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 coming again! 11/13/11
1 Thessalonians 5:11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do

Each Sunday that we come together in worship, we celebrate the victory that we live in through the finished work of Jesus Christ, for He has lived, He has died, He arose, He ascended to heaven and He is coming again! In our culture, we often view Sunday as part of the weekend and Monday as the beginning of a new week. But in reality, today is the first day of the week for it is the day of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The Russian people are reminded of this each Sunday because the translation of their word for Sunday means Resurrection. It is from this coming together in fellowship with God and Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and therefore with one another, that we are encouraged and edified to go into the new week with confidence and boldness.

We are enabled to do this because we know who we are in Christ Jesus, and this knowledge trumps any theories that our flesh, the world and the devil will try to throw at us to cause us to fear the return of Jesus Christ. God has not appointed us to wrath, but He has appointed us to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.

Today God is speaking to us out of the First Letter that Apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonian congregation. One of the primary topics that is addressed in this letter is the concern that the believers had for the second coming of Jesus Christ, for it seems that a number of them expected him to return in their lifetime. They had the same questions that we have today: When is He coming, Is He coming soon, what are the signs of His coming, what will happen to those who have died before us, what will happen to us if He comes in our lifetime, and so on. These are common questions that Christians of all time have wondered about.

We pick up this topic in chapter 4, verse 13 and it reads in this manner:

He is coming again: How?
1 Thess 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (precede) them which are asleep.
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

Here Paul addresses what is real: All believers in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ live in the expectant hope of being united with Jesus Christ upon His return, a union which will last forever. We are to comfort one another with this eventual reality, for God has said that this is what will take place.

He is coming again: When?
KJV 1 Thessalonians 5:1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.

He is coming again: Wow!
8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.
11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

In view of the fact that we are children of the light, we are called to comfort one another and to edify one another. Paul then alludes to the reality that this is not something that is new to you, for he writes that this is your manner of life in Christ today. Note how he says, "even as ye (plural) do." That is a signficant part of what is said here. Why is it so?

To comfort someone means that we come alongside them in some manner to console them, to cheer them up, to encourage them. The context points us back to the topic, that you are God's child by the work of Jesus Christ: Through faith in His promises, through the experiencing of His love in your heart and in the expectant and anticipatory return of the true lover of our soul, Jesus Christ, one lives!!! He is the bridegroom and we are the bride. We are called to remind people of God's attitude towards them as it is brought out in this text.

Secondly, we are called to edify one another, to build one another up. The Greek word used for edify is the same one that is used to refer to the building of a structure. Here it is used metaphorically to illustrate both the building up one on in the Christian graces such as humilily, love, peace, joy and so on, but it can also be understood in the sense of being built up together as members of the universal church, the body of Christ.

He encourages them to continue to live in this present world, but with a mind that is set upon the promises of God in Christ Jesus. He then builds their confidence by showing appreciation of the fact that they have been doing this and are doing it today. This type of approach is one that is well worth noting, for it is similar to how Paul approached another situation which is recorded in the book of Philemon. Here are the verses which relate to this instance. He is appealing to Philemon to take back a slave who has run away and has possibly stolen things from him in the process. Note how Paul assumes that Philemon will not only receive the slave, Onesimus, but will do even more than that. He assumes that grace will pour out of the heart of Philemon towards the one that wrong him. For Paul says, "knowing that you will do even more than I say."

Philemon 1:20 Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.
21 Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.

We might say that Paul gave Philemon a push toward the abundance of grace as opposed to the stinginess of just doing what is right. Doing right is good, but better is to extend grace and favor to others even as we have been graced and favored by God.

Jean Nidetch, a 214 pound homemaker desperate to lose weight, went to the New York City Department of Health, where she was given a diet devised by Dr. Norman Jolliffe. Two months later, discouraged about the 50 plus pounds still to go, she invited six overweight friends home to share the diet and talk about how to stay on it. Today, 28 years later, one million members attend 25,0000 Weight Watchers meetings in 24 countries every week. Why was Nidetch able to help people take control of their lives?

To answer that, she tells a story. When she was a teen-ager, she used to cross a park where she saw mothers gossiping while the toddlers sat on their swings, with no one to push them. “I’d give them a push,” says Nidetch. “And you know what happens when you push a kid on a swing? Pretty soon he’s pumping, doing it himself. That’s what my role in life isI’m there to give others a push.”

Bethany Hamilton, who is the main player in the Soul Surfer movie which details her life as a surfer who lost an arm to a shark attack, learned the reality of what it means to give encouragement, but it took years of struggle and pain for her to be able to say, "I could never have embraced this many people with two arms."

Her life is no longer hers, it is now the life of Jesus and she lives it for the sake of others. She lives in the faith of Jesus Christ; because she has been loved by God she loves others towards their souls salvation; and she lives in the expectant hope of His return.

Jesus lived, He died, He arose and He is coming again!!

May the Holy Spirit today cause our eyes to be fixed on Jesus, the Author and the Finisher of our faith. May those eyes of faith be fixed on what God has told us today so that we will bask in the love that He has given us and so that we will watch for His return even as we watch for the morning sunrise. May we say with the Apostle who John loved, who said at the end of the book of Revelation in reference to the Lord's imminent and quick return:

Rev 22:20b-21 Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 13 Nov 2011 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Heavenly Worship 11/06/2011
Dear friend and neighbor,

May the grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and His Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ be realized by us again this new day of grace!

