Come to the Table

Dearly beloved  congregation,

By God's grace it is our privilege to host the 111th annual convention of our Apostolic Lutheran Church of America in St Cloud, MN on June 27-30, 2019. We have chosen as our theme, "Come to the Table" which encapsulates the invitation that God through His Son Jesus Christ issues to all people everywhere. These words of invitation are taken from a song by the Sidewalk Prophets by that name, "Come to the Table."

It is our desire and our prayer that in most of the Sunday morning messages from now until the convention in the last part of June that this theme of "Come to the Table," will be in the forefront. As we spoke of last Sunday, our Lord uses the everyday and natural things of life to illustrate and to point to the greater things of life which are spiritual. We remember of how he came to the fishermen and their boats and used their occupation as a hook to reveal to them of their higher calling; A Fisher of Men.

Do we not all understand what it is to eat and to drink of those things which our body needs to be sustained in life? Jesus connected this natural eating and drinking with the spiritual, as he referred to the manna that God's people had eaten in the wilderness for 40 years as they traveled on the way to the Promised Land and then pointed to Himself as the Life Giving Bread.

John 6: 31 Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.

 32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.

 33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.

 34 Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.

 35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

 

Dear Lord, thank you for inviting us to your table of grace and of forgiveness through Christ. And, Lord, give us your heart for those who are hungering and thirsting, but are not being filled. Help us to be constant in prayer for our upcoming convention in all its planning, preparation and provision. Above all, Lord, cause us to come to your table, freely and boldly so that we may eat and drink of Christ and be filled in Him and with Him.

In Jesus Name, Amen.

Pastor Orval

Jesus' Call

Dear friend in Christ.

A number of years ago I was traveling on a plane to my destination and my companion next to me who was a teacher, finding out that I was a pastor, asked me a question.  “Do you know about the hook method?”  I did not know what she was driving at so I asked her what she meant by that and she went on to explain of how important it is in teaching to first of all connect them to real life situations before beginning to teach the subject or topic of the hour.  I then understood of the principle that she was talking about.

In our lesson today, Jesus gives a very good example of how this works as he first  made a connection with the ones He was going to call to follow Him by focusing on their occupation of fishing.  Let us take a look at what He did, how He did it and why He did it.

KJV Luke 5:1 And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret,

 2 And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets.

 3 And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.

 4 Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.

 5 And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.

 6 And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake.

 7 And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.

 8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.

 9 For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken:

 10 And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.

 11 And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.

He drew them into a conversation about fishing, using their boat as a pulpit and then revealed to them His divine nature. For He caused them to catch so many fish that the boats being to sink. At this Peter, overcome by some awareness that this man Jesus was more than just another man, but was One who had the ability to fill the nets, told the Lord: O Lord, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.  To which Jesus replied, “Don’t fear, for from now on you will be catching men!”

We understand that Jesus did this because He was beginning to prepare for the training of disciples some of whom He would appoint to be Apostles. It was the first stage of His calling them to follow Him, and during the 3 and half years there would be many lessons for them to learn from their Teacher, who would become their Friend and who then as the best Friend ever, would become their Saviour.

As I have been meditating upon this message, it has come to me to think of what stage I am in the my call to follow Him. I have asked questions of what does it mean to follow Him, what does it mean to leave all, Is He my teacher in that I am prepared to hear Him, Is He really my best friend, what does it mean that He is my/our Saviour? Good things to consider and think about in our lives…….

In closing, may I share a little of my experience of being invited to follow Him by being called to leave the work a day world (jtimber industry) to serve Him in public ministry.  He spoke like this to me, using the same  pattern that He used to call the disciples to Him.  He said,” You have harvested enough trees, now I am asking you to leave that harvest and become a harvester of souls.”

Peter at first resisted as he looked at his inabilities as a fallen human, not yet recognizing that He was clean through the very Word that was standing in front of him. In a sense, Jesus proclaimed the Gospel to Him through that which was already done before the foundation of the world, but which would happen in the very near future on the cross of Calvary. Through the power of the Cross of Christ, all humanity has been washed and redeemed in the blood of Christ, and when believing this Gospel for the remission of sin one is empowered, equipped and commissioned to go out and to fish for the souls which the Lord has brought to us to catch.

May the Lord help us to see that the power is in His Word, a Word informs souls of their value and of their need to be caught by the Word to their joy and salvation. May we trust the Word of God in Christ Jesus, and let our Gospel nets down into the recesses of this world.

A fellow fisherman,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

 

Jesus' Mission

 Dear friend in Christ! 

Luke 4:21-44

Greetings of grace and peace to you from God our Father and from His Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Let me begin with a question this morning. How do we get to know God? Through the Scriptures, yes, and by the revelation of the Holy Spirit we would answer. So then, what ultimately is God wanting us to know about Him? Would He not want us to come to know His gracious will towards us in that through His Son, in whom He is well pleased, that He loves us and wants us to know that He is love? Yes, that would be correct, for we know that He wants nothing greater than for all humanity to know of His love and of his forgiveness for our sin.

We are following our Lord through the Gospel of Luke as He begins to travel around with the message of love for and to the world. Today we take Luke 4:21-44 as our text of meditation, in which Jesus after speaking in the synagogue of Himself being the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah (Isaiah 61:1-3), begins to show the fulfillment of that prophecy by demonstrating His divinity by challenging and escaping his opposition, by casting out unclean spirits and devils, by healing Peter’s mother in law,and  by healing as many as were brought to him.

After Jesus had gone into the desert place, the people sought him there, coming to him and wanted that he would stay there with them. But Jesus said unto them at that time:

 Luke 4:43 "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose."

May we get it that Jesus came to reveal the heart of His Father, who has made it possible for us to receive His love, who by His Spirit now indwells us and the life we live is now lived in Christ.

John wrote about this relationship between the Father and Son in His Gospel..

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him."

 8 Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us."

 9 Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?

May that be our prayer as we meditate upon the grace and love of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. May we see the Father in His Son..

God’s Peace be unto you!

Pastor Orval Wirkkala