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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Awaiting the New Day

Dear ones,

God's Peace to you all!

Last week and over the weekend, we had the privilege to spend time at the annual convention of the Apostolic Lutheran Church of America in Upper Michigan. It was a blessed time during which we were exposed to the hearing of the Word of God for a number of days, spent time in prayer with others, had opportunity to renew acquaintances as well as to make new friends, discussed various topics in meetings which relate to the ongoing as well as future operations of our ALCA, and all in all, came back from there thankful, encouraged, optimistic and inspired toward the future. Thankful to be a part of our ALCA, encouraged by the Word which pointed to the unity that we have in Jesus Christ, optimistic towards the future of the larger group of which we are a part of, and inspired to consider as to how I/we may continue to be a positive and fruitful part of the beloved heritage that we have been reared and nurtured in. This meditation gives us opportunity to reflect on that which the Lord has done for us, how He lives in us by His Spirit and how hope lifts us over the struggles and difficulties that are with us in this present world. Therefore by seeing ourselves through God's eyes, we live individual lives of faith, lives that are connected to Jesus Christ by this faith and which are connected together with one another by and in the Holy Spirit. Our meditation is from Romans 8:12-25.

Our Present Life in the Spirit

The word "therefore" causes us to look at the previous verses so that we will understand what has been said to this point in previous verses and thereby keep our meditation in context. As the Apostle struggles with the warfare that goes on in his life between the spirit (the new man, born/renewed of the Spirit) and the flesh (the old man, fallend, carnal nature), at the closing part of the 7th chapter, he cries out, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" and he answers his question with "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin." (7:25) He then goes onto say, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." (8:1-2)

The presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit indicates that we are free from the law of sin and death, and in fact, have been freed by that "law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus." We might say the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed us from the guilt and the power of sin, the law. The law accuses us and condemns us, for we cannot do that which it commands, but the life-giving Spirit ministers grace and truth to us through Jesus Christ, the Gospel. In Him we have grace and forgiveness, a revelation that comes from God through His Spirit through Jesus Christ.. In the next verses which lead up to our text, he contrasts the life in the Spirit and the life in the flesh, and pointing out very clearly this: "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." (8:9)

"And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." 8:10-11)

So, therefore, since we are indwelt by God Himself, by Christ Himself, by the Holy Spirit Himself, we do not owe anything to the flesh, for it is as Paul says in another place, "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world".(Galatians 6:14) The world, our flesh, and the devil have lost their power over us, we do not owe them anything, and therefore, we do not give anyone our allegiance but Christ, our King.

Living after the flesh, i.e. living in an attitude of compromise and acceptance into our hearts and lives of that which is contrary to God's written and revealed will, living in our carnal nature will bring death, but if through the power of the life-giving Spirit we deaden the deeds of the body, we will live. That is what it says, period. This is a difficult passage to interpret and to understand in the light of the doctrine of justification by grace through faith. For one could easily draw the conclusion that one is justified through personal obedience. That is not the case, for this verse must be understood more from the context of result rather than a condition. What does this mean? "Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." (8:12-13)

Since we have been freed from the law of sin and death (8:2) by the life-giving Spirit of Christ, we are no longer under the power of sin and death, for we "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. "(Galatians 2;20) As a result of Christ's work on the cross, (grace); through our acknowledgment of sin (repentance); and our believing of the Gospel (faith), we are indwelt by Christ's Spirit, the same Spirit by which He arose from the dead, and which now lives in us. (8:11) Therefore, as a result of God's grace toward us, we are no longer a slave to self, to sin, to the world, to the devil, but we are a slave to Christ, called to to His bidding and will. This is what is meant by result and not condition. We mortify our members because we are in the Spirit, but we do not mortify our members to get the Spirit. This brings us to the next thought of this meditation, that our being indwelt by the Spirit is evidenced inwardly/outwardly by four characteristics:

1) A life that is set apart from one who lives in the flesh
13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

2) Sonship
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

3) Living in the spirit of freedom and not of fear as adopted children
15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

4) As children of God, we have an inheritance which is characterized by suffering
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

Our Future Glory as God's Children

18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth (like labor pains of childbirth) in pain together until now.

