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Summary: A sermon about the Ascension.

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“It’s Time to Stop Staring at the Clouds”

Acts 1:1-11

The two men in white robes asked the disciples kind of a strange question, did they not: “why are you standing here looking toward heaven?”

But, if you saw Jesus rising into the clouds, wouldn’t you look up?

Imagine walking down the street, minding your own business, when you suddenly come across a crowd of folks who are all staring up at the sky.

As you follow the eyes of the crowd you see, above you, a massive cloud with a pair of feet sticking out just below the bottom edge of the cloud.

This would be much too strange of a sight to just continue on your way.

You would have to stop and stare at the sky with the rest of the folks.

And all around you, the people would start to mumble.

“There must be some logical explanation for this; maybe the guy is hanging from a hot air balloon, or perhaps he’s hand gliding.”

Whatever is causing this, you just wouldn’t be able to stop looking as you stood transfixed with the others, wondering what on earth is going on!!!!

Throughout the centuries artists have painted the Ascension in an almost comical manner, with only Jesus’ feet sticking out from a cloud.

And in all the paintings, the disciples are looking up.

So, “Why do you stand looking up?” does kind of seem like an absurd question.

Who wouldn’t be looking up?

And if Jesus is going to be coming back again from heaven, looking up seems to be the best thing to be doing.

I mean, why look at the earth, where so many things have turned so bad?

The men in white robes didn’t give an answer to this, but Jesus did.

After His Resurrection, Jesus spent 40 days with His disciples.

And after those 40 days the disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel now?”

Jesus answered, “It isn’t for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has set by his own authority. Rather…”

Now that word “rather” is a mighty important word!

“Rather, you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

And these places include where we are right this minute!!!

Right here in East Ridge, Tennessee…

…this place is included in Jesus’ commission.

We are to be God’s witnesses here!!!

The promise of the Holy Spirit is a promise for this community and a promise for this time and a promise for this Church!!!

That word “rather” brings us back down to earth again, does it not?

Rather than staring up at the clouds, you’ve got work to do!!!

Jesus will come back, but when that will happen…?...

…you let God worry about that.

It’s hard to believe it was just a year ago that the head of The Family Radio Broadcasting Network—Harold Camping--predicted, through 2,000 billboards worldwide, that on May 21, 2011 the righteous, which totaled 3 percent of humanity, was to be whisked away to heaven, leaving the rest of us to weather five months of extreme natural disasters until October 21, 2011, whereupon God was to destroy the entire universe and everyone in it.

Camping claimed to have “infallible, absolute proof” that this was gonna happen, and that there was no point in making plans for Memorial Day Weekend.

Sadly, quite a number of people bought into it, selling their possessions and paying big money for billboards.

Of course, predicting exactly when Christ will return is nothing new.

For example, Preacher Samuel S. Snow predicted Jesus would return on October 22, 1844.

Thousands of people gave away all their possessions, only to be surprised when the world did not end.

That day came to be known as “The Great Disappointment.”

In 1806 news of Christ’s return came by means of a hen in Leeds, England who had been laying eggs that bore the message “Christ is coming.”

Thus, she was named The Prophet Hen of Leeds.

Apparently, great numbers of people came to visit the spot where this hen was laying these eggs.

And many people suddenly became extremely religious as they prayed fervently and repented of their evil ways.

But, as it is written, “some gentlemen, hearing of the matter, went one fine morning, and caught the hen in the act of laying one of her miraculous eggs.

Close by was a young lad inscribing the words on the egg with corrosive ink.”

Moving forward in history, Dorothy Martin, a Chicago housewife, predicted the end would come December 21, 1954.

In his 1996 book: The Planet Earth 2000 A.D. Hal Lindsey, who has been making big money predicting the end of the world since his 1970 best-selling book: The Late, Great Planet Earth, wrote that Christians should not make any plans after the year 2,000.

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