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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God serves us through His gifts! 2/23/2014
Dear friend,

Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and His Son our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ be with you today and always.

A few years ago when it came time to raze our former church building, the leadership of our congregation was very careful to explain to both the congregation and to the public of the reasoning as to why it was best to remove the old and decaying building from the site.. This informing process was done for good reason as many congregational members and community members had been blessed through the fellowship that had occurred in that building over the years.

It was graciously explained as to how the church building was a gathering place for the believers in Christ, but that it was the indwelling presence of God through His Holy Spirit in His people that defined the church/congregation. The main substance of our explanation to people could be contained in the question that Apostle Paul posed to the Corinthian congregation in the the letter that he wrote to them and which is our memory verse for this week:

KJV 1 Corinthians 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

He is reminding them in question form that the Holy Spirit dwells in their individual hearts by faith and that collectively they are the temple of God. We understand that the invisible and universal church of Jesus Christ can never be divided (Mattthew 16:16-18) as it is impossible for Christ to be divided against Himself. But yet an outward representation (such as ours) of the invisible and universal church is not immune from envy, strife and division so as to make it needful for Paul to clarify to them that though they have come to Christ individually they in a collective/corporate sense are the temple of God. May we be able to understand this reality and of its implications in our congregation as we consider this teaching from the Holy Word of God, the Bible.

Today we conclude our short series in Paul's letter to the Corinthians, a letter which was written largely to address the division that had come into that congregation. Paul had planted the church by laying the foundation in Jesus Christ but since that time envy, strife and division had plagued the congregation at Corinth. Let us read the concluding verses of chapter 3, from 10-23, asking the Lord to speak to us through His Holy and gracious Word.


1 Corinthians 3:10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
14 If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
15 If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.
19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.
20 And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.
21 Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;
22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;
23 And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's.


Ye are Christ's and Christ is God's. Christ has purchased us by coming to us in a rescue mission because of their love for us. It is important that whenever we pick up the Bible to read it, or when we come to hear Him speak to us in such a gathering as we are in this morning, that we remember that He loves us and He from eternity had and still has our eternal interests first and foremost in His mind. Let us not forget that all that we receive from His hand is always from a heart that wishes to bring us to the realization that He loves us and therefore, He wants us to know and understand His love for our eternal and undying soul. He is not against us, but He is for us.


Last Sunday morning, Mark Johnson,was driving near Litchfield and came upon the burning home of Darrel and JoAnn Walberg, (Betty Inselman's nephew) of Litchfield, who were by this time out of their home and sitting in their vehicle in order to stay warm. It was quite an ordeal for them to get to car which had gotten stuck in the snow after attempting to move it away from the house. One wonders what was going through their minds as they sat and watched their home go up in flames.
If this was a newer home built of wood, all that would be left is the concrete foundation....


If their house was newer home, it most likely had a concrete foundation and if they so choose to do so, they could rebuild upon that foundation, or if need be have a new foundation poured. All earthly structures must have a foundation before building upon it. The foundation must be out of material that will keep the building so that it will remain straight by preventing it from settling as it ages.

That is the first point that the Apostle Paul makes in our lesson today, as he speak of how he has laid the foundation of their congregation, for he was the one who planted the church in Corinth. He had told them in verse 9 that they (Paul and Apollos) are God's fellow workers. ye are God's field, ye are God's building. As he uses an illustration that all people of all time can relate to, he begins to speak of the importance having the right foundation as well as the importance of correctly building upon that foundation.

In this letter, Paul has clearly defined the foundation as being the cross of Jesus Christ, which we remember from the first two chapters and which he wrote to the Ephesian congregation about.

Ephesians 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

It is clear that our foundation is Jesus Christ who is the chief cornerstone, and we are the individual parts that are formed together to collectively form the holy temple in the Lord so that within the corporate union we are built together for a dwelling place of God through the Spirit.

