Ascension Day

Today is the celebration of the ascension of Jesus to Heaven about 1986 years ago. As we know Jesus died because of crucifixion, was laid in a tomb, rose from death on the third day, spent 40 days walking of earth talking and teaching his disciples of what was coming. Then He ascended to Heaven. The bible says in Acts 1:9 – 11 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

So Jesus was standing there and He started to rise up off the ground. How incredible is that! I can just imagine all the gaping mouths. I would certainly have been shocked if I was there. I think they couldn’t believe what they were seeing. The disciples knew from what Jesus had told them that He would be going to heaven and they hoped that He would be restoring Israel as a country. At that time Rome was governing Israel and the Jews had believed that the Messiah would come as a military hero to restore Israel which obviously didn’t happen. Now the disciples still held onto the hope that He would be making this happen.

Acts 1: 6 – 8  Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Jesus was telling them that it was more important for them to listen to Him and follow His instructions than to be worrying about when Israel would be restored. There are times that have been ordained for everything to take place and those times are not for us to know, or to get anxious about. We need to be following what Jesus said and not be following our own agendas.

The promise He did make that the Holy Spirit would be poured out on the believers and that we would receive power. The other promise that the angel made when Jesus had gone to heaven was that He would return in the same what that He left.

We have so many promises that we can hold onto. We have the whole Bible which is full of promises but we often forget all about it and complain bitterly about how unfair life is and how disadvantaged we are and how difficult everything is. We put personal feelings and culture and all our other idols before the word of God and then we complain that we aren’t being blessed. I just wonder how God must feel when His heart is so full of love for each one of us, that He made uniquely and with purpose, when we forget all about Him and clutch at all kinds of straws when we are in trouble. If we put ourselves in God’s place and if our children were to treat us like we treat God, how would we react? But God says in Hebrews 13:5-6 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say:

“The Lord is my helper;

I will not fear.

What can man do to me?”

We forget that God is so big and people are so small. Let us remember this day that Jesus went to Heaven and left for us power and promises and let us rejoice about it. But we shouldn’t just do it once a year, we should remember it every single day.

Revelation 7:12 “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom,

Thanksgiving and honor and power and might,

Be to our God forever and ever.


Just like the birds

I was watching a bird sitting on a fence post. It was basically minding its own business and just being a bird. At one stage it hopped off the fence onto the ground and back up again. It’s quite a high fence and I was surprised at the hop. It didn’t even use its wings. Strong legs. Well, I looked at that bird and I realized that the bird was doing what it did best, and it was the best at doing what it was doing. In Matthew 6:26 Jesus says, “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow not reap not gather into barns; yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” I understand those words and I think everyone has heard them before. That’s quite a well know passage about telling us not to be anxious about where our next meal is coming from.

I looked at that bird and realized that because the bird wasn’t worrying about how to feed his family, he was absolutely focused on whatever he had to do right now. He wasn’t thinking about tomorrow morning’s breakfast or what his boss was going to be upset about or whether his wife was going to be annoyed when he got home. The commission on next month’s sales isn’t on his mind. All he’s concerned about is what’s right at hand. Ecclesiastes 9:10, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom  in the grave where you are going.” The Message interprets this verse as such, “Whatever turn up, grab it and do it. And heartily! This is your last and only chance at it, for there’s neither work to do nor thoughts to think in the company of the dead, where you’re most certainly headed.” I don’t think it can be put more plainly than that. Colossians 3:23, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.”

That is how we are supposed to be doing our jobs, running our businesses and our homes, ‘heartily as to the Lord.’ My husband always says that if something unexpected comes up just before he goes to play golf his whole game is upset because he is preoccupied. And that’s exactly what we are like. We are so preoccupied by everything going on in our lives, in our children and spouse’s lives, in the country and in the world that we can’t see the wood for the trees. We are so focused on all kinds of irrelevant things that we can forget about the really important issues. What are the really important things in our lives? Relationships, our relationship with our Savior, our relationship with our direct family and with friends are very important. Relationships were what Jesus was all about. He preached about love and about going out and making disciples. You cannot have, or be a disciple without a good two-way relationship. You aren’t going to learn much from someone you don’t get along well with. Fear and dislike are not conducive to learning.

And doing things with all your might. That’s important. You have to throw your whole weight behind whatever you are doing. Have you seen a healthy bird fly badly? Or halfheartedly? No, of course not. A bird was designed to fly and that’s what it does with all its might. It doesn’t catch a wobble mid-flight and decide it wasn’t called to fly after all. A bird doesn’t listen to the doubts that the enemy is so good at planting in our heads. It just flies and enjoys flying and revels in it. Some birds fly half way around the world twice a year without any navigation instruments or protective clothing. We are over cautious about visiting our next door neighbor because what if that’s not exactly what the Holy Spirit meant when he told us to, “go and pray for your neighbor, she’s not feeling well.” We really and truly have to get over ourselves and all our insecurities and become more like the birds. Let us start living with our hearts and our minds. Let us put joy into what we do and stop worrying so much about all the petty nonsense which is busy filling the space in our heads. Put Jesus into that space and start having fun!