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 Rest of Jesus 7.9.2017
Dear friend,

Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ now and always, Amen!

Grace is greater than all humanity's sin, which the Holy Spirit refers to in 5:20, "Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound."
In Romans chapter 6, the question comes forth out of verses 20-21. "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?" In other words, if God is glorified through being gracious, why don't we continue sinning so that God can be glorified more in extending grace to us!

What does the Word answer: "God forbid!, How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

Sin and death no longer have power over us, we who by grace through faith are united in Jesus Christ, for the penalty of sin which is death, has been removed by Christ. In addition, the power of sin has been broken by our being in union with Jesus Christ. Henceforth we no longer live as slaves of sin, but rather as slaves of righteousness. The law no longer has power over us, either to condemn us or to provoke us to sin. (Romans 7:8)

KJV Romans 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

Jesus calls to us to "come unto Him, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. "For heavy burdens are borne by us when we are either trying to earn God's favor by trying to live up to the demands of the law or are by being loaded with guilt at the realization that we have broken His perfect law. The law is like a mirror, and when we look into the mirror of God‚€™s perfection, we see and acknowledge our sin. But when we receive by faith the grace that has been extended to us, all our burdens are laid aside, and we now live in the power of His Spirit which continually ministers unto us the grace of forgiveness as well as provokes and empowers us to walk in His Spirit.

KJV Romans 6:17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
KJV Romans 6:22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

We now live as servants/slaves unto God, wanting to please Him, resisting the callings of our flesh and desiring to follow Jesus in His Word.
He says unto us today: ‚€œMy yoke is easy and my burden is light.‚€Ě

Have you received an invitation to a wedding this summer? Was there a RSVP request in that invitation? If there was, the host was requesting a response to the invitation for their planning purposes and it is considered inconsiderate to not respond to the RSVP.

When I was yet a teenager, Reverend George Wilson, who grew up in this area, became a preacher and a leader in our Apostolic Lutheran Church Federation, preached a sermon in the small congregation that I was privileged to be a part of in Rosburg, Washington. That is a small town near where I grew up, located in Southwest Washington State, close to where the Columbia River empties in the Pacific Ocean.

I recall what he said on the statement that Jesus made concerning the Greatest Invitation ever given and which still stands today. ‚€œCome unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.‚€Ě
He divided the verse into two parts, saying that those who labor are those who are in the delusion that they must earn God‚€™s favor by living a righteous life and those who are heavy laden are those who live under such a burden of guilt that they think that God will not forgive them. In the years that have passed since, I have more and more appreciated the simplicity with which he opened up and explained this particular scripture.

Can we be thankful enough for those who have preached and taught Jesus to us through the years? I am not sure that I appreciate them as much as I should, but yet I do recognize the blessing that has been brought to me through the love and care of many many people who loved me enough to teach me who Jesus is. I could get way off track here and begin to list them, but I will not do so. But you get my point.

I don‚€™t remember much more about what he said on that day, but I do remember very well of how he pointed to the two sides of the road where we tend to stray: We somehow think that we must live a good enough life so that God would be pleased with us according to our own efforts, or we are convinced to believe that our sin is too grievous for God to have to deal with. We somehow thing that this is too much for Him to even stomach, that what we have done or that which we are are in our flesh is beyond His reach of grace.

28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Jesus is addressing the crowd that was gathered around Him as He began to become more visible and impactful upon people‚€™s lives. He was rising to the forefront and the responses and reactions to His preaching and teaching began to divide people: Those who followed Him and those who rejected Him.

Even John the Baptist while in prison (Matthew 11:1-6) needed some reassurance from Jesus in order to not lose heart as he languished in a bad bad prison for preaching the truth to a king. Jesus pointed out the crowd that John was no wimp, for he was God‚€™s messenger to announce the coming of Jesus. He told the crowd, He tells us ‚€œHe that has ears , let him hear!‚€Ě

When we do not have ears to hear Jesus talking to us out of His Word, we see Him as meaningless, we will be seeking to find truth in meaninglessness in all sorts of ways, and we look at Him in disdainful ways. Jesus addresses those to whom He has spoken of Himself as the Light of the world and of how they will be held responsible for not repenting even after seeing and hearing the mighty works of God through Jesus. (Matthew 12:20-24)

To the Jewish mind, God was the ultimate and because the relationship between the Father and the Son was hidden from them, they rejected Jesus totally. So when Jesus invited them to come to God through Him, they could not do so, for that would have been blasphemy against God. They were trapped in their religion of God and God alone, and there was not room for Jesus in their theology.

