Psalm 100:2 Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

This was Viola Kilkerís confirmation verse, Iíd like to tell you what it means, and how it is a guide to a Christian life, for there is hope comfort and promise in these words.

At death, there are many people who say, well they lived a good life, and that ought to count for something. I worry about these people, for if heaven is something we earn by our good deeds, then no one can be certain if they have ever done enough to deserve heaven. You see God is holy, he hates sin, so what is there that we can do to make up for even one white lie. Scriptures tell us that the wages of sin is death, and if that is the price that must be paid for one sin, who can pay for many? In other words, if you plan to get to heaven by doing good works, not only will you never know if youíve done enough, but youíll never know whether youíre going to heaven or hell. Such doubt makes death a time of great fear and dread, even without any sickness or suffering. Who can make it through such a difficult time? Who can find their way, if they travel alone?

And so because of sin, for all are sinners, we see that we cannot make it alone, and we look for help, it is then that we hear the good news of a Savior, who not only brings life, salvation and the forgiveness of sins, but as the good shepherd guides us safely through the valley of the shadow of death. Because Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, we donít have to wonder if weíve done enough good, because Jesus has opened for us the gates of heaven, we donít have to wonder or doubt, for the promise is sure, all who believe on Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior will have life everlasting.

It is because Jesus is the way to heaven, that we can serve the Lord in gladness, we are glad because we know that in Christ, we can come to God and find a gracious father who hears our prayer, forgives our sin, provides daily bread, and at the last, takes us through the valley of the shadow of death to the perfect place he has prepared for us. Salvation will always bring joy to the heart, but it is important to understand that joy and gladness are something different than happiness. You see Christians will get sick, and they may suffer, these are not happy things. But God can use these things for our good, and for the good of others, and thatís where the gladness comes in. Gladness also comes in the promise, that all things work together for good to those who love God who are called according to his purpose. Christians can place themselves into the hands of a loving God, and know that all will work out for good, and God will provide everything necessary. It may be some time before we fully understand what good came of Viola was sick, when she couldnít communicate, and couldnít care for herself. But perhaps in part, is was so that we could have a visible example of how nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ, perhaps it was so that we could be reminded of the reason why we too will one day need a good shepherd to guide us through the valley of the shadow of death

This brings us to the final phrase of our verse: come before his presence with singing. In the first place, we sing because of our joy, that we can come into the presence of God, not fearing his wrath, but in Jesus, knowing of his great love for us. We come with singing because God has provided, we have made it safe through the valley of the shadow of death, to the perfect place, where there will be no more sorrow sickness or suffering. We come before his presence rejoicing in the resurrection of the dead, and the life everlasting. We come before his presence with thanksgiving for the Christian witness of Viola, and all the saints; thanksgiving also for the boundless grace with which you have blessed her, and blessed all people.

"Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing."

It is not hard when we consider all that God in Christ Jesus has done for us. May the promise of life and salvation in Jesus Christ enable you also to life by grace through faith, for Christís sake. May you be gently lead through all danger and trouble by the good shepherd. May you find peace with God, and comfort in the resurrection, and may the hope of a blessed reunion with all those who have died in faith lift your hearts, for Jesus sake.