Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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Pastor's Blog

Faith's Reward 4.23.2017

Dear friend,

Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and from His Son, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ be with you now and forever, Amen!
Last Sunday we celebrated Easter and enjoyed having our church full of worshippers of God on Easter Sunday. It was a joyous time in which we ‚€ėsaw‚€™ the empty tomb, we ‚€ėheard‚€™ the testimony of the angels that Jesus had arisen, we ‚€ėsaw‚€™ the empty linens lying in order that had been wrapped around Jesus‚€™ dead body and we ‚€ėsaw‚€™ Jesus in His resurrected form. We had gone with Mary to the tomb early Sunday morning and watched as she struggled to grasp the meaning of all that she saw and heard. We heard how when Mary was weeping profusely in her bewilderment and sorrow, that the Gardener spoke her name, Mary, that she recognized the resurrected Jesus. She must have bowed at the feet of Jesus, wanted to grasp Him, but He told her: Touch me not for I have not yet ascended to My Father.‚€Ě

Then in her joy she ran off to share her wonderful knowledge and experience with her brothers, telling them what had happened to bring her to that knowledge and experience.

Post resurrection joy is amazing, for through it one is lifted up in heart and mind so that as one continues to live in the knowledge and experience of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, one‚€™s life is filled with thankfulness, joy and inspiration. Thankfulness to God for the revelation, joy fills the heart and as a result of being filled with joy, one is overflowing with inspiration to share that Good News with others.
But not everyone is filled with resurrection joy, for some yet live in a state where they do not possess the knowledge and experience of the resurrection of Jesus. Today we are going to consider the lives of a couple of people who on Easter afternoon were returning to their homes after observing the events of Good Friday and who had heard some things about Easter morning, but were in the dark as to what all this meant. They could not piece together their expectations and that which had come to pass.

Jesus draws near

Our lesson today is from Luke‚€™s Gospel, chapter 24, verses 13-35. Let us jump into this portion of scripture and follow along with the two sad looking people who were returning to their homes in Emmaus, some seven miles away from Jerusalem, where momentous events had taken place.

13 And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. (7 miles)
14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.
16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.
Mark 16:12 After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country.

As they walked away, they were talking and debating/arguing over what had happened and trying to make sense out of these things that had happened. While they were doing so, a Stranger drew near them and began to walk alongside them, listening into their conversation. They did not know that it was Jesus as their eyes were prevented from seeing Him. Mark records that he was in another form. At any rate, they did not know that it was the crucified and resurrected Jesus Christ.

Jesus draws out the reason of their sadness

17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?
The Stranger, wishing to draw out of their hearts the reason of their despondency, asked them a question, which is a very basic one. We could say He said, Why are you so sad? What is going on in your minds and hearts that you are looking so down in the dumps?
The two reveal the reasons for their sadness

18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?

Cleopas, one of them, did the talking for the two, expressing amazement that this Stranger would not know of the momentous events of the past few days that had occurred in the area. Cleopas and his partner must have been amazed that anyone would not have heard.

How does the Stranger respond, who being Divine knew full well as to what was eating them up inside, asks His second question.

19 And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:
20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.
21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.
22 Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre;
23 And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive.
24 And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.

At the Stranger‚€™s second question, both of them began to speak to Jesus. How this worked out is a mystery, but can we not imagine that they both were so pent up inside with sadness and confusion that they both burst forth with words that poured from their hearts. By their explanation, it is clear that they knew the OT Scriptures, but they did not understand how they applied to the events of the past few days. They had heard of the resurrection, but there was no Jesus to be seen.

Jesus unfolds and applies the scriptures to Himself

25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

Then the Stranger, after rebuking them for their unbelief of the prophecies of the Old Testament, asked them another question which was not really a question, but rather a statement in question form. He then began to expound (unfold, open, unpack) unto them all the scriptures the things about Himself from the books of Moses (first five books of the bible) and from the prophets. Let us remember, He is still a Stranger before their eyes.

The Effect of the Word in the hearts of the two travelers.

28 And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further.
29 But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.
They were walking and listening to the Stranger and soon they came to their home town, where Jesus made it look like He was going to keep on going past the home of the two travelers. But something must have been happening in their hearts as they asked the Stranger to spend the night with them. Their sadness seemed to be lessening and a warm glow was beginning to arise in their hearts as they listened to this Stranger explain the scriptures concerning the Promised Messiah. He obliged them and soon they were sitting down at the evening meal. It was the custom of the host, who in this case would be one or both of the travelers, to provide the bread, to bless it and to then break it for sharing with the guests. They did not cut the bread like we do, but rather they broke it and distributed it. But observe how things got switched around here‚€¦.

