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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Treasures in Christ 8.7.2016

Dear friends,

When we are learning of who God is, one of the most fundamental things that He wants us to grasp is that He loves us. Most likely we have memorized John 3:16 which tells us that God SO loved us that He gave His only begotten Son for us so that we would not perish, but that we would have eternal life. We can memorize that truth, we can say it over and over again, but sometimes it seems like it doesn't sink in very well.

We understand that God is love, that He demonstrated His love for us by giving His Son for the payment for our sin and that because He first loved us, we love Him and we ought to love one another.

This week we held Vacation Bible School here at our church with the theme being Treasures in Christ. We began with a treasure hunt on Monday evening with the treasure being found beneath the cross which is in the front of our church. Various crafts were done by the children which illustrated the bible lesson for each day which highlighted grace, mercy, faith and love. We wished for them to know their true identity through their time of fun, fellowship and learning at our VBS.
We want them to know that they have been created by God, they have redeemed by Him, they can trust Him for everything in life and that heaven is their home. We wanted them to know that they are God's greatest treasure.

Matthew 13:44 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it

In our scriptures today is demonstrated the meaning of God is love: His kingdom is founded on love that is compared to a treasure hid in the field which when a man has found it, he hides it and for the joy goes and sells all that He has and buys that field.

God valued so greatly and had such great joy in redeeming us that He gave His Son (all that He had) in order to purchase us to Himself. That is how much He treasures you and I. It is of utmost necessity that children are taught through action and word of the love of God through Jesus His Son.

All humanity is greatly loved by their Father, He wants all to know that they/we are all Treasures in Christ. That is really the crux of the matter of why we preach and demonstrate the Gospel to all that we have opportunity to do so. It is God's love that motivated Him to give us life through death, the death of His Son, the God-Man.

Our identity in the Garden was in perfect harmony with our Creator and our God.

Our lost identity came as a result of our being deceived by the devil so that we chose to believe his lie about God

Our new identity in Christ came when Jesus went to the cross, becoming sin for all humanity and paying the ransom price that was required by God in order for us to be brought back to our true identity in Christ. God loves us and extends to us grace and mercy through the gift of faith to the end that we become imitators of Him in our attitudes, actions and goals.

On Tuesday talked about the prodigal son who thought that money and fun were great treasure, but he found out otherwise as he came to himself while being with the pigs in their sty. He then decided to return to His Father's house where he knew there was real good food, and before He even got home His Father was running to welcome him home. It was touching to me when I closed this last session that I demonstrated the welcoming home heart of the Father by having each child stand there while I moved towards them to embrace them.

On Wednesday the story of Zaccheaus, the tax collector was our lesson theme. He thought that there would be joy and fulfillment in making a lot of money, but he sound found out that no one liked him, they stayed clear of him and that he had no friends. When He heard Jesus coming, he wanted to see him, but he was too short to see over the crowd. So he climbed into a sycamore tree and lo and behold, Jesus noticed him. And Jesus even said for him to come down and that He was coming to be a guest in his home today. What did Zacchaeaus think? Didn't Jesus know He was a robber of people's money? Sure He knew all that, and that is why He was wanting to come to visit Zaccheaus, who was looking for happiness and fulfilment in the wrong places. Jesus wanted to give him real joy and happiness.

Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

On Thursday the story of David and Goliath was used to teach about faith, which is the means by which we are connected to the promises and assurances of God. They each had the opportunity to play the part of David, the boy who believed God and was not scared of a sword or a spear or a shield in the hand of a Giant. God had delivered him from the bear and the lion who were trying to take away his father's sheep, so why couldn't God deliver him from this defiant and arrogant warrior who mocked God? We emphasized the words

1 Samuel 17:45 Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.

As they each repeated this statement in a similar form, I was reminded that we in our day and age have the same confidence in our God so that there is no reason at all to fear anything or anyone who comes not in the name of the Lord of hosts, for they are defying the One and only True God.

