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

Promise Presence Purpose

Dear friend,

Introduction/Recap from last week

Last week in our journey through the Old Testament, we briefly considered the life of the Father of our faith, Abraham, who was the originator of the Israelite people, the Jewish people. We focused mainly on chapter 22 of Genesis where Abraham was called by the Lord to offer his only son, Isaac, for a sacrifice. Abraham was obedient to the end to the point that he had the knife raised ready to slay his son, but then from heaven the voice of mercy came:

“11 And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.
12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.
14 And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.
5 And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,
16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:
17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;
18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

Surely Abraham rejoiced in the day of Christ at that point, as looked and saw the substitute sacrifice caught in the thicket, an animal in whom Abraham saw the Son who would not be spared by His Father many years hence on the cross.

The Promise of the coming Christ through Abraham’s loins was affirmed by the Lord (Angel of the Lord) in verses 16-18 due to Abraham’s trust in and obedience to God. Through his obedience to the word of the Lord, Abraham was assured that indeed all the nations of the earth would be blessed through him seed, Christ. Because Abraham believed the Promise of God, he experienced the Presence of God, he then lived in the purpose of God for all.

Life of Joseph: Promise, Presence, Purpose (or Privilege)

Today we begin to consider the life of Abraham’s great grandson, Joseph, who was the son of Jacob, who was the son of Isaac, who was the son of Abraham. As stated earlier, in our journey through the OT we are not going through chapter by chapter, but through the lives of selected people.

So, considering Joseph, how might we outline his life? Would it be any different than Abraham’s? Than Isaac’s? Than Jacob’s? Than yours and mine? No, it would not have a different outline than any of these. I believe we will see why this is said as we go through not only the life of Joseph but as we go through the entire scriptures. Promise of Christ, Presence of God, and Purpose in Life….

Joseph lived in knowledge of the Promise, as taught and explained to him by his grandfather Isaac and his father Jacob, throughout his life he experienced God's Presence and his life was lived in the Providence of God which resulted in his life being lived for the blessing of others. He was born one of 12 children, was favored by his father Jacob and hated by his brothers. Through a couple of dreams he was given a glimpse into the future, but the path to that future was gained through betrayal, rejection, false accusation and loneliness. He saw that his life was God's and in the end, he realized that it was to be lived for the furtherance of God's mission to the world. The attitude of his heart is demonstrated in the last chapter of Genesis.

KJV Genesis 50:20 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.

In the end, that is what Joseph understood as far as his life was. His life had been lived for the purposes of God. It was not a wasted life, even though surely at time in the pit and in the dungeon, he must have struggled with the purposes of God. I said Purposes, not the Promise or His Presence.

In chapter 37, Joseph, after Rueben talked his brothers out of killing Joseph, was thrown into a pit by his brothers, and now has now been sold to slave traders by his brothers for twenty pieces of silver and has been taken to Egypt.

Joseph Blessed

KJV Genesis 39:1 And Joseph (1915BC-1805BC) 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. The Pyramids were being built around this time. (2700 BC to 1800 BC)

Psalm 105:17 He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant:
18 Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron:
19 Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him.

2 And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.
3 And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand.
4 And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand. Joseph was 11 years in the house
5 And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; and the blessing of the LORD was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field.

6 And he left all that he had in Joseph's hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured.

The Presence of the Lord was with Joseph, and it was seen by the master of the dungeon. What did Joseph feel or experience? It doesn’t say, but we do know that the Lord was with him and the keeper saw and witnessed of that reality. Joseph gained the trust of the keeper and pretty soon he was an overseer, and the blessing of the Lord because of Joseph spread outwardly to the Egyptian’s house and even those in the field. Joseph did not seem to fret about what was to come, but he lived in the present, flourishing where circumstances had placed him.

Joseph had become very successful. Dietrich Bonhoeffer made this statement: Many people are able to deal with adversity, but there are few who are able to handle success and all the temptation that comes with it. One of the worst things that can happen to us is to be successful before we are ready for it.

Joseph Tested

Some lessons in temptation before we go further.

When are we vulnerable to temptation?

1. When one is young (39:1-6)
2. When one is good looking. (39:6)
3. When one has become successful (39:6)
4. When there is opportunity (39:-7-15) Opportunity + Desire =Fall into Temptation
5. When away from home (39)
6. When there is no accountability (39)
7. When it is continual (39:10)

7 And it came to pass after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me.
8 But he refused, and said unto his master's wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand;

ESV Genesis 39:8 But he refused and said to his master's wife, "Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge.

9 There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?

How did Joseph resist temptation?

He had a clear commitment to purity according to God’s standards. (He refused her invitation)

He clearly communicated his refusal to yield to sin. (He did not wish to betray his master’s trust, he did not wish to sin against her, and above all he saw sin as great wickedness and did not want to sin against God.)

He had clear boundaries. (He fled from her presence)

Temptation’s Persistence:

10 And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her.
11 And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within.
12 And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.
13 And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth,

Lust turns to hate when rebuffed, and lies abound.

