Article VI, part 2


Our last post began the construction of our fourth and final wall, as we returned to what is truly at the heart of our worship — God.

We also reviewed the three main attributes of God (faithfulness, hope, and love) and revealed that an obedient heart [spirit] was a very key ingredient to becoming a true worshiper.

Finally, we began to look at twelve ways in which we can begin to develop the discipline of being obedient to God, the Father, in our daily worship. The first being the reading and studying of Scripture. Being obedient to read and study Scripture is essential to our heart’s growth and well-being.

Prayer is the second way we can learn the discipline of obedience. Romans 12:12 admonishes us to be “faithful [consistent] in our prayer.” Philippians 4:6-7 teaches that if we desire peace in our hearts then we should pray to God and petition Him regarding the things that weigh heavily on our spirits. Paul told us to devote ourselves to prayer, in Colossians 4:2-5, and not just for ourselves but for our fellow believers. Why? So that the message of Christ can be proclaimed clearly for all to hear and believe.

Prayer takes us right into God’s presence. It’s how we not only communicate to God our wants, needs and desires, but also it becomes an offering of worship to God (Psalm 141:2; Proverbs 15:8). Being obedient to pray regularly keeps our hearts connected to God Almighty.

Our third way to begin developing obedience to God in our daily worship is in the playing and singing of songs. Remember in Article 5 we mentioned that creation was created to declare God’s glory and mankind is the instrument that God chose to hear His glory declared. Whether we think we can sing or play an instrument, or not, isn’t the point. The point is that God desires our hearts to be filled with His joy and praise, and He also desires for that joy and praise to be voiced back to Him.

One of my favorite TV shows is an old comedy from the 1960s entitled F-Troop, which starred Forrest Tucker, Larry Storch, Melody Patterson, and Ken Berry. In this sitcom, we get to experience the colorful mishaps of the various men assigned to serve the United States Cavalry at Fort Courage. Leading this group of rag-tag horse soldiers is Captain Wilton Parmenter (Ken Berry), and serving his captain as both orderly and company bugler is the no-talent Private First Class Hannibal Shirley Dobbs, played by James Hampton. No matter how hard PFC Dobbs tried, he could never make his bugle sing the various military songs required of it. But somehow, every time, the men managed to know what it was they were being summoned to do, and every time, no matter how horribly the bugler played, Captain Parmenter would always receive the last note with an honest-to-goodness, heart-felt word of encouragement. PFC Dobbs would beam at times, believing he had given his all to a gracious commander. That is what it’s like when God’s people sing or play their praises to the Almighty. Our best is never really all that good, but God loves our music just the same. In fact, God usually requests an encore!

You see, nothing exposes what is in the heart more clearly than music. Music gives voice to our laments and our praises. With one stroke of a chord we can know immediately if the heart is happy or sad. The Bible is filled with examples of this, but one book stands firmly out in front as the official songbook of Scripture. That book — Psalms!

Look through these verses from the book of Psalms for a few examples of how we can bring honor and praise to God through being obedient to the playing and the singing of songs: Psalms 33:3, 59:16-17, 71:22-23, 81:1-2, 95:1-2, and 98:4-6.

Family is the fourth way we can learn the discipline of obedience. Western civilization has long forgotten, it seems, the importance of family and the impact it can have on our future generations. We rarely see fathers, or even grandfathers, mentoring their sons in godly masculinity. We hardly see the tender care and godly teachings of life being presented from mother to daughter. Why? Parents have rejected their responsibilities to teach God’s Word, mentor a godly lifestyle, and discipline their children based on God’s statutes (laws). Parents have given up this right to the local church, area state child-care facility, or local government/private school. How sad. How irresponsible! If we are going to be obedient to God’s call on our lives to be true worshipers of the Almighty, then we (the parents) have to take back the home and begin again to teach our children to love, trust, and fear (respect) God.

Joshua understood this, as did many of the patriarchs of the Bible. Let’s revisit Joshua 24:15, mentioned in Article 3, which says, “If serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve . . . as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” The psalmist understood this: “Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord” (Psalm 34:11). King Solomon, possibly the wisest man to have ever lived, said in Proverbs chapter 22, verse 6: “Train [teach/mentor] a child in the way he [or she] should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” The wise king also had this to add, concerning discipline, in verse 15 of that same chapter, “Folly is bound up in the heart [core/spirit] of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away from him [or her].”

