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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True Freedom is in Christ 7/01/2012
Dearly beloved in Christ,
KJV Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
Since the year 1776 our nation has enjoyed the freedoms in which we are a people of the people, by the people and for the people, one nation, under God, indivisible with Liberty and Justice for all.
This Wednesday our nation will celebrate its 236th birthday, which marks the date that we declared independence from the nation who had colonized us but had gradually placed us under its power of domination. Our forefathers declared independence from that nation and began to fight for the right to self rule, creating documents that could guide as to how they would govern this new country, documents which recognized that all powers are ordained of God and that every citizen would be given the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Consequentely, our nation has been the nation that people of nearly all other nations have desired to come to and many yet continue to want to immigrate to our United States of America. For many years we have used the blessings that have received from God to help those who are in need of help.

As we celebrate with thanksgiving to God for another year of this independence and freedom, let us remember that the inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness have been given to us by our Creator. (Inalienable means that this right cannot be given to some else or be transferred to someone else)
It does not mean that we live to ourselves outside of the truth which God is as revealed in His Word.. These freedoms have continued to be ours but not without the cost of lives which have been given and are being given..
Signboard in Litchfield: "Our first veterans fought for the right to worship" (without interference from the government)

Our nation has been founded on the truths of God's Holy Word, the Bible, which testifies to us that He is the Creator, that we are His creation, that we are dependent upon Him for our every need in our lives and that without Him, we can do nothing.

We all value our political and physical freedom, but we realize that the Christian Liberty, along with its benefits and responsiblities, is superior to all other freedoms. It is that which the Apostle Paul speaks of in the first verse of our text: ""the liberty in which Christ has made us free."

There is somewhat of a difference between the freedom that we enjoy as American citizens and the freedom which we enjoy as citizens of the Kingdom of God, or the heavenly kingdom. Our own people (with God's help) have fought for our freedom. God has fought the battle alone which won our spiritual freedom.. When we forget that God has given us all our freedoms, we slide toward towards independence from Him towards dependence on self.

Our understanding of the meaning of spiritual freedom and how it is lived out in our lives is the main point of our sermon today, which is taken from Apostle Paul's letter to the Galatians. We are given freedom so that we would live in the benefits of it, not solely for our benefit, but also that we would seek to bless others so that they could live in this freedom. Freedom in Christ frees us from our selfish drive to live for self so that we can live for the blessing of others.

Being freed from our self opens the way to see others as Jesus sees them. And seeing them as Jesus sees them, opens the way for us to love them in practical ways even as He loved us in a very practical way by giving His life for ours.

It is not a freedom from sin, but it is a freedom from the law. Liberty is not living as we want, but living as we should.
Christ through His redemptive work has freed us from the guilt and the power of sin, and therefore we live in the Spirit, no longer under the dictates and commands of the law which says: "Do this and you will live," while the Spirit says, "I point you to Christ who has fulfilled all on your behalf, has entered into our heart through repentance and faith, and now His desires have become our desires.....Paul here warns them against going back to a foolish existence, saying in so many words, "don't you know that if you are going to attempt to save ;yourself by circumcision, that you must keep the rest of the law also?" Do you not understand that you will never be able to do it? You are leaving Christ if you go along with that type of teaching!! If you think you can be justified by the law, you are telling God: "I do not want or need Christ.!" Also, you all are fallen from grace!" Wow.......Listen in as he speaks to them....

2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.
3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

Let us look at some other places in Scripture to refresh our memory as to the purpose and the function of the law.

KJV Romans 7:1 Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?
2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.
3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.
4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
5 For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.
6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.
7 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, "You shall not covet."
8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. Apart from the law, sin lies dead.
9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died.
10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me.
11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.

I am reminded of a late brother, Edwin Erickson, who was called to glory a few months ago. When he and I would have fellowship together, he often spoke of this place in the scriptures and of how the Lord had used it to bring him to freedom in Christ and out from under the bondage to the law. He would share that as long as he lived under the "I musts" of the law, he could never do enough to the point that he felt that it was enough. He struggled in keeping with these commands of doing good and not doing evil until one day he threw us his hands and said: "That's it, I give up, to heck with it!" And then he would quote Apostle Paul's experience which is recorded in this seventh chapter of Romans: "And I died, for that which I thought was unto life, I found to be unto death, and I died." Then Edwin would look at me and in an encouraging manner he would say to me, words which I still can hear being spoken into my heart today as I write this: "And I know you have died, too." I thank God for this brother, for he brought a lot of encouragement, counsel and inspiration to my heart, soul and life....

