The “Dee Gees”: Declare the Good News

Good morning and Welcome to Journey Church.  My name is Phil Human and I’m one of the pastors here at Journey.  IN just a few weeks, January 18th, we will be celebrating our 13th birthday at Journey Church.  Incredible!   We started on January 19th 2009 with a meeting at Thomas Elementary School.  And it’s been quite the journey for us as a church.  And it’s exciting to know that we are now have only 23 more Sunday’s left here in the gym before we move to the our new facility.

In fact – let me take a moment to let you know about an open house we have scheduled for Sunday afternoon January 9th.  That’s two Sunday’s from today.  We have arranged for our builder to open up the building and you can come anytime you’d like, between 1pm and 3pm to take a walk through the building.  

And we’ve also asked that they make room for us to be able to write on one of the walls of the church – and our hope is that you will come and take a tour – and if you’d like to – you can sign the wall, or write a bible verse – or – and I’d hope especially – that you’d come ready to write a name or some initials of people in your life that you are praying will one day – cross the line of faith and place their hope in Jesus.

I want you to imagine one day we are baptizing your friend – and how cool will it be to be able to say – your name is written in the walls of our church.  We’ve been praying for you to come to faith in Jesus.  Now that’s pretty cool.

So mark your calendars for January 9th between 1-3pm – and if you haven’t been up there yet – you will drive down Husker lane past Spikers and take the next right on the road after Spikers.  You will drive right to the church.  

I really love the idea of writing initials on the wall for people we are praying to come to faith – because this is something we’ve talked about from the start of our church.  When we sat down to try to figure out the values that would guide us as a church- we came up with four short descriptions of what Journey would be about.  We called them the DeeGee’s – for obvious reasons.  And so we thought we’d end this year and begin the next by going back to the basics for us as a church.  

And Journey has always been driven by these four values – in fact they are on the front of your bulletin weekly.  And they are – display grace.   Do good.  Depend on God.  And lastly – what we are talking about today – declaring the good news about Jesus.  

Romans 10 If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. 

13 For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 

14 But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?

It is God’s desire that we become the kinds of people who are willing to declare the good news to our currently unbelieving friends and family.  

2 Corinthians 5:20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”

Philip Yancey is an author that I greatly respect and admire – and recently I heard him in an interview talk about something I found very interesting.  He mentioned how remarkable it was to him that Jesus left the message of the cross up to us to share with the world.

How humble of God, said Yancey, to entrust the message of salvation to us.  Think about it – Jesus spends three years with his followers – dies on a cross, was buried in a tomb, three days later rose from that tomb.  And we read in Matthew 28 that Jesus – after forty more days with them, gathered his followers together and said – now go make disciples of all nations…  and then left.

Now yes – the Holy Sprit came to us and empowers us to both do and be – but the point Yancey makes is – that Jesus believed in us.  He told us – go tell people the good news.  You can do it!  

And so those first disciples – they told someone, who told someone, and two thousand years later – someone told you – or someone is now telling you – that when it comes to you and God – there is good news!  The With God life is available to you through faith Jesus.

We are celebrating Christmas – and I think that when I look at all of the great mini stories within the story of Christmas – the shepherds who are tending their flocks at night – they always find a soft spot in my heart.  I just love those shepherds.

Doing a dirty job.  Up most of the night protecting the sheep from predators and from wondering off and getting lost – and suddenly – a great crowd of angels appear – and suddenly they are the only people on earth who get invited to go see the newborn savior of the world.   Not rich.  Not connected.  Not privileged.  Not even clean.  And yet the Lord – our good shepherd – looks down and says – my people!  Get to Bethlehem and worship the newborn king.

And you know what it says?  How does their part of the Christmas story ends?  Luke 217 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished…

The shepherds – told people the good news.  Sometimes we get this ideas in our head that it takes someone with a special gift to be able to share their faith with others – and to be sure there are some people who have the gift of being able to share their faith, but most of the time – it’s regular people like me and you – sharing our story using the most regular words possible.

