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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The Fruit of Humility 10.23.2016
Dear friend,

How was your week last week? Today is a new day of God's grace and mercy and we have the privilege of enjoying the first day of the new week by spending some time in His Word. It is the same Word by which all things were created, a Word that lived among us (Jesus Christ), a Word that has come to reconcile/reconnect us to God, and it is a Word that when enlightened by His Spirit enables us to live in the power of that same Word.

We continue from where we left off last week with another parable by Jesus, by which He wished to teach them in their day as well as us in our day. It speaks to various truths, such as righteousness, prayer, pride and humility.

Let us start off our mediation by asking these questions: "How is one made right with God? Or how is one received by God? How does one receive the forgiveness that we need? How does one know that they will inherit eternal life? Let us listen in on the discussion that Jesus had with those to whom He was ministering to and then we will think on some of the truths that are presented in this parable.

Luke 18:9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

They both went up into the temple to pray, the Pharisee, one who outwardly keeps the law and were essentially the impeccable spotless religious people and the publican who is one of the lowest sinners there could be. The publicans were tax collectors who were given the job of collecting taxes for the government and as long as they brought the prescribed amount to the government, they were doing their job. They would do that alright, but they were scoundrels and crooks because they collected more than the government expected and they put what they had stolen into their own pockets. They were hated by the people as one can well imagine.

Thanksgiving is one of the first expressions that come out of the heart and mouth of one who has come to know the saving grace of God. We note that the Pharisee stood alone and indeed he expressed thanksgiving to God, but he did not thank God for anything that he had received from God, but he thanked God that he was not like other men....His words were betraying that which was in his heart. His despising of others came forth loud and clear.

The Pharisee has his own standard of what is means to please God, which he does by comparing himself to other worshippers, such as the tax collector. He not only said that he was not an extortioner, he was not unjust, he was not an adulterer and he was not like this publican, but he also pointed out to God of how he was fasting twice a week and was giving tithes of all he had. In his estimation he not only was superior in his moral life, but as far as giving to the Lord, he was top notch. He is in pretty good shape with God. But then the scene changes...

13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven,

He was standing afar off in the Temple, the Pharisee was far away as he was not wanting to be near him as he might be defiled by the tax collector. The tax collector is not standing afar of to be away from the Pharisee, but he is afar off because he feels he is unworthy to approach to God. The next part of our verse communicates this..

but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

He beats on his chest which indicates of his dire need for help, and he seems to recognize that his help was not coming from within himself and his needy heart. What is he saying when he says, God, be merciful to me a sinner?

There would be a lot of background to fill in here which would help us to understand better the rituals that were ordained for worshippers to partake of and which the presiding priests performed. There practices had been ordained by God in the Old Testament, were given only for a time until the time of Christ would come and so the Temple worship was very elaborate but deep with meaning of prophecy and fulfilment, fulfilment which would be in Jesus Christ. May it suffice to say that the man was not offering a generalized prayer for God's mercy as we might do in the light of distressing circumstances and experiences in our lives. What he was doing was to ask God to apply His atoning sacrifice to him, realizing that he had nothing to offer but his broken and contrite heart. He had compared himself with the righteousness of God and found himself entirely wanting.

Here is the meat of this parable. The Pharisee gauged his righteousness with outward things and compared his ability to live rightly with the sins of fallen people. When we do that we will always think that we are doing okay, for when we do that it is like we look at our sins through a telescope and the sins of others through a microscope.

14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Now Jesus applies the parable...He points to the despised tax collector as the one who was righteous before God, for that which God had accomplished in Jesus Christ was received by the tax collector by faith.


Martin Luther (1483-1546) was a monk who was tortured by this question: How does one please God? He had tried to live a good life, had confessed his sins as much as he could, but was left in a condition that was without peace. Then one day he was reading in the book of Romans and he came to these two verses that were written by Apostle Paul under the direction of the Holy Spirit, or to say it another way, were written by God.

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

Luther's struggle with God came to a head as he was wrestling with this Romans 1:17. He tells us that he was extremely zealous to understand Romans but that this phrase about God's righteousness stood in the way. This phrase, which to us is so clearly good news, was for Luther bad news.

Whenever he came across the phrase "the righteousness of God" in Scripture, it terrified him ("struck my conscience like lightning," "was like a thunderbolt in my heart") because he knew that he was an unrighteous sinner who fell far short of God's righteous (perfect) demands. It was Bad News.....

