“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.” Acts 1:11 (NIV)
The Church owns the greatest commodity ever- real hope (we possess the true “hope diamond”). Our hope springs from the soil of faith in His resurrection, as Pastor Ryan taught us this past Easter. It is forged through trial and suffering and shines brightest when observed in the light of our King’s ascension and return. Because the Lord knew His followers would lose hope easily, He ascended to reveal His power and authority over all and to assure us that He would keep his promise. If we were to cut into this precious jewel we call hope, we would notice that is made up of three things:
The abiding presence and power of His Spirit: “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7 NIV).” Acts 1:8 says His disciples would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them. The Greek word for “power” in this passage is where we get our word “dynamite.” The book of Acts is all about showing us how the Spirit of God unleashes His power in and through us, working in ways we never imagined, using people we would never have imagined, to accomplish things beyond all we could ever imagine.
The abiding community of faith to comfort and help us stay hopeful:
“Let us think about each other and help each other to show love and do good deeds. You should not stay away from the church meetings, as some are doing, but you should meet together and encourage each other. Do this even more as you see the day coming. (Hebrews 10:24-25, NCV). True hope is best nurtured and experienced when the Body of Christ gathers. We best encounter our “heaven-on-earth” in the community. The promise of Christ’s return: Paul instructed us to keep encouraging and comforting one another with the reality of Acts 1:11.
For the Lord, Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who remain, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore, comfort one another with these words. (I Thessalonians 4:16-18, NASB)
Every trial, every pain, every moment, everything we are and hope to become will be worth it all when we see Jesus. Until then, He abides with us through His Spirit, His Word, and His Church. Today amazing things happen in and through the Christ-follower who invests in eternity, always looking, living, and longing for His return (2 Corinthians 5).
Martin Luther once said, “There are two days in my calendar: This day and That Day.”
Pastor Dave Hook