14Dec

Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus {The Story Behind the Hymn}

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I love old hymns. I love the heart, the theology, but  most of all the testimonies of faith that they offer up. Men and women who walked through the fire. Men and women who suffered through trials and tribulations–the worst that this world has to offer–and whose faith remained stronger on the other side. Those who trusted in the sovereignty of God and took comfort in Him, even in the trials.

So sweet

So, I’m going to be sharing some of these stories in hopes that they will inspire and encourage you as well. Maybe you already know them and maybe you don’t. But either way, I pray you’ll be encouraged.

‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus

{The Story}

As the story goes, Louisa M. R. Stead had a deep faith and desired to be a missionary to China. However, her frail health prevented her from doing this. She was married in 1875. One day, around the year 1879-1880 (there are varying accounts to the details), she went picnicking with her husband and daughter. They heard the screams of a young boy, and her husband tried to rescue him from the water. Instead, she and her daughter Lily watched helplessly as both her husband and the young boy drowned. Some actually say that he saved their daughter who was drowning as well, but most accounts I have read said he died saving a young boy.

Louisa was surely devastated by the loss of her husband, but in addition to that, she and Lily were left without a means of support and were poor and destitute. Yet the Lord always provided, sometimes through the kindness of strangers. She and her daughter made it through this time and eventually became missionaries in South Africa.

However, it was in the midst of her trials that Louisa Stead penned the following words…

{The Hymn}

’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”

Refrain:

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

Oh, how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood;
And in simple faith to plunge me
’Neath the healing, cleansing flood!

Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace.

I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that Thou art with me,
Wilt be with me to the end.


 
23Nov

What We Can Learn from Joseph about Thanksgiving

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Learn from Joseph Give Thanks

We’re entering the week of Thanksgiving. But Thanksgiving is not just a holiday. It’s an attitude. A lifestyle.

In fact, Paul tells us in Thess 5:18, “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Similarly, Ephesians 5:20 says we should be, “giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

So we know that gratitude and giving thanks to the Lord is important, and we know that means to give thanks in, and even for everything.

But the big question is, how?

How do we give thanks in all things?

I see praises all the time in my facebook feed–

I got that job I wanted, God is good.
My car got fixed, God is good.

Things are going my way, so God is good. It’s easy to give thanks to God when things are going well, when everything is rainbows and roses, and life is giving us warm fuzzies.

But what about those times when life just seems to kick us when we’re down? Those times when we lose loved ones, get a devastating diagnosis from the doctor, or lose jobs, or lose homes? The times that make us cry the ugly cry and scream and rail at the heavens. The times that make us want to just give it all up.

It’s easy to thank Him for the good times, but how do we thank God for the bad ones? 

The Lord recently spoke to me through the story of  Joseph (from the OT). If anyone dealt with really bad circumstances, it was him. He was sold into slavery. He was thrown in prison when he did the right thing. He could easily have become very bitter.

But he didn’t. And when he meets his brothers, he offers them forgiveness and tells them something that I think we can learn from.

God’s Sovereignty

Here is what Joseph said to his brothers:

And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.  For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God. 

Perspective is so important in our Christian lives. In this short passage, Joseph points out that it was God who sent him there, and that God had a purpose.

I love this story because the Lord gives us a little peek into how things work. In our lives, we don’t always get to see behind the scenes. There are times when we may never see the good that comes from a tragedy. But we can trust that it’s there because God’s word makes that promise in Romans 8:28.

But in this story, we get a front row seat. We see the evil actions, and the dire circumstances. We see how so many things went badly for Joseph. But we also see how the Lord was with him through it all. We see God moving here and there, and how everything worked according to His plan, even when it may have seemed things were spiraling out of control. God had a handle on it the whole time.

Joseph understood that the God is sovereign. Nothing could touch Joseph that the Lord did not allow. His brothers and their evil plan weren’t in charge of his life. Bad circumstances weren’t in charge of his life.

Joseph did not give other people or his circumstances that kind of power over him. He recognized that God, alone, was in charge of his life.

You and I can learn from that today. We can give thanks in and for all things, when we trust in the sovereignty of God. Because we know and trust that He is orchestrating our lives for His glory and our good.

