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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Following Jesus 1.21.2018
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; Mark 1:1

As we continue in our year long sermon series in the Gospels, it will be with the prayer that through our time in His Word, time in prayer and time in fellowship with Him and with one another, we would come to know and experience more and more of who God is, who we are and who Jesus is. A calendar produced by our ALCA Federation contains the scripture readings and texts for each Sunday of the year and will be made available for all those who wish to obtain one.

For the most part, the Gospel text will be the sermon focus for each Sunday, but with a few exceptions as should the need arise, we will share from another part of Scripture. Most of the Gospel texts for this year are found in the Gospel of Mark, which is the second Gospel and which is the shortest Gospel. For those who do not have an ALCA calendar, the readings and the sermon text for the next Sunday will be placed at the end of the sermon notes on the back page of the bulletin.

In the Gospel of Mark, we find that there are two main sections, which I will display below. As shown above, this Gospel gets right to the point as it begins with The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; Mark 1:1. From that time on Jesus reveals His authority through His teaching and by His deeds.

The second section begins in 8:27 where Jesus asks the question of His disciples in this way:

And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am? And they answered, John the Baptist: but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets.
29 And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ.

The arrangement by the Holy Spirit of the Gospel of Mark is fascinating in that after the evidence of the Sonship and Kingship that Jesus has been established through His words and deeds in the first 8 chapters,, the questions are asked of all who are hearing Him and are watching Him.

Whom do men say that I am?

Whom do YOU say that I am?

May our time in the Gospel of Mark (and the other Gospels) cause us to see more clearly who God is, who we are and who Jesus Christ is. May we be given the ability to take all this in as if we had never heard it or seen it before. Lord, we want to see Jesus! Open our eyes, open our ears and open our hearts!

Mark 1:14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

We have already heard of how John the Baptist recognized his smallness in the light of the greatness and superiority of Jesus Christ, saying the he was not even worthy to unlatch His shoes and that the baptism that Jesus would bring would be one not of water, but of fire and of the Holy Spirit. He had pointed to Jesus (as recorded in John 1:29,36) as the One who would be the Saviour of the world and as a result of seeing and hearing Jesus, the first disciples began to follow Jesus.

John had opened his ministry with the words Repent all of you, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Jesus begins His ministry to and for the world similar words but adds significant words to His proclamation of grace: The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of heaven is at hand, repent and believe the Gospel. He adds that the kingdom is now here present in Himself, therefore repent by turning from self and turn toward the divine grace of forgiveness. Believe that which has been accomplished for from before the foundation of the world for YOU! Let me put a few scriptures in front of us here in order to establish that which was just written.

1 Peter 1:19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

Matthew 25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

There are really two parts to this short scripture passage, the first part which is turning from self, sin and shame and turning towards Jesus Christ in faith is the first and foremost. Only after coming to know and experience the forgiveness of sins through faith will the second part have any meaning or application toward or for us. I am not sure how one does justice to trying to explain what a huge announcement this was the Jesus proclaimed!! How could we pass on that which we have not received?

We note that it is only after His first announcement that Jesus calls the disciples to leave their nets and to follow Him, with the promise that by following Him they would become fishers of men. We read onā€¦.

16 Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
17 And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.
18 And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.
19 And when he had gone a little further thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets.
20 And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.

There are very few words written here in these verses, but which contain
a whole lot of stuff. It is difficult to imagine this happening when we take it at face value and are not able to see into the minds and hearts of those who were called out of their regular work places of life. We realize that these men were going to eventually be named as part of the original 12 and that this was the beginning of their ministerial training as they would be the ones that moved the Church of Jesus Christ forward after Jesusā€™ work was done here on earth.

So let us think about how this applies to us today. As Christians we are partakers of the Gospel through which we receive the knowledge and experience of the forgiveness of our sins, (Eph 1:7) we are indwelt by God Himself through His Spirit (Eph 2:21-22) and we are one in the body of Jesus Christ. His Body has only one Head, Jesus Himself, but many members which are designed to work for the collective benefit of the body for the purposes of the mission of God to the world. (1 Cor 12:7) (Eph 4:12)

KJV Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus Christ? Apostle Paul answers that question by calling us all to work in a suitable manner in the vocation that we have been placed or called into.

What does it mean?

For the children?
For the single folk?
For the young families?
For the middle aged?
For the elders?

In general, there are similarities between a church family and a blood family in that there is a growth process that occurs in both. In a blood family, as one grows in age and maturity one takes on more responsibilities and therefore participates in the family. Likewise in a church family, as one grows in maturity (or spiritual age) one begins to participate more in the body of Christ in the local church.

In parenting, one is training and teaching children in order that growth would be progressive to the point where one day the children would be on their own and at some point they as adults would have their own family to love and to nurture. In the church it is the same, as generations come and go, there is that same process so that the church family would continue generation after generation.

May we be learners of Jesus Christ as we continue along with Him in our vocations by applying His teachings to our lives so that we would not only be demonstrate who He is by our attitudes, convictions, actions and words.

May He help us to that end, Amen!

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 21 Jan 2018 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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The Temptation of Jesus 2.18.2018
- 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.