Posted by: rcottrill | May 18, 2011

Joy in Serving Jesus

Words: Oswald Jeffrey Smith (b. Nov. 8, 1889; d. Jan. 25, 1986)
Music: Bentley DeForest Ackley (b. Sept. 27, 1872; d. Sept. 3, 1958)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal (Oswald Smith)

Note: As of when I’m writing, the Cyber Hymnal does not have a page on this hymn. I’ve linked, instead to its page on the author of the words, Dr. Oswald Smith.

Preacher, author, and missionary statesman, Oswald Jeffrey Smith was, for many years, the pastor of the People’s Church, in Toronto. Each year the Bible college I attended, years ago, would put on a Christmas Concert there. On those occasions, I can recall seeing a tall, thin, white-haired gentleman in attendance. It was Dr. Smith. In 1963, when he published his little book Oswald Smith’s Hymn Stories, about some of his songs, he’d already been serving the Lord for over half a century. He would continue for many years after that, until the Lord called him home at the age of 97.

During the period of 1930 to 1958, he collaborated with B. D. Ackley in the writing of nearly a hundred gospel songs. It was a happy and productive pairing. And the very first song they created together was this one, Joy in Serving Jesus. When it was published, in 1931, Mr. Ackley predicted, in a letter to Pastor Smith, “I know it is a winner. A writer usually has a hunch when he writes something that he knows positively will go over.” He was right. The song was enthusiastically embraced by the Christian community, and has appeared in many hymn and song books since.

There is joy in serving Jesus,
As I journey on my way,
Joy that fills the heart with praises,
Ev’ry hour and ev’ry day.

There is joy, joy,
Joy in serving Jesus,
Joy that throbs within my heart;
Ev’ry moment, ev’ry hour,
As I draw upon His pow’r
There is joy, joy,
Joy that never shall depart.

In a sense, it began as the personal testimony of Dr. Smith. He says, “In this hymn I express the joy that I have experienced in serving the Lord Jesus Christ.” But that is a joy that every servant of God can share. The Apostle Paul desired to “finish [his] race [his life and served for Christ] with joy” (Acts 20:24) In spite of burdens and heartaches, in spite of challenges and difficulties, it should be our great delight to serve the King of kings. We are to “serve the Lord with gladness [joy, pleasure]” (Ps. 100:2).

A spirit of godly joy reflects our gratitude for all that God has done for us, and all the blessings yet to come. When the nation of Israel turned away from God, one of the things that was lost was their joy in serving Him, and the Lord chastened them for that. Early on, the Lord warned, “Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything, therefore you shall serve your enemies” (Deut. 28:47-48).

Not all the things that happen to us are enjoyable. But spiritual perception can reveal the will and work of God in the midst of trials, and in that we can rejoice. That is how it was for the Lord Jesus, “who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross” (Heb. 12:2).

There is joy in serving Jesus,
As I walk alone with God;
‘Tis the joy of Christ, my Saviour,
Who the path of suff’ring trod.

There is also joy up ahead for faithful servants of God (Matt. 25:23). One day soon, the church of Jesus Christ, His heavenly bride, will be gathered to Him, there to rejoice in all that God has done. There we will hear, “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7).

1) What are some things that give you joy in your Christian life?

2) What are some sinful attitudes or actions that can dampen or destroy the spirit of joy?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal (Oswald Smith)


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