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 Gospel/The Good News 5/12/2013
It is Mother's Day, a day in which mothers are remembered in appreciation for their love and care for those children whom they have been blessed with. We thank all the mothers who are with us today for your example of sacrificial love towards your children. Your children have first learned of the giving grace of our God through the selfless care and nurture that you have had and continue to have toward your children.

Today we will hear of Apostle Paul's care for his young coworker, Timothy, and of the counsel that he, Apostle Paul, wanted to leave with his beloved brother with. The Apostle was in a Roman prison in which he was held until the time would come when he would lay down his life for the sake of the Gospel. Being that his end was close at hand, Paul wished to say those things that were of the utmost importance to his young brother.

In verses 8-10 we are given insight into that which Paul considered to be very important which he wished to pass on to Timothy: The Gospel or the Good News of Jesus Christ. As we approach this text, we will use three questions to help us learn from the Lord today through His Word.

What is the Gospel?
Why is the Gospel important?
How do we preach and live the Gospel?

What is the Gospel?
KJV 1 Corinthians 15:1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

Here are some verses which give us more insight as to the heart of our beloved brother, Apostle Paul in relation to his understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

KJV 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;

ESV 1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

ESV 1 Corinthians 9:16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel
Prayerfully let us read this portion of Scripture, asking the Lord for His Spirit that we might receive with gladness, openness and humility this day. I will insert comments for clarification and application if it seems fitting.....

KJV 2 Timothy 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,
2 To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

Greetings from God are given to his beloved son, Timothy, and they are greetings from heaven, from our Heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. We must understand the Paul is in prison in Rome as he writes this letter, a prison in which soon he would be taken from and would give his life as an offering for the sake of the Gospel. He is writing this letter to Timothy, wanting to share of the things of utmost importance as time is running out. As may be noted by the tone and content of the letter, Timothy is in need of affirmation, of encouragement and of instruction. We will see how Paul gives all three as he continues on with his letter.

3 I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day;
4 Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy; {Greatly...: or, remembering thy tears, I greatly desire to see thee that}
5 When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.

The thankfulness that reigned in Paul's heart and life is displayed here as He before God testifies of his remembering of Timothy in his prayers. What a good pattern for us to remember to follow but it is more than a pattern, for what we see here is the heart of one who is united unto Jesus Christ by His death and resurrection so that his life is no longer his but it is hidden in Christ. This means that the desires of Christ now reigns in and flows out of the heart of the Apostle.

He is thankful before God and before Timothy, he longs to see his brother so that he may comfort him in his fears and worries, knowing that if they could be together they would rejoice in Christ in one another. He reminds Timothy of the blessings of his forefathers as he points to his having been reared in a Christian home with a Christian grandmother and mother, and reassures him that he is a believer in Christ himself.

6 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.
7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;

He calls his brother to fan the fires of devotion into his heart in the midst of his fears. Do not forget that Christ lives in you, and He does not dwell in him in a spirit of fear, but Christ's Spirit is a spirit of power, and of love and of a sound or disciplined mind. Timothy does not need to be blown about by the fears of what might happen, but he is to live in the power of the Holy Spirit which points to Christ and what He has done through His death and resurrection. He calls upon Timothy to be a partaker of the sufferings for the Gospel's sake, instead of being ashamed of it by succumbing to fear of man.

9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:

Paul reminds Timothy of how through the Gospel they/we has been saved and called for God's purposes and grace, and and goes onto to list of the effects of the Gospel for all.

11 Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.
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.

He then again relates of his own experience in that did not appoint himself to the ministry, but he was appointed by God Himself. Because of this reality, he willingly suffered on behafl of the Gospel, so that there was no way that he could be ashamed, for he trusted in that which God had done in Christ and knew that no one would ever be able to take away that which God had done for him. He calls Timothy to keep on trusting in the finished work of Christ for his soul's salvation.

13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
14 That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.

He tells Timothy: "Hang on, do not let go of the words of the Lord that I have shared with you!" Continue in faith and love, which you have received by being united with Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit who dwells in you will be the manner by which you are kept until the day when faith becomes sight in heaven. In another place, Paul writes concerning the earnest of our inheritance is given by the Holy Spirit. It is a promise that guarantees our inheritance in heaven.