Our Friday and last lesson consisted in telling them that there is a treasure buried out in the field and I gave them two questions:
Where we you look for it and what do you think the treasure is? They looked for awhile outside, and then found a cross that I have placed on top of a hill of dirt. They quickly concluded that the treasure is buried under the hill that the cross was on, but they still did not understand the nature of the treasure. They gave answers like: A bible, a cross, candy, etc, all things that are good and are real treasure. When they hit metal, they quickly tore open the canister and found out that there were pictures of them in there. They are the treasure that God values. I explained to them that just as much, and even more than you like and value many things, God above all valued you so much that He gave you His Son so that would not die, but that you would live with Him forever.

In wanting to keep the cross of Jesus in the forefront, I walked one of the classed by the cedar beams that have been cut out of trees given to us by Van and Michelle Zwettler and which will be used to construct the cross that will stand next to the road. As we walked we talked about the importance of the cross and then a question was raised by one of the youngsters: "If Jesus did not sin, why did He has to die like a criminal on a cross?" A number of other young voices quickly answered the question with "Because He died for us, who are the criminals." They get it, do we get it?

Lastly we returned to the church and we all knelt by the altar where we looked at the cross and talked about how much we are treasures in Christ. I shared with them that if their life ever gets complicated and they are wondering if God loves them they should spend some quiet time before the cross. There if we will not only talk to God, but also to listen back to Him as He speaks to us of His love for which He showed to us on the cross in giving us life, we will be reassured of His love and commitment for us.
We closed our VBS with prayer by Katie who shared with us all of the importance of being quiet before God, talking with Him but more importantly that we would listen to Him speak to us by being quiet and open before Him. She asked the question: "How would that work if you had a friend who talked all the time and never listened to you?" We need to think about that because that is how it is with God if we are always talking to Him and we never listen to what He has to say to us.
Yes, we are loved by Him and may we ever be reminded of that reality. Here is a song that speaks to His love for us, called You are the Apple of His Eye! May the Spirit blow His refreshing winds of grace upon you as you quiet yourself before our loving God.
Apple of His Eye

He's the one who loves you more
Than you will ever know
He's the one who dries the tears you cry
he has formed your very soul and
knows your every need
He will guide you through
your darkest night

For You still carry inside you his light
that never dies
and you are always before him
the apple of his eye

he's the one who holds you close
when no one will come near
the one who sees what no one else can see

He's the one who keeps your burden
light enough to bear
he will be your strength
when you are weak

for you still carry inside you his light
that never dies
and you are always before him
the apple of his eye

nothing in this world
could ever keep his love from you
and he gave his life
to see this promise through

he's the one who loves you more
than you will ever know
and he has counted every
tear you cried

he will take your tear stained heart
and make it light as snow
and he'll become your wings
so you can fly

for you still carry inside you his light
that never dies
and you are always before him
the apple of his eye
yes, you're the apple of his eye
Posted on 07 Aug 2016 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Teach US to pray 7.24.2016
Dear friend,

May the grace of God be poured out abundantly upon us today through the love of His Son our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. May we be like sponges that soak in His grace that is able to warm and uplift our hearts so that we are able to "see" above and to "live" above the effects of sin in our lives and in the life of the world.

In our introductory notes today, two vital ingredients concerning prayer are detailed. Our helplessness to fix ourself and the need to believe that God is there for us. A child understands this very well as is illustrated by the following story.

Text Illustration:
One Sunday in a Midwest city, a young child was "acting up "during the morning worship hour. The parents did their best to maintain some sense of order in the pew but were losing the battle. Finally, the father picked the little fellow up and walked sternly up the aisle on his way out. Just before reaching the safety of the foyer, the little one called loudly to the congregation, "Pray for me! Pray for me!"

Before we begin to share a bit from the heart of our Father in heaven today, I would like to ask a couple of questions that perhaps will help focus our minds on the subject of our meditations today.