Now he begins to address them about the building of their spiritual building. Now let us remember that he had just spoken to them in a straight forward manner of the reality that they were yet babes in understanding and had not progressed very far in their knowledge of Christ. It is noteworthy to say that perhaps the reason Paul tells them to take heed as to how they begin to build is that he understands the human nature that is in all of us. Perhaps those who would have heard and received what he had to say would perhaps go hog wild in trying to grow as fast as they could. This can happen for we as humans tend to go from one extreme to another. He begins....

3:12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
14 If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
15 If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

There are six building materials listed here, three cannot be burned while the last three will burn up. Having a good foundation is the starting point, but how one builds is all important. He then contrasts the two building materials with the following statements:

1. That which is built will be clearly seen as it forms a structure.
2. The structure will be revealed by fire.
3. That structure will be tried by fire.
4. If the structure does not burn, the builder will receive a reward.
5. If the structure does burn, the builder will suffer loss, but the builder will be saved, yet so as by fire.

What does all this mean? He seems to be pointing out that the secondary teachings and doctrines that we build upon the Gospel of Christ will at times be tested by the Holy Spirit which speaks according to God, Christ and the Word. Having received the Gospel of Christ through faith, we begin to grow in our knowledge of Christ through the Scriptures. And being affected by the fall of mankind into sin, we are not always going to get it right and at times we are going to be building with hay. wood and stubble.


We are not always going to be building with gold, silver and precious stones. Therefore at times, it is necessary for God through the Word and Spirit to come to us in love in order to show us that we have begun to build with earthly or human materials. He not only shows us but He comes to us with the fire of His Holy Spirit to burn away those things so that we could be brought back to the foundation in Christ Jesus.

I am not sure what is meant by the reward mentioned in verse 14. I understand that these verses have been and are used to build an understanding that there are different rewards in heaven based upon one's faithfulness here in earth, but I have never done any study on such a teaching. What is clear in the Scriptures, though, is that all who remain faithful to the end trusting in Christ Jesus and His finished work as the means of their salvation will receive the reward of eternal life. We could also glean from these verses that there is a warning here that there is a possibility that without burning away of combustible building materials, one could become deceived and in the end consider the foundation of Christ as non essential and consequently, lose eternal life.

16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

He then asks them a question, after speaking to them on an individual basis. He is telling them in question form that they are collectively the temple of God for the Spirit of God dwells in them.

KJV 1 Corinthians 3:17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

This is serious! Let us remember that he is speaking to a congregation that is divided by people who are favoring one minister over another, and which has caused envy, strife and division. What is the meaning of this? Isn't that very very harsh? God will destroy one who defiles the temple!! What must they have thought who were listening to this letter being read? Let us consider the following information.

5351 fqei,rw phtheiro {fthi'-ro}
Meaning: 1) to corrupt, to destroy 1a) in the opinion of the Jews, the temple was corrupted or "destroyed" when anyone defiled or in the slightest degree damaged anything in it, or if its guardians neglected their duties 1b) to lead away a Christian church from that state of knowledge and holiness in which it ought to abide 1c) to be destroyed, to perish 1d) in an ethical sense, to corrupt, deprave

This should cause us to cry out to God with the question: Lord, where am I in this? Am I one that is building upon the foundation in a false way and because of that I am slowly eating into the foundation of Christ and Christ alone? Oh, Lord, help me to see it if I am, Lord, send someone to me to speak to me about my error, speak to me about my sin, Lord, send the fire of your love through the Holy Spirit to burn away those things that are not according to your will, for my best interests eternally and for our congregation's best interests eternally......

Lord, help me/us to see the reality of how destructive envy, strife and division are in your congregation. Send your Spirit, Lord, to do His work in all your people....

And Lord, through this teaching, we are reminded that it is your church, you will take care of it and those, and Lord, forbid that it be us, who cause division and strife in your congregation we leave to you to deal with. But give to us as leaders the courage to teach and maintain proper order in your congregation by holding accountable ourselves as well as others to live in submission to your Word in all its teachings.

18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.
19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.
20 And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.
21 Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;
22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;
23 And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's.

