Article 6

Parasol of True Worship: Your Divine Covering

Parasol of True Worship: Your Divine Covering

We have come to the final elements of our “parasol of true worship.” Each piece of this divine instrument that we have disclosed has represented various essential parts of real, godly worship, and these last features are no exception. Worship Umbrella 6d What are these conclusive components? They are the ferrule, open cap, and triggers.

The ferrule sets at the very top of the tube, and its basic function is to act as a protective cap. In some designs it is an ornate piece which brings character and uniqueness to the parasol, or umbrella.

Setting just a few inches below the ferrule is the open cap, which keeps the top of the canopy in its place and allows for tension of the ribs when the canopy is fully expanded. This is the third piece, briefly alluded to in our third article, that connects the ribs to the tube, or shaft. The other two being the stretchers and the runner.

The triggers (a.k.a: the top spring and bottom spring) are both located on the tube, as well. The top spring is located up high on the tube, just beneath the runner when the parasol, or umbrella, is in its open position. The bottom spring is located just above the handle. Both of these triggers allow the parasol, or umbrella, to open and close. So, what is the significance of these final components to our worship? I can tell you in one word — “faith.”

Scripture tells us: “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1) What is it that mankind hopes for? Generally speaking, most people’s hope evolves around a better future. Humanity longs to believe that their current circumstances will be replaced by more improved conditions in the future. It’s a sense of aspiration . . . a dream . . . a strong desire . . . want . . . wishful thinking, but for the believer it’s so much more tangible because it is a confident expectation.

You see, the believer’s hope is in the Person, power, and presence of our Creator, Almighty God. It’s not founded upon a wish, but on the promise that God will see His purpose fulfilled in us (Romans 8:28; Ephesians 3:20; Philippians 1:6). God is not an intangible belief; some universal, vaporous energy, or a lofty state of nirvana. No! God is our benevolent Creator; the “Author and Finisher” of all life. God is our self-existing, sovereignly divine, eternal LORD. Believers can depend on Him, and His promises.

Without hope — a confident expectation — humanity could not have real faith. And without faith, believers could not be certain of their future. A future based on the promises of God. Promises which assure the believer of abundant living, eternal life, and righteousness (John 10:10; 1 Corinthians 15:20-22; Galatians 5:5).

Without faith in God, the Holy Spirit, we could not have an assurance of these divine promises (1 Corinthians 6:11; 2 Corinthians 5:1&5). In fact, the Holy Spirit is the promised One of Almighty God (Luke 11:13; John 14:16-17; Acts 2:38). And we must have faith in God, the Son, or we could not receive salvation — our portal to abundant living, eternal life, and righteousness — and we would remain cursed under God’s law (Galatians 3:22-26; 1 Peter 1:3-9). More so, without faith in God, the Father, we could not receive His grace; the benevolent, divine gift that gains us access to Christ’s salvation — again, our avenue to abundant living, eternal life, and righteousness (Galatians 3:11; Ephesians 2:8).

Worship Umbrella 9 So the next time you reach for your parasol, or umbrella, take time to reflect on the ferrule and open cap at the top of this useful instrument. Take the time to consider both the top spring and the bottom spring — our triggers. Think on how they represent your faith in the triune God.

It’s your faith in the Holy Spirit that will activate (trigger) your ability to rightly worship God. It’s also your faith in Jesus Christ that will gain you access (trigger) to divine righteousness. A righteousness that can only come from God and can restore humanity to a state of holiness. A holiness that will allow us to correctly worship God. And less we forget, without your faith in the heavenly Father (the ferrule and open cap), all of your attempts to worship Him would be in vain because it’s your faith in God that will lock into place all the divine implements of true worship.

So, as we close out this article on faith, I’d like to leave you with these words from the 1990, 4Him song entitled Where There Is Faith. The lyrics are from the chorus and they read as follows:

Where there is faith, there is a voice calling, “Keep walking; you’re not alone in this world.”
Where there is faith, there is a peace like a child sleeping; hope everlasting in He
Who is able to bare every burden. To heal every hurt in my heart. It is a wonderful, powerful place. Where there is faith.

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.

Where There Is faith lyrics and music written by Billy Simon. Copyright © 1990 Benson Records.

If you want to use these lyrics, please contact the authors, artists or labs.

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.

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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 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.

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.

