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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By Grace Alone 10.1.2017
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from His Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ be with you now and always, Amen!

This Sunday we begin a five sermon series on five foundational truths upon which Christianity is built, which were five cries of the Protestant Reformation of the 1500's. By Grace alone, Through Faith alone, In Christ Alone, According to Scripture Alone and For God's Glory Alone. Today we begin with By Grace Alone, Gods Riches At Christs Expense

Our sermon text is from the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 20 verses 1-28.
How do we begin to understand grace in the light of our everyday world where there is so much ungrace? What I mean by this is that our entire life is regulated by the opposite of grace. For example, consider these slogans.

There is no free lunch
You get what you deserve
You want money? Earn it
You want love? Earn it
You want mercy? Earn it
Do unto others before they do it to you

Because we are fallen beings, we act out of our fallen nature too often, so therefore this morning it needs to be our prayer that we would be refreshed in the meaning of the grace of God. He loves us and has entered into our brokenness in order to bring His unmerited favor of grace to us.

A MD with the name of Richard Selzer wrote the following words: I stand by the bed where a young woman lies, her postoperative face, her mouth twisted in palsy, clownish. A tiny twig of the facial nerve, the one to the muscles of her mouth, has been severed. She will be thus from now on. The surgeon had followed with religious fervor the curve of her flesh; I promise you that. Nevertheless, to remove the tumor in her cheek, I had to cut the little nerve.

Her young husband is in the room. He stands on the opposite side of the bed and together they seem to dwell in the evening twilight, isolated from me, private.

Who are they, I ask myself, he and this wry mouth I have made, who gaze at and touch each other so generously, greedily?

The young woman speaks.
Will my mouth always be like this? She asked me, her doctor

Yes, I say, it will. It is because the nerve is cut.
She nods and is silent.

But the young man smiles.
I like it, he says. It is kind of cute.

All at once I know who he is. I understand and lower my gaze. One is not bold in an encounter with a god. Unmindful, he bends to kiss her crooked mouth and I am so close I can see how he twists his lipe to accommodate hers, to show her that their kiss still works.

God is gracious, He has twisted Himself to give us the kiss of life. He gave us this life through the sacrifice of His Son on the cross. Listen to how Dietrich Bonhoeffer spoke of the initiative of grace and of its cost.

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner.

Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son. Ye were bought at a price, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.

The saved sinner is prostrate in adoration, lost in wonder and praise. He knows repentance is not what we do in order to earn forgiveness; it is what we do because we have been forgiven. It serves as an expression of gratitude rather than an effort to earn forgiveness. Thus the sequence of forgiveness and then repentance, rather than repentance and then forgiveness, is crucial for understanding the gospel of grace. Brennan Manning, from his book Ragamuffin Gospel

Assured of your salvation by the unique grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is the heartbeat of the gospel, joyful liberation from fear of the Final Outcome, a summons to self-acceptance, and freedom for a life of compassion toward others. B. Manning


When we live in ignorance of both the knowledge of what grace is and of its experience, we can be very judgmental. But at what cost?
By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are. Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love ‚€” Martin Luther King

Last Friday during our morning gathering here at our church, a man shared of how one of his friends talked in wonderment and in amazement of the riches of God's Grace: I still can't get over the realization that God was so gracious to me so as to forgive all my sins.

What is grace?

Unmerited Favor
When a person works an eight-hour day and receives a fair day‚€™s pay for his time, that is a wage. When a person competes with an opponent and receives a trophy for his performance, that is a prize. When a person receives appropriate recognition for his long service or high achievements, that is an award. But when a person is not capable of earning a wage, can win no prize, and deserves no award‚€”yet receives such a gift anyway‚€”that is a good picture of Gods unmerited favor. This is what we mean when we talk about the grace of God.

