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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Love our enemies? 11/03/2013
Dear friend,

In the days that Jesus lived and walked this earth, crowds were always gathered around Him, from both the Jewish cultures and non Jewish cultures. Some came to hear Him speak while others came to be healed of their diseases. Was it any different than it is today that people who desire to know Jesus seek to do so by listening to Him speak from the Bible through all the means of communication that we are blessed with today.

As He spoke to the multitudes on the flat ground on that day, they must have been perplexed at what He spoke concerning the nature of His kingdom. In that culture it was considered a blessing to be rich and a curse to be poor, so can you imagine what they were thinking as they listened to His first statement? .He tells them that the opposite of the way that they humanly think and the way that the culture does and teaches is the nature of His kingdom.Let us listen in...

Luke 6::20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.
22 Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake.
23 Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.

24 But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.
25 Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.
26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.

27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also.
30 Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.
31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.

Today we remember All Saints Day, a day of remembering those who have given their life for the sake of the Gospel as well as for those who are giving their life for the Gospel today. It is also a day that is called IDOP, or international Day of Prayer for the persecuted church - Let us consider this statement made by our brother in Christ far away from here.

"If the church is one, you are the persecuted church." -Fahed (a Palestinian believer)

Today we have the opportunity to grow in our awareness of our being in the worldwide persecuted church, those who are our brothers and sisters in Christ and who consider it a great honor to be counted worthy to suffer shame for the sake of Christ. These suffering Christian are unknown, but well known, dying but yet living, chastened, and not killed, sorrowful, yet always rejoicing, poor, yet making many rich, and having nothing.....

Hebrews 10:32 But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings,

33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated.

34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.

Our brother in Christ goes on to say:

"I was familiar with these verses, having read them many times. God’s Word is clear there is one body with Christ as the head. But, I had never considered that I am the persecuted church. It is not them and us, but all Christians are in the body of Christ. What does that mean? How does that impact my thinking? Change my heart?

Fahed answered that as he continued to talk. He said that if a Nigerian Christian girl is violated, that’s my daughter or granddaughter who was violated. If an Egyptian church is attacked and burned, that’s my church that was burned. If Sudanese Christians are forced to leave everything behind and flee for their lives, that’s my family in flight. If a Pakistani pastor is martyred, that’s my pastor who was killed for his faith. If Eritrean Christians are arrested during a prayer meeting, those are my brothers and sisters jailed for their faith."

Around thousand years ago, encouragement was written to the early Christians concerning the nature of the church, of the body of Christ, reminding them to live in that which they have been created for...

Hebrews 13:1 Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.3 Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.

We are one with all our brothers and sisters all over the world, past present and future. We are united because Christ has reconnected us to God through His life, through His death and through His resurrection from the dead. We are united because we believe what He is done through love has appeased the wrath of God against sin, and through faith we have the assurance of eternal life. Being a member of the family of God, we seek to live out that which we have been created for: Community, which is marked by love for God and for one another and for all the world. Apostle Paul wrote of this community...

Romans 12:4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function,
5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

And a theologian during the 1930's 40's interpreted those verses...

"The church as an institution continues its life on the basis of its traditions and structures. Where the church functions as a community--based on mutual care and responsibility--its life is sustained through mutual relationships, with each member playing a part. There is a great dynamism, as well as a great vulnerability in being church in this way. That is why we tend to opt for the church as an institution rather than that of a community. The value of church as community is that because each person must play a part, each person can grow in the use of his or her particular gifts, talents and qualities."

"Community develops, not because of the love of community, but from the love we have for one another."

D Bonhoeffer

John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
36 Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, where are you going?" Jesus answered him, "Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward."
37 Peter said to him, "Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you."
38 Jesus answered, "Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.

Those who were in attendance that day when Jesus challenged His hearers were called to think through their beliefs and convictions. Were they living the good life now or jhad the began to catch on the message and mission of Jesus?

I received this email in response to a question I had asked about this text.

"Hi Orval, since my husband is napping, II will try to write thoughts about Luke 6 17 to 31. I'm having a tired day. so it may apply to the text. he may mean we are blessed when we are tired because we turn to Him and His word seems to mean more when we are empty. When we are hungry for Him.

In Jeremiah 31 God says He will put the fear of Him in our hearts. Eldie Niskanen's version said, "I will put a desire for Me in their hearts's.

When this desire kicks in and we long for Him we are blessed. hungry for Him and His Word we are blessed. it draws us together, draws us to His Word like we can't get enough of it. We are like the ground longing for water and The Word waters us and plants seeds and fruit grows.

Some people have been given the gift of poverty even though they have money. They give out of that poverty and they are given joy. The poverty is true humility. They "get it" that it has nothing to do with money.

The deepest longings of our hearts are blessings."

