Levi Lusko - This Same Jesus

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Well, we're taking some time this spring to go through the Apostles' Creed. And we're discovering what the load-bearing walls are of our faith. If we call ourselves Jesus followers, we're trying to answer this question: what does that even mean? What does it mean? What are the beliefs that are tied up in believing in Jesus? And the portion of the creed that we're going to examine this week as we make our way through, and if you missed any of them, they're all on the internet, so go ahead and grab them there. But here's the portion we're going to study this week. It says, "He ascended into heaven, He is seated at the right hand of the Father, and He will come to judge the living and the dead". "He ascended into heaven, He is seated at the right hand of the Father, and He will come to judge the living and the dead".

Title my message is "This Same Jesus". "This Same Jesus". Could you say with me? "This Same Jesus". And we're going to be in Acts Chapter 1 this week. I don't know if you ever had the experience of being afraid of something only to finally get to it, face it, and realize not only was there no need to fear it, it actually was a source of joy to you. Parenting for me was that way, just an honest moment. I never really thought about being a dad. I liked kids. I've never been like anti-kids. Like you see the people on the airplanes who are anti-kids. You know, it's like, a baby cries, like, oh, really, one of those on board. What, were you born at 30? Like what's the matter with you?

So I was never anti-kid. One time, I was flying before I had kids, and a baby was sitting next to me with his mom. And the baby puked on me, just turned to me, looked at me real funny. And I'm like, hi. I was working on my laptop. And bluh, just all over the place. Flight attendant runs over and goes, "You need alcohol". I'm like, that's not going to help. Then I'll be puking with him too. I don't think that's the solution. So anyhow, the flight attendant goes, "Let me take that baby". And she takes the baby so the mom could go clean up. And I'm like, who's going to hold my baby for me to clean up? My laptop was there too. So I've never been anti-child. I was pretty good spirited about that is what I'm trying to say. So I've never been anti-kid. All right, Levi, enough. We get it. You like kids. But I wasn't really in a hurry to have kids.

Does that make sense? I never pictured myself as a father. It just wasn't on my radar. And when Jennie and I were dating, I had kind of a side hustle going on where I would do appearances as superheroes at little kids' birthday parties. There's actually really good money in it. I don't know if there's aspiring entrepreneurs out there. Because the thing is you don't need to advertise. The advertising is the first gig you get, because then every child demands a superhero appearance at their birthday party. And so you're passing cards out on the way out the door. It's amazing. But I had to hang up my spurs, right? I still get calls. I'm like, I'm sorry. I have to preach. I can't do it. Wait, is that a Spiderman costume under your shirt? No, I have a 2 o'clock. But that just wouldn't really work. Anyhow what was I talking about? Oh, kids.

So I liked the kids at the party. And it was fun throwing them up in the air and getting them all sugared up and hyper, then leaving. I was born to be a grandparent really is what I'm trying to say. But when Jennie told me she was pregnant one year into our marriage, and our plan was, let's have a solid five years just the two of us where we could just be flexible and do whatever we want to do. At 5 o'clock on a Friday, you want to go somewhere, let's go somewhere, just anything, everything. And then it was like, that's not happening. We're pregnant. It's like a different reality. At first, I was like, oh, no. I had a great sense of trepidation of how was this going to feel. And I was so excited to find that, honestly, the moment we heard that baby heartbeat in the ultrasound, the moment we heard that sound, something just broke in me.

And then, of course, the moment that my daughter, Olivia, came into this world it, forget about it. It's just light me on fire. It's done. It's over with. And it was so traumatic. When she was born, she comes out with her umbilical cord wrapped twice around her neck and blue and an emergency thing. And then it was a few minutes as they worked on her until she finally cried from across the room just as loud defiant cry. And it was just, both Jennie and I, just a mess, just weeping. And then there was the fear of another child. How could I ever love another kid? The love that I have for this human being, it doesn't even make any sense. How could I, and of course, all parents understand that God just grows your capacity to love. Your capacity to love just gets bigger, and you really start to understand something about the heart of God in the experience.

So I was sort of dreading it. Then I got there, and I found out this is not something to be afraid of. This is something that's a source of joy. Bring that emotion with you to your reading with me of Acts Chapter 1, for that is quite honestly the exact emotion as Jesus and the disciples show up on top of a mountain 40 days after the Resurrection for Jesus to leave this world and to return to the Father. Verse 6 says, "Therefore, they had come together, they asked Him, saying, 'Lord will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?' And he said to them, 'It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in his own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be my witnesses to me in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.'"

Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up". Someone say awesome quick. Awesome! Just break the tension of the moment. "And a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven". This moment in history is what is known by theologians as the ascension of Jesus Christ. And I think it's actually one of the most neglected aspects of Jesus' ministry. Much is made of the incarnation. Much is made of the Resurrection. Of course, much is made of the crucifixion. In fact, we have holidays for all those days. We really mark those days. But very few of us go 40 days forward from Easter to the Thursday that's known as the Ascension Day, the Day of Ascension, which you can ask Alexa. She'll tell you when is Ascension Day.

So it's a thing, and yet not much of us ever give any thought to it. But without the ascension, the effects of the crucifixion, the effects of the Resurrection, the effects of the incarnation, they wouldn't be felt by us. One pastor compared it to building a house but then never moving a family into it or going through all the work of cooking a meal, only you never plate it up and sit someone down to serve it up to them. You could understand the ascension as essentially the detonator. To be sure the explosive power that it comes from, the energizing power, the force of the power comes from the crucifixion, comes from Him rising up out of that grave. But what sent the concussive shockwaves of that power screaming around the world like so many bits of shrapnel was this day: the ascension of Jesus Christ to heaven.

In fact, you can almost see that. If you pan out in your mind, you see Jesus ascending almost as pulling the pin or pushing the button that caused it all to be activated. And from that moment, what shot out? Jesus followers. The pin was pulled. And the Jesus' followers were shot out like so many pieces of a fodder coming out of a cannon. What were the two things they were trying to do as they shot out from this moment from this high mountain? Number one, they were going out to worship. And number two, they were going out to witness. They went out like bolts of lightning to worship and to witness. Luke's gospel, "They worshiped Him and returned to Jerusalem full of great joy, and they s found continually in the temple blessing God". Why would they want to be in the temple? Check it, because that's where people were. And what did they want to do around the people that they were going to be around with this new joy and this new worship and this new excitement in their hearts? Listen to me. They wanted to witness.

Mark 16 tells us exactly that. "They went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs". So this detonation of all the explosive material of the cross, Jesus paying for the sins of the world, and His rising from the dead, defeating the power of the devil and of sin and of the grave. And now, you have all of this material there. And it was the ascension that caused the pin to be pulled, that caused the button to be pushed and the concussive force of these witnesses going out full of joy, going out full of praise, even when they got beaten. Even when they got told you never talk about that again, they went out rejoicing that they got counted worthy to suffer for Jesus. I mean, what can you do to people like this? Nothing. Whatever kills them makes them stronger, right? I mean, it's just unreal to think about.

Now, if you back up a little bit in the gospel account, the funny thing about it (how happy they are now, they're like, Jesus is gone, they were super happy about it) is that they were dreading him leaving. In fact, the first time we ever hear of him telling him, hey, I'm going to be bouncing, they were freaked out. That was the reason Peter told him not to go to the cross, because they wanted their own personal Jesus. You can't hate on him for it. It was epic. You're in a pinch with tax money, He's like go catch a fish. And they pull a coin out of the fish's mouth to pay their tax bill. It was really handy having him around, right? You're hungry. All of a sudden, everyone's eating Krispy Kreme doughnuts, you and 5,000 of your closest friends. There's a storm on the water. Yo, He'll solve it. Check out the hook while Jesus resolves it, right? He's all up in this situation. No extra charge for that. They were dreading him being gone, because they saw the benefit of having Jesus right next to them, of being around Him one on one. But Jesus said, no, you don't understand. You have no idea what you're talking about.

Check this out, John 16:7. "I tell you the truth", guys, I'm not lying, "it is actually to your advantage that I go away". It's going to be so much better if I leave. Why? "For if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you". See, they thought the ascension was Jesus going away. But in reality, it was Jesus coming nearer. You see, He wasn't going to be physically standing next to them. He was going to be inside of them coming upon them in supernatural, Holy Spirit, dynamite, energizing power. They thought it was going to mean being separated from Jesus, but it was actually, in truth, never being separated from him ever again. You see, here's the truth. In Jesus' bodily state that He was in for those 33 years or so, He was only in one place at one time. He laid aside the use of the divine supernatural powers. So He's, as a human, dependent like we are on the Father.

