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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Epiphany through Crisis 1/05/2013
On January 6th, the church celebrates Ephiphany, which commorates the visit of the Wisemen who followed the star from the east in order to find the One who was born the King of the Jews. This word is defined as meaning "a showing of a supernatural or divine reality," or a great or sudden revelation. This commemoration is applied to the revealing of Christ to the Gentiles throught the visit of the Magi, The Wisemen.

In our text from the first book of the Bible, Genesis, chapter 32, we observe Jacob seeking to be reunited with his brother Esau who had vowed to kill Jacob for taking the first born blessing from him. It had been many years since he had left his home area and now as he sought to meet his brother he was full of fear and worry. But he wished to be reconciled with his twin brother. This meeting was going to turn out to be one of the defining moments of his life as one of God's children.

As we learn from those who have gone before, may we be given the ability to apply these lessons into our lives today so that we may as much as is possible live at peace with all people. May we be able to say with the Psalmist David, "Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Do I, do you need an epiphany from God?

May the grace mercy and peace from God our Father and His Son our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be with you today and forever, Amen.

Nature teaches us many lessons of life and of the workings of God in our lives. We see that when it is the appropriate time that the eagle begins to break up the nest, the eaglets must wonder what is going on. As the next disappears, they are forced to take flight, which at first does not go very well, but the watchful eagle soars below them to catch them each time they fall until they soar on their own.

Jacob had lived 20 years in a strange land, he was becoming comfortable in the strange land he lived in and his family was becoming affected or would be, so it was time to have his nest stirred up.

This stirring can come in various ways: A stirring by the Holy Spirit, a feeling of restlessness, changing of outward circumstances such as economic distress, diminishing support for one and their family, with all these often times being orchestrated by God so that He may bring one into a place of a greater knowledge and experience of His love and care in the forgiveness of our sin.. He often times needs to change our physical location in order to give us the ability to be able to cling to him rather than resist him. We resist Him by continuing to cling to our own abilities and do not cling to Him as He wishes we would do. Often times what is needed is a crisis of some sort in order to make a major change in our attitudes and behaviors.

In the case of Jacob, we see the seeds of this crisis are sown in the 31st chapter of Genesis.


KJV Genesis 31:1 And he heard the words of Laban's sons, saying, Jacob hath taken away all that was our father's; and of that which was our father's hath he gotten all this glory.
2 And Jacob beheld the countenance of Laban, and, behold, it was not toward him as before.
3 And the LORD said unto Jacob, Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee.

Here a very brief summary of the life of Jacob would be appropriate to consider.

Jacob and Esau
It was prophesied that the older, Esau, would serve the younger, Jacob.
Esau sold his birthright to Jacob
Jacob and his mom tricked Esau out of the first born blessing.

As a result, Esau looked for the day to get even with Jacob by killing him. Rebekah, their mother told Jacob to go away and she would let him know when Esau's anger would be not longer against him. Genesis 27:45

Rebekah did not want Jacob to marry one from Canaanites, shared this with Isaac and he counseled his son to not marry from the Canaanites, but to go to find a wife in the land where his uncle Laban lived. Jacob listened to this counsel and went accordingly, but Esau watching all this went to find a wife from the tribe of Ishmael as if to spite his father.

Along the way Jacob lay down to sleep and had a dream through which he was encouraged by the Lord of His faithfulness and that all that He had promised in the life of Jacob would come to pass. I place here a portion of that meeting in the dream...

Genesis 28:10 And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran. {Haran: Gr. Charran}
11 And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep.
12 And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.
13 And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;
14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. {spread...: Heb. break forth}
15 And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.


He then met Rachel, worked seven years in order marry her, but on the wedding night, her sister was sent into the marriage chamber which Jacob discovered in the morning. He was told that he would have to work another seven years for Rachel, which he did and he married her while Leah remained his handmaiden. For Laban said, "In our country, it is not right to give the younger before the firstborn."

He fathered children through Leah, Bilhah, Zilpah,and Rachel, grew very rich and then came the time to return home and to the land of Esau.

