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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Palm Sunday and Holy Week 3/29/2015
Dear friend,

(A guest speaker is preaching today, so I am placing here that which I posted last year on Palm Sunday).

Today (Sunday) is called Palm Sunday in the Christian church because of it being the day of the commemoration of entry into Jerusalem by Jesus during which palm branches were waved as Jesus entered the Holy City. It is the beginning of Holy Week which includes Maundy Thursday and Good Friday with the word Maundy pointing to the giving of the new commandment in John 13:34-35. It also marks the evening (Thursday) in which He instituted the Sacrament of Holy Communion.

This entry into the city was on the back of a donkey, precisely as Prophet Zechariah prophesied around the year 500 BC:

ESV Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Those watching Him riding on the donkey, knowing the prophecy, would have grasped the significance of his humble means of transportation as pointing to His Kingship, but they did not understand the nature of His kingdom.

This is always difficult for us, for we have no problem declaring Him as King, but do we understand the nature of the kingdom that He brought with Him? Apostle Paul clearly outlines the attitude of Jesus in a portion of one of our readings for today:

Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

What is the nature of the kingdom of God? What were the people expecting the Messiah to do? Well, for the most part, they were looking for a king who would overthrow the Roman authorities through his power of fear and dominance, so that through his life they would be freed of the oppression that they lived under. But how confused they must have been when the events later in the week showed something quite different, in that this their Hope died a terrible death on a Roman cross like any other criminal of their day. What???? How does that make any sense?

Well, those questions are why the church throughout the years has seen the importance and necessity of having a special focus on the events of the Holy Week, which Martin Luther taught as being broken down into six separate categories:

1. Passover/Institution of the Lord's Supper by Jesus
2. Jesus' suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane
3. Jesus before Caiaphas, the High Priest (ecclesiastical authorities)
4. Jesus before Pilate (civil authorities)
5. Jesus on the Cross
6. Jesus in the Tomb

The passion accounts are recorded in Matthew 26-27, Mark 14-15, Luke 22-23 and John 18-19. I have found that it is helpful to keep in mind the different phases of the passion of Jesus as I read and meditate over these scriptures and as I read other writings that are at our convenience to use as a help to give us a deeper understanding, and therefore, a deeper appreciation of the meaning of Jesus' death and burial for us.

Today we are reading three different passages which speak of the events of Palm Sunday (Luke 19: 28-48), an explanation of Christ's humbling of Himself (Philippians 2:1-11), and an account of Jesus before Pilate, His crucifixion and His death (Matthew 27:11-54) Even though we will spend some time on the account of Matthew, a large focus of today's writing will be to encourage us all to devote time to hear from the Lord about His passion for us through His giving of Himself for us.

Martin Luther also wrote that there are two main reasons to meditate on the passion of Christ during this Holy Week. He stated that we need to be reminded that His suffering was greater than any other man ever suffered, further saying that many have died on a cross, but only One has suffered under the entire guilt and condemnation of all the sin of the world, past, present and future.

Secondly, he wrote that we continually need to be reminded that through the cross heaven was opened, hell was closed and eternal life was won. What he is saying here is that we must be reminded and renewed in our knowledge of how Jesus suffered and why He suffered.

One of my mentors who is now absent from the body and present with Christ would read during this time of the year a book entitled The Suffering Saviour which was written by a German Theologian of the past, F.W. Krummacher. In this book is chronicled the events of Holy Week written in a very interesting and gripping manner for the reader. Using this book as a help is a practice that I have also tried to follow as the depth of the man's understanding is great so that there are things that he writes that I have to this day not been able to understand and grasp.

The importance of setting quiet time aside during this week to read and meditate over these scriptures along with other resources that will help us to focus on the love of God as demonstrated through the giving of His Son for us cannot be overestimated. It is important to read and to listen to what God is saying to us today through the scriptures so that our knowledge of Him is gained through the revelation of Himself through His Son, Jesus the Christ.

I pray that you will have a wonderful time during this Holy Week as you spend time with the Lord in His Word, in prayer, in conversation with loved ones about Him and His love and in the various worship services that occur during this time of the year.

Let us remember that Christ died to reveal His kingdom to the world. It was in His dying that He showed the power of God, for in His death, we were made alive. The kings of the world rule and dominate through fear and intimidation, while our King Jesus humbled Himself and allowed Himself to be killed in order to do His Father's will for our salvation.

As we read through these accounts, may we be impacted in our hearts, in our minds and in our lives as His Word sinks deep into us so that we live in this forgiveness that was won for us and live our lives in forgiveness towards others. A forgiveness which is not a burdensome task, but a forgiveness which flows out of a heart that has been so richly forgiven of all our sin through Christ's taking on Himself of all our sin.......................

Matthew 27:11-54

In quietness before Him we wish to be,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 29 Mar 2015 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
God's Glory/Legacy
Dear friend,
Grace, Mercy and Peace from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ be with you all now and forever, Amen.

Today on our journey with Jesus on the way to Good Friday and to His death and then to His resurrection unto life on Easter Sunday, we consider a portion of Scripture found in the Gospel of John. In chapter 13 begins the final days of His ministry, which includes his upper room visit with His disciples (13-17), his suffering and death (18-19), his resurrection (20) and events after his resurrection (20--21). We are going to hear of the commitment of joy that existed in the mind and heart of God the Father and God the Son in bringing salvation to fallen mankind.

We often hear of how people want to leave a legacy behind that will mark their life, which in essence would be that which they wanted to be known for as having the greatest effect upon the world that they lived in. It makes very good sense to say that the legacy of a world leader would be much more impactful than the legacy of common folk like us since many more people are affected by the decisions of a world leader than by the life we live in our particular calling/vocation in life.

