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 Grace of Repentance 2.28.2016

Dear friend,

Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!!

Are there sinners that are worse than others and they deserve to be killed more than others? What about those who are killed by what appears to be chance? Are they "getting punished" by God? How does Jesus respond to these questions? Our lesson today is from the 13th chapter of Luke's Gospel and it addresses the questions that we have just considered.
In the latter part of chapter 12 of Luke's Gospel, Jesus has been teaching of the necessity of being prepared for His Second Coming..

12:35 Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;
36 And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.
37 Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.
38 And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.

39 And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.
40 Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.

41 Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all?
42 And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?
43 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.
44 Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.
45 But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken;
46 The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.
47 And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.
48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

49 I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?
50 But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!
51 Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:
52 For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.
53 The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

54 And he said also to the people, When ye see a cloud rise out of the west, straightway ye say, There cometh a shower; and so it is.
55 And when ye see the south wind blow, ye say, There will be heat; and it cometh to pass.
56 Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time?
57 Yea, and why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?
58 When thou goest with thine adversary to the magistrate, as thou art in the way, give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him; lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and the officer cast thee into prison.
59 I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite.

Luke 13:1 There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
2 And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things?
3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
4 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?
5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
6 He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.
7 Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?
8 And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:
9 And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.

This portion of Luke's Gospel emphasizes our need to be prepared to receive the Lord when He returns for the last time. Jesus answers their question by shifting the focus from others to the hearers themselves and says to them after each situation: "I tell you, nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall likewise perish." He then in verses 6-9 uses a parable to reveal of the patience and longsuffering that His Father has towards those He wants to come to this place of changing their mind: repentance.

While He emphasizes the grace that is longsuffering and is offered through the metaphors of digging and dunging,(trials, suffering in life and God coming in His Word and Spirit to teach us) He again points to the heart of the hearer and of the need for their repentance. He is coming again and upon death all will receive their reward depending upon whether they have come to repentance and faith or not. Those who have received the grace of repentance towards God here in time and have received the Gospel of forgiveness through Christ by faith, will hear the words in Matthew 25:34b

Matthew 25:31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

Those who rejected eternal life through not believing the Gospel of forgiveness through Christ will hear:

Matthew 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

Dear friend, I have placed below some points below which show the contrast between what repentance is and what is it not. I hope that it will be beneficial for us to learn more of what Jesus was referring to when He spoke of repentance to this crowd. Each one of the paragraph's below are worthy of deep thought, of meditation and then of personal application into our own hearts and lives. I would like to use the last paragraph for an example to illustrate of what I mean.
Repentance is not just a conversion exercise, it is our daily, moment-by-moment lifestyle.
Let me start by saying that the tradition that we practice in our congregation of holding Lenten Services is a very needful one, for it is during these times that we remember the suffering of Jesus and are brought face to face with the awful knowledge that it was our sin that nailed Christ to the cross. And because God's wrath against sin had to be appeased/satisfied, wrath which we fully deserve, God poured out His wrath upon His Son instead of upon us. As we follow Jesus through His final weeks of His life, we pray that as we consider how Love denied Himself, of how Love suffered alone and of How Love died alone, (for our forgiveness) we pray that our hearts would reach towards the mercy of God that He has already poured out upon the world. May our hearts be like a sponge that has been freshly wrung out and is awaiting a fresh filling of the Water of Life through Jesus Christ. This is what repentance is about, for we by nature tend to move away from our Lord, and so it is necessary for Him to be calling us back to Himself through allowing us to experience our own weakness as well as placing before us His Word and His Spirit. In this way, He digs and He fertilizes.
Earlier in life, I thought that repentance was a one time event that I looked back upon as a day of being reborn, but as I grown in my knowledge of the Scriptures it is apparent that repentance is "not just a conversion exercise, it is our daily, moment-by-moment lifestyle." What does that mean?
It is not just admitting our sins, but confessing our sins, and not just the surface things, the dandelion heads, but getting to the root and the heart of the issues, dealing with the pride, dealing with the self-righteousness, dealing with being sensitive to the Holy Spirit. In all of that, that is the ground in which, the soil in which the Spirit starts to grow up the graces of Christ in us and to set us free.
Let me illustrate this with a personal example: Years ago my wife and I were discussing something and it came to a point at which she and I could not agree and therefore tensions began to rise. I remember saying that "this is how I feel and I am not changing my mind!" We went our separate ways, and as I thought more about it and why I was right in my "stand," a small still voice begin to speak the grace of repentance into my stubborn pride. It was not a judgmental voice, or a harsh voice, but it was One that was telling me that the division that had risen up between us was about a very small matter. By His grace, my heart began to soften towards my wife, and soon I found myself calling her up to share with her of how foolish and stubborn I had been with her in this. As we talked and assured each other that our differences were covered in the blood of Christ, peace and joy began to return into my heart and into the one heart that is between us. That is no greater joy to live and to walk in than in the peace of a good conscience which is enlightened by the Holy Spirit of God through His Word.
So, in conclusion, what a joy to walk in the grace of repentance, a grace that comes softly to us when we offend His Spirit, a grace that calls us back to "right thinking," and a grace that empowers us to lay down our lives for the sake and blessing of those around us.
Thank you, Lord, for the grace of repentance which you have given to us in Christ.
Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Below are some resources for your learning.

