#Jesus Christ — Crucified, Risen and Ascended Lord
Welcome to our time of worship together. Thursday this week brings us to the end of 40 days after Jesus rose again from the dead and the day on which he ascended back into heaven. This will be the focus for our service today.
Readings are from the NIV and hymns are from Singing the Faith. (CCL licence no 1966726)
Our opening hymn is no 300 (alleluia is sung at the end of each line) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7b_ODz_jgTs
Hail the day that sees him rise,
Ravished from our wistful eyes!
Christ, awhile to mortals given,
Re-ascends his native heaven:
There the glorious triumph waits;
Lift your heads, eternal gates;
Wide unfold the radiant scene;
Take the King of Glory in!
Him though highest heaven receives,
Still he loves the earth he leaves;
Though returning to his throne,
Still he calls the world his own:
See! He lifts his hands above:
See! He shows the prints of love;
Hark! His gracious lips bestow
Blessings on his Church below;
Master, parted from our sight,
High above the azure height,
Grant our hearts to you may rise
Following you beyond the skies:
Cast ourselves before your throne,
Here our heaven of heavens to own,
There we shall with you remain,
Partners of your endless reign:
Charles Wesley 1707-1788
Reading: Psalm 47.
Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. How awesome is the Lord Most High, the great King over all the earth! He subdued the nations under us, peoples under our feet. He chose our inheritance for us, the pride of Jacob, whom he loved. God has ascended amid shouts of joy, the Lord amid the sounding of trumpets. Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth, sing to him a psalm of praise. God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne. The nobles of the nations assemble as the people of the God of Abraham, for the kings of the earth belong to God, he is greatly exalted.
Please join with me in giving thanks to our great God who is King over all the earth, and our dear Lord Jesus Christ who has ascended and sits at his right hand in heavens glory. Please add your owns prayers of praise and worship.
Our next hymn no 319.
Christ triumphant, ever reigning, Priestly king, enthroned for ever
Saviour, Master, King! High in heaven above!
Lord of heaven, our lives sustaining, Sin and death and hell shall never
Hear us as we sing: stifle hymns of love:
Yours the glory and the crown
The high renown, the eternal name! So, our hearts and voices raising
Through the ages long,
Word incarnate, truth revealing, Ceaselessly upon you gazing,
Son of Man on earth! This shall be our song:
Power and majesty concealing
By your humble birth: Michael Saward 1932 — 2015
Suffering servant, scorned, ill-treated,
Death is through the cross defeated,
Reading: Acts 1 v's 1 — 14
In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his sufferings, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit."
So when they met together they asked him, "Lord are you at this time going to restore the kingdom of Israel?" He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
After he had said this, 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 again in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day's walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
How do you react to the spectacular? It's lovely to see children's responses to something that amazes them because they just cannot understand what they have just seen, how did that happen? When we are older we can begin to work things out more rationally, nevertheless there are things that can still surprise us. Jesus had taught his disciples that he would return to heaven; they had seen Jesus do some amazing things such as multiplying a small amount of food to feed thousands, or calming a storm, or making the blind to see and the lame to walk, or bringing dead people back to life; they had witnessed the wonderful miracle of their Lord Jesus raised to life, but when they witnessed Jesus returning to heaven before their eyes, the two heavenly visitors find them staring after Jesus in amazement! On hearing the message of the two men Luke tells us that the disciples worshipped Jesus and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.
The ascension must have been a spectacular and wonderful event to have witnessed and it holds some important truths . So, what does the ascension teach us?
�€� Jesus returned to heaven.
Heaven is the eternal home of Jesus from where he was actively involved in creation. Colossians 1 tells us that 'For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible...... all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things and in him all things hold together.' Jesus' time on earth was temporary (as is ours) and short, but changed history for ever.
�€� Jesus reigns.
Having defeated the devil and death and taken upon himself the sins of many he is now seated at his Father's right hand as the great and only King of kings and Lord of lords. From his eternal throne he rules the universe.
�€� Jesus is our great High Priest.
He never stops working on behalf of his children. If you are ever worried about what to say to God in your prayers you shouldn't because Jesus intercedes on your behalf and not only that but the Holy Spirit also takes our prayers and makes them perfect before our Heavenly Father. Jesus has experienced life as a man and is therefore able to sympathise with us. See Hebrews 4 v's 14 — 16. It is very worthwhile reading the first ten chapters of Hebrews to see the great work of Jesus as our High Priest. I find chapters 7 v25/25 and 10 v's 19 — 25 particularly helpful, I hope you will as well!
�€� Jesus is our home maker.
His promise to his disciples is for every Christian as well. 'In my Father's house there are many rooms.' The old translation reads, 'many mansions'. Mansion sounds good to me! What Jesus says, is that he is preparing a place for you. Jesus makes a special home ready for every citizen of heavenly Jerusalem, what it will actually be like is unknown but it will be the very best. Jesus looks forward to his people being with him where he is. Is that your longing as well? See john 14 v's 1 — 4. Mansion or Room — it matters not as long as we are with Jesus.
