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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I AM 3.5.2017
Dear friend,

Today is the first Sunday in Lent, which marks the 40 days leading up to Easter, not counting Sundays. The 40 day period is observed to mark the 40 days that Jesus was in the wilderness fasting after which He was tempted by Satan to sin. (Matthew 4:1-11) Many through the years have used this time of Lent to set aside time (a form of fasting) specifically for reading about, praying over and meditating on the life and death of Jesus as revealed through the Scriptures. Within us there is a desire to come to know and to experience in a deeper manner the love of God in Christ through the Word. During this time may we pray as John the Baptist did, "He must increase, but I must decrease." John 3:30) Through repentance and faith, prayerfully this will occur in our minds and hearts during this Lenten season. (Psalm 32)

As was introduced last Sunday, during this time leading up to Easter, we will be seeking "meet" Jesus in the Gospel of John, encounters which we are planning do through three different approaches: We will focus on the signs and wonders that Jesus did during His ministry, we will highlight a number of "I AM' statements that Jesus made and through which He connects HImself to the Old Testament. (Exodus 3:1-15) and we will be meeting Jesus through the eyes and experiences of a number of eyewitnesses. Last Sunday a handout was provided to you by which you will be able to know the texts ahead of time and therefore you can read, pray and study ahead of time about the specific text for a particular worship service.

Today's message is from the Old Testament, from the book of Exodus and involves the call of Moses by God to be a deliverer of His people out of Egypt's bondage. It was during this time that Moses asked God to tell him what His name was. Moses was told: I AM that I AM. It is necessary to begin with this portion in order to be able to understand the significance of Jesus' I AM statements during His ministry as brought out in the Gospel of John.

May this question continually be in our mind during our meetings with our Lord each Sunday:

Matthew 16:15 He (Jesus) saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

(Exodus 1-3) Last Sunday we left off with Joseph being reunited with his father and his brothers in Egypt as they emigrated there for the purpose of staying alive and keeping the Red Thread (The blood line of Jesus the Christ) intact. As time went the new king (Exodus 1:8) no longer wanted or needed Joseph and the new king began to take measures to keep the children of Israel's number down so they would not be a thread against his kingdom. (Exodus 1:8-22) During this time Moses was born and his life was preserved in order for the purposes of God to be accomplished in the deliverance of His people. Moses was mindful of the oppression against his fellow countrymen so that one day he killed an Egyptian who was hitting a Hebrew. As a result he had to flee into the wilderness where he spent forty years tending sheep. It was not God's time for deliverance yet...

At the end of chapter 2 Moses has recorded these words:

2:23 And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage.
24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.
25 And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.

The children of God were in bondage under a foreign power, but not by the reason of their sin as was the case in the times when they were taken into captivity for their own sin, occasions which we will get to later in our studies. God has not forgotten His promise of bringing His people to the physical promised land. His people were crying for deliverance, He heard and saw them in their bondage, and He remembered His promise. Their time of deliverance was drawing near..God would deliver them and His means of deliverance would be Moses. How would this come to pass? Moses was way back in the wilderness, his people were crying for deliverance, but nothing appeared to be happening. But let us not forget that God is always working to deliver his beloved created human race....Let us read the first 15 verses of chapter 3 of Exodus.

KJV Exodus 3:1 Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.
2 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.
4 And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.
5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.
6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.

The fulness of time came, and God appeared to Moses, speaking to him out of a bush. God called, Moses answered and was told to be reverent for he was standing on holy ground. God then began to speak to Moses, first telling him that He was the God of his father, of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob. Moses understood that this was God the Creator and the God of the Promise talking to him, and he feared, not daring to look upon God. Then Moses heard the Lord speak.

7 And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;
8 And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
9 Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.
10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.

The Lord was going to deliver His people and it would be through Moses that this happened. Let us remember that Moses was now 80 years old....How did Moses respond to the Lord's plan?

11 And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?
12 And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.

The first thing he did was to look within, perhaps remembering how it had gone the 40 years before when he thought it was time to do something about the harsh treatment his countrymen were getting at the hands of the Egyptians. It seems that he had learned to be less self reliant as the result of being in the desert for 40 years. He was told by God He would be with him and that a sign would be given to him in the future which would affirm the authenticity of God's call to him.

The Moses asked another question, asking God: "What is your name?" In other words, by whose authority are you coming? He understood that He was the God of the Promise but he needed more information. What did God say?

13 And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?
14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
15 And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.

God's answer: " I AM THAT I AM" "Tell them that "I AM" sent you unto them. Then God tied Himself to the God of his fathers, Abrahams's God, Isaac's God and Jacob's God all together with this "I AM".

Lord, I bow before you at these words which describe who You ARE. You always have been,
You are self existent, You are self sufficient and You are unchangeable. Which means that everyone/everything else has been created by You. No one created You, but You created us. You are self sufficent, but we are not. You do not need us, but we need You. So when You make a promise, You will make good on Your Promise and You will be our sufficiency.

Dear Father God, open this up widely to all of us today that hear Your voice speak to us out of this scripture. You are self existent and self sufficient, we are made by You and need You.

In closing, shall we take a few moments to think how this would apply to our lives in a very practical manner? And namely I would prefer to consider the name of God "I AM." This I would do in question form.

Our view of God forms and regulates our thoughts, our convictions, our attitudes and our actions.

1. If (Since) God is self existent (He has always been) and I am His new creation in Christ, am I living in submission to Him and His Word?

