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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Living in the Power of the Resurrection 5/01/2011
As we move from the celebration of historical event of the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we now are going to consider the meaning and application of those events in our lives. So for the next month or so, we will preach from the First Epistle of Peter for our texts of meditation. We are taking this approach since Peter had been one of the followers of Christ who struggled with the meaning of the cross and the resurrection, but came to understand and experience them in his life. He then wrote two letters to the people of that day in order to teach them that how they live life depends entirely upon their knowledge, understanding and personal/corporate experience of Jesus' victory which is seen through the cross and the resurrection. As it was for them in those days, it is the same for us today. May we be encouraged, inspired and equipped through these meditations in His Word. Let us pray for His blessing upon us.

First Peter is a handbook for Christian Living. All of the foundations necessary for building lives of spiritual maturity are contained in these chapters. Peter’s readers were geographically scattered and in the face of all kinds of challenges they needed to be theologically grounded. Jesus had given Peter the task of feeding and strengthening the sheep. This compelling, practical, vital letter is surely part of the response to that directive. He is clear about his purpose: to stimulate their faith, to assure them of the reliability of God’s word and encourage them to stand fast in God’s grace. (From Alistair Begg

There will be six sermons from the First Epistle of Peter, one by Associate Pastor Doug, one by Pastor Jay Weidner who will be our guest for our Spring Services on the weekend of May 21 and 22nd, and the other four by myself.

Whether we are young, middle aged or elderly, we have experienced struggles, we experience them today and we will experience them in the future. Being a Christian does not mean that we are free from struggles, but that through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit we by the grace of God through faith, live in victory in the times of trouble and struggle..We live as victors/conquerors through Him who loved us and has given Himself for us. We do not live as victims, and in so doing blame our past, blame our circumstances or blame others for our situation in life today. In our early years of life, it is difficult to understand this reality, but even when we are older, it is difficult to understand how everything works.

Before taking a look at the text, it would be beneficial for us to understand a little bit of the writer's life and experience. We understand that the Scripture is written by God Himself, but nevertheless human personality and experience have entered into the letters that have been written by various writers of Bible books. But we must be clear in our understanding that only the 66 books of the Bible are considered as the Word of God. Many other writings have been written that contain the personalities and experiences of Christian people throughout the ages, but only the Bible is to be honored as the Word of God. The Word of God must always take precedence over any other writings.

Overview of Peter's Life: After Peter met Jesus, he was given a name change. Before he was Simon the son of Jona, but Jesus told him that he would be called Cephas, or Peter in the future. (John 1:42) Jesus was looking into the future of Peter's life and was prophesying of the life that he would come to know as a result of having an encounter with Jesus that one day. He was forever changed as a result of that meeting, but it was not without testings, trials and troubles. Even though Peter was a headstrong, impulsive and quick to speak individual, through the love, patience, and guidance of Jesus, he came to „understand, to experience and to live in the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is what transformed Peter. He had a living hope in Jesus. But let us look at how he got there before we read our text.

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus had spoke to his hearers of the nature of the Kingdom that He had brought to the world, in that suffering will result as part of being His follower. (Matthew 5:1-12) After Jesus appointed the twelve disciples/apostles, He again told them that suffering and rejection would be a part of their life should they continue with Him. (Matthew 10:1-2; 16-18) Even by being with Jesus, hearing Him speak of His mission for the world and watching His healing ministry, Peter did not understand the nature of the kingdom that Jesus had brought, and therefore he/Peter, did not relate the suffering of Christ with the glory of Christ.

His thinking and actions remained earthly, fleshly and man centered. He thought with and acted upon his human thinking which ultimately resulted in Peter disowning Jesus during the trial of Jesus. He had vowed that he would even if it meant dying for Jesus, he would, but when it came to the time to do that, Peter denied Christ three times. But Jesus never gave up on Peter, for He saw more in Peter's life than Peter himself did.

It was after the resurrection of Jesus that he was restored to by Jesus and was given a ministry of teaching and preaching, being asked by Jesus to feed his lambs and sheep. It was during that time of ministry that Peter then wrote two letters to the scattered Christian of those days. Tradition teaches us that when it came time for Peter to lay down his life by crucifixion, he asked that he be crucified upside down as he felt unworthy die in the same manner that his Lord had died. What a change came into the life of Apostle Peter.

As we approach our text as well as the entire book of 1 Peter, let us note of how Peter went from one who was self confident in his own abilities to one who depended upon the faithfulness of God toward Him. As we listen to the words that Peter wrote under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, let us hear of the change that came upon Him due to the influence of Jesus in his heart, his mind and in his life.

