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What’s so special about Thursday?<br />Acts 1:1-1:13 <br />Acts 1<br /> 1Theophilus, I first wrote to you [a] about all that Jesus did and taught from the very first 2until he was taken up to heaven. But before he was taken up, he gave orders to the apostles he had chosen with the help of the Holy Spirit. 3For forty days after Jesus had suffered and died, he proved in many ways that he had been raised from death. He appeared to his apostles and spoke to them about God's kingdom. 4While he was still with them, he said: <br />Don't leave Jerusalem yet. Wait here for the Father to give you the Holy Spirit, just as I told you he has promised to do. 5John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. <br /> <br />Jesus Is Taken to Heaven<br /> 6While the apostles were still with Jesus, they asked him, "Lord, are you now going to give Israel its own king again?" [b] 7Jesus said to them, "You don't need to know the time of those events that only the Father controls. 8But the Holy Spirit will come upon you and give you power. Then you will tell everyone about me in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria, and everywhere in the world." 9After Jesus had said this and while they were watching, he was taken up into a cloud. They could not see him, 10but as he went up, they kept looking up into the sky. <br /> Suddenly two men dressed in white clothes were standing there beside them. 11They said, "Why are you men from Galilee standing here and looking up into the sky? Jesus has been taken to heaven. But he will come back in the same way that you have seen him go." <br />The Mount of Olives was about half a mile from Jerusalem. The apostles who had gone there were Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon, known as the Eager One, [c] and Judas the son of James. After the apostles returned to the city, they went upstairs to the room where they had been stayingINTRO: The ascension to Heaven is the last earthly event of Jesus’ ministry. It is the completion of the resurrection. He was raised, not only to renewed physical life, but to resume His Heavenly life as well. If we believe in the resurrection of Jesus, this belief leads naturally to belief in the ascension. There must be some destination beyond just the continuation of this earthly life.This event, occurred 40 days after the resurrection and ten days before the Day of Pentecost. It happened on the Mount of Olives, just a short distance east of JerusalemLike many events in Jesus’ life, this one is full of mystery and wonder. <br />But what does the ascension of Jesus to Heaven means to us:<br />The ascension means He is able to be with us always: Matt. 28:20 - I will be with you always, even until the end of the world. <br />The disciples of Jesus were distraught when He died.Their joy in His resurrection must have turned to disappointment again to learn He must leave again.But this time was different he promises them the gift of the Holy Spirit to be with them always and through His spirit Jesus would be with them <br />And now, even though invisible, He walks by our side.He walks with us just as He walked with them in Galilee and Judea.We can’t see Him or hear Him, but He is here. He has promised.He hears every prayer. Matt. 18:20 - Whenever two or three of you come together in my name, I am there with you. <br />The ascension means His Spirit is available to us: Jn. 16:7 - But I tell you that I am going to do what is best for you. That is why I am going away. The Holy Spirit cannot come to help you until I leave. But after I am gone, I will send the Spirit to you. His promise was fulfilled ten days later. Acts 2:33 - Jesus was taken up to sit at the right side of God, and he was given the Holy Spirit, just as the Father had promised. Jesus is also the one who has given the Spirit to us, and that is what you are now seeing and hearing. <br />By sending His Spirit, He gave His apostles their message and power and this is the beginning of the preaching of salvation through Jesus.This gift of the Spirit is passed on to us when we are baptized into Christ. Acts 2:38 - Peter said, "Turn back to God! Be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, so that your sins will be forgiven. Then you will be given the Holy Spirit. <br />The Holy Spirit is of great benefit to us.Helps us in our prayers - Rom. 8:26, 27 - In certain ways we are weak, but the Spirit is here to help us. For example, when we don't know what to pray for, the Spirit prays for us in ways that cannot be put into words. 