And so, during that time, if He was in this city, He's not in that city. If He was in this space, He was not in that space. If He's talking to you, He's not simultaneously also talking to me. But His leaving would cause the fulfillment of the promise and the prophecy of the sending of the Holy Spirit for every Jesus follower to have a relationship with. It's not like that in the Old Testament. When the Spirit came upon someone, it was some unique situation, a prophetess or a priest or a king. And you really didn't know who was going to get access to the spirit like that. It was unique. There was no guaranteeing it. It was like lightning striking. But the prophecy of the Old Testament pointing forward that Joel spoke about was a day where the Holy Spirit would be given out on every believer, on all flesh, on young, on old, on male, on female, on Jew, on Gentiles. It didn't matter where you were from. Didn't matter your background.

And Jesus said, you don't understand. What I accomplished at the cross, I'm going to trigger and detonate when I ascend to heaven as I send out the Holy Spirit who's going to be able to come upon each of you individually. And that spirit is the spirit of Christ. So listen, every believer is in the unique situation that Jesus said is better than getting to walk around physically with Christ, which is having his spirit inside of you animating you, speaking to you, being active, working with your conscience to go, eh, eh, eh, rumble strip, right? Do this, say that, go here, buy this. That little small voice of the Holy Spirit that you can get better and better at listening to. And again, like I said, come back to church next week. We're going to talk more about that, because I know sometimes it's like that's going to be a weird. And some of you who are weird are like, yes, finally... And whatever you think about it, your preconceived notions are, it's better in that.

And I'm telling you something, it's an amazing thing to have this. Jesus said, it's better than being with Him physically, having Him live on the inside of your heart. So it's not the absence of Jesus. It's his never-ending intimate presence in your heart. And that's why Jesus said, you don't even understand. You'd be asking me to leave sooner. You'd be like pushing me out the door. Like, it's getting late. You'd be like doing the thing you do at the end of a party: music's off, still there's people not getting the hint, right? Food's getting put in Tupperware. Wow, I got to be at work in the morning. No, they're just like, oh, what do you want to talk about? You leaving. Can I go warm up your car? Jesus was like, if you understood, you'd be pushing me towards the door.

And so what was Jesus' ascension, in a nutshell, was all about. And not only that, but in a unique way, His promise would be fulfilled that He would be in our gatherings in a dynamic way. Jesus, if you're a Christ follower, is with you wherever you go. Here's the cool thing about Christianity that's different from any other religion. We don't have a mecca. There is no holy site to go on a pilgrimage to. I mean, you could go to Holy Land. That's cool. You should. Maybe we'll take a Fresh Life trip one day. It'd be great. But let me tell you something. We're not going to go there to get like, oh, I'm so near God. No, that's not how it works anymore. Jesus said, I'm with you always, even to the end of the age.

You know where the temple is? You are the temple of the Holy Spirit. You're as close to God here as you would be in Jerusalem, as you would be anywhere else, because you are the temple of the Holy Spirit, as shocking, as crazy as if we were in charge, we would not allow that for ourselves or others. God, you don't trust me. You don't want to know. And He's like, it's OK. I'm going to live inside of you. I'm going to cleanse you. I'm going to make you part of my temple. It's a beautiful thing. So He's with you wherever you go, but as we gather, He's with us in a unique way. Even at this moment, as we as a church gathered, one church and many different locations, as we gather in Jesus' name. There's a promise that He gave in Matthew 18, "Wherever even two or three come together in honor of my name, I'm right there with them".

So in a unique, powerful-to-heal kind of way, as we gather to honor and praise the name of Jesus, I just speak over you that God is with us in a unique way. Jesus is here in our midst, present to heal, present to change, present to say, present to touch. And we get to be a part of that, because He was willing to leave and go back to the Father in the same body that he hung on the cross in. I hope you'll come back to church on Easter Sunday as we unpack that a little bit and the ramifications of the fact that He didn't gotten a new body, taken on a new form. But in a glorified state, in the same body, so he took the same body He lived in. Think of it: the same body that touched the blind eyes, this same Jesus, not a ghost. I got a body, same body I died in. The same body that hung on that skull hill is the Body he's living in, only a glorified, transfigured version of it.

