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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He is risen! Yes, He is risen indeed!!
Dearly beloved, He is risen! Yes, He is risen indeed!!

As the grieving women approached the tomb where their beloved Friend and Teacher was laid after dying on the cross and as the day begin to dawn, their hearts were heavy with resignation at the loss of Jesus. But to their surprise they were met with something different than they had been expecting: The stone was rolled away from the sepulchre, and going in, they did not see Jesus' body in the tomb. As they looked on, totally at a loss of what to think, they saw two men in shining garments standing by them. Naturally fear gripped them, they bowed their faces to the earth, and then heard the angels speak to them:

"Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still alive in Galilee, saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again." As they listened, they remembered the words of Jesus. They left the tomb, rushed to tell the eleven and others what they had seen and heard at the tomb.

The apostles, even though they had been with Jesus for 3+ years, considered that which they heard from the women as nonsense and did not believe what they had been told. Peter, not one to hang back and wait for things to become clear, ran to the tomb, stooped to look into the tomb, saw the linen clothes of Jesus lying by themselves, then left the tomb, marveling at what had come to pass...........

As we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead today with great joy and happiness, we remember that we celebrate this historic happening because we believe it happened and we have become partakers in the hope of our resurrection day, the day when faith will become sight. Everything that we believe and trust in is dependent upon whether Jesus Christ arose from the dead and is alive today. If He indeed arose from the dead, then it follows that all that He did and said in His life is true. If He did not rise from the dead, then it also follows that all that He did and said is not true.

While Jesus was yet in the tomb, those who did not understand the meaning and purpose of the life of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Son of man, made provision by putting guards at the tomb and had a stone placed in the opening of the tomb in order to stop Jesus from coming out of the tomb that His dead body had been laid in, but it was all to no avail. (Matthew 27:62-66)

When He arose, the guards who witnessed the angels at the tomb went to their superiors to tell that what had happened and were told to maintain that His body had been stolen away in the night by the disciples. (Matthew 28:4,11-15)

The rejection of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is nothing new, for in our text today, which is written somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 years after this unparalleled historic event, a letter was written to a Christian congregation in which a portion addressed the topic of the resurrection from the dead. 1 Corinthians 15 is where we find this portion of God's Holy Word recorded and this chapter is unique in that is stands alone by itself in its context. It is as if he is fielding another question as he writes this portion.

The question did not so much center on the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, but more so on the question of "Is there a resurrection of the dead?" For the answer to that question drives the answer to the following questions: Did Jesus arise from the dead? Do we need to believe that He arose from the dead? Can't we be a Christian without believing that He arose from the dead?

Everything that we believe and trust in is dependent upon whether Jesus Christ arose from the dead and is alive today. If He indeed arose from the dead, then it follows that all that He did and said in His life is true. If He did not rise from the dead, then it also follows that all that He did and said is not true.

Let us hear how this question was answered by the Apostle Paul in the year 50 AD. (approximately)

KJV 1 Corinthians 15:1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. {one...: or, an abortive}
9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
11 Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.

He begins his answer by speaking of the Gospel that he received and which is defined as the death, the burial and the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. He goes onto give evidence of Jesus' resurrection by pointing out the various people who had seen Jesus alive after His resurrection, which included Himself. He then poses the rhetorical question in verse 12, then gives the consequences of no resurrected Jesus.

12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?

13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.

16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

No resurrection means that Christ is not risen, the content of our preaching is worthless, our faith has no substance, we are liars, we are yet in our sins, those who have gone on before have died in their sins, and we who are living today have only this life to live. But.....


20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.
24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.
26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

There is a resurrection from the dead, therefore Christ is risen. This means that the content of our preaching is true, our faith has as its object the person and work of Jesus Christ, we are telling the truth, we are not in our sins, those who have fallen asleep (died) before us are awaiting the resurrection from the dead, and we have a lot more to look forward to than this life.

Christ arose and He is the "first fruits" of them that slept. His unique resurrection precedes all other resurrections, for even though people have been raised from the dead previously in a physical sense, all but Jesus went back to the grave to await the final resurrection from death.

What does this mean for you, for me?

There is a resurrection from the dead, therefore Christ is risen. This means that the content of our preaching is true, our faith has as its object the person and work of Jesus Christ, we are telling the truth, we are not in our sins, those who have fallen asleep (died) before us are awaiting the resurrection from the dead, and we have a lot more to look forward to than this life.

May the words of this closing song encourage us who live in this hope and may they draw those who do not as of yet live in the joy and hope of His final return.....

The marketplace is empty,
No more traffic in the streets,
All the builders' tools are silent,
No more time to harvest wheat;
Busy housewives cease their labors,
In the courtroom no debate,
Work on earth is all suspended
As the King comes thro' the gate.