How was your week? How did it go? How does next week look? May we be encouraged by Him today who alone is able to give us joy and hope in the midst of trials and challenges.

Our text of meditation for this writing is found in the book of Revelation, the last book in the Bible. It is the last book in the Bible, not because it is the end of all things, but because of the controversy which surrounded its being included in the church canon, ie Holy Bible. Neither Martin Luther nor John Calvin believed that it was worthy of being put into the Holy Bible, therefore one does not find much of anything written on this book by these two notable men. It is included in the canon today of the Holy Scriptures.

There are many methods of interpretation of this book and quite possibly most of us have looked at this book as one that is mysterious and is full of images of scary type of things. Is that your view of this book? It was mine for many years until I took the time to read it from the beginning. Now I have come to see that in the context of faith, it is a book of joy, encouragement and hope to believers in Jesus Christ. It was written by John the Apostle, it was written to and for the people of that time, but it is a book that has a timeless message for all people of all time.

So in considering our text today, we will start from the beginning, outline the portion that is before our text of today and then ask the Lord to give us His insight into the portion that we are considering for today.

KJV Revelation 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:
2 Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.
3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.
4 John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;
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. (So be it)
7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

These are letters of encouragement, of warning and of direction that are written to the seven churches in Asia (modern day Turkey). Of the seven churches 2 of them are in a good condition, but the other 5 are told where they lack and are called upon to repent, (i.e to change from their condition now to the true worship in Him. In the last part of chapter three, a portion of Scripture that is known by many somewhat summarizes the chapters which contain the letters to the seven churches:

Revelation 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

In chapter four, a look into the throne room of heaven is seen by John.
In chapter five, there is a continuation of the description of what John saw in heaven, but the Lamb is introduced at this point.
In chapter six, the Lamb opens the seals which describe things that happen on the earth, the voice of the martyrs who are in heaven speaks to the Lord as to how much longer things will continue. (they are they now, for there are more yet to come, it is not final)
In the beginning of chapter seven, the beginning of Christianity in the New Covenant is described through the mention of the 12 tribes of Israel and the sealing of the saved.

At this point we come to our meditation, which describes a great throng that cannot be numbered and which contains representatives of all nations, kindreds, people and languages. What a gathering that will be!! Here we praise in part, but there we will praise in complete joy!! We will be released from all the things that hold us back from truly praising our Lord!! Let us look into this beautiful promise. This is reality, this is what God says is ours.

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.

After John describes the beginning of the earthly worship of our God through the twelve tribes of Israel, he says, I saw, and lo!! A great mulititude!! Wow, there were more than he would have ever imagined!! For John has grown up in a Jewish culture that was exclusive in thinking that salvation not only came from the Jews, but was only for the Jews. In this multitude of all people, he saw in a greater way the largeness of God's heart toward the world, and quite possibly to him was opened up in a greater way the verse that we are all familiar with,

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." This vision that John saw is not only our Father's wish for the saving of the world, it is the reality of what He has accomplished, is accomplishing and will accomplish through His church here on earth.

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.
15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.

Then a question is asked of John by one of the elders (lesser leaders) to which he replies:
"Sir, you know the anwer to that question." To which the lesser leader replies: These are they who have came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

What would this tribulation/affliction be? It could mean a variety of things, but in this context it would seem to point to the affliction that comes as a result of being united with Jesus Christ in His death and in His resurrection. There is great controversy and affliction in our soul when the Lord calls us to repentance toward God and to faith in Christ. They have passed through that affliction in life for they have had the Gospel applied to their hearts and souls and now are pure and spotless in the sight of God before His throne.

16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

In their joyous state, which has been made possible only through the blood of the Lamb, they hunger no more, neither do they thirst anymore, neither does the sun light on them, nor any heart. Why is this so? Because the Lamb, our Lamb, who reigns on over the universe is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and He shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

Dear friend, this message is for us today. It is a message of joy and a message of hope. This is not a novel that we are reading, but it is the Word of God!! He shows us what is the reality of eternity. It is what Louise's brother Arne saw when the Lord called him home. It was reported that as Arne slipped away from this life that he reached his hand to put it into the one that was reaching for his. God showed John these realities to give encouragement to the people who lived in times of severe persecution. John was telling them to hang in there, it is many many time over worth it. As Paul said in another place, KJV 2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; that which is awaiting us is glorious, peaceful, restful, and forever and forever!!

For those of us who are struggling right now, let us rejoice in the victory we live in through the Lamb. If we are not under the covering of the Lamb, may this first part of the book of Revelation be that which causes us to tremble at the thought of spending eternity under the wrath of the Lamb, as is depicted in the last part of chapter six. May also the Lord give us a greater sense of compassion for those who do not believe that there is a day of accounting coming or are not even aware of it. Lord, help us to do this, give us a heart for your world....

Lord, thank you for seeking us out so that we would be covered from all danger and harm by the blood of your Son!! Draw our minds and hearts unto yours this day so that we will by faith see ourselves in this great throng of praise and worship!!!

Under the covering of His blood I leave you,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 06 Nov 2011 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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He is coming again! 11/13/11
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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Carol Fischer and her family as they grieve the loss of Bob