15 This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.
16 The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain:
17 But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me.
18 The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well.

Paul again reveals some of his personal struggles of the ministry, sharing of how the ministry in the Gospel is popular, for here he writes that "all which are in Asia be turned away from me" and he mentions two by name. He wants Timothy to know through his example that many are going to not be willing to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and will turn away from him and his preaching.

He then remembers his beloved brother, Onesiphorous, who came to visit him in Rome in prison. This is one short verse which in times past I quickly skipped over, but after reading an article in the Voice of the Martyrs magazine recently, I no longer do so. This article explained that the prison that Paul was in was an enclosed dungeon with no windows or doors with the only access being high up in the ceiling. In order to visit one would be tied to a rope and would be lowered into the prison which was filthier than anything we have ever seen here in America. Food would be let down by the guard through the hole in the ceiling, but the waste that past through the prisoner's bodies would never be cleaned out of the cell......

It is hard to imagine what the conditions were like at that time and are still to this day in many of those countries. For example, recently a missionary with whom we are acquainted was arrested and was threatened with being sent to a prison which those in the know stated that he would most likely die within a few months if he was placed in it. (It turned out that he was not put into prison, but had limitations put on his ministry by the government)

It was into this type of prison that Paul received Onesiphorous as a visitor, for which he was very very thankful. Knowing the background gives one a much better understanding of the bond of love that was shared between Paul and Onesiphorous. In the beginning of the letter, we hear of the care of Timothy's family for their grandson and son, we hear of Paul's care for his beloved son, and now in the end of this first chapter, Paul shares of how those who share in the sufferings of Christfor the Gospel's sake relate to one another in very practical and caring ways.

He closes this thought by sharing with Timothy of his desire that his friend Onesiphorous would be rewarded for his care for not only Paul but for others in Ephesus. What he seems to be pointing out is that the care that Onesiphorous had for him was not a one time happening, but that Onesiphorous lived his life in Christ Jesus, so that the by faith, love ruled his life and it was demonstrated through practical ways of serving others.

On this Mother's Day when all aspects of motherhood are considered, it is hard not to see the heart of our mothers coming through the pen and life of Apostle Paul in this first chapter. Was it not through our mothers (and our fathers) that we experienced the givingness of God in our lives as we received one way love from them. Can we not see the love of our mothers as we listen and think on the love and care of Paul toward his son, Timothy? I think we can, for sure.

May the Holy Spirit come like a dove to gently lay these words of affirmation, of encouragement, of direction and of inspiration upon our hearts today as we celebrate the power of the Gospel, as we renew our minds and hearts in the importance and necessity of the Gospel and as we seek to allow the Lord to have His way in our lives so that we will not only speak of the Gospel, but that we would live the Gospel in practical ways with one another and in and amongst the world.

May His grace be upon you this day,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 12 May 2013 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
"Be Imitators of God" 5/5/2013
"Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."
Ephesians 5:1-2

Dear friend,

This weekend it has been our privilege to have our brother, Pastor Rodney Johnson, in our midst for a series of services and seminars. He was born in this area, was baptized and confirmed in our congregation and after leaving this area has served in pastoral ministry for around 40 years in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

The overall theme of both his preaching in the worship services and his teaching in the seminars has been "Be imitators of God." On Friday night he preached from Paul's letter to the Ephesians (4:1:-5:2) with the ending thought and application of the message contained in the two verses of chapter 5:

'Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."

It has been a time of blessing for me as I have sat and listened to our brother share from the Word of God, and as he illustrated many of the truths that he is teaching in practical ways through his own life's experiences as well as by using examples from nearly 40 years of his pastoral counseling ministry.

On Saturday he taught two seminars about relationships, the first of which focused on communication: conflict in communication and how to resolve conflict in communication. The second seminar was targeted for married couples and entitled "Effective Communication/Keeping Love Alive." These sessions were filled with biblical teaching broke down into understandable concepts through personal stories combined with humor and wit. We were given many handouts that are designed to be tools that if personallly utilized and applied could bring improvement and success to our relationships. Within a few weeks we hope to post both the audio files as well as the pdf handouts on our website at kingstonalc.com. If you have any questions, please email me using the contact information on our website.

