St Paul's UMC
November 13, 2022
  • On Jordan's Stormy Banks (Promised Land)
  • Come We That Love The Lord (Marching To Zion)
  • Doxology
      • Luke 24:50–53NIV2011

      • Hebrews 10:12–13NIV2011

  • If you have ever watched the reality show Undercover Boss, you know the premise in every episode is this: the head of the company disguises himself or herself and takes on an entry level position in their own company. A camera crew follows and a fictitious explanation is given - for instance, they are filming a documentary. For a week, the undercover boss gets to know the other employees and observes a ground level view of the company’s operations.
    At the end of the week, the boss returns to his or her real position, invites selected co-workers to headquarters where it is revealed to them that they had just spent the week working alongside, sometimes training, the head of the company. At this meeting, the boss rewards hard-working employees - usually in very emotional, touching ways. The single mom who gives her all while struggling to provide for her kids gets a large cash bonus, fully paid vacation and scholarships for her children. Meanwhile, the underperforming employees get further training - and in some really cringe-worthy cases, are outright fired.
    Undercover Boss is one of the highest rated shows in the last decade for viewership. There is something about watching under-appreciated workers being recognized for and rewarded that strikes a chord with audiences. Often times, the CEO is greatly moved by the dedication of those who are working in the trenches.
    In some ways, I wonder if part of the appeal of the show isn’t tied to our human desire to have our worth affirmed, to know that we are not just cogs in the machine, but that the one in charge sees us and cares about us?
    While it is but a loose analogy, in some ways the premise of Undercover Boss is found in the Gospel Story.
    God becomes one of us in the person of Jesus. He leaves his throne in headquarters, puts on the uniform of a fellow human, demotes himself to an entry level position, and walks through the front door of our story. There are hints along the way that this is not a typical employee. The prophets of old serve as the camera crew - alerting us that something planned is happening. He humbles himself, taking on the lowliest position of servant. He is not born into wealth nor political power. He intuitively seems to know how things are supposed to operate. He genuinely seems to want to know his co-workers, he asks the questions. Tell me about yourself? What challenges are you facing? What is going on in your home life?
    Now again, this is a loose analogy - don’t look too closely because it will break down. Some employees begin to recognize who Jesus is before the big reveal. They believe He is the one who is in control. After his death and resurrection, Jesus returns to headquarters where he sits in the position of power and authority. He returns to the fullness of his divinity. He rewards the faithful employees by sending them His gift of grace and promoting them to come and run his kingdom with him, seating them on His board. He empowers his employees to make the changes necessary to rid the company of corruption and disorder so that the fullness of His vision will be realized.
    The Apostle Paul succinctly described this “V” shaped redemption plan of heaven to earth to grave back to heaven in his letter to the Philippians when he instructed Christians to take on the humility of Christ.
    Philippians 2:5–11 CEB
    Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus: Though he was in the form of God, he did not consider being equal with God something to exploit. But he emptied himself by taking the form of a slave and by becoming like human beings. When he found himself in the form of a human, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God highly honored him and gave him a name above all names, so that at the name of Jesus everyone in heaven, on earth, and under the earth might bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
    Today, we are examining the next article of our faith as found in the Apostles’ Creed.
    He Ascended into Heaven and Sits at the Right Hand of God the Father Almighty
    The Ascension in the Protestant Church is often overlooked - or at least it is not given the attention that we give to Jesus’ birth or resurrection. We celebrate Christmas and Easter, but we give scant attention to the Ascension - which is critical to our faith. The Bible tells us that 40 days after his resurrection, after appearing to his disciples and 500 other believers, Jesus ascended into Heaven.
    Luke 24:50–53 ESV
    And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.
    Luke again describes the Ascension at the beginning of the book of Acts.
    Acts 1:8–11 (ESV)
    (Jesus said) “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
    Why did Jesus have to leave earth after His resurrection? What does it mean that He ascended?
    It was important that the Undercover Boss return to His position of authority in order to continue His ministry.
    Teacher and author Steve Seamands wrote,
    The Ascension signals a decisive transition. His earthly ministry is complete; his heavenly ministry has begun. -Steve Seamands
    His earthly ministry was to break the power of sin so that men and women could be free. Eugene Peterson’s modern translation of the Bible describes this well...
