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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Putting on the Armor of God
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Ephesian 6:10-11

As we enter a new year in the Lord, we face it in confidence and hope because the Lord is strong and powerful. As we go into the new year, our expectations are built upon the promises of the Lord for the future, rather than upon that which has happened in the past. Yes, our circumstances may remain the same as we begin this new year, but as we have seen in the lives of people throughout history, circumstances are always changing. Sometimes for the worse, but mostly for the better. The experiences of Christmas equip us for the year ahead, for we are called to be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might!!

As we celebrated Christmas this year, did we not receive much encouragement from the mutual sending and receiving of Christmas greetings through cards and gifts? Yes, we did. These times of fellowship one with another are helpful for us in that they point toward the reason for our hope and away from the cause of our pessimism toward the future. There are many modern forms of communication today which the people living in the time of the early church did not have for their use. But even if they did not have all of that which we have, they had that which our Father has ordained for the purpose of communicating with us: Language..They communicated in the same way that people have for all of time: With words. And they wrote and received letters, in whatever form they had at that time.

The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the Christians at Ephesus in the early church years. In his conclusion to the letter, he counseled them with these words: Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.Ephesians 6:10 After writing these words, he went on to say that they should "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." And why we must put it on: "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." (Ephesians 6:11-12)

He then goes on to list the 7 parts of the armor which he had called for them to put on, emphasizing that they are to put on the "whole" armor. Here are the seven which he listed:

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, (1) having your loins girt about with truth, (2) and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15 (3) And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 Above all, (4) taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 (5) And take the helmet of salvation, (6) and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
18 (7) Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,
20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

As we consider this letter which was written to the Ephesians (and to us)by Paul while he was in prison, we can appreciate his giving heart which we see reflected from the words he wrote while imprisoned:
"Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory. "Ephesians 3:13

The driving force of his life was that those to whom he had been called to serve would be pointed to the source of Hope and Joy, Jesus Christ. He outlines this in this letter to the Ephesians in a systematic manner, first establishing their position in Jesus Christ through faith, pointing out to them of how the body of Jesus Christ (the church) works together in common love and purpose. Then in the conclusion, calls them to stand in that which God has done for them, is for them in Christ and is doing through them as the body of Jesus Christ. As reflected in the verse above, he did not consider his life important, for he spoke to the elders of the Ephesian church in the book of Acts in this manner as he said farewell to them as he journeyed toward an unknown future in Jerusalem: "But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God." KJV Acts 20:24

May we read and meditate on these verses which have been given for our teaching and edification. May the Spirit of Christ dwell richly in us today and may it be reflected by our understanding of who we are within the body of Jesus Christ. Yes, the armor must be put on individually, but it is through the corporate body that we gain and have more strength as an army as opposed to acting on an individual basis. May this letter be read and reread by us so that we will understand clearly as to what it means to be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. Let us read, meditate upon and pray through Paul's prayers for us in 1:15-23 and 3:14-21 and his call to prayer in 6:18-24. His prayers focus on our increased awareness of the power of Christ which we possess being in Him and that this power is brought forth among us and through us through the serving of one another within His body.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 02 Jan 2010 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Love Came Down To Us

"And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them." Luke 2:1-20

The reading of the Christmas Story on Christmas Eve has been a part of many of our lives for as long as we can remember, for when we were children, it was read in our homes and the tradition has continued in our homes. It is a blessed and rich tradition, one that relates a historical happening through which Love reached down and touched the whole world. When we read this account, or when we hear it read from the Holy Bible, we receive it as being proclaimed from the heart of our God, who so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever would believe in Him would not perish, but have eternal life. This testimony of truth comes from a heart of love, for God is love and He sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. When we hear of this most amazing reality, we are not getting "sound bites", but we are getting the whole story. This is like a shining ray of hope that has come from heaven, which has shined into the darkness of this world. He has not come to give us some kind of a system of beliefs, or some kind of an outward structure, but He has come to give us Himself through relationship. We have need of a Saviour, for we all have fallen short of His glory as a result of the fall into sin in the Garden of Eden. He reached down.....

Down from His glory, Ever living story, My God and My Savior came,
And Jesus was His name, Born in a manger, To His own a stranger,
A Man of sorrows, tears and agony.

Oh how I love Him! How I adore Him! My breath, my sunshine, my all in all!
The great Creator Became my savior, And all God's fullness dwelleth in Him.

What condescension, Bringing us redemption; That in the dead of night,
Not one faint hope in sight, God, gracious, tender, Laid aside His splendor,
Stooping to woo, to win, to save my soul. Chorus

Without reluctance, Flesh and blood His substance, He took the form of man,
Revealed the hidden plan. O glorious mystery, Sacrifice of Calvary,
And now I know Thou wert the great "I Am." Chorus

Dear friend, do you believe in, rejoice over, and live in the grace which God has given you in Christ? Too often our eyes, our ears and our hearts are dull in their ability to comprehend the greatness of the what God has done through His Son, The Gift that already began to be wrapped before the foundation of the world. He has presented us with The Gift of eternal life which He grants unto us through our believing of His proclamation of it. The following is something which may open this to us in a greater way.

A young girl was sharing her testimony of her life and of how the Lord had been speaking to her of the importance of using words to preach the Gospel message. She related that she understood that it is possible to share the gospel through her life, but that the Lord had been prompting her to share from the Scriptures with her co-workers. So she related her testimony in this way: "I came up with two statements and one question. The first statement was that, I think that my co-workers know where I stand in my life, as to what is important to me vs what is important to them. By my actions and words, they sense and know that I love the Lord and worship Him. The second statement that she made was, I think that I know where they are, which was evident by their actions and words, in that they focused on themselves and seemed to be caught up in pleasing themselves rather than the Lord. This led me to the question: Do they know where they are in light of God's sending of His Son as their substitute for their sin? Do they understand that God was in Christ reconciling them unto Himself and that He is no longer imputing/crediting their sins against them? (2 Corinthians 5:19) This changed my whole outlook toward my co-workers and instead of being fearful to talk with them, now I look upon them with greater grace and compassion that I ever thought possible, and I can freely share with them of The Gift that is theirs."

And The Gift is received by one's believing of it, as it is written, And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. Romans 4:22-25

21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 2 Corinthians 5:21

Believe the message of the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus Christ for yourself today, that through His Name and in the power of His shed blood, your sins are forgiven!!!! Believe it to your peace and joy, for in that personal faith and knowledge lies the true meaning of Christmas! Isn't that Good News?

Do you know where you are in God's sight?

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 09 Dec 2009 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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Putting on the Armor of God
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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