SERMON-ASCENSION DAY May 17, 2015

SERMON-ASCENSION DAY

Bible Reading: Acts 1:1-10 page 947

Sermon text: Acts chapter 2 various verses page 948

Today, according to our church calendar we are to celebrate Ascension Day. But we are also celebrating the many people who volunteer at our local fire companies, and we warmly welcome them to our service. Ascension Day is when Jesus physically left the earth after His resurrection and ascended into heaven. Ascension Day officially is celebrated 40 days after Easter Sunday which was this past Thursday. For many Ascension Day ranks up there with Christmas, Easter and Pentecost. And it’s something that is important to our Christian faith.

The word ascension is mentioned in the two most common summaries of faith, the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed. In a number of countries throughout the world Ascension Day is considered so important that it is a public holiday. And we can find details about Jesus’ ascension in a number of places in our Bibles. In the Book of Acts, The people heard Jesus say to his apostles, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses to the ends of the earth.” And right after he said this, our Lord was taken up before their very eyes and a cloud hid him from their sight. In going to heaven Jesus has not just left us stranded here on earth.

Our Bible tells us that (verse 21) Jesus sits in heaven at the Father’s right hand with everything under His authority. That is a good thing to keep in mind as we live our lives. Everything is under Jesus’ authority. Now that doesn’t mean that everything is going to be good and wonderful all the time. But it does mean that our Lord has gone to heaven to prepare a place for us, and we will live eternally with Him. In John’s gospel, (chapter 14 verse 2) Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many rooms, if it were not so, I would have told you.  I am going there to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

Each of us will have eternal life because of our Lord’s resurrection and Ascension to heaven. Jesus continued to say to those around him before his ascension, “Wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.  For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit”. And then our Lord went on to say, each of you believers will receive my power when this gift of the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will speak for me forever.

Ladies and Gentlemen, our Lord was not only speaking to those Apostles, he was, and is speaking to all of us gathered here today including our wonderful volunteer firemen. God has given each one of us sitting here this morning, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the free gift of eternal life. We have received this free gift when we accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and savior.

Let’s use this gift to help others, to continue to be God’s hands and mouth piece. Many here this morning use their gift to volunteer their time and their lives for our safety, fighting fires and for that we are eternally grateful. Others use their gift in countless other ways to numerous to mention. So it’s important for all of us to remember that when Jesus ascended into heaven He did not desert us.

But through the Holy Spirit we continue to be in contact, or in touch with Him. We continue to receive guidance from Him and each of us continues to experience the power of His spirit in our lives. You see Jesus HAD to ascend, this was the divine plan. His physical body could not reach everyone on this earth like His Holy Spirit does now. And it’s up to us to keep His Holy Spirit alive through the way we live and volunteer. We are His followers, but without the Holy Spirit working in our lives we would have little effect on people. Our Lord ascended into heaven and the Apostles waited patiently until this Holy Spirit ascended upon them, and when it happened, they recognized that it was indeed God’s spirit. They continued to meet together, they prayed together they found a replacement for Judas and they prepared themselves to focus their lives totally on advancing God’s kingdom. 

They didn’t’ do their own thing. They were prepared by God to prepare others. They were effective because they relied on God’s spirit. That is the same spirit we have within each of us. Without God’s spirit we would not be effective witnesses.

Ascension Day is the beginning of the church as we know it today. 5,000 were brought to Christ that first day by those Apostles and they continued to preach God’s words until they were taken up into heaven, many of them martyred for their beliefs. But because they had that Holy Spirit within them, they never quit and they never gave up.  They continued on, knowing for sure that what they were doing was exactly what our Lord wanted them to do. It is now up to us.

We need to take up this cross of Christ is this troubled world and show others through our actions that Christ is alive and well. How? How do we do this? By living out our faith. By answering the call, by volunteering to be one of our Lord’s disciples. Opportunities come at the most unusual places, so we must keep alert. Christ came, Christ was crucified, Christ rose from the dead and is now in heaven watching over us.  Leaving us with an awesome responsibility.  I don’t know about you, but when I’m standing before our Lord, my prayer is that He will say to me, “well done good and faithful servant”.  Amen

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