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

Rebellion and Promise 1.22.2017
Dear friends,

May the grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and from His Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ be with you now and always, Amen!

My entries for this blog have been somewhat erratic for the last month and a half as I have been experiencing some health challenges, but I am getting better now and hope to get back to work. When sickness comes upon a person, it is difficult to keep up with all that a person regularly does as much rest is needed during the recuperation process.

Well, it is the New Year and with it comes the promise of the excitement of what is before us in the coming months and years. As children of God, we live in the light of eternal life, always keeping in mind that this life is temporary. Accordingly, we set goals for the future, long term and short term, so that we might live what might be called ‚€œan intentional life,‚€Ě
while awaiting the coming of our Lord and Saviour and eternal life.

With that said, we (our church board and myself) have prayerfully decided to ‚€œintentionally‚€Ě plan a long sermon series over the most part of this year. The plan is to spend the most of the year bringing messages that are from the Old Testament from now until the first of December at which time we will come to the New Testament and the coming of God in the flesh, Jesus the Christ. With 39 books in the Old Testament, it is obvious that it will be an overview of it and will not be in depth. It is hoped that through these messages, that we will all grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ as revealed in both the Old and the New Testaments. We are calling this series of messages, ‚€œThe Red Thread.‚€Ě We could have names it the ‚€œSeamless Story,‚€Ě the ‚€œStory of God‚€™s Mission‚€Ě or even ‚€œGod‚€™s Rescue Plan,‚€Ě but ‚€œThe Red Thread‚€Ě won out.

One of the benefits of modern technology with cell phones is that one is
able to keep text messages on one‚€™s phone in a continuing dialogue, which many refer to as a thread. That is precisely what the continuing story of redemption is in the Scriptures, for it began from eternity past, came into time, is with us presently and will continue until the day when God rolls up the old creation and brings in the new heaven and the new earth.

It is hoped that this series will not just be a history lesson, but that through using the Old Testament as an outline, so to speak, that we all will gain a better understanding and knowledge of how our God is faithful, has always been and will always be. It seems to me that many of us would gain from increased knowledge of how the Old Testament and the New Testament fit together to bring the message and knowledge of salvation through Jesus the Christ. It is hoped that as we move forward in these messages that our confidence in our God as the ruler of both the universe, the world and of our individual lives will increase so that we will be able to live in peace, joy and hope as we travel through this temporary life. And as always, I welcome any input that you might wish to bring to me, such as comments, questions, observations etc. Please call or text me at 320-224-1912, call me at 320-398-2130 or email me at the church website or my personal email at owirkkala@msn.com.

It is my intention on the Sunday‚€™s that I am preaching to write in this blog a summary of the part of the portion of scripture that we are currently considering, highlighting some of the main points, looking for evidence of the ‚€œRed Thread‚€Ě and also seeking to apply that which we consider into our very own lives in a practical way. Each week it is my plan to give the ‚€œreading assignment‚€Ě for the next message on the following Sunday. For example today‚€™s message is from Genesis 3 and the next one on February 5th (we are having a guest speaker on January 29th) during which we will consider the period after the fall into sin and death (Genesis 3) up to the beginning of the life of Abraham. (Genesis 4-11) I have not worked it out yet, but it is the goal that by the end of November that all who follow along will have read the entire Old Testament and will have gained more knowledge of how the ‚€œRed Thread‚€Ě was seen and understood by those in the Old Testament era.

I want to start out by pointing out that the entire Scriptures could be outlined in brief through the following manner. Creation (Genesis 1-2), Fall into Death and Sin (Genesis 3), Redemption (Genesis 3-Revelation 19) and the New Creation (Revelation 20-21)

Last Sunday we brought the message on Creation from Genesis 1-2 and this Sunday it will be from the next chapter, Genesis 3 and a message entitled: ‚€œRebellion and Promise.‚€Ě Because I have written these long introductory notes, what I write about Genesis 3 will be brief, as in the oncoming weeks we will be referring back to chapter 3, both concerning Rebellion and Promise. I have placed some verses below which will help us to understand that God is not bound by time, and that the ‚€œbeginning‚€Ě was before time. Please consider what Apostle John wrote in the New Testament (NT) which describes events before the Old Testament (OT) of creation of time and matter. (including us)

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Genesis 1:31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Genesis 2:15 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

All Creation lived in harmony with its Creator, in purity, in righteousness, in wisdom, in will‚€¦..but then‚€¦‚€¦

KJV Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

KJV Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

We as mankind rebelled against our Creator, by being separated from Him and His Word through the deceitfulness of the liar and murderer, Satan.

John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

In brief, he asked a question which was designed to put doubt into Eve‚€™s mind, once he engaged her into a conversation on his grounds, he went for the jugular by directly challenging the statement of God in which God had told Adam concerning eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Genesis 2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Genesis 3:3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

She ate, she gave to Adam and so we all died, physically, spiritually and eternally. Oh, it was not immediate, but look at what happened next. They hid from each other and from God as what Satan had promised them was not what they received. But God came looking for them, asked probing questions to which they shifted blame away from themselves, and were left in hopelessness‚€¦..

But God promised them that He would restore that which they had lost, by pointing to the Red Thread.

