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Worship Message - Thou Didst Leave....I Played

Thou Didst Leave…I Played

Throughout the Advent season, several songs of Christmas have been featured in the messages - O Come, O Come Emmanuel and Joy to the World, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day and How Great Our Joy, Away in a Manger and Mary, Did You Know?, and God Is With Us.

Two more Christmas songs will be featured next Sunday, which is when the Advent season will officially come to a close as we will sing about the Wise Men who visited Jesus sometime after His birth. Today, two other songs, the first one being Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne, during which, as we talk about it, we will also talk about the Wise Men as they are told about in the first part of chapter 2 of the Gospel of Matthew.

Let’s first sing today’s first Christmas song for this message. As we do so, listen for the pattern in the first four of the song’s five verses. That while Jesus was and is very special - the most special one ever to come to earth - His beginnings were anything but spectacular.

Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown
When Thou camest to earth for me,
But in Bethlehem's home there was found no room
For Thy holy nativity.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus:
There is room in my heart for Thee!

Heaven’s arches rang when the angels sang,
Proclaiming Thy royal degree,
But in lowly birth didst Thou come to earth,
And in great humility.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus:
There is room in my heart for Thee!

The foxes found rest and the birds their nest
In the shade of the forest tree,
But Thy couch was the sod, O Thou Son of God,
In the deserts of Galilee.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus:
There is room in my heart for Thee!

Thou camest, O Lord, with the living word
That should set Thy people free,
But with mocking scorn and with crown of thorn
They bore Thee to Calvary.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus:
There is room in my heart for Thee!

When the heavens shall ring and the angels sing
At Thy coming to victory,
Let thy voice call me home, saying, “Yet there is room,
There is room at My side for thee.”
And my heart shall rejoice, Lord Jesus,
When Thou comest and callest me.

Did you feel the pattern of the first four of the song’s verses? Tat while Jesus was very special, His beginnings were anything but spectacular?

Verse 1. Jesus was, before His coming, in Heaven. He had a throne in Heaven. He had a spiritual crown there. How important He was there, all the time being worshiped and praised by angels.

He left all that pomp. He left all that honoring. He left Heaven to be with me - with us. What a gift - what a life-changing gift - that was.

But how was that gift met? It was met with rejection. For instance, He was born in a stable - a barn - a cave actually. No one was there but His mother Mary and Joseph. And yes, there may have been a few others who had also been given the barn for lodging the night of Jesus’ birth. And yes, there were some animals there. But only Mary and Joseph were there to celebrate the birth of the one who came from Heaven to be with us.

Shortly after Jesus’ birth, there were some others who did show excitement. Verse 2. An angel sang. All of Heaven rang as a multitude of the Heavenly host shouted praises and glory to God. Part of the celebration was proclaiming Jesus’ royal lineage.

But that was it. Not much of anyone else took notice. Except for some shepherds who heard the angel and the multitude of the Heavenly host. And except for some Wise Men, who we will get to in just a bit. But no one else took notice, perhaps because Jesus’ birth was so humble.

And it continued. When Jesus grew up, He, as an adult, began a ministry. Some people were impressed by what Jesus did and believed what He said. They followed Him, at least for a while.

But many others did not. So it was that - verse 3 - while foxes found rest for themselves and while birds had their nests for themselves - while they had places to stay - not so Jesus. The humble beginnings continued. Even during His ministry, His couch was often not a piece of furniture, but the sod.

And not comfortable sod. Not the ground around Jerusalem, which was the most important city of the Jewish nation, but often the sod of the deserts of Galilee. A dry area both in climate and social standing.

And it was not destined to get any better. Verse 4. The Lord came with the living word. He was - and still is - the living word. The word - the salvation - needed to set people free. All who accept Him as the Savior have spiritual freedom.

But even after three years of teaching and doing miracles, all of which should have convinced everyone to accept Him and follow Him, He was met with mocking scorn and with a crown of thorns. He was led to Calvary, where He was crucified.

Isn’t it an interesting pattern in Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne? Jesus had been willing to leave the luxury of Heaven to be with us. Before and right after He came, He was announced as being great. He was deserving here of everything He had received in Heaven. Everything including worship and praise.

Yet He did not receive those things, to any great extent, at His birth. Nor did He receive them at least most of the time during His ministry. Except from a few followers, He certainly did not receive praise and worship when He was tortured and crucified.

How sad it is Jesus did not receive a better welcome from the world He came to save. In fact, there are other words in the song that challenge us to change that in our lives. But before we get to that, and this message’s second Christmas song, let’s think about a group of men who at least went to meet Jesus early on. Who ended up doing for Jesus what He had been used to in Heaven. What He deserved.

