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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The Resurrection 4/6/2014
Dear friend,

Today we are going to hear about the last sign that Jesus presented to those around him, the sign which points to Himself as being the resurrection. He was not pointing to the final resurrection that will occur when He comes for the last time, but He was declaring to Martha (and the others) of Himself being the resurrection now.

It is important for us to catch the significance of these words: "I am the resurrection, and the life, he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." One will not only live in the final resurrection, but in the present one lives. For being a partaker of the Promise through faith, because He lives, we live in the here and now. What is important for us to know is that there are two resurrections: The resurrection of Jesus from the dead and our resurrection from the dead.

Greetings of grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

We read the portion of Scripture that is our text for today, from John´s Gospel chapter 11:1-45.

Death of Lazarus
KJV John 11:1 Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.
2 (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)
3 Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.
4 When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.
5 Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.
6 When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.
7 Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again.
8 His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?
9 Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.
10 But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.
11 These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.
12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.
13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.
14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.
15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.
16 Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.

Jesus the Resurrection and the Life
17 Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.
18 Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: {about...: that is, about two miles}
19 And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.
20 Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.
21 Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
22 But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.
23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.
24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
27 She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.

Jesus Weeps
28 And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.
29 As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him.
30 Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him.
31 The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there.
32 Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,
34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.
35 Jesus wept.
36 Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!
37 And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?

Jesus raises Lazarus to life
38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.
39 Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.
40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.
42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.
43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.
45 Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. Amen. And may God add His blessing to His Word today.

The story of Lazarus can be seen as the story of Jesus, of His triumphing over death with Lazarus is the main character. Jesus is going to use Lazarus to demonstrate His power. Giving sight to the blind is one thing, but bringing a person back to life is another thing. Jesus is not doing this to demonstrate something for himself, but that those in the audience would be brought to life. It is an illustration of that which Jesus is going to do in His resurrection from the dead.

A few days ago I received the monthly mailing of the Interlutheran Theological Seminary and in it was an article written by Pastor Chuck Bylkas on this portion of Scripture. I will place it here as it gives an overview of our lesson today.

In this beautiful Gospel, we see the patience and tender compassion of Jesus as He addresses a grieving Martha. Jesus had heard that Lazarus was sick, and yet he delayed coming to Lazarus for two more days, because He knew that He would raise Lazarus from the dead. When Jesus finally arrives at Bethany, Martha anxiously comes out to meet Him. At first, Martha complains to Jesus “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” Many of us can identify with Martha’s frustration. When we experience a tragedy, such as the loss of a loved one, our first response is often to ask God “Why?” “Why did you allow this to happen? Why did this have to happen to me?”

But hidden within Martha’s complaint is a glimpse of her faith. In her very words, Martha implies “You have the power that could have prevented this from happening.” Her faith is further expressed in the next phrase “But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.” In other words, “It is not too late. You can still help us.” Jesus patiently listens to Martha and then assures her “… Thy brother shall rise again.” Martha already knows this. She knows of the great event that is promised on the last Day. “But what about the here and now? What can help me deal with the pain of this loss?”

“Jesus said unto her, I am the Resurrection, and the Life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live…” Jesus gives Martha the answer to all of her problems, even though she is asking the wrong questions. The question Martha should be asking is not what, when or why, but “Who?” “Who can help me in my time of need?” The Resurrection is not merely an event that will happen in the distant future. The Resurrection is embodied in the person who now stands before Martha. It is Jesus Christ Himself. He is the One who shed His Blood on Calvary’s cross for the forgiveness of our sins. He is the One who swallowed up death in victory. He is the One who continues to help us in every time of need. All those who by faith embrace the Crucified and Risen Lord Jesus have life; right here and right now. May God grant us grace to continue believing in the One who is the Resurrection and the Life.

Yours in Christ,
Pastor Chuck Bylkas


John 11:38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.
39 Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.
40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.
42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.
43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.


The Two Resurrections: Christ's and by faith: Ours
45 Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Hear the voice of the Lord today, in that He speaks grace and forgiveness to you through His offering of Himself as your substitute for your sin. Believe that through the power of His name and through the shedding of His blood, that you are forgiven and that death has no power over you. Even though you may die this physical death, you will only asleep in Him until His voice again raises all humanity on the day of the final resurrection.
Cause me to come to Thy river, o Lord
Cause me to drink at Thy river, o Lord
Cause me to live in Thy river, Lord
Cause me to come.
Cause me to drink.
Cause me to live.
May that be our continual prayer, and may it also be the prayer for those who have not heard His voice of grace and forgiveness.........

Awaiting that day with expectation, joy and confidence in Him.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 06 Apr 2014 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
The Promise Keeper 3/26/2014
Dear friends,

Last week we shared of the Promise, Jesus Christ. Today I share with you concerning the promise that God gave to us and of the token that He left with us: The rainbow. This is an article that I wrote a couple of years ago so some of the details may be time dated.

Genesis 9:8 And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying,
9 And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;
10 And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth.
11 And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.
12 And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:
13 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.
14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:
15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.
16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.
17 And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.

We all have seen a rainbow at various times in our lives and quite possibly some of the memories are quite special in that the visible sign of a rainbow has come at a time in one's life that seemed to be an assurance from God of His remembrance of us. God is able to bring assurance of His presence in our lives in many ways through signs, but it is good to remember that God has spoken in the past and often has used a sign to be a token of that which He has said will happen. We need to be careful that we do not place what we deem to be a sign from God to project on God something that He has not said or promised.

