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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God's Peace 6.25.2017
Dear friend,

May the grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and His Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ be with you now and always, Amen.
Last week we heard of how the Holy Spirit has been sent into our hearts, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. We do this because we are sons (and daughters) and no longer a slaves to sin, and also that we have all that our God has given us through Christ. Galatians 4:6-7

Isn‚€™t it true that in our Christian lives that even though we know and live in the reality of being sons and daughters of God, there are questions that come up before us which cause us to struggle of how to find answers to such questions. We say to our Father in such times, ‚€œFather, I know I am your child, I know that you have a plan for me, I know that it is a good plan, but yet there are times when things are pretty uncertain and foggy down here. I need your help, your wisdom, your direction and so on.‚€Ě

How does He respond at such times in our lives? Does He not point us to His Word and to His Spirit?

KJV 2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
KJV 2 Timothy 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

As Paul wrote to Timothy in his last letter before he (Paul) was martyred, he spoke of those most important aspects of life, the Gospel of Jesus Christ which is communicated through the hearing of faith by the Word of God. As Paul closes out his letter he writes of how this Word has been breathed into men‚€™s hearts and minds by God and that it is useful for doctrine (truth), which means that it is the foundation of life and that because we do not always follow Him, the Word brings rebuke. God does not point out only where we went wrong, but He points us in the right direction (correction). And finally, the Word continually brings us instruction in righteousness, in other words, how to live our lives as Christians.

Therefore, we live our lives as Christians by His Word and by His Spirit. It has been said that the Bible is like a huge letter from God, that was originally written to and for the people at that time, but that it is a letter that is a dynamic letter, and not a static letter. What that means is that message that it brings forth is for all people of all time and even though people and cultures change over time, the message that is contained in John 3:13 ‚€œFor God so loved the world, that He gave His only Begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life‚€Ě is for all.

When we meet one another as Christians, we greet one another with the words: God's Peace. Like any other thing that we do as a custom, a greeting can lose its sense of meaning and therefore it is important that we are reminded what it means when we say to one another: God's Peace!

Through the cross God has made a peace treaty with mankind, and He wants that all would come to know, to experience and to live in God's Peace. Even though at times it may seem awkward to practice the custom, we should remember that when we greet one another with God's Peace, we are being reminded that God is at peace with us, by faith we have peace in our heart and soul and therefore we wish that all would come to know of, to experience for themselves and to live in God's Peace! So may we freely greet all with God's Peace!

So, how then do we live out our lives, having God‚€™s Peace in our hearts.?
Pauls‚€™ letter to the Romans is one of the best letters to read and to learn from as far as how our lives live out as Christians. It is one of the letters that we should at least once a year read and meditate upon since it is written in a more general sense as opposed to being written to a specific congregation for specific reasons. It is a letter that has good news, bad news and then good news

Briefly said, Paul first speaks of the good news of the Gospel (1:16-17), then he write the bad news (1:18-3:20) where in the Word reveals to us that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, and then the best news (3:21--) in that after the condemnation of us all, these majestic words flow out of the Holy Spirit through the pen of Apostle Paul: 21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

After this he goes on to connect for the early New Testament believers as to how through Abraham the promised Messiah was brought forth to fulfillment, in the fulness of time. (Galatians 4:4) Faith has always been the connecting point between what God has done for sinful mankind from the beginning of time. No one has ever been made right with God through their own merits and efforts.

How then do we live?

Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

We are justified, (made right with God) by faith. This is in the past tense. It is hard for us to live in God's Peace, because all of the things going on in our lives, those things outside of us and the general state of the world around us. Sickness, relationship problems, financial problems, wars, persecution, suffering of all kinds, worries about our future.

Death came upon us all but Jesus came to give us God's Peace by taking on Himself the wrath of His own Father and satisfied that wrath. We greet one another with God's Peace, and in so doing, we greet one another with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God's Peace is with you, for God is not counting your sins against you, He has washed you with the blood of His Son, and you are righteous in His sight, therefore you have God's Peace. When we are beset with all our problems, we need to look at Jesus, remembering that God is not angry with us.. If God has wanted to be angry with us, He would have never sent Jesus to the cross.

