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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Palm Sunday The King is Coming!

Matthew 21: 8 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way.
9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.
10 And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this?
11 And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.

Luke 19:35 And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon.
36 And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way.
37 And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen;
38 Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.

John 12:12 On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,
13 Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.
14 And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written,
15 Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt.
16 These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him.

Today, Sunday, is the beginning of Holy Week, a day which is referred to as Palm Sunday due to the worshippers of Jesus waving palm branches as He entered into His City for the last time riding on a donkey. The city was exploding with those who were attending the annual Passover feast and celebration so that when word went out that their king was coming, people went out to welcome Him. They shouted the word Hosanna, which means "come and save us." Finally the long awaited Messiah had come to save them and as the praises were shouted in honor of their King, Jesus rode through and by the crowd on His way to the events of the next week. Yes, indeed, He had come save them, but it would be in a manner that would cause most to question the nature of His kingdom.

May we spend substantial time reading of, thinking on and meditating upon the events of Palm Sunday and that which follows next week as we prepare our hearts for Easter!! May our hearts be hungering and thirsting for Truth as we follow Him in His final days of His rescue mission for us.

Today is a day of great joy and rejoicing for us who are living 2000+ years after the first Palm Sunday.

Unlike those who were celebrating the arrival of the Messiah then, we know the end of the story and we know that He entered into Jerusalem not to be crowned with a kingly crown, but with a crown of thorns. For He came to deliver us not from the bondage of living under a oppressive government, but to deliver us from the oppression of sin, of our flesh and from death.

Fulfilment of Prophecy

Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.
10 And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.

In the ancient Middle Eastern world, leaders rode horses if they rode to war, but donkeys if they came in peace. First Kings 1:33 mentions Solomon riding a donkey on the day he was recognized as the new king of Israel. Other instances of leaders riding donkeys are Judges 5:10; 10:4; 12:14; and 2 Samuel 16:2.

The mention of a donkey in Zechariah 9:9-10 fits the description of a king who would be “righteous and having salvation, gentle.” Rather than riding to conquer, this king would enter in peace.

Zechariah 9:10 highlights this peace: “I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war-horses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.”

Annual Pilgrimage

It was during the great annual Passover celebration that has its origin in the Old Testament, from the book of Exodus. Estimates of the numbers vary from 250,000 to over 2,000,000. Needless to say, the city was overflowing with pilgrims. It is important for us to know the significance of Jerusalem for the OT worshipper. That is where they went to meet with their God, offering their various sacrifices which they were required to do in order to be assured that their God was still their God. They loved their God and worshipped Him in the ways that they had been taught by their ancestors.

They loved their place of worship with its meaning and significance so much that on their way to Jerusalem when the glorious city of Jerusalem came into its shining golden view, they immediately dropped to their face in worship of their Holy God. Here is a short excerpt from the book of Exodus in which is recorded the origin of Passover.

Exodus 12:24 And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever.
25 And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the LORD will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this service.
26 And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service?
27 That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the LORD'S passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped.

Grand Opening of God’s Mission for the World through Christ, the Prince of Peace.

As I have read about, thought about, prayed about and considered as to how best bring forth this Palm Sunday message, I thought that it would be best to simply use this sermon as a launching pad for further meditations into the next week by providing a few scriptures that separate Jesus’s continuing journey as He establishes His kingdom. From our scriptures we know that many came out to see Jesus having heard that He had raised Lazarus from the dead, and they recognized according to their understanding and knowledge that this was the One that they were longing to come to set them free.

Let us think for ourselves for a moment now. The scriptures are clear that God has so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him would not perish, but would have eternal life. That is who God is and that is why Jesus came: To deliver us from our sin.

Those who shouted Hosanna that day were not only shouting praises to His name, but they were also calling upon Him to save them. They clearly did not understand what was going to happen the later in the week, but with what knowledge they had they praised God for the good works that He had done. With the faith that they had, they shouted loudly and joyously to their God as He rode by on the donkey.

How is it with you and I who live after the fact, knowing the rest of the story? Is the story an old old story that has lost its luster or its impact for us? Speaking for myself, there is need for me to receive fresh revelation of two very important truths: I am a great sinner and Christ is a Greater Saviour. Are not both of these truths on need of increase? It is when Christ is lifted up in His grace and forgiveness toward us that we are more and more thankful for His grace.