2. If (Since) God is self sufficient, and I am in need of everything from Him, does my life reflect my reliance upon Him for everything?

3. If (Since) God is unchanging and I live in a changing world, how do I protect myself from being affected adversely by the culture?

These are questions that it would be good for us to think about, to talk to God about and to talk with others about. May He bless our meditations in His Word.

Grace to you,

Pastor Orval

Reading for next Sunday: John chapters 1-6 I AM the Bread of Life (6:35, 6:51)

Posted on 05 Mar 2017 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Seeing Jesus in Joseph 2.26.2017

Good Morning, dear friend. May the grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and from His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be with you now and always, Amen.

It is nice to be back here again after being gone last week for vacation to New Hampshire where we had a wonderful time of fellowship and fun with our family there. It was a privilege for my wife and I to be at our three grandchildrens‚€™ athletic events. There was a lot of snow out there, which made my wife, who absolutely loves snow, very happy!

Last time we considered the early life of Joseph, the great grandson of Abraham. The message was entitled Promise, Presence, and Purpose. We covered the initial part of his life up to the time when he was tempted to sin by his master‚€™s (Potiphar) wife to sin by committing adultery with her. He resisted, was falsely accused by her and was put into prison by Potiphar. He would not and could not sin against Potiphar, against her and, most importantly, against God, saying ‚€œhow then can I do this great wickedness?‚€Ě

As we are embarking on a journey through the Old Testament in 10 months, with the main purpose of ‚€œseeing Jesus‚€Ě in the OT, hence the title of this series, The Red Thread, our study will be an overview of certain events. It is already pretty obvious to me that three words which entitled the last message, Promise, Presence, Purpose are fitting not only for Joseph, but all Christians of all time. Are you and I not finding that how we understand/do not understand the Promise of God has a direct effect upon how we experience His Presence, and therefore has everything to do with our Purpose in life. In this message I hope to expand on how Joseph lived his entire life on the Promise. You might say, what Promise? Well, let‚€™s start out with the verses that are included in our scripture reading for this Sunday‚€™s message:

John 12: 23 And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. 24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. 25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. 26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.

Jesus is the corn of wheat that fell into the ground and died, and in His death, He brought life to the world. He understood and was entirely committed to sacrificing His life so that out of His death (Seed dying) much fruit would be brought out of that death. He is referring to the new creation bring brought forth (2 Cor 5:17) so that just as in Adam all have died, in Christ all have been made alive. (Romans 5:18)

Joseph most likely did not understand what God was doing in his life until later, but he lived according to the Promise of God as is evidenced by his testimony of faith (Genesis 50:24-25, Hebrews 11:22) which we will address below in our question and answer portion.

Joseph displayed to his brothers the heart of Christ as he forgave that which they had done to him, recognizing that God had orchestrated the circumstances of his life for His purposes: To save much people alive.

Joseph lived with the eyes and heart of Jesus......Below are the verses that highlight this reality in his life. He forgave them for the sake of Jesus (The Promise), he did not selfishly look upon his inconvenience of circumstances, but he saw blessing coming to them through God‚€™s working through his life.

Genesis 50:19 And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?
20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.
21 Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.

Before we go to the questions that I have formulated for our help, I want to point out that it was brought to my attention through another pastor that Genesis 37-41 is largely about Joseph and chapters 42-50 are more about the brothers of Joseph and their journey from the despising of Joseph to coming to depend upon him. Or we could say that the first part is about Jesus making preparations to save much people alive and the last part 42-50 is about how God/Jesus bring about circumstances and situations in the lives of people in order to bring them to a place of need so that they will seek out help.

I hope that we can grasp the enormity of what was said above, for if we only see this account of Joseph as a cute story of how one man was sent ahead to preserve life and do not see the analogy of Jesus being sent ahead to bring and preserve life, we miss ‚€œseeing Jesus‚€Ě in the OT. May the Holy Spirit pour understanding and knowledge into our hearts through Jesus Christ, the Promise.

How did Joseph demonstrate that he lived by the Promise of God?

Genesis 50:24 And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
25 And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.

Hebrews 11:22 By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.

On what occasions did he experience God's Presence in his life?

KJV Genesis 39:1 And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither.
2 And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.

Genesis 39:21 But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.
22 And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it.
23 The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the LORD was with him, and that which he did, the LORD made it to prosper.

3. How did he demonstrate that he lived for others?

19 And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?
20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.
21 Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.

‚€œThe Church is the Church only when it exists for others...not dominating, but helping and serving. It must tell men of every calling what it means to live for Christ, to exist for others.‚€Ě Dietrich Bonhoeffer

‚€œBeing free means "being free for the other," because the other has bound me to him. Only in relationship with the other am I free‚€Ě D.B.

4. Am I living for self or for the benefit of others? How might I live for others?

Live in the Promise of God through Christ

Thank Him for, Remember how He has been with us, and look for ways that He is Present in our lives

Live our lives according to our present circumstances/life stage by faith, out of which love flows.

May the God by His Spirit enlighten our minds and hearts to see what a privilege it is to serve others in love. I pray that you will use these questions to provoke meditation/discussion/prayer for greater blessing into your life and into the lives of others.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Next Message: March 5, First Sunday in Lent: Exodus 3 God speaks out of a Bush. Please read the first three chapters of Exodus.

Posted on 26 Feb 2017 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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I AM 3.5.2017
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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