This is the mystery of the riches of divine grace for sinners; for by a wonderful exchange our sins are now not ours but Christs, and Christs righteousness is not Christ's but ours. Martin Luther

This grace of God is a very great, strong, mighty and active thing. It does not lie asleep in the soul. Grace hears, leads, drives, draws, changes, works all in man, and lets itself be distinctly felt and experienced. It is hidden, but its works are evident.
Martin Luther

Will not people get away with sin if we give them grace? Martin Luther addressed that.

You‚€™re worried about permissiveness‚€”about the way the preaching of grace seems to say it‚€™s okay to do all kinds of terrible things as long as you just walk in afterward and take the free gift of God‚€™s forgiveness. While you and I may be worried about seeming to give permission, Jesus apparently wasnot. He wasnot afraid of giving the prodigal son a kiss instead of a lecture, a party instead of probation; and he proved that by bringing in the elder brother at the end of the story and having him raise pretty much the same objections you do. He is angry about the party. He complains that his father is lowering standards and ignoring virtue‚€”that music, dancing, and a fatted calf are, in effect, just so many permissions to break the law. And to that, Jesus has the father say only one thing: Cut that out! We‚€™re not playing good boys and bad boys any more. Your brother was dead and he‚€™s alive again. The name of the game from now on is resurrection, not bookkeeping.‚€Ě



The effects of Grace Received.

A story is told about Fiorello LaGuardia, who, when he was mayor of New York City during the worst days of the Great Depression and all of WWII, was called by adoring New Yorkers 'the Little Flower' because he was only five foot four and always wore a carnation in his lapel. He was a colorful character who used to ride the New York City fire trucks, raid speakeasies with the police department, take entire orphanages to baseball games, and whenever the New York newspapers were on strike, he would go on the radio and read the Sunday funnies to the kids. One bitterly cold night in January of 1935, the mayor turned up at a night court that served the poorest ward of the city. LaGuardia dismissed the judge for the evening and took over the bench himself.

Within a few minutes, a tattered old woman was brought before him, charged with stealing a loaf of bread. She told LaGuardia that her daughters husband had deserted her, her daughter was sick, and her two grandchildren were starving. But the shopkeeper, from whom the bread was stolen, refused to drop the charges. It's a real bad neighborhood, your Honor. the man told the mayor. She's got to be punished to teach other people around here a lesson.

LaGuardia sighed. He turned to the woman and said I've got to punish you. The law makes no exceptions--ten dollars or ten days in jail. But even as he pronounced sentence, the mayor was already reaching into his pocket. He extracted a bill and tossed it into his famous sombrero saying: Here is the ten dollar fine which I now remit; and furthermore I am going to fine everyone in this courtroom fifty cents for living in a town where a person has to steal bread so that her grandchildren can eat. Mr. Baliff, collect the fines and give them to the defendant."
So the following day the New York City newspapers reported that $47.50 was turned over to a bewildered old lady who had stolen a loaf of bread to feed her starving grandchildren, fifty cents of that amount being contributed by the red-faced grocery store owner, while some seventy petty criminals, people with traffic violations, and New York City policemen, each of whom had just paid fifty cents for the privilege of doing so, gave the mayor a standing ovation.

Come Home

Longing to leave her poor Brazilian neighborhood, Christina wanted to see the world. Discontent with a home having only a pallet on the floor, a washbasin, and a wood-burning stove, she dreamed of a better life in the city. One morning she slipped away, breaking her mother's heart. Knowing what life on the streets would be like for her young, attractive daughter, Maria hurriedly packed to go find her. On her way to the bus stop she entered a drugstore to get one last thing. Pictures. She sat in the photograph booth, closed the curtain, and spent all she could on pictures of herself. With her purse full of small black-and-white photos, she boarded the next bus to Rio de Janiero.

Maria knew Christina had no way of earning money. She also knew that her daughter was too stubborn to give up. When pride meets hunger, a human will do things that were before unthinkable. Knowing this, Maria began her search. Bars, hotels, nightclubs, any place with the reputation for street walkers or prostitutes. She went to them all. And at each place she left her picture--taped on a bathroom mirror, tacked to a hotel bulletin board, fastened to a corner phone booth. And on the back of each photo she wrote a note. It was not too long before both the money and the pictures ran out, and Maria had to go home.

