A Testimony - Applying Christ's Ascension to Life
This past Sunday Steve preached on the Ascension of Christ. The glorious truth about Jesus being in heaven as my representative before the Father made me want to weep. The enormity of what Jesus had done, and is still doing for me, is so overwhelming. It can be easy to hear a sermon and then go on as usual afterwards without letting the impact of the word affect our lives. James calls this being a hearer of the word and exhorts us to also be doers.
I was struggling with this almost immediately after the sermon. I wanted to sit and soak to contemplate further the implications of this reality of the ascension on my life but that was not possible. Instead, I had a series of conversations that tempted me to take my eyes off Christ and put them on others, circumstances, and my own lack in so many areas. This struggle continued throughout the day. In the back of my mind I kept hearing a voice reminding me that Jesus was with the Father in heaven interceding for me, sympathizing with my weakness, and making me acceptable to fellowship with God. It seemed too abstract compared to my own worries and concerns. I confessed all of this to Steve before going to sleep and he prayed with me.
The next morning I awoke in a similar state. I tried to think about the main points of the sermon and apply them to my situation. I do not want my “darkness of faith” (from the John Owen quote in the sermon) to be the driving force in my life and over my emotions. I came to God’s word. Dr. Plummer, during Saturday’s seminar, exhorted us to pray and ask God to lead us by his Spirit when reading his word rather than go with the “what strikes me” approach. I did pray and confessed my need for God to give me insight. I’m currently reading through Acts and that morning I read Acts 21-22.
Wow! I was so blown away by the insights God gave me through this historical narrative of the early church and Paul’s life and ministry. The familiar stories were so fresh and I was once again reminded of God’s sovereignty and control over all things (even some pretty bad things). I saw a clear picture, in Paul, of a life given as a living sacrifice. I was confronted with the question of whose kingdom I am living for. Admittedly I live for my own kingdom often. That’s not to say that my desires are always wrong. I have genuine desire to see God glorified in things happening in my life and in the life of the church, but my kingdom so often creeps in when I put myself or others at the center rather than God.
The stark realization of my failings was immediately soothed by the reality that Jesus ascended into heaven and is my representative before holy God. I am accepted only on this basis. Always! What does this do in me? It gives me a greater desire to live for his kingdom; to bow before my king and lay out my life as a living sacrifice because of the mercy he has shown me. Every worry about myself, family, friends, the church, etc..., melt away when I remember my Great High Priest who is also ruling and reigning eternally, in my life and in this world . My life and temporal concerns can be left with God, through Jesus, who can be trusted absolutely. And rather than "trusting him" to make my life easy, comfortable or prosperous, he can be trusted to advance his kingdom, to rule well, to win the day, and to save whom he wants to save. Oh what joy there is in surrendering to him!
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