He went from one who thought that suffering was not a part of being a follower of Jesus to one who laid down his life for the Gospel's sake and ultimately for His Lord's sake. As we consider the transformation that came upon Peter as a result of being touched by Jesus Christ, may we continue to live in the hope that the resurrection has brought us, and as we hear the Lord's teaching concerning life's issues, may we come to understand in a greater way that suffering for the right causes brings rejoicing. May our journey along with Christ through the pen of Peter bring us fresh insight and knowledge concerning this truth.

I. Introduction
KJV 1 Peter 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

II. Born to a Living Hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Our attitude in life because of this hope and our expectant victory through faith.
6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

III. Salvation Prophesied
10 Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:
11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.
12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.

Peter introduces himself, tells us who he is writing to, and then gives the basis of his letter. We are chosen in Christ, on the basis of His atonement and as a result we are set apart through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. This is all according to the mercy of God, and we have this lively hope because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. This lively hope will not perish, will not be defiled and will never fade away, for it is reserved in heaven. When our treasure is laid up in heaven, moth and rust are not able to corrupt it. It is like it is kept under guard, and it is not dependent on our keeping it safe. God does that. For in verse 5 we read that God is the one who is guarding our treasure through faith. We are trusting Him and not ourselves. Can we read between the lines here and see that Peter could have been thinking how that it took him awhile to see that it is God's faithfulness that keeps us and not our own?

Peter than tells us that because we have this lively hope due to the resurrection of Christ from the dead, that we are to rejoice even when we are grieved by our trials. He goes onto compare the proving/testing process of our faith with the natural process that is used to purify gold, saying how much more precious the soul refining process is.

He encourages them to hold tight to faith and trust, for even if they have not seen Him, they yet love him. He goes on to say that even though they do not see him, they yet are rejoicing with joy unspeakable and full of glory. They are praising him in their troubles and trials, for they see the purpose of them. And then Peter says: You live in faith today, for by faith you are able to see the victory that now is promised, but then will be sight!

The last part of our text speaks to the truth that prophesy had pointed to this day, for in the prophets had seen the shadows and types of the coming Christ, the Messiah. They had written of the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow, the glory that Peter was now pointing out to his hearers as he spoke to them of Christ. He went on to say that the prophets were actually serving them in the present day, and the Gospel that Peter was preaching to them now was with the Holy Spirit, a manisfestation which the angels longed to look into. We might conjecture here as to what this means by saying that since the "good" angels have remained in their pure state, how much did they grasp of the redemptive work of the Father, the Son and the Spirit. They have never fallen.......we have, but we have been raised by Him.......

As I have thought of Peter's experience through the years, one thing has continually caught my attention in his writings. He never (as least I have not seen it) looks at his failures of the past, but dwelss on that which raised him out of his sin: The death and the resurrection of Christ. He lifts up the grace of God through the suffering of Christ, placing the glory/honor of God on the same level as His sufferings.
There is a lot to think about here, since Peter went from thinking suffering was repulsive to the understanding that it was part of the honor and glory of Christ and therefore it is a joyful part of being a Christian.

May the Lord bless our meditations in His Word this day by His grace.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 01 May 2011 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
He is Risen and He Lives Forevermore! 4/24/2011
Sermon Text: Matthew 28:1-10

The morning was quiet in its darkness, the city lay sleeping, many having been shaken by the events of the last week, which began with the riding into Jerusalem on a donkey by the One who many cried out to with joyous voices, Hosanna, Hosanna! They had recognized Him as their Deliverer as it had been prophesied. But the deliverance did not come in the way that thy expected, for this Deliverer ended up being delivered to His death on a cross. They had looked for deliverance from the oppressive Roman government, but it did not happen in that way. Instead the Roman governor Pilate had handed their Messiah over to the religious leaders and to the people to be crucified on a cross between two criminals high up on the Mountain outside Jerusalem.

Now on this early morning after the Sabbath, it was quiet and it was now going on the third day since the one who called Himself the Son of God had been put into a tomb. Those who knew of the teachings of this man they called Jesus knew that He had predicted on numerous occasions that on the third day after His death, He was going to rise again. They who were in Jerusalem or near it had felt the earthquake when Jesus had breathed His last on the cross. Those in Jerusalem in the temple had not only felt the earthquake, but had seen the curtain tore from top to bottom which separated the Holy of Holies from all but the High Priest once a year. The Holy of Holies was the place that sacrifice was offered on behalf of the sins of the people and was a foreshadowing of the coming Christ to shed His blood for the atonement of our sins.

