Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

15 The Ascension Attitude of Joy

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Psalms 47:1-8

“Come, everyone! Clap your hands! Shout to God with joyful praise! 2 For the Lord Most High is awesome. He is the great King of all the earth. 3 He subdues the nations before us, putting our enemies beneath our feet. 4 He chose the Promised Land as our inheritance, the proud possession of Jacob’s descendants, whom he loves. Interlude 5 God has ascended with a mighty shout. The Lord has ascended with trumpets blaring. 6 Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises! 7 For God is the King over all the earth. Praise him with a psalm. 8 God reigns above the nations, sitting on his holy throne.”

In this life it’s easy to become preoccupied and even plagued by the problems, to allow difficult situations to sidetrack and bog us down. We can focus on the financial fear and the cost of living that continues to go up. But the cost of living is not the only thing that has gone up, so has our Savior. According to the bible Jesus Christ has already ascended into heaven. It’s interesting to see what different people choose to focus on, some lock onto fear while others focus on faith. But this one fact, that the Son sits with the Father should change your outlook from gloom and doom to optimism. Part of joys journey means that at some point along the way we arriving at a place where we choose to live with an ascension attitude. That means that regardless of the circumstances we will cheer the great things Christ has already accomplished and count on Him to continue our change. Forty days after Jesus rose from the dead he took his disciples to a hill outside Bethany and then departed.  Having completed His assignment He ascended into heaven and sat down, for His work had been satisfied. And while God defied gravity the disciples gazed. I wonder if they were studying the sky intently looking for the Lord to come right back with legions of angels and take over.  Angels did appear but only to assure the disciples to follow the Fathers plan. They obeyed, returning to Jerusalem to await the promised of the Holy Spirit. Luke 24:52 describes their departure as one of dancing instead of depression, singing instead of sadness. It says “Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.” The pathway to praise is believing in God’s plan. They didn’t see His leaving as loosing, they worshipped because they finally understood who had won the war.  Psalm 47 calls us to live with an ascension attitude to focus on the completion not on our circumstances. Many see the Saviors ascension as a retirement party, but this isn’t His retirement it’s His returning to His palace after winning the war. Trumpets blare, citizens clap and cheer as they throw confetti. It’s a scene that has been repeated throughout history yet His is different. Christ is the only king that went to war, not for His own benefit, but ours. In verse 3 we are reminded “that He subdues the nations before us, putting our enemies beneath our feet”. Rulers normally don’t leave the comforts of their palace for the commoners, unless they believe they will benefit. And if they do they usually don’t go personally but send others to do the work for them. It’s the private that sacrifices in the foxhole not the President. Imagine for a moment that while visiting the white house you lost your keys on the north lawn, do you think that the president would stoop to look for your keys and not stopping until they were found?  You have a King that loved you so much that he left the comfort of His throne and came to fight your battle. He fought in your foxhole and took your bullet. He got on human hands and knees to search for you who were lost, and he didn’t stop until he had found and saved you. How was He treated for His trouble? He was smeared with our sin, sacrificed and cast aside. He was beaten, bruised and bloodied on a cross meant for criminals. But death didn’t mean done, He rose again signaling the end of his rescue mission. It was the final note in his redemptive symphony and it set the tone for the disciple’s song of rejoicing. They could be certain and live with confidence knowing that all of their sins had been silenced. Jesus didn’t just win the war He made a way for the wayward. What if today we would live life trumpeting the truth of His victory instead of trudging through the valleys? Today the church acts more like the victim than a victor, as if Christianity is something to be endured instead of enjoyed. But we have His promised peace. The God whose holiness will not permit Him to accept sin sent His Son as my substitute. The problem today is that we have forgotten His forgiveness and the price He paid for our peace. Instead of walking in worship we wonder well what has He done for me lately? Well let me explain, when the politician wins the Presidency he moves to Washington and takes up residency in the Whitehouse. And when Jesus won the war He went to heaven not to rest but to rule. Verse 8 reminds us what He is doing, “God reigns above the nations, sitting on his holy throne.” He didn’t just come to rescue but to rule. The problem today is that many accept His rescue but reject His rule. He didn’t just conquer He is in control and faith is trusting in Jesus’ promise that He will use His power for our benefit. Living with an ascension attitude means that we not only cheer Christ’s rescue but surrender to His rule. Our response to His rule should be rejoicing. Sure the cost of living has gone up but the cost for eternal life has not. Forgiveness is still free unless you’re the one sent by the Father to pay the price. Today instead of sweating the small stuff chose to sing about the significant stuff.

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