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Worship Message - With Gladness...Go Tell

With Gladness…Go Tell

Today is Epiphany Sunday, which is a day to celebrate the Wise Men. Men who traveled about a thousand miles to get from where they were in a distant empire to Bethlehem, where they met Jesus, who they knew was the Savior for which people of God had been crying out.

The carol As With Gladness Men of Old reminds us the Wise Men were inspired to travel to meet Jesus. The inspiration was a great star that had appeared the night Jesus was born. The Wise Men rejoiced when that star re-appeared as they approached where Jesus was. The star led them to the house where Jesus was. In that house, the Wise Men worshiped Jesus. They did that before offering Him gifts - gold to proclaim His worth, frankincense to proclaim the ministry He would have, and myrrh to proclaim He would die as the perfect sacrifice, that allowing Him to be the Savior.

In the song, at the end of each of the first three verses - there is a fourth verse to the carol that will be part of today’s benediction - but at the end of each of the first three verses, there are challenges.

Most gracious Lord, may we always and forever be led to You, just as the
Wise Men were led to You.

As the Wise Men knelt before Jesus, may we, too, willingly seek the Lord’s
mercy. May we, too, give treasures to Jesus.

May we give with joy, freely and purely, including the most important gift,
that being our hearts.

How good it is the think about and celebrate the Wise Men. But you know what? While worshiping Jesus and giving Him gifts are important - we are to do both - there is something else we are to do. We are to tell others about Jesus.

That is exactly what another group of men did. A group of shepherds who, before the Wise Men, were the first to go meet Jesus and worship Him.

Remember the Biblical report about the shepherds? On the night of Jesus’ birth, as they were in a field with their sheep, some shepherds were joined by an angel of the Lord and then by a multitude of the Heavenly host. From them, the shepherds heard of Jesus’ birth.

After going to meet Jesus and after telling Mary and Joseph what they had heard about Him - that He was the Savior, Christ, Lord - they returned to their sheep. As they did that, they were not silent. They did not keep to themselves their knowledge of who Jesus was and is. They went back, glorifying and praising God. The glorifying and the praising were designed to tell others about Jesus.

What the shepherds did, we are to do, which is taught in a number of Bible passages, six of which are going to be reviewed in this message. Two of them are specific instructions by Jesus Himself to tell others about Him. Two are examples of that happening. Two others have practical advice about how to tell others about Him.

The two passages that give Jesus’ instructions come from after His death and resurrection. Including something He said while meeting with His disciples. A meeting recorded at the end of the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew 28:16-20.

Again, this came after Jesus’ resurrection. The disciples had been instructed to go from Jerusalem, where they had been, to a mountain in the northern part of the Jewish homeland.

At the start of that meeting, the disciples worshiped Jesus. They were overjoyed that the one they had followed for three years - the one they had seen die and be buried - was once again alive.

After that, Jesus gave the disciples this instruction. “Go to all nations and make disciples.” That was to include baptizing and teaching other people. Teaching them about Jesus and everything He had taught.

Jesus empowered them for what they were instructed to do. He told them He had all authority in Heaven and on earth, and He promised to be with them as they made disciples. But they were to go tell others about Jesus.

The disciples knowing Jesus and worshiping Him were very good things. But as it had been with the shepherds the night of Jesus’ birth, it was not enough for them to keep their knowledge to themselves. They were to tell others about Him. That is what Jesus instructed them to do.

Does that apply to us? I think so. That is the way I interpret it since this is in the Bible. We, too, are to tell others about Jesus, using that as a way to make more disciples.

Where is that to occur? According to Act 1:8, it is occur everywhere.

The background of Acts 1:8 is this. After meeting with Jesus on the mountain, which is where we were in Matthew 28, the disciples returned to Jerusalem.

There they saw Jesus some more times. One of those times He told them to stay in Jerusalem, which was not a contradiction of what He had told them on the mountain. It was instead a further instruction They were to make disciples, not with their own power, but with the strength of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told them to stay in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit baptized them with the divine power needed to go make disciples.

Jesus then told them where they would go. In Matthew they were told to go. In Acts 1:8 they were told where.

Again, they were to go everywhere. Jesus said, “You shall be My witnesses [in other words, they were to tell others about Him] in Jerusalem,” which is where they were.
Applying that to us, we are to tell others about Jesus in our cities - Lincoln, Waverly, Sterling, Eagle, and maybe some others represented here today.

“In all Judea, which was the Palestinian area where Jerusalem was. Applying that to us, we are to tell others in Nebraska. That can be expanded to the Midwest.

