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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Following Jesus 1.21.2018
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; Mark 1:1

As we continue in our year long sermon series in the Gospels, it will be with the prayer that through our time in His Word, time in prayer and time in fellowship with Him and with one another, we would come to know and experience more and more of who God is, who we are and who Jesus is. A calendar produced by our ALCA Federation contains the scripture readings and texts for each Sunday of the year and will be made available for all those who wish to obtain one.

For the most part, the Gospel text will be the sermon focus for each Sunday, but with a few exceptions as should the need arise, we will share from another part of Scripture. Most of the Gospel texts for this year are found in the Gospel of Mark, which is the second Gospel and which is the shortest Gospel. For those who do not have an ALCA calendar, the readings and the sermon text for the next Sunday will be placed at the end of the sermon notes on the back page of the bulletin.

In the Gospel of Mark, we find that there are two main sections, which I will display below. As shown above, this Gospel gets right to the point as it begins with The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; Mark 1:1. From that time on Jesus reveals His authority through His teaching and by His deeds.

The second section begins in 8:27 where Jesus asks the question of His disciples in this way:

And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am? And they answered, John the Baptist: but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets.
29 And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ.

The arrangement by the Holy Spirit of the Gospel of Mark is fascinating in that after the evidence of the Sonship and Kingship that Jesus has been established through His words and deeds in the first 8 chapters,, the questions are asked of all who are hearing Him and are watching Him.

Whom do men say that I am?

Whom do YOU say that I am?

May our time in the Gospel of Mark (and the other Gospels) cause us to see more clearly who God is, who we are and who Jesus Christ is. May we be given the ability to take all this in as if we had never heard it or seen it before. Lord, we want to see Jesus! Open our eyes, open our ears and open our hearts!

Mark 1:14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

We have already heard of how John the Baptist recognized his smallness in the light of the greatness and superiority of Jesus Christ, saying the he was not even worthy to unlatch His shoes and that the baptism that Jesus would bring would be one not of water, but of fire and of the Holy Spirit. He had pointed to Jesus (as recorded in John 1:29,36) as the One who would be the Saviour of the world and as a result of seeing and hearing Jesus, the first disciples began to follow Jesus.

John had opened his ministry with the words Repent all of you, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Jesus begins His ministry to and for the world similar words but adds significant words to His proclamation of grace: The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of heaven is at hand, repent and believe the Gospel. He adds that the kingdom is now here present in Himself, therefore repent by turning from self and turn toward the divine grace of forgiveness. Believe that which has been accomplished for from before the foundation of the world for YOU! Let me put a few scriptures in front of us here in order to establish that which was just written.

1 Peter 1:19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

Matthew 25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

There are really two parts to this short scripture passage, the first part which is turning from self, sin and shame and turning towards Jesus Christ in faith is the first and foremost. Only after coming to know and experience the forgiveness of sins through faith will the second part have any meaning or application toward or for us. I am not sure how one does justice to trying to explain what a huge announcement this was the Jesus proclaimed!! How could we pass on that which we have not received?

We note that it is only after His first announcement that Jesus calls the disciples to leave their nets and to follow Him, with the promise that by following Him they would become fishers of men. We read on….

16 Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
17 And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.
18 And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.
19 And when he had gone a little further thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets.
20 And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.

There are very few words written here in these verses, but which contain
a whole lot of stuff. It is difficult to imagine this happening when we take it at face value and are not able to see into the minds and hearts of those who were called out of their regular work places of life. We realize that these men were going to eventually be named as part of the original 12 and that this was the beginning of their ministerial training as they would be the ones that moved the Church of Jesus Christ forward after Jesus’ work was done here on earth.

So let us think about how this applies to us today. As Christians we are partakers of the Gospel through which we receive the knowledge and experience of the forgiveness of our sins, (Eph 1:7) we are indwelt by God Himself through His Spirit (Eph 2:21-22) and we are one in the body of Jesus Christ. His Body has only one Head, Jesus Himself, but many members which are designed to work for the collective benefit of the body for the purposes of the mission of God to the world. (1 Cor 12:7) (Eph 4:12)

KJV Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus Christ? Apostle Paul answers that question by calling us all to work in a suitable manner in the vocation that we have been placed or called into.