Even worse, Rom. 1:17, filled Luther with anger and hatred toward God. "I did not love, yes, I hated the righteous God who punishes sinners." Is it not enough, Luther tells us he murmured, that God crushes us miserable sinners with His law, that He has to threaten us with punishment through the Gospel, too?

After meditating day and night, finally the breakthrough came when Luther gave heed to the words at the end of 1:17, "He who through faith is righteous shall live." Then he realized that the verse was not talking about the active righteousness that God demands, but the passive righteousness that He freely gives to those who believe the Gospel. The sinner is justified (declared righteous) by God through faith in the work and death of Jesus, not by our work or keeping of the Law. Put another way, the sinner is justified by receiving (faith) rather than achieving (works). Later Luther would say that we are saved by the alien righteousness of Christ, not by a righteousness of our own doing.

Faith now connected him to the Gospel, faith united him with the forgiveness of his sins through Christ. And from there the Reformation burst forth and the world has never been the same since.

How is it for you and I? Do we understand what Jesus was getting at in the parable and can we relate to the experience of Martin Luther? Do we understand that difference between our effort to please God and that which Jesus did to please God through His death on the cross? He took our sin and replaced it with His righteousness.

The ten year old girl understands how this works. When asked what a Christian was, she explained it through a pumpkin.
"A pumpkin is picked out of the pumpkin patch, the top is cut off and the seeds and yucky stuff is pulled out and replaced with a candle which gives light. Then the light shines through the happy face of the pumpkin."

May we understand that when we compare ourselves to Christ's perfection we will see our lack of righteousness and will fall before the Lord, asking Him to apply the power of His atonement through the cross of Christ unto us.............

How I pray that all reading this today have had this experience, and if we haven't, may the Spirit open our eyes and our hearts to the great forgiveness that God has given us through His Son

May the words of our mouth and the meditations of our heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, Our Strength and Our Redeemer.


Posted on 23 Oct 2016 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Pray and don't give up 10.16.2016

Dear friend,


KJV Luke 18:1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
2 Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:
Regarded: He had no shame, his honor could not be appealed to, to appeal to him as in for the sake of God would be to no avail, or even for the sake of this widow woman who had been wronged. He was destitute of feeling any sense of pity for anyone, for he was all about himself and his creature comforts. Only a bribe could perhaps move him....

3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. (Make things right)
In ancient history, widows were to be taken care of, but as always they were vulnerable to mistreatment and to be taken advantage of.
A. She was looking for justice from the judge
B. At first the judge does not want to help, by doing nothing he is favoring the one who has wronged her.

4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, T
hough I fear not God, nor regard man;
He admitted that he was a self serving judge and did not care about helping this needy widow. He did not care about that part at all.

5 Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, (make things right to her) lest by her continual coming she weary me.
He is saying: I have had it with her, she will never stop bugging me, so I will give her what she wants to get rid of her.
She is a widow in a man's world, has no powerful friends or money, but she gets her hearing from the judge who has no fear of God or man. She is persistent in her seeking help in her situation.

6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.
7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?
8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

Application to the Disciples
As they all drew nearer to Jerusalem, and as Jesus spoke of the end of all things, He again emphasized faith. He points to the persistence of the widow woman and how she was rewarded. How much more will Our Heavenly Father take care of all the injustices in life, extending continual mercy to us on behalf of His Son? It is similar to the logic that Jesus used when He taught of prayer in the 11th chapter of Luke when He argued from the lesser to the greater as Luke records:

Luke 11:11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

From Luke 17:22 we note that this talk is being given to the disciples and it is a continuation of the topic of discussion of the nature of the kingdom that Jesus has come to establish, He is speaking of the consummation of time when there will be the division made between those who understood what the kingdom was and who received it and those who did not recognize it and rejected it. It is in the context that there will be hard times for them as they continue on towards Jerusalem where that which Jesus has been telling will take place will come to pass. His arrest, His trial, His scourgings, His being nailed to a roman cross, His death and His resurrection.

He tells them that God will avenge his elect speedily, according to the riches of His abundant grace and goodness, for He is not a stingy and self serving being as the judge was. He is going to avenge His elect in His way and in His time, which will be soon and which will be accomplished by Him pouring out His wrath on us. Whoops, that is not right, for He poured out His wrath on His very own Son..........Do I get the magnitude of this statement? Do you? That what we deserve Jesus received in our place!!!

