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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Pastor's Blog

In Everything Give Thanks!
It has been said that an old song becomes new when it is born of experience. The hymns and songs we have sung today became a new song to the writers of them, for they were created out of their own experiences of life. Experiences which are in response to their encounter with the Living God through Jesus Christ.

KJV Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

As we sing these hymns and songs, they become new to us as we experience the touch of the Lord through the words/music which speak of Christ. And when we experience His Presence deep into our soul, the permanent marker of the blessing is indelibly imprinted into our spiritual memories. We cherish the message of Christ, but also the tune, the melody, where we were, or who we were with, in those times when the Lord touched us with His Spirit, bringing great joy to our soul!

KJV 1 Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

I. God Owns Everything and Gives Us Everything

The Bible contains many exhortations to give thanks to God, from whom we receive everything. All things are His as David testified during the providing for the temple that his son Solomon would later build:

KJV 1 Chronicles 29:10-12 Blessed be thou, LORD God of Israel our father, for ever and ever. Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all.

In the book of Deuteronomy the Lord reminded his people that He was the one who provided for all their needs, and that they not forget this truth, warning them not to say in their hearts:.. My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. But rather than they would remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.

We are told not to forget all the benefits which we have received from the Lord.

KJV Psalm 103:1 Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
3 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;
4 Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
5 Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.

And in the New Testament:

KJV 2 Peter 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

We would all acknowledge that we are prone to forget what we have been given, therefore we are slow to thank the Lord for His innumerable blessings, those blessings which are spiritual as well as those which have to do with our daily bread.

Dietrich Bonhoffer wrote from prison that in normal life we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give, and that life cannot be rich without such gratitude. He goes on to say that we have received life; and what we have learned, others have taught us. What we do particularly well is due to the talents and gifts that God has entrusted to us. We are surrounded by family and friends who enrich our lives in various ways. Much has been given to us.

"But we receive more when we are thankful for all that God and others have given us.
"It is thankfulness that builds in us the capacity for generosity. "
"Unthankfulness robs us of the benefits of the very things we have received."

Therefore the Lord reminds us today:

KJV 1 Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

II. We are Thankful For Many Answered Prayers In Our Lives

Even though we are prone to forget these blessings and under appreciate both the spiritual and physical provisions, we nevertheless have no difficulty in understanding that when they are received with thankfulness, great glory goes to our Father in heaven for His loving provision for us. And as Bonhoffer pointed out, because we receive these things with true gratitude, we then are generous with both spiritual and physical blessings. We want to share them with others.

When our health is good, when the health of a loved one has been restored, when we have all our loved ones around us, when our marriage is flourishing, when our families are walking in truth,

when we have a job and are physically able to work, when our future is all planned out and somewhat secure, when we are able to run around the track with great energy,

when we are able to do gymnastics and swim, when we have a special person in our life, when our bank account is on the plus side, and so on, in general, when life is good, it is somewhat natural to live in a spirit of thankfulness.
.
KJV 1 Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

But what about when things are not so good?

When our health or the health of a loved one failing or worrisome, when our loved ones live far away, when we have lost a loved one, when our marriage or the marriages of those close to us is failing or has failed, when those close to us are not walking in truth, when we are worried about losing our job or have already lost it,

when we are worried about how we are going to provide for ourself or our loved ones in the future, when our special friend has gone away, either by choice of by death, when we are not able to run around the track, when we are not able to do gymnastics or swim, when our bank account is gone and debts are rising,

or to sum it up: when the difficulties of life threaten to swallow a person up, Lord, do you mean even in those things we are to give thanks? You really mean that, God? How does that work?

III. We are Thankful for Trials BecauseThey Draw Us To Trust More In Christ, To Greater Dependence on Grace.

God uses trials for more than bringing us to a greater trust and dependence in Him. Our dear brother, Jay Weidner, had written an article in the Inter-Lutheran Theological Seminary a short time before his wife was tragically killed. In that article, Pastor Jay speaks of the hope we have in times of trial, in the here and now.

"Yet we must understand that Christ is with us in the here and now and is showing the love of God toward us through the Holy Spirit even in the midst of trial."