Suffering is the pathway to glory, and even as Jesus suffered for the glory of the Father, we also are called to suffer with Him through being united in Him and being identified with Him. We will suffer in this present world but he greatness of the glory that awaits us is so great that to compare the two is not possible, but rather our suffering in this life is to be contrasted with the glory that will be revealed in us in heaven.

Paul then uses the natural created order to to illustrate the concept of suffering and glory.
He addresses the past, the future and goes back to the present. He does this for a reason as we will see, but before that we must recognize and understand that the earth runs just like God wants it to run. He writes that the creation was made to be subject to vanity by God for his purposes, (The creation did not impose the curse on itself) so also God subjected the earth to hope of the new creation, the new heaven and the new earth. For the earth is now slave to rot, to decay, to falling down.

We see signs of the new created order in the growing season, in perennial plants, in trees, in corn crops, alfafa and in soybeans. They remind us that a better day is coming, when we will be living in total glory, and that forever and forever. The earth itself preaches this new day to us. In our verses, we are told that God caused the earth to be a dying planet, that this will not always be the case, for there is a new and brighter day coming!!! The earth groans for the Sons of God to be revealed, for that is its purpose, to serve as a means by which God brought forth into existence His plan of salvation through being born in the flesh, i.e. Christ in the flesh, God with us. The earth has no existence for itself, but serves its creator.

He now applies the lesser to the greater, from the natural to the spiritual, by pointing out five things that should encourage as we live the life in the Spirit in the here and now but awaiting "the bright and glorious day." Here are the verses:

23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan/sigh within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

1) We have the First fruits of Spirit (first gleanings of the harvest, with the promise that more is to come, or, like an earnest money, a down payment on the house, which is a promise for the final purchase), which means that there is more to come, the greater realization and experience is to come!!

2) We groan inwardly, which reminds us of our incompleteness on this side of glory as we experience pain and uncertainty, as we sigh both in our pain and long for the relief in glory.

3) We wait for the final adoption, the ultimate adoption. Here everything is a foretaste, a teaser we might say, for the best is yet to come. "For our conversation/life is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself." Philippians 3:20-21

4) We live in hope, an expectant hope. We believe in and we trust in the promises of God. May we be reminded that we are not there yet, but God's promises are true and steadfast!

5) We live in patience for the fulfilment of our hope in Him. In the midst of our trials, our health issues, our family troubles, our worries and fears, we are to wait patiently for the timing of God in bringing all things to His glorious end, From first fruits to harvest, From bbondage to freedom, from decay to incorruption, from labor pains to birth, and from suffering to glory.

May we be in peace today, being reminded that we are not yet there, that God is totally in control of the world and its events, and He will bring all things to His end. We have the promise of the Spirit to keep us focused on the future, we have the natural creation around us to remind us that we are not there yet, (but yet in the midst of decay and rot, we see new life the spring) and we have His promise that there is a better day coming.

May the amazing grace of God be upon all this day through Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world.

Together in Christ,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 17 Jul 2011 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Freedom 7/03/2011
Dear ones,

God's Peace to you all!

Freedom: What is it? When we think of freedom, what is it?

As we approach the celebration of the 235th anniversary of our Nation's birth, it is with thankfulness that we do so. We have been blessed to be born into this great nation that has been founded and grounded with principles that pointed to a dependence on God and His Holy Word. May we pray that these blessings will continue into the future.

Our forefathers declared independence from Great Britain, and in the framing of the Constitution of the United States of America, they declared dependence on God, and our nation was guided and directed into godly ways. How familiar are we with the Declaration of Independence? What do we know about the document and its contents? Here are a few questions concerning this historical document.

