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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God Remembers Us 7/20/2014

I begin this message this morning by reading a short writing by a very dear loved one who was called to heaven one year ago. The reason I begin with this writing is because it illustrates very well the point of our message today in that even as Christians we struggle with keeping the proper balance between what God has done for us in Christ Jesus and our walk of faith, which we call our experience. God is very clear in what He has done for us and who we are in Christ Jesus, but in our experience of faith, we struggle believing that it on a daily basis. This writing is entitled:

God Remembers Us

The writers in the Bible had doubts and often felt despondent. We are accustomed to read that they were heroes of the faith and bold confessors of it. The writer of Psalms is not afraid to reveal his doubts; that does God remember me? Thus we may confess our unbelief and thence trust that God is merciful to us sinners. We may pour out our feelings before Him. We may battle in our mind against despair and say, "God remember me, remember me again, do not reject me."

Another point we may notice. We are accustomed to think that God is an almighty majesty and king who rules everything. Everything is in His hands in this life. We think God has foreordained everything. We have no say in His plans. We have no influence on changing them. God knows, decides, dictates all.
When we think thus, God becomes to us cold, distant, and far off, foreign who cares little about our thoughts. We receive a picture of God who is hard and immovable. The gospels and the book of Isaiah give us a picture of a different God. A God who is near and warm, of a God to whom it is important what we feel and think and ask from Him. We have a God who hears our personal matters. He feels our experience in our daily lives. Of this we have an example of the woman of Canaan (Matthew 15:21-28) and also King Hezekiah (Isaiah 38).

By Elsie Wirkkala

What God has done

Two thousand years ago, at the baptism of Jesus, the Holy Spirit descended upon one born of a virgin, a Voice was heard from heaven which said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." In honor of His father and in obedience to Him, this man went onto to live a perfect and sinless life, lived and preached a message of grace and truth, was rejected and mocked of nearly all the people, was followed by a handful, was forced to carry a wooden cross up a hill to a place called Calvary, and then was crucified as a common criminal. He lay in the grave for three days and on the third day creation moved as this man, Jesus, rose from the dead, was seen of many as being alive, ascended to heaven and on Pentecost Day, 50 days after arising from the dead, sent His Holy Spirit to indwell in the hearts of those who receive His gift of repentance and faith for the forgiveness of their sins. Because of this fact, because of this reality, today I greet you with:

Grace, mercy and peace, from God our Father, and from His Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Because of our fall into sin, there is not one person who has not been touched by disappointment, trouble, tragedy or disillusionment in their lives. For some of us these things occurred many years ago, some more recent, and are current and are ongoing, but all are very difficult to deal with. For events that we went through years ago yet confound and confuse us in our lives today and affect our relationships within our various family networks. For some of us live in situations in which we really do not see a clear way in which things are going to be resolved for the good.

Our deeper struggles in life often times get buried underneath layers of protection which are there so that we do not have to feel the pain all over again. We think, no one will understand, they might think of me as less, they do not have time for me, I do not want to go through the pain again.....There seems to be no way out.

These are common experiences that humans have faced since the beginning. Just as they felt overwhelmed at times, we do too. Just as they felt discouragement, we do also. Just as they had fear of the future, so do we. Just as they were depressed without really understanding why, so are we. Just as they fell hopeless for the future, so do we. Just as they felt alone in their life, so do we. Just as they felt isolated in their life, so do we. And on it goes....we can fill in the blanks.

We often think, at least I do, how real can I be with God, How real can I be with other people? What does God say about how real we can be with Him? With one another? How could I connect better with my loved ones, at home, in our church, in our extended family?

Have you heard of Asaph? Have you ever met him?

He is the reputed author of Psalms 50 and 73 through 83. He was one of David's three chief musicians, The "Sons of Asaph" are mentioned in later times. They formed a group, and played a prominent part at each revival of the national religion.

1. The cry for help
KJV Psalm 77:1 I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me.
2 In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not (My hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing; NKJ): my soul refused to be comforted. {sore: Heb. hand}
3 I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah.

Asaph had troubles, he cried out in anguish to his God, and even though God had an open ear to Asaph, we are given to see how Asaph was human like us, for he had to struggle to return to the way of faith and trust in His God. We likewise cry out: Where are you, God? Why has this happened in my life? Can't you come down and straighten things out? Asaph continues his struggle.