Repentance means changing one's mind and turning towards God
The verb translated "repent" in the New Testament (metanoeo) literally means "to perceive afterwards"; so that repent means "to change one’s mind or purpose" (Thayer). God commands all men everywhere to repent of their sins (Acts 17:30). That is, God commands a change the mind and purpose concerning sin in one’s life. Turning to God for salvation cannot occur unless first there is repentance (a change of mind) toward sin. Repentance is not turning; it is the change of mind that produces turning to God. Paul declared the gospel "to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance" (Acts 26:20). First comes the repenting, then the turning.

Repentance involves sorrow over our sin
Godly sorrow results in repentance that leads to salvation: "For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorry of the world produces death" (II Corinthians 7:10). Godly sorrow is directed toward God. Since sin is against Him, our sorry for our sin must first be turned heavenward (cf. Psalms 51:4).

Repentance means a changed life.
The fruit of repentance is borne in a changed life. Since what we do comes from the heart, when our heart changes our life will show that change. The person who continues to practice sin after claiming to have repented is deceiving himself (Romans 6:1-2).

Repentance is not denying and covering up sin.
There is no change of mind toward sin when our intent is to refuse to acknowledge our sin to God or to those we have sinned against. "He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy" (Proverbs 28:13). Sin is only truly "covered" when it is forgiven by God: "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered" (Psalms 32:1). Repentance is necessary for that forgiveness to occur.

Repentance is not simply being sorry for sin.
Judas was "remorseful" (NKJV) when he saw that Jesus was condemned to death, but his sorrow led him to suicide (Matthew 27:3-5). That’s not the action of godly sorrow that leads to salvation without regret (II Corinthians 7:10)! Herod was "exceedingly sorry" when Herodias’ daughter asked for John’s head on a platter. But, he stood by his rash oaths to save face, and killed John (Mark 6:26). Just being sorry for your sin does not mean you have repented (changed your mind and purpose about it).

Confession is a fruit of repentance, it is evidence that we have come to repentance.
Many people confess (acknowledge) their sin but never repent. Certainly one must admit his sin in order to be forgiven (I John 1:9). But confessing sin does not mean one has changed his mind about the sin.

Repentance is not just a conversion exercise, it is our daily, moment-by-moment lifestyle.
It is not just admitting our sins, but confessing our sins, and not just the surface things, the dandelion heads, but getting to the root and the heart of the issues, dealing with the pride, dealing with the self-righteousness, dealing with being sensitive to the Holy Spirit. In all of that, that is the ground in which, the soil in which the Spirit starts to grow up the graces of Christ in us and to set us free.
Posted on 28 Feb 2016 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Trusting in and Waiting on God 2.21.2016
Dear friend,

We are in the Lenten season which is a time when we purposefully and intentionally concentrate on the last part of our Lord's life, namely His suffering and death on the cross as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Through the love of God as demonstrated on the cross, we have been delivered from the penalty of sin, we are being delivered from the power of sin and one day we will be delivered from the presence of sin. This is what God has accomplished for every person, past, present and future, and it is His will that all would come to receive this gift of grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