Now Jacob obeys the command of the Lord to return to his homeland, where his brother Esau lives........On the way, he was strengthened by angels...the host of God

KJV Genesis 32:1 And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him.
2 And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God's host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim. {Mahanaim: that is, Two hosts, or, camps}

KJV Genesis 27:45 Until thy brother's anger turn away from thee, and he forget that which thou hast done to him: then I will send, and fetch thee from thence: why should I be deprived also of you both in one day?

Was his brother still out to get him? That we do not know, so Jacob acts accordingly, by showing his willingness to reconcile with his brother through the offering of gifts.

3 And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the country of Edom. {country: Heb. field}
4 And he commanded them, saying, Thus shall ye speak unto my lord Esau; Thy servant Jacob saith thus, I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed there until now:
5 And I have oxen, and asses, flocks, and menservants, and womenservants: and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find grace in thy sight.

The messengers returned with the news that Esau was coming to meet him with a whole bunch of men, which caused fear and distress to Jacob. He concocted a plan to make the best out of a potentially poor situatiion.

6 And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother Esau, and also he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him.
7 Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed: and he divided the people that was with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, into two bands;
8 And said, If Esau come to the one company, and smite it, then the other company which is left shall escape.

Jacob prayed, remembering the Promise.
9 And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the LORD which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee:

Considered himself as unworthy before God
10 I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands.

Asked the Lord for His deliverance
11 Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children. {with: Heb. upon}
12 And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.

Jacob prayed, then planned....
13 And he lodged there that same night; and took of that which came to his hand a present for Esau his brother;
14 Two hundred she goats, and twenty he goats, two hundred ewes, and twenty rams,
15 Thirty milch camels with their colts, forty kine, and ten bulls, twenty she asses, and ten foals.
16 And he delivered them into the hand of his servants, every drove by themselves; and said unto his servants, Pass over before me, and put a space betwixt drove and drove.
17 And he commanded the foremost, saying, When Esau my brother meeteth thee, and asketh thee, saying, Whose art thou? and whither goest thou? and whose are these before thee?
18 Then thou shalt say, They be thy servant Jacob's; it is a present sent unto my lord Esau: and, behold, also he is behind us.
19 And so commanded he the second, and the third, and all that followed the droves, saying, On this manner shall ye speak unto Esau, when ye find him.
20 And say ye moreover, Behold, thy servant Jacob is behind us. For he said, I will appease him with the present that goeth before me, and afterward I will see his face; peradventure he will accept of me. {of me: Heb. my face}
21 So went the present over before him: and himself lodged that night in the company.
22 And he rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two womenservants, and his eleven sons, and passed over the ford Jabbok.
23 And he took them, and sent them over the brook, and sent over that he had.

Like anyone of us, he had prayed, but what was his motive in making all the plans to go to meet Esau. Was he making himself a backup plan? Maybe he was, like any of us do and will do due to our inability to trust God in all things. But wait, what happens next?

In the Night, Alone
24 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.

The conflict was initiated by the 'man', and not by Jacob. God came to him in his solitude. He was there alone and the 'man' came to him. Are there yet things that the Lord wants to show us that are idols in our heart and he wants to take them from us? Things that we are clinging to through which we trust in ourselves.

Peter was told by Jesus that he had gone through this experience, that when he was young he did what he wanted to do, but now in his later years, he is carried about by Another.

John 21:18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.
19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.

When God wants to bring us into a greater place of dependence upon Him, He may choose to touch us someplace or in an area that will cause us to quit resisting and to begin to cling to Him.

Jacob would not quit fighting, his thigh was touched, and Jacob begin to cling rather than fight. He yielded to the Lord. Oh, Lord, what sinew is causing me to think that I can stand by myself? Oh, Lord, show me, take it from me, open my eyes.....


25 And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.
26 And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.
27 And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob.

The name Jacob means supplanter, heel holder
28 And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. {Israel: that is, A prince of God}


29 And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there.
30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. {Peniel: that is, The face of God}
31 And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh.
32 Therefore the children of Israel eat not of the sinew which shrank, which is upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day: because he touched the hollow of Jacob's thigh in the sinew that shrank.

Jacob was fearful of his brother Esau, he remembered God's promise in a historical sense, but a crisis was necessary to bring him to a place of personal need for the promises of God.