As mentioned, shepherds who were told about Jesus being born went to see Him. They went the night of His birth. So, too, did some called Wise Men go to see Him, though their visit was later, mainly due to various logistical concerns.

Matthew 2, beginning with verse 1. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, which was the southern province of Palestine, Wise Men in the East - probably where Iraq is today, maybe a thousand or so miles away - noticed a star in the sky. A very bright star. A star they had never seen before.

Those two qualities attracted the attention of the Wise Men. That is because one of the things Wise Men did back then was study astronomy. Therefore they knew what the night skies were supposed to look like. When they saw a new and very bright star, that certainly did attract their attention.

The Wise Men were also students of religion. Various religions of the world. Including the Jewish religion. Because of their studies, they knew the Jewish people had been crying out for a Savior.

Could it be, the Wise Men thought, that the unusual star, which seemed to be shining over Palestine, the homeland of the Jews, was a kind of divine announcement that the Savior had come?

In case it was, some of the Wise Men - probably not all of them, but some of them - packed their bags, saddled their camels, and took off from where they were to Palestine.

Think of the sacrifices the Wise Men made. Again, it was a journey of at least a thousand miles, which meant the trip took a long time. Round trip, the distance of course was at least 2000 miles. Tat is a long time to be riding a camel. A long time to be away from home, from family, and from taking care of responsibilities in the community, which, for the Wise Men, including teaching, overseeing religious ceremonies, and studying.

Despite the sacrifices, the Wise Men went from their kingdom to Palestine, thereby becoming some of the very few who took notice of Jesus at His birth - at His early childhood, which Jesus was in the midst of by the time the Wise Men arrived.

Upon arriving in Palestine, the Wise Men first went to Jerusalem. It was their assumption that if the one for whom they were searching truly was the longed for Savior, He should be in the capital city of the Jews, that being Jerusalem.

However, no one there seemed to know anything about a Savior having been born. Not that one had arrived, let alone where He would be.

That lack of knowledge must have surprised the Wise Men. If they, from another nation, knew about the Savior of the Jews, why did the people of Jerusalem not know about Him?

The Wise Men must have been surprised. They must also have begun to pick up on an uneasy feeling - a dark, fearful mood - in Jerusalem. A feeling and mood that came with news King Herod, the Roman ruler over the area, had been told of the Wise Men’s search for who was identified as the King of the Jews.

That news was disturbing because everyone in Jerusalem knew Herod liked being king, that he had no intention of stopping being king, that he had a very jealous nature. A jealousy that had, in the past, displayed itself very violently. All of Jerusalem became troubled because of their fear of Herod’s troubled reaction to what the Wise Men were asking about.

According to the Bible, Herod was troubled. However, he pretended to not be upset. Instead, he assembled the chief priests and the scribes of the Jews. He asked them what they knew about a Christ being born.
Their response was that yes, there was to be a Savior someday. When He came, it would be in Bethlehem, five or six miles down the road.

Isn’t it interesting? The religious leaders knew the Savior would come. They knew where He would be born. Why had they not seen the star the Wise Men saw? Why were they still in Jerusalem rather than in Bethlehem, where they should have been worshiping and praising the one they and other Jews had been crying out for?

They were in Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, they met with Herod, who, after meeting with the religious leaders, and still with good behavior, invited the Wise Men to meet with him.

During that meeting, Herod found out from them when they had seen the star. He used that to determine the age of who he decided was a rival for power. He then told the Wise Men what he had learned about where the Christ was to be born.

Herod told them to go to Bethlehem, inviting them to search diligently for the child. He then asked the Wise Men to return to him to tell him about their trip, including where they found Jesus. He told them he needed that information so he, too, could go and worship the Savior.

The Wise Men left their meeting with Herod. They resaddled their camels. They left for Bethlehem.

As soon as they left, something wonderful happened. The star which they had seen back in their home country appeared again. It must have seemed to them the star was affirmation that they were doing the right thing in searching for Jesus.

But from that point on, they did not have to search. The star went before them, moving until it came to rest over the place where Jesus was.

When the Wise Men saw the star, they rejoiced with great joy. When they went into the house above which the star had stopped, they found Jesus. The Wise Men worshiped Him.

They then opened treasures they had with them. Treasures they had brought from the east. They offered those treasures to Him. They gave Him three gifts - gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

The Wise Men worshiped Jesus. In’t that good news? What an interesting example of what the end of each of the first four verses of Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne challenge even us to do. “O come to my heart, Lord Jesus.” No, there was no room in the inn the night Jesus was born. There was no permanent home available for Jesus as He ministered. There was no room in the hearts of most of the people to whom He ministered. But Lord, “come to my heart, for there is room in my heart for Thee.”

