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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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
Heart Worship vs Lip Worship 8/14/2011
A Lesson Concerning Defilement

The Pharisees voice an objection
KJV Matthew 15:1 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying,
2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.

The Pharisees were getting concerned over the teachings and actions of Jesus, for huge crowds continued to follow Him and simply by touching the hem of His garment some were healed. So the Pharisees enlisted the help of the scribes, the experts in the Law from Jerusalem and came to Him with an objection. They were seeking to discredit Jesus for His carelessness and laxness toward His disciples in not insisting that they keep the regulations of the Jewish elders. Gradually over the years the interpretation or explanation of the Law had grown into a large body of precepts, additional to the books of the Old Testament.

The book of these additional requirements was called the Mishna, and in later years received further additions in the so-called Gamara, all of which was put into the Talmud, the present day relgious book of the Jews. It was expected that the rabbis and elders would teach these precepts and insist that the people obey them rigidly. In light of this understanding, it was the gross act of impiety to eat with unwashed hands that the disciples were guilty of and by not insisting that the disciples follow the traditions of the elders, Jesus was also guilty.

Christ's Reply
3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
4 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.
5 But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;
6 And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.

As often is the case, Jesus counters their accusatory question with a question of His own and in so doing, He becomes the accuser and the scribes and Pharisees, the defendants. He ask them as to why they are placing their traditions over the Word of God. From Exodus 21:17, we read: And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death. And from Leviticus 20:9: For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.

In Mark's Gospel, 7:11, the word Corban is used which is defined in this manner. "Undutiful children, under the plea of having consecrated as corban to the Lord whatever help they might otherwise have given to their parents, evaded their filial obligation; this Christ denounced as a "making the commandment of God of none effect by man's traditions" (Mt. 15:5; Mark 7:11,12). The rabbis allowed a youth even to pronounce corban upon his property, and retain it for himself, though withholding it from his own parents. This extreme case however was not immediately referred to by our Lord." (Fausset's Bible Dictionary)

Martin Luther wrote this concerning this annulling of the Word of God, "For the contention with the Pharisees really consisted in this, whether it is better to give presents to the parents or sacrifices to the priests. They said it was better to sacrifice. Thus they taught that the honor due to the parents was a mere ceremony, namely, to bow the head, to rise before them, and in outward behavior be respectful toward them,...Corban, that means a gift or sacrifice to God. As though a child would say: I should gladly give it to thee, but what shall I do? Even now it is not mine anymore, but is given to God. Thus the name of God must be the cover for all shameful blasphemy and wickedness; as though God had taken from the father what the latter should receive from the son."

Christ Substantiates His Attack
7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,
8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

Jesus now speaks very harshly toward them, quoting from Isaiah 29:13 and in so doing rebukes them for their lip service worship. Their orthodoxy is a sham, and their entire religion is vain. Luther comments on this portion by saying that everything that is done without the Word of God is idolatry; Everything done according to the Word of God is worship; All that is done without faith is sin, and all that is done in faith is a good work, for the Word and faith are indissolubly connected, as in holy marriage.

Christ Appeals to the People
10 And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand:
11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

Calling to the multitude, Jesus bid them to hear and understand, telling them that physical cleanness or uncleanness does not affect the heart, but that moral pollution will stain both heart and character.

The Pharisees Take Offense
12 Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?
13 But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.
14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

To the offended Pharisees, Jesus did not give much credence as He told his disciples to leave the Pharisees alone, for they were blind and were not capable of leading anyone. In essence, He said, do not fret too much over their anger and hostility. Every doctrine that has been invented by man will fail in the judgment as will every promoter of false doctrine. Those in that state cannot see what they are doing and will lead all those who follow them into the same ditch that they go into.

Christ Explains the Parable
15 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable.
16 And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding?
17 Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?
18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.
19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

Peter, the spokesperson of the 12, now asks for a declaration of the parable for which he/they receives a rebuke from His Master. "Do ye not understand, after being with me for two years? Don't you understand that the physical body purges itself of all the wastes that are not necessary? They do not have anything to do with your worship of God. But that which comes out of the mouth, which are as a result of one's heart condition, defile a person. He lists evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witnesses, blasphemies, and concludes with His clear teaching: To eat with unwashed hands does not defile a person.