For a simple illustration of how the law functions, let us use a glass of water with an inch of dirt in the bottom of it to represent the human heart. Let us use a pencil to represent the law, which is designed to bring us unto death, by dipping it into the apparently clean heart and stir the entire contents of the glass. What will happen? The water will be turned brown and will continue to be brown as long as one stirs the water. Take the "law" away and the water/heart will eventually clear up. Ask your self the question: How long would one have to stir the contents of the heart with the "law" for the heart to become clean? The answer is obvious, which illustrates that the law can never bring life, for it is not designed to do so. It is meant to bring death so that we may enter into the life in Christ, who has fulfilled the entire law. We now live in the Spirit, for we have died.

5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
7 Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? {hinder you: or, drive you back}
8 This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you.
9 A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.
10 I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be.
Living in the Spirit means that through faith we live in the expected hope of the return of Christ, the righteous one. We are counted righteous through faith in Him and as a result of this faith love flows from our hearts and lives outwardly. It is as the Apostle John wrote in his first epistle:
1 John 4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.
13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

Paul goes onto say, you all were doing great in your journey of faith. What happened? Who drove you back to the bondage of the law, convincing you that you must add something to what Jesus did to be saved? He tells them in verse 8, "God did not do so," also warning them that a little error will spoil and ruin the entire work of Christ that has been done for you. Then Paul again does what he does so often in his tender fatherly letters to his beloved people: He build them up with affirmation and encouragement, saying that "I have confidence in you through the Lord, that you be not otherwise minded." He is telling them to not turn from the Gospel and its authority over their lives. He speaks to them with an affirming tone, putting his confidence in the work that Christ has done in them and has promised to complete until the day He returns. Paul was one never to look at another person through the eyes of the flesh, for he wrote the following to the Corinthians:

KJV 2 Corinthians 5:16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.

This meant that he looked not at their weakness of human frailty, but at the power of God which lived in them by the Spirit. We see an example of this in his relationship with Philemon in his letter to him. Philemon has a slave, Onesimus, who had run away from Philemon, and now Paul was entreating Philemon to take Onesimus back. Listen to the heart of Paul as he speaks with Philemon through this letter..

Philemon 7 So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me.
18 If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account.
19 I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it- to say nothing of your owing me even your own self.
20 Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.
21 Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.

Do we understand the difference between looking at another through the eyes of the Spirit vs the eye of the flesh? Or we could say, through the eyes of Christ vs the eye of the fallen human? Yes, I believe we do. Paul formerly looked on people through the eyes of the flesh, but when the revelation of Christ came to him and Christ began to live in him, he did not use this new existence of freedom in Christ to live for himself, but he used it to pour out the life of Christ which was in Him to shower others with the grace of Christ. He did this both in the giving of himself as well as seeing others in the same manner as he himself had come to know that he was seen and received by Christ. In other words, Paul now saw people as Christ saw them, sinners who are dead in trespasses and sins but who have been redeemed by Christ. Paul/Christ longed for them to come to this knowledge and experience through repentance and faith. His/their (Christ and Paul's) life existed entirely towards that end. Christ now lived in Paul, and Paul in Him and all that they did reflected the heart of Christ toward the world. So when we listen to Paul speak to Philemon in the letter, we hear Christ speaking.
Now we see that there were those who insisted on circumcision as mandatory for salvation, accused Paul of preaching that type of teaching. How absurd is that? Paul addresses that easily, saying how could that be that if I am agreeing with you and preaching what you say I must, why am I being persecuted? He defends himself in verse and then speaks to the extreme danger in allowing false teachers to teach.

11 And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.

Galatians 6:12 It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.
13 For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.
14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.

Paul exhibits how deadly these false teachers are through this verse. Was he remembering the verse in Deuteronomy?
12 I would they were even cut off which trouble you. (castrate)
KJV Deuteronomy 23:1 He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD.

Paul has explained that it is only through faith in Christ that we are justified and not by the works of the law. He then explains what it looks like to live in Christian freedom/liberty.
There are two extremes which we as Christians have a tendency to drift into:

A. We struggle with the concept of freedom which comes with salvation and want to put some conditions on it. (Save ourselves)

B. We use our liberty as a cloak for living in the desires of our flesh. (self serving)

13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Romans 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

KJV Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

We have been called to freedom in Christ, out of the bondage to the law. What does that mean for us?