Now this is a very powerful statement. In light of your previous statements I will conclude that you are pointing to the God given longing for intimacy with our Creator in order to live in Him in grace and truth in Jesus. If these longings lead us to a place of our need for Him, they bring profit to us, but if those longings, (as they often do) result in us not seeking the true God in Christ, and looking for satisfaction created things, well.....

The difficulty that we as humans have always had is that we make the church an institution rather than a place of true fellowship with Him, with Jesus, with the Spirit and therefore with one another. We know we are called to "do" church so we do get together desiring to be one in Him, but often times it lacks the love, peace and joy which the Holy Spirit is. Rather than break the barriers of human thinking, we stay stuck in a type of system that is regulated by our human regulations and human desires whatever that might be.

So the deepest longings of our hearts are indeed from God, are given by Him in order to cause us to seek Him, but due to our fallen nature's susceptibility to settle for created things as means by which to find satisfaction and meaning, we struggle greatly in this area. David had the desire for God.....he felt like a dry ground at times, longing to be watered the Water of life, for he saw that it made all the difference in which "water" one drank. (verse 3)


O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.

3 Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.

4 So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.

5 My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,

6 when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night;

7 for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.

8 My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.

Now we return to our text: The question before us is: Do we see the difference between the blessing and the woes that Jesus is referiring to? Have we come to a place where we desire to turn from self to Him? We will have no understanding of verse 27 if our eyes have not been opened by Him to the freedom that enables us to live in love and service to Him and to others. If we do not understand and receive His freeing and enabling grace, we will interpret the following verses as something to do, as opposed to that who we are in Him.

Luke 6:27 "But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
,28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.
29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either.
30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back.
31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

May the Lord by His Spirit open this teaching of our Saviour unto us.

In His Grace,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 03 Nov 2013 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
The Good News! 10/27/2013
Dear friend,

May we realize today that God's grace is upon us today through Jesus Christ His Son, who came to give us the Good News.

Today we are remembering one of the most significant events in the history of the Christian Church: The Protestant Reformation and the life and contributions of Martin Luther. (1483-1546) toward this reformation that came into the God's Church during that era. The word Protestant comes from the word protest and the term Reformation from the word reform. God's Church at that time had strayed away from the Scriptures and the time came in God's oversight of His kingdom for much needed reforms.

All Christian congregations hold to the truth that their church exists because they are followers of Jesus Christ and they desire to continue the church that He promised to build (and has built) as it is recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. The impetus of contining the church of Jesus Christ is that we as believers have received the Good News from God through Jesus Christ and desire to tell others of the Good News of Jesus Christ. Our understanding of the church and its role cannot be understood outside of the biblical knowledge of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and of the meaning of His Life, Death and Resurrection. We must start there and remain there.....

When did the Christian Church begin? How did it begin?

Matthew 16:13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Peter, one of Jesus' 12 original 12 disciples, was given revelation from above to believe/know that Jesus was the Son of the living God. As a result of Peter receiving this knowledge by revelation from God, Jesus spoke of His future Church on the basis of this revelation of truth from God. Initially Jesus had asked the group as to what others were saying about Himself, but then He got more direct with His question: "But whom say ye that I am?"

Jesus stated that through the revelation from God that His Church was going to be built and hell would not ever destroy His Church. He then went on to say that in the future, He will give unto the Church the keys of loosing and binding, which He did as recorded in John's Gospel. John 20:19-21 So far so good...but then.....

Immediately after this Jesus began to show His disciples that of the Event that would begin the Church....He began to let them in on the Good News!!! But for Peter and the disciples, it is Bad News.....

Matthew 16:21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.
23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

Peter responded vehemently to Jesus when He told them of His eventual death, but was sharply rebuked by Jesus as speaking foolishly as well as ignorantly....In time Peter would understand more of what Jesus is about.....He would eventually come to understand the Good News!

Now let us fast forward to the 16th century and to the time of the Reformation. The Church had been in existence for 1500 or so years now and the Good News of Jesus Christ was being preached, but it had become hidden behind all kinds of extra requirements as layed out by the Church. We need to be reminded that very few could in those days so they were left with only being able to listen to others tell them the Good News. They had no ability to read the actual Bible for themselves....They did not hear the Good News......

Good News turned to Bad News
Martin Luther was a monk who was tortured by this question: How does one please God? He had tried to live a good life, had confessed his sins as much as he could, but was left in a condition that was without peace. He would go to confession so much that the priests hated to see him come to them since he would take up so much of their time. This is how it went for Martin Luther. He just could not live up to the demands of the Church and therefore of God. The Good News of the Gospel was Bad News!

Then one day he was reading in the book of Romans and he came to these two verses that were written by Apostle Paul under the direction of the Holy Spirit, or to say it another way, were written by God.

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

Luther's struggle with God came to a head as he was wrestling with this Romans 1:17. He tells us that he was extremely zealous to understand Romans but that this phrase about God's righteousness stood in the way. This phrase, which to us is so clearly good news, was for Luther bad news.