As we consider this passage from the Church calender, which is designated for the first Sunday in Lent and which is paralleled by the Gospel reading from Mark which concerns the baptism and temptation of Jesus, we may get a glimpse as to why the church fathers put these two texts together. They are both like new beginnings in that our text speaks of the time after the flood when God placed Noah and his family back on the earth in order continue the Promise through Noah's seed. The beginning work of the fulfilment of the Promised One, Jesus Christ is highlighted in the Gospel text from Mark 1:9-14.

As I spent some time reading and meditating upon that which came before our reading from Genesis 9:8-17, which Moses wrote for the benefit of the children of Israel wandering through the wilderness, I was struck by the awfulness of sin in God's sight, both the judgment and mercy of God towards mankind and the faith of Noah.

In review of the history of the world, God had created all things and saw that it was good and after the sixth day saw that it was very good. He saw one thing that was not good and that was that there was no helpmeet for Adam and therefore created Eve out of Adam. He brought them together in marriage, they enjoyed perfect oneness with Him and with themselves until the serpent tempted them to sin to which they succumbed. The consequences of that fall were explained, the Promise was given and life begin on the earth from one generation to the next, but it was not going that well at all.......

The beginnings of Noah's life are seen in the following verses.

Genesis 5:25 And Methuselah lived an hundred eighty and seven years, and begat Lamech:
26 And Methuselah lived after he begat Lamech seven hundred eighty and two years, and begat sons and daughters:
27 And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died.
28 And Lamech lived an hundred eighty and two years, and begat a son:
29 And he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD hath cursed.
30 And Lamech lived after he begat Noah five hundred ninety and five years, and begat sons and daughters:
31 And all the days of Lamech were seven hundred seventy and seven years: and he died.
32 And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

This is followed by the situation into which God had prepared Noah to be his instrument to continue the Promise: (Jesus would be born in God's time)

KJV Genesis 6:1 And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,
2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
3 And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.
4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.
5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.

It would require far too much time and space to write here the thoughts and meditations that have come to me as a result of beginning to consider the rainbow and why God gave it as a sign. But I would like to make a few points that I think are significant and that relate to our lives today. For if we only look at the scriptures as a historical record and are not able to bring forth to our time and to our lives in this day, the benefit to us will not be that great.

As the sin became more grievious to God, He communicated to the saints (Methuselah, Lamech, Noah)? of that day that He was going to have to bring an end to humanity that was living outside of the Promise. There was at least one man who was living in light of the Promised Messiah and who God was going to use for His purposes:: Noah. He found grace in the sight of God. He told Noah how He was going to bring His judgment upon the earth and gave Noah a heart for the people at that time. We see this in 2 Peter 2: 5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;

It takes some time to put the numbers together in order to understand the timetable of when things occurred, but it appears that Noah did not have children as of yet when he received knowledge of God's impending judgment. He and his wife had children after they had received knowledge of the coming destruction of the world. He also had brothers and sisters who were not in the ark when it sailed.

5:32 And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

6:3 And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.

7: 6 And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth.

KJV Genesis 5:30 And Lamech lived after he begat Noah five hundred ninety and five years, and begat sons and daughters:

Superficial reading of this account of the flood from chapters 6-9 brings little benefit if one reads through quite fast. But slow contemplative reading in consideration of the wrath of God against sin, the mercy upon those who fear him, the faith of Noah who trusted in God in the Promise of Christ and of the faithfulness of Noah in following God's commands in everything that he was told to do will bring encouragement and inspiration to anyone who will do it.

God keeps His promises, both to bring judgment and to bring life. Noah received a lot of encouragement from God throughout this entire story, for he was a weak man just a like any of us. He had to have fears of what was to come, he had to have gotten terrible mockery from those who saw him building a boat on dry ground, he must have caused confusion to the mockers when he had children while preaching of the end, he must have wept over his loved ones who were outside the ark after the Lord has closed the door and as it began to rain......As Martin Luther said, we who read this without weeping have hearts of stone.........

I am overcome by this account of Moses of the wrath of God as it was poured out upon the first world.
But I am encouraged today by the rainbow, the sign of God's agreement that He will never destroy the earth again by water. I am encouraged when I look upon it because it reminds me of God's promise to us, but what is even greater are the words that Moses wrote:

KJV Genesis 9:16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.

God looks upon the rainbow and He remembers!! That is a personal and an assuring God! Can we imagine that the next time that we see a rainbow that as we look upon it that our God is also looking upon it and He is remembering.. For He promised not only that He would not destroy the earth, but if He can look upon this token, He surely looks upon the greater sign of the agreement that He made with mankind on the Garden of Eden when He promised to save us through Christ: The Cross of Christ. His Son.

I remember one time being separated from my wife by a great distance. As I missed our being together, I remember looking up at the moon and wondering if she was looking up at the same moon also remembering me. It brought peace to my heart knowing that as she looked at the moon and I looked at the moon we were united in our promise to be faithful to one another. God is faithful and may we be faithful to Him by faith.

KJV Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

He is The Promise Keeper. May we be like Noah and trust in Him even in the darkest of times in our lives!

In the hands of the Great Promise Keeper I leave you!

Pastor Orval Wirkkala



Posted on 23 Mar 2014 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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The Resurrection 4/6/2014
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala


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