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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Mary anoints Jesus
Dear friend,

May the amazing grace that God gave to the world be celebrated over and rejoiced in today by all of us!

Who is Jesus? Does He love you/me? What does He want for you/me?

If a loved one was sick, you called for the doctor, but got a message back that he/she is not coming for at least two days, and in the end did not make it in time before you loved one died, what would you think? Would you think that it was a loving thing for the doctor to do? No, we would not think it was loving, in fact, we would think it very cruel.
We heard a couple of weeks ago in one of our scripture readings from the book of Isaiah in chapter 55 which goes like this: 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

God is always working through many means in order to bring us to "life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." (John 17:30

The setup for this message begins at the beginnning of chapter 11 of John's Gospel with the following words:

KJV John 11:1 Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.
KJV John 11:2 (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.
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.

He responded in verse 3, good so far, it doesn't appear that Lazarus will die,.what does he mean that this is for the glory of God and for the glory of the Son of God? But He does not come to help...

KJV John 11:14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.
KJV John 11:15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.

Now Jesus does not only come, but he says that for their sakes, he is glad that he did not come. for he has a greater purpose in mind than only Lazarus and his health. He had others in mind, first Martha, then Mary....

19 And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.
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.
23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.
24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
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?
27 She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.
28 And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.

Martha believed in Jesus as her Savior, spoke of it with words, and then went and told her sister Mary that Jesus is come and calls for her.

29 As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him.
30 Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him.
31 The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there.
32 Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,
34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.
35 Jesus wept.
36 Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!
37 And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?

38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.
39 Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.
40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.
42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.

43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.
45 Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.
46 But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.

47 Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.
48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.
49 And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all,
50 Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.
51 And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation;
52 And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.
53 Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.
54 Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples.
55 And the Jews' passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves.
56 Then sought they for Jesus, and spake among themselves, as they stood in the temple, What think ye, that he will not come to the feast?
57 Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where he were, he should shew it, that they might take him.

Read Text
KJV John 12:1 Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.
2 There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him.

3 Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.
4 Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him,
5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?
6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.

7 Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.

Jesus at times stayed night in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, along with Mary, Martha n Lazarus, one who had been healed of leprosy by Jesus. It was in honor of Jesus for his healing of Simon. All the disciples r present who was a living memorial of God's power in healing.

But wait, there is another memorial: Lazarus who had been raised from the dead n now sat at the table with them all.

Now, let us imagine the scene, and may we view it through our Saviour's heart, mind and eyes. Let us do that by having a conversation with Him which could go in the following manner........

Lord, you are sitting there, having completed your public ministry, for it is no longer expedient for you to be in public as you will shortly enter Jerusalem. You know the hour of your glory is approaching. What were you thinking? You had your face set toward Jerusalem, you are able to see the harvest that will come through the your blood which would spill from your body, and so it must have been with joy and sorrow intermingled that you sat at the table. As you chatted with all the guests, alongside you being Lazarus who had been dead for four days chatting in a very much alive manner, the conversation must have at times focused on the one who was once dead, but now is alive. It must have been hard for you to hold back, knowing what was to come through the glorious hour which was to come: Your Father and you glorified through bringing life out of death to the world!!!!!!!!! But Mary must have been on your heart, as well as many of us here today..........

Your last conversation with Mary had been one after which you felt her lack of ability to understand your purpose in delaying to come to help her brother. You so wanted her to see the glory of God, and therefore you moved to bring up Lazarus from the dead, to illustrate beforehand of what of your death and resurrection!!!

11:32 Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.
35 Jesus wept.

Oh, Mary, I want you to see much much more than just a physical healing, I want you to see through this experience that I am the resurrection and the life. I am going to give you spiritual healing, which is what you need.

Somewhere between her disappointment in the death of her brother, and the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead, Mary came to see more than a physical healing for.....