Then what happened? What is the rest of the story?

KJV Genesis 33:1 And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men. And he divided the children unto Leah, and unto Rachel, and unto the two handmaids.
2 And he put the handmaids and their children foremost, and Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph hindermost.
3 And he passed over before them, and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.
4 And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept.

We cannot miss the reality that initially he was in the background, but now he set all others aside and went forward to meet his brother, Esau. The crisis in the night had its fruit with Jacob. He went forth to meet his brother as a forgiven sinner and therefore had nothing to hide but wanted to restore his relationship with his brother. He no longer needed to hide. Oh, Lord, open up to us the lessons that are needful for us through the life of Jacob and Esau.........Show us, dear Lord, of the awfulness of fear, of pride, of isolation, of scheming, etc, and show us the beauty of love as it is demonstrated through openness, transparency, and honesty in our relationships.


Early this morning, my wife woke me and said that the furnace is not working. As I checked it out, I discovered that it would start and then stop. In this cold, we were quite concerned so I began to check into it and found out that that igniter had become covered by a substance that caused the main burner to flame only a few seconds. and then it would go out. After cleaning the igniter rod, the furnace began to work normally. A crisis was needed to force me to deal with the situation.


God must bring us to a place of crisis to be able to truly reveal Himself to us. This is when faith takes hold of His Promise, that we are forgiven because of Christ's obedience, for His promise never fails. We should never progress beyond our need to hear that God has forgiven us in Christ. Growing in grace is coming to a greater need of our reliance on the grace of God in Christ Jesus.

Life is a long struggle against the love of God, but God is merciful and gracious in his dealings with us. Sometimes only some sort of crisis in our life will He be able to cause us to stop clinging to self and cause us to cling to Him more and more, namely that we are forgiven through Christ being our Saviour. We must resist the tendency to think that we outgrow our need of forgiveness of our sins through faith in Christ.

It is His intention for our lives, that as life goes on, we cling more and more to
Him and His Promise of eternal life through the forgiveness of our sin, so that in view of eternity we can say with the Psalmist, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

May His grace be upon you today and always,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 05 Jan 2014 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Our Name is Christian 12/29/13
(Carl Aho is bringing the message this morning in our congregation, so I will share a meditation as we reflect on the wanting moments of this year and look to the new year ahead of us)


Blessed New Year to you!

Introduction

As we approach the New Year, we continue our relationship with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ through spending time with Him in prayer, with Him in His Word, with our families and with one another. As we look to the New Year with its joys, challenges, sorrows and worries, may it be that as we grow in the grace and knowledge of God through His Son, we would be assured, we would be encouraged and we would be strengthen in the reality of who we are in Him. For our knowledge and experience of who we are in God's sight has great signficance and meaning in our lives as we live them out in the coming year and into the future.

Financial and Economic woes, family sickness and or death, struggling or broken relationships, uncertainty of one's future vocation or job, worries about children and grandchildren's futures and so on. There are many things to think about, to pray about and to wait upon the Lord for Him to show the way and work out the future.

Martin Luther understood the importance of trusting in God as opposed to trusting and depending on man as he struggled to bring change and correction to the Catholic church in the 1500s. As through money the leader of the church was trying to influence him back to the church, Martin's reply was brought back to the Pope.

"The fool, referring to Martin Luther, does not love gold." Then Martin was told, "Why do you think that the Pope cares for the opinions of a German boer? The Pope's little finger is stronger than all Germany. Do you expect your princes to take up arms to defend you? I tell you no. And where will you be then?

Luther replied in a simple way. "Where I am now. In the hand of Almighty God."

In our text today from the Old Testament Prophet Isaiah, we find some valuable encouragement and instruction. Previous to this portion of the Scripture (Isaiah 61:10-62:5) Isaiah has spoken of the Servant Jesus, pointed to His mission and showed the Israelite people of their restoration from the captivity that they had been in due to their disobeying God'. As a result of this Good News, their response was that they rejoiced in the Lord and they were joyful in him for what He had done for them.

To understand this text, we must understand the parallel that exists between Israel being delivered from physical captivity and our being delivered from captivity of sin. Both of the responses are understandable by us today. We could outline this text in the following manner.

