Article 1

Parasol of True Worship: Your Divine Covering

Parasol of True Worship: Your Divine Covering

As we stated in our introductory article, a parasol protects us from the sun, and an umbrella protects us against rain. Though these two tools appear very similar, one is made of a more sturdy material than the other. This allows for two objectives to be accomplished by one simple design.

Worship Umbrella 6a In a similar way, our worship of God grants us a protective covering that allows us to linger in His holy presence and endure the various testings of our faith. Our worship is a single, divine design, but it accomplishes two very different goals in the life of the true believer. To linger in God’s presence worshiping Him does not require as hardy a spirit as does worshiping God through hardship. So, as we begin to look more closely at the various parts of a parasol and umbrella, you will begin to see and better understand how the true believer can utilize worship on a day-to-day basis — in all circumstances — thus allowing them to grow closer to God and endure the testing of their faith.

The tube and handle is where we will begin our study, as the tube is basically the “backbone” or main support system of this device. The handle is also an important part of this support system, as it allows the tool to be embraced and put to use. So, let’s take a closer look at these first two components of the parasol and umbrella.

The tube, or shaft, of this instrument is generally made from a lite metal alloy, generally aluminum, but it can also be made from various types of wood or bamboo. The idea is to give the parasol or umbrella a lite weight, yet sturdy, support system that will provide the stability that is needed while preventing the user from experiencing fatigue during use.

The handle of a parasol or umbrella can be made from a variety of materials, such as wood, plastic, or rubber, and they can come in diverse forms. A crook handle is most commonly used, but some types have handles that are straight or slightly curved. Whatever the handle type, its purpose is the same — to provide a comfortable way for the user to remain in control of the tool while it is in use. The truth of God’s incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, is both the tube (or shaft) and handle of the “parasol of true worship.”

Bible 11 You see, it is the truth of the divine Word of God (tube/shaft) that provides the support system needed to experience real, godly worship. Jesus Christ — God’s holy, living Word — must be at the center of our worship. Only He is holy enough to protect us while we linger in the presence of our holy Father (Romans 5:1-2; Ephesians 3:12; Colossians 3:16-17), or strong enough to help us endure the testing of our faith (Proverbs 30:5; John 16:33). It is Christ, alone, Who’s charge is lite enough to not be a burden to the true believer embracing Him (Matthew 11:30). It’s only by clinging to Christ (handle) that the true believer can gain access to the holy Father (John 14:6; 1 John 1:5-7) and remain at peace while sitting under the “canopy” of true worship (Psalm 4:8; Isaiah 26:3-4; John 14:27; Colossians 3:15).

The handle of a parasol or umbrella may be made from a variety of materials, and fashioned in diverse forms, but it is only by taking hold of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that we can sit in the shade of the “parasol of true worship.” It is only by seizing the truth of God’s divine Word, that we can remain in the presence of God unscathed by His righteousness; able to endure His divine tests. For a sinful creature cannot linger in the light of pure holiness, nor can the sinner be found faithful, worthy, and consecrated. It is only by God’s grace, and faith in Jesus Christ, that the unholy can be admitted into the presence of holiness.

As we prepare to examine the next few components from our “parasol of true worship,” I hope you will take the time to ponder how essential Jesus Christ — God’s incarnate Word — is to your life. I ask of you to consider how important God’s living Word is to you gaining access to God, and I pray you will discover the truth of God’s holy begotten Son and what that means to you becoming a true worshiper of the Father. Again, as we noted earlier the Scripture John 14:6, no unholy human can come before our holy Father to worship Him except by taking hold of the truth of Jesus Christ, His divine and incarnate Word.

Parasol of True Worship: Your Divine Covering by J.Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Based on a work at jasonmin.wordpress.com. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.jsnmin.org/.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.

Introduction

Worship Umbrella 4

Worship — what comes to mind when you hear or see the word? Do your thoughts gravitate towards words such as adoration, exaltation, jubilation, and praise? Or, do you possibly consider words such as admire, idolize, or even respect? The Joshua Project (Intro Do you think of rock stars, Hollywood celebrities, idols, perhaps church, or how about God? How do you define worship?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines worship as:

(noun) reverence, homage or honor paid to God // ceremonies or services expressing such reverence; public worship // an utterly devoted admiration for a person; ‘Your (His) worship’ (esp. Br.) a courtesy title used to (or of) certain magistrates, officials, etc.

As we have discussed in our worship series The Joshua Project, by defining worship as a noun (person, place, thing, or idea), Merriam-Webster is indicating that the word has physical characteristics, variables, substance — belonging. But the word “worship” can also be defined as a verb. In the Life Application Study Bible (NIV) the definition states, “to express praise and devotion.” This definition reveals activity . . . involvement . . . choices being made.

