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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Pastor's Blog

Living in the Power of Christ's Resurrection 4/27/2014
Dear friend,

Whether we are young, middle aged or elderly, we have experienced struggles, we experience them today and we will experience them in the future. Being a Christian does not mean that we are free from struggles, but that through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit we by the grace of God through faith, live in victory in the times of trouble and struggle..We live as victors/conquerors through Him who loved us and has given Himself for us. We do not live as victims, and in so doing blame our past, blame our circumstances or blame others for our situation in life today. In our early years of life, it is difficult to understand this reality, and even when we are older, it is difficult to understand how everything works.

Today, one week after celebration the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (as well as ours too) we will take a look at the post resurrection life of Apostle Peter, whom was seen by Jesus after His resurrection. We will use Peter's first epistle to do so, before we do so, it would be beneficial for us to understand a little bit of the writer's life and experience. We understand that the Scripture is written by God Himself, but nevertheless human personality and experience have entered into the letters that have been written by various writers of Bible books. But we must be clear in our understanding that only the 66 books of the Bible are considered as the Word of God. Many other writings have been written that contain the personalities and experiences of Christian people throughout the ages, but only the Bible is to be honored as the Word of God. The Word of God must always take precedence over any other writings.

After Peter met Jesus, he was given a name change. He was known as Simon the son of Jona, but Jesus told him that he would be called Cephas, or Peter in the future. (John 1:42) Jesus was looking into the future of Peter's life and was prophesying of the life that he would come to know as a result of having an encounter with Jesus that one day. He was forever changed as a result of that meeting, but it was not without testings, trials and troubles. Even though Peter was a headstrong, impulsive and quick to speak individual, through the love, patience, and guidance of Jesus, he came to understand, to experience and to live in the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is what transformed Peter. He had a living hope in Jesus. But let us look at how he got there before we read our text.
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus had spoke to his hearers of the nature of the Kingdom that He had brought to the world, in that personal suffering will result as part of being His follower. (Matthew 5:1-12) After Jesus appointed the twelve disciples/apostles, He again told them that suffering and rejection would be a part of their life should they continue with Him. (Matthew 10:1-2; 16-18) Even by being with Jesus, hearing Him speak of His mission for the world and watching His healing ministry, Peter did not understand the nature of the kingdom that Jesus had brought, and therefore he/Peter, did not relate the suffering of Christ with the glory of Christ.

His thinking and actions remained earthly, fleshly and man centered. He thought with and acted upon his human thinking which ultimately resulted in Peter disowning Jesus during the trial of Jesus. He had vowed that he would even if it meant dying for Jesus, he would, but when it came to the time to do that, Peter denied Christ three times. But Jesus never gave up on Peter, for He saw more in Peter's life than Peter himself did.

It was after the resurrection of Jesus that he was restored to by Jesus and was given a ministry of teaching and preaching, being asked by Jesus to feed his lambs and sheep. It was during that time of ministry that Peter then wrote two letters to the scattered Christian of those days. Tradition teaches us that when it came time for Peter to lay down his life by crucifixion, he asked that he be crucified upside down as he felt unworthy to die in the same manner that his Lord had died. What a change came into the life of Apostle Peter.

As we approach out text from the first few verses of his first letter. let us note of how Peter went from one who was self confident in his own abilities to one who depended upon the faithfulness of God toward Him. As we listen to the words that Peter wrote under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, let us hear of the change that came upon Him due to the influence of Jesus in his heart, his mind and in his life.

He went from one who thought that suffering was not a part of being a follower of Jesus to one who laid down his life for the Gospel's sake and ultimately for His Lord's sake. As we consider the transformation that came upon Peter as a result of being touched by Jesus Christ, may we continue to live in the hope that the resurrection has brought us, and as we hear the Lord's teaching concerning life's issues, may we come to understand in a greater way that suffering for the right causes brings rejoicing. May our journey along with Christ through the pen of Peter bring us fresh insight and knowledge concerning this truth.

I. Introduction
KJV 1 Peter 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

II. Born to a Living Hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

III. Our attitude in life because of this hope and our expectant victory through faith.

6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

IV.. Salvation Prophesied
10 Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:
11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.
12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.

Peter introduces himself, tells us who he is writing to, and then gives the basis of his letter. We are chosen in Christ, on the basis of His atonement and as a result we are set apart through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. This is all according to the mercy of God, and we have this lively hope because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. This lively hope will not perish, will not be defiled and will never fade away, for it is reserved in heaven. When our treasure is laid up in heaven, moth and rust are not able to corrupt it. It is like it is kept under guard, and it is not dependent on our keeping it safe. God does that. For in verse 5 we read that God is the one who is guarding our treasure through faith. We are trusting Him and not ourselves. Can we read between the lines here and see that Peter could have been thinking how that it took him awhile to see that it is God's faithfulness that keeps us and not our own?

