Thursday, May 09, 2013

Daily Devotional Thought--From the New Testament (The Feast of Ascension)

A blessed Ascension of Our LORD!  We will observe this Feast Day in the Divine Service on Sunday, but today is actually the day—40 days after Easter.  Today is the day we remember our LORD ascending, and promising to return in the very same way.  The following devotion, and prayer, is taken from Starck’s Prayer Book.  I pray it will be a blessing to you.

John 20:17
I am ascending to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.

The contemplation of the ascension of Jesus, our Savior, cannot fail to comfort and edify believers. It reminds us of the certainty of our redemption. Since the Victor returns to the place from which He came—to heaven—He has finished the work He was sent to do. When He was conceived and born, He came forth from the Father, and in His ascension He returns to the Father, having obtained for the children of Adam and Even peace, joy, forgiveness of sins, righteousness, and salvation.

The ascension of Christ reminds a believing soul of the fact that we have here no lasting city, but we seek one to come. Neither the godly nor the ungodly have a permanent dwelling place on earth. The godly do not desire such a habitation because they know of a better one. The ungodly, though they desire it, do not obtain it. It is appointed to men once to die, and after that comes the Judgment. Now, then, since there is no permanent dwelling place for people here on earth, the godly direct their hearts to that place where they wish to be forever. Yes, they are reminded every-day, when looking at their homes, their clothes, their possessions, and their relatives, that they must leave all these things behind them.

In order that their place of glory may be found prepared for them when the hour of their deliverance from the misery of this life comes, they are diligent to ascend to heaven in a spiritual manner. Earth is cast out of their thoughts; they are mindful of heaven. The world is denied a share of their life; they live according to the will of God, not the customs of this passing age. And so, whenever they lift their eyes toward heaven, they say to themselves: “Yonder is my fatherland, my heritage, my eternal home.”

The Lord has gone up with the sound of trumpet! Sing praises to God! Sing praises to our King! Thus, O my Jesus, mighty victor, I celebrate Your ascension. You have entered into glory, having finished the work of redeeming the human race. Now all our enemies—the devil, the world, sin, and death—lie prostrate beneath Your feet. You have delivered us from them. You have cleansed us from our sins and now have taken Your seat at the right hand of the Divine Majesty in heaven.

O my Jesus, all this is a very great comfort to me, and I rejoice over it from my inmost soul. As I rejoiced at Your coming to earth, so I take comfort in Your ascension. You sit at the right hand of God and intercede for us. And so when I pray, I am not praying alone. Your Spirit prays in me and Your Son prays for me. Thus my poor, feeble prayer will graciously be heard for Your sake.

I rejoice when I remember Your words: “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am there you may be also” (John 14:3). This promise refreshes my spirit because I know that You have prepared a place for me. When I die, I shall find a place where I shall abide and remain forever. You have been crowned with glory and honor, and laid up for me the beautiful crown of righteousness, which You, the righteous Judge, will give to all who have loved Your appearing. You have taken possession of Your kingdom, and rule over heaven and earth, in the realm of nature, of grace, and of glory. And the day will come when You will say to me and all believers: “Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).

According to Your human nature, You have received gifts for humanity that You might distribute them to us, Your brothers and sisters, who believe in You. O my Jesus, grant me a twofold portion; for I need double strength and comfort. Grant me Your Holy Spirit! Give me Your righteousness, sonship with God, life, peace, and finally heaven’s glory and everlasting salvation. Now that You, my Head, have been exalted, You will draw me, Your member, after You. Since Your Spirit gives me life, I will be with You in eternity. What comfort, what joy, what glory this my Savior promises to His believers, His disciples, saying: “Where I am, there will my servant be also!” (John 12:26). O my Jesus, let me be where You are. Draw me to Yourself, to the place where You are exalted at the right hand of God. Bring me to the company of the holy angels and all the saints. Let me behold Your glory, the glory You have prepared for Your believers.

Although, dearest Friend of my soul, by ascending on high You have withdrawn from me Your visible presence, still You are with me invisibly as You have promised: “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). And so I am everywhere content. I know You are with me in the hour of need. You deliver me from danger. You comfort me in affliction. You refresh me in suffering. You protect me in all adversities. And so I am of good courage; the Lord Jesus is on my side. I will not fear; what can anyone do to me? Though I do not see You, yet I love You and rejoice in You with joy unspeakable. I will see You when my soul after its blessed departure from this body ascends to heaven. I will also see You with my own eyes on the last day, when You will raise the dead.

And so I want to ascend to heaven each day and contemplate with the eyes of faith my future home, my future crown, my dwelling place, my robe of white. As long as I am in the world, I will shut out the world from my heart, from my love, from my life. I will flee the world with all its vanities, habits, and sins, because these hinder me from ascending to heaven in this spiritual manner. Thus, while I live, I live to the Lord, and when I die, I die in the Lord. Amen (Starck’s Prayer. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House: 2009 (95-97).

No comments: