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
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- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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