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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Born of God 3/20/2011
John 3:1-17
In today's meditation from the Church Calendar, we move from Matthew's Gospel to John's Gospel, to chapter 3, verses 1 through 17. Before we consider the text, we will briefly summarize the first two chapters of this Gospel, which was written some time later than the first three gospels; Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

A couple of observations are important to point out: We note that we are given the purpose of the writing of this Gospel, which tells us that what is written in this Gospel is sufficient to the end that we would believe that Jesus is the Christ and that through this believing we might have life through his name.

KJV John 20:30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:
KJV John 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

This Gospel is about the revelation of the God through Jesus Christ His Son and begins from eternity, where as Matthew begins with the geneology from Abraham, Luke traces the ancestors of Jesus beginning with Adam and goes up to Joseph, Mary's husband and Mark begins with the ministry of John the Baptist.

John's Gospel begins with "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The first 18 verses are considered to be the prologue or a preview of that which is to come. They detail of how the Word became incarnate, dwelt among mankind, being full of grace and truth. We have observed that after being mentioned 3 times in the intial chapter, the word grace is not mentioned (in the KJV) and the word truth (in this context) is mentioned 25 times all told in the entire Gospel.

The writer brings forth witnesses to the Truth, with John the Baptizer being the first one, who himself said that he came to testify of the Light, pointing out that he was not that Light. When pressed as to who he was, he referred back to the Old Testament and the Prophet Isaiah, saying that he was the voice of one crying in the wilderness, who saw John's day saying: "Make straight the way of the Lord."

John was baptizing unto repentance, which signified a turn away from self directed worship to the worship in spirit and in truth of the Living God, but the Pharisees refused to be baptized by John, not recognizing Christ the Messiah as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Two disciples, hearing John speak of Jesus as the Lamb of God, left John and began to follow Jesus from then on. Other disciples were joined unto Jesus as Jesus began to reveal Himself to them.

Chapter two contains the first miracle performed by Jesus which involved His turning water into wine at the wedding at Cana. Verse 11 of chapter two gives us the information that this was the first miracle performed by Jesus, which revealed His splendour/glory and through which his disciples believed on Him.

KJV John 2:11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

After going to Capernaum to be with his mother, his brothers and his disciples, He returned to Jerusalem for the Passover. As He went into the temple He found it being used a house of merchandise rather than a house of prayer, and drove out the animals, poured out the changers' money and overturned the tables. As they observed His zeal, the disciples remembered the Old Testament Scriptures from Psalm 69:9 "The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up."

Quite understandable, the Jews said: "What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?" Here is the rest of the account that is recorded for us.

2:19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
20 Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?
21 But he spake of the temple of his body.
22 When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.

The answer Jesus gave is the same answer that He consistently gives in this Gospel: The sign is the cross. His death and resurrection. The Jews did not understand at all what he was talking about, for they could only see things in a natural sense. The disciples likewise did not see until after the resurrection of Jesus.

Then previous to our discussion of the third chapter, which contains our text of meditation, we note in the last verses that many believed in His name, WHEN THEY SAW THE MIRACLES HE DID. And this is the context that we find Nicodemus coming to Jesus by night to check out this man who was doing miracles. Let us pick up the story as it is presented to us by John.

KJV John 3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

Nicodemus acknowledged that Jesus was a teacher sent from God, for he recognized that no one could do miracles unless God was with Him. Now we know that Nicodemus was not an ordinary citizen, for he was part of the high government, which in today's world would be similiar to a United States Senator. It is unclear as to what he was seeking, but he was seeking to know more of this Jesus. At any rate, Jesus responded with the following statement.

3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Solemnly, Jesus said, truly, truly, I say unto you, Unless a man be born again (or from on high) he cannot see the kingdom of God. We think to ourselves, what is the meaning of this? We have a lot more information in our minds that Nicodemus did, for he was living with the understanding that as a Jew he was had been born in a position of privilege and though that simply through his birth he was in the kingdom of God. What would he have been thinking at this point? Let us see what he thought?

4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?

He did not understand any more than the Jews had when Jesus had spoken about the temple being destroyed and raised in three days. He could only see things in a physical sense, or in a fleshly sense. He could not see the meaning that Jesus was bringing forth. Jesus responds to his statement by giving more information which John records in the next few verses:

5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

These verses have many many books written over them in attempts to explain as to what Jesus was referring to here. The most common ones are that verse 5 is the basis for orthodox Lutheran theology which links the water referred to in this verse with water baptism, others replace the water with the Word (Except a man be born of the Word and the Spirit) here and others understand that Jesus here is comparing natural birth with spiritual birth. (verse 7)

In verse 7 again the emphasis is given: There must be a change in thinking, from carnal and fleshly thinking to a spiritual way of looking at things before one can "see" the things of God. Apostle Paul wrote of this in his first Epistle to the Corinthians.