What is meant by legacy? It is defined as something handed down or left with the succeeding generation, whether it is material or moral.

As we continue towards Jerusalem with Jesus on His way to glorify His Father, perhaps we could use the word legacy to help us understand a bit more of the joy of purpose in the heart of the Father and His Son as they approached the day of their collective Glory: To reconnect the world with Themselves through the death of Jesus the Christ on the cross.
This was to be the highest point/defining point/climactic point in the history of the world. It seems like we could say, it was the legacy that They wanted to leave behind for all to benefit from, for no one would be left outside of the redeeming work our Father and His Son. They want all to become partakers of Their legacy, for the inclusion of all is the greatest desire and joy of Their heart: To provide the riches of grace in giving the forgiveness of sins through Christ becoming sin for the world, One who was sinless but yet took upon Himself the entire sin debt of the world on our behalf.

Now that is a legacy, for through it we have peace and joy today and we have an expectant hope of that which is to come in heaven above!!!!!!
May we grow in our knowledge of this inheritance that is given to us through the legacy of God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! For God is glorified when we become a partaker of His legacy: The forgiveness of sins in Christ Jesus!

20 And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast:
21 The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.
22 Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.

23 And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.
24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.
26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.

In response to the question of wanting to see Jesus, the reply was given by Jesus which first spoke of His glorification which he then revealed of necessary death and resurrection by comparing it to a seed. He speaks to them of his death which He did as a result of not loving his life, but kept it unto life eternal through which all believers become partakers of the living hope of life eternal. He keeps this connection intact through verses 23-25 as the one who goes to prepare a place for those who come after Him. In verse 26 he connects the fruit of his resurrection with his initiating work by saying that serving him means following him, being a servant means that we are where he is and in serving him, his Father honors those who serve him. There would be much to say about this, but for brevity's sake, let us allow the Spirit to enlarge upon this section.

We heard in Psalm 22 of the thoughts of Jesus as prophesied by David 1000 years before, and now again we are given insight into His mind and heart.

27 Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.
28 Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.

He is troubled, agitated, as he has a foretaste of that which He will experience in the Garder of Gethsemane, which is recorded in Matthew 26:35-50 We are given insight into the humanity of Jesus as He struggles with that which He has been sent to do for His Father on our behalf. How can we understand this kind of love, of sacrifice, of devotion, of commitment? But somehow, Lord, sink it into our souls, into our heart, into our minds, into our lives of both His struggle within, but more so of His unwavering commitment to save our souls and to glorify His Father as He told His Father: "Glorify your name." In other words, allow it to be so that You would save the world through me.......

Here His Father tenderly told His Son: "I have both brought honor to my name and will do it again." His Son told His Father to glorify His name, fully knowing what it was going to require of Him.......As the Hebrew writer says in chapter 12, joy was contained in his motivation to bring glory to His Father. Those standing by heard sounds, but did not make sense out of the sound, but then Jesus explained what was going on in the entire conversation..

29 The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him.
30 Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.
31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
33 This he said, signifying what death he should die.

The devil had his plans to stop God from receiving glory in saving the world from sin and death and he actually thought by stirring up men to kill Jesus that he, the devil, would keep his position as ruler of the world, but was he mistaken!! He actually thought that he would thwart the Legacy of God through killing Him. What he thought was to his benefit, actually caused him to be dethroned for ever.

And furthermore, by the devil, whom Martin Luther called God's servant, causing Jesus to die, he was carrying out God's plan to save us. He was cast out, and Christ through being lifted up to the cross would continually draw all men unto Him. He would through His grace cause people to come to Him, not by their own will, but at the insistence of the Spirit who alone is able to draw, or to compel souls to come to Him.

Application: On Thursday, Lawry Kilpela turned 93 years old and we honor him today as one who the Lord compelled to come to Him during his confirmation years. In his testimony that he shared with us recently he wrote these words:

What can I say today as I look back on my life: I have been purchased with a precious price, the blood of Christ shed on Calvary's Cross which atoned for my sins and the sins of the world, and I have the sure hope of being in heaven forever. May we all continue to look to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith until that day when we are called to be with Him forever!

I will also share the testimony of Rachel Niskanen as shared with me by her father, Dale, who is a pastor in our ALCA Federation. Rachel is nine years old, has been blessed to be part of a wonderful Christian home, is happy and loves her family. Recently while they were at a restaurant her father noticed that she was looking sad, so he went to ask her what was wrong. She burst out crying saying that she was going to hell. Her dad reacted with, "Why do you say that?" She said, "I am a sinner." So her father, hugging her reminded her of how this is what Good Friday and Easter are all about and that through what Jesus has done, she is forgiven. After more explanations, he encouraged her that she could believe all her sins forgiven in the Name and Blood of Jesus. She then said that she believed that wonderful news and as you can imagine the moments between father and daughter when then followed would be too special to even try to describe.

Her father then told me that from that time she has begun to read the bible more than ever and it was during one of these times of being with the Lord in His Word that a photo as randomly taken which I will show now. It is not possible to post the photo in this writing, but in the service this morning, I hope to have it for all to view. What is significant about it is that the Light appears to be coming from the Bible onto a face that is sublime in appearance. She is getting much enjoyment from Christ as she receives His Life, His Light and His Love from Him through His Word. Oh, Lord, help us to receive that which you desire to pour into our hearts, into our souls and into our lives.

As you meditate upon Him today, may you be blessed even as He wishes you to be.

In Christ,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 22 Mar 2015 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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Palm Sunday and Holy Week 3/29/2015
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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2/28 7:00 pm:Lent Service
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The Lawry Kilpela family as they grieve but yet rejoice in Lawry's being called home.