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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Who is so great a God as our God!!!! 1/12/2013
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, 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 be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

We must always begin our time of worship with the Living God by remembering what is true and what is not true, so that we do not get deceived into thinking that our feelings and emotions define who we are. They do not, but yet they are an expression of who we are for it is through our feelings and emotions that we are able to relate with our God, with our Savior and with one another. We are who God says we are in His Word and not by what we feel or think we are. But yet we often times live in our emotions which can easily pull us away from what is true and what is reality.

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.....

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.

All this is due to our fall away from our original created state in which we lived in the honeymoon period with God, when temptation and conflict came, we chose ourselves rather than God, God resolved the breach through the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and all who come into the knowledge and experience live a life trusting in God and not self. But not without struggles do we do so.

For the same principle applies in our lives as was written above. As Christians we enter into a honeymoon period, eventually conflict comes into our lives in some way, and depending upon how we respond and react to these conflict, individually or collectively, will determine as to whether things are worked out for a more harmonious relationship.

More simply we could say: Honeymoon, Conflict, Resolution, Harmony.

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?

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.

Today we will consider Psalm 77 and will not go through it, dividing with headings the various sections and then will consider applications for our lives in relation to what has been written above.

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? Can't you come down and straighten things out? Asaph continues his struggle.

The Butterfly’s Struggle
Once a little boy was playing outdoors and found a fascinating caterpillar. He carefully picked it up and took it home to show his mother. He asked his mother if he could keep it, and she said he could if he would take good care of it.

The little boy got a large jar from his mother and put plants to eat, and a stick to climb on, in the jar. Every day he watched the caterpillar and brought it new plants to eat.

One day the caterpillar climbed up the stick and started acting strangely. The boy worriedly called his mother who came and understood that the caterpillar was creating a cocoon. The mother explained to the boy how the caterpillar was going to go through a metamorphosis and become a butterfly.

The little boy was thrilled to hear about the changes his caterpillar would go through. He watched every day, waiting for the butterfly to emerge. One day it happened, a small hole appeared in the cocoon and the butterfly started to struggle to come out.

At first the boy was excited, but soon he became concerned. The butterfly was struggling so hard to get out! It looked like it couldn’t break free! It looked desperate! It looked like it was making no progress!

The boy was so concerned he decided to help. He ran to get scissors, and then walked back (because he had learned not to run with scissors…). He snipped the cocoon to make the hole bigger and the butterfly quickly emerged!

As the butterfly came out the boy was surprised. It had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. He continued to watch the butterfly expecting that, at any moment, the wings would dry out, enlarge and expand to support the swollen body. He knew that in time the body would shrink and the butterfly’s wings would expand.

But neither happened!

The butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings.

It never was able to fly…

As the boy tried to figure out what had gone wrong his mother took him to talk to a scientist from a local college. He learned that the butterfly was SUPPOSED to struggle. In fact, the butterfly’s struggle to push its way through the tiny opening of the cocoon pushes the fluid out of its body and into its wings. Without the struggle, the butterfly would never, ever fly. The boy’s good intentions in reality hurt the butterfly.

God waits so that the struggles in our lives will work out His purposes in our lives.

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.
7 Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more?
8 Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore? {for evermore: Heb. to generation and generation?}
9 Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah.

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 songs that I know, the words, 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:

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?

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?

Faith Remembers, Meditates and Speaks.
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.
13 Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?

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.

There are three key words that are seen here: I will remember, I will meditate, I will talk Let us note that the subject of these verbs is the Lord and not ourselves. Faith remembers, faith meditates and faith speaks. Let us be clear here as this is vitally important to understand what was just stated by putting the whole verse in front of us:

Faith Remembers, Meditates and Speaks.
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.

When we do that, do not think it strange if praise comes into our heart so that we say with Asaph as a result of his remembering, meditating upon and speaking of the works and ways of the Lord.

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 most likely refer to the tabernacle, the place where they met God, the Holy Place, the place of the Presence.. For us in the New Testament time, we would understand it in a more broad way in that in Christ we are safe, we are saved, we are protected and so on. There would be much discuss on this verse, but let us leave it with the simple meaning is seen in this psalm in relation of our focus today. "When we remember, meditate upon and speak of, 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.

But the Asaph continues.....

Faith remembers that the God of the past is the God of today and of tomorrow.
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 for the purposes of their Creator.

But then he speaks of the way of the Lord in the sea, of how His path is in the great waters and that His footsteps are not known and how He led His people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron. Wow...Wow...

Let us try to understand what this is all about, as we remember, meditate upon and speak fo the works of the Lord. What seems to be happening is that we are shown that the Lord uses clear means to lead His people, but the reason that He leads in the way that He does is not always quite so clear, hence:Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known.

God Remembers Us
By Elsie Wirkkala
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).
May in our struggles we not interpret our struggles as rejection by Him, but see them as avenues to greater dependence and trust in Him. May we with patience receive and endure the teaching and training He wishes to give us through life's often times difficult circumstances.
In Christ alone,
Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 12 Jan 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.