KJV Ecclesiastes 11:5 As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.

1 Cor 2:11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?

We understand how these things can be as we have the entire Scriptures at our disposal. But Nicodemus did not have such a benefit, so he must have thrown up his hands as he said, "How can these things be?"

10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?
11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.
12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

After chiding Nicodemus, Jesus says we speak those things that we know, testify of those things that we have seen, but Nicodemus does not as of yet receive the testimony that is given. Jesus is saying that He is not saying anything that is not true, but Nicodemus for some reason is not able to grasp what He is being told. I do not really understand what is meant in verse 12, so we will leave it for later revelation. But we can readily understand that Jesus is pointing again to the sign in verse 13. He does so by pointing to an occurrence in history, in the Old Testament, which He links to Himself in the same verse. First of all, in verse 13, He speaks of Himself, then in verse 14 refers back to the book of Numbers 21:4-9

Now Jesus points Nicodemus and ourselves to the sign by which we identify where our new birth takes place. He acted on our behalf according to His grace, called us by the Gospel to faith, and gave us His Spirit as His promise of this binding agreement.

13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

Numbers 21:4 And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.
5 And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.
6 And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.
7 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.
8 And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.

John 3:15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
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.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

We must understand that all the we as well as the entire world has received a commuted sentence of death through the person and work of Jesus Christ on the cross. All who are united through repentance toward God and by faith with Christ have received pardon for their sins, and are living in expectation of the glorious return of Christ. Those who have not come to repentance and faith are not aware that they will be judged for their rejection and will be under the wrath of God forever in everlasting torment. They need to be awakened to this eventual reality, should they not come to repentance and faith. May we be compassionate, which means to be concerned as well as to act.

We are raised to eternal life by the finished work of Jesus Christ, we experience this by faith and give evidence of it by love to God and love to all mankind. The more we realize this the more we see of His compassion for the souls of the lost, and so consequently, our compassion for the lost grows.

Finally, let us be encouraged by the writings of the Apostle Paul concerning God's action on our behalf, His gifts of faith and the Spirit to us, and of His desire that we grow in the knowledge of what He has done for us, is doing for us and will do for us all the days of our life. We are blest beyond description. Oh, the majesty, the power, the glory, the ways, the love, the grace, the compassion of our God!!!

What God has done in Christ
ESV Ephesians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love
5 he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,
8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight
9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ
10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,
12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.

We are united to Christ by faith/by belief/not feelings or emotions
13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,
14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Prayer for greater knowledge/experience of this reality/fact
15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints,
16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,
17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,
18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened,

(1)that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you,

(2) what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,

(3) 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might

20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,
21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,
23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

God has done all the work, we have received it by faith, the and evidence of this spiritual life is seen through the love that flows from our heart to others, regardless of their response to us.

The route to reconciliation is to love a person even if they do not respond in return, perhaps despise us, want nothing to do with us. By our response they will be left to think on the fact that we truly do love them. This love is characterized by the following and we turn to 1 Cor 13 to hear these characteristics of love. This is the way that Jesus has loved and does yet love us.

1 Cor 13:4 His Love is patient and kind; His love does not envy or boast; His love is not arrogant
5 or rude. His love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
6 His love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
7 His Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 His Love never ends.

James 3:13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.
14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.
15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.
16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.
17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.
18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

We praise you, the Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 20 Mar 2011 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Blessed in all Circumstances 2/01/2011
KJV Matthew 5:1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:
2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Jesus had called some of his disciples at this time, and as they watched Him preaching, teaching and healing many, they must have been a captive audience as they followed Him up the mountain wondering what was coming next. He had called upon them to follow Him so that He could make them fishers of men, so that they were doing in a literal sense and so likely they were all ears when He opened His mouth and began to speak. May we also have ears to hear what He says unto us today.

As Jesus sat on the mountain and began to preach the Greatest Sermon every preached, we cannot help but wonder if He went up on the mountain in order to make a connection unto the listeners with Moses, who was big in the eyes of those who were listening to this One whom they had seen preaching, teaching and healing. For Moses had gone up on Mt. Sinai years before in order to receive the Law from God by the angels, (Acts 7:54) but under far different circumstances and atmosphere than they experienced here. At that time there had been smoke, fire and great noise. Here there was peace and tranquility on the mountain top. Moses himself had pointed to this time, when he prophesied of the Prophet who would come:

KJV Deuteronomy 18:18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.