“And Samaria,” which was the unpopular area just north of Judea. Unpopular because at one time in history, the people there had not stayed true to the Jewish faith. Applying that to us, we are to tell even people who are rejected. We are to tell them about Jesus, knowing that the only hope any of us has - the only spiritual hope - is Jesus.

“And to the end of the earth,” which refers to every other place in the world.

Applying all that to us, we are helped in the telling by the People’s City Mission and various missionaries we as a congregation help support. The Mission helps needy people in Lincoln, doing so in the name of Jesus. Gary and Gwen Bistritan help us tell people on the Pacific island of Yap about Jesus. Tim and Josie Vickey help us tell people in the African nation of Malawi about Jesus. Actually, beyond there. The Vickey’s are involved with training pastors, not only from Malawi, but other African nations as well.

Go and make disciples. Make disciples everywhere. Since both instructions are in the Bible, they are meant, not just for the disciples 2000 years ago, who directly heard the instructions they apply to us as well. They are what Jesus instructs us to do, even now. Telling others about Jesus is to be added to our acceptance and our worship of Him.

Interestingly, we have evidence of people doing that, even before Jesus gave the instruction. Interestingly, they are from people other than His disciples. Which takes us to the next two passages for this message, the first of those in the Gospel of Luke.

In Luke 8, Jesus and His disciples were met by a man who was demon-possessed. For a long time the man had been possessed, causing him to go around with no clothes on, to live among tombs, to rant and rave, to have the strength to break chains with which he was sometimes bound when people were able to catch him and try to subdue him.

When Jesus saw the man, He immediately ordered the unclean spirit to come out of the man.

The man answered by crying out, falling on the ground before Jesus, and begging to be left alone. But Jesus did not leave the man alone. He instead asked the man his name. More accurately, the name of the demon. He was told, “My name is Legion,” indicating many demons possessed the man.

In the conversation, Legion knew he - they - were in trouble. They knew the man was going to be healed. So they asked to be allowed to enter another host. They asked to be allowed to enter a herd of swine close by, which Jesus ordered.

That was an unfortunate thing for the swine. They became crazy, which caused them to rush down a bank, right into a lake, where they drowned.

But it was a good thing for the man, who right away put on clothes and sat at the feet of Jesus, in his right mind wanting to talk to Him and learn from Him.

Soon, Jesus prepared to leave the area. That was actually at the request of other people of the area. The power of Jesus scared them.

But listen. The one who was healed, when he begged to be allowed to go with Jesus, was told no. Listen to what Jesus told the man. “Return to your home and declare how much God has done for you.” Since God’s representative was Jesus, the man was to tell others about Jesus, which is exactly what we are talking about.

The good news is that the man obeyed. It is recorded that he did proclaim throughout his city how much Jesus had done for him.

Which also happened in the case of a woman of Samaria who one day had a conversation with Jesus.

The woman and Jesus happened to be at a well outside a city at the same time. Jesus started a conversation with her, during which He let her know He already knew her. Despite the fact they had never met, Jesus knew she had been married and divorced five times, that she was at that time living with yet another man, this one not her husband, and that her loose lifestyle was causing her to be rejected by the respectable women of her city.

Toward the end of the conversation, Jesus identified Himself as the Messiah. As the one - the only one - who could change her life for the better. That impressed the woman so much she returned to her city and - get this - told others about Jesus. He had not instructed her to do so. She just did it, inviting them to meet Him, too. Many of whom did. Many of whom professed a belief in Jesus. That He was and is the Savior of the world.

By the way, are you amazed, as I am, that the two we have just talked about were so unacceptable? A crazy, strong, uncontrollable man and a woman who was immoral.

Who would have thought either of those people would have any part in God’s work? Yet both did. Both did after being affected by Jesus - after being healed in the case of the man, after being persuaded in the case of the woman - persuaded that Jesus is the Messiah.

I think one of the points of that man and that woman being told about is that anyone can be part of God’s work, including following Jesus’ instruction to tell others about Him.

Which takes us to two examples of the Bible giving practical advice about how to tell others about Jesus, the first one being, not for crazy men or immoral women, but anyone who is young. Advice written in I Timothy by the apostle Paul. Advice given to a young pastor named Timothy.

Paul certainly told others about Jesus. He had some words of advice for Timothy, a fellow minister. Advice that, since it is in the Bible, is for us, too, even today. Especially, in this case, for any among us who are young.