1. What Was The Declaration of Independence All About?

A Document Wherein Colonists Refused To Pay Taxes To Great Britain
That America's 13 Colonies Were No Longer Part of The British Empire B
A Formal Decree Proclaiming Colonists Would Ban Entry of All English Citizens
A Demand Urging That the British Parliament Be Dissolved.

2. Who Was The Principal Author of The Declaration?
Patrick Henry
Benjamin Franklin
John Adams
Thomas Jefferson D

3. Where Was The Declaration Adopted?
The Customs House in the City of New York
The Pennsylvania State House In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania B
The Virginia State House attended by 130 Delegates
A Room Above The Langston Stable Outside of Boston

4. When Was The Declaration Adopted?
Immediately After The Battles at Lexington and Concord in April 1775
After The 2nd Continental Congress Convened in May 1775
On July 4, 1776 C
The Debate Goes On But Historians Believe Sometime In the Fall of 1776

5. Why Didn't George Washington Sign The Declaration of Independence?
As Commander of the Army He Was Unavailable To Participate A
He Stayed Home While His Wife Martha Was Ill With The Ague
He Was Ineligible to Do So As A Congressman From Virginia
During The Signing He Was Too Busy At His Farm At Mount Vernon

6. Who was the first signer of the Declaration of Independence?
John Adams
John Hancock B
Benjamin Franklin
George Washington

7. Which One of These Phrases Appears In The Declaration of Independence? Governments Are Instituted Of, By And For The People
These United Colonies Are And Ought To Be Dependent States
Life, Liberty And The Pursuit of Happiness C
These United Colonies Pledge All Allegiance To The British Crown

8. Why Was The Declaration Read To Washington's Troops Days After It Was Adopted?
To Encourage British Forces To Surrender
To Publicly Notify King George The Colonies Were Free Of British Rule
To Inspire The Troops And Encourage Enlistments C
To Prove That The Colonists Approved Their Independence

In the recent years we as a nation have been declaring independence from God and choosing dependence on self, believing that this is true freedom. Is that what freedom is, doing what we think is best for us as an individual, independent of what God says in His Word? Our text reveals to us what true freedom is, as our front page of our bulletin verse says: "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death." That is true freedom. As Jesus put it:

"Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free". (John 8:31-32)

We will focus on these thoughts in this meditation today. The Word tells us that Christ has won the victory, we live in the victory by faith and we are to continue His Word.

This is the text and the outline for our meditations today.

I. KJV Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
II. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

First of all, the battle is over, Christ is the Victor, but many have not heard the news

In the history of the world, it often has been the case that after a battle has been won, after victory has been attained, that there have been those who did not hear the news of the victory. For instance, after the Civil War ended and the slaves had been freed, there were yet those who had no knowledge that freedom was theirs. After World War II, there were those who fled and hid during the war and when they were found they had a difficult time believing that the war was over. They yet were afraid.

We know that all things are accomplished, for When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, "It is finished," and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." John 19:30

There are many living on the face of the earth today who do not know that "It is Finished." In spite of what God says in His Word, both through the Incarnate Word which spoke from the cross and through His Written Word both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, many do not know that "It is Finished." The victory over death, over hell and the devil is complete! No power will ever be able to undo what Christ accomplished through obedience to the will of the Father, and which was proved on the cross and evidenced through the Resurrection. No one is able or ever will be able to say, "It is unfinished!"

Early on in His ministry, when Jesus was in the synagogue, he took his turn at the preaching post and said, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,to preach the acceptable year of the Lord." Luke 4:18

As we consider what it means that "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit". Romans 8:1, we must always remember that the work of Jesus Christ is what has won us our freedom, as is written in the letter to Colossians, "Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption (freedom) through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:"
Colossians 1:12-14
And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled, In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: Colossians 1:20-22

This truth is illustrated in the song, Power of the Cross,
"This the Power of the Cross: Christ became sin for us. Took the blame, bore the wrath, We stand forgiven at the cross.