Recently my wife shared with me of something that had been revealed to her from the scriptures which she said related to a focus that she had been hearing in sermons that she heard. She shared of hearing of how God has always been for us, of how He came to be with us (Emmanuel) and of how He now lives in us. She pointed out to me that God the Father has always been for us, (1 Peter 1:18-20) that God the Son came to be with us (Matthew 1:23-25) and now God the Spirit indwells us. (Ephesians 2:19-22) I had never connected the three truths together in the Trinity, but after hearing her explain it, I thought, that is it, that is precisely how it is.

In the Old Testament, those who trusted in God heard the Word of the Lord as spoken from the mouth of God's prophets who spoke of the Promise (of the coming of Jesus) which was first revealed in Genesis 3:15 and was given to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3. Abraham was the father and founder of the Jewish nation which grew very large in size, who were the people in whom God dwelt until the time of the fulfilment of the Promise in the New Testament, at which time the Good News given to ALL people! In the book of Genesis we witness the struggle that Abraham had in trusting the God of the Promise, but even through his fear and sin, God fulfilled the Promise that He had made for all mankind. God is the God if the Promise and by faith we know that in Him is our beginning, by faith we know that we are sustained in life by Him and by faith we know that in Him we have eternal life!

In the 27th Psalm we have a very practical application of what we have shared above: David knew that the God of the Promise was for Him, he knew that the God of the Promise was with him and his greatest desire was to live in this knowledge in his here and now life and in eternal life. But.....he struggled in life with fear, even as Abraham did (Genesis 15:1) and even as we do. Why did they fear, why do we fear? Simply because it is part of our fallen nature that wants to trust in things that are seen and not in the unseen God of the Promise who has made all things Can we identify with David in his neediness as we struggle with taking the God of the Promise at His Word? May the His Spirit be poured upon our hearts so that faith will be sustained, fortified and strengthened through His Word!

Psalm 27:7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
8 When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.
9 Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.
10 When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.
11 Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.
12 Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty.
13 I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.

We cry for His mercy in our struggles whatever they might be, wanting to be lifted up in faith. How good it is when seek His smiling countenance when He calls us to do so, a face which beams of grace and truth in Christ Jesus. We know that He is our only hope, so we beg of Him not to hide His face far from us, not to put us away in anger, for He is our help, the only one who will never leave us or forsake us.

We ask Him to teach us, which means that we seek Him in His Word, in prayer, in fellowship with one another, in Holy Communion. We know that we are weak, so we pray for protection from all enemies, the source of which is Satan himself who came to kill and destroy us. People lie about us, are cruel towards us and if not for God's protection, we would be caught up in to a web of lies and deceit.

The last two verses have deep deep application for us all. He reverts back to the beginning of the psalm in which he began by pointing to the Lord of the Promise:

Psalm 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

It is the same confidence that Paul wrote to the Romans when he wrote of the impossibility of God begin separated from His Promise in Christ, which is why I have been referring to God as the God of the Promise. Let us pray these words, and let them sink into hearts and become one with us. Let us pray this victoriously in faith!!!

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

To drive home what he as written, he asks four questions.
31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.
34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

It is impossible to be separated from the love of God in Christ Jesus!!!! So....let us..

14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

We have been called by the Gospel, we have received the forgiveness of sins, our eternal home has been sealed by the Holy Spirit, and the only thing between us and heaven is time. Therefore we trust in the God of the Promise and wait for the time when faith will become sight. Let us wait on the Lord inspite of continuing struggles.......Hang in there......There is a Light at the end of the tunnel..

So, friend, trust only in the God of the Promise and wait for the day when you/we will see the bright countenance of our Lord in all His glory! It is difficult in the midst of uncertainty, disappointment, disillusionment, and betrayal, but we must perservere by not giving in those forces that would cause us to look away from that which God has done for us in Christ, which He has given us by grace through faith, and that which He has guaranteed us forever.

May His grace be upon you today and always!

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 21 Feb 2016 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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The Grace of Repentance 2.28.2016
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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*Wendy and Dan Salo: Strength & courage to trust Him w/her health concerns