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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Faith and Hope 8/11/2013
Grace mercy and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Our meditation is in the book of Hebrews, 11:1-16 and I present the text in outline form.

What is Faith?
KJV Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.
3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

Abel lived by faith
4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

Enoch lived by faith
5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Noah lived by faith
7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

Abraham lived by faith
8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.
9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:
10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

Sara lived by faith
11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.
12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.
13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.
15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.
16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

Dear friend,

Have you met Abraham, whom the Bible calls the father of faith? He is well known in the Bible and if one is somewhat familiar with the Bible, it is difficult to miss his role in the history of the church. He is first mentioned in Genesis 11:26 by the name Abram (exalted father) and later his name was changed to Abraham (father of a great multitude) in Genesis 17:5. He was the ancestor of Jesus Christ and it was through his descendants that Christ was born into this world. (Matthew 1:17) God called him and gave him this promise of the blessing that would come through his family, sayiing that ALL the families of the earth would be blessed. My friend, that includes you and I.

KJV Genesis 12:1 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:
2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

He like all of us at times struggled with taking God as His Word, and therefore had conversations with Him about the future. Here is one of those conversations....

KJV Genesis 15:1 After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
2 And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?
3 And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.
4 And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.
5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.
6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

Abram had heard the voice of the LORD speak to him (Genesis 12:1-3) and in time the LORD brought him more information/details about the future. He told him not to fear the future, for "I am your shield (defender/protector) and your exceeding great reward." In other words, what I have promised through you and for you is very very great!

Abram, like any interested person, asked for clarification of that vision that came to him from the Lord. He was told that it would not be someone else's seed through whom the Promise (Christ) but it would be through his seed. To encourage Abram, the LORD then took him outside, pointed him to the heavens and all the stars, and told him that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars of the heavens.

Abram took God as His Word, and it was chalked up as rightness with God for Abram. This is why Abraham is called the father of faith in the Bible.

Faith means to place our trust in God through Christ, believing God for our future. We are trusting our life in the hands of God, for the future that He has in store for us through Christ.

Hope we think of as our desire, something we would like to see happen, but in biblical language hope refers to the future promises of God, which have not yet taken place, but will most certainly happen. Our hope is like the anchor of the soul, for we believe God for our future.

Even though faith and hope may be distinguished from each other, yet they are very closely related. Faith is what gives substance to our hope.

How do we know that the future promises of God will come to pass? Because we trust God, for people of faith are those who trust God. It is because of the faithfulness of God that we have assurance for the future. Because we have faith, there is hope. Without faith, there is no hope. People have hope today, but not all are putting their hope in the Promise of God, which means they have a hope that is not biblical and it is a hope that will leave them disappointed.

All these people lived their lives in trust of God. They were sinners just like we are which means that they yet struggled with doubt and disappointment which caused them to forget the Promise at times. But through it all they took God as His Word. May we do the same in our lives.

When we succumb to unbelief, it causes us to fear the future, by making assumptions about the future. Here are two more examples of our forefathers who looked to the future, one lacked faith and the other possessed faith. David thought he knew the future, but did he? He knew that Samuel had anointed him to be king of Israel, but fear caused him to lose sight of God's promise.

David´s fear
KJV 1 Samuel 27:1 And David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul: there is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines; and Saul shall despair of me, to seek me any more in any coast of Israel: so shall I escape out of his hand.

And Apostle Paul's faith
KJV 2 Timothy 1:12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

Is tomorrow seen by us? No, we are finite humans and cannot see tomorrow. We don't know about tomorrow, but we know He holds the future. Many things about tomorrow, we don't understand, but we know He holds our hand.

Recently when I asked a brother as to how I could pray for him, this is what he said: "Pray that I would trust in God who is unseen and that I would not fear the seen circumstances!"

May that be our prayer for one another.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 11 Aug 2013 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Unity in the Church
Dear friend,

May today find you living in the grace of God that He has poured out upon the entire world, including you, through His Son Jesus Christ.

A few months ago a person told me that they had come to see that they must stop looking for the perfect church since all churches are made up of sinners and if one is looking for outward perfection in an outward church, one will never find it. As a pastor I hear many opinions concerning that which the outward church is not or what the outward church should be. I have found that it is during these times of interaction that people are willing to share of their past experiences of church, and often time it is the case in their minds that their church experience was in a church that was not preaching and teaching the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In such discussions, we must always ask these questions of ourselves: Do we have the personal and correct knowledge of the church of Jesus Christ? Has our past negative experience skewed our knowledge of what the church of Jesus Christ is? Have we sought as we matured to understand and to know what the true church of Jesus Christ is? Like all other matters in our lives, it is vital that we regularly expose ourselves to that which the Word of God teaches concerning the church of Jesus Christ so that we could rightly understand and know the truth of what the church is.

The true church of Jesus Christ is not in a building that is made with hands, but it is the dwelling place of God by the Holy Spirit within the hearts of all those who have received the grace of God through repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ.. All structures that make up the outward church are to be formed after the design that God made and which is detailed in His Word in places such as we have before us today. This is where the difficulty comes in as we are yet sinners subject to the sins of pride, arrogance, selfishness, and idolatry which cause us to create and maintain churches after our own ideas. That is one difficulty, but even within our churches while agreeing on the basics, we yet have problems connecting together the various parts/functions of the organized church.