1. Is there an aspect of your lives as Christians that we find it difficult to "do" as we would like to do?





2. What motivates us to pray, or what things/practices/helps do we use to help us in our life of prayer?





The disciples that were being taught by Jesus had observed that He spent a lot of time in communication with His Father. Luke's Gospel, from which our lesson comes today records of number of these times of prayer. There are 27 prayers that Jesus prayed in the Bible, one of which is from our scripture reading today in John 17, which is the prayer that gives us the best insight into the relationship between the Father and the Son. It has been said that if you want to know what is in the heart of a person, listen to them praying. Here are the references of Jesus praying in the Gospel of Luke leading up to our text today in Luke 11.

KJV Luke 3:21 Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,

KJV Luke 5:16 And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.

KJV Luke 6:12 And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.

KJV Luke 9:18 And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am?

KJV Luke 9:28 And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.
KJV Luke 9:29 And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering.

KJV Luke 11:1 And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.
JV Luke 11:1 And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.

He gave them a pattern
2 And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.
3 Give us day by day our daily bread.
4 And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

He illustrated His teaching for them.
5 And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves;
6 For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?
7 And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.
8 I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.

He pointed to the persistence in prayer.
9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

He pointed to an earthly father.
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?

He emphasized/highlighted the superiority of the "Givingness" of the heart of our Father.
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?

In the beginning we considered two questions which I will repeat here:
1. Is there an aspect of your lives as Christians that we find it difficult to "do" as we would like to do?
2. What motivates us to pray, or what things/practices/helps do we use to help us in our life of prayer?

In Luther's Catechism, he teaches that there are reasons for us to pray:

1. God's command

2. His promise to hear our prayers.

3. Our own need.

4. The power and importance of prayer.

As we consider the response of Jesus to the question of the disciples: "Teach US to pray," what was Jesus wanting to leave with them?

1. He gave a pattern for prayer

2. He taught us to be persistent in prayer.

3. He taught us most important of all, through the parables, that Our Father is ready to pour out all that is necessary into our neediness.

Where do we see that one might ask?

Well, there is one word in verse 8 "importunity" which has been translated as persistence. A study of the culture in which Jesus was speaking into seems to focus on the man who was visited in the night and who at first refused to give his neighbor what He had need of. He was not focusing on the man who to get the three loaves of bread, but on the man who had the three loaves of bread.

Let us remember that Jesus is addressing the question "Teach us to pray." He is not pointing out so much of their persistence in coming to God with their prayers, but He is pointing out the benevolent heart of our Father who wants to give "as many as are needed." Wow, what a difference in points of focus. One points to our persistence in prayer and the other points to the "givingness" of God to give to those who are in need.

But what caused the man to get up and tell his neighbor that I will give you whatever you need? Well, in that culture if the man would have refused to give to his neighbor, he would have been met with cries of "shame on you" for not giving to your neighbor last night.

It was to avoid shame that he got up and offered to give his neighbor in order to keep his honor. As we see the comparison between the earthly father and our Heavenly Father in the last verses of our text, we see in this parable that honor of God being pictured here. A neighbor who for the sake of honor gives to a neighbor who is not even a friend, a father gives good things to his son whom he loves and then "How much more your heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?

So, as we wind this up, how do we understand the point of Jesus' parable? Well, it seems that He is pointing out the the huge heart of His Father who most of all wants to pour Himself out into the lives of all those who wish to receive Him, to receive His Son, to receive His Holy Spirit!! Does not the understanding and knowing that He is waiting to pour out Himself into our lives move us to continue in His school of prayer? I think so......

A small boy had been consistently late for dinner. One particular day his parents had warned him to be on time, but he arrived later than ever. He found his parents already seated at the table, about to start eating. Quickly he sat at his place, and then noticed what was set before him--a slice of bread and a glass of water. There was silence as he sat staring at his plate, crushed. Suddenly he saw his fatherā€™s hand reach over, pick up his plate and set it before himself. Then his dad put his own full plate in front of his son, smiling warmly as he made the exchange. When the boy became a man, he said, "All my life Iā€™ve known what God was like by what my father did that night."

May the meditations of our heart in this teaching be acceptable in your sight, our dear Father and Redeemer.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 24 Jul 2016 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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Treasures in Christ 8.7.2016
- 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.