And that has implications to change the way you go to a funeral, to change the way you look at death, and to understand that there are unfinished aspects to it, all right? But because He rose, here's my outline, four points, and they even all start with the same letter, because I love you, and I go through agony for you, four things that we get to be a part of because of this statement in the creed. Number one, because He ascended, we have representation. Representation. It's a beautiful thing, if you watch Jerry Maguire, to have an agent. It's a beautiful thing to have someone to represent you, to have someone that's inside of you saying, show me, finish it if you know it, the money. So when you have an agent, they represent you. When you have even an attorney, they represent you. The Bible says that, because Christ ascended, we have someone representing the Father. And it's Jesus himself. It's a great thing that every single believer gets to go straight to God through Jesus, His son. You don't go through a priest. You don't go through a prophet.

I'm glad to be a pastor and point you to Jesus and to try and do my best imperfectly to explain scriptures for you. But you get to go straight to God through His son, Jesus Christ. The ground at the foot of the cross is level. And we all come to the Father the same exact way. And Jesus is your representative to God. That's why he's sitting at the right hand of the Father, which is not just a way to understand location. It's actually a unique designation. It held a functional title to it in the ancient world. To sit at the king's right hand was a place both of honor and power. So Jesus, who was willing to descend and come to this world lowly and humble, even to death, the death of the cross.

Philippians 2, there's a great hymn contained in there about Christ being willing to give up glory and give up honor and give up power and humble himself and come down. And what was God's response? Therefore, God has highly exalted Him, given the name that's above every name. He's given Him the place of honor at his right hand. By the way, that's how God always works. Anything we try and take to heart for ourself, even if we get it, it won't do what we hope it'll do. If you're clamoring for something: I'm needing this, I need this position, I need this recognition, I need this, whatever it is, what we try and take for ourselves, it's always short lived at best. It never fulfills. But when we are to give up our own pride and give that all up and humble ourselves before God, then He's able to give us what he actually dreams of for us. And it's always better. It's always more powerful, because no one can shut a door that God opens. But no one can open a door that God has shut.

And so, if we come to Him in humility, we find Him giving us grace. But it's pride and arrogance that He opposes. And so Jesus demonstrated that for us ascending to the right hand of the Father. And there He's like, hey, what do you need? What do you need? Devil slamming you? Well, guess what? I can speak to my father about that. In fact, the Bible tells us exactly that, 1 John 2;1. "We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous". He steps in as your defense attorney. You questioning my client without me around? I don't think so. It's an amazing thing to have someone to defend you, a defender. Jesus is your advocate. He's your defender. Because the Bible tells us (and I don't know how this works exactly) that the devil loves to talk trash on God's people in God's presence. Oh, him, oh, she's the worst, or he's no good. He was berating Job before God's presence.

And the devil does that. He's an accuser. He's accusing God about you, telling God all the terrible things you've done. And what do you have to say for yourself? Guilty as charged. I mean, it's the reality. And he's saying, you can't use them, they're mine. I lay claim on them. And all of a sudden, your defender steps in and says, Father, everything the devil is saying is absolutely true. But you and I both know I paid for that on the cross. So the Father says, case dismissed. It's a wonderful thing to have an advocate, someone who understands the law, understands your rights. And therefore, God can be called both the just, he's not letting you off. He's also the justifier. So because He's just, He demanded a penalty for that sin. But He also is a justifier. He's able to say, case dismissed, because those things were paid for at the cross.

So He's your advocate. Y'all, you got friends in high places, right? It's a good thing to have someone on speed dial for a particular situation, to know someone in management, to know someone in authority. Oh, we can't be here. Oh, yeah, but I'm going to call Travis. See what I'm saying? When I was working on my new book, I Declare War, I was in this thing with my editor. And I have a thing with my editor every time I write a book. I lose my salvation every time. And they'll send back the manuscript. This can't work, you can't say this, this doesn't work, this isn't funny. I'm like, argh. And after I spent three days of sadness, I eventually respond to those emails.

