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

We have a future 1/17/2011
As we continue on our Journey with Jesus, we remember that last week from Matthew 3:13-17 we saw Jesus coming to be baptized by John, who at first refused, but at the command of Jesus baptized Jesus. We recall of how the Holy Spirit came to rest upon Jesus and of how we heard the voice of God saying: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." The next verse in Matthew's Gospel tell us what happened next in Jesus' life...

KJV Matthew 4:1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

Meanwhile, John the Baptist continues in his ministry of baptizing those who are coming to him and all the while he quite possibly is reflecting on that what he has experienced and seen, especially concerning Jesus. Let us be reminded of who John the Baptist is.

Raised and trained by his father, a priest
Grew up in the wilderness
Came out of the desert, preaching repentance and baptising those who came to him in confession.
Baptized Jesus for righteousness sake
Saw the Holy Spirit Descend upon Jesus
Heard the Voice of God to His Son

Thus the forty days during which Jesus was gone, John had time to reflect upon the incredible things that He had seen and experienced in His life in relation to Jesus. Then just before Jesus returned to the scene, John experienced his own temptation, for he was tested by the Jewish leaders as to where he got his authority. They wanted to know who he was, going around preaching repentance and baptizing those who came to him. We go to John's Gospel to get the Apostle John's record of John the Baptist's testimony:

John 1:19 And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?
20 And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.
21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.
22 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?
23 He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.
24 And they which were sent were of the Pharisees.

25 And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?
26 John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not;
27 He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose.
28 These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.

29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.
31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.
32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.
33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.

Now Jesus returns to the scene after showing his His power over Satan, and with John having not wavered in his testimony, John and Jesus meet again. Let us see what happens next...

John 1:35 Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples;
36 And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!
37 And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.

John's disciples saw Jesus, and after hearing John refer to Jesus as the Lamb of God, left off being a disciple of John and began to follow Jesus, who noticing that they were following Him asked them a common question....Let us read the account..

38 Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou?
39 He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour. (Either 4:00 pm Jewish time or 10 am Roman time)

They responded to the question of Jesus by asking them where He lived, to which the answer was given: "Come and see" They came to where he dwelt, they saw where he dwelt and they stayed with Him for some time, undoubtedly hearing many gracious words from His mouth, words which had the effect on them that they wanted to share what they had received with their closest acquaintances..
For after spending time with the Lamb of God, one of them, Andrew, went to find his brother Simon Peter telling him, "We have found the Messiah, the Christ." It is worthy to note that Andrew said "we" as opposed to "I' when he related of what they had found. We are reminded here in this early part of Jesus ministry of the nature of the kingdom of God, in that it is a corporate entity which contains all the members, with each part being included in the entire body. Let us read further...

40 One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.
41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.

Early on in His ministry we already see the "gathering" nature of the kingdom of God, as Andrew not only tells his brother Simon Peter that "we" have found the Messiah, but he brings him to Jesus where Jesus had a message for Simon...

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.

We have the advantage of knowing the whole story of Peter, which is a very interesting story to follow through the Scriptures, from his introduction to the Lamb of God all the way to the final words that Jesus spoke to Peter, which are recorded in the last chapter of John's Gospel. But suppose for a minute that all we knew of Peter is what we read in these last few verses of this part of the Gospel of John. What would these words mean for us? Why did Jesus say what He did when He spoke these words to Peter? "Thou are Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone."

I would like to share what it seems to me that Jesus was doing by this approach to Peter. In the first part of his statement He is acknowledging Peter's family line which could be compared to our being part of a family. How did Simon Peter's parents choose his name? For names that have been given to children have great significance and it is no small matter as to what name we have as far as our parents were concerned. In biblical times, sometimes birth names were chosen by God, sometimes a person's name was changed by God during their life, but all people of all times are given a name and they keep a name.

How did your parents choose your/my name? It is either a name of a person whom our parent(s) admired and desired that we would grow up with similar character traits or they chose a name that has a meaning attached with it. For example, if they named you Peter, they would have a prayer that you would live up to its meaning: "A stone" and so forth.

It seems to me that Jesus is introducing the concept here that as parents we bring children into this world, having the responsibility to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord so that they may serve Him in righteousness. Jesus here is acknowledging the reality of the role of earthly family, but points Peter to the greater family and the calling that comes to us upon our leaving our father and mother and cleaving unto the Lord. In this initial interaction with Peter, our Lord is putting before Peter the truth that there is more to his life than being a child of Jonas. Our Lord here is looking into the future life of Peter and his participation in the gathering work of the kingdom of which He is over. This is the beginning of Peter's association with Jesus the Christ.

As we consider our role in the work of the kingdom of God, may we see the wisdom of Jesus in pointing Peter to the future and the plans that He has for him. May we transfer this same type of futuristic vision and hope to those with whom we are acquainted and to those lives to whom we have been entrusted with. May we together be builders of the kingdom of God through Jesus Christ.

May His grace be upon us today.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 17 Jan 2011 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Another Year is Dawning 1/01/2011

During the Advent season before Christmas we considered some of the Christmas Carols that have been sung through the years and for many of us the messages which flowed out of these hymns were refreshing and revitalizing. As much as we enjoy and appreciate fresh air and fresh water in a natural sense, how much more we drank up of the freshness of the life giving Spirit of Christ that flowed out of the hymns that we sang together in a heavenward and united manner. Yes, we could say that the glory of the Lord shone around us and in us as we worshipped our Great God and King.

A fellow believer in Christ, Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879), enjoyed New Year's Day, for she considered it a day of promise, as she looked forward in faith to God's blessings in the coming year. She had such a positive spirit that it was said that she brought a "burst of sunshine." The following hymn that she wrote was inspired by the thought of the new year before her. May we slowly and in a thoughtful and reflective manner read the words of this hymn that she penned.

Another year is dawning:
Of faithfulness and grace;
Another year of gladness
In the shining of Thy face;
Another year of leaning
Upon Thy loving breast;
Another year of trusting,
Of quiet, happy rest.

Another year of mercies,
Dear Father, let it be,
In working or in waiting,
Another year with Thee;
Another year of progress,
Another year of praise,
Another year of proving
Thy Presence all the days.

Another year of service,
Of witness for Thy love;
Another year of training
For holier work above.
Another year is dawning:
Dear Father, let it be,
On earth or else in heaven,
Another year for Thee.

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Titus 2:11-14

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you in this New Year and always!

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 01 Jan 2011 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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We have a future 1/17/2011
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala


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