1. God has delivered us in Christ, clothed us in the beauty of His righteousness

2. We rejoice in this personal knowledge and experience it corporately

3. God gives us a new name and greatly rejoices in His relationship with us.


1. God has delivered us in Christ, clothed us in the beauty of His righteousness

61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.

We have been covered with the perfect covering that is needed for our sin, the robe of the righteousness of Jesus Christ, therefore we greatly rejoice!!! We see this also referred to in the book of Revelation.

Revelation 7:9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;
10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,
12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.


2. We rejoice in this personal knowledge and experience it corporately

As a result of being blessed by God through Jesus Christ, we ourselves become blessers of other people, in that the kingdom of God grows as the seed sprouts, either as in a tree, in a garden or in an orchard.

11 For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.

A good friend asked me this question in relation to seeds and their mulitiplication. He asked me: "How many seeds are in an apple? I replied, "Only so many." Then he asked, "How many apples trees are in an apple? I thought about it and said, "There are many as long as they are planted and growing. Jesus alluded to this in Matthew's Gospel:

Matthew 13: 31 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:
32 Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

Carrying a ton
When we hosted our annual convention here in 2009, I recall Pastor Saitijoki illustrating this very clearly by speaking of the time when he was walking with his son who was carrying some small seedlings on their way to plant them. He told his son that he was carrying 2000 pounds of trees. His son looked at him with a question in his eyes as to how that could be. His father went on to explain to him that these small trees would eventually grow to be large trees once they were planted.

So far in this text the focus has been on God's action for us, our response to Him and the blessing that comes upon others through us.


3. God gives us a new name and greatly rejoices in His relationship with us.

KJV Isaiah 62:1 For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.
2 And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name.
3 Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.
4 Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.
5 For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.


This next part seems to focus more on how God sees us. We often see ourselves in our poorness and project that opinion of ourselves onto God. We learn from our youth of the fickleness of love, for we remember sitting in the grass using a clover to decide if our latest girlfriend or boyfriend loves us or not. "She love me, she loves me not, she loves me, she loves me not. Is that how God's love is toward us. But is that right? Does He see us as we see ourselves? No, He does not. Again, who is speaking here? Is is God, Is it Jesus?

KJV Isaiah 62:1 For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.
2 And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name.

The Gospel text for today is found in Luke 2:21-40 and concerns Jesus's circumcision and the giving of His name, Mary's purification, and the testimonies of Simeon and Anna. He was named with the name that the angel told them was to be his name before he was born. He was given the name of Jesus which means Jehovah is salvation.

Names in the Bible are significant. Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah,

KJV Genesis 17:5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.

KJV Genesis 17:15 And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be.

Names has signficance in our day, but maybe not to th extent that they did in times past.
When God changed the name of Abraham and Elizabeth, the change reflected who they would be in His plan.

In the New Testament, we see a name change in Peter's life.

KJV John 1:42 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.

What is that new name that He has given us?
What is your name? Is it not Christian. We all have our familial names and our first names which determine to a large part of who we are today. We are born into a family which our last name reflects, but the first name is often given us by our parents and it reflects that which they desire us to be. Our name may be given us from a "so called names for babies" book or we may be named after someone our parents admired and to some degree desire that we would grow up to be like that person.

Illustration
My father named me after a co worker in a factory. I learned early on in my life that it was not a name that everyone liked, but through an experience at one of my first jobs, I was given the wisdom to know that the person makes the name and that the name does not make the person. I was hired on to a crew and when the foreman asked me what my name and after I told him Orval, he said something not nice about my name, in fact, he was quite mean! He asked me what my middle name was and I told him Andrew, (I am named after my Grandfather's brother, Andrew)

For six months he called me Andy, which was at first kind of hard to get used to, but after awhile it was okay. I remember kind of wondering about why he would not like my given name, but beyond my comprehension I was given the wisdom to simply work hard for him as part of the team and be Andy. One day he started calling me Orval, nothing was ever said by anyone, and life went on. I do not know what trait my father saw in the Orval at the factory, but I did know at that time that I did not have to let the rudeness and lack of tact by my foreman define and determine who this Orval would be. He could call me Andy all he wanted to, but I would be the one who God had made me to be...
which brings us back to the question: What is my name? What does God call me?