Mary approaches you, her heart full of gratitude, full of her desire to honor you, and brimming over with love. But she also has a sense of your impending death, knowing it is coming but not quite sure why it has to be so. She has no words, but is carrying an alabaster vessel of pure oil of spikenard, a very expensive perfume. She pours it all out on your head and your feet, then she bends down n wipes your feet with her loosened tresses.
She worships you silently, Lord, from the depths of her heart.

No words spoken but a deep message was given to all who were seeing this. Then, what is that aroma arising from your body, Jesus? She has poured out a very valuable substance onto you to speak out of her heart, a heart that did not care who saw her pour out her love onto you.

Others breathed in the sweet smelling aroma, and it was pleasant to their senses, but to one the act of worship was missed: Judas...

He had a monetary value pegged on it, but did not see or realize of the nature of the love that was poured out from Mary onto you...

As you watched your betrayer act out of his nature, you did not hesitate in speaking into Mary's heart of worship. You told him to back off, You commended her good work, told him that there will always be poor on the earth, but that you will not always be present. You interpreted the act of worship for all present: She had anointed your body for your upcoming burial, and furthermore, wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, it will be spoken of as a memorial to her act of worship.

Lord, this truth must have penetrated light into Judas' heart since he now went out to the chief priests n scribes to discuss your betrayal. He was done with you...

You saw your death n resurrection before you, but what did Mary understand or realize? Your embalming was being done here, but did she know that? It is clear, Lord, that she loved n adored you and held nothing back in her desire to show you and those around you of her love and adoration for you.

Are you saying that as your children there will always be plenty of needy people to help with physical needs, but that we should not neglect our souls need in caring for the needy?

Dear Lord, help us to never forget that outside of You, we live with a death sentence, which we brought upon ourselves. Help us to never forget that you experienced death so that out of your death, life was brought forth in You, and therefore to us.

I was at a convention yesterday with a friend and when it came time to listen for the prizes at the end of the show, I took both tickets and waited for our names to be called. As I looked at the cards, I noticed that I had not filled out my name and number, so I thought, well, My name will not be called, for I was invited to participate, but did not follow through by putting my filled out stub in the tumbler.

We once lived in harmony with God, we chose death, He sent His Son to be our death for us and out of his death came life. That is what Mary saw, Judas did not see it and instead went out to join those who wanted to kill Jesus.

Lord, may your Spirit bring these words into our hearts and minds so that we would fall before you in worship in spirit and in truth in Christ Jesus, through His death and resurrection.

God's Peace!

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 13 Mar 2016 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
The Seeking Father 3.6.2016
Dear friend,

Who is God? How have we come to know who He is?

Today's lesson is set up immediately by the first two sentences in the 15 chapter of Luke's Gospel. The outcasts were approaching Jesus to hear him, while the ruling church officials were talking against Jesus and His way of doing ministry.. To allow sinners and publicans to come to Him and worse than that, to eat with them was totally contrary to the rules and practices of the kingdom that was presided over by the Pharisees and scribes.

How does Jesus respond to them? He tells three stories which will proceed to illustrate who God is, for in these parables/stories, the heart of God toward both the sinner as well as the self righteous is revealed. For God is not who we think He is or who we think He should be. Rather He reveals Himself though His attitudes and actions as recorded in His Word.

KJV John 3:16 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.

Jesus came to seek and to save those who were lost; these three stories all address lostness: The lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost boys.

KJV Luke 15:1 Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.
2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

3 And he spake this parable unto them, saying,
4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

The first parable speaks to the value of one lost sheep, and of how shepherds would leave the ninety and nine, seek the lost one until it is found. When it is found, he would rejoice, and upon coming home, he would celebrate the recovery of the lost sheep with his friends and neighbors in community. The loss is community oriented and the recovery is community oriented. Furthermore, there is rejoicing in heaven before the Father. A shepherd was not something that the Pharisees and scribes would like to be associated with and to be referred to as a shepherd would have been an offense to them. Let us note that the sheep was not able to find itself. The emphasis is on the seeker.

Next Jesus...