CHORUS:
O the King is coming,
The King is coming!
I just heard the trumpets sounding,
And now His face I see;
O the King is coming,
The King is coming!
Praise God, He's coming for me!


Happy faces line the hallways,
Those whose lives have been redeemed,
Broken homes that He has mended,
Those from prison He has freed;
Little children and the aged
Hand in hand stand all aglow,
Who were crippled, broken, ruined,
Clad in garments white as snow.

CHORUS:
O the King is coming,
The King is coming!
I just heard the trumpets sounding,
And now His face I see;
O the King is coming,
The King is coming!
Praise God, He's coming for me!


I can hear the chariots rumble,
I can see the marching throng,
The flurry of God's trumpets
Spells the end of sin and wrong:
Regal robes are now unfolding,
Heaven's grandstand's all in place,
Heaven's choir now assembled,
Start to sing "Amazing Grace!"

CHORUS:
O the King is coming,
The King is coming!
I just heard the trumpets sounding,
And now His face I see;
O the King is coming,
The King is coming!
Praise God, He's coming for me!

He is Risen Indeed!

May His grace rest upon and in you today.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 31 Mar 2013 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Maundy Thursday 3/28/2013
John 13:21-35

Today we celebrate what is called Maundy Thursday, (from the Latin word mandatum which means commandment) tomorrow we observe Good Friday, and on Saturday we wait for Sunday's resurrection celebration which we call Easter. The term Maundy has its origin from John 13:34 which is in the text below.


John 13: 21 When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.
22 Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake.
23 Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.
24 Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake.
25 He then lying on Jesus' breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it?
26 Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. {sop: or, morsel}
27 And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly.
28 Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him.
29 For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor.
30 He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.

This last meeting between Jesus and his disciples has progressed to the point that the betrayer, Judas, is going to be pointed out by Jesus, with only Jesus and Judas himself knowing what was underneath the interaction that was going on at the fellowship table. When Jesus made the statement in verse 21, there was a looking around as to who could do such a thing. Both John (the one whom the Lord loved), Peter and Judas are singled out here, but as already mentioned, only Jesus and Judas knew what was happening. Judas went out into the night.........

31 Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him.

Now our Lord makes a statement which is huge in meaning for us today in helping us to understand the meaning of what Jesus says concerning his new commandment. Let me say that in my studies of John's Gospel I have seen that there is a simple theme that is brought forth: Life, Light and Love. Christ is eternal which means that he has always existed as Life, he came into the world as the Light to show us the way back to God, and as a result those who come to the Light, the Love of God begins to dwell in them. Then the cycle repeats itself, we now live in Him, we walk in the Light as he is in the Light, and we love others are we are loved by God.

It was love that motivated and moved God to send his Son to this world in order to redeem us back for himself, to the desired end that all who receive this love through repentance and faith then become vessels in which Love (Christ) dwells. Jesus has not spoken much about our love for God and others to this point in John's Gospel, but has spoken and demonstrated of God's love to mankind/us. This is the glory, or the pleasure of God, to redeem sinners through His Son Jesus Christ unto himself!!!

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.

Now after demonstrating humility and love through the foot washing, he now gives them the new commandment which is contained in verse 34, going onto say that this is how Christians will be recognized by all those who observe the followers of Jesus Christ.

32 If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.
33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you.
34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Some churches practice physical foot washing before partaking of the Lord's Holy Supper as a way to foster humility before coming into the Presence of our Lord. Those who practice this testify that it works towards bringing a person into a humble and soft spirit before eating and drinking of the body and blood of Christ. In general, the men wash the men's feet and the women wash the women's feet.

I remember a few years back when I was in a prolonged stay in the hospital that a nurse washed my feet as an act of service to the Lord. She had detected that I was in need of being ministered to and asked if she could wash my feet. As she washed my feet, I saw and experienced Jesus ministering unto me through her. It was profound experience, one which I will not soon forget. To my regret, on another occasion a man asked if he could wash my feet as I was at home recuperating from another hospital visit, I declined to let him minister to myself. After thinking about it, given the opportunity again, I would not refuse his request should another occasion present itself.

As we come to the Lord's Table tonight, and as we hear the words of insitution,

1 Cor 11:24 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread,
25 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me."
26 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me."
27 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.


We remember His sacrifice for us, we celebrate His Presence with us and in us, and we proclaim his death until the day when our faith becomes sight!! Through this we are assured of his forgiveness, we are strengthened in faith and we are inspired to proclaim his death through faith and practice as we go from His Presence today.

May we love as we are loved,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala


Posted on 28 Mar 2013 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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He is risen! Yes, He is risen indeed!!
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala


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