I Timothy 4:12. Paul wrote to Timothy, “Let no one despise your youth.”

Apparently there were some in the congregation Timothy pastored who did not respect him because he was young.

I remember my mother complaining once about a new doctor she had. Her comment was that he was so young he, knew nothing about life. When I asked her how young the doctor was, she answered, “I don’t know. Mid-50’s maybe.”

That was younger than she was, so to her, the doctor was too young. And it was not so much a question of skill or knowledge as it was about not understanding about life.

Timothy, whatever his age, was younger than Paul, who had started the congregation. He was probably younger than many in the congregation he pastored. He had not had as many life experiences as had they.

That is the case for some in this congregation. But tell others about Jesus anyway. That is the message Paul had for Timothy and for you.

How can you accomplish that. Paul continued by writing - this applies to all of us, everyone at any age - “set a good example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.”

In speech. Watch what you say, making sure that all your words are pleasing to the Lord. And yes, sometimes we might have to speak strongly to correct someone, but make sure the goal is helping them rather than demeaning them.

In conduct. Watch how you live, making sure all your actions are pleasing to the Lord. Do not do anything that would cause your witness to be damaged.

I remember hearing a speaker at a youth convention a few years ago say he so often hears, when someone does something wrong, “I never intended for that to happen.” He said the problem each time is that the one who did wrong never intended for it not to happen. Watch how you live. Be intentional about living properly and righteously.

Make sure you love, defined here as wanting only the best for everyone else.

Set a good example in faith. Be loyal to Jesus - to His teachings, His cause, His love.

Be pure. Know the standards set by Jesus. Follow them.

In speech, conduct, and love, in faith and purity, set a good example. That is practical advice for how to effectively tell others about Jesus. Advice included for young people. Young people doing those things will help them overcome any resistance because of age.

And for all of us, let’s consider John 15:5, where we are instructed to stay with Jesus while telling others about Him. Hear these words of Jesus. He is the vine, we are the branches. If we abide in Him and He in us - if we draw on His spiritual nourishment and allow Him to strengthen us - the promise is that we will bear much fruit.

Apart from Him, we can do nothing. Apart from Him, we do not have the power or the authority to tell others about Him. To do so effectively. But with Him, we can be effective.

* * * * *

What a wonderful season Advent has been as we have celebrated the coming of Jesus. How good it has been to worship Him and thank Him for coming. And not only coming, but having a ministry. A ministry that resulted in Him being the perfect sacrifice for our sins.

What a wonderful season it has been. But again, as important as our worship is, we are to go beyond that. We are to tell others about Him who was raised from the dead as the Savior. We know we are to tell others about Him. We know that from what Jesus said following His resurrection. We have examples of that in the Bible. We are given practical advice of how to tell others.

throughout 2o15, will we tell others? To remind us of the need to do that, let’s sing the last Christmas song of the season, which is is Go, Tell It on the Mountain. The first verse will remind us of the shepherds. The second will remind us what the shepherds heard about Jesus. The third will remind us that Christ was born to bring us God’s salvation.

That is what we are to tell others. Let’s tell it on mountains, and in valleys. Let’s tell it in our homes, our cities, and elsewhere. Let’s tell that Jesus Christ was born and still lives to offer us salvation.

Go, tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere;
Go, tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born!

While shepherds kept their watching
O’er silent flocks by night,
Behold throughout the heavens
There shone a holy light.

Go, tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere;
Go, tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born!

The shepherds feared and trembled
When lo! above the earth
Rang out the angel chorus
That hailed our Savior's birth.

Go, tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere;
Go, tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born!

Down in a lowly manger
The humble Christ was born,
and brought us God’s salvation
that blessed Christmas morn

Go, tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere;
Go, tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born!

That song reminds us of the shepherds, who were the first, other than Mary and Joseph, to meet Jesus following His birth.

The other song for this message was As With Gladness Men of Old, which reminded us about the Wise Men, who later met Jesus. Ones who were led to Jesus by a star, who asked Him for mercy, who gave Him gifts.

With both the shepherds and the Wise Men in mind, and with the instruction that we move beyond worshiping Jesus and tell others about Him, let’s make the fourth verse of the first song our benediction.

Holy Jesus, every day - this day and all through this year - keep us in the narrow way.
And when earthly things are past, whether that comes for us this year
or some other time in the future, bring our ransomed souls at last where they need no star to guide, where no clouds Thy glory hide.

Now and always, bring us close to You and keep us close to You.

Thank You, Lord.

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