I read one time of a man who had all kinds of excuses as to why he was not interested in hearing about Jesus. He continually pointed out the faults and sins of others, and said that if that is what a Christian is, he wants no part of it. Everybody that he looked at was essentially a greater sinner than himself, and he kept himself content in knowing that at least he wasn’t the worst sinner. But what would happen to the man’s opinon of himself if he looked at Christ in His perfection? He would either have to believe a lie about himself or he would have to fall before the sinless Christ in humility and in need of forgiveness.

So in order to seek to be refreshed in these two truths, I am spending time this week reading and meditating over some scriptures which relate of the events of Holy Week, which start today with Palm Sunday. I have included them below in this writing for your convenience so that you too may encounter the love of God anew through Jesus the Christ.

Dear Father, we are rejoicing today in the knowledge that You came to set us free! Our hearts and voices are lifted up in Hosannas both in praise as well as in prayer. We praise you for loving us so much that you decided for us in Christ and we pray to you that You would help us to appreciate more and more of what you have done. May our hearts be lifted up on praise, along with the songwriter of old, who out of an overflowing heart of thanksgiving and praise penned the following words.

1. To God be the glory, great things He hath done,
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin,
And opened the life gate that all may go in.

o Refrain:
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the people rejoice!
Oh, come to the Father, through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory, great things He hath done.

2. Oh, perfect redemption, the purchase of blood,
To every believer the promise of God;
The vilest offender who truly believes,
That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.

3. Great things He hath taught us, great things He hath done,
And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;
But purer, and higher, and greater will be
Our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see.

My dear friend, here are the readings for meditation during Holy Week. May you be blessed during this time as we see the shadow of the cross beginning to take shape.

Monday: Mark 11:12-19
Tuesday: Mark 11:20-33, 12:1-44, 13:1-37
Wednesday: Mark 14:1-11
Thursday Mark 14:12-51
Friday: Mark 14:53-72, 15:1-47
Saturday: Matthew 27:62-66
Sunday: John 20:1-18
Blessed Holy Week meditations to you, dear friend.
Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 09 Apr 2017 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
I AM the Resurrection and the Life
Good Morning and the amazing grace of God in Christ Jesus be unto you today and forever!mIt is nice to be back home after being gone to New Hampshire again where we were with the family of my wife's oldest brother, whose wife (74 yrs old) died after a short illness while traveling to a wedding. It was a very sad time as we grieved with them while attempting to offer them comfort through the Word and by our presence.

She left behind her husband of 54 years, 8 children, 53 grandchildren and 33 great grandchildren. Yes, we are grieving but we are also
rejoicing in the reality that she, being absent from the body is present with the Lord. She is sleeping in Him and will awake in the morning in the final resurrection to enjoy the full measure of being with the Lord forever. She lived in the resurrected life that Jesus gave her with the expectant hope of being with Him forever after the resurrection from the dead. (the sleeping)

You who are loved by the Lord! Isn't that good news, to be reminded that we are loved by the Lord? My dear brother in Christ, Doug Saukkola, often greets those he meets with that kind of a greeting: God loves you and so do I.

Do you sometimes wonder and even doubt the truth of these words? I think we do, as in the difficult and trying circumstances of life, our feelings and emotions often cloud our ability to experience the closeness of our Lord and our Savior. We sometimes wonder where He is, what He is doing, why we are going through what we are going through and so on. The reason for this is that we get confused between human love and divine love. In all simplicity, human love tends to look at life through earthly and present eyes while divine love looks at life through the eternal perspective.

Today we are going to be present in the hearing of the Word as Jesus performs the seventh sign in this Gospel, the raising of a man who had died from the dead, stating: "I AM the Resurrection and the Life." Again He uses a circumstance of every day life to "set up" this miracle/sign so that His Father and He might be glorified by bringing this dead man to life. He connects with them on an everyday level of life with its sorrows, needs and wants and draws them close to Him for the end purpose that He would reveal Himself to them as the One who came to give Life and an abundant one at that. (John 10:10) He is giving all a precursor to the final sign that is yet to come............His death and His resurrection!!!

May the Holy Spirit bless each of us as we draw near to Jesus through His Word this day. I will place a few comments as we go through the text in order to help bring application to ourselves in our very own lives.

KJV John 11:1 Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.
2 (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)
3 Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.