Jesus teaches us here of the importance of keeping traditions in their right place, allowing the Word to guide and regulate the traditions that we do honor and practice and not the other way around. For some strange reason, the older a tradition is, the more it is upheld as worthy of keeping. In reality, it does not matter if a tradition is one year old, 100 years old or 1000 years old, it is still a tradition. In our lesson today, the Pharisees had set aside the Word of God in favor of their interpretation and explanation of the Word. May this lesson be a reminder of the importance of maintaining the separation between that which God has commanded and that which man has invented in relation to the worship of God.

A Lesson on Faith

As Jesus went further away from Jerusalem, a woman whose daughter was vexed with a devil came to Him with a great need. Let us observe the persistence in faith that the women displayed as she sought mercy and help from the Lord.

A Journey To The North
21 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.

The Woman of Canaan
22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.

Jesus Tries/Tests Her Faith
23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.
24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.
27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.

As she came to Jesus, He first did not respond to her request, for He was silent. His disciples even tried to get Him to send her away, but He did not do so, but He then told her that He has come only unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel, one of which she was not.
At this she came and worshipped Him, (falling at His feet) and said, Lord, help me. To which He again was not welcoming, but said that it is not right for Him to take the children's bread and to cast it to dogs. Wow! Three requests and three "cold shoulders" or rejections.

How did she now respond to His apparent rejections of her? She acted according to faith and in great humility. She did not get angry at being referred to as a dog by Jesus, but responded with humility in acknowledging that what He said is right, but that yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master's table. Please note how she referrred to the Jews as her masters. What humility, what brokenness toward herself. She did not show any anger in this whole interchange, but in faith kept her eye on the goal, knowing and trusting that Jesus is her only help. She understood that He was her Messiah, and that according to the prophesies, He had come for her also, a non-Jew. He was her only Helper. Believing this she was not dissuaded from her requests from Him.

Sometime back our daughter-in-law shared of an experience that she had had with her children (our grandchildren) concerning their obeying of their mother. They regularly walk to the park along the street and the distance is over a mile. Her children (4 and 6 years old) had become lax in following their mother's orders and she finally told them that if they continue to disobey her (they were darting out into the street off of the sidewalk to step on the manhole covers in the street and then darting back to the sidewalk), they would turn around and go back home. They did not hear her very well so they went back home. At some point later, they again started for the park, undoubtedly with a reminder from mom about staying on the sidewalk. As they were walking, mom could her the older one telling the younger one, "think about the park, don't think about the s's, just think about the park! (On the manhole covers there was a big S for sewer) By and by they got to the park, and after they got there, their mom heard the older one tell the younger one, "See, I told you it would work, if you kept your mind on the park." I told you if you did not think of the s's, it would work!"

This woman with a great need kept her eyes on Jesus and even though He tried her faith, she kept her mind on Him and that which He could do. May we be counseled by both examples today, so that we would be mindful always that Jesus is the object of our faith and that when we keep our minds fixed on Him, those things that are needful and necessary for our walk in this life will be provided for us.

The Victory of Faith
28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

Two Scriptures will amplify our lesson concerning faith today:

KJV John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

ESV 1 John 5:1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whomever has been born of him.
2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.
3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world- our faith.
5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Through faith we are overcomers. Let us think of Jesus and that which He has done, but let us not only think of Him, but let us trust in that which He has accomplished and obey Him in all things. In His Great and Powerful Name, Amen.

For additional meditation, I am including the following, which is taken from Nancy Leigh DeMoss' Website. It compares the proud heart with the broken heart. These two opposites can be seen in the hearts and lives of the two examples we considered in our meditation. The outward worship of the Pharisees and the inward worship (which is by faith) of the Syrophenician woman. For application for ourselves, may we consider reading, meditating and praying concerning our own heart so as to be counseled of the condition of our heart today. May we read this with an open, honest and approachable heart by the Holy Spirit.

