who stated at the time, "In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America's heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country's most powerful resource in peace and war."
"I pledge allegiance to the Flag, of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, One Nation under God Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All."

Our forefathers declared Independence from Great Britain and also declared Dependence of God in 1776, they affirmed this Dependence during the Civil War and in the addition of "Under God" in 1954.

Congregational Independence/Dependence

On February 10, 1896 with the Galatians 5:1 "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery".as the "Guiding Verse", our congregation was formed under the name of Finnish Sunday School Society of Kingston

"The Finnish Sunday School Society of Kingston, Minnesota, shall for a time remain independent and shall not unite with any other sect or denomination, but remain free according to Galatians 5:1"

Two years after the church was organized, its name was changed to the The Kingston Finnish Apostolic Lutheran Congregation. In 1987 it was changed to The Apostolic Lutheran Church of Kingston.

They recognized that they had been set free by Christ from slavery to sin, so that they could through love serve one another.

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

Familial/Individual Independence/Dependence

2 Cor 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. {committed...: Gr. put in us}
20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.

2 Cor 8:9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.
10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

How do we serve one another in love?

Apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit wrote the following which reveals that his freedom/liberty in Christ was restrained, constrained and motivated by love:

1 Corinthians 9:19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.
20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;
21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.
22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

As we heard last week, in the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit had not yet been sent in His fulness, but yet He was present in the lives of those who were God's people as is evidenced in the life of King David.

King David remembered his commitment to Jonathon, King Saul's son, and motivated by love sought to honor that commitment/covenant.

ESV 2 Samuel 9:1 And David said, "Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake?"
2 Now there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba, and they called him to David. And the king said to him, "Are you Ziba?" And he said, "I am your servant."
3 And the king said, "Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?" Ziba said to the king, "There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in his feet."
4 The king said to him, "Where is he?" And Ziba said to the king, "He is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar."
5 Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.
6 And Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and paid homage. And David said, "Mephibosheth!" And he answered, "Behold, I am your servant."
7 And David said to him, "Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always."
8 And he paid homage and said, "What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?"
9 Then the king called Ziba, Saul's servant, and said to him, "All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master's grandson.
10 And you and your sons and your servants shall till the land for him and shall bring in the produce, that your master's grandson may have bread to eat. But Mephibosheth your master's grandson shall always eat at my table." Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.
11 Then Ziba said to the king, "According to all that my lord the king commands his servant, so will your servant do." So Mephibosheth ate at David's1 table, like one of the king's sons.
12 And Mephibosheth had a young son, whose name was Mica. And all who lived in Ziba's house became Mephibosheth's servants.
13 So Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, for he ate always at the king's table. Now he was lame in both his feet.

Restrained by Love
ESV 1 Corinthians 6:12 "All things are lawful for me," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful for me," but I will not be enslaved by anything. Will I be enslaved by my freedom?

Constrained by Love
ESV 1 Corinthians 8:9 But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. Will my freedom in Christ cause a brother or sister to stumble in their walk of faith?
Motivated by Love
ESV 1 Corinthians 10:23 "All things are lawful," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful," but not all things build up. Will my freedom build up the body of Christ?

The Prodigal son, coming to see what was real life, went from "give me" what is mine to "make me" a servant......

KJV Luke 15:12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.

KJV Luke 15:19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.

ESV Galatians 5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

May we rejoice in the knowledge that we have been set free to serve our neighbor through love.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 06 Jul 2014 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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The Great Grace of God 7/13/2014
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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