Thursday, 6/8/2017

Good Morning, Believer in Christ,

What a blessing to be able to get back to being more of a pastor again. The “hurry, hurry, hurry” of the Kitchen Project seems to be behind us. But, we have never been through this kind of a process before and we shall need to learn, I am sure, new lessons. Yesterday I spent making phone calls and talking to some important people in my life about an area of great concern to me. It is a confidential matter, yet I would covet wisdom for me and others that deal with this important issue. Thank you. Yesterday I did get a nap in (YES) and I did get some serious study for a number of morning messages. What a great time with God and His Word. This coming Sunday I am speaking about Angels and Creation. I have enjoyed my past weeks of study on the subject and now am putting it all together in a package…but today, the information that I have is too great. I shall need to proclaim three messages on the basics of the subject. I am pumped up about it all. Tomorrow I will finalize my message and be ready for Sunday, Lord willing. I always say, “Lord willing” because God has allowed many things to come into my life to change the course of the day. I must stay flexible and able to go in a different direction in a moment’s notice. I enjoy diversity and change, so I know I am in the right place at the right time in my life and my ministry. Thanks for being a part of that diversity…for your encouragement to continue with these devotionals and the blessings of just doing them is a great joy to me. You have a blessed day!!!

1 Corinthians 4:9 - 9 For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men.

Subject:  Becoming a Spectacle

The message about angels includes a short portion about man being a spectacle to this creatures. They are interested in what is happening in our world, in our lives, and get excited and thrilled about one person coming to know Christ as Savior. The apostle Paul continues his journey about the proud saints at Corinth and is now going to begin a series of verses that speak about himself in contrast to the believers in Corinth. This should begin to open up the context of verse six.

Paul is speaking about himself and Sosthenes as the apostles, but may include Apollos in this discussion. Paul thinks (imagines, believes, assumes) that God has exhibited (shown publicly) last of all as a spectacle (Greek - an unusual sight). There have been times that I was able to see an exhibition or display of an unusual sight. It might have been in a theatre or some other public place.

I remember when I was young, I went to the Upper Peninsula State Fair in Escanaba, Michigan. I remember going about the fairway and seeing the spectacles. It cost money to go and see any of those unusual sights. The one I remember is the “Lady with a Beard”. Tempted to see it, I never had the money to go inside…I thought it to be illogical. Another one was “The Shortest Man in the World”. But, there is some unusual foods at a fair like “cookie fries” or “French fried jello.”

Paul speaks about “as last of all” meaning that the apostles would make their final display of being a spectacle in the arena along with the most sinful criminals were executed in a variety of ways. The apostles who had committed no crimes except to be Jesus Christ’s chosen messengers of God’s grace would be killed (slain) for their faith in their Savior. They would become a spectacle (an unusual sight) to the world, yes, to angels in heaven, and to the people of this world.

An apostle is a sent one by God to proclaim truth to this world in a loving way. Are you fulfilling this as an ambassador for Jesus Christ? Do others who are unsaved see you as a devoted Christian who is willing to give your life for your Savior? Do you speak out your faith so that others may have the opportunity to trust Christ as their personal Savior? It is critical that you be available and willing to share with the unsaved the gospel. Remember the person who led you to Christ and repeat the event in another person’s life. You will be glad you did. Be a spectacle for Jesus Christ!!!

A spectacle for Jesus,

Pastor Les

Scripture is from the ESV® Bible  (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Wednesday, 6/7/2017

Dear Bible Reader,

Yesterday was another busy day for Linda and me. We began the day by letting the two installers, Dale & Brandon, come into our kitchen to continue the cabinet installation. They are doing a great job in putting the cupboards, cabinets, pantries, and the handles on all of the 39 doors. The kitchen looks fantastic with this work done, but they still need to put the toe kickers in place and the crown molding near the ceiling in place. Linda really likes it and the guys did a super job!!! We left for our yearly “Wellness Physical Exam” with our family doctor for our final time. He retires at the end of the year and we now need to find another family physician. We both got a good bill of health we rejoice in the goodness of our health at our age. We shall get the results of the blood test on Thursday or Friday. He will call us or we shall call him on those results. That will all go by the wayside as the younger doctors do not call each patient personally, so I am told. From there we went to visit our 94 year-old member, Ken Sweet, in the hospital. He had an immobile right leg this morning when he awakened about 6 a.m. He hit the lifeline button and soon the paramedics were there and took him to the local hospital. He is doing well when we left him about 11 a.m. We had a couple of quick errands to do and back to the homestead and the cabinet installers. They were making good progress and off to the church I went to catch up on the day. After spending some time with Pastor Randy and Sandie Bates, I tried to get some time on my emails and other matters. Just before going home by 1 p.m. I received a call from a local Lutheran pastor who wanted some information. We talked about one-half hour and I was late for lunch with my wife. It was back to the church for a short time and back home to correct a small laminate counter piece that we received early that morning. After getting that information corrected, I suited up to do a 5.2-mile run…finally. I wanted to do it Monday, but there was not time to do it. But, it was a delightful day of about 73 degrees, sunny, and lots of green trees and lawns. What a delight in the Lord!!!

