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 Building of God 1/17/2016
Dear friend,

May the abundant and overflowing grace of God be received by us all as we begin a new day in this new year in the Lord.

We are listening to our God speak to us through one of the letters that he inspired the Apostle Paul to write to the congregation at Ephesus, a letter which would be read to them in its entirety as well as to other congregations in the surrounding area. Since very few people could read during these early church times, it was necessary to present the Word through reading it.

We heard last week of how God acted on mankind's behalf by pouring out his grace and mercy towards us through His Son, Jesus Christ. He has given us all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus. He did this because that is what He wanted to do for us, and with great pleasure and joy. He additionally gifted us with the faith to believe that which he has done for us through the death and resurrection of His Son, by His Spirit He has sealed our salvation to protect it as well as gave us the guarantee of our inheritance. Paul then prayed for the hearers with those three things which we pointed out last week, which he so earnestly wants them to get a hold of in a greater way. They understand and know it initially, but he wants this knowledge to deepen. So here is what he prayed for them/us.:

That they would know in a greater manner the hope of God's calling for them,
That they see in a more clearer manner the riches of the glory of their/our inheritance both here on earth and in heaven, and lastly, that they would know the exceeding greatness of Christ's power toward them who believe.

Ephesians 1:19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

What did He accomplish in Christ? He raised Him from the dead, set Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, above everyone and everything, now and in the future, has put all things under his feet, and placed Jesus Christ over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of him that fills all in all.

As we finish the first chapter, we might gasp at the enormity of what God has done out of divine grace and mercy! We might be so overcome with joy at what He has done for us in providing for our salvation as well as giving us grace to receive that reality that we would be speechless in our praise of our Lord and Saviour. As we hear that this Jesus is the head over the church, and of how the church is referred to as the body of Jesus, we might be wondering what that means. If we are patient, we will learn what this means as we follow along with the progression of the Spirit's teaching in this letter from God.

May I enter a note here concerning this letter. We must always keep in mind that initially these letters are written for that time and for those people's circumstances, which we are able to plainly see in this letter. Let us keep in mind the separation between Jew and Gentiles which was according to God's plan and timing until the day of Christ and so we interpret the letter keeping that historical reality in mind. Most of the letter applies directly to people of all time, but keep in mind that some parts contain a historical account of things in the past.

Ephesians 2:1 And you hath he quickened, (made alive) who were dead in trespasses and sins;
2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

That is a reality, for we died in the fall in the Garden of Eden, and so all humanity came under the power of Satan, whose spirit works in those who are under his dominion, which are called children of disobedience. So we live according to the lusts of our flesh in order to fulfill them. Now what, I thought we heard that God decided for us, not against us, for we hear that all are all by nature children of wrath. Yes, that is the state that we placed ourselves in, but.......

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

Our God acted on mankind's behalf, joining Himself to humanity by being baptized into humanity, has died as as our representative, and rose again as our representative. Through faith, we are now united with Him, sitting together in heavenly places. Ever since Jesus established His kingdom here on earth over 2000 years ago, God has been showing the exceeding rich of his grace in his kindness towards us, towards many others and will do so in glory forever and forever!

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

We have been translated from a child of wrath to a child of the King, and our nature now is to be like God, to be like Christ, as we live out of the fulness of His Spirit in us. There is no boasting but in the grace and power of God who has done this and continues to live through us. Before we acted according to our nature which was of the flesh, but now we act according to our new nature which is of the Spirit. God has set it up this way and being infilled by His Spirit, we can do no other.

11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;
12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

The Gentiles had long been despised by the Jews as the predjudice and enmity that existed between them was a long standing one, but now was done away with for all time. The Gentiles were not part of the nation of Israel, not included in the covenants of promise, therefore they had no hope, and were without God in the world....

13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.

Here he describes the coming together of both Jew and Gentiles through the blood of Christ. By his death he ended the whole system of Jewish law that excluded the Gentiles. His purpose was to make peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new person from the two groups. Much time could be spent on these 5 verses by going back to the Old Testament and the tabernacle with its particular designs which are spoken of in these verses, but we will focus on the main part which is the bringing together Jew and Gentiles in one one new man, the man Jesus Christ. It was accomplished though the reconciling work on the cross, a work that removed the enmity of God towards humanity so that He is now friendly towards all. Jesus made peace by the cross and He spoke of this peace to all as it is written in verse 17.

18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Now that all of mankind has been reconciled by Christ, and all have been given access through Christ by one Spirit unto the Father, we are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God: This is what the Old and New Testament teach, with Jesus Himself being the One that connects us together. We are like a building that is put together with all its specific and unique pieces, a living and organic spiritual building is growing into a holy temple in the Lord. This building not only contains the Originators and early teachers of it, but it also includes all those who have been called by the Gospel, have received this inheritance by faith and are living in the power of the resurrected Jesus Christ. It is called the body of Christ, or the church in the last verses of chapter 1.

