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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Grace upon Grace 1.1.2017
John 1:16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.

2 Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:
15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
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.
17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Blessed and Prosperous New Year to you in the Lord!

We are now beginning to live life in the year of our Lord 2017, which means that it is 2017 years since the time of the incarnation (the coming of God in the flesh). This year it was my lot to observe, meditate upon and celebrate Christmas from a hospital bed in St Cloud. It was different but it was very special to be served by the hands and feet of God in the hospital where I received such personal and professional care for my healing. I am back home now after spending nearly 7 days in the hospital during which I was treated for my seventh bowel obstruction. One particular blessing that I received there was that on Christmas day one of the nurses sang Silent Night in both the English and German languages.

Due to being sick during the week, the board of directors have arranged for another pastor to bring the message this morning, a message which I am looking forward to hear, praying that the words would pour out of heaven like water out of Niagara Falls so that we would all be filled with the Water of Life today, Jesus the Christ, the Giver of all blessing. So I will create a devotion, drawing from the two scripture references above and offering an illustration.

The first reference speaks to that which we have been given by God through Christ and the second explains what that means. That is so often the case in the New Testament, in that the Gospels record the historical event and the letters explain and amplify the meaning of the historical event. In this case, we recognize as we go into the year of our Lord 2017 that we have received of His fullness, grace upon grace. What does that mean? His refers to Christ, meaning that everything that He brought to earth from heaven is ours in Him.

Verse 17 of 2 Corinthians 5 is the Mount Everest of these verses, for what it is saying is that by God coming in the Manger, a series of events have been initiated that culminated with us being brought from death to life through the birth, baptism, temptation, life, death by crucifixion, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus the Christ. What that also means is that independent of any of our actions, wishes or hopes, God has created us (humanity) anew in Christ Jesus and we are now new creations in Him! We are His offspring, His children and He desperately wants us to know and experience that reality! That is the reality that we enter into this New Year! Believe it, receive it and experience it in its fullness into the New Year. Keep your mind and heart fixed upon Christ Jesus and you will live in peace, joy and hope into this New Year and always!

But let‚€™s be honest. Not all of us have a good situation, for some are living in pain of various kinds, whether it be physical, emotional, mental or spiritual. Even as His children, we have a hard time applying those verses, for all we can see is what we have lost in the last year(s) and are not able to take into our hearts and minds all the we have received: Of His fullness, and grace upon grace. We are not able to see and
experience this reality for our losses of the past of what which we are currently experiencing cloud out that which we have been given in Christ: Grace poured out abundantly and continually into our lives through Christ who daily and richly reminds us that we are forgiven in His merits.

We look for relief from all kinds of places, but we find none. We pray for healing, we pray for the pain of grief to go away, we pray for the physical pain to go away, we pray for healing in a relationship, but all to no avail‚€¦‚€¦.We struggle a lot, but‚€¦‚€¦‚€¦‚€¦‚€¦..Consider the writing below‚€¦‚€¦

On his birthday, November 26, 2016 I asked a young man what he would like for his birthday. He replied, ‚€œTo be able to run and jump again like any young man.‚€Ě It was understood without any more words needed that only through healing by God by divine intervention or through a doctor‚€™s help would this become a reality for him again. This young man had excelled in three sports in high school, had worked in the physically demanding logging occupation for many years but had in the last two years suffered mentally and physically crippling injuries which left him unable to work in the forest as well as to continue his budding music career.. What a blessing it would be for him to have this desire granted‚€¦..But in his waiting, he recently received a much greater blessing than his physical healing: God came to him in the Stillness of his waiting, God came to him as the Stillness of the Storm. He was visited by the Friend of all mankind, the God of creation and salvation.

In our conversation on Dec 3, he shared of how the words to the first song that he has written in at least two years, entitled Thunder in the Stillness, had been coming to him in the last month or so. He shared of how the words kept coming to him in the car, at the doctor‚€™s office and at home. It was at the deepest and richest part of this revelation of the presence of God that he was so overcome that he found himself weeping on the floor, so filled with the glory and love of God that as he described it ‚€œif his worst enemy would have come into that room at that point, he would have embraced him in love.‚€Ě God had come to him in the Stillness of the storm. This young man was able to see past his sufferings and in his longings/waitings the Answer was given to him.

The revelation of God comes to us in different ways and in different degrees, but when it does the fruit that it brings is praise and glory to God, love into the heart for God and love for and toward all others, even our enemies.

There is the story of the caterpillar that was struggling to get out of its cocoon, and of how the young girl helped it out but was grief stricken when it died in a few days. When she asked her mom why, her mom told her God had ordained that caterpillars had to break themselves out of the shell as a part of their normal development into a butterfly. So instead of helping the caterpillar become a butterfly, the girl unknowingly had caused its death.

It is very difficult to watch your flesh and blood struggle when life brings its sorrow and losses to them, and so we have a tendency to act as the little girl did, thinking we are helping the situation. We wonder if we should be helping more, could be helping more, but through it all we have one eye up to heaven pleading on our loved one‚€™s behalf and the other eye on their life in the here and now for its practical needs and necessities.

It is with great thankfulness to God and in great praise to our God that I leave the following words of my son Carl‚€™s latest song for you to meditate upon as you ponder the questions of life. These words are far
more than words of a song, for they are the heart cries of one who has come to know his God and Saviour more deeply through the valleys of life that he has passed through, may yet be passing through and who wishes to give this Hope to others. A God and a Saviour who knows our sinfulness, our brokenness and our weakness, but One who leads us to deeper and more profound knowledge of Himself through meeting us in our sinfulness, in our brokenness and in our weakness. He comes to us in the Stillness of the storm.

The name of the song is Thunder in the Stillness. As you will note, this young man is a Christian so for him it meant that God came to him as the Stillness in his Storm. This song is not entitled Stillness in the Storm, but Thunder in the Stillness. If you read carefully I believe you will get the significance of the message, that God meets us where we are: Either we are living a self satisfied life and He comes to us in our self sufficiency like Thunder to awake us in our stillness or we are living as His child in sometimes faltering dependence upon Him and in those situations He comes to us in the stillness of the Storm.

‚€œWhere will you go when the moon is turned to blood
When the highways turn to mud and leave you scrambling
What will you do when there's nothing left to hold
And it's only fool's gold that you're gambling

What will you say when the shadows turn to ice
And no ones playing nice in the potter's field
Where will you turn when the sky is opened wide,
when there's no place left to hide and your fate is sealed

I'll be on the other side won't you come with me
Don't you want to see the Promised Land
There's either thunder in The Stillness or Stillness in the storm
Take a little time to understand

Who will you believe when the voices come around and confusion is the sound that's overtaking
Who will hear your prayer when your bread has turned to stone
When there's dust inside your bones and you're forsaken‚€Ě

As we go into the New Year, where are we? Does He need to come to us we as the Stillness in the Storm or as Thunder in the Storm?

John 1:16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.
May you feel His abundant showers of grace pouring upon you today!

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 01 Jan 2017 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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The Cross of Christ 2.25.2018
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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3/21 7:00 pm:Lent service
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*Wendy and Dan Salo: Strength & courage to trust Him w/her health concerns