It seems to be what He is saying that in His death and resurrection all will be vindicated and then asks the question concerning faith. It is not only for the disciples, but it is for all believers of all time. Faith is what connects us to that which God has done for us in Christ and it is faith that Jesus now concentrates on. He does not do it to point to the awful harvest of those who rejected Him by their faithlessness, but He seems to be using this question to encourage, stimulate and inspire faith in our hearts in the midst of difficult circumstances.

Luke 18: 8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

He brings our thoughts back to the first verse in which He pointed out the purpose and intent of the parable: That we always out to pray and not to faint, not to give up.

Let us think about this for a bit.

Application for us

Why, God, if you are the God of love is there so much suffering? Why don't you just come down and straighten everything out? He did come down in His incarnation, we know that but yet how do we deal with the things that come upon us as we await your gloirous appearing? At times in this life, things are not quite that rosy.........

We could say that in the beginning we lived in a honeymoon, but conflict came, God resolved the conflict and as a result all those that come to
God through Christ have regained the ability to live in fellowship and communion with their Creator and with one another. Immediately after the fall into sin, God had given the Promise: He would send the Messiah to heal the rift that came into the world through sin, but only those who partook of the benefits of the Saviour to come would receive the benefits. But oh how difficult it is at times for us, for others........

God won‚€™t give you more than you can handle...Is this true?


Tell that to a person who has a life altering or life threatening illness.

Tell that to a person who just lost their spouse of many years.

Tell that to a person who is in struggling their marriage.

Tell that to a person who is living apart from their loved one for a period of time

Tell that to a person who is being disrespected in some manner

Tell that to a person who just doesn't seem to fit in anywhere

Tell that to a person whose innocence was robbed from her in her youth.

Tell that to a person who is not able to make ends meet.

Tell that to a person whose child has an ongoing illness.

Tell that to a person who is wondering what is in their future.

Tell that to a person who is yet lives with the burdens of their past...

Tell it to the person crushed under the weight of depression and anxiety.

Tell it to the child who just learned their parent has a terminal illness.


What do we say to ourselves if we find ourselves relating in some way? To those who are struggling in life as they await His return?

First of all and most importantly, Christ paid the price for the sin of the world. He is coming again.„€€As it was said before, He did come down to avenge us of our adversaries: Sin, death and hell.

Hebrews 9: 24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.
25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own,
26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,
28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Faith keeps us connected to this hope, and it is through communication, fellowship and communion with our Father through Jesus that it is nourished, stimulated and inspired. Through Prayer.....


KJV Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.



Prayer is letting Jesus into our heart and all the needs that are there.

Helplessness and faith equals prayer

We approach God as a little child (helpless) who is entirely dependent (trust/faith) upon her/his mother/father.

We approach God like one who has a debilitating disease in which one is not able to function normally. After the struggle with acceptance of one's helplessness, one receives the help of others and a bond of friendship and intimacy is established.

We approach God in Jesus Name, which means that we confidentally (faith) come to our Father knowing that He receives us joyfully and expectantly, just waiting to pour out into our lives all that He sees that we have need of.

We come to Jesus who takes us with Him to our Father's throne, we lay our burdens at His feet, trusting in His divine love and care to do what is best for us or the situation which we have placed before Him, we do not advise Him as how to solve it, and we fully expect Him to take care of it in His time and in His way.

An example and a pattern is given for us in John's Gospel, by Mary the mother of Jesus.

She went Jesus with her concern.
KJV John 2:1 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there:
2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.
3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.

She left the solution to Him and did not advise Him.
4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.
5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.

Jesus addressed the need in His way and for His purposes.
6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.
7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.
8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.
9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,
10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.
11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.



As we now come to receive His gifts at His table we are reminded of His heart of love that flowed towards His followers when He shared His last meal with them, a very special meal which continues yet to this day.........Let us now catch the continuing emotion of his heart of love and His commitment of purpose that drew Him from heaven to minister to us so that we would be His forever.....


He invites you to His Supper so that He may pour into you the full benefits of His death and resurrection for you, that you would be strengthened in the knowledge of the forgiveness of your sins and that your faith would be strengthened in the knowledge that He is One who has given you all and promises to provide all that you have need of here in time and for eternity.

Come and Dine with Him and with one another.......





Posted on 16 Oct 2016 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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The Fruit of Humility 10.23.2016
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala


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