Celebration of the King

Our Hope For The Church

There were so many wonderful and talented people involved in the making of this guide in order for it to be a helpful resource for you as you reflect upon the glorious good news of the Ascension and Pentecost. It is our prayer and our hope, as the Church and for the Church, that as you use this guide you would Celebrate the King:
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Colossians 3:1

Celebration of the King

At the cross Jesus conquered sin, and in his resurrection defeated death, putting to shame all rulers and authorities in heaven and on earth. It is because of this most magnificent victory that God the Father has highly exalted him above all and enthroned him as King over the universe (Philippians 2:6–11). The commencement of Jesus’ glorious reign over the cosmos as the risen King is what is known as the Ascension (Acts 1:1–11), when he ascended to the right hand of the Father; and Pentecost is the day when he poured out his Spirit (Acts 2) in order that his Church may live as the rightful citizens of his heavenly Kingdom.

Therefore, as we embrace the full story of the gospel, we are to immerse ourselves in the ongoing reality of the Ascension and Pentecost, by rejoicing in the glorious reign of Christ the King, who empowers us to live out his Kingdom in the world through his Spirit. Therefore, while Easter is the day in which the Church most rightly and extravagantly celebrates the victory of Jesus Christ on the cross, the subsequent weeks are meant to be an ongoing parade to celebrate the reign of Jesus Christ as our King.

How To Use This Guide

This guide is designed to reflect upon and rejoice in the cosmic reign of Jesus and our loyal service to the King, in prayer, in Scripture, and in reflection. Each day of the guide provides a form of worship to shape the disposition of our heart, to set rhythms of worship for our soul, and to reflect upon Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ and the pouring out of the Spirit at Pentecost. The aim is to approach the throne of God’s grace together as his people—established by his grace, formed by his Word, and sanctified by his Spirit—for our good and for his glory.Seeing how this devotional is digital, you may find it helpful to use a journal in which to write your daily thanksgiving, Scripture reflections, and further prayers.

THE
DAILY
PRACTICES

The Call to Prayer
Each morning will begin with a Scripture that invites us to meet with God and respond to him in prayer. Each call to prayer is connected to the area in the world over which God is sovereign that is introduced each Sunday.


Time of
Gratitude
Whereas the week leading up to Easter focus on confession and repentance, the weeks following Easter focus on thanksgiving and praise. Each day we will practice the discipline of giving thanks by recounting three (3) things for which we are grateful within the previous 24 hours. As the apostle Paul commends, let us “give thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20).


The Lord’s Prayer
When asked how to pray, Jesus provided his disciples what is known as the “Lord’s Prayer” (Matt. 6:9–13; Luke 11:1–4). This prayer can serve as a comprehensive framework to guide our prayers on what is most essential. Each day of the week we will pray through one line of the Lord’s Prayer, focusing on that particular emphasis of the prayer. In this way, we will pray the entire Lord’s Prayer throughout each week one day at a time. (For an overview and further explanation, see Appendix 3, pp. 87–88.)


Scripture and Reflection
Each day we will have a particular passage of Scripture that we will read and reflect upon. The passage for each day will be related to the theme of the week, which focuses on a particular area over which God is sovereign. The passage of Scripture will come from a different part of biblical canon—Monday: the Old Testament; Tuesday: the Gospels; Wednesday: the Psalms; and Thursday: the Epistles. Friday and Saturday will walk us through the sermon series texts in Acts and corresponding major texts, which will prepare us for the sermon series at Exchange for that Sunday.


Praying through the Mission of Exchange
We are committed to the Mission of Exchange, because we believe it is the mission that God has given the church: we exist to be a people, who enjoy the glory of God, equip the people of God, and extend the love of God. Each day we will pray through one of the elements of this mission: by praising God for one of his attributes (enjoy the glory of God); praying for God to cultivate in us a particular virtue or asking him to bless one of the ministries of the church (equip the people of God); and praying for a need in the world or mission of the church throughout the world (extend the love of God).


The Commission to Serve
Each day ends with a commission from God’s Word to serve the King by extending his love to the world. Just as we begin with the Scripture, we will end with Scripture, in order that our time is framed by God’s Word.

The Design of this Guide

The form and content of this devotional is purposefully designed to orient our souls, hearts, and minds to the immutable truth that Jesus is King. Therefore, every element is meant to serve as a movement within a symphony that sings the song of God’s sovereignty. The following elements of the guide are intended to shape how we behold our Risen Savior and celebrate our Ascended King.

The Realms of God’s Sovereignty throughout each Week

Each week will focus on a different realm over which God reigns (for an explanation of the images see Appendix 2, pp.83–87). The Call to Prayer and the Scripture Reading for that day is intentionally related to the particular emphasis for that week.