This parent/child relationship is taken even further in Ephesians 6:1-4, where the apostle Paul admonished children to obey their parents “in the Lord” (meaning, according to God’s ordained plan and statutes). Paul took it further and stated that if we, as children, “honor” our parents, then God will grace us with a long, well blessed life. Does this mean we will be rich? No! Again, just as we discussed in Article 5, we are more spiritual than physical. God made us in the image of His Spirit, therefore we must think in these terms where blessings are concerned. And we can’t overlook verse 4, which reminds parents (fathers in particular, as we are generally less patient and kind) that we cannot “exasperate” (meaning, bully or infuriate) our children. We must parent and discipline our children according to God’s Word and by applying His attributes; just like I’ve instructed throughout this study regarding our worship.

Lastly, with regard to relationships in the home, there is more than just the parent/child relationship; there is husband and wife. This relationship is without a doubt the most important of all human relationships, as it’s this special devotion between a man and a woman that gives sinful humanity a physical glimpse at the spiritual — a living, breathing picture of the relationship God intended for mankind to have with Him. That’s how special the marital relationship is. This is why marriage vows should be taken so very seriously. We can’t jump in and out of marital relationships any more than we can be wishy-washy with our spiritual devotion to God.

The apostle Paul explained this when he penned Ephesians 5:22-33. In these eleven verses, Paul taught that women should submit to their husbands “as to the Lord” and that men should love their wives “just as Christ loved the church.” This shows us that when women live out the special role of submission (remember Article 4: serving/acting out of love and respect) to their husbands, then mankind can learn how to submit to God. Men, Paul’s words are teaching us that when we love our wives correctly, then humanity can see how much God really does love mankind. Serving and submitting to one another is not a shameful practice — it’s a godly act of worship.

This also applies to the “marriage bed.” In 1 Corinthians 7:3-5, Paul wrote:

“The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise . . . the wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband . . . Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self control.”

Sexual intimacy between a man and a woman, inside the marital vows, is a strengthening, bonding act, and meant to grow the devotion between them as well as protect the relationship from Satan’s attacks. Physical intimacy between the husband and the wife is more than procreating — it’s a weld that binds two weak, vulnerable human spirits into one strong, unbreakable life of godly worship. As the psalmist said in Psalm 128, verses 1-4, regarding a man and his family: “Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in His ways . . . blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table. Thus is the man [family] blessed who fears the Lord.”

Our next post on the subject of returning to the heart of worship will begin with the fifth way we can learn obedience to God, as we continue in the construction of our fourth and final wall on our temple of worship.

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 https://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.

F-Troop Copyright © 2006 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Copyright © 1965 Warner Bros. Television. All rights reserved.

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.

Article I, part 2


In part one of Article 1, I revealed that Joshua exhibited five key themes, called “megathemes,” throughout his life. These five megathemes, taken from The Life Application Study Bible (NIV), co-published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. and Zondervan Publishing House, are what I chose to use to help us understand why Joshua is an excellent example of a true worshiper, and these same megathemes began laying the foundation for this study on worship as it relates to each one of us, who are children of the living God.

The first megatheme we looked at was Joshua’s success as the leader of his nation and his family. The second was Joshua’s faith in God. By Joshua choosing to trust in God; not once, but on a daily basis, he allowed God to move in his life which provided opportunities for God to save him and the nation of Israel from their enemies and also allowed God to guide Joshua in his leading of this fledgling nation.

The third megatheme we will examine is divine guidance. Joshua received instructions from God for every aspect of his life, and it was up to him to properly convey those instructions to the nation of Israel. And not just in word but also in his deeds; “talk the talk and walk the walk.” God’s law, the Ten Commandments, guided Israel’s daily living, and His specific instructions conveyed directly through Joshua provided them with the guidance they needed to enjoy all their successes.

Guidance from God for our daily living can be found throughout the Scriptures. We can find it in our prayer time, as well. By staying in touch with God and His principles for living, we will have the needed wisdom to meet the challenges and conflicts that life on earth brings (Psalms 25:4-5; 119:105). By allowing God’s guidance to prevail in his life and staying connected with God regarding all matters, Joshua was able to teach his people another important act of worship — obedience (Joshua 1:7-9).

Joshua is also one of the greatest examples of leadership, our fourth megatheme, in Scripture. Joshua’s confidence in God’s word, God’s plan, God’s strength, and God’s faith in him, a mere mortal man, became the very reason he was such a great leader and it’s a marvelous glimpse at Joshua’s character, courage, and spiritual maturity.

To be a strong leader like Joshua takes an uncanny ability to listen well. When God speaks, we have to have the type of relationship that makes God’s voice as familiar to us as our own family members’ voices are to one another (John 10:27).

We also must have the will to obey God and move when told to move by God. God will instruct us according to His plan, and we have to be diligent in carrying out His plan. Bottom line, strong leadership comes from being led by God Himself. Joshua revealed this act of worship to his elders and to his people by following God’s leading (Joshua 1:9-11; 23:1-3).