The three, Mary, Martha and Lazarus were of one family and their youngest brother had fallen sick. The sisters, very familiar with the healing power of Jesus, naturally called upon their friend Jesus, who they knew loved Lazarus, to come to heal him. They knew this much about Jesus, in that He had the ability and the power to heal the sick and so on. It would seem a simply matter that Jesus who loved them would come to them to heal as they asked Him to. But, Jesus in divine love, had greater matters to reveal to them by His inaction of not coming to them immediately.

4 When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.
5 Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.
6 When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.

Jesus did not come immediately, but hearing the news He in so many words said that He was going to use the death of Lazarus to show God's love, mercy and power so that both His Father and He would be glorified. What? Didn't Jesus love them all? Yes, that is why John has inserted verse 5 which says that Jesus loved the three. Then why did He stay another two days in the place that He was? Because He loved them with divine/eternal love and was going to use the struggles of the sisters in order to bring them to an understanding of divine love.

7 Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again.
8 His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?
9 Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.
10 But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.

Jesus then spoke to his disciples about going back into a hornets nest, where just previously the Jewish leaders had tried to kill Him for His saying that He and the Father were one. (John 10:30-31) But Jesus had no fear, for He knew that He was not going to be delivered to the cross until it was time, for no one was going to take Him, but He would yield Himself into their hands. (John 10:15) He allowed these things to sink into their minds, and then returned to the request of Mary and Martha to come to help their brother.

11 These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.
12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.
13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.

Here we see the earthly mindedness of the disciples, even as we have seen all along in our study of John's Gospel to date. We understand things according to what we have learned through training, teaching and experience. We can only know and speak of that which we have experienced. The disciples thought that Lazarus was merely sleeping a natural sleep and that if he kept sleeping it would be good for him to get him well. But Jesus told the directly what He meant when He said he is sleeping.

14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.
15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.

In three words, He told them that what He meant by sleep: Lazarus is dead. There is no earthly life in him. And then He went onto express gladness for their sakes that He was not there before Lazarus died, and then the all important purpose phrase: To the intent that ye may believe. Here is the zenith, the Mt Everest of this message that we are considering today: Jesus is doing these things in the lives of these people to the end that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent and in doing so, have eternal life. John 17:3

Allow me to expand a little on this point. There are many, including those who are reading this writing, who either struggle themselves with wondering what God is doing in their lives, or in the lives of others. You wonder, how I am going to get through this? What is going to happen in the future? Maybe as you read this now, those thoughts are coming to you, just as they did to the disciples when Jesus said that Lazarus is dead, I am glad for your sakes that I did not get here before He died, but this is all for the purpose that you might believe in Me. May the Holy Spirit open our hearts, minds and eyes to what is being said and intended here by Jesus.

Then in the last part of verse 15, Jesus says: Nevertheless let us go unto him. Jesus had told them what this happening was all about, and now in order to demonstrate and illustrate what He had said to them, He was going to go to where the sleeping Lazarus lay.

16 Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.

One disciple gave a response to this shocking statements and difficult to understand, saying, well, if Lazarus is dead, and we are going into the dangerous place with You, Jesus, we might as well go along and die just like Lazarus did. Not a very positive response, for sure, and to this statement Jesus said nothing.

17 Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.
18 Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: (two miles)
19 And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.

There was weeping and wailing there, as it was the custom to do for a week.

20 Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.
21 Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
22 But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.

Martha, recognizing that Jesus would have been able to prevent her brother from dying, said those words to Jesus as she met Him. Then she expressed her understanding of Jesus having great power, but did she still yet think of Jesus only as a servant to God and not as God Himself? It seems like it.

23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.

To this Jesus, replied: Your brother will rise again, speaking to what He was going to do in a physical sense, which would be a sign of greater things to come in Himself.

24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.

Martha, understanding from the Old Testament scriptures that there is a resurrection from the dead, said, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection of the dead at the last day.Then Jesus spoke the words that have deep meaning and significance for all of mankind!!!

25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

Apostle Paul in his second letter to Timothy captured the essence of what Jesus now says to Martha, to us, to the intent that we would believe.

2 Timothy 1:9 (God) Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:

So when Jesus says, I AM the resurrection and the life, He is saying, I AM the Abolisher of death, and the Giver of Life. Jesus asked her on that day and asks us today? Do you believe this?

27 She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.

2 Timothy 2:12. nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

Do you believe this?
Posted on 02 Apr 2017 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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Palm Sunday The King is Coming!
- 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.