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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What is Love? 8/28/2011
Often times in life we might ask the question as to why things are the way they are, in that the world is full of violence, our nation is having a lot of problems, and we ourselves struggle. We ask, why is it like this? The simple answer it is due to the fall of mankind into sin, where we went from living in fellowship and communion with our Creator and Father to separation from Him and one another, to a life of sin and selfishness. So that is why things are the way they are, but the good news is that God did not leave us in that state. He restored His creation through the cross, by taking away the condemnation that stood against, condemning sin to the cross on His very own Son.

In doing that, He took away our sin and when we believe that and trust in that which He has done, we enter into a new existence. It is the life of Christ. It is life no longer of living in sin which is expressed in selfish living in what ever way that may be, but it is a life that is blessed of God and a life that is designed to bring blessing to others. Our problem is that we get stuck in the status quo, whether it is with our life of disappointment or in the lives of others that we are associated with. We get stuck in a rut, or we get into a low time, a period of depression, all because we forget what the Lord has done in Christ. When we come in worship of the Lord, we are to come in joy for what He has done for us and in expectation of renewed hope for the future.

We come before Him praising Him for that which He has done, but do we really think about what He has done, or are we so stuck in a rut that our praises are simply mouthed. We come in prayer, knowing, but sometimes forgetting, that prayer is rebelling against the status quo of a world going wrong. It is refusing to come to terms with an unjust, dark and evil world, as if it were all we were meant to have, as if there was no one or nothing that could change it. Prayer remembers not only that the world as we find it can be changed, but that it should be changed, and that there is one who can change it. It is at his feet, even in our weariness, we want to sit. That is what we are doing this morning. This is a time of joy and of hope, because we do not have to settle for the status quo. This is a time of worship, a time of expectation, a time of being renewed in hope, it is a time in which our God ministers to us with grace.

Our text today is a continuation of last week's text. Last week we meditated upon the first 8 verses of Chapter 12 and today we will consider the rest of the chapter, verses 9-21. Reviewing a little in order to bring our text today into context, we remember that our Lord through His Apostle Paul, on the basis of His being merciful to us, calls us to present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy, acceptable unto God, calling it our reasonable or logical service, We could also say our spiritual worship. And that is referring not just to our gathering here together in His house, but it is our entire life. We then were called to not fashion our life according to this world's ways, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. This we do by being shaped by His Word and Spirit, for it is through them that we are able to discern and to know what is that good, acceptable and perfect will of God.

After introducing the content of this chapter, he then begins to teach us as to how this works. In verses 3-8 he tells us to think of ourselves rightly, not to think too highly or too lowly of ourselves, but to realize that God has been gracious to us, has given us faith and equipped us with individual gifts that are to be used for the common good of the entire body or group. In essence, we are to exercise whatever gift we have been given from the attitude of grace. We are not to use our gifts begrudgingly, but to use them in relation that which we have received. In other words, do not try to be somebody that we are not and on the other hand, do not try to be less than God has made us. We have the propensity to err in either way. It is significant for us to understand that our shaping is taking place in terms of how we relate to everyone else, not how we are progressing in our individual formation in Christ.

At first glance verses 9-16 can appear to be random instruction that the Lord has left for us, but after reading a few other's take on them, it seems like we can look at them in a connected way to what has already been said. It could be similar to the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians that the Apostle Paul wrote. In that place, he speaks about love in an abstract manner ( a concept) but then he proceeds to break it down into every day language which gives practical application to the word love. For example, consider these verses:

ESV 1 Corinthians 13:3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,1 but have not love, I gain nothing.
ESV 1 Corinthians 13:4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant

The word love in verse 3 (charity in King James) would be considered an abstract concept, and verse 4 the word is given practical meaning. Paul goes onto list numerous similar practical meanings as well as application as he describes how love works in action or inaction. It seems the same in this place which are considering today. I must give credit to the late John Stott, a theologian and teacher in the Anglican church in England who just died at the age of 90. He was gifted with the abililty to clearly explain many things in the Scripture in a simple, but clear and understandable manner. He helped me to see many things and he helped me see the connection in this entire chapter.

What approach did he take? He looked at it this way: He divided the chapter up into four segments: We covered the first two last week, so we will take a look at the last two this week.

Verses 1-2 God loves us, we love Him in worship
Verses 3-8 Love in relation to our gifts.
Verses 9-16 Love in relation to our friends
Verses 17-12 Love in relation to our enemies

It is easy to speak of love in abstract terms, but know what love is in a practical manner and then to live it out is another matter. So in verses 9-16 there are 12 characteristics of love that give us something go on. What does it mean to serve our friends in love?

1. Sincerity:
2. Discernment
3. Affection
4. Honor
5. Enthusiasm
6. Patience
7. Generosity
8. Hospitality
9. Good Will
10. Sympathy
11. Harmony
12. Humility

9a Let love be without dissimulation. (hypocrisy, geniune) (without hypocrisy)’. The *hypokrites* was the play-actor. Yet there is such a thing as pretence-love, which was displayed in its vilest form in the betraying kiss of Judas (Lk. 22:48).