Since Pastor Rod is bringing the message this morning, I will not post my usual sermon transcript, but instead will write a little concerning as to how these two verses (Ephesians 5:1-2) have been opened to me by the revelation of the Holy Spirit through the Word as well as through my relationship with Pastor Rod. These two verses tell us what to do and from what example we are to do it. We are to be imitators of God as his children by walking in the same love with which Christ loved us and gave himself for us. As we do that the offering of our lives in love will be a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

God is love and because He is love, He loves. He can be no other, he can do no other. Therefore as we grow in our understanding of the meaning of love and as we grow in the experience of love, we find ourselves moving away from what is in it for me towards: "How may I serve others in love?". This has huge impact in our everyday relationships, and especially in our closest ones such as our families of origin, our marriages and in our congregations. Allow me to retrace my experience in what I tend to call "God's school of love."

When my wife and I were first married, I did not understand what love was, but I knew that I wanted to be with her more than anything else in all the world, but yet it was largely about what was in it for me. As we struggled through the first five years of marriage and as she patiently sought to teach me about love, I began to understand that when I served her without expectations she blossomed and reciprocated, but if I did it grudgingly or because it was something I had to do, our marriage did not flourish, but ended up being more like a business arrangement. I could see that when I loved her without my wrongful expectations, she reciprocated for she was energized to give love in return.

As we grew in our knowledge and experience of love, we grew closer and closer as we enjoyed the joy of being together in all aspects of a marriage. We have had over 40 years of being together in deepening love and intimacy. Then came an experience with Pastor Rod that opened up an entire new realm of love...Please read on.

A couple of years ago I took a counseling class on line in which Pastor Rod was the instructor. One day he was telling us that he is troubled now that his wife was in an advanced stage of Alzheimer's. As we listened, he began to tell us that he is wondering from where is he going to find the capacity to love his wife through all of this. Wow, I thought, is he being honest!! He went to to say that he and his wife have had over 50 years of their wonderful marriage, but now, in his humaness and honesty, he was baring his soul before us, wondering..

He told us that as he was thinking and praying on this, he received what he referred to as an epiphany, (revelation) He said that he heard something like this from our Lord. "Dear son, I have blessed you with a beautiful marriage with your wife and now through the responsibility and privilege of loving her when she cannot reciprocate,(serving her) I am presenting to you the opportunity to grow deeper in the knowledge of my love. It will be through serving her in love that you will be able to grow even deeper in the knowledge of my love for you. It will be through the deeper understanding and knowledge of my love for you that you will be empowered to love your wife as my abundant love flows through you into her."

Wow.......Wow......Lord, is this what you mean when you call us to be "imitators of you?" Yes, replies our Lord through His Word.

We might say, well, it works for Pastor Rod, but what about us? Will it work for me if I come to that place? Will I be able to love my spouse if she needs extreme care? Will my spouse love me if I am not able to love in return? There is a lot to think about, for we all have our own situation to which this principle applies, for sure.

Are we an imitator of God in our own home with spouse? We all struggle with our selfish nature, and God understands that, but nevertheless He calls upon us to grow in his grace and knowledge. When we do that, we will see more and more of how He loved us while we were yet sinning initially, he continues to love us while we still sin, he yet loves us while we often times spurn his love........He does not turn away from us, for he loves us.

He loves us because he is love. Rather than turn away from us, he loves us with the desire that we would love him in return with the love that he has and does love us with. He never turns away in disgust and impatience, but he loves us, loves us, loves us.....................

I am thankful for Pastor Rod coming to be with us here in our area. I am being refreshed and renewed in the knowledge of God's love once again, so that I am again seeing others as people to love and to care for, to nourish, to strengthen, to inspire and so forth. I am thankful for his willingness to be vulnerable in the sharing of his knowledge and of his experience so that I/we will be encouraged, instructed and empowered to serve others even as God served us.

May we say when we understand arightly, that "Love seeks ways to serve?" Yes, I believe we may.

May we be "Imitators of God" today and always!

Grace and Peace to you today!

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 05 May 2013 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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The Gospel/The Good News 5/12/2013
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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