2. The Inner Struggle
Asaph continues...
The sleepless nights wondering.....
4 Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
5 I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times.
6 I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search.
We know the feeling and the experience. 'I could not sleep last night, I just lay there looking at the ceiling in the dark, not able to say anything. I even thought like this: "Life was so much simpler years ago, when there were not so many responsibilities and expectations for me. Those were the "good old days." As I lay there, I think, "I think of the hymns and songs that I know, the words, which have come alive to me in very difficult times of my life, but they seem empty for me know. I cannot believe them for myself, they do not bring me comfort and hope like they have in the past. Then I even think like this:

Foolish Questions always result from looking inward
Will my Lord cast me off forever? Will He no longer show favor to me?
Is His mercy gone away from me forever? Are His promises no longer true?
Has He forgotten about His grace? Is He so angry with me, that He will no longer extend His tender mercies to me?

Communing with self or with God?
This is what communing with our own heart does for us, we ask questions of our selves that are separated from what God says in His Word. In other words, we start to believe that our feelings and emotions define who we are. What happens next with Asaph? What do we do when we find ourselves in that place of struggle? What should we do? What does the Spirit lead us to do?

3. Faith Remembers, Meditates and Communes
10 And I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High.
11 I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old.
12 I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.

Asaph said, "This is my infirmity, or weakness, or tendency." We all are sinners, subject to thinking that our emotions and feelings define us and that our answers will come from within. But they never will...for now we come to a critical and pivotal point in the life of Asaph and to which we must also come to. He said, "But I will remember what the Lord has done."

Now we realize that Asaph was living in the pre Christ era, and so his vision of Christ was seen through prophecy which would be fulfilled in time. What we need to see is that in his struggle he moved from looking within himself and his feelings and emotions to that who the Lord was as revealed through His workings among His people. Asaph looked to the deliverance that the Lord had provided in the past, was providing now and will provide in the future. He spoke not of the good old days of his past, but the Lord's wonders of the past, or the old. He speaks not of his experience, but of what God has done, is doing and will do.

4. Faith in God moves Asaph to praise!
13 Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?

In Asaph's day, the sanctuary would refer to the tabernacle, the place where God met them and they met God, the Holy Place, the place of His Presence.. For us in the New Testament time, we would understand that we are in Christ. There would be much discuss on this verse, but let us leave it with the simple meaning seen in this psalm in relation of our focus today.
"When we remember, meditate upon and commune with our God in Christ, faith is revived and strengthened to the point that our emotions and feelings are expressed both inwardly and outwardly through praise to the One who has called us, enlightened us, sanctified us and preserves us in our Christian faith.

Asaph continues.....

5. Faith continues to commune with the object of its faith, the Living God, pointing to His Deliverance

14 Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people.
15 Thou hast with thine arm redeemed thy people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah.
16 The waters saw thee, O God, the waters saw thee; they were afraid: the depths also were troubled.
17 The clouds poured out water: the skies sent out a sound: thine arrows also went abroad.
18 The voice of thy thunder was in the heaven: the lightnings lightened the world: the earth trembled and shook.
19 Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known.
20 Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

He remembered the past works of the Lord so that it would serve as an encouragement that the Lord will continue to work as He has in the past. He spoke of the Promise in verse 15 through the family of Abraham, our father of faith. He then expresses his wonder in that even the lifeless created sea (not being a living being, but yet a life of its own) acts is if it is alive, saying that the waters "saw' and "were afraid," the depth "were troubled."
After pointing out of the clouds pouring out water, of the noise in the sky, how the arrows went out, the heaven thundered, lightenings lightened the world, and how the earth trembled and shook, he spoke of the mysterious ways of the Lord. What he seems to be saying is that the outward and visible means of nature that the Lord uses for His purposes are amazing in themselves and that all nature/creation exists to serve and to bring glory to their Creator.

Just as the Lord led His people in the past, He yet leads us today. A young boy was sick, and his mother asked a pastor to go visit him. As the minister came there, he noted that the boy was quite restless and so the minister asked the boy if he could talk with him.

Pastor: Are you sometimes afraid?
Boy: Yes, a little.
Pastor: Have you heard of the 23rd Psalm?
Boy: Yes, but only the first part.
Pastor: Could you hold up your hand for me?
Boy: Sure and does so.
Pastor: How many fingers do you have on your hand?
Boy: Five
Pastor: Now listen to me very carefully. The Lord Is My Shepherd. Now repeat these words after me, and as you say each word, hold a finger for each word. Thumb: The, Pointer: Lord, Middle: Is; Ring: MY, Pinkie: Shepherd.

I want you to especially say MY real loud when you get to that finger, for the Lord is your shepherd. And so when you are afraid and need extra assurance, say those five words and especially say loudly MY when you hold the ring finger and say those words. Can you do that?

The pastor left to see other children, and on the way back he passed by the young ones room and was pleased to see him sleeping with a smile on his face while holding his ring finger.

God does indeed remember us at all times, He is never not near us......for He is our Shepherd.

May all praise and glory be to the One True God, through Jesus Christ

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 20 Jul 2014 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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The Temptation of Jesus
- 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.