What name has He given us? Christian! Why does He give us that name? Because we have been purchased by His Son and now we united in Him and are called by our right name: Christian or Christ's own.

As we know names have meanings but God does not really see us as individuals, but He sees us in His Son Jesus Christ. As individuals we really cease to exist as we become part of the body of Jesus Christ. Who we are is defined and determined by how we live in the community of others through love, and not so much of how we act individually or separate from community. By community, we mean our connections with other people.

1 Corinthians 12:12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

How much does God rejoice over us?

First of all, we recognize that this is a difficulty for us, to live in this knowledge that God indeed loves us and rejoices over us. Here are a couple of references which show us this.

KJV 1 John 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.


1 Cor 13:9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Micah spoke of our God in the following manner, God Himself spoke from heaven concerning His pleasure in His Son at Jesus' baptism and Jesus refects of the relationship that He and His Father share, desiring that we would share in the joy of that love.

KJV Micah 7:18 Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.

KJV Matthew 3:17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

John 1726 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.


God said after he created humanity that it was very good,(Gen 1:31) and even though humanity was tarnished by the fall into sin, nevertheless, we are created in the image of God. God has not changed his mind and said we are bad, or evil. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus and in Him He has great joy in His relationship with us. Often times at the beginning of the New Year, we are looking for ways to improve ourselves in various ways, and that is good. But in this sermon we are focusing of the love that God has for us, the pleasure and joy that He has in our relationship. It is not based on our performance, but it is based on His performance.

He continually points us to how He has made us new through Jesus' work for us and calls us to live in that secure relationship. Through His Word He continually brings us back to that place, of living in the grace of the this relationship and following Him in His Word.


But what about when we have forgotten that we Christ's and have forgotten that our name is Christian? And we have found ourselves in the far country, far from home? He is seeking, He is waiting and watching for His creation to return/to come to Him. What about our loved ones? What about those who seemingly are happy being in the "far country?" What does God think of us/them? God loves us, is seeking, is waiting and watching for us/them to come home. Let us note the joy that is experienced by the three different situations in Luke 15 upon their being found and coming to their right name again.


KJV Luke 15:7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

KJV Luke 15:10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

KJV Luke 15:32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

Two stories which illustrate God's grace and love for us.

Recently I heard a minister share at the on this parable which is commonly called the parable of the prodigal son, but it seems more fitting to refer to it as the parable of the compassionate and gracious seeking Father. After the minister had explained this parable of how the younger son left His Father's house and went his own way, but over time remembered His Father's house and returned there where he was welcomed and rejoiced over by everyone but his older brother, he gave a personal illustration of his experience.

He stated that he had grown up in the church, had been faithfully attending over the years, but his sister had gone into the world's ways. One night she knocked on the door, their father opened it and seeing her father, she cried, "Father, I have no place to go, I need to come home." At which her Father opened his big arms of love and embraced her pulling her inside their home. At which this minister, then young man of nineteen, challenged his father and said, "Father, you cannot take her in, she is a sinner." His dad replied, "You do not understand, she is my daughter and she will always be my daughter, I love her."

A recent personal experience
For a number of years I have wanted a GPS and this year I received one for Christmas from my daughter and her family. One programs a destination and the device will lead one to that point through visual and audio means. What has struck me with this device is that regardless of how many times one goes contrary to the instructions, one does not hear or heed the directions, the computerized voice recalculates a new route to get to the programmed destination. For me it has been an illustration of the relationship of grace that we enjoy in Jesus Christ, in that He always points us to Himself through His Word, not wanting us to lose our way, but to keep returning to Him. Therefore, I have named my GPS "Gracey" She reminds me that my name is Christian first of all, because of God's grace and mercy through His Son Jesus Christ.

May the Lord grant us the privilege of growing in His grace and knowledge as we continue in our relationship with Him.

Revelation 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Your/our name is Christian and may we not forget that!


Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 29 Dec 2013 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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Epiphany through Crisis 1/05/2013
- 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.
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