He closes out with an admonition and sets them straight as to how they have everything that they need from God. He first tells them not to be so foolish to think that the worldy wisdom is the way to go, but tells them to become fools for Christ. In other words, keep trusting in the merits of Christ for salvation through His suffering, death and resurrection. All is seen by God, so why be so foolish to think that we can pull one over on Him.


He then points to the three men, himself, (Paul) Apollos, and Peter, which is easy to understand in the context of this letter so far. What he is saying is that instead of lifting one up over another, look at it as a blessing to be able to utilize them all in your encouragement, teaching and instruction in your Christian growth. That is what he is saying, that God has gifted these men in particular ways for your blessing, so why rob yourselves of greater blessing and even worse, be responsible for causing envy, strife and division in your congregation?

Then he points to the world, to life, to death, to things present and to things to come. We can understand the first part of verse 22 when he pointed to the three gifts of the men, but what is all this about, when he says, "all are yours" Well, let us think back to the main point of this letter which should help us understand his point here. Let us ask ourselves a question: What is the underlying problem in the congregation? What is the underlying problem in our heart when we are one that is found to be causing strife in a congregation? Is it not carnality, as he said in chapter 2? Is it not a selfish spirit which selfishly looks first to what is in it for me?

It seems to be saying that just as the three men have been given by God to serve His people, everything else which could be called life's circumstances are given to serve us. That is what the last category seems to point to, for he says: "All are yours" But not to own, or dominate, but to allow them to help you/us in our journey to heaven. For when we look at this entire three chapter teaching, perhaps it would have been better to start from verse 23 where is written: And Ye are Christ's and Christ is God's.

What did we say in the beginning of this writing? We noted of the importance of always approaching God's communication to us by remembering that He loves us, He is for us and in all His communication to us, both verbal and experiences in life, are always sent from the heart of a loving and concerned Father. So therefore, since Christ is God's and we are Christ's doesn't it make sense that He would utilize everything at His disposal including gifts of His people as well as life's circumstances to cherish and nurture us in our relationship with Him?

I have an older brother who has one adult daughter, and every year he presents her with a dozen red roses to express his love for her. And in that gesture of love I am reminded of how our Father in heaven gave us the Rose from heaven.

The chorus the Michael W. Smith song Above all has a wonderful closing thought for us today.

CHORUS
Crucified
Laid behind a stone
You lived to die
Rejected and alone
Like a rose
Trampled on the ground
You took the fall
And thought of me
Above all

He loves you and wants you to know His love for your soul even more than you realized before today.

May His wonderful grace be upon you today.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 23 Feb 2014 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
One in Christ 2/16/2014
Dear friend,

Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and His Son our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ be with you today and always.

So far in our studies in 1 Corinthians, Paul has pointed out to the hearers in the beginning of the letter that they are united by faith to Christ Jesus through the redemptive work that God did through His Son Jesus by which they have the forgiveness of their sins. Let us go back to those beautiful words of grace and encouragement to us so that we do not miss the tenderness and tone that Christ, through Paul, speaks to them and to us today......of that which is true, of that which is real, of that which is reality. We must always start our meditations in the Word by being reminded that God is for us, He came to be with us and now He is in us by His Spirit. Otherwise we will think that our feelings and emotions define who we are as a human being.....


1 Cor 1: 3 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;
5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;
6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:
7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:
8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

We are sinners, yes, we feel it, we experience it, God says it, but through faith in Christ we are forgiven, we are His, we possess all that we need, the witness of Christ is in us by His Spirit, we are not lacking in any gift, and He will carry us to the end in His righteousness. It is by this faithful God that we have been called into the fellowship, into the communion of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Wow!! Wow!!


As we continue our studies in the first letter of Apostle Paul to the Corinthian church, we come to chapter three in which he, embracing them as a mother embraces her infant child, speaks very kindly but with concern as he discusses with them further about their divided congregation. Let us read the text which is before us today....


KJV 1 Corinthians 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
KJV 1 Corinthians 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.
2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto (As yet) ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?
5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?
6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.
9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry,(cultivated field) ye are God's building.