 

learn from joseph giving thanks


 
24Oct

To Him who is able…

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exceedingly above

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us…” -Ephesians 3:20

There is so much encouragement to pull from this verse, but it is especially comforting to me in times of disappointments. Sometimes, I have a plan, a dream, or a wish. A way that I think would be the best for myself and/or my family. Something I really want. And sometimes what we get seems to be the opposite. Have you ever experienced times like that?

In those times of disappointments, I am reminded of this. He is able to do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.”

God’s best is beyond my wildest imaginations. And sometimes God steps in to protect us from ourselves, from our limited view of this life, and from settling for second best. 

If you’ve been around this blog for a bit, you know about our deep longing to live in the country, and that we can’t purchase a place for 3 yearsSo, renting it is. In our small tiny town, there is not a large selection of homes for rent, and even less that are in the country. We’ve only seen 1 come available in the entire 2 years we’ve lived here!

Well, last night my husband came home to tell me that there is a place in the country for rent. Similar rent (actually $25 less), 6 miles out of town, about 1/4 mile down a gravel road, so not right on the highway, and has a garage, etc. Only 2 bedrooms, but our boys happily share a bedroom now, so that would be fine. It seemed perfect. I called and set up an appointment to see it, and went to bed last night excitedly thinking about how great of a birthday present it would be for us to love this house and be able to rent it.

This morning I woke up and the woman called to let me know that she had second thoughts and no longer wants to rent to a family with children.

Bummer! I will be honest and say that I was (and am) terribly disappointed.

She ended up calling back and we are going to meet with her and look at the place, so the door is still open that it could possibly happen.

But, regardless of what happens with this or other situations in which things don’t go my way, I know that I can trust that God knows best. Always. And His ways are best. Even if it may not feel like it to us, with our limited perspective, I trust Him and His sovereignty.

Truly, so much pressure is removed when we come to accept and rest in the sovereignty of God!

My prayer for you today is that if things don’t seem to be going your way, that you would lean into Him. Trust in Him, and know that He is able to do far above our expectations or plans.

His way is always best.


 
02Oct

All Christians Should Be Missionaries

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Missionary man holds his bible with interlocked fingers to pray.

Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting every Christian should move to Africa, or some other far away place. Sometimes, we make things too complicated.

We see missionaries who are sent out into the far reaches of the world, those who are risking their lives, and even those who are reaching thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions of people both in our nation and abroad.

Missionaries must be great. And we don’t feel great

I recently had a conversation with my 5 year-old about this. We were discussing how daddy missed the Independence Day celebration with us last year because he was on a mission trip.

My 5 year old said, “Only missionaries can go on a mission trip.”

Sometimes, in their innocence, little kids just get so real. Because I think that’s what a lot of Christians think. That only “special people” can go on mission trips or serve.

  1. That only those called to the mission field or ministry have the ability to spread the gospel message; and
  2. That only those called to the ministry or to be missionaries have the responsibility to spread the gospel message.

The truth is that we all have both the ability, and the responsibility to spread the good news of Christ.

At dictionary.com, a missionary is defined as:

1. a person sent by a church into an area to carry on evangelism or other activities, as educational or hospital work.
2. a person strongly in favor of a program, set of principles, etc., who attempts to persuade or convert others.

3. a person who is sent on a mission.

The first part of that definition is the one that typically comes to mind when we think of a missionary. However, the second and third parts are equally valid and important. As Christians, we have the most important information ever in the world, and it needs to be shared.

More importantly, we have all been sent on a vital mission. Jesus said,  

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
-Matthew 28:19-20

We may not all be called to foreign missions or to full time ministry, but we are called and equipped to spread the good news of ChristWe owe it to people around us to share the hope that we have. (1 Peter 3:15)

In that conversation with my son I mentioned earlier, a few minutes later he said that there was a little boy he spoke with one day who said that God isn’t powerful.

I asked him, “Did you tell him that God is powerful?”
He replied, “Yes, but he didn’t believe me.”
I said, “See, Logan, you were kind of being a missionary right then–you were telling somebody the truth about God.
He shook his head, “But that was before I even knew about missionaries.”

Again, the child gets to the heart of it. It was before he even knew about missionaries. Sometimes we Christians can get bogged down with Christianese. We have a special vocabulary for everything. And if we don’t know the right terms it must not count.