‚€œI will give you rest.‚€Ě What is He talking about? What is this rest? Well, going back to the words labor and heavy laden, one can see that firstly it is a ceasing from the impossible requirement to live good enough to inherit eternal life. Secondly it is coming to a place of peace when we know that all our guilt has been taken away through Christ‚€™s sacrifice which is received through believing that God has taken it away from us. When we have peace, we have rest. No more working to get saved, for we have already been saved through Christ and His perfection.

29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Okay, we have peace and we now rest in Him. But what about this yoke that binds us to Christ? Remember how we have been discussing of the union that we have with Christ, by which we are brought into His body and are the temple of God? Romans 6 and Ephesians 2:21-22? We are so joined to Him that we are in Him and He is in us. (John 17:21) We are joined to Him through the knowledge of our sin and through the hearing of faith whereby our desires and goals are the same as His. He wants us to learn of Him from Him via His Word and Spirit as we live life. May we avail ourselves of all the tools of technology to learn of Him from Him.
It is in the learning of Him that we will come to see more and more that He is indeed meek and lowly in heart, and that coming to this awareness, we will find peace and rest into our souls. For surely His yoke is easy to bear and His burden is not heavy.

Cannot we not say that His yoke is one of His love for us, of His forgiveness toward us and of His joy in us? Yes, I think so, but it is only when we are humbled before God to admit not only that we are sinners completely before Him and that we need His forgiveness that His yoke becomes one that we want to have unite us with Christ. From then on, everything changes completely for us.

May this Word be blessed into our hearts and souls today and always!

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 09 Jul 2017 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
God's Peace 6.25.2017
Dear friend,

May the grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and His Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ be with you now and always, Amen.
Last week we heard of how the Holy Spirit has been sent into our hearts, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. We do this because we are sons (and daughters) and no longer a slaves to sin, and also that we have all that our God has given us through Christ. Galatians 4:6-7

Isn‚€™t it true that in our Christian lives that even though we know and live in the reality of being sons and daughters of God, there are questions that come up before us which cause us to struggle of how to find answers to such questions. We say to our Father in such times, ‚€œFather, I know I am your child, I know that you have a plan for me, I know that it is a good plan, but yet there are times when things are pretty uncertain and foggy down here. I need your help, your wisdom, your direction and so on.‚€Ě

How does He respond at such times in our lives? Does He not point us to His Word and to His Spirit?

KJV 2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
KJV 2 Timothy 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

As Paul wrote to Timothy in his last letter before he (Paul) was martyred, he spoke of those most important aspects of life, the Gospel of Jesus Christ which is communicated through the hearing of faith by the Word of God. As Paul closes out his letter he writes of how this Word has been breathed into men‚€™s hearts and minds by God and that it is useful for doctrine (truth), which means that it is the foundation of life and that because we do not always follow Him, the Word brings rebuke. God does not point out only where we went wrong, but He points us in the right direction (correction). And finally, the Word continually brings us instruction in righteousness, in other words, how to live our lives as Christians.

Therefore, we live our lives as Christians by His Word and by His Spirit. It has been said that the Bible is like a huge letter from God, that was originally written to and for the people at that time, but that it is a letter that is a dynamic letter, and not a static letter. What that means is that message that it brings forth is for all people of all time and even though people and cultures change over time, the message that is contained in John 3:13 ‚€œFor God so loved the world, that He gave His only Begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life‚€Ě is for all.

When we meet one another as Christians, we greet one another with the words: God's Peace. Like any other thing that we do as a custom, a greeting can lose its sense of meaning and therefore it is important that we are reminded what it means when we say to one another: God's Peace!

Through the cross God has made a peace treaty with mankind, and He wants that all would come to know, to experience and to live in God's Peace. Even though at times it may seem awkward to practice the custom, we should remember that when we greet one another with God's Peace, we are being reminded that God is at peace with us, by faith we have peace in our heart and soul and therefore we wish that all would come to know of, to experience for themselves and to live in God's Peace! So may we freely greet all with God's Peace!