The weary mother wept as the bus began its long journey back to her small village.
It was a few weeks later that young Christina descended the hotel stairs. Her young face was tired. Her brown eyes no longer danced with youth but spoke of pain and fear. Her laughter was broken. Her dream had become a nightmare. A thousand times over she had longed to trade these countless beds for her secure pallet. Yet the little village was, in too many ways, too far away. As she reached the bottom of the stairs, her eyes noticed a familiar face. She looked again, and there on the lobby mirror was a small picture of her mother. Christina's eyes burned and her throat tightened as she walked across the room and removed the small photo. Written on the back was this compelling invitation. Whatever you have done, whatever you have become, it doesn't matter. Please come home She did.

Her mother understood grace and so she offered it freely to her daughter. May grace yet reign in this world even as the Apostle wrote:
Romans 5:20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

A child of grace,
Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 01 Oct 2017 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
The Apple of His Eye 9.17.2017
Good morning, dear friends!

It is apple season and the harvest is plenteous! You better lock your car, or it might be filled with apples today! But did you know that you are the apple of Gods eye? Really! And when we get it, that we are the apple of His eye, He is the apple of our eye! Let us talk about that today for a bit, so grab your coffee, get comfortable and we will chat about our being the apple of Gods eye and what that means for us in our lives. ( I am giving credit to Pastor Steve Craig, of Los Angeles, CA, for much of the content of this message)

The human eye is an amazingly complex organ. The eye, the optic nerve and the visual cortex are separate and distinct subsystems, yet together they capture, deliver and interpret up to 1.5 million pulse messages a millisecond! The eye allows us to see the fiery colors of a sunset or the pinpoints of light in the night sky.

We use the word eye to talk about perception of many kinds. When our attention is attracted to something, we call it eye-catching, or an eye-opener. If you‚€™re watching something carefully, you're keeping your eye on the ball, or your eyes are peeled. If you excel at something you have an eye for it and when you and I agree about something we see things eye to eye.

You are the apple of my eye. It‚€™s a familiar line‚€¦a clich√© even; but how many of us knew it was more than three thousand years old, a phrase that comes from the pages of the Bible; a phrase that speaks not just of human love, but of a love that can heal our deepest hurts and fulfill our deepest longings? What does the phrase really mean?

The apple of my eye refers to the pupil of my eye. Why? Well, probably because an apple was one of the most common sphere-shaped objects around, the central aperture or opening of the eye, the dark center, was referred to as the apple. The apple or pupil of the eye, is the gateway through which visible light passes and is converted by the brain into three dimensional images

I want you to look deep into someones eyes right now. Can you see your reflection? When we stand very close to someone, we can actually see a tiny reflection of ourselves, in the center of the other persons eye.

The Latin word pupil actually means little doll which is why a pupil often refers to a school child. Once again, it refers to the fact that you can see a tiny version of yourself in the eye of the beholder. When you are in the apple or even just the pupil of my eye you are close to me, in more ways than one, because‚€¦

To be the apple of someones eye is to be cherished by that person above all others. From the day of our birth, we have a deep need to be seen, to be noticed, valued, and ultimately cherished. Eye to eye and face to face contact with our mothers is second only to touch when it comes to the bonding process. In the hospital, babies receive all kinds of medical attention after birth; but never anything that might hinder their ability to clearly see the mother for an extended period of time (like silver nitrate drops that cause a film to form over the eyes, dimming vision).

At infancy, the optimal distance for eye to eye contact is about 10 inches, which just happens to be the distance between a baby and its nursing mother. This simple interaction encourages brain development, release of critical hormones, and reinforces a sense of emotional and spiritual well being. You are the apple of my eye. It is a phrase that a mother could easily use to describe how she cherishes her nursing baby. But the root meaning of this phrase is found not in the expression of human love but a love that is not of this world, the love of God.

