Part 3

Experiencing Hardship - Try True Worship (Header 1)

A Commentary on Psalm 118

A Commentary on Psalm 118

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Part 2

Experiencing Hardship - Try True Worship (Header 1)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 1

Experiencing Hardship - Try True Worship (Header 1)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

Living Your True Purpose (Header)

Experiencing the Life of a True Worshiper

Experiencing the Life of a True Worshiper

I Worship You, by CCM group MercyMe, is from the 2002 debut album entitled Almost There. Though this song was never released as a single, World 1 it helped to establish the style and character of music that has kept MercyMe at the top of the CCM charts for more than twelve years. In fact, Almost There is considered the number four best selling album from its decade (2000-2009).

I Worship You, is all about experiencing the life of a true worshiper on a daily basis. It’s about what it can feel like to worship God in all circumstances and life events. It is a song of genuine, godly worship, which is exactly what we have been discussing in this series.

As we close out this simple study on experiencing the life of a true worshiper, we will quickly recap what we have learned so that you can easily recall our various topics of interest. Hopefully this recap will also inspire you to revisit some of these articles and move you to grow in your relationship with God on a daily basis.

Articles One and Two dealt primarily with our first acts of worship — salvation and water baptism. Before we can begin a day-to-day relationship with God, we must first have placed our faith in His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ (Romans 10:9-10), and have been obedient to His command to be baptized (John 3:5).

Articles Three and Four explored the call of all worshipers of God to fulfill the “Great Commission” (Matthew 28:18-20). To go through out the world testifying of Christ’s Gospel message and baptizing those who would believe, and to do so by CO-laboring with other believers, in spite of their denominational background (1 Corinthians 3:1-11). You see the true Church, the “Body of Christ,” is not filled with members from any one Christian denomination. No! The Church is made up of true worshipers from all Christian denominations, and we must work together for the good of the kingdom of God.

Articles Five and Six were all about serving mankind, as Christ instructed us to, and suffering as Christ suffered. Though Christ came primarily to seek and to save mankind from their sinful nature (Luke 19:10), He also came as a servant of humanity. He wanted to be an example to us, revealing how we can bring His hope to the hopeless and extend His help to the helpless (Mark 10:45). Ultimately, our serving others and our suffering as Christ suffered will make us more like Him.

Articles Seven and Eight revealed to us the importance of spending time in God’s Word and in prayer. God’s Word was given in written form to teach us, guide us, and grow us to be more like Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 3:16-17). This can only be done by our spending time reading it, studying it, and applying what we’ve have learned. And we must also pray, as God’s power flows from Himself into our lives through prayer (James 4:10). Prayer is as essential to our daily relationship with God, as is the reading of God’s Word.

Articles Nine and Ten dealt with living an abundant life in Christ and with gathering to worship God in a corporate environment. God’s purpose for humanity was to allow us to experience a life full of His Spirit, but we rejected His purpose. To get that life back, we must dedicate ourselves to living our lives for the sake of Christ — daily — in all that we do (Romans 12:11). True believers are also tasked with helping each other grow into true worshipers of God (Hebrews 10:24-25). Christians cannot accomplish this duty if they remain separated from one another. This work can only be completed if we are faithful to gather before God on a weekly basis.

Articles Eleven and Twelve disclose to us the importance of giving, especially the giving of God’s love. You see, part of our call from God, to serve each other and to suffer as His Son suffered, is so that we can learn the art of giving. Christ served mankind to give away His love, and Christ suffered for the same reason (Matthew 20:25-28). Love — God’s love — is the reason we are instructed to give, and one of the greatest ways that we can model this godly giving of love is through our romantic relationships. God designed the marriage relationship to be a physical picture of His love for the redeemed (Ephesians 5:22-32).