1 Corinthians 4:7-8 - 7 For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? 8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you!

Subject:  What Have You Received?

Did you know that God is so very good to Les & Linda Takkinen? But, He is also so very good to YOU! Paul says, “Who sees something different in you and passes judgment on it?” A person can easily pass judgment and want to become superior in the comments made about you and me. As I have heard it stated, “They want to make themselves look better or more valuable than you and me.” That is the reason for the critical remarks or slander that is made against anyone.

Paul asks two more questions regarding what the Corinthians had received from God. One has to know the rest of the book and the spiritual gifts that God had given to the believers of this church. They had sign gifts (tongues-speaking, abilities to heal, abilities to prophesy – look at chapter 12). All that had been available to these believers, did they not receive it from God? The answer to the questions is, “Yes, God had given them everything that they had in their possession both materially and spiritually.”

If they had received these gifts from God, why were they boasting and becoming proud about such gifts? Paul goes on and says, “You have everything you could ever want.” Literally Paul says, “You have more than enough.” Even the men that you consider as your “favorite minister” (see 1 Cor. 1:12) and are proud of it as you brag about your favorite man.

The Corinthians had all they could ever want and were even rich in so many ways. Apart from Paul and Apollos, they had set themselves as king with the wish to reign. They did this without Paul and Sosthenes being around. Paul says, “Oh that we might rule with you.” They were trying to do it without their first spiritual fathers (1 Cor. 4:15).

Yes, everything that they had was from God. Everything that we have has come from His hand as well. There is nothing that we have that has not come from God. And, we should be sharing what we have with others. Instead of keeping it to ourselves and becoming boastful, we ought to be giving it away.

What do you have financially, physically, spiritually, and eternally that you did not receive from God? I have a friend in our church that wishes he could run as I run. I am privileged to run as I do and give God all the credit for allowing me to run any distance. “Whether we eat, drink, run, walk, work hard, have more than what we deserve, or whatever we do or have, may it all glorify God” (1 Cor. 10:31). He is the great Giver, we are the receivers. May we be exceedingly thankful and rejoice in God’s good gifts. That is the intent of this passage!

Thanking God constantly,

Pastor Les

Scripture is from the ESV® Bible  (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Tuesday, 6/6/2017

Good Morning,

I am sitting in my computer area at the house at about 2:00 p.m. on Monday while there has been a hustle-bustle time going on today at the Takkinen home. I got up at 8:00 a.m. to get ready for the cabinet installer to come and get started at 8:15. I slept in because I spent painting from about 4:30 – 10:00 p.m. on the kitchen areas that needed painting before the installer could put in the cabinets. I then proceeded to finish my devotional for yesterday and get it ready to send out. The reason for the challenge was because our fantastic drywall man and plasterer could not make it on Thursday evening to get the painting done on Saturday. You do understand the domino effect when one thing depends upon another. Sunday was a busy day with the church service, a meeting after church, a birthday party for oldest grandson, a one-hour nap, and then finally on to prime, paint, and then the devotional. Well, they have installed the cupboards and are now finishing the cabinets. There are two pantries that need to be coming into the kitchen…they are big and heavy. I was expecting to go to the church this morning to do some essential work, but Mark, a deacon in our church, was coming on his day off from work to paint (he just left). He came at about 8:30 a.m. to begin and we were scrambling to get the two coat closets ready for his work. I discovered more areas that needed plaster, cleaning, and preparatory work before painting could be done. Mark got some painting of some ceilings done far too quickly and with excellence before moving on to the areas that I had been working on. So, I have been running without lunch and just trying to keep my head above water (work). It is great…one never gets bored at this rate. It is a joy to keep moving and enjoying the next thing that must be done and glorify God in the process. Please continue to pray for Linda and me as we navigate through the maze of remodeling!!! Thanks so very much!!!

1 Corinthians 4:6-7 - 6 I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. 7 For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?