The Stranger serves them

30 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.

The Stranger took the bread, blessed it, broke it and gave (was giving) it to the two travelers‚€¦‚€¦..and not the other way around.

31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.

As the Stranger was giving the bread to them, their eyes were opened to see Him as Jesus Christ resurrected from the dead, a Living Christ. Faith laid hold of that which they knew of Him from the scriptures, and as He was giving them the bread, they knew Him! Wowsies! When Mary heard her name spoken by the Gardener, she knew Him no longer as the
Gardener, but as Her Master.

But then Jesus disappeared, vanishing from their sight. But look at what had happened to the travelers!

Jesus disappeared after opening their eyes, but so did their sadness, for their response was one of joy. Jesus had disappeared from them after His crucifixion and great sadness had come upon them, but now in His disappearance there was joy!!!!!!!!!! What a difference when Jesus opens/unfold the scriptures unto us concerning His love for us as demonstrated in His going to the cross and death for us!!!!!!

The travelers response to the scriptures being opened up/unveiled to them by Jesus.

32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

They pointed of how the Stranger, who they now knew as Jesus, had talked with them and had opened up the Scriptures and as a result their hearts burned (kindled, ignited) within them. They now realized that Jesus had been unfolding the scriptures for them on the way, scriptures which they knew, but did not understand the application of them concerning the recent events.

Their hearts were now ignited in faith, love and hope. Faith in Christ, love for Him and Hope of eternal life. They now were on fire and as a result they headed for the place where the Eleven were staying, wanting to pour out the wonderful news that they now were rejoicing in.

33 And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them,
34 Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.

But wait, what is this? As the two arrive bursting with the Good News, and as they enter into the midst of the Eleven, they hear from the Eleven, ‚€œThe Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon.‚€Ě

Wow, talk about having the wind taken out of one‚€™s sails, or having one‚€™s balloon popped! They must have staggered for a minute, but after hearing them rejoice in the reality that Jesus is resurrected, perhaps they said, ‚€œCould we tell you what we experienced today? It was nothing short of amazing what we experienced to today as were were heading home from Jerusalem. Could we tell you?

35 And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.

Dear friend, if today you have found yourself, even as I did in this account of journey from sadness to joy in the lives of the two travelers, may this mediation be an encouragement to you and I today. May we be reminded that when we are confused about life and everything that comes at us, it is of the utmost importance that we recognize that our questions are able to be answered by Jesus Himself through the scriptures. He is the One who draws near to us in our sadness, listens to our conversations whether they be with another or within ourselves, and by His Spirit will gently probe into our hearts and minds so as to draw out of our hearts the reasons for our sadness.

He then will provide the answers from His Word, and will ask us to trust in His promises and not to ask so many why‚€™s. For it is from His Word that we are drawn out of ourselves and into Him, for He is the One who came to serve us so that we might life here in faith, love and hope and then to spend a glorious eternity with Him forever.

May the Lord unfold His Word before us all today, for in that unfolding/revealing of His love for us, faith is ignited and increased, and when that happens in us, we have its reward: Love, Peace and Joy.

In His joy,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 23 Apr 2017 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
He is Risen 4.16.2017
He is Risen!
May the joy of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead lift our hearts to praise our God today and always!

Our Easter morning scripture for consideration today is from John 20:1-18, which we read in the name of the Risen One, Jesus the Christ.

Jesus is Risen from the dead, His tomb is empty, the angels spoke of His Rising and He appeared unto many alive.

Those statements are true, they are the facts that the Bible speaks of this morning concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead!

We heard in our scripture reading as to how our entire Christian faith hangs on the reality of the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead. If there is no resurrection from the dead, we have no Christ and therefore we have no Christianity. The fact is that He arose from the dead and lives, never to die again. That is historical fact!

It is by faith that we lay hold of those facts, of Truth, and because we believe that He did arise from the dead, we know and believe that everything that He did and said is also fact, or it truth. There is no disputing that reality. It is our not our faith or experience that makes it true, but rather it is faith/believing it to be true that makes is a reality for us in our lives. So then we could say that faith is believing in and trusting God.

Too often feelings and emotions are considered to be truth, and when that happens our reality is created by faith in our feelings and emotions, rather than in the facts or truths of God. These feelings and emotions due to our past experiences and current convictions create and maintain truth in our own minds and hearts.

