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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The Song of Mary 12.24.2017
Scripture Text: Luke 1:39-56

Good morning, dear friend, and may great joy fill our hearts today on this Christmas Eve Day as we worship our God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. May it be as we peer into His manger that we see His great love streaming out to the entire world, which includes you and I!

Does not a song arise in our hearts as we meditate upon the fact of God coming in human form? How we are blessed when we are able to see the love of God towards you and I lying in the manger! What a night it was for the entire world, and which was described in the Christmas Carol, O Holy Night:

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining, It is the night of the dear Saviours birth! Long lay the world in sin and error pining, Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn! Fall on your knees, Oh, hear the angel voices! O night divine, O night When Christ was born, O night, O holy night, O night divine!

After 400 years of silence from God, all things were being made ready for first Advent of the Saviour of all mankind. It was to two families that the first hint of what was to come was revealed, one an elderly couple and the other a very young couple.

After being visited by the angel Gabriel and after being told of the what and the how of that was going to come to pass, Mary by faith, yielded her body and her life for the purpose of the Lord. Upon hearing encouragement and affirmation of things soon to come to pass from her cousin Elizabeth who was expecting her son, John the Baptist, Mary magnifies the Lord in praise. She grasped by faith that this child was not just a child, but that this child who had been conceived by the Holy Spirit was her Saviour. Later she will see the shepherds coming to her in the stable as well as the Wisemen coming to worship the King of the Jews, who after first going to Jerusalem come to where the child was. This caused much pondering in her heart as she thought on the visitation of the angel and the events that were coming to pass.

As those who live in between the fulfilment of the promise of His first coming and who are awaiting the fulfilment of His final advent, we are having a song created in our hearts through the revelation of Jesus into our minds and hearts. For some today it is a song of joy, for others it is a song of sorrow, for others a song of meaninglessness, for some a song of waiting and waiting‚€¦‚€¦

The humility of Mary

Luke 1:46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,
47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

The Greatness and Mercy of God

49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.
51 He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
52 He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.
53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.
54 He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;
55 As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.
Mary saw in the manger her Saviour. Do we see our Saviour there too?

May I ask each of you, What is your song?

Early Saturday morning I received a phone call by which I learned that our dear brother, Lawry Kilpela of 95 years of age, had been granted his wish to go home. He was waiting and waiting for the call and in Gods fullness of time, the call came. He is now absent from the body and present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8) Lawry understood the meaning of to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21)

Lawry had a song which was developed into his heart through the many means of grace, the foundation of which is the love of God in Christ Jesus.

In honor of Lawry and for the purpose being inspired in the Lord, may I share some verses of his song‚€¦..

In 1938 at 16 years of age, I thought I knew all there was to know about church and the bible. What a mistake that was, for that was just the beginning of my learning. I am near 92 years old, still learning and still know very little.

I had attended years of Sunday School and I had memorized nearly all the lessons of the Catechism. I not only had learned a lot about the things of God, but I had also learned much about the history that was in the Bible. But even in knowing all of that, I did not get what it was all about. So up to the time I entered into confirmation class I had little desire to go to church. And just prior to beginning the confirmation of my faith, I had been thinking to myself that after I am done, I am not coming back to the church. I am done.

After going through confirmation class, as we were leaving the pastor, Paul Heideman, who taught us told us as we were leaving the last class: As you come by me, when I greet you with Gods Peace, either you are saying goodbye to me or you are saying Gods Peace to me. There were some there whose parents did not attend church for various reasons, so I understood why they would not be coming back, but it came to me that Pastor Heideman was encouraging us and inviting us to continue growing in our knowledge of Jesus by continuing to attend church.

I do not really know when or how, but something happened in my heart as a result of attending confirmation and after I left instead of not going back to church, I not only did that but sometimes I would attend 2 bible studies in one week.

As a result of Gods grace to me, I have come to understand more and more of this gift of salvation which is in Jesus Christ through faith. As I have heard the Word preached, attended Bible studies, discussed with other brothers and sister in faith, and read, meditated and prayed over the scriptures, He has given me more understanding and knowledge of His love for me by the means of the Holy Spirit opening up the Bible to me. The following verses are some examples of how God used His Word to open up to me of the things of faith in Christ.

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been, saved through faith, and not of yourselves. It is a gift of God; not of works, lest anyone should boast.

2 Timothy 1:9 God who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.

Romans 4:4-5 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as
grace, but as debt. But to him who does not work, but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.

John 1:12-13 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His Name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

My favorite bible verse is John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.