Article V, part 1

Truth or Dare (Article 5)

One of my favorite literary characters of all time is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s infamous detective of 221B Baker Street, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, and my favorite adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories is the British Broadcasting Corporation’sSherlock.” Holmes & Watson 1 This small screen redesign of the classic Sherlock Holmes mysteries certainly delivers on fulfilling it’s slogan by making Mr. Holmes into “a new sleuth for the 21st century.”

There’s an old joke, that still surfaces from time-to-time, regarding Mr. Sherlock Holmes and his faithful friend Dr. John H. Watson. The yarn takes place on a camping trip, that the legendary duo have decided to enjoy. In the middle of the night, the ever alert Mr. Holmes nudges Dr. Watson awake, and says, “Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see.” Dr. Watson, though a bit lethargic, answers him, “I see millions of stars, my dear Holmes.”

“And what do you infer from these stars?” says Sherlock. “Well,” Dr. Watson begins to answer. But sensing that his friend is in one of his philosophical moods, he decides to think a moment before answering. “A number of things,” Dr. Watson retorts as he lights his cigarette. “Astronomically, Holmes, I observe that there are millions of galaxies and billions of stars and planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three in the a.m. Meteorologically, I expect that the weather will be fine and clear. Theologically, I see that God is all-powerful and man, His creation, small and insignificant. What about you, my dear Holmes? What is it that you infer?” Without a moments pause, Sherlock snaps back in a very agitated tone, “Watson, you fool — someone has stolen our tent!”

Often the answers to life’s many questions are setting there in plain sight, yet those who delve deep into the philosophical will somehow manage to miss them, and cause others to do the same. I like to say it this way:

Philosophers are the only people I know of that can sit on a haystack full of needles, and still manage to not get the point in the end.

Humanity’s infatuation with ideology, our romance with rationality, our intimacy with intelligence can be summed up in the word philosophy. “Philosophy” is a word deriving from two Greek words. Philos, is a Greek word meaning “beloved,” or “loving,” and Sophos is Greek for “knowledge,” or “wisdom.” So literally, philosophy means “beloved knowledge,” or “the love of wisdom.” As mankind has long enjoyed a deep tenderness towards discerning thoughts, and has worshiped a variety of worldviews, we will be addressing a few of the philosophies that have (and still do) preoccupied our minds.

Philosophy 2 There are three main worldviews influencing the various philosophies in existence today. These three worldviews are:

Theism — one deity, who made all things out of nothing.
Pantheism — the divine is everything, and everything is the divine.
Atheism — no deity exists, the universe simply occurred on its own.

“Theism” is made up of two main ideologies: Biblical Theism, and Monadic Monotheism. If you have a worldview that is based on the teachings of Jesus Christ, as explained in the Holy Bible, then you posses a belief system that is considered “Biblical Theism,” or Trinitarianism (one deity, but three separate personifications — God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit). This Christ-centered, theistic ideology is the philosophical foundation of the Christian faith.

It is the understanding that Yahweh and Jesus are the same God; that the Old Testament writings teach and prepare both the Hebrews of yesteryear and the reader of today for the coming Messiah, revealed in the New Testament writings. It is the awareness of the teachings that proclaim the deity of Jesus, His life as a man, His sacrificial death on the cross, and His resurrection and ascension into Heaven, as well as His return and millennial rule on earth. All of these pronouncements, plus the gift of the Holy Spirit to the believer, are essential in conveying the truths of redemption that this godly worldview seeks to convey.

“Monadic Monotheism” teaches of a singular, divine being (a.k.a.: a monad). This is the theistic belief system held mostly by Jews and Muslims. This singular, divine being is wholly separated from humanity, leaving them under the mandate that says mankind must obey the divine statutes and live a righteous life. In short, the divine is both just and vengeful; separated from humanity because this deity is perfect, and only piety and righteousness can present mankind with the chance to beg for divine forgiveness.

Occasionally a theist will also relate a philosophy that denigrates the value of mankind’s physical existence, and they’ll teach either that the spiritual side of humanity takes precedence over the physical side, or possibly the opposite. This ideology is called Dualism. Though generally associated with “Pantheism,” this Greek rooted philosophy generally depicts the physical world in a negative light and encourages mankind to neglect their physical needs for the gain of spiritual enlightenment.

“Pantheism” is made up of three main ideologies: Eastern Mysticism, Spiritism, and Occultism. If your worldview states that the ultimate expression of reality consists of a “universal divine spirit,” galaxy 4 and that there is no singular, deity for humanity to relate to, or to reveal himself to, then you posses a pantheistic belief system that is considered “Eastern Mysticism.” Philosophically speaking, this worldview does not separate the secular and the divine, and teaches that all of reality is composed of, and reduced to, a single substance/”energy.”

