Ascension Thursday 2020 Sermon
“When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” Acts 1:6-7
What should we learn from this brief Q & A between Christ and the disciples?
First, there is a lesson here about humility. There are some things in life we don’t know because we haven’t learned them yet. But there are many other things we don’t know because we can’t know them because they belong only to God. Deuteronomy 29:29 reminds us that “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God ” When I was younger, I felt it my duty to always answer every question anyone asked me, whether or not I knew the answer. I find the older I get the more important it is to be able to say, “I don’t know” when I really don’t know. There are many passages of Scripture I don’t understand and many heartaches I can’t explain. Each week I encounter many mysterious tragedies that seem to have no rhyme or reason. I am learning—and continue to learn—that it’s better to say “I don’t know” than to pretend you do because you’ll always be found out in the end.
Second, this teaches us that God’s timetable and ours are not the same. Most of us are in a hurry. God isn’t. For most of us long-range planning is where we’re going to eat lunch on Tuesday. But God plans from the standpoint of eternity. “One day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Peter 3:8). It’s been 2000 years since Christ promised to return and some people wonder what’s gone wrong. But to God 2000 years is like two days on his eternal calendar.
It’s tough for us humans to grasp that truth. We worry and fret and stew over the minor problems of life. This is the time of year when high school seniors are making up their minds about where they are going to college. That’s an important decision because your college years set the direction for the rest of your life. Very often young people choose a career in college and many meet their future mate in college. I’ve been surprised to discover how many seniors have still not decided what they’re going to do next September. Twice this week I’ve heard people say, “Young people today have too many choices.” That’s probably true. One hundred and fifty years ago you either stayed on the farm or you got a job. For most young people college was out of the question. Now there are hundreds and hundreds of possibilities and that means more choices for everyone—and more difficulty making up your mind.
As the father of a graduating senior, you can find yourself fretting about where your son or daughter will go to college. A distinguished Christian educator once said that God isn’t worried about where your children are going to go to college. That thought has not only brought me comfort, it’s also calmed my soul in many areas. God isn’t worried about anything. He’s not up in heaven wringing his hands over the mess in the White House. He’s also not fretting about your next visit to the doctor. He’s not worried about your aging parents or your income taxes or whether or not you’re ever going to get married. He is not worried about the corona virus or a vaccine injection with a chip that leads somehow to a 666 number. God’s not worried about anything in your life or my life or about anything relating to the people we love. He’s up in heaven in perfect control of the entire universe at all times. He’s working out his plan to perfection and nothing can hinder him in the least degree.
If God isn’t worried about your life, what are you so worried about? His timetable may not be the same as yours—I can guarantee that it’s not—but in the end he will take care of everything and everything will be taken care of by him.
Third, our text reminds us of the true secret of contentment. Contentment comes when you realize that you have everything you need right now. If you needed anything else, God would give it to you. I find this a tremendously liberating thought. If you aren’t content right now, it’s not God’s fault because he’s given you everything you need for this very moment. If you truly needed anything else, he would give it to you. The fact that you don’t have it must mean that you don’t need it. But you can rest assured that if you need something else tomorrow, he will be pleased to give it to you.
A hard-driving, young business man met a commercial fisherman he knew from church in mid-afternoon, legs dangling off the pier as he helped his two young sons catch crabs. “Why aren’t you out there fishing?” he asked. “Because I’ve caught enough fish for today,” said the fisherman. “Why don’t you catch more fish than you need?” “What would I do with them?” responded the fisherman. “You could earn more money,” came the impatient reply, “and buy a better boat so you could go deeper and catch more fish. You could purchase nylon nets, catch even more fish, and make more money. Soon you’d have a fleet of boats and be rich like me.” The fisherman asked, “Then what would I do?” “You could sit down and enjoy life,” said the industrialist. “What do you think I’m doing now?” the fisherman replied.
When Jesus answered the disciples, he was in essence telling them, “You know everything you need to know about the future. If you needed to know more, I would tell you.” True contentment comes from appreciating what you already have—not in dreaming about what you don’t have.
Fourth, we learn something about doing God’s will. When Jesus answered their question in verse 7, that wasn’t the entire answer. He went on to say in verse 8, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” In other words, our job is to tell the world about Jesus. His job is to come back at the right time. If we do our part, we can be sure that he will do his. This is a great truth for everyone who wants to know God’s will for the future. Do what you know to be God’s will today and tomorrow will take care of itself. If we could ever grasp this principle, it would save us from hours and hours of needless worry over the future. It would also keep us focused on our present duties—which is where God’s will must always begin.