So, how then do we live out our lives, having God‚€™s Peace in our hearts.?
Pauls‚€™ letter to the Romans is one of the best letters to read and to learn from as far as how our lives live out as Christians. It is one of the letters that we should at least once a year read and meditate upon since it is written in a more general sense as opposed to being written to a specific congregation for specific reasons. It is a letter that has good news, bad news and then good news

Briefly said, Paul first speaks of the good news of the Gospel (1:16-17), then he write the bad news (1:18-3:20) where in the Word reveals to us that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, and then the best news (3:21--) in that after the condemnation of us all, these majestic words flow out of the Holy Spirit through the pen of Apostle Paul: 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:

After this he goes on to connect for the early New Testament believers as to how through Abraham the promised Messiah was brought forth to fulfillment, in the fulness of time. (Galatians 4:4) Faith has always been the connecting point between what God has done for sinful mankind from the beginning of time. No one has ever been made right with God through their own merits and efforts.

How then do we live?

Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

We are justified, (made right with God) by faith. This is in the past tense. It is hard for us to live in God's Peace, because all of the things going on in our lives, those things outside of us and the general state of the world around us. Sickness, relationship problems, financial problems, wars, persecution, suffering of all kinds, worries about our future.

Death came upon us all but Jesus came to give us God's Peace by taking on Himself the wrath of His own Father and satisfied that wrath. We greet one another with God's Peace, and in so doing, we greet one another with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God's Peace is with you, for God is not counting your sins against you, He has washed you with the blood of His Son, and you are righteous in His sight, therefore you have God's Peace. When we are beset with all our problems, we need to look at Jesus, remembering that God is not angry with us.. If God has wanted to be angry with us, He would have never sent Jesus to the cross.

When we have placed our trust in Christ, God sees as His own purchased possession in His Son. We have an access into this grace, an entryway into this grace. We have a hard time with grace, because we are so often graceless towards ourselves. When we fail, we do not remember the grace of God, turning Him into a vindictive God who is out to get us because we have failed.

Do you think your sin is greater than the grace of God for you?

Do we turn against children or grandchildren when they fail? Do we seek their harm when they fail? We come to them and take them in love, in mercy to restore them for we still love them very much. We discipline them but we never stop loving them. God is always seeking to RESTORE, to give God's Peace. When we fail as children, do we not come to our parents, who will always forgive us when we ask, just as we run to God and hear from a beloved Christian speak the forgiveness of God to us through Christ, so that we might be reminded that He is not counting our sins against us.

We have hope, so therefore suffering does not set us back, but it brings us forward, for we know that our God has taken up our part. He has not separated himself from us, for His Son bears our suffering. He is for us and not against us. We understand that we can trust Him, when we are tried, for the trial works patience and patience works character. Through all of this, we have hope because God has given us His Spirit to indwell us.

2000 years ago God sent His Son to die for the ungodly people, not for the righteous. Long before we did anything, He died for the sins that were yet to come in us. While we were still sinning, God was gracious to us, He came to give us His Peace, God's Peace. We always speak and relate to one another on the basis of grace, He loved us and gave Himself for us. Grace is the power of God's love, and His desire is for our redemption. When we stand before Him, we stand before Him as a child of grace washed in the blood of the Lamb of Christ.

6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Thie above paragraph causes me to struggle in order to properly illustrate as to what is being said here. Let me give it a shot. In verses 6-8 it is written about how Christ died for us, the ungodly people who were still sinning, which is how God demonstrated His love for us. But then in the next verses, we see the words much more used twice, which is designed to show that we not only have received a stay of execution so to speak, in being saved from the wrath of God, but we have been given life!!! In verse 11, it goes on, saying that we also joy in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have NOW received the atonement. We have NOW been declared just.

Parenthesis 13-17
13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.
15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.
16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.
17 For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)

The penalty of sin was evident, even though the law was not yet present. Death was reigning even if the law was not there. Death no longer reigns, but life reigns through the life of Jesus Christ through grace. Judgment came upon all, for in the flesh we are all dead. The law continually tells us that we are deserving of judgment, for the law continually confirms our death. For when we try to live after the law, we will only covet more and lust more after the things that is prohibits. Our flesh will die, in fact, it must die, and if we try to make it live, we are going to be very disappointed. Sin reigns over us to put us to death, and it cannot bring us to salvation. Only grace can bring us to life.

18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

We stand only on Jesus Christ and what He has done for us, has done in us through grace. We stand only on that and therefore we greet one another with God's Peace. Let us renew that greeting as an encouragement to ourselves, to one another and let there be in us a renewed desire to speak God's Peace to the world and in so doing, speak the Gospel to a world that needs to hear it!

God's Peace be unto you today and always!
Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 25 Jun 2017 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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The Rest of Jesus 7.9.2017
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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