“Spiritism” teaches that this world is inhabited by a variety of spirits. These spirits take on many characteristics too, as some are seen as angry, mean, comical, or kind. This pantheistic worldview, now known as Animism, states that humanity must appease evil spirits and attract good ones through rituals, liturgies, idols, or ceremonies. Voodoo is an example of a religion that is based on just such a belief system.

“Occultism” is the study of things that are hidden (paranormal), such as magic, alchemy, extrasensory perception (a.k.a.: ESP), astrology, spiritualism, and divination. Many religious belief systems are rooted in this pantheistic ideology. For example Gnosticism, Hermeticism, Theosophy, Wicca, Thelema, Satanism, and Neopaganism are all rooted in occultism. The sciences have mistakenly been connected to the occult, from time-to-time, as mankind has sought to understand the unknown, both within and without. Occultism, you see, attempts to understand a deeper spiritual reality, by way of superstitious and demonic rituals, that extend beyond human logic and academic science.

“Atheism” is basically the refusal to believe that there is a spiritual side to humanity. An atheist will not accept any deity, nor will they accept that mankind has an immortal soul. Atheism 2 “Atheism” is made up of three main ideologies: Darwinism, Secular Humanism, and Existentialism. The term “atheism” originated from the Greek word atheos, and literally means “without gods.” Most atheists believe that their worldview is an ideology of absolute truths, even more so than most theists, and therefore the burden of proof lies not on the atheist to disprove the existence of the divine, but on the theist to provide solid evidence for the divine.

“Darwinism” is the study of the origin of life, and is committed to the atheistic ideology that states that all of life is the result of natural selection and random causes. This belief system is founded on the scientific theory of evolution. Mr. Charles Darwin, the founder of “Darwinism,” had observed in his worldwide travels that the animal kingdom, within species, adapted to various conditions that made them better equipped to survive and thrive in an ever changing environment. It’s based on this scientific evidence, known as micro-evolution, that Mr. Darwin theorized that, given enough time and the right environment, a transformation of one species into another could occur. This process of successive mutations within a species, that ends in the existence of a new species, is known to Scientists as macro-evolution. Unfortunately for Charles Darwin, and all of his colleagues since, there has never been an observed macro-evolution mutation. Paleontologists can’t even find a transitional or mutated species in the fossil records. The result is that Scientists who commit themselves to the study of evolution generally refuse to understand their scientific findings, wholly, and stay committed to their atheistic ideology of “Darwinism.”

“Secular Humanism” is the study of the humanities, with the focus being on the glorification of human accomplishment. This atheistic worldview is in stark contrast to that of “Classical Humanism” which gives glory to the divine when taking notice of human accomplishments. A secular humanist will give no credit to a deity, but will wallow in the idea that mankind can rise to, and capture, the moment with his/her own greatness. People with this atheistic ideology are very much in the present, and slaves to history. This philosophy reduces humanity to being nothing more than a glorified animal which seeks to fulfill its own selfish desires, and passions, at any cost.

“Existentialism” is simply all about living in the moment. People who adhere to this atheistic philosophy generally do not bother with questioning how or why something began, or ended, they will even oppose the reasons behind why something exists. They simply choose to embracing the fact that it is. Their three core beliefs are as follows:

Individualism (me, myself, and I)
“Carpe diem” (a Latin phrase for “seize the day”)
Freedom to do whatever, whenever, and however (anarchy).

Oddly enough, you can occasionally find theists who follow and live by this worldview, but primarily it is the atheists that adhere to this belief system. Why? Because such an ideology cannot have a divine entity telling it that there is an absolute right and wrong. An existentialist must be free to live life passionately and without any kind of inward or outward constraint.

I realize that when it comes to a subject as vast and as deep as “philosophy” it is hard for most of us to stay focused and retain the information that is being presented. I know that I certainly struggle with knowing and understanding them all. Comprehension, though key, can be hard to attain for some, thus the reason I have tried to present this to you in small portions; only giving you the essential information for understanding the various belief systems directly connected to the three main worldviews (Theism, Pantheism, and Atheism). Just know that for every one of these ideologies mentioned there are multiple worldviews that intersect and continue from them.