So, which is it? Is worship something physical, tangible, and full of substance, or is worship an activity; something we choose to participate in? Worship actually is both; the blending of two definitions — the noun and the verb. The best example of this mixture of two definitions is in the Hebrews’ view of worship.

In the book Called To Worship: The Biblical Foundations of Our Response to God’s Call, by Vernon M. Whaley, we read that the Hebrew word used for worship is shachah, which means “to kneel, bow, prostrate yourself, or throw yourself down in reverence.” But there are four other very closely related words that Mr. Whaley says broaden the Hebrew description of worship; words that reveal the heart of their worship. These four words are: shabach, “to shout out to the Lord”; yadah, “to worship with raised hands”; tehillah, “to sing impromptu, spontaneous songs of praise”; and halal, “to celebrate God foolishly and boast about His attributes.” His attributes being faithfulness, goodness, love, mercy, etc. (see Galatians 5:22-23). Can you see the blending of the noun and the verb? If not, allow me clarify further.

Worship Umbrella 5 A parasol, or umbrella, is a thing which is used as a protective covering. A parasol is designed to protect us from the harmful affects of the sun’s rays. This compound word originates from the Latin words “parāre” (meaning to prepare for or against) and “sol” (meaning sun). So a parasol prepares you to be protected against the sun.

An umbrella is usually designed to keep us from getting soaked when it rains. The origins of this compound word stems from the Greek prefix “ómbros” (meaning shaded or shadow) and the French suffix “elle” (meaning little). So an umbrella is basically a “little shadow.” Its association with being a protective canopy against the rain stems from the French variation of the word parasol (parapluie). The suffix “pluie” (which originates from the Latin word “pluvia”), simply means rain. Thus, a parapluie, or umbrella, prepares you to be protected against rain. But the parasol, or umbrella, can only protect us if we take hold of them . . . open them up . . . make use (verb) of their physical properties (noun). It is the same for worship.

Worship — true worship — is the covering that shields true believers from God’s perfect and pure holiness and allows us to linger in His presence. Worship — true worship — prevents true believers from being distressed when God tests their faith (a.k.a.: rain and storms). But again, worship can only do this if true believers take hold of it . . . open it up . . . make use (verb) of its matter (noun).

In this new series, Parasol of True Worship: Your Divine Covering, we will look more closely at how a parasol, or umbrella, is made. We will then compare those pieces to various aspects or actions of worship, so that we who have become true believers can better understand how to incorporate worship into our daily lives. Doing so will allow us to understand more completely how to linger in God’s presence, better endure hardships, and shine the light of God’s divine love to the lost and dying world that we live in. So join us as we examine our “parasol of true worship,” and together we’ll take hold of it . . . open it up . . . and make use of its colorful and varied substance.

Parasol of True Worship: Your Divine Covering by J.Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at jasonmin.wordpress.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.jsnmin.org/.

The Joshua Project by J.Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at jasonmin.wordpress.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://jsnmin.org/.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

Called To Worship” © 2009 by Vernon M. Whaley

All rights reserved. The brief information quoted from this book appears in this article with the permission granted per the copyright statement which appears in the publication copyrighted 2009.

Published in Nashville, Tennessee, by Thomas Nelson. Thomas Nelson is a registered trademark of Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Thomas Nelson, Inc., titles may be purchased in bulk for educational, business, fund-raising, or sales promotional use. For information, please e-mail SpecialMarkets@ThomasNelson.com.

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.

Part 3

Experiencing Hardship - Try True Worship (Header 1)

A Commentary on Psalm 118

A Commentary on Psalm 118

In our first post we introduced how worshiping God through our fears and hardships unleashes divine power in our lives, and we used the writer of Psalm 118 as our primary example. Give Thanks 2 Then in our second post we continued our in-depth look at this special Psalm, and proceeded to reveal Scriptural proof that encountering our fears and hardships with an attitude of worship will also make us conduits of God’s power, to a lost and dying world. In this third post we will conclude our in-depth look at Psalm 118, but before we read through our psalmist’s closing words let’s quickly review another story concerning an additional faithful worshiper of God — Gideon.

In the book of Judges is where we find Gideon’s account of how God used him to return Israel’s worship to God, as most of Israel was at this time worshiping Baal. Gideon was timid and shy at first, and though he worshiped and obeyed God he would do so in his way — with a doubtful heart. But when God commanded him to fight the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples who had joined forces to destroy Gideon and his faithful few, the Almighty used a transformed and obedient worshiper to defeat thousands with only three-hundred:

“Dividing the three hundred men into three companies, he [Gideon] placed trumpets and empty jars in the hands of all of them, with torches inside. ‘Watch me,’ he told them. ‘Follow my lead. When I get to the edge of the camp, do exactly as I do. When I and all who are with me blow our trumpets, then from all around the camp blow yours and shout, “For the LORD and for Gideon.” ’ Gideon and the hundred men with him reached the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just after they had changed the guard. They blew their trumpets and broke the jars that were in their hands. The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, ‘A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!’ While each man held his position around the camp, all the Midianites ran, crying out as they fled. When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the LORD caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords. The army fled to Beth Shittah toward Zererah as far as the border of Abel Meholah near Tabbath.” (Judges 7:16-22)

Gideon’s faithful obedience and worship released the power of God upon the land, and Israel’s enemies were defeated. (You can read this entire narrative in Judges 6:1-7:25.) It was the same for our author; in verses fifteen through seventeen we can continue to feel how God’s power was welling up inside this man:

“Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: ‘The LORD’s right hand has done mighty things! The LORD’s right hand is lifted high; the LORD’s right hand has done mighty things!’ I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the LORD has done.”

Our author doesn’t fear his enemy. No, he exalts God’s love and power! This individual doesn’t fear mortal death, but acknowledges life because he knows the “Author and Giver of Life.”

You see, it does not matter that we have failed in our lives. God knows we aren’t perfect. Ever since mankind chose self-worship over the true and perfect worship of God we have struggled to regain our righteousness. But you see, righteousness was given to us by God when He created us. Humanity never could lay claim to such purity, it was always the property of our divine Creator. I understand that mankind was able to remove God’s righteousness by rejecting God’s purpose, will, and plan, but we could never hope to regain this divine quality once we gave it up — this thing called “righteousness” — unless God made a way to return it to us. Our “man of letters” understood this truth too.

“The LORD has chastened me severely, but He has not given me over to death. Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to the LORD. This is the gate of the LORD through which the righteous may enter. I will give You thanks, for You answered me; You have become my salvation. The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.” (Psalm 118:18-23)

clouds 6 See how he realizes he has deserved God’s discipline, and has even embraced it. Why? Because he also knows his fate should be death, but God has chosen to make a way for him to escape this fate and live. He acknowledges that his righteousness has been restored to him by God, by way of this “gateway” that his divine Creator has provided him. Thus we see a glimpse of what was yet to come in the human embodiment of God’s Word — Jesus Christ — His only begotten Son (John 1:1-5). What a marvelous thing to embrace, and what a confounding mystery for so many who have yet to grasp it.

As our writer closes out this psalm, he returns to his anthem of praise and worship:

“This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. O LORD, save us; O LORD, grant us success. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you. The LORD is God, and He has made His light shine upon us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will give You thanks; You are my God, and I will exalt You. Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever.” (Psalm 118:24-29)

Again, our psalmist is praising and worshiping God for His never ending, never changing love for His people, and again he encourages others to join in and enjoy the very presence of God. These are still plain words of worship towards God, but oh what power they posses. We too can access the divine, if we will just worship God in “spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24). That spirit being the Holy Spirit of God, Who indwells each of us who have become true believers, and the truth being the very Word of God — Jesus Christ — who gave us access to the divine Father through His gracious sacrifice and awe-inspiring resurrection.

So as you experience your fears, meet them “head-on” with an attitude of worship! We all will have to endure some type of dread. For many it will be an uncomfortable circumstance such as dealing with heights, seeing a dentist or doctor, or even public speaking. Maybe for you its a fear of insects, snakes, and spiders. Possibly its an anxiety towards dogs, enclosed spaces, flying, loud noises or storms. What ever the distress may be in your life, consider the words penned in this psalm and remember, “In the name of the LORD I [meaning you and me] cut them off.”

The same goes with your hardships. When these times of misfortune appear, attack them with an attitude of worship! It may be a bankruptcy, divorce, or the loss of a job that brings you anguish. It quite possibly may be addiction, disease, a mental disorder, or physical pain that causes you to feel destitute. It may even be the death of a close friend or relative, a major move, or poor employment that causes you trouble. No matter the tribulation, recall that it is God Who is bigger than all our problems. And if God lives in you, then you too can “look in triumph” over your “enemies,” just as our psalmist did.

Suffering 3 This speaks volumes to me, because my hardship (as of the date of this post) is stage four colon cancer. This really ministers to me because my fear is the side affects from my chemotherapy treatments. Yet, because I have chosen to glorify God in this rough season of life, I can “cut off” the cancer that engulfs my body. Because I choose to possess an attitude of worship, and not focus on my discomfort and pain, I can “look in triumph” over these dread “enemies” known to me as anemia, discomfort, fatigue, pain, tumor growth, and all the other various side affects I am experiencing and will continue to experience until I’m healed.

Please understand that I am not promoting a “name it and claim it” doctrine; our psalmist wasn’t either. We cannot command our heavenly Father to do our bidding simply because we say so in His Son’s name. Our request must be in line with God’s divine purpose, will, and plan for our lives (Romans 12:2-3; Ephesians 1:3-12, 5:15-17; Hebrews 10:35-36; James 4:3; 1 John 5:14-15). Outside of God’s holy and righteous intent, our petitions have no authority. It is the LORD’s authority that matters; it’s His sovereignty that controls all things physical and spiritual.

The writer of this psalm came to understand our sovereign God’s authority and power over all things. He laid claim to this divine clout by allowing himself to rest in God’s sovereignty. It was through his godly worship that he could focus on this truth. It was through his reverent worship that he became a worthy vessel of God’s might and righteousness. It was through his joyous worship that God’s perfect intent for this man could be fulfilled, and God’s awesome power be made visible through this writer’s life, in spite of the changes taking place; no matter the unexpected situations that transpired around him.

So in closing, I invite you to join with me — you in your hardship and me in mine — and together let’s, “Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever.”

Experiencing Hardship? Try True Worship! by J.Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at jasonmin.wordpress.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.jsnmin.org/.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.

Part 2

Experiencing Hardship - Try True Worship (Header 1)

Experiencing Hardship - Try True Worship In our last post we began looking at Psalm 118, and breaking down how worshiping God through our fears and hardships unleashes the power of God in our lives. stained glass window 4 In this post we will proceed in our in-depth look at this special Psalm, and hopefully continue to reveal proof that encountering our fears and hardships with an attitude of worship will allow us to become conduits of God’s power. But first, recall with me the story of Joshua and the battle at Jericho.

In the book of Joshua we find the story of how God used the praises of His people to destroy the heavily fortified city of Jericho. Joshua, who has recently been appointed by God to be Moses’ successor, has officially begun his role as judge and ruler of the fledgling nation of Israel. And now that God has finally given the nation of Israel the “green-light” to enter Canaan — their elusive “Promised Land” — they must overcome a city reputed far and wide to be impenetrable.

Joshua is not concerned, though, for God has given Him thorough instructions on how this foe will be defeated. Read with me these words from Joshua, chapter six:

“Then the LORD said to Joshua, ‘See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in.’” (Joshua 6:2-5)

Joshua, paying strict attention to God’s instructions, does just as he has been told. The Israelites also follow Joshua’s lead, just as they were told, and together a nation declared the glory of God and watched a massive fortress fall to ruin. Israel, under Joshua’s leadership, realized an eternal truth concerning God — namely His faithfulness to His people — and as they acknowledged this truth and applied it to their lives they found themselves in the presence of God and worshiped their way right past a very formidable obstacle and into the land God promised would be theirs. (You can read this entire account in Joshua 5:13-6:27.)

You see, just as we have discussed before in The Joshua Project (and other articles on true worship), when we acknowledge a characteristic of God and allow that divine characteristic to become apart of our lives, then we can become true worshipers of God. Worshipers that not only express praise and adoration to our holy Creator, but who also are channels that can be used to present God’s glory to this lost and dying world. Still not convinced? Let’s return to our psalm.

Verses six through nine of this chapter read as follows, “The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The LORD is with me; He is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.”

Writing Tools 1 Our wordsmith is revealing more about why he might have been in anguish — about why he needed God’s help to set him free. He had apparently misplaced his trust, for a time, in humanity. Was it one person? Was it his national leader? We don’t know, but he obviously found himself in a bad situation where someone powerful turned on him and pursued him in some manner. Read with me these next few verses — oh, what they reveal!

“All the nations surrounded me, but in the name of the LORD I cut them off. They surrounded me on every side, but in the name of the LORD I cut them off. They swarmed around me like bees, but they died out as quickly as burning thorns; in the name of the LORD I cut them off. I was pushed back and about to fall, but the LORD helped me. The LORD is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation.” (Psalm 118:10-14)

Whoever this powerful person was — this penman’s enemy — he proved able to entrap and surround our writer with an army. An army that has allied with other nations to destroy this man. Yet, this lone individual sees himself as the real victor. Why? Because God is with him, and our sovereign Creator is holy, omniscient, righteous, and able to defeat any mortal power with just a simple breath or word. Our psalmist is not afraid because God is his source of strength, his object of worship (a.k.a.: his “song”), and his access to salvation. After all, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31b)

Do you see the confidence our author has in God’s eternal love for him? Do you see how he has applied that to his own life by resting in this truth? In our final post we will conclude our in-depth look at Psalm 118. We will also look at another example of God’s faithfulness proved through the obedient worship of his faithful, and we will continue to experience how God’s power was released through our psalmist’s worship.

Experiencing Hardship? Try True Worship! by J.Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at jasonmin.wordpress.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.jsnmin.org/.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.