Subject: The Sin of Judgment

The verse that comes to my mind upon reading these two verses is Matthew 7:7. It says, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” It is very simple and to the point. I appreciate Jesus because He states things simply and to the point. I like a person like that. Why? It is because I know where they stand and are not trying to hide something in the discussion. Being wishy-washy is not the way of our God. And, we should not be wishy-washy as well.

When I read verse 6, I said, “What is Paul really saying?” I was excited to read it from the Greek texts to get some deeper understanding. I translated the verse and was disappointed. Again I asked, “What is Paul saying?” Yes, this verse is not easy to put into the English language, but reading it in the context, it all comes together. So, hang in there with me. It may take days to wrap your arms around it, but just continue to read, study, and think!!!

Paul is speaking about “applying all these things” to himself and Apollos and for the benefit of the believers in Corinth. Going back to verse 5, Paul warns and commands them not to be judging anyone because they are different (v.3 – judge…v.4 – judges…v.5 – judgment). In the previous three verses Paul is speaking about judgment and now he is applying this judgment to himself and Apollos. There are factions and divisions in the Corinthian Church. Paul wants the believers to take it to their hearts and learn.

He wants the Christians to acquire and understand not go beyond (Lit. – not above) what is written. That is, do not become proud or haughty by placing yourself above another person in the church. The words “in favor” is speaking about partiality, that is, putting one person ahead or above another person. The question could be asked, “What makes you better than another person? Or what do you possess or have that is better than what another person has or possesses?” When one becomes critical and judgmental, we place ourselves above another person and we think we are better than that person (that is pure pride).

As you will see in the coming verses, Paul is going to show a contrast of himself and Apollos against the Corinthian believers. You will have to read all the way through to verse 13 to really comprehend what Paul is trying to say in verse 6. No, you do not need to have me or anyone to understand this passage, but it does not come easy and the Holy Spirit is the Master-Teacher for you to truly understand.

If you find that too difficult, you will need to pay attention to the next six days of devotionals. It is my hope to explain the meaning in these verses in relationship to verse 6. You have my email address if you have a question or maybe I can clarify something for you as we walk through this passage of inspired writings.

Application: Are you judgmental or critical of others who are different from you? It is easy to become just like that and now you have to deal with your pride. There is a time for judgment, but not by you, but by the Lord. But, there is not a time to place yourself as judge, jury, and condemner. That is not our place in the Christian world. Remember, “Love overlooks or covers another person’s sin” (1 Peter 4:8).

Loving others,

Pastor Les

Scripture is from the ESV® Bible  (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Monday, 6/5/2017

Good Morning, Christian,

Last week we saw some progress towards the remodeling project that really excited Linda. We had the privilege of having a young man come from our church to put up drywall and then plaster it for preparation of the cabinets which shall begin to be put in today. Greg, as I told you last week is a deacon in our church. He spent hours of time on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday working on his end of the project. This is after he spends 10 hours as a mechanic at his job for a plumbing company….Thursday was about 12-13 hours. What took him hours to do would take me days and not even come close to his expertise of doing the job. What a servant’s heart Greg has and the ability to do his work. You can tell that he loves what he is doing with drywall work. We watched with amazement as he put up the plaster board in just a short time and then “mud the joints” in a very expert fashion. We are overwhelmed, thankful, and filled with praise to him and to our God for the work that was done. We thank God for the sacrifice of Greg’s time and effort as well as his wife who sacrificed his time to do this work on the parsonage. What a gift of grace has been given to us and to our church. All glory goes to our God!!!

1 Corinthians 4:3-4 - 4 For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

Subject:  The Judgment of the Heart

The one thing that the Lord has on all of us is He can see, know, and read the heart of every person. It can be a good thing or it can be a very bad thing if he knows our hearts and can see into our very being all that we are and all that we have done. It makes me shake sometimes as I think about my younger years because of what I may have been thinking or have done in the darkness. To think that HE will bring to light all of the intentions of our heart and from that we shall be rewarded or lose rewards.

Judgment is the topic of this passage of Scripture. Paul sees it as a small thing that he should be judged (to question, interrogate, and investigate in court) by anyone (v.3). He does not even judge himself because it is the Lord who will eventually and impartially judge each person. The fact is, most of the time we cannot even judge our own motives, intentions, or reasons for thinking, saying, or doing something, right? Well, maybe it is just me. When I look into my heart, many times I come up short with a “good call of why.”

