A daily, Bible-based perspective of hope, encouragement and exhortation.
Thursday, May 13, 2021
We purchase our bikes from Martins Bike Shop, a family run business east of Ephrata PA. This photo shows four brothers on a 1890’s Schwinn Quad bike. I had almost forgotten today was Ascension Day till I looked on their website yesterday intending to schedule service on our bikes today when I saw this banner on their website, "Ephrata Store Closed Wednesday and Thursday this week for Ascension Day Holiday."
Message summary: Today we consider the account of the Ascension found in Luke’s Gospel although the more well-known account is found in Acts 1.
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“And He (Jesus) led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising God” (Luke 24:50-53).
Today is Ascension Day, which for some reason receives little notice among many branches of Christianity. Today we will drive through eastern Lancaster County in an area where many Amish and Mennonite reside. These groups pause for Ascension Day and we will see a common sign, “Closed For Ascension Day”. The Amish and old order Mennonite groups will have special services today in commemoration of one of the lesser recognized events in the life of Christ, His ascension back to heaven. These communities of faith in our area place great emphasis on this special day.
There are several very specific events in the life of Christ and the church that we commemorate. At Christmas we celebrate the incarnation and birth of Christ. On Good Friday we focus on His sacrificial death and on Easter His glorious resurrection. On Sunday, May 23, we will observe Pentecost. But for some reason Ascension Day doesn’t get nearly as much attention in most church traditions, including those of which we have been a part. How many of our readers are even aware this is Ascension Day?
Today’s Scripture portion gives us the account of the Ascension found in Luke’s Gospel although the more well-known account is found in Acts 1.
This account describes the place of the Ascension: “He led them out as far as Bethany”. John 11:18 informs us that “Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off". So during the period following His resurrection Christ traveled to Galilee but was now back near Jerusalem for His great departure from earth.
“He lifted up His hands and blessed them.” That must have been a remarkable experience! I can think of several deeply memorable blessings I have received through life. Bill Shibilo and his wife Veda, both now with the Lord, were a great support to us during our years in New England. They were steady and loyal, which any pastor will tell you is a great blessing.
About twenty years ago as Bill’s time of departure neared we gathered in his hospital room at New England Medical Center in Boston and sang hymns, read Scripture and prayed. Bill had a respiratory illness and had great difficulty speaking but I will never forget when he mustered enough physical strength to look directly at Brooksyne and me and proclaim, “God bless your ministry". We stayed in touch with his wife Veda until her death last year and we still remain friends with their son Greg.
Likewise I am sure each of the disciples remembered this special blessing all through the remainder of their lives. But I wonder if they had any idea what would happen next?
“While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven.” An ancient creedal statement of the early church is found in 1 Timothy 3:16, “He was taken up in glory.”
The account in Acts states, “He was taken up before their very eyes". This was important for the disciples to witness and is an essential part of the Biblical record. It reinforces that Jesus Christ is God and that He returned to His home in heaven 40 days after He was resurrected from the dead.
“And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising God.” This worship experience sets a pattern for the Church. Christ was no longer visible nor was He in their midst physically. At this point their worship was similar to ours.
Peter expressed it this way many years later in his epistle, “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8).
The Acts account provides this additional detail, “He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid Him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as He was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven.”
These two angels of the Lord dressed in white assured those early disciples that “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven.”
The angels’ promise of His return is reinforced and elaborated on throughout the New Testament. Paul calls it the “blessed hope”. One day, soon, perhaps even today, this glorious event will take place. In the meantime let us faithfully serve the Lord, and look to Him who now sits at the right hand of the Father, until that great day is fully realized!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, Scripture teaches us that even as the Son of Man ascended into heaven 40 days after His resurrection He will come again, but this time we have the blessed hope of ascending with Him and joining with those of like precious faith. Thank You for loved ones and witnesses of the truth who have repeated this glorious life-transforming message to us over the years preparing our hearts for this major event. May it be the resounding message from our own lips as we anticipate the glorious moment when we will all be changed in the twinkling of an eye. Help us to be faithful and watching eagerly for the blessed hope of Your second coming where those of us on earth will take up eternal residency in heaven. In Your name, Jesus, we pray to You as we also look for Your reappearing. Amen.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Glorious Day" Video Casting Crowns
One day the grave could conceal Him no longer
One day the stone rolled away from the door
Then He arose, over death He had conquered
Now is ascended, my Lord evermore
Death could not hold Him, the grave could not keep Him
From rising again
"Only Jesus" Video Casting Crowns This would have been a great message to use with yesterday's message on having a good name!
I don't want to leave a legacy
I don't care if they remember me
I've only got one life to live
I'll let every second point to Him
"Start Right Here" Video Casting Crowns A convicting song we think similar to what Keith Green wrote when we were young Christians.
We want our coffee in the lobby
We watch our worship on a screen
We got a rock-star preacher
Who won't wake us from our dreams
We want our blessings in our pockets
We keep our missions overseas
But for the hurting in our cities
Would we even cross the street?
We first heard Casting Crowns in concert around 15 years ago at a concert in Hershey at the Giant Center and have appreciated their music for many years.
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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