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"Ascension Blessings"

Summary of sermon by Arno Stegen, 14 May 2015

(Arno reported back on the services in Europe together with uncle Erlo and the team. They also had services for young men, which was a very special time, specially for young men. More wanted to come but there was no space. It was wonderful how God gave uncle Erlo extra strength for the services. The team also went for the first time to Armenia. It was one of the first countries in Europe to become Christian, about 300 AD. But they’ve also gone through very difficult times. Just 100 years ago they were invaded and they estimated about 1 - 1.5 million were killed at that time. Many women and children were sold as slaves and many others crucified. But it was wonderful to see how open they were for the Gospel. From the first evening the hall was packed to overflowing. They estimate hundreds came to the door and finding it so full, turned away again. They then arranged a new venue the following day that can take 1,200 people under normal circumstances. And that church was filled too so that they had to bring in extra chairs. They also held ministers’ meetings and there too one found them hungry and thirsty for God’s Word. One left with a sense that God has done something and is still going to work in the future.)

Just a few weeks ago we celebrated Easter, the Crucifixion and Resurrection of our Lord. Now we’re celebrating His Ascension and in a few day’s time we will be celebrating Pentecost, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 1:9-11

9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 "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."

Luke 24:50-51

50 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.

We read how He blessed them, and it makes us think of how God spoke to Moses to command Aaron to bless the children of Israel, "the Lord bless you and keep and make His face to shine upon you and give you peace. They shall put My Name on the children of Israel and bless them" (Num 6:23-27).

Just think how wonderful Jesus’ blessing is! It’s not Aaron speaking the blessing but Jesus. What a blessing if we can receive God’s blessing. That blessing wasn’t just meant for the disciples at that time but for us all, to strive and seek to live under this blessing every day. And as they were watching He was lifted up into heaven. He had been with them a long time and spent years with them. Now the time had come for Him to physically leave them. He left them after He had promised them that He would send them His Spirit. We live in this wonderful dispensation, where He has given us His Spirit to guide and teach us.

We read that He was taken up into heaven and sat on the right hand of God. For a while He came down and was so to say lower than the angels. But God lifted Him up and sat Him at His right hand. God lifted Him up to the highest place imaginable. Have we learnt that? So often we love to be recognised. But God teaches us that if we humble ourselves, in His time He will lift us up. It is difficult to humble oneself and bow. But the Lord Jesus, even though He was equal with God yet He learnt to bow to His Father’s will. Have you learnt this secret? Can you regard the next person as more important than yourself? Christ was prepared to do that for you and me. He went that road in obedience to God, and because of that, God could lift Him up and exalted Him (Philip 2:9; 1Pet 3:22).

Do you emulate Jesus or are you like a defeated Christian, who fail to overcome the world, where sin has the better of you and the power of sin is not broken? Is the power of God seen in your life?

When a person here on earth commit a crime he will look for the best advocate to intercede for him, and get them out of the mess he got himself into. He will pay enormous amounts to get the best advocate. But we serve the Lord who makes His services available free of charge, to intercede for us (Heb 7:25; Rom 8:34). He says, "even though your sins be as scarlet it shall be washed as white as snow" (Is 1:18). How can you reject such an offer, where the risen, ascended Lord, to whom all power had been given, invites you that He takes your case. There is no other way that our record can be made clean. It is only possible through Him who intercedes for us.

Do you appreciate the value of this Gospel or do you just treat it as something ordinary?

We read in Mark, after His ascension "they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them confirming the Word with signs and wonders" (Mark 16:20). He didn’t ascend to leave us alone, but so that more would be possible. That’s the beauty of following Christ. We can follow Him with the assurance, knowing He seeks what’s best for us.

Have you been forgiven your sins? Have you been to Calvary? Have you experienced the blessed joy of the burden of sin being lifted?

It didn’t stop at the Resurrection either, where He came to give us forgiveness and victory over sin. Then comes His Ascension. Have you experienced Ascension in your life? God exalted Jesus to His right hand. Have you made the Lord Jesus, Lord and King of your life? Maybe you’ve confessed your sin and even experienced some victory over sin in your life. But have you completely surrendered to Him in all areas of your life? When you make decisions do you make them with the Lord? Or do you simply get up in the morning and decide yourself what you’re going to do.

As we celebrate Ascension Day, may the ascended Lord be evident in your and my life, every area under His control.








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