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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Pastor's Blog

Freed To Serve Through Love 7/6/2014

Dear friend,

May the grace and mercy from God our Heavenly Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ be with you now and forever, Amen.

In the three scripture portions today from John 8:31-36, 1 Timothy 2:1-8 and Romans 13, we are reminded that we are to maintain the spiritual freedom that Christ has won for us by continuing to believe and obey His Word, we are to pray for those in government so that we may live in this natural freedom to the end that the Gospel could be preached, we are reminded that all governments are ordained of God and lastly, we are taught that
True Freedom means that we have been set free to serve our neighbor through love.

In Apostle Paul's letter to the Galatians, the principle of what it means to be set free is outlined very clearly in these three verses from chapter five. Galatians is a letter that teaches of how through believing that Christ has set us free through his life, death, resurrection and ascension, we are commissioned and empowered to serve our neighbor through love.

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.
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.


True Freedom means that we have been set free to serve our neighbor through love.

Each Sunday we celebrate this freedom; each year we celebrate our freedom in our United States of America. These freedoms have many similarities and we are called to use our freedom in Christ to serve our neighbor in love and in truth.

Let us begin our session by remembering the roots of our country, and how our forefathers declared independence from Great Britain and also declared Dependence on God. The Declaration of Independence, President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address during the Civil War, and the history of the Pledge of Allegiance.




National Independence/Dependence

In the writing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, we read the following words:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."

The Civil War 1861-1865
Following the July 1–3, 1863, Battle of Gettysburg, reburial of Union soldiers from the Gettysburg Battlefield graves began on October 17. The committee for the November 19 Consecration of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg invited President Lincoln to give a speech...Here are the words of the Gettysburg Address.

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.
It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

The Pledge of Allegiance
The original Pledge of Allegiance, "I pledge allegiance to my flag and the Republic for which it stands -- One nation indivisible -- with liberty and justice for all," was written in September of 1892 by Francis Bellamy for "The Youth's Companion" magazine in Boston. The phrase was printed on leaflets and sent to schools throughout the United States.
The first organized use of the Pledge of Allegiance came on Oct. 12, 1892, when some 12 million American school children recited it to commemorate the 400-year anniversary of Columbus' voyage.
In 1923, the first National Flag Conference in Washington D.C. voted to change the words "my flag" to "the Flag of the United States of America."
Congress officially recognized the Pledge of Allegiance in 1942, but in 1943, the Supreme Court ruled that public school students could not be forced to recite it.
The words "under God" were added in 1954 by then President Eisenhower, who stated at the time, "In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America's heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country's most powerful resource in peace and war."
"I pledge allegiance to the Flag, of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, One Nation under God Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All."

Our forefathers declared Independence from Great Britain and also declared Dependence of God in 1776, they affirmed this Dependence during the Civil War and in the addition of "Under God" in 1954.


Congregational Independence/Dependence

On February 10, 1896 with the Galatians 5:1 "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery".as the "Guiding Verse", our congregation was formed under the name of Finnish Sunday School Society of Kingston

"The Finnish Sunday School Society of Kingston, Minnesota, shall for a time remain independent and shall not unite with any other sect or denomination, but remain free according to Galatians 5:1"



Two years after the church was organized, its name was changed to the The Kingston Finnish Apostolic Lutheran Congregation. In 1987 it was changed to The Apostolic Lutheran Church of Kingston.

They recognized that they had been set free by Christ from slavery to sin, so that they could through love serve one another.

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."



Familial/Individual Independence/Dependence

2 Cor 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. {committed...: Gr. put in us}
20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.



2 Cor 8:9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.
10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.



How do we serve one another in love?

Apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit wrote the following which reveals that his freedom/liberty in Christ was restrained, constrained and motivated by love:

1 Corinthians 9:19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.
20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;
21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.
22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.


As we heard last week, in the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit had not yet been sent in His fulness, but yet He was present in the lives of those who were God's people as is evidenced in the life of King David.

King David remembered his commitment to Jonathon, King Saul's son, and motivated by love sought to honor that commitment/covenant.

ESV 2 Samuel 9:1 And David said, "Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake?"
2 Now there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba, and they called him to David. And the king said to him, "Are you Ziba?" And he said, "I am your servant."
3 And the king said, "Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?" Ziba said to the king, "There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in his feet."
4 The king said to him, "Where is he?" And Ziba said to the king, "He is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar."
5 Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.
6 And Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and paid homage. And David said, "Mephibosheth!" And he answered, "Behold, I am your servant."
7 And David said to him, "Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always."
8 And he paid homage and said, "What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?"
9 Then the king called Ziba, Saul's servant, and said to him, "All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master's grandson.
10 And you and your sons and your servants shall till the land for him and shall bring in the produce, that your master's grandson may have bread to eat. But Mephibosheth your master's grandson shall always eat at my table." Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.
11 Then Ziba said to the king, "According to all that my lord the king commands his servant, so will your servant do." So Mephibosheth ate at David's1 table, like one of the king's sons.
12 And Mephibosheth had a young son, whose name was Mica. And all who lived in Ziba's house became Mephibosheth's servants.
13 So Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, for he ate always at the king's table. Now he was lame in both his feet.






Restrained by Love
ESV 1 Corinthians 6:12 "All things are lawful for me," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful for me," but I will not be enslaved by anything. Will I be enslaved by my freedom?

Constrained by Love
ESV 1 Corinthians 8:9 But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. Will my freedom in Christ cause a brother or sister to stumble in their walk of faith?
.
Motivated by Love
ESV 1 Corinthians 10:23 "All things are lawful," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful," but not all things build up. Will my freedom build up the body of Christ?


The Prodigal son, coming to see what was real life, went from "give me" what is mine to "make me" a servant......

KJV Luke 15:12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.

KJV Luke 15:19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.




ESV Galatians 5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

May we rejoice in the knowledge that we have been set free to serve our neighbor through love.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 06 Jul 2014 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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