Part 1

Experiencing Hardship - Try True Worship (Header 1)

Experiencing Hardship - Try True Worship It’s repeated in the Psalms, over and over. It’s quoted in the New Testament writings, from time-to-time. Give Thanks 2 It’s been sung in Christian songs for centuries, and it appears on greeting cards through out the year: “Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever.”

In spite of all that goes on in this world — all the constant changes and unexpected situations that life brings — we can be confident that God’s love for us is not only eternal, but never changing. Still, there is more to this truth that just what we read or sing. So, let’s take some time together to consider and ponder just what it is that this famous verse is trying to teach us. Read with me these words from Psalm 118:

“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever. Let Israel say: ‘His love endures forever.’ Let the house of Aaron say: ‘His love endures forever.’ Let those who fear the LORD say: ‘His love endures forever.’ In my anguish I cried to the LORD, and He answered by setting me free. The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The LORD is with me; He is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes. All the nations surrounded me, but in the name of the LORD I cut them off. They surrounded me on every side, but in the name of the LORD I cut them off. They swarmed around me like bees, but they died out as quickly as burning thorns; in the name of the LORD I cut them off. I was pushed back and about to fall, but the LORD helped me. The LORD is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation. Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: ‘The LORD’s right hand has done mighty things! The LORD’s right hand is lifted high; the LORD’s right hand has done mighty things!’ I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the LORD has done. The LORD has chastened me severely, but He has not given me over to death. Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to the LORD. This is the gate of the LORD through which the righteous may enter. I will give You thanks, for You answered me; You have become my salvation. The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. O LORD, save us; O LORD, grant us success. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you. The LORD is God, and He has made His light shine upon us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will give You thanks; You are my God, and I will exalt You. Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever.”

Such profound words and so full of power, they are! And though no one really knows who the human instrument was that God used to pen these words (some suspect King David because of the references to being surrounded by enemies and being disciplined by God, and also because of the prophetic verse concerning Christ which calls Him “the stone the builders rejected”), we do know that the Holy Spirit inspired them to teach us concerning a very real truth — worshiping God gives us access to His majesty and might. Did you get that?

When we worship Almighty God — no matter what changes are taking place; no matter what unexpected situations are transpiring — we can become channels of His majestic splendor and His awesome power. If you missed it, then follow back along with me as we look more closely at this psalm.

Scroll 1 Verses one through four are very plainly words of thanksgiving, “Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever. Let Israel say: ‘His love endures forever.’ Let the house of Aaron say: ‘His love endures forever.’ Let those who fear the LORD say: ‘His love endures forever.’” They praise and worship God for His never ending, never changing love for His people, and they also encourage others to join in and “give thanks.” These are quite plainly the writer’s words of worship to God. But look with me at what the writer says in verse five:

“In my anguish I cried to the LORD, and He answered by setting me free.”

Our author has gone from thanking God to a couple of seemingly off topic subjects — anguish and freedom. We don’t know the issues that the writer is speaking of, but we do know that God brought freedom to this man; freedom from anguish. How? Through true worship. When we focus on God’s eternal and unchanging characteristics — in this case His eternal love for us — then we can access those divine traits in our own lives. When this is accomplished, not only do we achieve true worship but we unleash the power of God in and through our lives.

In our next post we will look at Joshua’s encounter with God, in which he learned first hand that worship unleashes the power of God. We will also proceed in our in-depth look at this special Psalm, and continue to reveal proof that encountering hardship with an attitude of worship will allow us to become conduits of God’s power to a lost and dying world.

Experiencing Hardship? Try True Worship! by J.Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at jasonmin.wordpress.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.jsnmin.org/.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.

Part 2

A Special Commentary on True Faith

A Special Commentary on True Faith

Heaven Is For Real In Part One of this special post on true faith we talked of the Thomas Nelson publication, Heaven Is For Real (Book) and the recent movie by Sony/TriStar Pictures of the same name, Heaven Is For Real. The message being presented by both the book and the film is one that states that to have faith one must “see, and believe, like a child.” To which I argued that a real childlike faith comes from believing without seeing. As we continue this look at true faith, recall with me the story of the Apostle Thomas.

Shortly after the resurrected Lord Jesus had begun to appear before the other ten apostles, the Apostle Thomas had stated that unless he could see with his own eyes the resurrected Christ standing before him, and unless he could touch with his own hands the scars on Jesus’ body, that he would not believe what the other ten were telling him concerning God’s Son. The Apostle Thomas refused to have faith without hard evidence, so Christ gave it to him. Let’s read, together, the words from the beloved Apostle John as he retells the story of the Apostle Thomas’ doubt:

“Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe it.’ A week later His disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Thomas said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’” (John 20:24-29)

God’s blessing will not fill us by basing our faith on evidence, but by simply believing. Our hope comes to us through God’s promises. Those promises are fulfilled in Jesus Christ, and it doesn’t just concern forgiveness of sins or eternal life. It concerns all areas of our faith — all acts of worship.