On Saturday, the Jewish religious leaders had come to Pilate and told him that Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. They requested that Pilate
order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, 'He has risen from the dead,' and the last fraud will be worse than the first." Pilate told them: "You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can." So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard. (Matthew 27:62:66)

As the first streaks of dawn begin to peak over the horizon on the first day of the week, (Sunday as we know it today), we find Mary Magdalene, out of whom had been cast seven devils by Jesus (Luke 8:2) and the other Mary coming to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus with spices. As they were on their way, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: Those who were there guarding the tomb were so fearful of the angel that they became like dead men.

The angel spoke these words to the women: Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Then the angel invited them to see for themselves: Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. (Matthew 28: 5-7)

At hearing this from the angel, they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.
9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.
10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me. (Matthew 28:8-10)

What did those who first came there think when they felt the earthquake, saw and heard the angel speak at the tomb? Who was the first to see Jesus alive? What effect did it have upon them? Did they recognize Jesus immediately? What effect does hearing this historical happening have on us today? Let us look at the other accounts to put this together more completely.

1. Who was the first to see Jesus alive?
From Mark's account, chapter 16, verse 9, we see that Mary Magdalene was the first person to see Jesus risen from the dead. 9 Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils. From the Gospels were are given to see that out of her Jesus had cast seven devils, she had shown her gratitude by ministering to Jesus in Galilee, she had been at the crucifixion with the other women, beholding it from afar off, and she had been there at the tomb on Friday as they lay Jesus to rest.

2. What effect did it have upon them? Did they recognize Jesus immediately?
John's Gospel, chapter 20 gives us a lot of insight into how Mary Magdalene responded and reacted to the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Let us turn to there and take a look at what John records.
She came to the tomb while it was yet dark, saw the stone rolled away, ran away from there, only to meet Peter and John, telling them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.

Moving down to verse 11, we see that Mary remained at the tomb, weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,
12 And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
13 The angels spoke to her: Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.

Mary, apparently did not yet understand that Jesus had arose as He had said He would, did not see past her grief. For she did not seem to be affected by the angels in the tomb, one at the head of where Jesus had lain and the other at His foot. All Mary seemed to see is that the One who had brought her deliverance from sin and to freedom to live was dead and she did not know where He was. She was broken hearted, she wept. She turned away from the tomb and looking the other way, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.

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

She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.
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 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! It is as Jesus said earlier: Luke 19:38 Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.
39 And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.
40 And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

But Mary was not there yet. As she turned away from the bright and shining angels in the tomb, she saw the gardener standing there and through her weeping and grief heard him ask two questions:

Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?

Her Saviour was speaking to her, but she did not recognize His voice yet as all she saw was a gardener of the earth, an ordinary man. She responded by telling him that Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away, thinking that he knows that I am referring to the one who had lain in the tomb.

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 it.

At this point, Jesus opened up her heart by speaking into her innermost being, by calling her by her name: "Mary" To which she responded, "Rabboni," " Master" 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 as a result of believing it for herself she worshipped Him. She now saw Him as the Gardener of her soul. She rejoiced at His word that His Father is her Father and that His God is her God, at His bidding going away to tell others of what she now knew to be true.

3. What effect does hearing this historical happening have on us today?
This come closer to home, now does it not? Do we believe what God has written? How would we answer the two questions that Jesus asked Mary:

Why are we weeping? Who are we looking for?

Let us look into the empty tomb and see Life.

Let us hear the words of the angels who testified that He lives.

Let us see the true Gardener and hear His voice that speaks Life into our soul.

Let us rejoice in His saving grace and share the good news with others, for heaven is big enough to hold all those that God has created. He has not created anyone for death, but He has created all for Life.

May the joy of Easter fill our hearts to fullness today, for He lives and He lives forevermore. Because He lives, we live!!!!

In the power of His Resurrection I leave you,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 24 Apr 2011 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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Living in the Power of the Resurrection 5/01/2011
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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3/23 11:30 a.m.:Senior Luncheon
3/29 7:00 pm:Maundy Thursday ...
3/30 7:00 pm:Good Friday Wors...
4/1 10:20 am:Resurrection Sun...
5/10 7:00 pm:Ascension Day Se...
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*Wendy and Dan Salo: Strength & courage to trust Him w/her health concerns