My favorite hymns are: Trust and Obey, What a Friend We Have in Jesus, On Christ the Solid Rock I stand. The person who had the most impact on my life was my father because of the example of his being steadfast in faith.

Things I have learned in life: Don't hold anger against anyone, Don't look on the mistakes of others but take inventory of one's own mistakes.

What can I say today as I look back on my life? I have been purchased with a precious price, the blood of Christ shed on Calvary's Cross which atoned for my sins and the sins of the world, and I have the sure hope of being in heaven forever. May we all continue to look to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith until that day when we are called to be with Him forever!

Lawry now sings in glory!!

Luke 1:46 And (your name) said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,
47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

Amen. Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 24 Dec 2017 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
John the Voice 12.17.2017
Dear friend,

May the anticipated and expectant hope of the soon coming of the celebration of God coming in the flesh (Christmas) cause our hearts to warm in thankfulness and quiet peace.

Today is the Third Sunday in Advent and our scripture of meditation is from the fourth Gospel, the Gospel of John the Apostle. It is about John the Baptist and his responses to those who were asking to identify himself in light of his revolutionary ways. We will read from John 1:6-8 and from 1:19-28.

John 1:6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.

Just look at those sentences, for it says it very clearly. Our God sent this man John to be a testifier of the Truth so that all would believe for their soul‚€™s salvation. But John makes it clear that John the Baptist was not that Light, but he was sent to testify of Christ, the Light of the World.

Verses 9-18 continue to outline the entire Gospel of John, as verses 1-18 are called the prologue, or in other words, the outline of the entire Gospel. We now return to the testimony of John the Baptist in verse 19
John the Baptist was causing quite a commotion, many were going to where he was at the Jordan River where he was baptizing there. Here is what Matthew wrote about it.

Matthew 3:1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
4 And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.
5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan,
6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.

With the lines long, naturally in the Jewish temples of hierarchy, the leaders wanted to know on what authority was John baptizing all who came to him. They sent messengers to inquire of John.

He emphatically stated: I am NOT the Christ.

19 And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?
20 And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.

He said, I am not Elijah, and I am not that prophet.

21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.

Why did they ask if he was Elijah? Because of the prophecies of the Old Testament.

Malachi 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:

And we recall the prophecy of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist concerning his son.

Luke 1:16 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

They then asked, are you that prophet, which was pointed at in a prophecy in Deuteronomy.

KJV Deuteronomy 18:18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.

Perhaps in consternation thinking that they might have to return to their leaders without an answer, they ask the question, Who are you? What do you say for yourself?

22 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?
23 He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.

Up to this time, John identifying himself by telling them who he was not. I am not the Christ, I am not Elijah (he was in the spirit and power of Elijah) and he was not that prophet. (Moses)

In response to their insistent question, John the Baptist replies,

I am a Voice crying in the wilderness calling upon all to come to Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins through repentance and confession. In other words, he is inviting them to come to that place that they recognize that nothing will save them but the Saviour, Jesus the Christ.

24 And they which were sent were of the Pharisees.
25 And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?
26 John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not;

He was asked as to why he was baptizing if he had no authority or credentials. He simply said that he is baptizing with water, but then pointed to the One who they did not yet know. In this account in John‚€™s Gospel, very little is said about baptism by John the Baptist, as he pointed to Jesus the Saviour.

27 He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose.

John the Baptist then demonstrated his humility by elevating Christ and decreasing himself.

28 These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.
29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

So summing this up, we see that John the Baptist clearly understood who he was not, that he was a voice which pointed people to Jesus for salvation. He was humble and perhaps one verse in the Gospel of John would typify the attitude of his heart.

KJV John 3:30 He (Christ) must increase, but I must decrease.

As I did some research on the paintings of John the Baptist, I found a number of paintings by famous artists from year gone by. The most famous seems to be one with John the Baptist pointing up, which seems to go right along with his understanding that he was a voice which pointed not to himself, but to Christ.

What are your thoughts as you meditate upon this part that John played in the account of the person and the work of Jesus the Christ? I would love if you would share your thoughts with me through return email.

John knew who he was not.
John lived in humility of self.
John recognized that he was a voice with a message.
John pointed to Christ alone as the One who takes away our sin.

May the Spirit graciously work in our hearts to bring us to repentance when needed, may He help us to look away from self and to Christ alone, and may He help us to point others to Christ and to Him alone.

In Christ alone,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 17 Dec 2017 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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The Song of Mary 12.24.2017
- 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.