Week 1

God Reigns over Life and Death

Week 2

God Reigns over Creation

Week 3

God Reigns over the Nations

Week 4

God Reigns over Suffering

Week 5

God Reigns over Sin

Week 6

God Reigns over Time and Possessions

Week 7

God Reigns over the Church

Week 8

God Reigns over each Soul

The Enthronement Psalms on Sundays

There is a particular grouping of psalms (Psalms 93, 95–99) that emphasize the Kingship of Yahweh. Each of the psalms is marked by the phrase, “Yahweh Reigns” or “Yahweh is Enthroned” (יְהוָה מָלָךְ) and have thus been labeled as “The Enthronement Psalms.” Since the New Testament presents Jesus’ salvific ministry (Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension) as his enthronement over the heavens and the earth, each Sunday will feature one of these psalms to reflect upon Jesus, the Victorious King.

Sermon Series through Acts

As the Ascension of Jesus Christ presses upon us to consider and celebrate his sovereignty over the cosmos, this theme will contribute to the current sermon series at Exchange Church in the book of Acts. Acts 2 will help us study the birth of the church. It gives us a beautiful picture of a unified people around what matters most. We will also briefly look at Acts 3 and get a picture of Christ that fills us with wonder and amazement. Throughout it all, God is sovereign and working out his good and perfect will for His glory and our good.
Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 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. Romans 8:33–34

The Good News of the Ascension and Pentecost

It may seem to be a strange time to focus on the sovereignty of God, but perhaps this is the most appropriate time. It seems as if the world as we know it is becoming undone right before our very eyes. This last year of the COVID-19 global pandemic has drastically and dramatically altered everything about our lives. It has isolated us from one another. It has crippled the economy. It has taken hundreds of thousands of lives. It has brought governments to their knees. Although we knew it in our hearts before, this crisis has forcefully reminded us that the world is not as it should be, that the things of this world cannot be our security, and that this world as it is ultimately is not our home.

Yet, even as the world free falls into chaos, we are not without hope. In Christ Jesus we always have good news. The good news of Jesus’ Death is that we are forgiven and cleansed from our sin, making us whole and right before the Father. The good news of Jesus’ Resurrection is that we have the promise of eternal life in the new heavens and the new earth, where all the sad things of the world come untrue.

But what about now? What about this present time in between Jesus’ Resurrection and ours, while the earth gives way and the mountains be moved into the heart of the seas? This is where the good news of Jesus’ Ascension comes in. This oft-overlooked event of Jesus’ ministry is essential to comprehending his ongoing mission to his people and our enduring hope in his glory.

At the end of his gospel (Luke 24:50–53) and at the beginning of the book of Acts (Acts 1:1–11), Luke records that forty days after Jesus was raised from the dead with his new resurrected body, Jesus ascended into heaven, where he sits at the right hand of God the Father (1 Peter 3:22). This event signifies Jesus’ rightful exaltation and enthronement as King over the universe. And although God has always been sovereign over his creation (Psalm 24:1), the Ascension of Jesus means that all those who have put their faith in him may also participate in the glorious reign of the risen King—the one who is fully God and fully human, in whom heaven and earth are being reconciled (Colossians 1:19–20).

But if Jesus has ascended to the right hand of the Father how exactly do we experience the first fruits of the resurrected life found in Christ Jesus? It is important to realize that Ascension does not mean that Jesus vanished in the heavens abandoning us here on earth (John 14:18). Having been given authority as King over the heavens and the earth, Jesus promised his disciples that he would always be with them (Matthew 28:20). In fact, he tells his disciples it is to their advantage that he goes to the Father, in order that the Holy Spirit may come to us (John 16:7), giving us access to his presence always.

This is where the day of Pentecost comes in, which occurred fifty days after Jesus’ Resurrection and ten days after his Ascension (Acts 2). Pentecost refers to the long-awaited-for-day (Isaiah 32:15; Joel 2:28–32) when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the Church. What this means for the Church is that through the Spirit we have full access to the ascended King, that we are transformed into the Living Temple in whom the presence of God is manifest, and that we are empowered to live out the Kingdom of God in this world as pilgrims in a strange land awaiting our Heavenly country to come.

Therefore, because Jesus has ascended to the right hand of the Father, he is exalted as King over the world and has empowered us to reign with him through his Spirit.

So, what does the Ascension and Pentecost specifically mean for us today, especially in the midst of this current crisis?

  • Jesus is King and he is in Control—While it appears that the world is collapsing beneath us, we can take heart that God is fully in control every aspect of our life today. This does not mean that we will not face difficulty or trial for this is not our home yet; but it does mean that in this world we can find our refuge in him who is the true and faithful King. Therefore, we need not fear but can joyfully trust that he is working all things together for his glory and for our good (Romans 8:28).

  • Jesus is with You and for You—For many, if not all, we are facing an unprecedent event that is demanding much of us at every level. We will struggle with doubt and fear. We will fall short. But thankfully, we have a King who knows exactly all that we are going through experiencing the fullness of death itself (4:13–14); a King who, after defeating death, is “seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven” (8:1); a King who “always lives to make intercession” for us (7:25). In other words, at every moment the Ascended King is faithfully and constantly praying for you and me, giving us his strength, his comfort, and his presence through his Spirit.


Since Jesus has ascended to the right hand of the Father and given us his Spirit, we have a King to celebrate, granting us a living hope in this life as we await the life to come. Therefore, no matter what you are going through today, take heart that Jesus is King and has overcome the world (John 16:33)—he has gone before you and goes with you because he loves you.