14 That she called unto the men of her house, and spake unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice:
15 And it came to pass, when he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled, and got him out.
16 And she laid up his garment by her, until his lord came home.
17 And she spake unto him according to these words, saying, The Hebrew servant, which thou hast brought unto us, came in unto me to mock me:
18 And it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled out.
19 And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto him, saying, After this manner did thy servant to me; that his wrath was kindled.
20 And Joseph's master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king's prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison.

The Presence of the Lord with Joseph

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.

Now Joseph is back in prison. What good did his being faithful to God to for him in the short term? Nothing it appears, but he is back into the dungeon. But his story is not all written yet. There is nothing in scripture about how he “felt’. He did not ask why. He trusted in the Promise, he experienced God’s Presence and he trusted God for the outcome of what He was doing in His life.

God doesn’t waste suffering, but through suffering works out His purposes.

If we run away from suffering, or do not receive it as from the loving hand of God, will we be living our life for the benefit of the spiritual blessing of others?

Lord, will you entrust us with the suffering that is needful for me to be able to fulfill your purposes for others through me?

Your story, my story, is not all written yet. God knows it all, but we don’t. He knows his purposes for us, so while we flourish where we are planted, may we rest in His Promise, relax in His Presence and through His leading do the right things according to His Word and Spirit.

In Jesus Name,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 12 Feb 2017 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Abraham and Isaac Rejoice In Christ 2.5.2017
Abraham rejoices in Christ
Good Morning, reader!

God’s Peace be unto you today through the amazing grace of God which has been poured out upon all mankind and is yet continually being poured out by our Father through His Son, Jesus the Christ.
We continue with our overview of the Old Testament this morning. We have considered so far the first three chapters of the book of Genesis (book of beginnings) and today we are jumping up to the 12th chapter where we are introduced to a man named Abram. Our sermon text will be from the beginning portion of Genesis 22 which occurs after Abram and Sarah’s son of the Promise is born. (Isaac)

Before getting started, I would like to again remind us all that this journey through the OT is intended to accomplish the following: (The title of this long series is the Red Thread)

Trace the Promise of Jesus’ coming through the OT (The coming of the Messiah, the Christ)
Provide a systematic reading plan through the OT, leading up to the first of December, at which time we we begin with the NT and the first advent of Jesus.
Inspire, provoke, stir, rouse, stimulate our desire to read, pray over and meditate upon His Word.
Become more aware how God’s redemption plan in Christ is complete, and how He revealed it in a progressive manner throughout the OT.
Grow in the knowledge and experience of the revelation of God’s redemptive work.
Gain more knowledge of God’s workings with and in those who have gone before us in faith through their experiences.
Grow or increase in the grace of God towards us, in the experience of His faithfulness to all generations and consequently be able to live in assurance, in peace and in confidence in this fallen and decaying world.

God spoke the Promise (of Christ’s coming to redeem mankind) into being in Genesis 3:15 after mankind's fall into sin and death; the evidence of this disastrous state of being began to show itself through Cain killing his brother Abel, (Genesis 4) through the evil that existed in the world, a world in which God destroyed nearly all breathing beings on the earth (saving only righteous Noah and his wife and his three sons and their wives) (Genesis 6) and through the dispersion at the tower of Babel. (Genesis 11) A key statement is made in the 11th chapter which typifies what we became after mankind fell into sin and death (Genesis 3)

4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. (I placed the bold print)

In about the year 2166 BC a man was born in the land of Ur of Chaldees, with the name of Abram. He was born of Terah in a pagan land and was called by God to be the father of the Jewish nation, through whom the Promised Messiah would come. The first verses of chapter 12 speak of Abram’s future destiny, and of how God was going to use him to bring about the birth of the Promise into being.

KJV Genesis 12:1 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:
2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

Thus began the life of our father of faith, Abraham, whose name is mentioned 231 times in the Bible, with 72 of those being in the New Testament. He was given the name Abram at birth but was given the name of Abraham in the 17th chapter of Genesis when also his wife Sarai’s name was changed to Sarah.

It was not until he and his wife were past childbearing years that they were given the child of Promise, a child whom they had waited for for many years. God had performed a miracle in their lives by giving them their only son, (Abram was 100 yrs old when Isaac was born) through whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed. Then came the greatest trial to Abram, one who trusted God according to His Promise......Abram trusted in God above anything else...

Here I must say that without the New Testament, it would be impossible to understand the ways of God in that He now tested the faith of Abraham with an extreme request, and this after they had finally received their son Isaac. It is not difficult to imagine how they must have joyed in this child of the Promise, and it is equally easy to imagine what Abraham must have experienced at the request of God that followed his birth.

KJV Genesis 21:1 And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken.
2 For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.
3 And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac.

It is not known how old Isaac was when the following occurred in the life of Abraham.

KJV Genesis 22:1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt (test) Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.
2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
3 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.

Can we put ourselves in Abraham’s place? But let us remember that Abraham believed God and it was accounted unto him for rightness before God. (righteousness before God, right standing before God) He got up early in the morning and went with his son to where God had directed him.