�€� Jesus receives our worship.
There is a wonder in the truth of the Trinity which our finite minds will never fully understand but suffice to say that our God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit abide equally to receive the praise and worship of repentant sinners such as you and me.
�€� Jesus is still our Saviour.
'There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuels' veins; and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.' Never forget that blood of our Saviour that washed all your sins away.
�€� Jesus is still our teacher.
As Prophet he still teaches us as we read his word, he is the Word. The more we read his words, the nearer we get to him and the more we love him and seek to obey his words.
�€� Jesus is still our Good Shepherd.
One of the very last things he said to his disciples was, 'Surely I am with you always, to the end of the age.' (Matthew 28 v 20). I am assured without doubt that we can apply that to ourselves. We are currently going through troubled and uncertain times, so how reassuring that we can know the presence of the Good Shepherd every step of the way — and he is always more than one step ahead!
�€� Jesus promises to return.
The two heavenly visitors at the ascension made that sure and certain promise. When Jesus returns we know that he will come as the great Judge of the world. All things will be made new and followers of Jesus will enjoy new heaven and earth with Jesus for eternity. See Matthew 25 v's 31 — 46.
�€� Jesus promised the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit first, convicts us of our sin. He is our teacher giving wisdom, understanding and most importantly He gives us power to live lives acceptable and pleasing to God.
�€� Jesus' Commissioning.
The last command of Jesus on earth to his disciples was to spread the good news of the gospel. Being witnesses was the commission that is accompanied by the Holy Spirit's power, and it applies to the church down through the ages. We are commissioned by Jesus to spread the good news that Christ died for sinners, he rose again and is ascended into heaven from where he will return one day as promised. Note as well that the church was not born in preaching, song, stories, pictures etc. but in Prayer Acts 1 v 14. — and then came preaching!
Our next hymn no 327.
Jesus is King and I will extol him, We come to him, our Priest and Apostle,
Give him the glory, and honour his name; Clothed in his glory and bearing his name,
He reigns on high, enthroned in the heavens, Laying our lives with gladness before him -
Word of the Father exalted for us. Filled with his Spirit we worship the King:
We have a hope that is steadfast and certain, O Holy one, our hearts do adore you;
Gone through the curtain and touching the throne; Thrilled with your goodness we give you our praise!
We have a priest who is there interceding, Angels in light with worship surround him,
Pouring his grace on our lives day by day. Jesus our Saviour, for ever the same.
The Lord's Prayer -
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name,
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us,
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory,
For ever and ever. Amen.
When considering prayer it is good to remind ourselves, as we have seen, that we have our great High Priest who takes our sometimes stumbling words and makes them perfect before the throne of God. We also have the help of the Holy Spirit if we listen for his promptings to guide us in what to pray for. Remember Jesus said that our Heavenly Father knows what we are going to ask for before we speak to him. The Lord 's prayer is good to say together but it is more important as a pattern for prayer and shows us the things that should be included in our prayers such as praise and worship, thanksgiving, confession, and intersession.
I would like to encourage you to pray your own prayers in your own words rather than someone else's words. I wouldn't expect my children to compose some well worded statements or requests if they wanted my help, and our loving Heavenly Father is not concerned about well worded requests or long prayers but he wants his children just to open their hearts to him in honest praise and requests. I am therefore not providing printed prayers and I hope you will forgive me for not doing so. I will give us a few pointers and I say Amen to all your prayers.
�€� Thanksgiving to God again for Jesus our Saviour and High Priest in heaven.
�€� Praise for the beauty of the earth and all God's daily provisions.
�€� Thank God for each other, our families and the fellowship we have with one another in our churches.
�€� Pray for the current situation and for all those who have suffered from the virus and those who have lost loved ones. Ask God to be merciful and bring an end to this virus.
�€� Pray for the government and those in the front line who are helping to keep us safe and well and provided for.
�€� Remember those who are lonely and frightened or are suffering from other illnesses.
Our closing hymn no 315.
We sing the praise of Jesus, Therefore with saints and angels
Of our ascending Lord; And all the hosts above
The triumph of our Saviour, We lift our hearts and voices
Of Christ the Son of God To bless the God of love;
The forty days are over, To sing of our Redeemer
Earth sees his face no more; Who intercedes and prays,
But Christ the King of glory That God the Holy Spirit
We worship and adore. May guide us all our days.
Rejoicing in Christ's promise With songs of alleluia
We wait in prayer and praise, Let earth and heaven ring;
The Spirit sent from heaven And praises to the Father
To set the earth ablaze; Let all creation sing.
We pray with expectation, All honour be to Jesus,
We praise with one accord, God's own eternal Son;
We wait for living fire And to the Holy Spirit
The power of the Lord Let endless praise be done!
Norman Wallwork b 1946
To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy — to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now, and for evermore. Amen.
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