Liturgy Lessons: October 14, 2018
Call to Worship: Selections from Ps. 100, 51, 124, 43 (a.k.a. “a Psalm-pler”)
Prayer of Invocation
Hymn of Adoration: Praise the Lord, Ye Heavens Adore Him (#3, Hymns of Grace)
Confession: James 1:21-25 and prayer
Assurance of Pardon: from Deut. 8:3; Prov. 30:5 and Psalm 103:8-12
Hymns of Assurance: ‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus (#679); O For a Thousand Tongues (#164)
Reading of the Word: Luke 8:19-21 (Jesus’ mother and brothers)
Sermon: Rev. Eric Irwin
Tithes and Offerings: The Lord is My Salvation
The Lord’s Supper: How Can I Say Thanks (#640); My Heart is Filled with Thankfulness
Closing Hymn: How Firm a Foundation (#94)
“Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy,
and you have promised these good things to your servant.”
2 Samuel 7:28
“Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord have never forsaken those who seek you.”
“But I trust in you unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.”
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”
“Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.”
Psalm 62:8, 10
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’”
“O Israel, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield.
O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield.
You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield.”
“Trust in the Lord with all you heart and lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
“Those who trust in their riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.”
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream,
And does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green,
And is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,
so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
“For we live by faith, and not by sight.”
2 Corinthians 5:7
Our youngest child is a spunky, sassy, and super-cute 5-year-old named Charlotte. She desperately wants to keep up with her older siblings, and not miss out on anything. This summer at the lake she learned how to swim without her puddle jumper (a.k.a. “floaty”). Of course, this made her invincible, and she was ready to conquer the Everest of all childhood challenges: jumping into the deep end. Her mother and I walked her to the end of the dock together, Charlotte skirting the edge the whole time, her left hand gripping mine, arm at full stretch as she peered down over the edge of the abyss. Then she watched with a look that can only be described as “bewonderment” (mixture of bewilderment and wonder) as her two older brothers and big sister launched themselves willingly to their doom. Charlotte’s brow wrinkled and she held her breath as she watched them disappear in the splash. And each time their heads reappeared above the surface, Charlotte exhaled her relief. Then I got in and positioned myself about four feet from the dock, facing her with my arms as high in the air as I could put them while still treading water, and with her mother and siblings all cheering her on, I invited her to jump.
“Ok, sweets, go ahead and ju……” Splash! Before I could even finish, she was in my arms, her heartbeat going as fast as her little feet, and a huge smile on her face, from ear to ear. As I pushed her over to the ladder, I heard her say, “I wanna’ go again.” And so she jumped again. And again, and again, each time growing bolder and braver. She had seen the others do it and that gave her hope, but what made her leave her feet was trust. She trusted me and so she jumped. Simple as that. She knew her Father’s heart and did not doubt that those strong arms would hold her safe. It is moments like that when I realize I have so much to learn from my children about life and faith.
The English word “trust” comes from the old Norse word “traust,” meaning “strong.” Some synonyms for trust are confidence, certainty, hope, and expectation. The word “trust” is mentioned 147 times in the King James Version of the Bible, and 130 times in the ESV. The majority of those iterations appear in the Old Testament, with the Psalms containing almost 50 references to trust. It is a pervasive theme throughout the scriptures, particularly the poetic portions intended to be sung. In light of that, this week’s highlighted hymn is quite biblical. It is an uncomplicated and winsome call for us to trust in Jesus, to take him at his word, and to pray for the grace to trust him more.
‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus
Lyrics: Louisa M.R. Stead (1882)
Music: William J. Kirkpatrick (1882)
Some hymns are powerful testimonies of enduring faith in the midst of trial. “O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus,” “Jesus, Lover of My Soul,” and “It is Well with My Soul” are but a few examples of hymns authored during times of intense grief or personal struggle. They serve as great encouragement to us. We hear the confident voices of past Christians calling us to hold fast to the faith we profess. They speak to us of the faithfulness of God, and they remind us of the tender love of Christ and the undying comfort of the Spirit’s presence. Sometimes the sweetest moments in the walk of faith come when the heart is broken and Abba Father draws near to embrace his weeping child. This message of childlike faith and comfort is expressed in the hymn “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus,” written in 1882 by Louisa Stead after she had suffered a profound tragedy.
Louisa M. R. Stead was born in England in 1850. She came to the U.S. as a young woman, and settled in Cincinnati, Ohio. She committed her life to serve as a missionary after attending a revival camp meeting in Urbana. In 1875 Louisa married, and moved to New York. The loving couple soon gave birth to a precious baby girl, Lily. When Lily was 4 years old, the family took a beach picnic on Long Island. While they were eating, Mr. Stead spotted a boy crying for help out in the ocean. Louisa’s husband rushed into the water to save him, but the struggling boy pulled Mr. Stead under the water with him. They both drowned. Louisa was left a widow. She and Lily were destitute. During this time of pain and desperate reliance on God for provision, Louisa penned these words:
“’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!’
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!”
There is a profound simplicity expressed in these lyrics. It somehow captures the heart of the Christian walk without using any sophisticated language of theology. It is the pure heart language of a soul that trusts Jesus because it has received his grace and is resting in his love. The message is simple: I trust his word, and I trust his heart. Jesus said it, so that settles it. It reminds me of the sentiment expressed in the very first hymn many of us learned as children: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” And though Louisa “proved” this love over and over in her life, she still prayed for “grace to trust him more!” She knew that the work of grace was ongoing in her heart.
The latter verses of the hymn speak tenderly of forgiveness, surrender, and a growing love for Christ. They tell us that as we cling to him throughout all our days, we learn to trust him more and more, and we then rest in the assurance that he will be with us to the end. In the second verse the hymn makes a nod to William Cowper by quoting his famous hymn “There is a Fountain Filled with Blood.” The final few verses are brimful with a happy and unaffected conviction in the abundance of Christ’s love and grace.
“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.”
Psalm 46 begins with the declaration that “God is our refuge, a very present help in times of trouble.” Later in the psalm we hear the call to “Be still and know that I am God.” God calls us to cease striving, to trust in him so that we may find rest, joy, and peace in Christ alone! May the grace of God do this work in our hearts, so that Christ will become more precious to us, and we can truly declare together, “I am so GLAD I learned to trust Him.”