Forward Focused

“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Acts‬ ‭1‬:‭11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

At Jesus’ ascension, two men dressed in white appeared and made this announcement to the apostles. 

Who were these two men dressed in white? Angelic messengers? Moses and Elijah, the two prophets who appeared with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration?

Who they were, interesting as it might be to think about, does not matter as much as what they said. 

  1. The messengers confirmed where Jesus went. He had been taken up to heaven. 
  2. The messengers confirmed how and where Jesus would return to earth. “In the same way” indicates Jesus will descend from the clouds upon the Mount of Olives at His Second Coming. 

Why ask them, “Why are you standing here?” Wasn’t that the natural response? Jesus had just ascended before their eyes. He was there. He started to lift up, higher and higher, until He was gone. I think I would have stared up in amazement too. 

I take their question as a reminder. Jesus had just told them “you will receive power” and “you will be my witnesses.” He had given them their commission, their marching orders. “Go and make disciples.” So as they stood in amazement, or even disbelief, the messengers’ question served as a reminder. 

You have a mission. Don’t be paralyzed looking up. Be mobilized looking forward. And as you do, remember this too. Jesus is coming back! He will return. And when He does, He expects you to have been faithful with the charge entrusted to you. Take the power He’s given you and run with it. Run to the battle. Run the race. 

What a great reminder as we enter the new year. The past year is behind us. The new year is before us. There is work to do.

It’s tempting to look behind us and be discouraged. Or to look around us and be distracted. Yes, we are to look up, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus. As we do though, we must also remember to look forward, eyes open, and see the harvest before us. The fields are ripe for harvest. I’m reminded of Henry Blackaby’s 7 principles in Experiencing God.

  1. God is ALWAYS at work around you.
  2. God pursues a continuing love relationship with you that is real and personal.
  3. God invites you to become involved with Him in His work.
  4. God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways.
  5. God’s invitation for you to work with Him always leads you to a crisis of belief that requires faith and action.
  6. You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what He is doing.
  7. You come to know God by experience as you obey Him and He accomplishes His work through you.

God is at work. He is inviting us into His work. There are people to be loved. There are fields to be harvested. There are disciples to be made. There is a church to be built. There is kingdom work to be done. What work will we be invited into in 2023 to speed His coming? We’re called to put our hands to the plow and not look back. Jesus is returning. What a glorious day that will be! And on that day, we want to be found faithful, hearing the words, “Well done!”