And the fourth verse: The Power of the cross: Son of God, slain for us. What a love, what a cost. We stand forgiven at the cross."

Earlier in this letter to the Romans, Paul had said what he is saying in our text, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit," but in another manner. He had from the beginning of the letter been speaking of the guilt of the whole world, had written that not by the works of the law, but by the faithfulness of Christ was salvation provided, and had illustrated this with examples from the lives of Abraham and David. He then writes "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." Romans 5:1-2

Unbelief in that which God has provided does not negate the work of God for all, for it is written by Paul in another place of the Bible, "And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Cor 4:3-4

Here is where many today stand, in a place where they have not come to see the finished work of God which is described in another place: "that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." 2 Cor 5:19-21

What this means is that God is now friendly toward the human race, His wrath against sin has been taken away as He layed it on His Son, and now He is waiting for people to come unto Him through repentance and faith.

True freedom has an eternal source, for it is based on the truth of the Word of God. It is a freedom that comes when one's life is in harmony with God. This harmony and peace only comes through the person and finished work of Jesus Christ. It is for this freedom that you and I have been set free. It is a freedom that frees us from ourselves and frees us to be in fellowship with God, with Christ and with all people..

But, sadly, this freedom is more often overlooked, rejected, even taken for granted and despised. Why? Because, as sinful human beings, our first response to the one who lovingly created us, even reconciled us back to Himself, is to reject that partnership or go it alone as if we are the only lord and master of our lives. Ironically, such false emancipation actually destroys our ability, personally, to be truly free. We think that freedom is to do as were wish, in thought, attitude and action. That is slavery.

What does it mean to live in slavery? Recently I read a book about slavery in which the slaves gave first person accounts of their lives. They said three things that relate to our sermon today concerning freedom vs slavery.

1. The masters kept them under subjection by the use of fear.

2. Their masters did everything they could to convince their slaves that they were living the best life now: They kept them from seeing and experiencing freedom as well as continually told them that the life the had as their slave was as good as it can get. This is real happiness.

3. They never had their own name, for instance, if their owner was John Doe, the slave would be referred to as John Doe's slave.

This sounds a lot like the great deceiver, the devil who cannot undo the work of God on the cross, but he will yet try to convince a person to live a lie. Saying things like: .

1. Living in Christ is not freedom, but bondage

2. Being a Christian is boring, no fun, a dead end street.

3. It is your life, live it out as you wish, but does not tell you or show you of the destruction that is coming in this life as well as the next.

4. What he does not tell you, when you reject God, you have a name, but it is not your own. for your name will be Satan's servant.

To live in unrepentance, to live without faith in the Son's work for you, is to live in the bondage of an eternal slavery that no human effort can ever eliminate.

"For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death."

"Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free". (John 8:31-32)

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

We have been freed from the law of sin and death to live in peace, in joy, in love, and in expectation of the future, for we are yoked unto Jesus Christ, which is an easy yoke, a pplesant and joyful union. God has always been for us, He is with us and now He is in us by His Spirit, the Spirit of Christ. He has done it all for us and may we rest in that knowledge and experience!

Closing Prayer
Oh, Lord, our hearts are lifted up to you in praise and thanksgiving for true freedom For you have reached out to us while we were yet sinners and you have sent your Son to repair the breach that our sin caused between you and ourselves. Thank you for loving so greatly that you became sin for us, you who knew no sin, so that we could become righteous before you through the gift of faith. And thereby live in true freedom. May the abundance of your love that you show unto us bring a harvest of love and grace through our lives into this sin darkened world. For many have not yet come to freedom which comes from the saving knowledge of your grace. Give us courage to get the word out to those who do not know or understand that the battle is over, Christ has won, and It Is Finished. Freedom reigns today.

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Posted on 03 Jul 2011 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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Awaiting the New Day
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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