Isaiah 26:1-2 In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: "We have a strong city; he sets up salvation as walls and bulwarks. Open the gates, that the righteous nation which keeps faith may enter in.
If last week, as we observed the festival of the reformation, our focus was on God as our mighty fortress – this week, as we observe the feast of All Saints, our focus turns to the churches response to our God – how do we thank, praise and worship our God and Savior, who has freed us from sin, death and the devil?
It is unlikely we will worship or praise a god we do not need. And yet, God who created and sustains the universe deserves to be worshipped and praised, whether we see the need or not. This is often the way that sin enters our lives – the debt to God, worship owed and never paid - but this is not the end of sin, rather it is only the beginning, and the more the sin, the more the debt to God, so that if the wages of one sin is death, it is impossible to pay the debt we owe to God. The more we turn from God, the more we turn to sin, harm and other vice and corruption. It is not pleasant to see ourselves as sinners, nor is it pleasant to consider that all our good works – all that we would pride ourselves in, is worthless. Yet this is most certainly the case – we were dead in trespasses and sins, lost and condemned – all hope was gone – and God came and found us, God brought to us salvation, and we came to know the love of God in Jesus Christ our Savior.
It is likely, that left by ourselves, we would fall again into sin. Left to our own reason and strength temptation would come and we could not find the power to resist – and so God in his wisdom has not left us alone, but has called and gathered us into the church, that we might encourage one another to trust in God, to live by faith, and to do all things to the glory of God.
But how can we carry this into our daily lives? How can we give Jesus the honor and praise he deserves and do what is right all the time? One of the great treasures of the church is its song. It gathers and encourages people from the earliest times till the present day. Surely you know that the churches first hymn book was the book of Psalms, although throughout scripture the songs of worship and praise are found, indeed, our text from Isaiah contains a portion of one of these songs.
It has become popular in these days to find easy answers, and one of the easy answers at the present time is the question, What would Jesus do? WWJD – put this before you, keep it on your mind and it will guide you to righteous living.
Its not a bad idea – but there is no salvation in the law, only condemnation – and for those who sin, there is no comfort in considering what would Jesus do. The law does not give us the strength to do what Jesus would do – BUT – the gospel, that is, what Jesus has done for us, the love of God which forgives our sins and gives us life everlasting, there is power in that!
Hebrews 12:1-3 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 12.2 looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. 12.3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
It is the song of the church which keeps us from growing weary or fainthearted!
Ephesians 5:18b-19 be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart,
Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.