For example, where “Theism” and “Pantheism” intersect Polytheism (the belief of more than one god) and Postmodern Spirituality (the belief that no one religion will connect you to the divine; just believe what you wish) appear. Where “Pantheism” and “Atheism” cross paths Monism (the belief that humanity can become one with the “universal divine force,” and escape the illusion of this physical life) prevails, and where “Atheism” and “Theism” blend Agnosticism (the belief that mankind cannot know anything with certainty, especially the divine) and Deism (the belief that logic and the examination of nature are significant in determining the existence of the divine, as well as the rejection of religious authority and knowledge) exist. Yet, even these philosophies are only a few of the many worldviews that dwell in the minds of humanity.

So what does this all mean? What do we do with the information presented here? Philosophy 3 First, we must give a conscious effort toward knowing why it is only “Biblical Theism” that will give peace of mind to mankind (Philippians 4:7). Second, we must take note of what it is that makes God’s worldview the only ideology worth dedicating our lives to (Proverbs 8). Just as Dr. Watson was too busy waxing wise to notice the obvious fact that his, and Mr. Holmes’, tent had been stolen, so too do philosophers miss the truth of God because they are too deep in love with the pursuit of wisdom to actually receive the wisdom they are so obsessed with finding. (Proverbs 14:6, 17:24, 24:7; 1 Corinthians 1:20).

In our next post we will delve further into why the wisdom of God prevails over the philosophies of humanity, and help you understand how you can rest peacefully knowing that God’s wisdom is truth you can put your trust in.

Truth or Dare by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.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.

Sherlock © 2010, 2011, 2012 BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation). 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 VI, part 1


Noted Australian worship leader and singer-songwriter (formerly of Hillsong) Darlene Zschech once said this about worship: “Worship is an act of obedience of the heart. It is a response that requires the very core of who you are, to love the Lord for who He is, not just for what He does.”

Such insight.

Here we have our study simply stated. Summed up in these two sentences, we read what worship is all about — God.

Review with me the three main attributes of God, our Creator, that bring about worship from His creation:

– God’s Faithfulness (God’s faithfulness + acknowledging God’s faithfulness = worship)
– God’s Hope (God’s hope + acknowledging God’s hope = worship)
– God’s Love (God’s love + acknowledging God’s love = worship)

But, let’s not forget to review another key ingredient present in our formula for being a true worshiper. A vital element that was very present in the megathemes we observed earlier from Joshua’s life and from our study in Article 4 concerning real joy; that ingredient is obedience.

It’s not physical obedience that we are talking about either. No, we are talking specifically about what Darlene Zschech called “obedience of the heart [spirit].” Why? Because we cannot acknowledge God’s attributes without an obedient heart [spirit]. The physical obedience, our “works” if you will, will be a result of our spiritual obedience, but we cannot and will not become true worshipers of the Father through our physical works. It will always require an obedient heart at our core.

Look with me at Ephesians 2:8-10:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Now, this passage of Scripture is speaking specifically about our salvation in Christ, our first act of worship, but what is essential here is the principle behind these verses. Just as we can do nothing to be saved outside of being spiritually obedient to God’s call of salvation on our hearts, so can we do nothing towards becoming true worshipers of God outside of being spiritually obedient to acknowledge God’s attributes at the core of our worship.

So, let’s quickly look at our heart. Let’s define exactly what the heart is so we can fully comprehend its role in our obedience and our worship.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “heart” in this way:

(noun) 1) a hollow muscular organ that pumps the blood through the circulatory system by rhythmic contraction and dilation; regarded as the center of a person’s thoughts and emotions . . . ; one’s mood or feelings; courage or enthusiasm, 2) The center or inner most part of something; the vital part or essence.

In the Life Application Study Bible (NIV), “heart” is defined as “ (noun) organ that circulates the blood; the vital center of one’s being, emotions, and sensibilities.”

Just as our physical bodies require a physical heart to pump vital nutrients and oxygen through the bloodstream to all our various organs, muscles, and members, so too does our worship require a “heart” to pump God’s attributes (faith, hope, and love) from its core, out through our spirit, and further out into the body of Christ (aka: the church/other believers). When we are obedient and allow our “heart” to do this, then our spirit is able to truly worship God, whether individually or corporately.

Again, it’s the attributes of God and our acknowledgment of those attributes (through an obedient heart) that will produce the actions that equal worship.