Jesus uses the word blessed nine times in our text, therefore it is mighty important that we understand what the word means. It does not mean happy in the sense that we understand in today's world.. Happiness today is based upon one's outward circumstances and is usually what we call subjective. As circumstances change, so do our feelings and disposition. Jesus is talking about a far deeper and greater matter here, for He is speaking of a "state of being" as opposed to living in human reaction to outward circumstances.

It is easier to understand what Jesus is driving at if we reverse the sentences somewhat. For example, let us take the first two Beattitudes (as this portion of the sermon on the mount is sometimes called). "Those who have the kingdom of heaven are poor in spirit, therefore they are blessed." "Those will be comforted who mourn, and in that they are blessed," and so forth.

We notice that the first four "Blesseds" refer to our relationship with God, even as the first three Commandments do likewise, and as the first three petitions in the Lord's Prayer do. The rest of the "Blesseds" refer to our relationship to other people even as the rest of the Commandments and the Petitions do.

The Scripture is consistent in the revelation of the grace of God towards mankind: First the vertical relationship must be established (between God and us) and maintained and then, and only then, the horizontal relationships follow. (between people)

As Jesus speaks of being poor in spirit, we recognize that to come to God we come with a broken and contrite heart, which is followed by sorrow over our sin for which we receive comfort of the Gospel. We who live after the death and resurrection of Jesus are able to understand these passages in light of the finished work of Jesus, but those who were there that day most likely did not as of yet see what we are able to see, for they were yet on the front side of His mediatorial work of the cross. They knew of the promises of the Messiah only.

Meekness which is mildness of disposition and gentleness of spirit becomes our clothing as Christians and when this is evident in one's life it is an indicator that Christ is dwelling in that person.
Being poor in spirit, having a mournful heart and being of a meek and gentle spirit means that we are in a state of blessedness. But not only that, a hunger and thirst for righteousness is created by God Himself. It is not something we create or manufacture ourselves, but it follows the grace of the first three "blessings" that were spoken of by Jesus. As a result of this God given hunger and thirst, we are blessed because He will fill those needs completely and even to joy. We strongly desire to have fellowship with God, with His Son and, therefore with one another, even as John speaks of it in his first Epistle:

KJV 1 John 1:3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
KJV 1 John 1:4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.

The next "Blesseds" refer to our relationship with people, for as we have received mercy, we are merciful, as we are pure in heart, we see God, and as we are peace makers, we shall be called the children of God.

As we live in the "Blessedness" of being a disciple of Jesus Christ, we will yet continue in this "Blessedness" as we show mercy, as we have pure motives and as we share with people that peace is only possible through the cross of Jesus Christ. Our state of "Blessedness" does not change with the persecution that comes as a result being a peacemaker, for ours is the kingdom of heaven. But we must always remember that our suffering must be for the sake of Christ, and not some other purpose. Peter who was there listening that day brought it out clearly in his writing a number of years later when he wrote:

1 Peter 3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.
13 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?
14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;
15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

And finally, the only response that Jesus calls us to. We again take note that all the "Blesseds" are a state of being, as a result of the work of the Holy Spirit through the Word within our hearts.

KJV Matthew 5:12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

We are to rejoice, for the reason that He declares: We have a home in heaven. This is directly in response to our "state of being," in that we are blessed of all people. The people of God who have sought to reveal His heart through the ages were persecuted, those who are faithfully preaching the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ in today's world are being persecuted, and those who will in the future be faithful to the Lord will be persecuted. It cannot be any other way. But yet, in all the ages, those who understood what is meant to be "Blessed" had come to understand and experience the saving grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Therefore, even in persecution, the "Blessedness" remains, for it is not a subjective experience, but it is a "state of being."

Now that Jesus has taught His disciples concerning what it means to be "Blessed," He begins to teach them about their relationship to the world and of how we are to bring the light and salt to them. We often wonder how much we should be involved outside of the church, how much do we involve ourselves in effecting public policy, is there a danger in being too involved and so on. Initially it appears that in our next meditation these types of questions could be confronted and addressed. Til then, may the Lord bless you in your meditations in His Word.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 01 Feb 2011 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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Born of God 3/20/2011
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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The Lawry Kilpela family as they grieve but yet rejoice in Lawry's being called home.