In Deuteronomy 32: 9-11 Moses describes how God sustained and cared for his people. He sustained him in a desert land, in a howling wilderness was he shielded him as the apple of his eye. Therefore, to be the apple of Gods eye is to experience God‚€™s love and protection.

Also, knowing that God loves his people, David asks the LORD in Psalm 17:7-8 to Wondrously show your steadfast love, Guard me as the apple of your eye. A moment ago we were talking about the importance of eye contact between mother and baby during a childs first weeks of life. But what if a child did not receive such reassuring love? What of those who were not seen or touched in a loving way by their mother or father?

David knew something profound and it gave him great peace. In Psalm 139:13-16 we read, It was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother‚€™s womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made....My frame was not hidden from you when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth, Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. Before any human eye beheld you, before any ultrasound peered into your mother‚€™s womb, it was Gods privilege to be the first to see you, the very first to love you, the very first to welcome you into this world; and it is Gods promise to guard you like the apple of his eye!

Perhaps you have wondered, Does God in fact truly love, guard, and protect me? I have come to rest in that great promise, believing and trusting that he guards me as we would guard and protect our eyesight. This does not mean that I can walk off a tall building and expect God to magically catch me before I fall.

It means that my life is lived within the bounds of His sovereign grace, that nothing can happen to me apart from his sovereign will; that when all is finished and I face the power of death, I will fall into the hands of God and the greater power of the Risen Christ; knowing that nothing that happens to me will ever separate God from me or his love.

1. to be the apple of Gods eye is to experience God‚€™s love and protection.

Secondly, as the apple of Gods eye, we are ones who abide in God‚€™s Word.. One very important way that I experience God‚€™s protection and loving care is through his word. To be guarded like the apple of his eye does not mean that we sit around passively waiting for him to reach down and save us whenever we mess up.

In Proverbs 7: 1-3 God says, Keep my teachings as the apple of your eye. Read my word, study it, know it, cherish it, obey it. Your word is a lamp says David. Our eyes are fantastically complex, but for all their complexity, they are useless to us without light. What a tragedy to go through this life without knowing God, or the illuminating truth of his word.

1. to be the apple of Gods eye is to experience Gods love and protection.

2. Secondly, as the apple of Gods eye, we are ones who abide in Gods Word..

And thirdly, to be the apple of Gods eye, is to value others as he does you. Through the prophet Zechariah the LORD says these words: ‚€œThe one who touches you touches the apple of my eye‚€Ě (Zechariah. 2:8).

That when I touch another child of God, whether gently or harshly, I am daring to touch a person whom he loves, the apple of his eye. Perhaps you know that you are the apple of God‚€™s eye, but do you know that you are not the only one; and that God wants you to value others as he values you? You know, it is possible to live our lives intentionally blind to other people. Weve all heard the expression, I only have eyes for you. That can be true in a positive sense when it means fidelity‚€¦

but it can be true in a negative sense when it means that we shut out the people around us; when we have eyes for ourselves, when we have eyes for our children, but not for anyone elses; when we have eyes for our own comfort and success, but not for those who suffer or who do not know the love of Christ.

But this is also a love song that God sings to us.

YOU are the apple of his eye. God wants to open the eyes of your heart, he wants

1) to surround you like the strength of a mother‚€™s love;

2) he wants to guide you with his Word and Spirit;

3) he wants you to value others as he values you.

You are the apple of my eye, says the LORD, but I will not, I can not, rest until I am the apple of yours.

So, dear friend, open your heart to His love today, bask in it and shout for joy at being loved by Him.

Here is a song that has been one of my favorites over the past few years, and just recently our congregational musicians, the Kingston Wingers, have learned and have been singing it for our joy and thanksgiving‚€¦..

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

One of the many many apples of God‚€™s eye,
Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 17 Sep 2017 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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By Grace Alone 10.1.2017
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala


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