(attributes of God + acknowledgment and application of God’s attributes in us = worship)

Now that we understand that we need to be obedient with our hearts to receive and acknowledge God’s attributes in our lives, and now that we comprehend that God must be at the center of our lives to be true worshipers of Him, let’s look at twelve ways we can begin to develop the discipline of being obedient to God, the Father, in our daily worship.

The first of the twelve concerns the reading and studying of Scripture. The Bible is very clear throughout its sixty-six books that the best way to grow close to God and avoid sin is to know and obey His word.

Do you want to remain pure? Psalm 119:9-11 tells us that if we are memorizing Scripture and living by the statutes of God’s Word, we can accomplish purity. Do you desire to live the spiritual life God intended? Then do as Proverbs 6:23 and Matthew 4:4 instruct and make God’s Word your guide and your sustenance. Do you seek God’s blessings? Then hear Christ’s instruction from Luke 11:28 to heed God’s Word and obey it. Do you wish to be filled with joy and gratitude in your worship? Then “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” (Colossians 3:16). Are you uncertain that the love of God even lives in you? Remedy that by simply being obedient to God’s Word, as the writer of 1 John taught us in chapter 2, verse 5.

Being obedient to read and study Scripture is essential to our heart’s growth and well-being.

We have laid our foundation, set the cornerstone, and erected three walls on our temple of worship. When we connect next, we will continue in the construction of our fourth and final wall as we etch closer to completing 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.

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 IV, part 2


We have begun looking into how we as believers can experience true joy in our daily worship, even in the midst of serious suffering and strife, but to do this there are some things we must first understand about the word joy. So to understand fully what joy means, and to correctly apply it to our everyday life and worship, we will have to dissect the word; cut into what we said joy is and look around inside it — find what lies at its core. To do this we will literally take the word “joy” and examine it letter by letter. When we are done, the acrostic we end up with will be a simple and applicable tool with which you can allow God to bring real joy to you daily.

The first meaning we can find at the core of real joy is in the letter “J.” And that is true faith in the Lord, God Jehovah via a relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. (Jehovah is one of the forms of the Hebrew name for God.) As we studied earlier, all of us are sinners. To be a sinner is to be an arrow that has missed its mark or center, or to put it more clearly, missed the bull’s-eye. All of mankind was intended to exist in the center of God’s will and purpose. Sin, which was introduced into our lives via the “fall of man” in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-24), disrobed and removed God’s glory from mankind. Sin left us naked, vulnerable, and dying. There was no way the human race would ever be living in the center of God’s will and purpose ever again without divine intervention. A deep and true faith in God, via a relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ, is the only way humans can return to living in the center of Jehovah’s will and purpose. Let’s look over how we can have such a faith in God, before we move on.

First, we must recognize that sin has removed us from God’s glory (this is our current “fallen state”) and then realize that we need to be restored to the center and purpose of Jehovah (Isaiah 59:1-20). Remember the five orders of worship (confession, gathering, giving, rejoicing, and studying)? We can’t experience true worship if we can’t exist in God’s presence. Sin prevents us from being in the presence of the Almighty, and confession is the first step toward being in His will; returning us to the center of His will.

We must also realize that we do not deserve Jehovah’s grace, but deserve death. “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). Everything in life costs us something; nothing is free. Some costs we eagerly pay and others we are reluctant to pay, but life is a costly thing. Life costs us, male and female alike, something of each other in order to conceive a new life (child). The creation of the human race cost God, as well. Life cost Him, in the beginning, a piece of Himself — the breath of life and His image or spirit (Genesis 1:26-27). Life also cost Him the loss of our companionship when we sinned in the garden, as sin ushered in death, and death costs us our own lives as payment and prevents us from living with God eternally (again, see Romans 6:23a). But it’s because the Lord God, Jehovah, loved life — human life — so very much, it ultimately cost Him the life of His only Son, Jesus Christ. This truth is another aspect of experiencing a true faith in God. You can’t fully enjoy a relationship with God the Father until you understand fully the relationship we are to have with God the Son.

God longs to see mankind return to Himself and He knew humanity would never be able to do so on its own. Thus the reason God chose to pay our debt to sin (the wages of sin is death) by allowing His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die (John 3:16). Christ’s blood paid our debt (Hebrews 9:22b), and His sacrifice became God’s free gift of eternal life to all of mankind (Romans 6:23b). God never intended to condemn us (John 3:17), sin did that on its own. Jehovah only wanted our love and worship. Remember, death is what we deserved but eternal life can be ours, free of charge, if we will only trust in God, obey His will, and believe in His Son.