Last, we see Joshua as a conquerer. Now that can be seen as a negative characteristic in this post-sixties era where “make love, not war” still rings loud and clear in our politically correct American society, but the megatheme of conquest is not at all a negative trait. It is very much a part of our worship of the Almighty because it requires another act of worship, the will to serve. Remember we stated earlier, the will to serve allows God to do His most mighty of miracles through us all.

Understand that it was God who commanded Israel, through Joshua, to conquer the Canaanites and take all their land (Joshua 1:1-6). This was God’s plan. God was using the Israelites to fulfill His promise to Abraham (Genesis 15:18) and to bring judgment on the evil that was there in the land — the land God had promised Moses for Israel to inhabit (Exodus 3:17).

Joshua and the Israelites under him were faithful in accomplishing this mission of total conquest, for the most part. In Joshua chapter 9, we read the story of how the nation of Gibeon deceived the nation of Israel, thus preventing the annihilation of Gibeon. Gibeon became a slave nation under Israel, and thus became the first country to escape God’s judgment at Israel’s hand. This eventually became a trend in Israel’s behavior, and attention to God’s details wavered in the years after Joshua died. The Israelites’ commitment to God eventually faltered altogether.

To be faithful to God’s call and to love God as we should requires of us more than mere enthusiasm. It requires endurance in our commitment to Him (2 Timothy 4:7-8). There can be no room in our lives for complacency (Proverbs 1:32). God’s work in us, His plan for us must be completed (Acts 20:24). God’s instructions must be completely applied to every facet of our lives (Exodus 24:7; Psalm 119:1-8).

Joshua’s act of worship was to complete the task given him by God, and he did so, outside of Gibeon’s ruse. It was Israel’s failure in future generations that kept them from achieving their full spiritual potential as a people of God. The nation of Israel eventually removed their faith from God and placed their faith time and time again in man-made idols. The desecration of God’s chosen people came about when Babylon ransacked Israel in or around 586 BC, and for the next fifty or so years Israel lived in exile as a conquered people in a foreign land.

An odd way to end, commenting on failure rather than achievement. Just remember, Joshua didn’t fail in his faithfulness to God, though the fact is Joshua was fallible. The deception of Gibeon shows us this. It was the nation of Israel in its later years, though, that really failed. You and I must realize we can only become true worshipers of God if we remain faithful to the end (Matthew 24:5-13), serving God and each other with all our mind, body, and soul. The goal is achievable. Joshua was not a true worshiper because he was perfect, but because he wasn’t. Nothing noted above was a result of Joshua’s own ability, but a result of God doing a good and perfect work in and through Joshua’s life because Joshua was willing to serve God and the Israelites.

This is where conquest comes in as an act of worship. We have to allow God full control of our lives so that He will be able to mold us and make us into the perfect instruments of His glory that He desires us to be. It’s the Holy Spirit working in us and through us that conquers our daily evils, either in us or around us (Romans 8:9-13, 37-39). Realizing we are the temple for which God’s Spirit can reside (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) is one of the most marvelous aspects of worship we can hope to experience under the sun. Joshua, Israel’s elders, and the nation of Israel under them were all examples of what God can do through us when we are faithful to serve Him, wholly (Joshua 24:31). In later years, unfortunately, Israel was also an example of what happens when we don’t.

Let us now quickly recap what we just learned from the life of Joshua. First, we can only experience success if we are faithful in following God’s plan for our lives. Second, faith can’t begin in our lives until we truly believe God can be trusted. We must know that God wants what is best for us. Third, we must allow God’s guidance to prevail in our lives and stay connected with God regarding all matters. In short, we must be obedient to God in all things. Our fourth reminder is in the area of leadership. Strong leadership comes from being led by God. Then our fifth and final reminder concerns the idea of conquest, or being a conquerer. We really must allow God full control of our lives so that He will be able to mold us and make us into His likeness. Always be mindful that it’s the Holy Spirit working in us and through us that conquers all our earthly conflicts and dilemmas. As Paul told us in his letter to the Philippians (chapter 4, verse 13), “I can do everything through Him [Christ] who gives me strength” (NIV).

These five megathemes in Joshua’s life set up the principles we all will need to follow if we are to become the true worshipers that our heavenly Father desires for us to be. Our faithfulness to God allows Him to bless us with many successes. A wholehearted trust in God allows our faith in God to grow in all areas of our lives. Also, obedience to God’s Word allows His divine guidance to lead us in all things, thus making us into the leaders and conquerers He planned for us to be.

The foundation has been laid, so now let’s begin with building a temple of worship in our hearts, minds, and spiritual lives in which God desires to reside.

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 https://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.

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.