8 Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?
9 And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.
10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

He points to the diligence of the woman, (again challenging their attitudes) who were not valued and honored in their culture, and of how she diligently seeks for the lost coin until she finds it. Again she shares her joy in community, the angels in heaven rejoice before the Father also. The coin had no ability to find itself. The emphasis is on the seeker.

Children's Lesson: Lost and Found! Show them ten coins, lose one of them and have them search for it until they find it, and watch the joy among them when they find it. The Seeking Father

Then Jesus gets to the third story.......and in this one He broadens out the story, so that now it involves both the lost and the seeker.. It is a story of two lost boys.

11 And he said, A certain man had two sons:
12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me

Here is the next challenge to the hearer. In that culture to ask for your inheritance would mean that you want your father dead, you want his stuff and want to do your own things. This is sometimes referred to as a Luke 12 moment. Unfortunately many have experienced this Luke 15:12 experience.....The expected reaction by the father of that culture would have been to beat the son for asking such a thing and order him to stop it. But what did his father do?

.15:12b And he divided unto them his living.
13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.

Luke 15:12 occurrence of leaving the Father's house. All have left the Garden of Eden but not all have grown up knowing the Father. Some have heard of the love of the Father, but have never known it, some have never even heard of it having grown up in the absence of His Word and the Christian community.

He began to be in want as he lost money, freedom and self respect in vs 14, 15, 16. Until we see our need why would we seek him? The Father's seeking won't mean anything until we begin to be in want. He was dirty, smelly and was badly in need of a bath.

His Father is watching and waiting.....for his son to turn to him in his want and need......

17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.

The pigsty turned out to be the door of opportunity for change. But not everyone is able to it in that way. Sin brings instant gratification, but provides no ultimate satisfaction. It is a broad road that leads to destruction. It is like drinking saltwater, in the end the thirst will be unquenchable. He began the journey back home, and as he approached his town, there came his father to meet him,

20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. He was seeking his return, He was watching for him, when he saw him compassion rose up in him so that against all cultural taboos he ran through the town to meet His. Sin his leaving home had been known by the town and community, the son may not have made it through the town alive if his father would not have run to the outside of the town to meet him. The kiss that is described here is one of continually kissing, not just a one time kiss. Instead of the expectation of the culture in that the son would be rejected upon his coming back, the Father received him with joy.

21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

The son's prepared speech of repentance did not get completed as it seems he was cut off from saying anymore, and His Father received him back in full sonship, demonstrating this by putting on the emblems of sonship: The best robe, the ring and the shoes. Those emblems were for sons, and not slaves. He then called for a great celebration to be held in the house because....

What about the older boy

25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.
26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.
27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.
28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.

His father should have punished him according to culture expectations for his older boy humiliated him in front of his house, but His Father came out to kindly draw him into the house......

29 And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:
30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.
31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

The story ends here and we don't know if the older boy went into the house or not. That is not important, as this story was told by Jesus, yes for them in that culture, but He also told it for all people of all time, including you and I.

We heard of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost boys. May the Spirit of God which always points us to the seeking and waiting heart of our Father through Jesus Christ draw us towards the Father's house. There we will find Him waiting with open arms to receive us back to Himself, and there will be a great celebration of joy in the heart of the Seeker, in our individual heart, in the hearts of the community of believers, and in the realms of heaven with the angels and our Father.

May I close by placing four verses in this story that demonstrate the heart of our Father towards both of his lost boys........Let us think deeply upon these verses as we consider our attitudes and actions........

KJV Luke 15:12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.

KJV Luke 15:20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

KJV Luke 15:28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.

KJV Luke 15:31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.

KJV Luke 15:32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

In tenderness He sought me,
Weary and sick with sin;
And on His shoulders brought me
Back to His fold again.
While angels in His presence sang
Until the courts of Heaven rang.
Oh, the love that sought me!
Oh, the blood that bought me!
Oh, the grace that brought me to the fold,
Wondrous grace that brought me to the fold.

May our meditations be blessed as we consider the seeking heart of our Father towards us and towards all.

One that was lost, but now is found! Praise God!

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 06 Mar 2016 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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Mary anoints Jesus
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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