To fully trust in Christ we must know that just as life is costly so, too, are our relationships. A relationship with Jesus Christ costs us submission. I know the word submission in today’s equal rights world is yet another negative term, but if we will understand it and accept submission for what it really is, a willful act (choice) of servile flattery (serving/acting out of love and respect) then we will experience the eternal joy that God intended us to have in our lives. We must choose to submit to Christ’s headship over us, serving Christ not because He is our conquering hero but because we love and respect Him for what He chose to do for us on the cross. When believers do this, they become a part of Christ’s body, known as the church (1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 1:22, 5:29-30; Colossians 1:18, 2:10). Quickly, let’s take this concept of the church a little further.

The church is not just known as the body of Christ but its also known in Scripture as the bride of Christ (Christ therefore being the loving Bridegroom of heaven). As the bride, we are to submit to following Christ’s perfect will for us (Ephesians 5:23-32) just as wives are intended by God to submit to their husbands. (The picture being painted here is missed by our modern society because today we have allowed both ideas of traditional marriage and spousal submission to become ugly, meaningless, and disposable. Take time to study what is being presented here. Both men and women alike should meditate on what God intended and come to understand true submission.)

Let’s ponder the definition of submission once more from the above paragraph: “a willful act (choice) of servile flattery (serving/acting out of love and respect).” If you are married, try applying this idea to your relationship. If you do, your relationships will improve beyond your wildest dreams; your life will bloom and grow beyond what you ever imagined possible, and your relationship with Jesus Christ, God’s Son, will fill you with a joy that can only come from being centered on Him.

The second meaning we can find at the core of real joy comes from the letter “O” and is in two parts: be obedient in unity and serve others. The first, being obedient in unity (meaning that we should make every effort to be at peace with our brothers and sisters in Christ), is the key to understanding the second, which is to serve others. Ken Sande, author, lawyer, and founder of Peacemaker Ministries, says in his book The Peacemaker that peace (or unity) is the “presence of genuine harmony, understanding, and goodwill between people.” Realize, it’s Jesus Christ’s sacrifice (that we just talked about in discussing true faith) which allows for real unity (or peace) with other people. Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians:

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two [Jew and gentile] one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. (Ephesians 2:13-18)

We are called to do all we can to live unified, as one (at peace) with each other (Romans 12:18). We cannot be restored to the center of God’s will and purpose if we are not restored to each other, which brings us to the second part of this second meaning of joy.

Serving others is a crucial part to our receiving true joy from God and to our corporate worship. Obeying Jesus Christ’s call to serve mankind over self is a core truth we must grasp if we want to become the true worshipers that God intended us to be. Christ himself came to serve us, so why should we not also serve as He commands (Mark 10:45; Gal. 5:13; 1 Peter 4:10)? Remember our (the bride’s) submission to the Bridegroom of heaven means we both serve Him as well as mimic, or imitate, Him. We can do this when we allow Christ to make His Spirit dominant within us (John 3:30; Ephesians 6:7) and when we follow His model of self sacrifice, which was to lay aside His heavenly throne to become human, live a human life, and die a sinner’s death so that we could be restored to God as holy and righteous (2 Corinthians 13:4; Philippians 2:6-8). Faith in Jehovah and submission to Jesus comes first, then obeying Christ by being united as one body (the church) and serving each other (the members of that body) comes second. So, what’s third? You!

The letter “Y” represents being at peace within yourself, and is the last meaning we find at the core of true joy. Ken Sande says in The Peacemaker that internal peace is a “sense of wholeness, contentment, tranquility, order, rest and security.” Sounds to me like a piece of heaven on earth. I can’t recall the last time I truly felt this way for more than a moment, but this type of peace can be ours daily. Real peace comes to us, via the Holy Spirit, from the Lord God, Jehovah, and is a gift that awaits all who are faithful in submitting their whole life to His Son, Jesus Christ (1 John 3:21-24).

Our internal peace is also a by-product of righteousness (Psalm 85:10, 119:165; Isaiah 26:3, 32:17, 48:18). Righteousness and inner peace are ours through our relationship with Jesus Christ. If we do not allow God’s righteousness to grow and dwell in our daily lives, then we will not only live a life of stress and unrest, but we will put the Son’s reputation at risk. How many people do you know that feel negatively toward Jesus or toward going to church or toward Christianity? Is it not because the “righteous” have bragged about how good they are, only to turn around and dishonor God by acting immorally or unethically? Have we not all talked about love, grace, and peace only to turn around and show nothing of these things in our dealings with people and daily dilemmas? Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans that “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you” (Romans 2:24b). Christ’s reputation depends on our being genuine in our faith and peacemakers with each other (Matthew 5:9; Romans 12:18; Colossians 3:15-16).

