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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Shall we open the Gift? 12/23/08
Good Morning, dear family.

KJV 1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

KJV 2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

In the the Christmas narrative accounts found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke there are four "fear nots!'

To Zacharias

KJV Luke 1:13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.

To Joseph

KJV Matthew 1:20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

To Mary

KJV Luke 1:30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

To the shepherds on Christmas eve.

KJV Luke 2:10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

Let us look at one of these people to whom the messenger spoke the comforting words, "Fear not." According to most theologians, Mary was around 13-16 years old when the message of the Lord came to her through the voice of the angel, Gabriel. In Luke's gospel, chapter 1, verse 27 we meet Mary for the first time in the scriptures and in the book of Acts, chapter 1, verse 14 we read the last mention of her. Here are the two scripture verses:

KJV Luke 1:27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

KJV Acts 1:14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

A brief study of her life reveals to us that she was a girl of faith, in that she believed that which God had said. In her song of praise which begins in Luke 1:46, it is evident that she knew the scriptures and had memorized them. How do we know this? We may conclude this by careful examination of the words that she was given to speak by the revelation of the Holy Spirit, for the bulk of her song of praise of the Lord is taken from the Old Testament scriptures. Therefore, because she believed she spoke, speaking from the abundance of her heart, speaking that which was grounded upon the truths of the Holy Bible. As I prayerfully spent some time in the Word with the prayer in my heart to get to know Mary better than I had known her before, the Lord was gracious to me and through the scriptures enabled me to do so. And consequently, through her life and testimony, I was able to see that she knew and loved Him, Whom she was to bear into this world. She was a prepared vessel of the Lord through whom many would come to be blessed and that " he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed." (Luke 1:48)
Through all this, she remained a humble child of God, recognizing that the Lord, who is mighty, had done to her great things, and holy is his name. (Luke 1:49)

Have we not been able to call her blessed ourselves, because of the example of faith and trust that she modeled, in that she believed the message from the messenger, which was sent from the portals of Glory? Yes, we have come to understand the blessing of having been granted the favor of grace that was bestowed upon her. It is the same favor that was poured out into the life of Joni Erickson Tada, which she herself spoke of in a couple of seasons of her life. After her diving accident which paralyzed her from the neck down, leaving her with only the use of her arms and not her hands, she wished that she could die. When she realized that this was not a possibility, she spoke to the Lord: "Lord, if I cannot die, you are going to have to show me how to live!" At this point she begin to work toward living and a number of years later as she was speaking to a large crowd, these words were spoken by her: "I would rather be in the wheel chair, and to know Jesus Christ, than to be a normal healthy woman and not know Jesus Christ!" In between these two times of her life, she had become acqainted with a young man, through whom Christ and his saving grace was revealed to and experienced by her.

Mary trusted God to fulfill in her life that which was humanly impossible and that which would require divine intervention in order to come to pass. Joni trusted God to fulfill in her life that which was humanly impossible, which required the divine intervention of the Holy Spirit to enable her to live a life that was a blessed life of peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Can we not say, that Christ was born into her heart and that she is called blessed by all those who have come to understand what the real blessings of Christmas are. For it is in the receiving and the opening of the gift that God has provided that the blessing is experienced. It is not experienced without the opening of it. A gift is not a gift until it is opened. Just this morning I spoke with my daughter who is in Morales, Guatemala, where she will be spending Christmas with a family that invited her to be with them for Christmas. She told me: "When they receive a gift from the States, they do not wait until Christmas to open it, but they tear into it right away." May we do the same with the gift that the Lord has provided, tearing away the outward wrappings so that we may be able to see Him!!!

Merry Christmas!

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 23 Dec 2008 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
He Comes Near Us 12/19/2008
Good Morning, Dear Family.

KJV Genesis 3:9 And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

(from an account by Max Lucado)
A man had become disillusioned with his life, had walked away one day and was never heard from for many years. (He was single) His sister looked for him, asked people about him, but nobody had a clue what had happened to him. Where he had gone was to Texas and as he lived in a shack by a freeway, he got this idea that his calling was to keep a portion of the freeway clear of trash. This he did for many years. No one had any success trying to pull him out of his "calling." After around 14 years of this, two things happened which caused things to change for him. One is that the place where he called home was going to be destroyed for a building project and the second was that he contracted a fatal strain of cancer. Because his home was destroyed, he had to come out in the open and there he was found lying on the highway in severe pain. A care giver, as a last resort, began to search for any family that this man might have and through his efforts his sister was found and came to help her brother. He did not want help, resisted every effort of his sister, wanting his "home" and his "calling." When asked why she did not give up, she said, "He is my brother."

Adam and Eve ran to hide in the bushes, God came looking and calling; Moses was in the desert when God came near to him in the burning bush; Jonah was running away via the boat when God came near to him in the cloud, in the storm; the Samaritan woman was at the well when Jesus came near to her; Peter, after denying the Lord, experienced the nearness of Jesus around the cookout where Jesus was frying fish, Lazarus was awakened by Jesus' voice when Jesus came near to him.......In what way is He near you/I today? In what circumstance is He drawing near to you/me?

For some reason this story had a big impression on me and I have thought about it a lot since I read it. So many of us are like the man who walked away from everything, got caught up in nothing and did not want to leave what he was used to and into which he was bound. But his sister did not give up on him and continued to seek him, advances to which he succumbed just before he died. There is a lot to think about in this story, for a lot of different applications could be made. My main one was this: Jesus is seeking to reveal Himself to all, to those who are in darkness, but even for us who are the children of light, He wishes to establish a deeper bond between us and Himself, a bond of love and trust. Let me illustrate this:

A number of months back Beth and I were sitting and listening to a song which was being sung at a wedding. As we sat there listening, I was watching the young bride, who kept glancing up at her husband to be, seemingly hoping to catch his eyes so that she could shower her love to him through her eyes/expression as well as receive his adoration in like manner. She did this a number of times, in the hope that their eyes would make contact. He was intent on listening to the song, but then he turned to look into her eyes. I could not see his face, but I could see hers. The expression of love for him as well as the apparent reciprocation of love from him put a look on her face that to me was indescribable and, after observing this for a few seconds, I looked away because the moment was too personal and too holy for me to look upon.

Oh, the mystery of the drawing power of love! The wonder of it all! Let us think on these things.

In Christ,

Posted on 19 Dec 2008 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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Shall we open the Gift? 12/23/08
- 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.