What does it mean?

For the children?
For the single folk?
For the young families?
For the middle aged?
For the elders?

In general, there are similarities between a church family and a blood family in that there is a growth process that occurs in both. In a blood family, as one grows in age and maturity one takes on more responsibilities and therefore participates in the family. Likewise in a church family, as one grows in maturity (or spiritual age) one begins to participate more in the body of Christ in the local church.

In parenting, one is training and teaching children in order that growth would be progressive to the point where one day the children would be on their own and at some point they as adults would have their own family to love and to nurture. In the church it is the same, as generations come and go, there is that same process so that the church family would continue generation after generation.

May we be learners of Jesus Christ as we continue along with Him in our vocations by applying His teachings to our lives so that we would not only be demonstrate who He is by our attitudes, convictions, actions and words.

May He help us to that end, Amen!

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 21 Jan 2018 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Come and See John 1.29.51
Good morning, dear friend!

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of the Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you now and always, Amen!
May the we hear the Word this day as is brought to us through the Word of God, who spoke all things into being (John 1:3) and who is God and has always been God and will always be God, the person of Jesus Christ. (Rev 1:8) We read from the first chapter, verses 29-51, in Jesus name.

From the Gospel of John we will hear of the beginning of the church, which is through the calling of some of the disciples of Jesus. In this account is demonstrated of the different manner in which people are brought to the knowledge that Jesus Christ is the Saviour, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Preaching of Christ
John 1:36 And (John) looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!
37 And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.
38 Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou?
39 He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour.

Andrew and an unnamed man, after hearing the very short and succinct sermon of John the Baptist followed Jesus. Jesus took notice of them following him, which meant that they left off following John the Baptist. He invited them to come and see where He lived and stayed there with Him as it was getting later in the day. (10th hour in Jewish time is 4 pm.

Personal Invitation
40 One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.
41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.
42 And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.

Andrew found his brother, Simon Peter, telling him that we have found the Christ, not just telling him about Jesus, but brought him to Jesus. At which time, Jesus spoke into the future life of Peter and of his role in the church.

Andrew and his unnamed partner heard the proclamation of John the Baptist and followed Jesus.

Andrew then brought his brother Simon Peter to Jesus, telling him that they had found the Christ.

43 The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me.
44 Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.
45 Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.

Jesus continued in His seeking worshippers of God (John 4:23) and found Philip, who after being invited to follow Jesus went and found Nathanael. How did Nathanael respond to the message of Philip?

46 And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.

Encounter with Jesus
47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!
48 Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.
49 Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.
50 Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these.
51 And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.

Preaching of Christ
Personal Invitation to see Christ
Divine revelation by Christ

In my preparations to share this passage this week, I thought of my own experience and of how I have come to follow Jesus. As I look at the three illustrations in this text, I would say that it has been a combination of the three, with the short message of John being the foundation of all of them: Behold, the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world! It is good to think of these encounters, which are not so much as a one time happening, but in reality are continual occurrences the occur in our lives as we journey through life.

What has been your experience? I would love to hear of not only how Christ has revealed Himself to you, but of how He is continually showing Himself to you……

This week I listened to the Voice of the Martyrs radio show in which one of the VOM personnel related the following story which relates to how Jesus ministered to Nathanael. I was visiting a man in Iran in a remote village who when we came there said that he had a story and wanted to know if the VOM worker could help him understand what it was all about.

A man with long hair in white clothes whose face was so bright I could not look at it came into my house every night for around 30 days and asked me to write the things down that he spoke. I write as he told me, so much that I got tired as he told me so much that I would fall asleep and the man would be gone when I awoke.

The VOM asked to see the notebook that was being written in. As he opened it he read, In the beginning was the Word, the Word was God and the Word was with God. The notebook contained the entire book of John, but the man did not understand what it was about. The VOM worker had photos of the notebook to verify. Wow, wow, wow!

Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Come and See!

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 14 Jan 2018 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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Following Jesus 1.21.2018
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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The Lawry Kilpela family as they grieve but yet rejoice in Lawry's being called home.