There was room in the hearts of the Wise Men. Is there room in your heart for Jesus?

With Jesus in your heart, are you worshiping Him and praising Him? Are you serving Him? Which leads us to the second of the Christmas songs for this message, which is Little Drummer Boy. It, by the way, is not really a Christmas song. I mean, there is nothing in the Bible about a little drummer boy stopping by the manger that was Jesus’ first bed. But the words of the song are important.

As we know, the song has lots of pa rum pum pum pums, but among those words are some important words.

Beginning with, “Come they told me [pa rum pum pum pum], a new born King to see [pa rum pum pum pum]. Our finest gifts we bring.”

The Wise Men could have said that. Remember their gifts? Gold, the most precious of metals. Frankincense, an expensive fragrance used in worship. Myrrh, an expensive ointment used to prepare bodies for burial.

The little drummer boy was invited to meet Jesus, the new born King. “Come,” they told him.” The ones who invited him had fine gifts with them. Gifts they would lay before Jesus to honor Him [pa rum pum pum pum].

But the little drummer boy? He wanted to meet the little baby Jesus. But, he thought, he was just a poor little drummer boy. He had no gift to bring. No gift fit for the King.

However, when he went anyway, it came to him. He asked Jesus, “Shall I play for you on my drum [pa rum pum pum pum]. Mary nodded her approval, which the little drummer boy answered by playing his drum.

As he played, “the ox and lamb kept time.” The boy played his drum for Jesus. He played his best for Jesus.

Isn’t that an interesting point? A critical point? A challenging point? To use whatever we have for Jesus. No precious metal, no perfume, no ointment, only a drum? No problem. Give Jesus whatever you have.

Give whatever you have, doing so to the best of your ability. Who cares if it is expensive or important or noteworthy in the eyes of the world?

Give what you have. Share what you have to the best of your ability. That is the message of the song.

Do that. It will please Jesus, which is taught in the next line of the song. “I played my best for him. Then He smiled at me. Me and my drum [pa rum pum pum pum.]”

Let’s go back to the last verse of Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne. A verse that proclaims the reward that will come for giving Jesus what we can. The main part of which is our hearts. The main thing we can give Him is our acceptance of Him as Savior. But what will happen as we display our acceptance by serving Him, be it extravagantly or simply, doing it the best we can.

Verse 5 of Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne. “When the heavens shall ring and the angels sing at Thy coming to victory.”

Jesus did come to victory when, on the third day following His crucifixion and burial, He came back to life. His resurrection proved He had victory over sin and death. He had victory despite the fact He was rejected so often at His birth and during His ministry.

One day we will be able to take full advantage of His victory. But we already can, right here, take advantage of His victory. When we accept the salvation He offers, we have the advantage of His blessings. Blessings allowing us to live happily and righteously.

But one day, we - we who accept Jesus - we who are Christians - will be called home. Home to Heaven. On that day, listen to what we will hear, as it is worded in the song. “His voice will call me home, saying, “Yet there is room. There is room at My side for thee.”

We can be in Heaven one day. All that is required is making room for Him now in our hearts. Do that personally. Then on that day, “my heart shall rejoice. It will rejoice, Lord Jesus, when Thou comest and callest me.”

Have you accepted Jesus? Are you serving Him, doing the best you can with whatever you have?

Accept Him. Serve Him. If you have not, do so now. Know His pleasure now as you look forward to Heaven. Both are rewards for faith in Him.

* * * * *

By the way, remember the Wise Men were asked by King Herod to report to him after they found Jesus? Herod had said he, too, wanted to worship Jesus. Information from the Wise Men would let him know where Jesus was.

Well, meeting Jesus was not Herod’s plan. His intent was to send soldiers to kill Jesus. Which the Wise Men were told about in a dream. So it was they did not return to Herod, but departed to their own country by another way.

But the Wise Men met Jesus. We, too, can meet Him. Many of us - I hope at least most of us - already have met Him, the one who left His throne to be with us.

But what we do after that - what we will continue to do - is also important. Let’s worship Jesus. Let’s serve Him. Like the little drummer boy, let’s serve Him to the best of our ability. Ability shared by God. Ability used in whatever ways He makes possible. Let’s rejoice at Jesus’ pleasure, doing so now and always.

In fact, let’s make worshiping Him and serving Him our two most important resolutions for 2015. Amen.

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