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 greatest of these is love." 2/12/2012
Dear Friends in Christ!

Four Sundays ago we brought forth a message from the first book of the Bible, Genesis, that emphasized the truth the God is life. The theme of that sermon was that God is life, God is light and God is love. We were reminded that even though John's Gospel is written much later than the book of Genesis, John writes of eternity past that existed before the world came into being, which the book of Genesis reveals. It is the story of Creator and His creations.

The following Sunday the theme of the message was that God is love, God loves us, we love God and we love one another.

Last week our text explained to us that as we experience God's love towards us in His Son, we are motivated to live our lives for the benefit of showing God's love to those with whom we meet and share our lives with. All three sermons have been built upon the foundation of this statement from the 1st Epistle of John: God is love. (1 John 4:8b)

Since it is Valentine's Day on Tuesday, and because our theme for the last month has been love, today we will explore one of the most widely interpreted books in the Old Testament: The Song of Solomon. Within the pages of this book, the descrlptions and expressions of love abound. Let us take an overview of this wonderful book today and as a result of taking a fresh look at love through all three readings from Genesis, Ephesians and the Song of Solomon, may love grow even more in our minds, in our hearts and in our lives.

Our readings today were from the book of Genesis 2:18-25 and Ephesians 5:21-33. We see that in the Genesis reading through creation of the world and everything in it God brought us into being and saw that all was good with the exception of one situation. It was not good for man to be alone. He created woman out of the side of Adam and brought the woman to the man in the first marriage. This was and is yet God's ideal for us.

Our second reading from Paul's letter to the Ephesians gives more detail in the New Testament time as to the relationship of marriage and connects it to the relationship between Jesus Christ and his church. As we heard both accounts read, we heard that there was a consistency between both of the readings in that Paul amplified and explained to some degree what Moses had written:

KJV Genesis 2:24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

KJV Ephesians 5:31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
KJV Ephesians 5:32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
KJV Ephesians 5:33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Reason for Overview
As we look at Song of Solomon today, there may be questions as to why I chose to do so. There are at least two reasons that caused me to do so. It is Valentine's Day on Tuesday and the Song is about love. But there is more important reason: We have continually emphasized the importance of reading the Word, have encouraged all to read the Bible through in a year and many have done so and are doing so. We pray that you continue to do so, and it is our hope that as periodically we bring messages that give an overview of a particular book of the Bible, that your ability to understand the nature of the book and of how it fits into the big picture will be increased. It is also our prayer that our appetites to know Jesus Christ through His Word will be whetted and increased.

One of the basic principles of reading, understanding and interpreting the Bible is in keeping it all in context. We ask ourselves the question when we read or hear His Word. How does this verse fit in with the paragraph? How does this paragraph fit in with the chapter? How does this chapter fit in with book? How does this book fit in with the Old or New Testament? How does this fit in with the revelation of God's plan of saving the world?

I chose to give an overview of the Song of Solomon today because it is a book that speaks volumes about love, it is a book that has volumes and volumes of commentaries written about it and it is a book that has been the most widely interpreted of all the books in the Bible, including the books of prophecy in both the Old and the New Testament. It is not my intention to do anymore than to give you tools by which you can read this book for yourselves. So in light of that, I will give a brief explanation of the three main views of interpretation.

1. The Allegorical view.
This is the most ancient method of interpretation. It sprang, no doubt, from the rabbinical school among the Jews, in which the verbal inspiration of Scripture was tenaciously held, while, at the same time, all kinds of fanciful interpretations were foisted into the divinely authorized words. This was the main view until the 1500s.

2. The Literal view: It is a secular love song not intended to convey a spiritual lesson and expressing human love with a typical portrait in a highly romantic way drawn from a historical event in the life of Solomon

3. The Literal/Typical view. This view sees a combination a literal historical event portraying the beauties of physical love along with a typical portrait of God's Love and Christ's love for the church. Portrayed in this book are the joys of love in courtship and marriage and establishes and honors the rightful place of physical love within marriage.

May the Lord bless you as you spend time reading and meditating upon the beauties of Gods' love and of human love contained within this book, the Song of Solomon. It will be helpful to you if as you read it you keep in mind the various contexts that we outlined in the beginning of this meditation.