And I remember there was one time when my editor made the mistake of letting me know she had hired an intern. Or I don't know if the publisher had hired an intern for her. But that's not the mistake. I'm glad. She deserves help. She does a great job. But she told me her intern's name. And her intern's name was Mitch. And it drove me crazy that she would actually say things to me like, well, Mitch thinks. And I'm like, I don't care what Mitch thinks. I'm the frigging' author. Mitch. And so then, every time I was frustrated, I would just be like, well, what does Mitch think of the situation? Please tell me more about Mitch. I want his needs to be met here in this situation. We really got into it, because there's a part of my book where I talk about outer space, and I talk about the space station. And I talk about sunsets and sunrises and how, every 90 minutes, they see a sunrise in space, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And she was like quibbling over whether I say how you're seeing so many sunrises because you're up higher, versus you're seeing so many sunrises because you're going faster.

And so after about 50 emails about this, it's like 4:00 in the morning, before my day begins, I'm just like, ugh. And I got so sick of it that I finally decided just to call my friend who lived on the space station for six months and ask him. And I was like, hey, so this is what I wrote. Is that cool? And he's like, that's exactly right. So I wrote back. And I just said, hey, so I just got off the phone with my friend who was sort of commander in charge of the space station for a while. And he says it's cool. But if Mitch doesn't think it's cool, just please feel free to let me know. Y'all, pray for me. I'm saved, but I'm not that saved. What did I have? I had someone up above who I could appeal my case to.

Here's my question: why are you letting the devil talk so much trash on you? Why are you living out of your insecurities? Why are you living out of what the devil speaks about you? Why are you listening to Mitch when you've got Jesus' number in your phone? Why don't you call out to your advocate? Why are you walking around like you ain't somebody when you're a son or a daughter of the king of kings? Y'all, you got friends in high places. And this same Jesus is willing to step in front of you any time you need. And he's praying for you day and night. In fact, Hebrews chapter 7, says, "He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since he always lives to make intercession for them". Do you ever feel like you're bugging God with your prayers? Do you ever feel like I would pray, but I don't want to tie up the lines, like it's the days of one line in the home, and you're going to bump the internet off if you answer the phone. You ever feel like you're going to pray for something, but you're like, gosh, God's got so much on His plate? I don't want to bug Him with my little thing.

Let me tell you something: every time you call out to Him, He would say, I live to do this. I live to make intercession for you. You're like, I don't want to trouble you. He's like, are you kidding me? Yes, He simultaneously is saying that to every other believer on this earth. But that's why Jesus said, it's so good if I go away. I'm to pull this pin. It's going to blow out with force. And now every one of you never have to ever hesitate to go before God: the smaller, the better. He's like, are you kidding me? I was just sitting here waiting for you to call. I live to make intercession for you. And He means it with all of His heart, because His bandwidth can't be diminished the more it's exerted. The more demand on the lines, the more He frees up. It's unbelievable to think about. His representation, what a joy.

Do you feel like just thanking God right now for that He's your agent, that He's your advocate, that He's your defense attorney? All right, but His ascension also points forward to His return. And that's the second point. What goes up, Jesus says, is to come back down. And when we think of Christ leaving, it's a temporary thing, because His promise is to return. And that's His long-term plan. He stands at the right hand of the Father, sits at the right hand of the Father, stands at the right hand of the Father, you like, sit, stand, sit stand. Yeah. Acts 7, Stephen dies. And when he dies, just for a moment, he gets to see heaven because don't picture Christ still like flying, like right now, at 30 miles an hour, He's trying to get there. He wouldn't even, by now, 2000 years later, be halfway to Mars. So heaven opened up after the cloud. Heaven's right here. We just can't see it. Just above us, we can't see it.

So the heavens open, and Stephen, right before he dies, he goes, I see Jesus standing at the right of the Father. But the creed says, He is seated at the right hand of Father. Which is it? He's a gentleman. He stands to welcome someone to the room. He stands to welcome Stephen. He stood to welcome my daughter into the room. He'll stand to welcome you into the room. He stands to welcome, entering into the joy of the Lord into the paradise of God, into your true home. And there he'll return. He'll return one day. From whence he came, he shall come to judge the living and the dead. Here's how 2 Thessalonians puts it. We're told that Christ "will come with mighty angels and flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who don't know God and on those who refuse to obey the good news of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from His glorious power".