9b Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
Love is discerning: One must resist all that would come inbetween a relationship. God is jealous for His relationship with us, He does not wish to share us with anything or anyone else. We are discerning in our relationships of marriage.

10a Be kindly affectioned (devoted) one to another with brotherly love;
Two family words are used here. There are two types of words used here, one describes love between parent and child and the other love between brothers and sisters. We are called to have the same in the family of God.

(10b). in honour preferring one another;
ESV: Outdo one another, be eager to show honor, do something without being asked.

11 KJV Romans 12:11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord* Be fired up for the Lord, to serve Him.

12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
We have hope. It is to us the source of abiding joy. We are called to patience, as we endure tribulation and persevere in prayer.

13a Distributing to the necessity of saints; Koininia
The verb *share* is *koinoneo*, which can mean either to share in people’s needs and sufferings, or to share out our resources with them.

13b given to hospitality.
Refers to strangers, love seeks out those who are homeless. In those days, inns, hotels and motels were rare. It means more than providing for those who are looking, it calls for us to look for those who are in need. Couch surfing is popular today,

Good Will
14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
We hear echoes of the teachings of Jesus in this verse, for sure. There is no better way to express our positive wishes for our enemies’ welfare than to turn them into prayer and into action.

Sympathy and Empathy
15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
Love never stands aloof from other people’s joys or pains. Love identifies with them, sings with them and suffers with them. Love considers it a privilege to share the joys and sorrows of others.

16a Be of the same mind one toward another. Think the same thing towards one another.Once again we note the fundamental place occupied by our mind. Since our minds have been renewed, we should have similar minds, sharing the same basic convictions and concerns. Without this common mind we cannot live or work together in harmony.

16b Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

NJB Romans 12:16 Give the same consideration to all others alike. Pay no regard to social standing, but meet humble people on their own terms. Do not congratulate yourself on your own wisdom.

Love is sincere, discerning, affectionate and respectful. It is both enthusiastic and patient, both generous and hospitable, both benevolent and sympathetic. It is marked by both harmony and humility.

What are ways that I may demonstrate the grace to others that God has shown me? Not only to those who are my friends, but what about my enemies?

II. Love in relation towards our Enemies
17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
ESV Romans 12:17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.

18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
Leave the sorting out of these things to God, He knows all things, to Him alone is reserved to pay that which is due to someone.

20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.

21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

This last part seems to be metaphorical, for it is saying, instead of payback, pay forward with grace. (v 20-21) It seems to mean that if one does good things for our enemy, it has an effect on them to the good way in most instances. All these things we do because of the grace that has been given us. If we respond in the negative towards somebody who treated us in a bad way, we are giving victory to evil.

The good thing that we do is the means of the victory of the bad things. Mahatma Gandhi said, "If we all follow an eye for an eye, we would all be blind." If we want to stop the bad things, we must stop doing the bad things. For if we continue to give bad for bad, it will continue to be bad. If we do good, we will have opportunity to effect people for the better.

Jesus was one who did good, so that He could triumph over the bad. By following His example, we will demonstrate as to how the good things overcome the bad.

Please read 2 Kings 6:8-23 for an example of how this principle worked in the Old Testament in the life of Elisah.

May we be open to the opportunities that God puts before us in order to demonstrate the His love to others in practical ways so that they may be drawn by the graciousness of our God as it flows through us.

In the love of Christ,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 28 Aug 2011 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Is it Logical to Serve Him? 8/21/2011

Our text today speaks to all in that we are encouraged on the basis of mercy received to do that which is reasonable or logical, which to give our bodies as a holy and acceptable living sacrifice to God. The first three verses of our text (12:1-3) speak of our individual responsibilities and the last five verses (12:4-8) speak to the the importance of the individual gifts being used in a united manner so as to work together for the common good of the body. There are seven gifts listed in this text, all of which serve to nourish and admonish the body. They do not exist for themselves, but they are given so that others may benefit from their use. We are a family and families care for one another.

KJV Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. {soberly: Gr. to sobriety}
4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:
5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;
8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

As the Apostle Paul transitions from the doctrinal portion of his letter to the Romans, he appeals (pleads, urges) his listeners/hearers to consider that which he is telling them on the basis of the mercies of God. These compassions/pities he has outlined, explained and illustrated in the first eleven chapters of this fabulous book of the Bible, the book of Romans. Essentially what he writes of in the first part of the book (doctrinal) is of the provision of God through Christ's Gospel, of the univeral need for the Gospel and that He has chosen us according to His mercy and His love which is received through faith. Within chapters 9-11 we see clearly the heart of Paul to bring his fellow countrymen, the Jews, into the full knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We come before this text with the same awareness, in that Paul wants to bring us into a fuller knowledge of that which God has done for us in Christ. We have been brought into full fellowship with God through Jesus Christ. He is like saying, now that God has done all this for you and has given you all that you would ever need, live in this reality of oneness. Don't be separated!!