Missionaries who have surrendered to God’s calling to take His Gospel message to all parts of the earth — these men, women, and family units are placing their physical health and wellbeing on the line for the sake of fulfilling God’s plan for them. Yes, they are ignoring the physical dangers of this world for the sake of Christ’s call to “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 28:19-20a) No, they are not listening to the “seeing is believing” Christians who would tell them to consider the safety of their own lives first, or to consider the safety of their family’s lives. No, they are simply answering a call to be faithful in what God is telling them to do, and to trust that God has their best interest in mind.

A Study of Abundant Faith and Deadly Fiction

A Study of Abundant Faith and Deadly Fiction

And God’s best interest for humanity is not based on “creature comforts,” nor is God concerned with physical abundance in the areas of physical wealth, pleasure, and power. God’s good news is not a “Prosperity Gospel,” nor is it a “Poverty Gospel” — No! God’s Gospel message is one of provision. Meeting our physical and spiritual needs on a daily basis. This creates a relationship between Creator God and created humanity.

You see, God is more concerned with the eternal plan that He has for each of us. An eternal plan to see us prosper spiritually and not be harmed. Eternal plans that will give mankind hope and a real, eternal future. (Jeremiah 29:11) Our fallen and imperfect bodies are meant for death. To try to save them while denying the opportunity to fulfill God’s plan is ridiculous. Yes, we have a responsibility to remain as healthy and well as we can be, but only to serve God’s purpose. We — our entire being (body, mind, and soul) — belong to God, and what He has planed for us must come first. Remember these words of Christ:

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One Who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. ‘Whoever acknowledges Me before men, I will also acknowledge him before My Father in heaven. But whoever disowns Me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.’” (Matthew 10:28-33)

Some of you are aware that I am fighting a high staged colon cancer, and that I have opted to do so through diet, natural supplements, and naturopathic treatments. I have chosen to do so, not because of personal preference, or fear of conventional treatments (a.k.a.: chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery), but because God has led me down this path and I want to be faithful to act upon His calling. I have done so to the sounds of criticism and fear, which come from many people; some of whom are family members and others I count as friends.

I understand that much of this comes from their love and concern for me, and their love and concern for my wife and children. But what is so frustrating to me, is that the majority of these who are judging and being critical of my choice to follow God’s course claim to be believers in Christ. Some even serve in a church as a full-time minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A career choice that is based on the entire premiss of following the calling that God has placed upon them. Yet, as I have stepped out in faith to serve God through this trial and test, I have been met with opposition and, at times, halfhearted support. Is not God the author of all of life? Is not God capable to see His purpose fulfilled in each of us? Are we not to step out in our faith and act upon it? Conventional medicine may play its part at some point, but only if God gives me, my wife, and kids clear direction.

Bible 13 James, the half-brother of Jesus Christ had this to say, “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:14-17) How can we claim faith in Christ and not answer God’s call to fulfill His plan? No matter the situation; in all areas of our lives. How can we claim the hope of Christ if we constantly fear the things of this world? How can we expect to see Jesus welcome us into eternity if we do not allow eternity to exist in our own lives today — now — while we can still testify to others of Christ’s Gospel message?

The “evidence of things not seen” is not in a story such as Colton Burpo’s, and it’s not in acquiring physical wealth, pleasure, or power and claiming God’s blessings as a result. No! Such evidence of our faith is in our deeds — our obedience and our sacrifices. We must live a life that reflects Christ. We must live a life that acts on its faith, and its hope (2 Corinthians 13:5). We must be Christlike in all areas of our existence — the physical, the mental, and the spiritual. This is the life of a true worshiper of God.

If you claim to be a Christian — a Christ follower — and you cannot claim such faith as I have just described, then consider that you are possibly not a true believer. If you work in a church, serve in a church, or attend a church weekly and yet doubt any part of the holy Scripture’s teachings — needing evidence and proof before you can fully say you believe — then stop calling yourself a pastor, worship leader, teacher, or follower of Christ. Resign yourself to become a student of the Holy Bible — the very Word of God — until such a time as your “faith” can became real to you through your actions, and not through sight. A true worshiper of God is called to “deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me [Jesus Christ]. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will find it.” (Matthew 16:24b-25) The cross is an instrument of pain, torture, and death. It’s not a symbol of blessing, comfort, or peace even though it is because Christ willingly endured the pain, torture, and death of the cross that we can have the assurance of God’s blessing, comfort, and peace (John 10:18).

Taking up the cross of Christ means we must expect to endure pain in this life; to be tortured from time-to-time in some way or fashion (1 Peter 4:12-14). And we must embrace the truth that death — physical death, anyway — awaits us all, but not before God says so. It is God Who has numbered our days (Job 14:5; Psalm 139:16). God will keep us here until He has made us as Christlike as He possibly can (Psalm 138:8; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 2:13), then the hope of our faith will become reality for all of eternity.