Now Dale Moody once said, no preacher should be able to communicate about hell without tears in their eyes. So I take no joy in telling you that there is a hell. There is judgment. There is a day coming in which this open season of grace with an open door of forgiveness for this open extended arms of God will reach a terminal conclusion. And there will be a point at which the justice that all of our hearts long for, the shouldn't be allowed to happen, there will come a day when it won't be allowed to happen. And then that day, when Christ returns, there will come judgment. The second coming is a judgment event just as the first coming was a mission of mercy. He came the first time as a lamb slain from the foundation of the world. He will come back as a roaring, conquering, victorious lion and quench His enemies with the flame of fire from his eyes. This is what the disciples longed for.

Will you at this time restore the kingdom? They wanted heaven on Earth. But what Jesus knew was that, had he been the Messiah they wanted instead of the Messiah they needed, the heaven on Earth he would have created, none of us would get to participate in it. Because in our sinful nature, we would have no place in it. But only with the blood covering of Jesus Christ on us could, in Christ, we stand before God and enter into the new heavens and new earth that he will restore to us the Eden being regained and paradise being restored and renewed where there's no sin, no death, nothing that defiles. And there will be worship and a witness of the goodness of Jesus Christ into all eternity in a perfect place created for perfectly restored people in our glorified humanity.

So he comes back, and it's a judgment event. He comes back, and it's separating of wheat from chaff. He comes back, and it's goats, and it's sheep. He comes back, and it's those who have trusted Christ for salvation. And it's those who have rejected Christ's salvation and die with their own blood on their hands and sadly their blood on Jesus' hands, Jesus willingly carrying the price for their sins. But if they won't accept it, if they won't receive it, it does not happen. Now I know, I know, I know. We're talking about lofty things here, guys. We're talking about the heavens rolling up like a scroll and Christ coming out of the sky on a white horse with a sword coming out of his mouth. And I know that, hearing that, you're trying to have a good spiritual face like, mm-hmm. But inside, you're like, I don't know about that. If He is, why hasn't He come yet? And that's one of the arguments that, in fact, the Bible predicts will grow in the world before Christ comes.

If He's coming, where is He? Which is really bad logic if you think about it. You're arguing that something will not happen, because it has not happened. It's like saying, I don't believe I'll ever die. Why not? Well, I haven't died yet. Just wait, honey. I mean, it'll happen. And so it is with the story of Christ. All throughout the Old Testament, Jesus is coming, Jesus is coming. Oh, sure, Chicken Little. Sure, Chicken Little. And then He came, and it's called Christmas. It's in the history books. We divide time based on his birth. Hundreds of prophecies that seemed weird until they weren't. And guess what? We're living in an age where there are prophecies about the second coming: eight times as many prophecies as for Christmas. Wow. 1,845 times, that's how many times the Bible talks about Jesus coming again, eight times as many as Christmas. In fact, in the New Testament, it's 7 out of 10 chapters that mentions the return.

What am I trying to get you to see? I'm trying to get you to see: Jesus Christ coming soon to a world near you. He's coming back. I'm telling you, Christ is coming. He's coming, and when He comes, He will come quickly. That will make the front page, I believe it, when He comes visibly with power and a demonstration of glory. And every eye will see it. And they will mourn for Him, those who were responsible for His shaming. Responsibility is the next word I want you to write down. Because of his return, we now immediately shift over to our responsibility in light of it. Christ's ascension, which points forward to his return, speaks of and is full of our responsibility. If we are Jesus' followers, we have a part to play in everything God wants to happen on the earth until that day, until that moment when Christ returns.

And, of course, it's a comic moment when the disciples are just kind of standing there, gazing up in the clouds. And God's so bummed that they're not going to go do the things He wants them to do. He sends angels. He's like, go tell them, no, I don't want them standing on that mountaintop. Go tell him they got a job to do. And you know the angels are like super uncomfortable about it, like, hey, hey, hey, poking them. Like, they're really serious, like slack-jawed, if anyone ever was. just staring up. And they're like, hey, hey, Jesus said He wants you to go do the thing He told you to do before He ascended. And they're like, oh, and then they went. Then they went out worshipping, and then they went out witnessing. And then went out worshipping, and they went out witnessing. Everywhere they went, it was worship in their heart filling them with great joy and a witness on their mouth. Why? Because of what Jesus did and what he promised to do and the part that we have to play between now and then. And that's called, go into all the world and tell the gospel to every single person. And let's see as many people come to know Christ before that day comes. That's what God wants to be on our heart and on our minds and full of every opportunity.