"We have all the same benefits as the apostles; the love of God by the same Spirit is in our hearts and in the midst of difficulty we are to hold firm in that love, not focusing on the trial but on the Lord of the trial and its resolution."

Here Pastor Jay is speaking of the reality that we are held in the embrace of the love of God, and we know that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.

KJV 1 Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

George A. Young was a poor carpenter and preacher who lived with his loving wife in small rural communities. With financial support never secure, he built their own small home. While he was away on a preaching mission, some locals who did not like his preaching set fire to and destroyed the house. This song, a reaffirmation of his faith in God, even in adversity, was written following that disaster. This occurred around the turn of the 1900's.


Hymn: #448 God Leads Us Along

In shady green pastures so rich and so sweet, God leads his dear children along; Where the water's cold flow bathes the weary ones feet, God leads his dear children along.

Some through the waters, some through the flood, Some through the fire, but all thro' the blood; Some thro' great sorrow, but God gives a song, In the night season and all the day long.

Sometimes on the mount where the sun shines so bright, God leads His dear children along; Sometimes in the valley, in the darkest of night; God leads his dear children along.

Some through the waters, some through the flood, Some through the fire, but all thro' the blood; Some thro' great sorrow, but God gives a song, In the night season and all the day long.

Tho' sorrow befall us, and Satan oppose, God leads His dear children along; Through grace we can conquer, defeat all our foes, God leads his dear children along.

Some through the waters, some through the flood, Some through the fire, but all thro' the blood; Some thro' great sorrow, but God gives a song, In the night season and all the day long.

Away from the mire and away from the clay, God leads His dear children along; Away up in glory, eternity's day,, God leads His dear children along.

Some through the waters, some through the flood, Some through the fire, but all thro' the blood; Some thro' great sorrow, but God gives a song, In the night season and all the day long.

Always in Christ,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 27 Apr 2009 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Our hope and stay in the time of trial 4/21/09
Note: This was written for the April 2009 issue of the Inter-Lutheran Theological Seminary monthly newsletter by Pastor Jay Weidner. May the Lord comfort he and his son Adam in the loss of their beloved Theresa.



April 2009

Dear Friends,

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. (Romans 5:1-5 KJV)

There are two difficulties we face when we go through a time of economic trial as many people in our world are now. On the one hand we can lose hope and become hopeless being driven to despair. Hopelessness is a bad state to find oneself in because it normally leads to depression and a fearful inertia where a person doesn’t know how to act to relieve their situation so they become fearful to act at all. On the other hand we can keep our hope intact but see it only as having future value so that we slog on moping through our earthly lives dejected but hopeful of other worldly relief. Both of these conditions show that at times we have the wrong hope. Our hope is present here and now; it’s Christ who is our hope. We have our glory not just in future deliverance from tribulation but in the midst of the tribulation itself. Christ is with us always that is His promise, but when we begin to focus on the difficulty instead of Christ we lose hope for our situation seems hopeless. Yet we must understand that Christ is with us in the here and now and is showing the love of God toward us through the Holy Spirit even in the midst of trial.

Think of what it was like for the disciples when Jesus was crucified and they returned to the upper room without Him, they were full of despair. Certainly they were questioning what they were going to do with their lives; they were disappointed and filled with fear over what was going to come of them. Then Jesus appeared to them alive on Easter Sunday and cheered their hearts with His peace, gave them His Spirit and assured Him of His abiding presence with them forever. This is how much God loved them; He gave His Son to shed His blood for their sins to secure their redemption, to give them hope. Now even in the darkest of days the love of God by the Holy Spirit sustained them so come what may they went on with joy in their hearts. God doesn’t love us any less and couldn’t love us any greater. We have all the same benefits as the apostles; the love of God by the same Spirit is in our hearts and in the midst of difficulty we are to hold firm in that love, not focusing on the trial but on the Lord of the trial and its resolution. He is our Lord and He loves us to the end. May God spread abroad in our hearts the hope of Easter so that even in our time of trial His love would strengthen and encourage us to hold fast to Him trusting in Him whose hope cannot disappoint. May the hope of the risen Christ be our hope and stay in our time of trial during this Easter season and forever.

God’s Peace,

Jay Weidner
Posted on 21 Apr 2009 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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In Everything Give Thanks!
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala


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