Peter than tells us that because we have this lively hope due to the resurrection of Christ from the dead, that we are to rejoice even when we are grieved by our trials. He goes onto compare the proving/testing process of our faith with the natural process that is used to purify gold, saying how much more precious the soul refining process is.

He encourages them to hold tight to faith and trust, for even if they have not seen Him, they yet love him. He goes on to say that even though they do not see him, they yet are rejoicing with joy unspeakable and full of glory. They are praising him in their troubles and trials, for they see the purpose of them. And then Peter says: You live in faith today, for by faith you are able to see the victory that now is promised, but then will be sight!

The last part of our text speaks to the truth that prophesy had pointed to this day, for in the prophets had seen the shadows and types of the coming Christ, the Messiah. They had written of the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow, the glory that Peter was now pointing out to his hearers as he spoke to them of Christ. He went on to say that the prophets were actually serving them in the present day, and the Gospel that Peter was preaching to them now was with the Holy Spirit, a manisfestation which the angels longed to look into. We might conjecture here as to what this means by saying that since the "good" angels have remained in their pure state, how much did they grasp of the redemptive work of the Father, the Son and the Spirit. They have never fallen.......we have, but we have been raised by Him.......

As I have thought of Peter's experience through the years, one thing has continually caught my attention in his writings. He never (as least I have not seen it) looks at his failures of the past, but dwells on that which raised him out of his sin: The death and the resurrection of Christ. He lifts up the grace of God through the suffering of Christ, placing the glory/honor of God on the same level as His sufferings.

There is a lot to think about here, since Peter went from thinking that suffering was repulsive to the understanding that it was part of the honor and glory of Christ and therefore it is a joyful part of being a Christian. Oh, Lord, please clear away the blindness that prevents us from seeing this reality, so that we may even in the midst of trials rejoice, even in tears, in the hope of glory, Jesus the Christ....

May the Lord bless our meditations in His Word this day by His grace.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 27 Apr 2014 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
He is Risen! He is Risen, Indeed!! 4/20/2014

On this Resurrection morning, we rejoice in this reality, that He who died now lives and, because He lives we live. We who were broken and dead due to our fall into sin in the Garden of Eden have been put back together again and brought to life by the love of God. On this Resurrection Morning, may we be renewed in the knowledge of what it means that He lives. Because He lives, we live. Because He lives, you/I are forgiven.

Now on this early morning after the Sabbath, it was quiet and it was now going on the third day since the one who called Himself the Son of God had been put into a tomb. Those who knew of the teachings of this man they called Jesus knew that He had predicted on numerous occasions that on the third day after His death, He was going to rise again. They placed a stone over the opening of the tomb and guards at the site to stop him from rising again as He had predicted He would.

Now may we read the text that we have designated for today, which is from John's Gospel.

KJV John 20:1 The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.
2 Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.
3 Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre.
4 So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.
5 And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in.
6 Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie,
7 And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.
8 Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.
9 For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.
10 Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.
11 But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,
12 And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
13 And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.
14 And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.
15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.
16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.
17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.

We all like reality shows, wherein we are able to identify with real people in real life situations. That is exactly what we have before us. Jesus is in the forefront as usual, then we have Mary Magdalene, Apostle Peter and Apostle John.


Apostle John.

Not much is said about John, other than in verse 8 where it is written that "he saw and believed." He saw the empty tomb and that was enough for him, "he saw and believed."



Mary Magdalene

From verses 1-2, 11-18 there is much about Mary Magdalene, who was the first one to the tomb. Jesus had cast seven devils out of her earlier in her life.

Mary came to the tomb while it was yet dark, saw the stone rolled away, ran away from there to tell Peter and John, "They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him. "

Moving down to verse 11, we see that Mary remained at the tomb, weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,

12 And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
13 The angels spoke to her: Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.

Mary, apparently did not yet understand that Jesus had arose as He had said He would, did not see past her grief. For she did not seem to be affected by the angels in the tomb, one at the head of where Jesus had lain and the other at His foot. All Mary seemed to see is that the One who had brought her deliverance from sin and to freedom to live was dead and she did not know where He was. She was broken hearted, she wept. She turned away from the tomb and looking the other way, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.

Mary was despondent on the first Easter morning, even though all of creation had rejoiced in its Creator being raised from the dead. As the earth had quaked at His giving up of His life, now again the earth shook and quaked at His resurrection., the trees, rocks, plants and all of nature praised their Creator on Easter morning. It was as if the creation could not keep still at the great work that its Creator had accomplished for the redemption and life of fallen mankind! The creation was praising its Creator

But Mary was not there yet. As she turned away from the bright and shining angels in the tomb, she saw the gardener standing there and through her weeping and grief heard him ask two questions:

Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?