So here's the interesting thing to me as I read scripture. One of the most important things for us to see is that we have a part to play in what we want God to do. We have a part to play in what we want God to do. The disciples, at this last moment, they finally say to Jesus just before He leaves, they go, all right, you're going to do it now, aren't you? You're going to do it now, aren't you? All right, great. The cross? Didn't see that coming. That was crazy. The resurrection? Hey, hats off to you. That was dramatic. But now, you're going to do it, aren't you? You're going to restore the kingdom. It's going to be this wonderful world, the world of God sees: on Earth as it is in heaven. You're going to do it now, aren't you? So their question to Jesus is: will you restore the kingdom now? And Jesus' response was: you've been given power. Wow. You've been given power. And then he leaves. Will you restore the kingdom, Jesus? He goes, that's your job, but I'm going to give you my spirit, but I'm giving my strength. You go out into the whole world and preach the gospel. You usher in the kingdom.

Are you going to do it, Jesus? And he's like, here's the mic. You've been given power. So go. So we're asking the wrong question. I believe we should ask God for our neighbor. We should pray to God for our sister. But surprisingly, God consistently, again and again, wants us to be the answer to our own prayers. And that's our heart. Yes, we want God to do these great things. But he's going to do it through me. He's going to do it through you. We have a part to play. We have a responsibility. And one of the most important aspects of that is the way you show up for work on Monday. If you want Jesus Christ's name to be glorified and heralded all throughout the world, people to believe on Him, one of the greatest ways you can honor God is through how you show up to work tomorrow. Honestly, it really is. In fact, here's what Paul said to the church at Thessalonia in 1 Thessalonians 4. He said, "Aspire to lead a calm and peaceful life", the context is His second coming. "Aspire to lead a calm and peaceful life as you mind your own business and earn your living". "Aspire to lead a calm and peaceful life as you mind your own business and earn your living".

Now this was written to a church full of people who were getting a little bit obsessed with the idea of Jesus coming back to the point that some of them were quitting their jobs so they could just be standing around waiting for Christ to come. Well, if He's coming, we don't want to be working when He comes. We want to be there welcome Him: Welcome back, Jesus. Get some orange flashlights, and right this way, Jesus. Yes, we've been expecting you, thinking that would impress God when that would actually horrify Him. That would be much like Him returning and finding the disciples still standing there on the Mount of Olives waiting for Him to return. When He comes, He wants to find us working. When He comes, He wants to find his elbow deep in the things of this world, so we can be around the people of this world. The way you show up to work on Monday, the spirit that you show, the effort that you give, the show up early, leave late, surprise and delight, do more than is asked of you, that whole mentality of excellence to the glory of God, that will cause people around you to care what you have to say, to be impressed by your life, aspire to live a quiet life full of calm peace, this idea of great joy that you're worshipping God even as you work, especially as you work, not because of what you're doing that would draw attention to Christ.

You're not drawing a Christian fish in your cubicle into the walls like, look at my fish. No, that it should be that, if you make cabinets, you make the best cabinets anyone's ever seen. That, if you restore old cars, that no one does it as good as you. That, if you're a doctor, that your patients get better, right? Do whatever it is that would cause you to have respect and credibility and platform within a community of people. Jesus put it this way: occupy till I come. I want you to walk into your work with purpose, knowing that every vendor, every supplier, every person you bump shoulders with, that's an opportunity for them to sense something different in you, to see God's spirit in you, to see a brightness in your eyes. And in a world full of snark and pessimism, which I'm so bored of the constant negativity, I'm so yawn bored of the tearing people down.

Listen, I'm telling you something. You set yourself apart by just being a positive person who looks people in the eyes, who finishes what they've started. Don't quit your job the moment it gets tough. Don't run away to your mom the moment, they said they wanted me to show up on time, Mom. Can you believe it? Come on. Give it all you've got. Just do what you said you're going to do and go beyond that. And don't cut corners. You live that way in this world. Show honor and integrity. Love your spouse to the death. Raise your kids to know God. You're going to make more of a difference, because you will set yourself apart in a world full of addiction and despair and heartache and anxiety and suicidal thoughts. I'm telling you something. You live anchored to Jesus Christ, and you do an incredible job, mind your own business, live a calm life, people are going to be coming to you going, what's your secret? What do you do? Is it heated yoga? Is it yoga with a goat?