Santa Claus 1 In closing recall with me theses words from the publisher of the book Heaven Is for Real. Thomas Nelson claims that this book will “forever change the way you think of eternity, offering the chance to see, and believe, like a child.” What child has ever seen Santa Claus deliver his/her toys at Christmas and believed? What child has ever seen the Easter Bunny, the Tooth-fairy, or any other fictional character and then believed. Children trust what their parents tell them — blindly believing that what is being said is the truth. Colton Burpo didn’t believe because he saw heaven. Colton believed because his father, the Rev. Todd Burpo, taught him concerning our hope of heaven in Christ. Colton only saw what he already believed to be true. What he saw simply further confirmed his faith.

Todd Burpo, however (and his congregation), were the ones who began to truly believe in the hope of Christ because a child saw, and continued to believe. Children don’t have to see to believe. This is what Jesus was trying to teach in Mark, chapter ten. It’s the point that the Apostle Thomas — and so many others since — missed, altogether. Read with me these verses, written by John Mark:

“People were bringing little children to Jesus to have Him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, He was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone [any adult] who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ And He took the children in His arms, put His hands on them and blessed them.” (Mark 10:13-16)

Do you really want to forever change the way you think of eternity? Then stop living your life from an earthly stand point and start believing and living like a child (2 Corinthians 4:18; 1 Peter 1:3-16). Begin worshiping God in your deeds and not just in your words (Colossians 3:17). If you choose to do so, you will experience the freedom and the joy that comes from “blind faith” — a true childlike faith in Jesus Christ. After all, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29b)

Heaven Is For Real by J.Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at jasonmin.wordpress.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.jsnmin.org/.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

Heaven Is For Real” © 2010 by Todd Burpo & Lynn Vincent

All rights reserved. The brief information quoted from this book’s press release appears curtesy of Thomas Nelson, Inc. and Christianbook.Com.

Published in Nashville, Tennessee, by Thomas Nelson. Thomas Nelson is a registered trademark of Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Thomas Nelson, Inc., titles may be purchased in bulk for educational, business, fund-raising, or sales promotional use. For information, please e-mail SpecialMarkets@ThomasNelson.com.

Movie trailer made available by Jason Ministries, and Sony/TriStar Pictures; Copyright © 2014

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.

Part 1

Heaven Is For Real (Header)

Heaven Is For Real “Is there life after death? Just ask 4-year-old Colton, who emerged from life-threatening surgery with astounding details about heaven! Colton’s account includes floating away, Heaven Is For Real (Book) looking down on his dad praying in the hospital, seeing God’s throne, and meeting relatives — including his sister who died in a miscarriage (and whom his parents had never mentioned). Riveting!”

This is the product description for the Thomas Nelson publication that became a New York Times #1 best seller. Since its release in 2010, Heaven Is For Real has captivated the hearts and minds of literally thousands of people. And now, there’s the 2014 release of the movie by Sony/TriStar Pictures.

According to the publisher, the book tells the true life story of when Colton Burpo survived an emergency appendectomy. Apparently his appendix had ruptured in his body and was poisoning his system. Colton’s family was overjoyed at his miraculous survival, but they weren’t expecting the story that would emerge in the months to come. For Colton’s story — as beautiful as it was extraordinary — would detail his trip to heaven and back.

You see, the soon to be four year old Colton, began telling his parents that he left his body during surgery — and gave proof by describing exactly what his parents were doing in another part of the hospital during his operation. He also talked of visiting heaven and relayed stories told to him by people he met there whom he had never met in life. Colton shared events that even happened before he was born. He continued to astound his parents with descriptions and obscure details about heaven that appeared to match the Holy Bible exactly, though he couldn’t even read yet.

With persuasive simplicity and the purity of a child, Colton talked of meeting long-departed family members. He describes Jesus Christ, the angels, how “really, really big” God is, and how much God loves humanity. Colton’s story is retold, in the book, by his father (Rev. Todd Burpo) but the wording is uniquely simple to match those of a very young child. Heaven Is for Real, both the book and the movie, offers a glimpse of the world that awaits believers. A world where Colton says, “Nobody is old and nobody wears glasses.”

Whether you read the book or see the film, Heaven Is for Real is said to forever change the way you think of eternity, as the story offers humanity the chance to see, and believe, like a child. I’ve not yet read the book, but I have seen the movie, and I was moved in an entirely different way.