Whenever he came across the phrase "the righteousness of God" in Scripture, it terrified him ("struck my conscience like lightning," "was like a thunderbolt in my heart") because he knew that he was an unrighteous sinner who fell far short of God's righteous (perfect) demands. It was Bad News.....

Even worse, Rom. 1:17, filled Luther with anger and hatred toward God. "I did not love, yes, I hated the righteous God who punishes sinners." Is it not enough, Luther tells us he murmured, that God crushes us miserable sinners with His law, that He has to threaten us with punishment through the Gospel, too?

After meditating day and night, finally the breakthrough came when Luther gave heed to the words at the end of 1:17, "He who through faith is righteous shall live." Then he realized that the verse was not talking about the active righteousness that God demands, but the passive righteousness that He freely gives to those who believe the Gospel. The sinner is justified (declared righteous) by God through faith in the work and death of Jesus, not by our work or keeping of the Law. Put another way, the sinner is justified by receiving (faith) rather than achieving (works). Later Luther would say that we are saved by the alien righteousness of Christ, not by a righteousness of our own doing.

When he had discovered that God gives His righteousness as a gift in Christ, he felt that he "was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates . . . that place in Paul was for me truly the gate to paradise." Now his conscience was at rest, now he was certain of his salvation. Before there had been only unrest and uncertainty.

Faith now connected him to the Gospel, faith united him with the forgiveness of his sins through Christ.

KJV Romans 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

Todd, a three year old boy from Rhode Island went down to the seacoast to fly a kite. Never having flown a kite before, Todd had obvious doubts. His father assured him that all was well, and the kite would go up as planned. As Todd unravelled the string, and watched the kite go up, he was heard to say, "I knew it would fly, daddy. You said it would." Simple statement, profound implications

One night a house caught fire and a young boy was forced to flee to the roof. The father stood on the ground below with outstretched arms, calling to his son, “Jump! I’ll catch you.” He knew the boy had to jump to save his life. All the boy could see, however, was flame, smoke, and blackness. As can be imagined, he was afraid to leave the roof. His father kept yelling: “Jump! I will catch you.” But the boy protested, “Daddy, I can’t see you.” The father replied, “But I can see you and that’s all that matters.”

Now let us return to our text and point out something that is very important. In order to understand the Good News of the two words at the beginning of Romans 3:21 we must remember that from Romans 1:18 through Romans 3:20 it is all bad news for anyone who thinks that it is possible to please God through our own efforts.......

Romans 3:19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

Bad News
James 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.

I remember hearing that our assistant pastor one time took a mirror, wrote the Ten Commandments on the mirror, gave a hammer to a child and asked them to hit only one of the Commandments without breaking the mirror. The child hit one of the Commandments, the mirror broke up entirely and the lesson was well illustrated as taught in James 2:10-11.

Bad News
Matthew 5: 21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Romans 3: 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

NLT Romans 3:25 For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God's anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us. God was being entirely fair and just when he did not punish those who sinned in former times. 26 And he is entirely fair and just in this present time when he declares sinners to be right in his sight because they believe in Jesus.

Through coming to the knowledge all our efforts are meaningless, that God has made a way of escape from our sins, that He has made a way for us to be forgiven, we fall to our knees in despair and hopelessness, and then we hear the words, BUT NOW!!!!!

That is the place that our Father, our God wants to bring us to, so that we could receive the Gift that He has prepared for us for the saving of our souls. He came to earth, He provided the sacrifice which satisfied His wrath against sin, and now desires to give all the gift of repentance and faith.....

My dear friend, know today that God has washed away all your sin through the cross of Christ, He is waiting to receive you to Himself with open and loving arms of love and grace. He is not at all interested in condemning anyone to hell, but desires that all would come to Him to receive His gracious gift of forgiveness..........

Because of the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I encourage you to believe that which God has done for you, that your sins are all forgiven, past, present and future through the Name and in the blood of the Christ that was shed on Calvary 2000 years ago...Believe that Good News today, dear friend.

Lastly, being grateful recipients of the mercy of God through Christ, we hear some of the last words of Jesus concerning the mission of the church.....

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Luke 24: 45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
48 And ye are witnesses of these things.

He calls upon us to preach and teach both the bad news and the good news. The Good News is that Christ has atoned for all, for the one to desire that Good News it is necessary to believe that Bad News about oneself, that I need a Saviour to wash me and cleans me, and upon that realization into our mind and heart, there will be no greater news than the Good News that my sins are forgiven never to be remembered again by God.......

May the Lord open up our understanding to be able to grasp more and more the largeness of the gift of forgiveness which is our through His Gift of grace, the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 27 Oct 2013 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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Love our enemies? 11/03/2013
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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