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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Lancaster County lambs
Lambs in Lancaster County.

"Ascension Day"

Message summary: Ascension Day is one of the great WOW days of the early church. Today let's be reminded and rejoice at what happened on that glorious day and find assurance in the promise of Christ's soon return.

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"After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was taken up into heaven and He sat at the right hand of God" (Mark 16:19).

My grandpa riding bike in his eightiesWe enjoy a southern gospel song simply titled "Grandpa". It begins with this line, "Grandpa, tell me 'bout the good ol' days".* Perhaps you sat on your Grandpa's lap as a youngster and listened on as Grandpa shared stories about your mom or dad when they were little or when he was but a youngster and how things have changed over the years.

Brooksyne and I really loved our grandparents and we both had especially memorable grandpas. Elbert Sherrell was Brooksyne's father's dad and George W. Steincross was my mother's dad.

George Washington Steincross was the son of a German immigrant who had homesteaded in rural southwest Missouri in the late 1850's. He named his son after our first president. PaPa, as we grandchildren called him, told stories of traveling the country on rails in his younger years and climbing up Pike's Peak at night. That would have been around the turn of the last century (1900). I only knew him as an old man (75+ years.) He was physically aging but his mind remained sharp to the end and he had a habit of riding a bike every birthday into his early eighties.

Brooksyne's grandpa, Elbert SherrellElbert and Faye Sherrell lived on a 200 acre farm on a mountain in Northwest Arkansas. Their house was built by family members made of cement block. It was as plain as plain could be with no plumbing but they did have hardwood floors - that is, rough scrap lumber laid in such a way that Grandma never had need of a dustpan since she could sweep any debris into the large cracks visible between the planks of wood. A large galvanized metal tub would be drug into the kitchen for those who wanted to bathe on Saturday night in preparation for church on Sunday.

Every evening family members would be called to the living room where the Bible was read followed by prayer. We knelt at the couch or chair where we had been seated and those present were always finished long before Grandpa finished praying. He prayed out for each of his six children, their spouses and children. He also prayed for their church and pastor, also calling out the names of the pastors and churches in the valley, revivals being held, neighboring farmers and so forth. As you can imagine the prayers were long, but looking back they were so heartfelt and a great example for those in attendance.

Have you ever considered the stories the disciples, many of them being grandpas, could share with their grandchildren? Today let us picture Peter with his grandchildren gathered around him as he excitedly announced, "I want to tell you about the time when Jesus left this world to go back to heaven". Since Peter was an eyewitness his enthusiasm surely was over the top. Perhaps he even dramatized the eye-popping event.

Today is Ascension Day; this great occurrence took place 40 days after Christ's resurrection when He left earth and ascended back into heaven! This morning we were in the eastern part of Lancaster County where there is a concentration of the Amish and Mennonite communities. On Ascension Day they close their schools and businesses, and have a day with family time, games and visitation. We think that's a great custom. We saw a lot of horse and buggy traffic on the rural roads.

How many of you recall that today is Ascension Day prior to reading this message? In most of Christendom this day doesn't have nearly the emphasis as other notable events in our Lord's earthly life such as His birth (Christmas), death (Good Friday), and resurrection (Easter). But this day is one of the great WOW days of the early church.

Today's text is Mark's simple straightforward account of the Ascension: "After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was taken up into heaven and He sat at the right hand of God".

Ascension Day artworkActs 1:9-11 gives us the most complete record of the event. Jesus had just reinforced the Great Commission, the church's primary mission, and then He was taken up to heaven before their very eyes. This was important for the disciples to witness and is an essential part of the Biblical record. It completes the story. It reinforces that Jesus Christ is God and that He returned to His home in heaven. An ancient creedal statement of the early church is found in 1 Timothy 3:16, "He was taken up in glory".

When Jesus was taken up the disciples gazed intently into the sky as He departed. Two men dressed in white (angels) suddenly appeared and gave a promise, "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."

That promise is reinforced and expanded upon throughout the New Testament. Paul calls it the "blessed hope". One day, perhaps soon, perhaps today, there will be another universal WOW day. Let us faithfully serve the Lord, who now sits at the right hand of the Father, until that great day!

Ascension Day is one of the holy days of the early church. Let's be reminded and rejoice at what happened that glorious day.

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Jesus, Your physical life on earth is so important for all to see and comprehend God in the flesh. We have a picture of the Father through the life of the Son. You also came to bring salvation to Your creation, willingly leaving the splendor of Your home in heaven to change the course of history and to redeem the fallen sinful race. Your ascension into heaven serves as a reminder that You completed Your mission on earth and are now at the right hand of the Father ever interceding for us, Your children. One day we will see You come in the same way You left, but on that day You will take us with You to spend eternity in the home that You have prepared for us to take up eternal residency. Help us to be faithful and eager for the blessed hope of Your second coming. In Your name, Jesus, we pray. Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

* "Grandpa (Tell Me 'Bout The Good Old Days)"  Video  The Isaacs

Grandpa, tell me 'bout the good ol' days.
Sometimes it feels like this world's gone crazy.
Grandpa, take me back to yesterday,
Where the line between right and wrong
Didn't seem so hazy.

"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

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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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