We need to be honest with God and with ourselves. It would be good to be able to even see our own hearts the way God sees our hearts. But, we are flawed and many times miss the mark of knowing the depth of our hearts. We can often guess, or even get close, but to know it fully as God knows it…we come up short.

There will come a day that God will bring to light (enlighten, to make plain, known, reveal, disclose – all Greek options for translation) those things that are hidden (secret information, knowledge) in darkness. Whatever we have done in our life no matter in daylight or in darkness, whether we had good or bad intentions, and whether we even understand the circumstances…God will disclose (reveal) the real purposes of our heart (ouch!). But, notice, each one will receive His commendation (praise) from God. The bad junk of our lives (sin, iniquities) will all be forgiven and forgotten…forever!!! YES!

Only the praise from God will be brought forth and God will praise us for what we have done with the right spirit, with good intentions, and, yes, He will remind us of the rewards we missed, but there will be no condemnation or even rebuke at the Bema Seat. Are you not glad that only the good will be in focus at this judgment of the saints? That is what they call, “Grace!” What a loving Heavenly Father we have and what a joy to serve the One who loves us so much! May you have a super week serving HIM knowing that He is looking for the good in your life and not the “bad”.

Serving with joy,

Pastor Les

Scripture is from the ESV® Bible  (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Friday, 6/2/2017

Hi There!!!

One of the ways that we have been blessed by others during this time of the Kitchen Project has been by others providing meals for us or by inviting us to their home and serving us a meal. What a blessing they have been to us. It all began with David and Kim Szwedo providing the first meal early in our ventures of seeking the plans and details of the new kitchen. They surprised us with a phone call and then came over with that delicious soup. It surely was a treat for us to have you minister to us in this way. We have had a couple of invites to homes to relax and served a meal. We so appreciated each and every gift of love to our lives. Thank you for praying for us in these weeks of preparation and now in seeing some of the restoration and remodeling going on. This weekend will be a time of painting and getting the kitchen proper ready for the cabinets next week. There will be need for people to stain the trim boards, maybe get the place ready for the final phases of the project after June 12. We are already excited as we are looking forward to improvements on putting things back together. This week has been the dirtiest week of all with the sanding and re-sanding the plaster that has been laid by Greg to finish the project so that it can be painted. Please continue to pray for us as we continue to be faithful as stewards of this project for the Lord. Thank you so much!!!

1 Corinthians 4:3-4 – But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4 For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.

Subject:  The Deep Judgment of God

All of us at one time or another are judged by others in this world. Do you remember when you were a student in school and you thought that others were talking about you? They would look at you, laugh and snicker, and even point the finger at you. They might be “pretending” to talk about you or make fun of you, but it did not matter, you were hurt, offended, and sometimes led to tears. It hurt deeply. Looking back, we were not sure about our assumptions, we guessed we were right.

Paul, I am sure, was judged (to be questioned, interrogated, and investigated in a human court) by others. Paul states (in my words), “Bring it on, it matters not to me if you judge me.” There was a time that I was very sensitive to the words and actions of others. I wanted to be a part of the “in crowd and group”. But, after I became a Christian, that feeling of hurt and “embarrassment” left me and I learned to only be concerned about being judged by GOD! The words and criticism of others was a very small thing (insignificant, trivial matter). The fact was, “Paul said that he did not even judge himself. Yes, I am sure Paul assessed himself after an experience in his life or a confrontation of another person, but he did not go around feeling guilty about things. He did his best in every circumstance and left the rest to the Lord.

Paul’s ultimate statement is, “It is the Lord who judges (interrogates) me.” When we stand before God it will be another matter. God has a deeper level of judgment than mankind has in this world, even the Christian world. When we are judged by people, they can only go skin deep. They can ask all the questions they want and we can give them any answer that we desire. We do not even have to tell the truth to people. We can “buffalo” them and go down a trail that will lead to a dead end. We can lie to their face and not be honest in our responses.

But, not so with God. He will ask the questions and our answers will be expected to be “nothing but the truth.” God knows all things. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:10, “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body whether good or bad.” There will be no judgment concerning our eternal destiny because we are already promised eternal life with God in heaven as a free gift (Rom. 6:23). But, we may lose rewards that we could have received had we done things differently upon earth. Yes, God will determine what truth is and what a lie is. He will one day judge each believer without partiality and discrimination. Are you ready for that judgment to take place? Are you doing the very best in your life to live godly and serve Him with all your heart? We shall go deeper on Monday!

Ready to be judged,

Pastor Les

Scripture is from the ESV® Bible  (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.