And returning once more to our first meaning of real joy (true faith via submitting to Jesus Christ’s headship over the body) by acknowledging the Son’s headship and submitting to serving Him, we gain peace within our own spirit (Romans 15:13; 1 Corinthians 14:33; Hebrews 12:11). Then by following (submitting to; serving and mimicking) Christ’s example to serve others, we remain at peace with our brothers and sisters resulting in our own spirit being at peace with God and ourselves (Ephesians 4:3-6; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; Hebrews 12:14).

This is joy! And joy’s core meaning: to allow God’s real joy into our daily lives and daily worship. Did you catch the acrostic from earlier? Here it is once more:

J – True faith in the Lord, God Jehovah and submission to His Son, Jesus Christ.
O – Obedient to be unified as one body (the church) and to serve others (the members of the body).
Y – Be at peace within yourself by being faithful to submit to Christ and serve others.

Remember from Article 3 that the order of rejoicing allows us to both give and receive God’s attribute of perfect joy. J.O.Y. — Jesus, Others, and You are how we can have this eternal attribute in our daily life. This is how we can have joy in suffering. This is the real meaning of joy that no dictionary could define. Only in God’s presence can we receive true joy, and giving of ourselves in submission to Christ’s will and serving others is what ushers us into God’s presence.

This is what Joshua experienced daily in his life as he led his family and the nation of Israel in genuine worship of the Almighty. Joshua was careful to be faithful in all God asked of him, to obey every command given, and to serve his people, the nation of Israel, by keeping them united and at peace with each other (Joshua 24:31). Joshua never had to struggle to lay his head down at night and be at rest because he was at peace in his faith. This same joy, God can give to you. Now, do you really have the “joy, joy, joy, joy” down in your heart? I hope so, and let’s have no more of that asking, “Where?”

We are now ready to raise our third wall in our temple of worship. That wall is — our purpose!

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.

The Peacemaker” © 1991, 1997, 2004 by Kenneth Sande

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 seventh printed publication, May 2007.

Published by Baker Books a division of Baker Publishing Group, P.O. Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287; www.bakerbooks.com.

Down In My Heart (I’ve Got the Joy)” by George Willis Cooke, pub.: Unknown, Copyright: Public Domain

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 IV, part 1



I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart. . . . Where!?” This is probably how most of us would respond to the concept of joy — with a question.

Imagine suffering through some great physical ailment, such as cancer, and being counseled with these words from James 1:2, “Count it pure joy, my brothers [or sisters], whenever you face trials of many kinds.” You’d probably fight back the urge to slap someone by firing back with a great big “What!?” “Count this bone breaking, gut wrenching, painful curse as what!?” “Joy?” Or, imagine suffering through an unexpected divorce after twenty-plus years of what you thought was wedded bliss and hearing someone say these words from 1 Thessalonians 5:16, “Be joyful always.” You’d probably exchange a cross-eyed glance for a moment, only to ask, “Be joyful when!? Now!?

We all realize that life is hard and that suffering is bound to catch up to each of us at some point. And some of us know that God wants us to experience joy in all aspects of our lives. So, why is it when suffering enters our lives do we not only question the suffering but also the idea of being joyful in the midst of it?

It has to do with our thoughts. We were incorrectly taught that bad things are meant for bad people and that good things happen to good people. And who can be more good than we Christians, right? After all, we are God’s adopted children (Ephesians 1:4-5), are we not? Well, let’s examine this ideal more closely.

What makes us believe or think that bad things happen to bad people? From an early age we were told stories and shown movies that depict the message that “crime doesn’t pay” or “good conquers evil.” In the Bible we read such verses as: “The Lord reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment. He will judge the world in righteousness; he will govern the people with justice” (Psalm 9:7-8). We also learn that our own laws here in America — based on the Ten Commandments, our Constitution and the Bill of Rights — will bring justice and will punish those who intend to do us harm. Yes, we learn these things, read such verses, and study such ideals, but who or what defines for us what is good and what is bad? The answer is: our Creator, the great “I Am” — God.