4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.
5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.

Abraham demonstrates his faith in God, who cannot lie and who makes promises that He does not break. Please note how he left the servants, telling that the I and the lad will go there and worship, and (we will both) come again to you

6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.
7 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?

What do you think was in Abraham’s heart as they walked along? They both went together, the one who would offer the sacrifice and the other who would be sacrificed? Do we not think that Abraham was getting an insight into the heart of His God, who already from before the foundation of the world had offered His only Son? (Rev 13:8, 1 Peter 1:20) As they walked in silence, Abraham’s son called to his father and asked a question, a simple question and an obvious question (v 7).What would his father say?

8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.

It would seem with great pain, but yet with a heart full of faith his father
would tenderly teach his son of his father’s ultimate trust in His Father by his response. As I said earlier, without the NT explaining the a ction of Abraham, we would not be able to understand this happening.

Hebrews 11: 17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son,
18 of whom it was said, "Through Isaac shall your offspring be named."
19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.
17 as it is written, "I have made you the father of many nations"- in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

Romans 4: 18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, "So shall your offspring be."
19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead ( since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb.
20 No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God,
21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.
22 That is why his faith was "counted to him as righteousness."
Abraham, against all emotion and reason, trusted that God would

provide. Provide what? The sacrifice which is according to the Promise. Let us continue on..

9 And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.
10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.

This makes no sense if Abraham is not trusting God, but as we read above Abraham believed so surely that through Isaac the Messiah would come, even if he went through with it, God had already raised him back to life. I hope that we are able to grasp the power of this event in that God is not like any other, He alone is God and when He made the covenant with Abraham, He was going to fulfill it.
As Abraham got ready to slay his son, a voice cried from heaven, not once, but twice.

11 And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.
12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.

But wait, mercy came down from heaven, as he heard his name spoken by the Angel of the Lord, which is God speaking. As I said earlier, was not Abraham getting insight into his God’s heart through being placed in the position he was placed in? I think so, as this is something that we will continually become more aware of as we journey towards the fulfilment of the promise. By Abraham taking his only son and being directed to slay him on the altar, he surely would have been given insight as to the heart of God towards His own Son whom He placed on the altar of sacrifice.

Many years later in the fullness of time, the Father would slay His Son (Isaiah 53:10) as justice required the payment for our sin, but then He was raised from the dead on Easter morning. Abraham must have gotten a little insight as to the pain that must have gone through His Father’s heart, but also Abraham must have felt the joy of His Father’s heart in what occurred as the result of the death and resurrection of Isaac and of Jesus. I hope I don’t lose you here, but let us go to the next verse, and look at things from Abraham’s point of view and we will also bring in Jesus’ words from John’s Gospel…

13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.
14 And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.

John 8: 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.

Is this the place that Jesus is referring to when He made this statement? It could be, as Abraham must have been overjoyed that a substitute was provided in the place of his son. He called the place JehovahJireh, in the mount of the Lord is shall be seen, or God provides.

15 And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,
16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:
17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;
18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.
19 So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba.

God then spoke a second time (the angel of the Lord) affirming the promise that his seed would be multiplied and through it the Messiah would come (all the nations of the earth will be blessed)

A final thought, to add to the multitude of thoughts we have now. It is interesting in that is does not say that both Isaac and Abraham went back to the young men. For we remember that Abraham had said “We will return after we worship” but why does it not mention Isaac?
I am not sure, but it could be beneficial for us to consider what Isaac might have been experiencing after his trial. As I said earlier, we don’t know how old he was when he went with his father to the mountain, but we do know that his father demonstrated ultimate trust in their God by his answering of his son’s question: “God will provide a lamb.”

Isaac must have experienced a thousand deaths once it became apparent to him that he was going to be killed on the altar as a result of his father’s unflinching trust and of his obedience toward their God. It seems that we would gain much from considering a parallel in our experience in that all who are Christians previously have come to a place where death and judgment is looming before us. It is like a deep chasm into which we are falling and there is no escape from it.

The knife of God’s judgment was poised above us, but then out of heaven we heard the voice of mercy that cried unto us of grace and pardon. A voice that cried from the heart of God and which told us that I have love you so much that I provided a substitute for you. You don’t have to die, but I sent MY ONLY SON to die in your place! Live and live in the victory of MY SON’S death and resurrection!!

Could it be the Isaac stayed back to worship His Deliverer through the Promise? Could it be the he sent his father ahead of him, telling him, “Dad, I want to stay here awhile and worship our God at this altar.”

Can we not believe that Abraham rejoiced to see Christ, but his son Isaac as well rejoiced also? I think so, and can we not rejoice in seeing Christ through this scripture today? I pray that we all might see our deliverance through this meditation today.

Our next scripture reading and message will be from Genesis 37-50 which will center on one of Isaac’s grandchildren, Joseph.

May the words of our mouth and the meditations of our heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our Strength and our Redeemer.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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Posted on 05 Feb 2017 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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Promise Presence Purpose
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala


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