Maybe it’s because I’m already a believer that I was not astounded by Colton’s details of heaven. As the publisher of the book indicated, nothing was disclosed (at least in the film) that could not be supported in Scripture. I realize that there are many theologians, both prominent and otherwise, who have debated the truthfulness of this father’s retelling of his son’s experience. Again, I have not yet read the book so I will not enter into that debate. No; what astounded me most about this story was that it consisted of so many “believers” (pastors and lay-persons, alike) who had to “see,” and “hear” Colton’s evidence for heaven to know that it is real.

Worship 36 What is the point of having faith in Jesus Christ — of calling ourselves Christian (someone who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ) — if we are not going to believe the very words of Christ regarding heaven or any other topic? Note these Scriptures, which are the very words of God’s begotten Son:

- Matthew 7:13-14 — “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

- John 14:2-3 — “In My Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.”

The Apostle Paul wrote these words to the Colossian church: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, Who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1-4)

And don’t forget the words of the beloved Apostle John: “Then one of the elders asked me, ‘These in white robes — who are they, and where did they come from?’ I answered, ‘Sir, you know.’ And he said, ‘These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, they are before the throne of God and serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; He will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’” (Revelation 7:13-17)

John the beloved, also known as “The Revelator,” went on to pen these words about heaven: “No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His servants will serve Him. They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. The angel said to me, ‘These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show His servants the things that must soon take place.’ [Jesus then said] ‘Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.’” (Revelation 22:3-7)

clouds 6 If our hope is in Jesus Christ, then what is the result of our hope? Why must Jesus even be our hope? God’s begotten Son must be our hope, because humanity is depraved and lost in self worship. This self-worshiping nature has doomed us to an eternal separation from our holy Creator. People are too selfish to even begin to know how to purify themselves and over come their evil essence, known as sin. It required the perfection of a true worshiper to over come the imperfections of humanity’s self-worshiping nature. That pure and perfect worshiper of God is His very own begotten Son, Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Jesus had to willingly lower Himself to the essence of a self-worshiping human, while all the while not participating in self worship. Christ had to live as one of us, and experience all of our hurts, temptations, and pains, and remain a true worshiper of God to become a pure and perfect blood sacrifice capable of cleaning up all of humanity’s sins. Jesus did this, and the result was our restoration to God the Father, by faith in Christ (Romans 3:21-28; Philippians 2:5-11).

But it didn’t stop there, Jesus also conquered death by rising from the grave. So not only can mankind be forgiven every selfish wrong, but humanity can embrace the hope of eternal life with God in heaven. Again, as Jesus said, “If it were not so, I would have told you.” (John 14:2b) Anyone claiming to be a Christian, especially those in the pulpits and serving as lay-persons, should be full aware of the reality of heaven, and even hell for that matter. Again let’s read the words of the Apostle Paul, this time to the Corinthian church:

“Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the Gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this Gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all He appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them — yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. Whether, then, it was I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that He raised Christ from the dead. But He did not raise Him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the first-fruits; then, when He comes, those who belong to Him. Then the end will come, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father after He has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For He ‘has put everything under his feet.’” (1 Corinthians 15:1-27)

Did you get that? If we truly believe that Christ is our hope beyond the grave, but do not truly believe in heaven, then we are to be pitied more so than any other religious group. Why? Because, if heaven isn’t real, then neither is Christ’s resurrection. And if the resurrection of the dead isn’t real, then we are still condemned as self-worshipers. Humanity is still lost and depraved.

Empty Tomb 1 Oh, but Christ did physically live! Jesus did physically die, and return from the grave! All praise be to our benevolent Creator, that our faith in Christ does give us hope! For our loving and merciful God made Jesus Christ to be our way to forgiveness and our way to eternal life. As Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)

Don’t get caught up in the need for evidence, when it comes to our faith. The evidence that does exist — the evidence that does substantiate our Christian claims regarding Christ, or heaven, or anything else disclosed in the holy Scriptures — should not be the cause of our faith, but simply an edification of our belief. The “punctuation” at the end of our “sentence,” and not the “subject” of the “sentence,” itself. As the author of the book of Hebrews stated, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1) Faith is believing without seeing, and not believing because you have seen.

In part two of this special commentary on true faith, we will conclude with an understanding of what real faith should look like in the everyday life of a person claiming to be a Christian — one who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ, God’s begotten Son.

Heaven Is For Real by J.Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at jasonmin.wordpress.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://jasonmin.wordpress.com/.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

Heaven Is For Real” © 2010 by Todd Burpo & Lynn Vincent

All rights reserved. The brief information quoted from this book’s press release appears curtesy of Thomas Nelson, Inc. and Christianbook.Com.

Published in Nashville, Tennessee, by Thomas Nelson. Thomas Nelson is a registered trademark of Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Thomas Nelson, Inc., titles may be purchased in bulk for educational, business, fund-raising, or sales promotional use. For information, please e-mail SpecialMarkets@ThomasNelson.com.

Movie trailer made available by Jason Ministries, and Sony/TriStar Pictures; Copyright © 2014

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.