In the Bible we have what we may call a blueprint of the church of Jesus Christ from the letter of Apostle Paul to the Ephesians. In chapter four of this letter, he begins with these words: "I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,"

United in the Spirit

As Paul moves from the doctrinal teachings of the first three chapters of Ephesians to the practical application of it in the church, he begins with the call to walk worthy of the calling into which we have been called. We have been called into fellowship with God through Christ Jesus through the Gospel of Christ, Paul has prayed that we will see more and more of the blessing that this is for us (Ephesians 1:15-21), he has articulated the reality that the church is an invisible structure whose foundation is the teachings of Christ and His apostles in which God dwells by faith and he has prayed that we as the church will be rooted and grounded in love. (Ephesians 3:14-19)

Now as he begins to outline the workings of the church, he points to the importance of being eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. We are to do this by seeking to live in humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing one another in love.

Humility is thinking of ourselves rightly, not having high opinion of self, sacrificing our needs for the sake of others when the need is there.

Meekness is not weakness, but it is strength under control. Patience is similar to endurance, and forbearing is patience exercised in love..........Perhaps Paul's counsel to Timothy will help us to understand what Paul is writing to the Ephesians.

2 Timothy 2:24 And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil,
25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,
26 and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

United in God

4 There is one body and one Spirit- just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call-
5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

He now moves to the structural part of God's economy, by speaking of the unity in the Trinity. Please note the references to the one Spirit, the one Lord and the One God. This is the foundation of all things, and it is through the means of grace that we receive this "structural" aspect of God. If we move down to verse 6 and move backwards, we will see that there is one God, one Lord and one Spirit who are received through faith, through baptism through which one becomes a member of one body. We are not made members of this body by our own experience, but rather we are partakers of Christ through grace by faith in the 'structural" work of Christ and His finished work of salvation in the cross and the resurrection.

United in our Gifts

7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift.
8 Therefore it says, "When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men."
9 ( In saying, "He ascended," what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth?
10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,1
12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,

He now moves from God being over all to the word each. All who are in Christ are members of the body, but "each" has been gifted by Christ according by grace. The gifts are given to each and are diverse and nature for the blessing of the overall body of Christ. Here he is speaking to the basic structure of the church so he lists only the foundational gifts of preaching and teaching. He previously touched on this in the last part of chapter 2.

19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,
21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.
22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

It is not possible to over emphasize the importance of keeping the teaching and the preaching grounded on the Word of God. If the preaching and teaching goes away from the Word through ignorance, through misinterpretation of Scripture or through being taught out of context, the outward structure may yet remain, but the inner structure is decaying and rotting away. Eventually it will become clear that the teachings of the apostles and prophets, with Christ as the cornerstone, have been set aside in favor of man's invention of Christianity as the outward structure comes apart at the seams. It is a matter of time.

United and Growing Together in Love

13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,1 to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

He now outlines some of the practical purposes of the preaching and teaching gifts. We are to continue in the exercising of these gifts in order to work toward the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. This can either mean the day when faith becomes sight when all will be perfect in oneness or it could point to the growth that He desires in the body of Christ, in that as we lose our individual identities more and more, we become more and more assimilated into the body of Christ. What I am referring to is that as we all exercise our individual gifts for the good of the group, the fruit listed in the beginning of this chapter becomes more visible and in the forefront.

This occurs when through the Word we grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ so that we are grounded in the Scriptures which enables us to discern through the Spirit what is true and what is not true. This happens when the truth is spoken in love, which means that truth is not withheld from a situation which needs to be addressed, but it is addressed within the context of love. Maturity will not occur in our lives or in the life of a congregation if the truth is not taught for it is through the transformation from within that the outward person becomes molded into the outward body of Christ as evidenced in a congregation. But this must always be done in humility, gentleness, and with patience, always bearing the one in love....

It is through this growing process that each member becomes more closely attached to the other members. It is not possible for growth to happen when the opposite of humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance and lack of love exist. For there will be a problem in the joint which will stifle growth in any group, whether large or small.

We may have all the structures in place, we may have qualified leaders and mentors, but if the graces of the Holy Spirit are lacking in our lives as Christians in a congregation, there will be disagreements, separation, isolation and therefore resulting stagnation and lack of participation by members within the body of believers.

In conclusion:

We are individuals for salvation purposes, but we exist for the benefit of others.

God has redeemed us by the cross, has granted us faith to believe in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. (Ephesians 1:7)

Because we are in Christ, we offer our gifts for the spiritual growth of our local body . (Ephesians 4:11-12)

Our participation in our local congregation and its effectiveness depends upon three factors:

1. Our physical age
2. Our maturity level in Christ
3. Our individual giftedness.

Encourage all ages to offer themselves for service within the body/congregation/church.

Help all to know that they are gifted by Christ for the blessing of others.

Help all to develop their gifts through encouragement, teaching and training.

Offer opportunities for all to exercise their gifts both within the body and outside of the body

May our gaze be left upon the One who came to rescue us from death so that we might live to Him....

2 Corinthians 5:15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

John 12:21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus."
22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.
23 And Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
27 "Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.

May His grace be upon you today.
Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 04 Aug 2013 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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Faith and Hope 8/11/2013
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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The Lawry Kilpela family as they grieve but yet rejoice in Lawry's being called home.