Her Saviour was speaking to her, but she did not recognize His voice yet as all she saw was a gardener of the earth, an ordinary man. She responded by telling him that "Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away."

Jesus chose the moment to speak the words into her heart that would open her eyes so that she would see things as they really are. He waited, first asking her to reveal the state of her heart to Him, even though He knew it.

At this point, Jesus opened up her heart by speaking into her innermost being, by calling her by her name: "Mary" To which she responded, "Rabboni," an endearing term for Master."

Mary went from weeping and a sense of lostness to utter rapture and joy at the revelation that He is not dead, but that He lives!

All that He had said in His life is true, all that she had experienced from His grace was true, and as a result of believing it for herself she worshipped Him. She now saw Him as the Gardener of her soul. She rejoiced at His word that His Father is her Father and that His God is her God, at then at His bidding went away to tell others of what she now knew to be true.

Why are we weeping today? Who or what are we looking for?

Let us look into the empty tomb and know that He lives. Because He lives, you are forgiven!

Let us hear the words of the angels who testified that He lives. Because He lives, you are forgiven!

Let us see the True Gardener and hear His voice that speaks Life into our soul. Because He lives, you are forgiven!

Apostle Peter

And then we have Apostle Peter, oh how I see myself in him....He was one of the original 12 men that Jesus chose to travel with Him during His 3+ years on earth so that they would learn from Him as well as be the leaders in the New Testament church after Jesus was taken to heaven. Peter was a very forward person, was the spokesperson for the 12, and was very impetuous in his actions.

He was quick to stand with Jesus, to protect Jesus's honor and went even to the point to say that he would die with the Lord if that is what it took. Jesus told Peter that he would eventually disown His Lord, but Peter did not really grasp what Jesus told him, and so when it came time for Jesus to suffer and die, Peter disowned His Master, even to the point of cursing and swearing in his disowning of Him.

Peter was crushed in his disappointment of himself, for all his big talk had come to a bitter end, and besides that, now the One he trusted in was dead. What a bleak place to be for Peter. He had rejected the very One who was His Saviour!

A song writer/singer in the 80's Don Fransisco has done a good job of helping us see resurrection morning through the eyes of Peter, which allowed him to go from disappointment in himself to joy in Christ. May that be our experience also today.

He's Alive by Don Francisco 1980

The gates and doors were barred and all the windows fastened down;
I spent the night in sleeplessness and rose at every sound
Half in hopeless sorrow and half in fear the day
Would find the soldiers breakin' thru to drag us all away

And just before the sunrise I heard something at the wall
The gate began to rattle and a voice began to call;
I hurried to the window and looked down into the street
Expecting swords and torches and the sounds of soldier's feet

There was no one there but Mary so I went down to let her in;
John stood there beside me as she'd told us where she'd been.
She said "They moved Him in the night and none of us knows where;
The stone's been rolled away and now His body isn't there!"

We both ran t'ward the garden, then John ran on ahead;
We found the stone and empty tomb just the way that Mary said.
But the winding sheet they wrapped Him in was just an empty shell;
And who or where they'd taken Him was more than I could tell.

Well, something strange had happened there,
but just what I didn't know;
John believed a miracle but I just turned to go.
Circumstance and speculation couldn't lift me very high
'Cause I'd seen them crucify Him, then I saw Him die.

Back inside the house again the guilt and anguish came;
Everything I'd promised Him just added to my shame.
When at last it came to choices, I denied I knew His name;
And even if He was alive, it wouldn't be the same

But suddenly the air was filled with a strange and sweet perfume;
Light that came from everywhere drove shadows from the room.
Jesus stood before me with His arms held open wide;
And I fell down on my knees, and just clung to Him and cried.

He raised me to my feet and as I looked into His eyes,
Love was shining out from Him like sunlight in the skies
Guilt in my confusion disappeared in sweet release
And every fear I'd ever had just melted into peace

CHORUS
He's alive! He's alive, He's alive and I'm forgiven!
Heaven's gates are open wide:
He's alive, He's alive, oh He's alive and I'm forgiven
Heaven's gates are open wide
He's alive, He's alive, hallelujah He's alive


Yes, my dear friend, He is alive and you are forgiven. Believe that today to your soul's peace and joy in what the love of God has done for you through Jesus Christ.

Let us rejoice in His saving grace and share this good news with others, for heaven is big enough to hold all those that God has created. He has not created anyone for death, but He has created all for Life.

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 forever, Amen.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 20 Apr 2014 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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Living in the Power of Christ's Resurrection 4/27/2014
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala


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