The beautiful, yet astonishing, thing about being called and redeemed by God is that in His love for us, He allows us to take part in sharing His gospel with the world. God calls and instructs us to share the good news of salvation not because He needs us, but because he wants to involve us in sharing the good news of salvation to every person that we can. It is this sacred calling that we will be examining and focusing our hearts and minds upon during this Sunday's service.
In his continuing sermon series 1 & 2 Thessalonians: Every Grace Endued, this week Pastor John will be preaching from verses 1-12 of chapter 2. In this, his focus will be on our calling to proclaim and live the gospel to the world. We are to share it boldly and purely, while also living it out in our everyday lives in a way that is consistent with the words that we say. As always, my desire was to find songs that both help prepare our minds to hear truth from God's Word, while also filling each of the unique functions that each song serves within our liturgy. For this week's Son of Ascent, I chose a hymn that we sing fairly often, "We Come, O Christ, to You." In this opening song, we declare and proclaim the most wonderful message of the gospel, for it is only by reminding ourselves constantly what God has done for us in Christ that we are able to both share and live out that truth. The second verse contains language in a way that helps us to boldly and joyfully proclaim our salvation:
You are the Way to God, your blood our ransom paid; in you we face our Judge and Maker unafraid. Before the throne absolved we stand, your love has met your law’s demand.
In the last verse, as we are on the one hand proclaiming Christ as Savior and King as He has called us to worship, we also foreshadow what we will be instructed on during the sermon, as we sing "fill our hearts, that all may view your life in us, and turn to you!" This is a hymn that I like to use as a Song of Ascent under any circumstances, but considering our service's theme this week, I couldn't think of a better fit.
Our Hymn of Praise will allow us to continually thank God for our salvation, while also simultaneously committing ourselves to "sing this song of gladness" to the world out of joy and gratitude for God's mercy. "Beautiful Savior" is a fairly modern song that we sing, yet it is filled with poetic and biblical truth about the God that we worship. We proclaim that God heard our cry in helplessness and that in our cry, He poured waves of mercy over us. In the chorus, we ascribe words of holiness and majesty to Christ ("Beautiful Savior, Wonderful Counsellor," "the Way, the Truth, the Life," and "Star of the Morning," as we praise God for His gift to us in Christ.
Although we usually sing our weekly psalm selection as our Hymn of Praise, I really wanted to find one that would fit as our Hymn of Rejoicing. I thought it would be a great way, on a week where we will focus our attention on the importance of sharing the gospel, to rejoice in our new life in Christ by singing God's Word back to Him in thanksgiving. So, I searched for an appropriate one, looking first through psalms that we have already sung, and it didn't take me long before I came across Psalm 32. From beginning to end, it is an absolutely beautiful recounting of the gospel. from what our lives and position with God were before our justification, how those were both eternally redeemed at our justification, and the blessing of new life and forgiveness that we have now in Christ. Rather than giving you some of the lyrics here, I would especially encourage you to look at this beautiful psalm this week in preparation for Sunday's service. Read it, pray it, meditate on it. It is a perfect text for us to sing as a congregation after corporately proclaiming our Assurance of Pardon.
After John's sermon, we will respond in obedience to God by singing our Hymn of Response, "Take My Life, and Let It Be." This is a personal favorite of mine as a Hymn of Response, because the text is so expansive and covers so much ground that it applies to so many areas of our lives. As I mentioned at the outset, God wants to use us to spread His gospel to the world, but that can only happen as we are open and willing to die to ourselves and our desires to be used by Him. This song, when meant with the heart and the mind, commits our entire selves to being used by God and for His will. We commit our hands and feet to being the hands and feet of Christ, both in simply showing love and grace to others, but also to taking the message of the gospel to others. It commits our voices to being filled only with the praises of God and the work that He accomplished to redeem us. It commits our entire lives to being consecrated to the work and worship of God. And it commits our love and our entire selves to being "ever, only, all for thee." As we sing these lyrics, my sincere prayer for you, as well as for me, is that we would sing them as if for the first time, that we would allow ourselves to truly connect with them, both theologically and doxologically, and we would commit ourselves anew to living out the words that we sing as we go out into the world.
Sermon: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 49:1-7 New Testament Reading: Acts 13:44-48 Hymns: Song of Ascent - "We Come, O Christ, to You" (Trinity Hymnal, 181; vs. 1, 2, 4, & 5) Hymn of Praise - "Beautiful Savior" Hymn of Rejoicing - "Take My Life, and Let It Be (Trinity Hymnal, 585; vs. 1, 2, 3, & 6)