I mean – how did you come to place your faith in Jesus?  How did you hear?  Did Billy Graham come knock on your door?

No – my guess is someone you respected – who’s life matched their words – invited you to church.  Or they shared their own faith story with you.   And you heard the good news.  And began to think – I want what they have. 

In the Gospels – let me show you another example- in John chapter 4 – there’s a woman who meets Jesus at the well.  Jesus begins a conversation with her about spiritual things.   Now this woman, like many people – has a history.  Has something of a reputation.  And she is wondering – like many of your friends are – whether she needs tog et her life straightened up for God to be okay with her…  Maybe even, in the back of her mind, she’s wondering if she has burned her bridges between her and God – so imagine her surprise when this Jewish Rabbi begins to speaks with her with grace – and treats her with respect and begins to shar with her the good news that God has come to her there at the well!

 What happens then?  Well she goes back to town and Jesus begins to have a conversation with his disciples about getting the word about to the world – and he says these famous words….   he says in the middle of the conversation – I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields, they are ripe for harvest!

Why did Jesus say that?  Well at that time – the next paragraph – says that the woman Jesus had ministered to at the well, went back to town and said – you’ve got to meet this Jesus guy.  

John 4 39 Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!” 40 When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay in their village. So he stayed for two days, 41 long enough for many more to hear his message and believe. 42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world.”

Let me share one more example of a guy I think the world of…  he lived amongst tombs – demon possessed – couldn’t be restrained – not even with chains – he howled at night in the cemetery –  Jesus is like – I’ve got to meet this guy.  Heals him.  

Mark 5:18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon possessed begged to go with him. 19 But Jesus said, “No, go home to your family, and tell them everything the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been.” 20 So the man started off to visit the Ten Towns of that region and began to proclaim the great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed at what he told them.

If you were trying to reach as many people in your town with the good news of Jesus and you could choose one person to persuade to become a follower of Jesus – who would you choose?  The most popular?  The star athlete?  The richest?  The most influential?

Who did Jesus choose?  He chose the broken ones.  The cracked pots!  The shepherds, the woman at the well, the Gadarene.  He didn’t chose people who were awesome at everything – he chose people like you and me.  

He chose the humble.  He chose the imperfect.  Why?  Because there is power in the words – I once was blind – but now I see.  

You are an ambassador of the King of the Universe.  Which means that wherever you are in your life today – whatever role you are playing, wherever God has asked you to live your life – it is more than what you think.  You are an ambassador  -God has sent you there because he needs you there, until the time comes when the King says, now I need you over here.

Wherever you are, in whatever role you are playing, at work, in your neighborhood, – in your family – you are there because God loves the people in your world so much, that he sent his one and only you, into that world, in order for people to simply be around you, as a representative of Jesus himself.

He has chosen you.  The days of your life count.  You are an ambassador of Jesus. 

And what is our message?   We aren’t peddling religion.  No one wants to hear – Good news – I’m offering you today a lifetime of religious obligations!  No !  That’s not good news – Good news is hearing Jesus say, 

 

Matthew 11:28,29

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

What is the good news? The good news is that through faith in Jesus, we get to do life with God.  And if God is with us – and because he is for us – then life is transformed from a grind into a great adventure.  Where we get to begin each day by asking God – what are we going to do today?  

Now that’s good news.  Jesus meant it, you know.  And he can deliver it.  And that’s the kind of good news we think everyone should be entitled to hear.

Now – to close out our talk this morning, I’ve invited Olivia to come up and close our talk.  Olivia has been working with our student ministries since the summer as she has raised some support to go overseas and declare the good news in another country.  

Olivia has been a huge blessing to us – and I’ve asked Olivia to come share whatever the Lord put on her heart regarding this subject.  Because Olivia loves sharing the good news.   Blessings to you Olivia.