KJV Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

Jesus the Christ would redeem mankind in the future by coming as a representative of mankind, which Apostle Paul refers to as the last Adam in this passage:

KJV 1 Corinthians 15:45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.

In our Scripture reading today from Matthew 4:1-11, the last Adam resisted all of Satan‚€™s ploys to separate Him from the Word of His Father through the use of the Word.

May we rejoice in the victory that was won by Christ by which He brought us back to our Creator and Father so that death has been overcome, sin has been atoned for and He has been gracious to us by granting unto us forgiveness for the sake of His Son. Now we live in the Spirit who continually testifies to us of the perfection of Christ so that we in our imperfection live in peace and harmony with our Creator and Father! For this unspeakable gift, how can we not praise him now and forever!!!

As my mother on her death bed told me, ‚€œEternity will not be long enough to praise our God for saving us.‚€Ě

Yes, the Red Thread is all the way through the Scriptures, and may we not miss it as we read, meditate and rejoice in our Saviour love, compassion and action toward and for us.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 22 Jan 2017 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
"What can I give you?" 1.8.2017
A Blessed New Year to you in the Lord. May you grow in the awareness, in the knowledge and in the experience of who God is, that which God has done for us and who we are in Jesus Christ, Our
Lord and Saviour!

If you heard an audible voice from God, asking you what He could give you, how would I/you respond?

As we look forward to the New Year and what it will bring, may we look at all things through the lens of what is contained in the first paragraph. In order to do this, we will take a look at a couple of places in the Scriptures, one from the Old Testament and the other from the New Testament. We will see the same pattern in both readings: Namely, that being blessed by God He invites us to be a blessing to others.

1 Kings 3:5 In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee.
6 And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day.
7 And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.
8 And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude.
9 Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?

We remember that the first king that was given to the nation of Israel was King Saul, and who was dethroned by God for being disobedient in his office. His successor was the Shepherd boy David who reigned until the time when his son Solomon succeeded him as king. in this account of his life, we see the heart of God towards His people and in this case namely Solomon. God wants to pour out His blessing upon him with the desire that His people would be blessed under the rule of their king.

The occasion that we have before us illustrated the heart of Solomon in the following ways:

1) Solomon remembers the faithful kingship of his father to God and that the opportunity for him (Solomon) to succeed him was a blessing and gift from God.

2) Solomon recognized and demonstrated his humility before God.

3) Solomon recognized that he needed the wisdom of God in order to faithfully rule His people.

4) Solomon asked God for an understanding and discerning heart in order to be able to govern His people.

How did God receive this prayer? Very favorably!

1 Kings 3:10 And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.
11 And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment;
12 Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.
13 And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.
14 And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days.
15 And Solomon awoke; and, behold, it was a dream. And he came to Jerusalem, and stood before the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and offered up burnt offerings, and offered peace offerings, and made a feast to all his servants.

Essentially, because Solomon asked for things by which he would be a blessing to others, God poured out into the life of Solomon, wisdom, riches and honor. I am reminded of what this same Solomon wrote in the book of Proverbs ( 22:4) By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life.

Now let's take a look at our New Testament reference, from Apostle Paul's letter to the Ephesian congregation. As I previously stated, it follows the same pattern in that God has poured out His blessing upon us who are created by Him and for Him. He has blessed us that we might be a blessing to others around us.

In the first 14 verses of this letter, it is laid out very well what God has done for us and who He has made us in His Son Jesus Christ through His atoning and redeeming death and resurrection. In verse 15 the Apostle Paul begins to apply into our lives that which God has already done, that which has been given to us as gift by grace through faith. Let us look as to how Paul applies God's blessing into our lives to the end that we will be a blessing to others.

Ephesians 1:15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,
16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:

Paul prays for all believers of all time that the spirit of wisdom and revelation would be increased in the knowledge of God! And how is this to occur? Let us continue on...for he breaks it out into three different aspects of this increased wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God.

18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,

He prays that the eyes of our understanding would be enlightened in order that:
1) We may know (more surely) the hope of our calling
2) What great riches we possess in our inheritance in the saints.
3) We would know and experience the exceeding greatness of Christ's power toward us as coming from Christ Himself.

20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

He closes this chapter by pointing to the resurrection of Christ, how He is ruling at His (God's) right hand and is above all others powers and that all things are put under His feet, and He is head of the church, His body!

There is a lot to digest here, and we will allow the Spirit to bring this to us in a deeper manner. But I would like to go back to the simple question that I posed in the beginning: If God came to you in an audible manner and asked as to "what He could give you/me", how would we respond? How will we respond into the New Year with all its opportunities, occasions and options?

May we consider the two scripture references as consider our answer to God's question. For He has blessed us that we might be a blessing to many others, not only in a physical manner, but more importantly in a spiritual manner. By this I mean that He has given us life and salvation through Christ to the end that we would have an eye out for those who are in desperate need of Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of sins that He brought for all mankind.

How will you and I respond to God's goodness and grace as we move forward in the New Year?

Blessings to you,

Pastor Orval
Posted on 08 Jan 2017 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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Rebellion and Promise 1.22.2017
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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*Wendy and Dan Salo: Strength & courage to trust Him w/her health concerns