Mary Magdalene gives us a good illustration of how she continued to live in her feelings and emotions which were formulated by her current knowledge and experience. For on Easter morning, even after seeing the empty tomb, and after hearing the angels tell her that Jesus is alive, she sees only a crucified Jesus, a dead Jesus.

Jesus had cast out of Mary seven devils and she was His devoted follower. How could it be otherwise, as had been freed from her past bondage to sin? She saw the empty tomb, but did not connect that which Jesus had previously been telling others that He would rise again on the third day. She continued in her weeping and sorrow at his death, not able to see that He had indeed risen again. Everything in front of her spoke of His promise being fulfilled, the grave was empty, the angels words spoke of His resurrection, His grave clothes were lying in order on the ground, left behind because He would not need them anymore, and now He was standing in front of her asking as to why she is weeping.

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

Jesus spoke to her: Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou?

Her Saviour was speaking to her, but she did not recognize Him as all she saw was the keeper of the garden of the earth, an ordinary man.

She responded by telling him:
Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

She was living in her feelings of the past, and did not see or hear life in front of her. She was not able to hear the facts and to grasp them by believing them.

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

16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.

Only two words spoken, one by Jesus and the other by Mary. Faith was created in Marys mind, heart and soul by her name being spoken by the Word, Jesus the Christ. All the evidence that was before her now became real for her, and as a result she expressed her emotions of joy and thankfulness in one word to Jesus: Rabboni (Master) Reason weighed the evidence and it was given to her to believe the facts of God.

Her faith was not blind faith, but it was based upon the evidence that the Word of God provides. We do not have blind faith, like taking a leap in the dark. Allow me to illustrate.

A Story About Faith: The Blind Kind
Imagine you really wanted a one of the lastest iphone. And what if you just wished as hard as you could that a brand new iphone would magically appear at your doorstep? Say one day, you came home fully expecting to use your new iphone. So much so that you even stopped off at Best Buy to pick up a cool case for it. That whole set-up would be kind of like this idea of a blind leaping into the dark, right?

Or say your entered a contest on the Internet to win a brand new iphone. You hope you would win. But you have got no assurance there, right? See, blind faith is just a like blowing out your birthday candles and making a wish. Or chucking a coin into a fountain or a wishing well. You have got nothing

Another Story About Faith n The Evidence Kind
But now on the other hand, imagine you went online and bought yourself an iphone! Later, you got the confirmation e-mail saying, thanks for your purchase.Eventually, you get an e-mail from
Fed Ex saying I have got a package scheduled to be delivered the very next day. The next day, you get an e-mail saying it is on the truck to your house. You get the tracking number and track
this thing at work until it is scanned as delivered. Maybe your spouse is home and you get a text saying, Your iphone is here.

Mary went from weeping and a sense of lostness to utter rapture and joy at the revelation that He is not dead, but that He lives! All that He had said is true, all that she had experienced from His grace was true, and now He was not dead, but alive! She believed in the facts, by faith she now saw the Risen Christ. Now she knew that He loved her, His crucifixion had been for her sins (as well as for all) and now He proved His victory over death, over sin and over hell by arising from the dead.

17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.

Mary was overjoyed in the knowledge (facts) in her belief (faith) and her feelings and emotions of joy overflowed to such an extent that she worshipped him and then went to share the Good News with the others.

Trains used to have cabooses which always trailed behind the locomotive and the cars. Have you ever seen a caboose pulling the train? I do not think so. In our meditation today, we could compare the locomotive with the facts of God, the cars could be as faith/trust and the caboose could be our feelings and emotions. Mary at first had the caboose pulling the train but then after hearing the voice of Jesus speak deep into her heart and soul, the caboose was sent back to where it belongs: In the rear of the train.

The Facts

The Empty Tomb testifies as to no body of Jesus

The Words of the Angels testifying that Jesus is Risen

The folded grave clothes reveal that he is done with them, death will no longer take Him.

His appearances to many and to Mary are witness that He arose.

Faith

We are joined together in the promises and assurances of God through believing and trusting in that which God has done and said concerning us.

Feelings
The emotion of joy overflowing because fact and faith are united because we know that we are loved, through and in Jesus we are forgiven, we are in Gods family, His Spirit lives in us and we can never die!!!!!!!

He is Risen! He is Risen indeed!

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 16 Apr 2017 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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Faith's Reward 4.23.2017
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala


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