Today's Devotional

Our Hope is in Heaven (6 December)

When the apostles met together with Jesus, they asked him, "Lord, will you at this time give the Kingdom back to Israel?" Jesus said to them, "The times and occasions are set by my Father's own authority, and it is not for you to know when they will be. But when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be filled with power, and you will be witnesses for me in Jerusalem, in all of Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." After saying this, he was taken up to heaven as they watched him, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They still had their eyes fixed on the sky as he went away, when two men dressed in white suddenly stood beside them and said, "Galileans, why are you standing there looking up at the sky? This Jesus, who was taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way that you saw him go to heaven."
Acts 1:6-11

Even though Jesus had told his disciples three times that he would be crucified and would rise from the dead, they did not understand. After he rose and appeared to them, they were amazed, rejoicing, and encouraged. Their Lord was not dead and gone; he was alive and with them!

When Jesus ascended to heaven, their jaws dropped. Clearly they were not expecting him to leave them. No doubt the feelings of fear and surprise returned. How could he leave us? Where did he go? We are alone again! They lost their hope.

Sometimes we might feel like that. We serve a Lord who is not visibly among us. The world around us is hostile because we believe in an absentee king. Where is our leader? We are like sheep without a shepherd. But let us never lose hope! The angels told them that one day Jesus would physically return to be with them. Yes, it is hard to wait for someone whom we cannot see, but that is the test of our faith. Our hope is in heaven: Jesus is bodily in heaven, and he will return bodily. When he comes, will he find faith on the earth?

Before Jesus went up to heaven, he gave clear instructions to his disciples: they would receive power by the Holy Spirit and would be witnesses of the gospel in the land and to the ends of the earth to every nation and people. Jesus also said it is not for us to know the times and seasons. It is quite clear how he wants us to conduct ourselves: to believe in him and in his sure return but not to busy ourselves with specific dates. Rather we should be busy with the work of the gospel, and we should never lose hope.

Let us be like the apostle Paul, who heard Jesus speak from heaven (Acts 9) and then gave himself as a living sacrifice to serve the Lord, full of hope when he says, "Maranatha!" (1 Corinthians 16:22).


© 2012 United Bible Societies - Palestinian Bible Society, Bible Society in Israel, and Arab Israeli Bible Society. All rights reserved.