Last week we heard as to how the Apostle Paul understood clearly that he was right before God through the person and finished work of Jesus Christ. But he also understood that this knowledge was not to be used to puff himself up and to look down on others, but that he would consider as to how his own example affected those he was wanting to come to know the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Love motivated him to say, I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
(1 Cor 9:22b)

He understood that life was not about what was good for him, but what would benefit his neighbor towards salvation. Do we understand what he is talking about? There is something that I want to bring out here that seems to fit here and which I pray that somehow will help us all to see the heart of the love of God for the world, the heart of the love of Jesus for the world and the heart of His love that He desires that we have. We want that kind of love, but sometimes we wonder how does God bring us to that place so that we can feel and have compassion for those who need our help.

People need to know how much we care before they care how much we know. And inorder to know we care for them, people need to know that we understand to some degree how they feel in their lives. There are numerous ways that God brings us to these places of understanding others, so this just one of them.

God wants us to know always that as our Father He loves us and would never want us to think anything else. He never does things that are not meant for our good and our blessing. It is always our lack of understanding of his ways that causes us to doubt his love or to blame Him for something. That is a reality of our fallen nature.

As fathers, we are weak, have failed and often fail, will fail. Our children are confused by actions that we have towards them when we do not demonstrate love, both in the area of our acceptance of them as well as when we give them direction in life. The need for acceptance in our children is great, and in our frailty we wish for them to know that reality.

One of the greatest reasons for separation today in relationships is unresolved conflict. Sometimes it is not possible to reconcile with those with whom we are separated and that is unfortunate. We struggle with admitting our fault, others do the same and a relationship that could be warm and friendly continues on in separate ways. Those are realities of life, and for many reasons relationships must and do remain separate. We can only be responsible for ourselves.

We need to be sensitive in this area to the Holy Spirit as He leads us, guides us, encourages us as well as corrects us. This is important to remember in our relationships.

Also as to how God brings us to a place of understanding of those with whom we wish to minister the Gospel, let us consider this illustration.
We touched on this topic last week, but now an illustration was provided for my wife and I this week. It has to do with our son, Jay. By the way, he arrived back "home' safely and is anxious to get back to work. He and my wife and I thank you for your prayers and ask your continued prayers.

In our congregation today we have parents of grown children who have left home, we have parents of children who are still at home being raised in and for Christ and we have those who someday will be parents. One of most difficult things to do as a parent is to give up our children when we are done raising them, not that we are ever done raising them. It is difficult to give them to the Lord.....We know this by experience.

Jay has been in China for a year and a half, largely without much fellowship as he shared with us last month. During his time over there on occasion he would share with me of the loneliness that he felt concerning being in that culture which does not know the Light of Christ. Naturally that caused us a lot of concern and we would visit weekly on Skype so that we could fellowship together. But it was a struggle for him, I could see it and I could feel it.

A couple of days before he left back home he shared with my wife and I more about that loneliness that he felt over there. He told us during this time of feeling empty and lonely, that he had emailed one of his professors at Crown College where he had attended and told her about his lonely and empty feeling. What she shared with him gave Jay a totally new perspective as well as to my wife and I. She told him that rather than look at yourself and feel somewhat of an attitude 'woe is me', "poor Jay" or "I am all alone," she suggested to him that he should consider that this feeling could be God working in him to allow him to experience the lonely and empty feeling that is in the Chinese people that he associates with so that he may "see through their eyes."

When Jay and I headed for the airport and as we prayed before leaving our home, yes, I was sad by him having to leave, but also I felt great thankfulness to the Lord for our son and joyfully released and committed him to the keeping and purposes of the Lord. He is Jay's true father and He certainly can provide, protect and use Him for his purposes.

God became incarnate among us, dwelt among us and was full of grace and truth in His Son Jesus Christ. God now dwells not among us, but in us through the Spirit of Christ and through this incarnation we dwell among those who have need of Him. May we understand the meaning of Jesus words that He spoke to His disciples when He said "you are in the world but not of the world" in the 17th chapter of John's Gospel. That which is darkness cannot overcome the Light, but Light will penetrate the darkness through those whom God has chosen to be the bearers of Light in the darkness.

May the Lord of love richly bless you this day and always!
Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 12 Feb 2012 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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The Temptation of Jesus
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The Lawry Kilpela family as they grieve but yet rejoice in Lawry's being called home.