When we have placed our trust in Christ, God sees as His own purchased possession in His Son. We have an access into this grace, an entryway into this grace. We have a hard time with grace, because we are so often graceless towards ourselves. When we fail, we do not remember the grace of God, turning Him into a vindictive God who is out to get us because we have failed.

Do you think your sin is greater than the grace of God for you?

Do we turn against children or grandchildren when they fail? Do we seek their harm when they fail? We come to them and take them in love, in mercy to restore them for we still love them very much. We discipline them but we never stop loving them. God is always seeking to RESTORE, to give God's Peace. When we fail as children, do we not come to our parents, who will always forgive us when we ask, just as we run to God and hear from a beloved Christian speak the forgiveness of God to us through Christ, so that we might be reminded that He is not counting our sins against us.

We have hope, so therefore suffering does not set us back, but it brings us forward, for we know that our God has taken up our part. He has not separated himself from us, for His Son bears our suffering. He is for us and not against us. We understand that we can trust Him, when we are tried, for the trial works patience and patience works character. Through all of this, we have hope because God has given us His Spirit to indwell us.

2000 years ago God sent His Son to die for the ungodly people, not for the righteous. Long before we did anything, He died for the sins that were yet to come in us. While we were still sinning, God was gracious to us, He came to give us His Peace, God's Peace. We always speak and relate to one another on the basis of grace, He loved us and gave Himself for us. Grace is the power of God's love, and His desire is for our redemption. When we stand before Him, we stand before Him as a child of grace washed in the blood of the Lamb of Christ.

6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Thie above paragraph causes me to struggle in order to properly illustrate as to what is being said here. Let me give it a shot. In verses 6-8 it is written about how Christ died for us, the ungodly people who were still sinning, which is how God demonstrated His love for us. But then in the next verses, we see the words much more used twice, which is designed to show that we not only have received a stay of execution so to speak, in being saved from the wrath of God, but we have been given life!!! In verse 11, it goes on, saying that we also joy in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have NOW received the atonement. We have NOW been declared just.

Parenthesis 13-17
13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.
15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.
16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.
17 For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)

The penalty of sin was evident, even though the law was not yet present. Death was reigning even if the law was not there. Death no longer reigns, but life reigns through the life of Jesus Christ through grace. Judgment came upon all, for in the flesh we are all dead. The law continually tells us that we are deserving of judgment, for the law continually confirms our death. For when we try to live after the law, we will only covet more and lust more after the things that is prohibits. Our flesh will die, in fact, it must die, and if we try to make it live, we are going to be very disappointed. Sin reigns over us to put us to death, and it cannot bring us to salvation. Only grace can bring us to life.

18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

We stand only on Jesus Christ and what He has done for us, has done in us through grace. We stand only on that and therefore we greet one another with God's Peace. Let us renew that greeting as an encouragement to ourselves, to one another and let there be in us a renewed desire to speak God's Peace to the world and in so doing, speak the Gospel to a world that needs to hear it!

God's Peace be unto you today and always!
Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 25 Jun 2017 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Sons not Slaves Galatians 4.1.7
Dear friend and neighbor

May the grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and from His Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ be with you all now and always, Amen.
Who am I? Am I who I think I am according to my estimation, or who others say I am or who God says I am?

In our readings today from Psalm 100, from John‚€™s Gospel (8:31-36) and from our sermon text (Galatians 4:1-7) we know and rejoice in that we are the offspring of God, i.e. sons and daughters and not slaves. Think on what was written by David 1000 years before Jesus came, of that which Jesus said as he spoke to those who based their identity on their family ancestry and of how the Apostle Paul explained to their children that they were not to base their identity on their national heritage or even their religious traditions.

We know that the Lord is God, that He has made us, and we are collectively the "sheep" of His pasture. Therefore we make a joyful noise unto Him, we serve Him with gladness and we come into His presence with singing. Because He is good, His mercy is everlasting and His truth endures to all generations, we approach His house with thanksgiving and we enter into His congregation with praise, for we are thankful unto Him and therefore we affectionately and lovingly bless His name. (from Psalm 100)