Proud people focus on the failures of others.
Broken people are overwhelmed with a sense of their own spiritual need.

Proud people have a critical, fault-finding spirit; they look at everyone else’s faults with a microscope but their own with a telescope.
Broken people are compassionate; they forgive much because they know how much they have been forgiven.

Proud people are self-righteous; they look down on others.
Broken people esteem all others better than themselves.

Proud people have an independent, self-sufficient spirit.
Broken people have a dependent spirit; they recognize their need for others.

Proud people have to prove that they are right.
Broken people are willing to yield the right to be right.

Proud people claim rights; they have a demanding spirit.
Broken people yield their rights; they have a meek spirit.

Proud people are self-protective of their time, their rights, and their reputation.
Broken people are self-denying.

Proud people desire to be served.
Broken people are motivated to serve others.

Proud people desire to be a success.
Broken people are motivated to be faithful and to make others a success.

Proud people desire self-advancement.
Broken people desire to promote others.

Proud people have a drive to be recognized and appreciated.
Broken people have a sense of their own unworthiness; they are thrilled that God would use them at all.

Proud people are wounded when others are promoted and they are overlooked.
Broken people are eager for others to get the credit; they rejoice when others are lifted up.

Proud people have a subconscious feeling, “This ministry/church is privileged to have me and my gifts”; they think of what they can do for God.

Broken people’s heart attitude is, “I don’t deserve to have a part in any ministry”; they know that they have nothing to ffer God except the life of Jesus flowing through their broken lives.

Proud people feel confident in how much they know.
Broken people are humbled by how very much they have to learn.

Proud people are self-conscious.
Broken people are not concerned with self at all.

Proud people keep others at arms’ length.
Broken people are willing to risk getting close to others and to take risks of loving intimately.

Proud people are quick to blame others.
Broken people accept personal responsibility and can see where they are wrong in a situation.

Proud people are unapproachable or defensive when criticized.
Broken people receive criticism with a humble, open spirit.

Proud people are concerned with being respectable, with what others think; they work to protect their own image and reputation.
Broken people are concerned with being real; what matters to them is not what others think but what God knows; they are willing to die to their own reputation.

Proud people find it difficult to share their spiritual need with others.
Broken people are willing to be open and transparent with others as God directs.

Proud people want to be sure that no one finds out when they have sinned; their instinct is to cover up.
Broken people, once broken, don’t care who knows or who finds out; they are willing to be exposed because they have nothing to lose.

Proud people have a hard time saying, “I was wrong; will you please forgive me?”
Broken people are quick to admit failure and to seek forgiveness when necessary.

Proud people tend to deal in generalities when confessing sin.
Broken people are able to acknowledge specifics when confessing their sin.

Proud people are concerned about the consequences of their sin.
Broken people are grieved over the cause, the root of their sin.

Proud people are remorseful over their sin, sorry that they got found out or caught.
Broken people are truly, genuinely repentant over their sin, evidenced in the fact that they forsake that sin.

Proud people wait for the other to come and ask forgiveness when there is a misunderstanding or conflict in a relationship.
Broken people take the initiative to be reconciled when there is misunderstanding or conflict in relationships; they race to the cross; they see if they can get there first, no matter how wrong the other may have been.

Proud people compare themselves with others and feel worthy of honor.
Broken people compare themselves to the holiness of God and feel a desperate need for His mercy.

Proud people are blind to their true heart condition.
Broken people walk in the light.

Proud people don’t think they have anything to repent of.
Broken people realize they have need of a continual heart attitude of repentance.

Proud people don’t think they need revival, but they are sure that everyone else does.
Broken people continually sense their need for a fresh encounter with God and for a fresh filling of His Spirit.

May the Lord be glorified in our lives today through the power of Christ who lives in us by His Spirit.

In Him,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 14 Aug 2011 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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Is it Logical to Serve Him? 8/21/2011
- 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.