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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Together in Christ 6/05/09

Prayer: Lord, Bind Us Together In Love!

KJV John 17:20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
KJV John 17:21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

KJV John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

As the time of our 2009 Apostolic Lutheran Convention draws nearer, and we continue to ask the Lord to bind us together in love, we again focus on the two theme verses of our upcoming time of fellowship together. The intended result of Jesus' prayer (17:20-21) for His body (the church) is that we would be one in and with the Father and the Son so that by the testimony of this love within His body, the world may believe that God sent His Son to this world. The second verse (13:35) reveals to us that we will be known as His disciples within His body through the evidence that we have God's love to another. By these verses we could conclude that mission work begins within the church, through the evidence of love that is experienced, shared and demonstrated between and among us who are in the body of Jesus Christ. That which we are within the body of Jesus Christ is
the foundation of our witness to the world.

To develop this thought let us take a look at something that many of us do, but often times to us may become commonplace.. Question: How do we begin as well as end our meetings/conversations with others? Whether it is personal conversation, on the telephone, with email, when texting, or whatever the mode of communication may be?

Within our ALC Federation it is our custom to greet one another with the greeting of God's Peace, when we meet as well as when we part. As God's child, we possess the peace of God through the knowledge of the saving grace of Jesus Christ and, therefore we not only acknowledge this peace in our hearts, but we also desire to extend this peace to all we come in contact with. As it true with many customs, regular and continual practices can over time become ritualistic, losing their significance and meaning to us. This happens not because we do it too much, but rather, because we tend to forget the meaning of it as well as the intended purpose of it. The Russian Christians, whom we have had fellowship with, add two words to the end of their greeting. When they greet, they say, "God's Peace to you"! By adding the two words, "to you," they not only acknowledge that they have the peace of God, but they also extend that peace to the one that they greet.

Greetings are not meant to be extended without meaning. They only become commonplace and lacking in depth of meaning if we use them in a ritualistic manner or as second nature. We recognize that these are good traditions to uphold and to practice, but always with the awareness of the danger of the custom or ritual becoming a trademark or an identifying mark of a tradition that in an unintentional manner may be used to exclude rather than to include others.

Question: What other greetings do we use other than God's Peace? What significance do words such as these or others mean to us? Do they reflect the knowledge we have of Christ Jesus? Let me illustrate with a personal example of how I would answer these questions.

I currently close emails with the words "Together in Christ." But I have not always done this, as when I began to close emails with different words other than God's Peace, I initially used the words "In Christ," for the reason that through Jesus Christ we possess peace of God. One day I received an email from a brother in Christ in which he closed his email with the words, "Always in Christ."
I replied back to him, thanking him for showing to me a more meaningful way to close a conversation, for it reflected not only that we are in Christ, but that we have His assurance that we will always be in Christ. So, for some time I used these closing words, "Always in Christ," until one day a sister in faith closed her email to me with the words, "Together in Christ." Those words hit home with me and connected many of the dots concerning the truth that we as God's children are all one in Christ. Even though the greeting "Always in Christ" was sufficient, the words "Together in Christ" better reflected the revelation of Jesus into my heart today. For the revelation/knowledge of Jesus Christ into our heart is ongoing, as Jesus said in the last verse of the 17th chapter of John.

KJV John 17:26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.

May we today thank Him for the renewed and ever growing awareness of that which God has done for us, is doing for us today and promises to do for us in the future; through His Son, Jesus Christ
And the experience of being united with Christ is evidenced by our oneness within His body, the church.

Together in Christ,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 05 Jun 2009 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Love elevates the other
If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Philippians 2:1-4

A couple of weeks ago, I heard a pastor make this comment concerning the above portion of Scripture:

"If we consider our spouse more imporant than ourselves, they will know that they are important to us." This is how he explained the last part of the third verse, in which it is written, "but in lowliness of mind let each esteem the other better than themselves."

As I thought of what he had said and of its significance in our relationships with one another, the words of Apostle John came to mind as to the definition and foundation of love:

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. (1 John 4:8-11)

Our Creator sent His Son into the world to reveal His seeking, forgiving and accepting heart of love toward us. He wishes through His Son for us to know and experience this forgiving and accepting love toward us as it was revealed through the Christ on the cross. God views His new creation through Christ and desires that all would come to this knowledge of acceptance in Christ. As it is written:

to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 2 Cor 5:19

Do we understand what this means for us today and for all the peoples of the earth? Have we come to experience the full impact of the meaning of how God has received us in Christ? That He is fully satisfied in us because of the work of His Son in doing the will of His Father through the cross? Do we know how pleased He is in us through His Son? He is waiting for us to accept this gift through repentance toward Him (turning away from and turning toward Him) and faith in Christ. (acceptance of forgiveness through Christ's offering of Himself)

When we come to know, understand and experience the love of God in His forgiveness and acceptance, we come to experience our true worth in the sight of God. Because we know that we are important to Him, we live in the experience of that relationship of being accepted in Christ, but even more so, we are received/welcomed by Him on a continual basis. For God always looks upon us who we are in His Son, of whom He testified: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Matthew 3:17

And if God welcomes us into this fellowship, how can we than not welcome/accept all even as we have been welcomed/accepted? Therefore, when we are in Christ, we consider others more important than ourselves and we exhibit this through our desires, motives and actions.

May God bless you in Christ today and always!

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 22 May 2009 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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Together in Christ 6/05/09
- 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.