If I’m talking to God, I must not be doing it right, unless I call it prayer.

If I’m praying for others, I must not really be doing it if I don’t know about “intercessory prayer.”

And if I’m witnessing, it must not really matter unless I know about missionaries and ministry terms.

But the truth is, a lot of our Christianese doesn’t come from the Bible at all, they are just man-made terms to describe and define things we do.

So, I want to say…whether you know about missionaries or not, whether you are called to go to Africa, or into the ministry…or not, we all have a responsibility to our neighbors to share the good news of Jesus Christ with them.

Please know that I am not in any way trying to undermine the amazing efforts of those who we typically think of as missionaries. Those extraordinary people who are dying to self daily, and who are risking their lives to share truth with a dying world. I am not trying to undervalue their efforts. Maybe they deserve to have a special title that is all their own.

But maybe, sometimes we use that special title as an excuse to sit in our comfy homes and leave the serving and witnessing to others. Because “it’s their calling and not ours.” But that’s where we are wrong. The fact is that we are all called to die to self, follow Him and serve others. We all have a responsibility to share the friend and savior we have with a world that is dying without Him. Every single one of us.


 
23Sep

Do the Hard things

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Hard things

I remember a time when I was about 11. It was in the summer and one of the rare times we ever went to a pool. I couldn’t swim well, and was very scared of the water. I’d never really been around it except 1-2 times of going to a creek and 1-2 times of going to the public pool for an end of the summer pool party with a local day camp.

This was at one of those parties. I don’t know how I got talked up onto the diving board, but I did. I was terrified. My knees were shaking so badly I thought I might just go ahead and fall in. Once I was out there, there was a line of kids waiting on the step, so there was no turning back. If a person could wish herself out of existence, I would have done it right then.

I should go ahead and tell you that my uncle was there waiting for me, promising to catch me when I jumped. But I was still scared. I stood there for what felt like an eternity with tears streaming down my cheeks. Finally, I took what must have been the smallest step ever.

But I did it.

True to his word, my uncle caught me. And I felt a thrill, that exhilaration, that only happens when you do something you didn’t think you could do.

I immediately ran to an adult who was very close to me. Someone whose approval I desperately craved but never could seem to get. I said, with all of the enthusiasm of an 11 year old girl, “Are you proud of me? I did it!”

This person looked at me with hard eyes and said, “No. It took you a long time and you cried. Why would I be proud of that?”

Those words deflated me, and had a lasting effect.

I learned to be safe.

I learned not to do anything hard because I could fail. It might be too hard. It might take too long. And I might cry a little in the process.

Basically I learned never to try. I spent the following years doing only things that were comfortable. Things that were easy. Things that were sure. I suffered a lot of pain and missed opportunity because of fear. Fear of falling short. Fear of disappointing. Fear of failure.

But I have learned that this person was wrong. So very wrong. Because it’s the hard things that matter most. 

I wish I could go back and look my 11 year old self in the eyes and tell that broken-hearted girl that she didn’t fail.

Failure is when you give up. When you hide away and don’t even try.

Sometimes, failure can even look like success. All those years that I succeeded because I didn’t let myself try anything hard. I never failed because I never tried and that is the biggest failure of all. 

I wish I could go back and tell my child self that those hard-won battles are the ones that matter. Those moments of pushing through even when we have no idea of the outcome and are scared to death. Those are the moments that define us.

And I am tired of being defined by fear.

This week, I am jumping off that diving board again.

All my life, I have dreamed of being a traditionally published author. It took me nearly 30 years to even admit that out loud, because I was so scared of how big that was.  And so scared of the failure that could come from admitting a too-big dream. Still yet, I have allowed fear to hold me in a vice. I haven’t taken the steps needed to fully pursue the dream–writing, editing, submitting. I have avoided those things, because that would mean trying. And trying could mean failing.

But, I am done with that. This week I will be in St. Louis, joining with hundreds of fellow writers and industry professionals at the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference. A very expensive, real push toward pursuing that dream. I’m going by myself without really knowing anyone, and it is so far out of my comfort zone, it’s not even funny.

It’s hard. It’s scary. And there is a good chance that I could fail.

But it won’t be because I’m hiding.


 
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