27All of our thoughts are known to God. He can understand what is in the mind of the Spirit, as the Spirit prays for God's people. Strengthens us - Eph. 3:16 - God is wonderful and glorious. I pray that his Spirit will make you become strong followers Guarantees our inheritance - Eph. 1:13, 14 - Christ also brought you the truth, which is the good news about how you can be saved. You put your faith in Christ and were given the promised Holy Spirit to show that you belong to God. 14The Spirit also makes us sure that we will be given what God has stored up for his people. Then we will be set free, and God will be honoured and praised. <br />Remember, if Jesus hadn’t gone to the Father, we would have no Holy Spirit.<br />The ascension means we have a representative in Heaven. Rom. 8:34 - Or can anyone condemn them? No indeed! Christ died and was raised to life, and now he is at God's right side, speaking to him for us. <br />Heb. 7:25 - He is forever able to save the people he leads to God, because he always lives to speak to God for them. <br />He speaks to the Father in our defence. I Jn. 2:1-2 - My children, I am writing this so that you won't sin. But if you do sin, Jesus Christ always does the right thing, and he will speak to the Father for us. 2Christ is the sacrifice that takes away our sins and the sins of all the world's people.<br />We are not to live lives of sin and rebellion, but occasionally we slip.Jesus speaks to the Father in our defence. What does He say? "Father, forgive him. I sacrificed my life for him. Give him another chance."Rom. 8:34, 35 says no one can condemn those who are in Christ.As the Holy Spirit is God’s representative on earth, Jesus is ours in Heaven.God has wrapped His loving arms around us and given us everything we need to maintain life and godliness.<br />The ascension means we will see Him again. Jn. 14:1-3 - Jesus said to his disciples, "Don't be worried! Have faith in God and have faith in me. There are many rooms in my Father's house. I wouldn't tell you this, unless it was true. I am going there to prepare a place for each of you. After I have done this, I will come back and take you with me. Then we will be together.<br />A promise was made when Jesus ascended.Disciples were gazing, amazed, into the sky. Clouds obscured Him. Two angels appeared.The angels promise: it will be the very same Jesus Who will return, not another.He will come in the same way He went. In the clouds of Heaven.<br />Before He left, He commissioned His Apostles to evangelize the world on His behalf. Their mission was to preach the Gospel of Christ everywhere and witness to the marvellous things they had seen and heard. Acts 1:8He promised His disciples would do greater things than He in John 14:12. I tell you for certain that if you have faith in me, you will do the same things that I am doing. You will do even greater things, now that I am going back to the FatherAnd they did –only 120 of them initially. They reached more people, went to distant places, even preached a greater message. Even though He did many miracles, He was never able to preach forgiveness through His blood as we are.We also have a part in the world’s greatest work<br />The ascension means we are assured a place in Heaven. John 14:1-3 - Jesus said to his disciples, "Don't be worried! Have faith in God and have faith in me. There are many rooms in my Father's house. I wouldn't tell you this, unless it was true. I am going there to prepare a place for each of you. After I have done this, I will come back and take you with me. Then we will be together.<br />We will all be carried to Heaven just as He was. I Thess. 4:16, 17 - With a loud command and with the shout of the chief angel and a blast of God's trumpet, the Lord will return from heaven. Then those who had faith in Christ before they died will be raised to life. 17Next, all of us who are still alive will be taken up into the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the sky. From that time on we will all be with the Lord forever. <br />However we can be sure that Heaven is our home as well as His. God was able to take Jesus to Heaven. And he has promised we will join Jesus there Jesus told Thomas, "You know the way."Normally, when travelling, we need to know a destination in order to know the route.Thomas said, "We don’t know where you are going, how can we know the way?"We don’t need to know where Heaven is, we know Jesus is the way.<br />What’s the most important aspect of the ascension for you?<br />The fact that he is always with you<br />Or that he left his spirit to be with you<br />Maybe it’s that he is representing you in heaven right now<br />Perhaps it’s the fact that we will see him again<br />Or the security of knowing we have a place set aside for us in heaven<br />Or is the most important aspect the promise that Jesus will return – we don’t know when and as Harold Camping proved recently it’s dangerous to speculate but we do need to be prepared. <br />Next time Pentecost!!! Maybe <br />