1. It is freedom to live in the power of the Spirit of Christ in the forgiveness of our sin because Christ has loved us (v 13)
2. It is not freedom to live in the life of the flesh/for ourselves (13)
3. It is freedom to serve one another in love (13)
4. It is freedom love others as we love ourselves (Because we are loved by Christ) (14)

What will we do with this freedom that we live in through Christ?
Will we live for ourselves?
Will we serve others in love?
Will we love others as we love ourselves? (Because we are loved by Christ)

What ways can we practically do so? May we ask ourselves: How may I serve others within my home, within my congregation, within my community?

I leave before ourselves this morning three opportunities for us to serve others in love: One from within our congregation, and two outside, one within these United States and the other outside of these United States.

From Christ and Jane Hendrickson, Roger and Janet's son in law and daughter, whose 14 month old daughter has a rare kidney disease and needs a transplant. It has been determined that Jane will be able to give her kidney to her daughter. Here is what Jane wrote on the caring bridge site the other day.

"Verbal conformation today that we will be doing the Kidney Transplant on August 15th. We are excited and nervous all at the same time. Cora will be having some additional procedures done including gal-bladder removal, and a liver biopsy."

I had previously extended an offer of help for their family during the transplant recovery time. She responded with "So excited for the transplant date. I am working on putting together everything and will get back to you on what is needed."

May we ask ourselves: "How may I serve in this opportunity to love their family?"

The second one was sent to me by email by my sister Kathy. It is an email from one of her dear friends:

> I spent the entire day at Interstate Kaiser today getting a magnesium infusion and seeing the transplant doc and my oncologist. The results of the PET scan I had on Friday: The mass in my back is smaller but still big and active; the other spots are gone. I will not have any more chemo, so I won't be going into the hospital again on Saturday. I will have radiation on the mass in my back beginning, hopefully, within the next 2 weeks. After 3 weeks of radiation and 2 weeks of recovery, I'll have another PET and CT scan to see if the radiation took care of it. If it does, I need to decide if I want to go through with the stem cell transplant.
> After talking to the transplant doc today, I'm not sure that I want to do it. It involves killing my immune system with massive doses of chemo and putting me at great risk of infection, then getting massive doses of a drug that builds my marrow, then harvesting the stem cells through blood draw and giving them back to me. We might have to move closer to OHSU for a few months, I'd be in the hospital with chemo reactions for 3-4 weeks, and months of recovery. If I survive all that, there is only a 33% chance of cure. That is not how I want to live the life I have left.
> This is a really hard decision for me. I've never been afraid of dying, but it's hard to say, "Just let me go." I have a few weeks to gain some courage and make my decision. I appreciate all the support from my friends and family - if you have more words of wisdom to make me strong, I'm listening.
> I love every one of you. Sharon Brown.

Will we pray for her, will we write to her? If you want to write to her, let me know and I will give you the info you need.

The last one is from our recent trip to Guatemala and concerns a family who is a typical family there.

My brother in law, Paul, my wife's brother, told my son and I that he wanted us to meet his friend Alba who lived nearby in a village. I will put some photos up on the screen so that we can see them. As we waited for Alba to come out of her house, I was surprised to see her crawling......Paul explained to me that she could not walk and as she came close, I could see the joy that was in both Paul's eyes and in Alba's eyes and countenances as Paul reached down to pull her up to himself so that they could hug. I saw Christ in my brother, Paul Somero. I watched as Alba put her hands around Paul and as Paul hugged her in their love for one another. I have been to a number of far off places, I have seen unbelieveable poverty, but this reunion really affected myself as well as my son who had never seen anything like this before. As I watched, Paul offered me the privilege to hold and to hug Alba which I eagerly did. As I did an overwhelming sense of love for her came over me and as I held her filthy crippled body to myself, I could not help but think of the joy that Christ must feel when He holds our filthy and crippled body to Himself. As I looked into the face of Alba, I rejoiced in the privilege to hold beautiful Alba in my arms and I kissed her with a kiss that was overflowing with the compassion of Christ........

Christ has come to set us free from ourselves so that we will be free to love all others as He loved and does love us. How will we respond to His love?

May we pray in response to the message of the Lord today as He shared his heart of love with us through His Word and through the lives of others....

In Christ's boundless love I leave you,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 01 Jul 2012 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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The Cross of Christ 2.25.2018
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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