God does not live in physical buildings, but rather He dwells now individually in transformed hearts, but more importantly He dwells collectively through His Spirit in the hearts of all of those transformed hearts. It is a community not build on outward conformity, but on the inward union with Jesus Christ through His death and resurrection, which is evidenced by the witness of His Holy Spirit. We are the building of God. As we leave this letter, I even though I know this letter somewhat well, it is intriguing to think of what the Spirit is going to bring forth next in this letter to us. My thinking is, "Okay, we are God's building, we understand how that is so, but what will the Spirit bring to us next in this teaching. We know we are Christians, we know we are in His body, we know that we are God's building, so what does that mean? What else would we need to know to be a participating part of God's family? Well, we will see for there is yet 2/3 of the letter to come to us.

Grace and Peace to you!

Pastor Orval
Posted on 18 Jan 2016 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Abounding Grace 1.10.2016
Grace Abounding!

Good morning, dear friend!!

May the abundant grace be received by all from God our Father and from His Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! He is abundant in grace, abounding in love and is ever seeking to bring us into a greater realization that in Him, we have it all! There is nothing more that He could give us, for He has given us Himself. Why did He do that for us? What did we do to deserve His grace and love? Well, actually we did not do anything good that we could point to which would cause Him to rescue us, but rather He rescued us because we decided against Him in the Garden of Eden by believing the lies of Satan.

But.......God......has always been for us, He came to be with us in the flesh (Christ) and now He lives in us. (Holy Spirit)

Apostle Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote to the communion of saints in the early years of the church, a letter which was written by him and a letter which he would then have read in the Ephesian church, but which would also be read in many other churches. They would read the entire letter, listening to the voice of the reader through which they would hear the Voice of God speaking, the Voice of His Spirit. May we do the same as we quiet ourselves before Him, desiring to hear from heaven's great fountain of grace and truth in Jesus the Christ. Please note as to how after the greeting of grace and peace is extended from heaven, Paul breaks into praise for that which the saints at Ephesus and the faithful in Christ have had poured out unto them!!

We will hear that God has poured out His abundant grace and love upon us through Christ, we Him by believing and trusting in Him, and He gives us His Spirit as His promise for our future inheritance in heaven. (1-14)

The last part of our message is a prayer that is prayed by the Spirit to the end that we would "see" more clearly that which God has done for us and that we would "see" more clearly who we are in Christ. He is our identity, our complete identity. (15-23)

KJV Ephesians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:
2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

Love came down to bless us, and our response is to praise Him, for He has given us Jesus Christ! What are these spiritual blessings in Christ that we have been give?

4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

Through the riches of His grace, what did He pour out?

7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,
16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:
18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

What abundant grace He has poured out onto/into us!!! We know it with our mind, we hear it often, we read about it often, but due to weakness of our flesh, the distractions of the world and the attacks of Satan, at times we struggle with remembering who we are in Christ!!!

So what do we do about it? Well, kind of what we are doing right now, listening to God speak through this wonderful letter of grace and love. As we move to verse 15, it is difficult for me not to get a sense of the Spirit and His longing to drive this reality into the minds and hearts of the hearers of the message. They have grasped the Good News by faith, love has been shed abroad into their hearts which then has been poured out onto those around them, and Paul through the Spirit is not quite done speaking to them/to us yet. The Spirit refers to God as being the Father of glory, and calls upon Him to give them the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ, praying that the "eyes" of their understanding would be enlightened/granted vision. He points to three things:

1. The hope of their/our calling
2, The riches of the glory of their/our inheritance in the saints
3. The exceeding greatness of Christ's power to them/us who believe.

He closes his thoughts by pointing to the resurrected and ascended Christ, who reigns above all others powers, all things are under His feet, and He has been placed voer all things in the church, His body.

How I pray that these words will bring peace, quietness and joy into our hearts as we receive the Good News from heaven, which is by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In Him we have received all things, in Him we have everything that God has given, and in Him we live, move and have our being. As we continue next week with the next portion of this letter, may we have been given such joy and peace from having our eyes opened by the Spirit that we will be very eager to hear what He wants to say to us next. May we be found reading this first chapter over and over, may we deeply think about each of the three things that the Spirit was moved to point out: The certain hope of glory that we possess as a result of our being called by the Gospel, the riches of glory of that which we (collectively) have now in heaven in Christ and which is our eternal inheritance and the over the top exceeding greatness of Christ's power to preserve us until that day!!!

May His abundant grace be upon you and in you today!!!

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 10 Jan 2016 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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The Building of God 1/17/2016
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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