    Hebrews 1:3–4 M:BCL
    This Son perfectly mirrors God, and is stamped with God’s nature. He holds everything together by what he says—powerful words! After he finished the sacrifice for sins, the Son took his honored place high in the heavens right alongside God, far higher than any angel in rank and rule.
    The right hand of God, where Jesus sits, is not a literal chair next to the Father’s hand (God is spirit - so no physical hand…or chair for that matter.) In the ancient world, the right hand signified the giving of a blessing, and of strength and prominence.
    Exodus 15:6 ESV
    Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power, your right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy.
    Psalm 18:35 ESV
    You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.
    Psalm 98:1 ESV
    Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.
    Even today, when a government official is sworn into office or a witness is sworn in during a trial - our oath, our word is signified by the raising of our right hand.
    Power and justice is exercised at God’s right hand.
    Jesus now reigns at the right hand of God.
    Allow me to return again to what Steve Seamands writes about the Ascension:
    There are three implications of the Ascension both for Jesus and his followers:
    1) Jesus experiences the intimacy with the Father he had before coming to earth
    John 17:5 ESV
    And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
    2) Jesus now exercises the fullness of power and authority
    Psalm 110:1 ESV
    The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”
    3) Jesus assumes the posture of an intercessor
    Romans 8:34 ESV
    Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
    This means that Jesus is constantly praying and interceding on your behalf. If you have accepted his grace, He is covering you with His protection. Satan can’t condemn you, you can’t condemn yourself, you live under grace and the Lord has got your back.
    Seamands continues on...
    The implications for Christians are:
    1) we experience profound intimacy with the Father through the Spirit
    2 Corinthians 13:14 ESV
    The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
    2) we exercise power and authority even in the midst of evil and suffering
    Luke 4:6 ESV
    and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will.
    and 3) we assume intercession on behalf of others in need
    1 Timothy 2:2–4 CEB
    Pray for kings and everyone who is in authority so that we can live a quiet and peaceful life in complete godliness and dignity. This is right and it pleases God our savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
    Do you see how the Ascension of Jesus also caused us to ascend - to rise up? It may be hard to grasp, but this is what the scriptures teach us.
    Consider this,
    Where are you situated right now? Where is your location?
    You may be thinking,
    I’m in a pew at St. Paul’s/Grace?
    205 Maryland Ave/501 Race St.?
    Cambridge, Maryland?
    That very well may be true. However, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ - you are also situated, right now, at God’s right hand. Right now, you are sitting on a throne. Not in a literal, physical sense, but the spiritual reality of your position is one of authority and power in Christ.
    Ephesians 2:4–7 ESV
    But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
    Because Christ, who is in us, ascended - so to have we ascended. We, the Church, sit in a position of power and authority.
    Colossians 3:1 ESV
    If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
    When we seek the things above, where Christ is, and we dwell on them and put them into practice, then we are bringing heaven to earth. We are exercising spiritual authority.
    What is it we recite in the Lord’s prayer?
    Matthew 6:10 ESV
    Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
    So when we practice righteousness and holiness in our lives, when we forgive and show mercy and compassion, when we sacrificially give of ourselves to others, when we love one another - we are using our authority and power to cause the in-breaking of God’s Kingdom into the here and now.
    This is our faithful response to what Jesus has already done for us. He came down to earth to die our death, he then conquered death, walked out of the grave, and raised us up with him as He ascended back to His rightful place.
    We are conquerers when we follow his lead and, in the same mindset of our Lord, humble ourselves, die to our old self, rise up to the new self Christ calls us to be and live as He lived.
    Revelation 3:21 ESV
    The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.
    As I close, I’m reminded of the lyrics of the song “Lord I Lift Your Name on High”,
    You came from heaven to earth to show the way From the earth to the cross, my debt to pay From the cross to the grave, from the grave to the sky Lord I lift Your name on high
    May our lives lift His Name on High.
    Praise be to God. Amen.
      • Philippians 2:5–11NIV2011

      • Luke 24:50–53NIV2011

      • Hebrews 1:3–4NIV2011

      • Exodus 15:6NIV2011

      • Psalm 18:35NIV2011

      • Psalm 98:1NIV2011

      • Ephesians 2:4–7NIV2011

      • Colossians 3:1NIV2011

      • Matthew 6:10NIV2011

      • Revelation 3:21NIV2011

  • Glorious Day (Living He Loved Me)

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