You're like, actually, I do love yoga, but it's actually Jesus is in my heart and my life. And I'm excited about that. I'm telling you. God wants there to be an enthusiasm for Him that's channeled into things that are going to make a difference, channeled into quiet and ordinary living. And you say to yourself, that's not really what I wanted to hear. I figured He'd want me to be going through every other word in the book of Leviticus and figuring out the cipher that will tell me who the Antichrist is. And by the time Christ comes back, in my crazy bunker full of newspaper clippings, I'm going to know who the Antichrist is. That would disappoint Him in ways that I can't even describe to you. He wants you mingling with people, knowing people, in people's lives, in people's worlds, and having the chance to point them to Christ. Extraordinary things done when we handle the ordinary stuff we've been entrusted with in a way that glorifies God. What of He comes back and just finds you at work?

I'm telling you something, he'll find you busy. He'll find you busy and be pleased with that. And what if he doesn't come in our lifetime? Then we'll have the chance to build something that will be a blessing to future generations. That's the way I see it. And I think about it this way. I think about the twofold opportunity we have in every chance we get pointing people to Jesus in a loving way, in a calm way, in a peaceful way. Here's what's working for me. Here's what's changed my life. I used to feel that way. I used to deal with a lot of that, by then Christ changed everything for me. Here's some of the things I know about Jesus. What about this? What about that? Hey, look, that guy conquered death. That's pretty outrageous. And here's what that means for me. And then working, and if Christ does come in our lifetime, he's going to be pleased with that. You're like, like me building my company? Opening other franchise, location, doing this over here, hiring four more employees? Yeah, because, through that, we're going to minister lots of people.

What if he doesn't come? Then you'll have a chance to build a business that will compound wealth and multiply resource to do great things. Hey, we'll get to send another language full of the Bible to another part of the world. That's what we're going to do. And that happens when we all do what we've been called to do and we keep leveraging it and we keep building and keep growing. I hope you build an enormous company. I hope you do great things that God's put into your heart. I think more people need to see a Holy Spirit call in their lives to approach marketplace opportunities and see that as God's calling on your life to compound resources for the kingdom. That's a calling that's blessed in here, that's recognized in this church. And you don't need to feel bad about that. That should be a thing that is in your heart that God's desire to see happen. And that's a responsibility we have.

And then here's the last point. Last point is: there's a reward. The ascension points us to a reward, because, as Jesus returns, the implications for us is blessing because of how we took the opportunities and responsibility we were given. In fact, Jesus put it this way in Revelation 22, He said, "I am coming quickly. My reward is with Me, to give to everyone according to his work". And we could talk a lot about that, how that works. But here's the beautiful thing for us: God desires to reward us for what he calls us to do and enables us to do. But everything about how we live on the new heavens and new earth, which is a long-term play. It's a long-term plan. Come back to Easter. We'll talk a little bit about that. Heaven, where you think of heaven, is just a little pit stop, OK? Long term, we're back on this planet, a restored version of it. And how we live and how we serve and all of that is connected to our faithfulness here with this opportunity, with this responsibility that we've been given. And God wants us to do everything we do motivated by the reward that He wants to give us, which will then be something we can throw down at His feet as a way of honoring Him for what He gave us the strength to do.

So Christ promises us this reward. He wants to reward us. It's in His heart to bless us for the things that He's given us the opportunity to do. And in all of it, in His return, in the representation, in the responsibilities we've been given, it's all the same Jesus that we read about in the gospels. The Christ that's coming is the Christ who left. The Christ that's coming is the Christ stands before God, at the right hand even now, representing you. The Jesus who was born in Bethlehem and laid in a cradle as a baby, the Jesus who stilled the sea with his voice, the Jesus who multiplies loaves to feed a multitude and pulled the fish out of the sea with a coin in its mouth, the Jesus who raised Jairus' daughter from the dead, and the Jesus who spoke to Lazarus' tomb for him to come forth and he did, the Jesus who hung on the cross paying for the sins of the world, the Jesus who rose out of the grave on Easter Sunday, the Jesus said the disciples stood there watching with their mouths agape ascend to heaven in glory, this same Jesus is going to return. And my question to you is, are you ready?
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