God defines evil and righteousness. To be evil is to take on the attributes and spirit of Satan (Galatians 5:19-21), but to be good is to take on the attributes and Spirit of Jesus Christ, God’s Son (Galatians 5:22-23). Is this not why we think of Christians as good people? Don’t we expect Christians to act as Christ would act? After all, doesn’t popular Christian culture teach us to always ask “WWJD” (what would Jesus do)? Why ask this question if we aren’t expected to act on it?

For American citizens, living within the boundaries of our laws determines if we are good citizens or bad citizens. And though it is true that we are counted as good citizens if we obey the law, and though it is true that we as Christians are expected to act as Christ did, there is another truth we must come to terms with, and that is, “There is no one righteous [good], not even one” (Romans 3:10). None of us are good. Obey the law perfectly; we can’t. Be as righteous as Jesus; a daily struggle all Christians should aspire to accomplish, though not likely to happen.

So, why bother? Why care enough to try? Because even though we can’t be righteous on our own, Christ’s Spirit living in us can.

“But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known to which the Law of the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ.” (Romans 3:21-24)

Jesus’ Spirit in us gives us the strength to be good; to do good things (Philippians 4:13).

You have read that no one person is good; yet you see that we can be good with God’s help. You may even grasp the overall concept, but how does this truth answer our question from earlier regarding suffering and joy? In this way: we must stop thinking that “good” people won’t and shouldn’t suffer. None are good and life is hard. Just as Jesus suffered for living a righteous life, so too should we expect to suffer. Listen to the apostle Peter’s words: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:12-13). Did you catch that? Suffering in this life is not strange or abnormal, but very much the norm. And even better, if we rejoice in our participation (as hard as it will be, have the right attitude of worship — your choice, remember) then we can be overjoyed, totally thrilled beyond our wildest imagination, when God’s glory is revealed to us in heaven! Joy within suffering is our choice and a marvelous avenue to experiencing true worship and God’s glory. So, how do we do it? How do we choose to be “joyful in all things”? We must first realize what this principle of worship really is and what joy really means.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “joy” as:

(noun) a feeling of great pleasure and happiness: ‘tears of joy’/‘the joy of being alive.’ Also as (verb) [heart.] poetic/literary — rejoice: ‘I felt shame that I had ever joyed in his discomfiture or pain.’

And, The Life Application Study Bible (NIV) defines “joy” as, “(noun) emotion evoked by well-being, success or good fortune: gladness or delight.” I find both of these definitions to be inadequate; well short of accurate. Allow me to explain why.

The definitions we just read are lacking, because they ascribe to joy the same attributions of happiness. Though these definitions define joy as both a noun and a verb, which it is, they really are ascribing no more depth to the word than if it were simply the word “happy” (an adjective). But happiness is really nothing more than an emotion. Something we occasionally experience, because it is fleeting. Joy is not a temporal emotion, but an actual attribution of God’s character — a part of His being; a “fruit” of His Spirit, according to Galatians chapter 5 verse 22.

Nothing about God is temporary. “In the beginning God . . .” (Genesis 1:1a); “In the beginning . . . was God” (John 1:1); “I am the Alpha and the Omega . . . who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8). God and His characteristics always have been, are now, and always will be. Happiness is not one of the fruits of His Spirit, but joy — real joy — is! Real joy can never be temporal or fleeting because it is a source of power and strength (Nehemiah 8:10b). Joy, can only come from God’s love for us and our obedience to Him (John 15:9-11). And joy, everlasting joy, can only come from God’s forgiveness and our restoration to, and peace with, Him (Luke 15:8-32).

Best-selling author C.S. Lewis once said that “joy is never in our power and pleasure [or happiness] often is.” If it’s in our power, then it’s fallible, temporal, of us and not of God, and definitely not real joy. Only a facsimile befitting the simple definitions ascribed to it from any dictionary on any shelf. We must understand what joy really is. It is eternal, a source of power for us, an attribute direct from God our Creator, Himself. Let’s now look deeper into what joy means to us and how we can apply real joy to our everyday lives and our everyday worship.

In our next post, we will fully disclose what joy means, and will expose how to correctly apply it to our everyday life and worship. Article 4, part two, will take the word “joy” and dissect it; cutting into what we said it is and looking around inside it — finding what lies at its core. To do this we will literally examine the word letter by letter, and when we are done, the acrostic we end up with will be a simple and applicable tool with which you can allow God to bring real joy to you daily.

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.
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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.

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Down In My Heart (I’ve Got the Joy)” by George Willis Cooke, pub.: Unknown, Copyright: Public Domain

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