August 7, 2017
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, that you may know that I am the Lord…who summons you by name.”
“In the famous lace shops of Brussels, there are certain rooms devoted to the spinning of the finest and most delicate patterns. These rooms are altogether darkened, save for a light from one very small window, which falls directly upon the pattern. There is only one spinner in the room, and this individual sits where the narrow stream of light falls upon the threads of weaving. ‘Thus,’ we were told by the guide, ‘do we secure our choicest products. Lace is always more delicately and beautifully woven when the worker is in the dark and only the pattern is in the light.’
May it not be the same with us in our weaving? Sometimes it is very dark. We cannot understand what we are doing. We do not see the web we are weaving. We are not able to discover any beauty, any possible good in our experience. Yet if we are faithful and fail not and faint not, we shall someday know that the most exquisite work of all our life was done in those days when it was so dark.”
J. R. Miller
Today’s Study Texts:
“While blessing them, (Jesus) took His leave, being carried up to heaven. And then the disciples were on their knees, worshiping Him. They returned to Jerusalem bursting with joy.”
The Message Bible
“(The disciples) were looking intently up into the sky as Jesus 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.’”
“Looking Up – Looking Out”
“Ascension means a God-like view of things, rising above our usual limitations. Rise, then, and know the glory of a life set free from fear.”
In what way can I share the love that Jesus shared when He was on earth?
How do I have a relationship with Someone I cannot personally see?
“Jesus departed from our sight that He might return in our hearts. He departed, and behold He is here.”
Augustine of Hippo
“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.”
“The beauty, the splendor of God is visible in all those who prepare God’s way…God does not say to anyone, ‘You are just a simple housewife or a mere employee and understand nothing of complicated necessities.’ Prepare the way of God, comfort people in weakness…No one is too small or too large, no one is too young or too old, too educated or too ignorant. God has given all of us a part, God comforts us, and we prepare God’s way. God’s voice calls to us and we answer. God’s Spirit wants to make us courageous and capable of truth. God wants to be born in us.”
They were just a small group. The book of Acts tells us that there were eleven disciples watching as their Friend was taken up into the clouds. Away from their sight and out of their presence. As I thought about how I would have felt at the moment when I realized I could no longer see Jesus, I think I would have had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I may have felt downhearted.
But the picture which our study texts paint is not one of sorrow but joy. No despondency but praise. I had to ask myself, “What was it that Jesus’ followers understood that kept them ‘continuously praising and joyful,’ after Christ’s ascension to heaven?
The answer, I believe, begins with the words recorded in Acts 1 where we are told that two strangers, standing with Christ’s followers asked them this pointed question, “Why are you standing there looking up into the sky?” In fact, the word used in the King James Version is “gazing” which means “fixed” or “transfixed.” Their eyes couldn’t move from staring at the clouds that had enveloped their friend and now blotted Him from their view. As if to say, “Snap out of it,” the voices of the “men in white garments” broke the silence with their words, “This isn’t the last you’ll see of Him. He will return as He promised. The same way He was taken up is the same way He will return.”
It was now time for the disciples to have a change in their field of vision. Instead of gazing up, they had been given a commission by Jesus to gaze out. As Jesus told His followers, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into this harvest field. Go!” (Luke 10: 2, 3, N.I.V.). And with the promise of power from above, the disciples turned their attention to those who longed for something more. Their view was to be directed “out.” There’s a country gospel song which says, “Don’t be so heavenly minded your no earthly good.” This is what Jesus’ message was to His followers, “Don’t keep your eyes gazing up while you trip over the person in need who is right in front of you, at your very feet. Know that My power will be with you as you look out.”
Several years ago, I was reading a book entitled Quiet Talks About Jesus by one of my favorite Christian authors, S. D. Gordon. While this book was published in 1906, the message contained on its pages, is just as beautiful today for author Gordon has a way of expressing rich Bible truths that touch the heart. When I read this book and got to the chapter, “The Human Jesus,” I left one of my familiar page markers with the one word note: “Ascension.” I wanted to remind myself of this passage and today I want to encourage you with these touching words which I found so comforting: “Today up yonder on the throne there’s a Man-kin to us, bone of our bone, heart of our heart, toil of our toil. He-Knows. If you’ll listen very quietly, you’ll hear His voice reaching clear down to you saying, with a softness that thrills, ‘Steady-steady-I know it all. I’m watching and feeling and helping. Up yonder is the hill top and the glory sun and the wondrous air. Steady a bit. Stay up with Me on the glory side, though your feet scratch the clay.’ Surely there’s more of God since Jesus went back!” In the words of Jesus, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am” (John 14: 1-3, N.I.V.).
“Hail the day that sees Him rise
To His throne above the skies;
Christ, a while to mortals given,
Re-ascends His native heaven.”
“Why do you stand here looking into the sky?”
Help Us To See
“We look for You,
straining our eyes
into the far country,
but our vision is disrupted
by the least, the lost,
the littlest, the last
We race after You,
trying to catch up,
and turning the corner
a homeless family
in our path.
We wander the streets,
yearning to find You,
calling Your name,
but it is only
a single mother who turns
and wearily smiles,
a street person
who whispers ‘hello’,
a little girl who pirouettes
and takes our hand.
But You are still here, Lord,
Help us to see.”
Thom M. Shuman
“Then the King will say,
‘I’m telling the solemn truth.
Whenever you did one of these
things to someone overlooked
or ignored, that was Me – you
did it to Me.”
The Message Bible
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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