Knowing and believing His Word and continuing/abiding in it is a must for us as His followers/learners for it is through the knowledge of God through Jesus Christ that we know the truth and as a result have been set free. We are no longer slaves to sin, and under bondage to our Adamic and fallen nature, but we are now sons and daughters of God by adoption, for the Son has delivered us from the penalty and the power of sin. While we still live with the presence of sin, we are no longer under its power, for the power has been broken by our Brother and our joint heir of eternal life, Jesus the Christ. (from John 8:31-36)

KJV Galatians 4:1 Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;
2 But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.
3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:
4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

First let us take a look at the historical background of this passage, and then I want to relate this to Father‚€™s Day. In his letter to the Galatians, Apostle Paul has been writing to his readers/listeners in order to explain to them that their identity is not in being a slave, but in being a son through Abraham. It is not according to their family tree that they are sons of God, but it is through the Seed Jesus Christ, the Promised One, through the Gospel by which they have been set free from the prison of self serving sin.

He is driving home the point that because they are sons of God, the Spirit of Christ has been sent into their hearts and as a result, they cry Father, Father. They were being pressured to return to the outward rituals and traditions that had been observed and practiced for many years, but which had missed the coming of Jesus the one who broke humanity out of prison. Paul is telling them that they are co inheritors with God through Christ. In other words, everything that God has is theirs.

Now let us consider what this means for us, in the area of identity. God is our Father, and He has sent His Son to redeem us from the power of the law so that we might be taken into the family of God. We are not a worker or slave but we are now in His household, having all the benefits of a son.

We that have the calling of being a father, is that our identity? No, that is our calling, but it is not our identity. Within this identity, in that we are a son and not a slave, we live out our callings. Let me share of how this works out in a practical way, and since it is Father‚€™s Day and I am a father, I will use myself as an example. A wonderful woman of our congregation has put together an identity statement for a Christian and so I am going to state my identity as a child of God, as a son of God.

I am‚€¦a child of God, (Romans 8:16) saved by grace through faith (Eph 2:8), redeemed from the hand of the foe, (Psalm 107:2) an heir of eternal life, (1 James 5:11-12) forgiven (Eph 1:7) led by the Spirit of God, (Romans 8:14) a new creature (2 Cor 5:17) redeemed from the curse of the Law, (Gal 3:13) kept in safety wherever I go, (Isaiah 46:4) strong in the Lord and in His mighty power, (Eph 6:10) livng by faith and not by sight, (2 Cor 5:7) rescued from the dominion of darkness, (Col 1:13) justified, (Romans 5:1) an heir of God and co-heir with Christ, (Romans 8:17) blessed with every spiritual blessing, (Eph 1:13) an overcomer by the blood of the Lamb and the word of my testimony, (Revelation 12:11) the light of the world, (Matthew 5:14) an imitator of God, (Eph 5:1) healed by His wounds, (1 Peter 2;24) being transformed by the renewing of my mind, (Romans 12:2) heir to the blessings of Abraham, (Galatians 3:14) doing all things through Christ, (Philippians 4:13) more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37)

That is our/my identity in Christ. Our callings flow out of our identity in Christ. So on this Father‚€™s Day I am thinking of our Father in heaven, of my earthly father and of myself as a father. Our Father in heaven is the only perfect father and in my eyes my earthly father was pretty special in that I at the very least knew that he loved me and provided for me and my family.

I have come to see that it is of the utmost importance to know our identity in Christ as out of that relationship flows all of our callings. My identity is not in fatherhood or in pastorship. It is that I am a son of God who has given me His Spirit so that I not only know that I am His, but also that from His Spirit in my heart to Him flows this communion and fellowship of love and belonging. So now as His Son in my calling as a father I want so make to ‚€œplease‚€Ě Him in my calling as a father in teaching and training those children and grandchildren that He blessed me with so that they will know Him as Father. They are my natural sons and daughters, but they are His spiritual sons and daughters.

I ask all of us that read this meditation to remember this all important truth: That we are sons and daughters and not slaves. We have been broken out of prison by Jesus, have been set free from the power of the law and now live as His children knowing that we are loved, that we have purpose and that we have a destiny.

So, when we are struggling with our identity, may we read that paragraph slowly, meditatively and thankfully, for as the Spirit witnesses with our spirit of our sonship/daughtership, we will be assured, encouraged, empowered and inspired in our individual callings.

Blessings to each of you as His sons and daughters.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 18 Jun 2017 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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God's Peace 6.25.2017
- 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.