In our human way of thinking we foolishly think that we can instruct God and this is communicated to us in question form. It is like, Who is so blind to think that they can instruct our God? But then Paul jumps completely to the other side....and says, "But we have the mind of Christ......." Wow, what a contrast.....The mind of Christ...we have the mind of Christ.....What is that like?


On November 22 our daughter gave birth to her first child, Mia Elizabeth who is now nearly two months old and is growing in physical stature as she is nurtured and cared for by her mother, Lynn. Mia's entire diet at this time is the pure breast milk of her mother which will continue until such a time when she is able to digest solid food and eventually the day will come when she will be weaned from her mother's milk. It would be abnormal if Mia would yet be nursing when she was a teenager or even worse yet, if she would not be weaned as an adult.


Paul here tenderly acknowledges that in the beginning of their life of faith that he had fed them with milk, which would be the basic teachings of Christianity, such as are outlined in the Apostle's Creed and so on. He then goes onto tell them that they are still not able to bear the meat of the Word, for they cannot bear it, digest it. They have not progressed in their growth. Why we ask? Well, let us see what the Word tells us as we continue.

3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

He tells them that they are not living in humility, but they are living in the opposite mind set, which is not the mind of Christ, as he uses words like envy, strive and division.

4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?
5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?
6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.
9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry,(cultivated field) ye are God's building.


The outward visible sign of fleshly thinking is seen in the congregation through the following of different outward gifts which then results in envy, strife and division. It is evidenced through rebellion to the God established relationship between the ministry and the congregation. The mind of Christ is overshadowed by the fleshly minds of us as men and women................................


What does Paul, the Spirit, say to these things?


3:4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?


1. They are ministers by whom they believed, for through them they heard the Gospel. (v 5)

2. Those who plant and water are not anything, but God is the one who grants growth to one's life of faith. (v 5,6)

3. Each have their individual gifts, but all who plant and water are one. (v 8)

4. All will receive their reward according to their own labor.(v 8)

5. The office of the ministry is established by God, for planting and watering, but God grants the increase. (v 9)

6. The congregation is like a cultivated field, as well as a spiritual building. (v 9)


It is important that we remember that God has ordained the office of the ministry:

Ephesians 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

It is an ongoing ministry, and as we grow in our physical years and as we face and endure all kinds of trials in life, the ministry is called upon to provide encouragement and instruction so that collectively both the ministry and the congregational members would grow together in the Oneness of Jesus Christ. This means that there is a responsibility of feeding and teaching by the ministry and through that ministry it is desired that the hearers would grow in their grace and knowledge of Christ.

From my own experience and from interacting with others through the years, I have seen that the lack of humility is the biggest hindrance and blockage to maintaining and developing the mind of Christ. It is the presence of pride, which is in all of us, that prevents us from believing God, seeing as God does, from thinking as God does, and from acting as God does. When we yield to our pride, humility goes out the window and we think, move and have our being in relation to what we think and want.

As we think of this, we are reminded of another letter that Paul wrote to another congregation, which was not having any particular problems at the time, but he wrote to them in anticipation of any divisions that were sure to come in order to give them some warning as to how to ward off strife and division. It was a letter to the congregation at Philippi and in it he refers to the mind of Christ. Each phrase begins with "if" which sounds conditional, but it is more accurate to place the word "since" in the place of "if" so that it would be "since there is consolation in Christ," and so on...

KJV Philippians 2:1 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, (affections and mercies)
2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; (conceit) but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
ESV Philippians 2:6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,

7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Paul did not go to the cross for them, Apollos did not go to the cross for them, but Jesus Christ alone suffered and died, alone He died.......

The mind of Christ was for us then, it is for us today. He knows our envies, our strivings, our divisiveness and so on. It is not anything new to Him, for He knows what is in our hearts. He invites us to His table of fellowship today so that as sinners we are reassured that we are His as we remember His death. As we come with needy hearts we are assured of His acceptance of us and of His joy in us as we partake of His Body and Blood for the forgiveness of our sins.

May the Holy Spirit minister the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ to you and in you today.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala










Posted on 16 Feb 2014 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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God serves us through His gifts! 2/23/2014
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala


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