On this basis, he appeals to us so that we would present our bodies as a living sacrifice, set apart, acceptable/pleasing unto God, which is our reasonable/logical service. He is saying first of all to the Jews and the Gentiles who were divided, that it is kind of dumb to be arguing over anything since Christ has brought all things together through the Gospel. Does not this apply to us as we consider that which we have been given? How much do we appreciate that which God has done for us and yes, given to us? How much is it worth to us? Does it seem reasonable/logical to us to present our lives as living sacrifices to Him? Does it seem logical to us to present our lives solely to be set apart to God for His purposes? Does it seem reasonable for us to please God rather than ourselves?

Paul then goes on to give us his counsel in that we are not to be conformed/shaped by/live after the patterns of this world, but to be transformed/changed by the renewing of our minds, so that we may prove by testing what God wants, that it is good, pleasing and complete.
He is telling us that in the presenting of our bodies as living sacrifices that we will through examining, scrutinizing and proving be able to determine what is good, pleasing and complete according to God. Essentially what he seems to be saying is that since we are God's, we allow Him to do that what He wants with us.

Continuing on, we hear that we are to resist pride in thinking of ourselves higher than we ought, but we are to be of a sound mind in these matters, for God is the one who has given to everyone faith. In another place, Paul wrote about his same subject: ESV 2 Corinthians 10:12 "Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding."

He now leaves off discussing the individual aspect of how we approach ourselves in relation to Christ and now he brings forth teaching as to how we relate to one another within His body, using our physical bodies as an illustration.

"For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members of another."

This is easy for us to grasp as we can readily understand that our physical body would simply not work if it was not made up of the members it consists of, but was all legs, all arms, all ears and so on. Also, it would not work if our collective physical members did not work together for a common purpose. All the members of our physical body exist to help and to serve one another. Just as the eye serves the hand so that when one reaches for something it will find its target, just as the legs move so as to bring our body to a different location, so also there are various gifts which we have been given by God so that the entire body of Christ may together reach for that which is has been created: To glorify God in worship in the coming together in the realization that God has restored us in His Son!!

Concerning the body's synchronizaton, Paul lists seven different gifts of grace that God has distributed. They are:

1. Gift of Prophecy
2. Gift of Ministry
3. Gift of Teaching
4. Gift of Exhortation
5. Gift of Giving
6. Gift of Leadership
7. Gift of Showing Mercy

The writer has added some additional input with each of these seven that he listed, and so we list each one again the additional instruction along with some of my own words of definition/explanation.

Prophecy: Within the analogy of faith as taught in the Scriptures
Ministry: Serving Others
Teaching: Teach, Do it
Exhortation: Encouragement, do it
Giving: Singleness of heart, sincerety
Leadership: With diligence, concentrate on what we are doing
Showing Mercy: With cheerfulness, readiness of mind, enjoy showing mercy

As we close this brief meditation, we notice that Paul began this chapter with an appeal to his audience based upon mercy received. Note how our last verse ended: "He that shows mercy, with cheerfulness." It is as if everything that he wrote of in the beginning of this twelfth chapter is sandwiched between the reality that our whole life is to be lived out in the shadow of our having received mercy from our Creater, Redeemer, Sustainer and Judge. He has been and is merciful to us. In light of that being a reality in our lives by faith, how could any other type of life be reasonable or logical for us? How could we live our lives for ourselves any other way than to present them to God for Him to do with as He wishes so that His purposes would be done? If we are going to be honest with Him in His Word and with ourselves, we must conclude that it would be illogical or unreasonable to live our our existence here on this earth for ourselves!!

We see the progression in the way that God has ordained that His Body function: He acted for us in Creation and Redemption, He calls for us to come into reality through repentance and faith so that we can see who He really is, and then He encourages us to live our existence here on this earth in merciful service to others through participation in His body of believers here on earth.

1. It means having the right attitude towards God.
2. It means presenting our lives for the benefit of the lives of others.
3. It means participation in our local congregation.

As we consider the mercy that God has given to us and as we consider His mercy toward us today, may we ask ourselves some questions as we look at the end of summertime, the end of vacation. As we look at the resumption of school, of Sunday School, of Confirmation Class, of Discussion Group, Post Confirmation Class, Youth Group, of Bible Study, and so forth, may we consider making a fresh start in commitment to participate in these opportunities to have fellowship one with another.

May we not only consider those things that are designed to nourish us in Christ, to build us up in Christ, but may we also consider ways that we could serve others so that they could be encouraged, strengthened and built up in the Lord, in His body. We have been served by God through Christ so that we may be of service to others.

We have received mercy, for God has not given us that which we deserve, but He has granted unto us abundant mercy and pardon in the forgiveness of our sins through the Gospel. Therefore it is reasonable/logical that we should show mercy with cheerfulness to ourselves, to our family, to our congregational members, to those of our community and well, to all people in this world.

May the abundant mercy of the Lord be grasped in a greater and deeper way by us today!

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 21 Aug 2011 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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What is Love? 8/28/2011
- 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.