Articles Thirteen and Fourteen taught concerning how we should care for our physical and spiritual bodies, as well as about celebrating God in our music. Since Christians are considered by God to be members of Christ’s body, we must maintain our health and wellness in order to have the strength and energy to fulfill our calling — to fulfill our duty. It is imperative that Christians — true worshipers of God — maintain both their physical and spiritual health and wellness (Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 3 John 1:2). This in turn will allow us the strength to testify of God’s grace and loving kindness towards us through our singing. Though singing is not worship, as a whole, it is an important vessel for expressing our devotion to God (Psalm 95:1; Colossians 3:16).

“Confession” and “Forgiveness” were the topics of Articles Fifteen and Sixteen. We learned that confession was more than an admission of wrong doing, but that it was also a statement of one’s beliefs — a testimonial. Through this act of worship we can confess Christ as our Lord, and testify to others of His Gospel message (Matthew 10:32-33; Romans 10:9). Confession also leads us to receiving forgiveness. Forgiveness grants us access to freedom. Freedom from bitterness and hate; freedom to live and to love. Forgiveness is divine, and it is strong enough to cover over all wrongdoings. All we need do is accept it (1 John 1:9), and then give it to others (Mark 11:25).

Articles Seventeen and Eighteen covered the subjects of rejoicing and having a right attitude. A true worshiper of God rejoices over what God is doing, not only in their own life, but in the lives of other believers (Deuteronomy 12:7). Rejoicing rightly prevents us from getting prideful and allows us to celebrate achievements and yet remain humble. A right attitude also influences our ability to rejoice correctly and remain humble. An attitude that is focused on God and His characteristics will remain healthy and positive (Philippians 2:5-8), while an attitude that focuses on self will cause heartache and undo pain.

There you have it, all eighteen topics neatly outlined for further review and study. I hope that if you haven’t followed along faithfully that you will consider going back through and studying further these essential acts of worship. If you have been with us throughout the series, then I pray that you would take the time to review these subjects and apply them to your daily relationship with God.

William Barclay, a Scottish author, minister, professor of theology, radio and television presenter, is credited with having said this about speaking the truth. He said, “Telling the truth demands a deliberate effort.” In like manner, so does living the truth. We must take the time and make the effort to live the life we were purposed to live. God deliberately made us for His pleasure, and we rejected His love. Now we, who have placed our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, must make a deliberate effort to embrace God’s truth, speak of God’s truth, and live God’s truth. If we do; if we endure to remain faithful to God’s plan for our lives, then we will see God’s purpose grow in us and shine forth from us.

I’ll leave you with one last quote from William Barclay: “Endurance is not just the ability to bare a hard thing, but to turn it into glory.” Endure the life of a true worshiper. Bare the sufferings of life, as Christ did, and watch God turn you into a beacon that shines His glory throughout the world.

Living Your True Purpose by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported 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.

I Worship You lyrics and music written by Regie Glenn Hamm and Peter Kipley. Copyright © 2002 Word Entertainment and Curb Records.

Video made available by Jason Ministries, Word Entertainment, and Curb Records; Copyright © 2014 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 12

Living Your True Purpose (Header)

Living Your True Purpose (Article 12)Love Song for Number Two, by CCM artists Mickey and Becki Moore, was independently released on their own Maiden Music label, back in 1981. Wedding Couple 3 This song quickly rose to the number one position on many CCM radio playlists, and ultimately topped off at the number two position on the national charts.

No independent artists had ever achieved such airplay without the backing of a major label. And to this date, Love Song For Number Two is still Mickey and Becki’s most requested song, and is often played or sung at wedding ceremonies.

So why the huge success? There are always many factors that contribute to a song’s rise up the charts, but I believe what may have played a large part in this song’s “chart topping” status is the message of the lyrics. That message is simply this — people long for real love.

Love, especially to those of us who have grown up in a “western” social environment, has been so unrealistically romanticized in books, dramatic theatre, movies, and music that many who once claimed to have found it now find themselves feeling alone, betrayed, and all together lost. An unrealistic, and romanticized, idea of love will do this to you.

Even many who claim to be Christians find themselves in this predicament, romantically speaking. Christians, who have the source of true love living within their souls, end up feeling alone, broken, and shattered. Love Song for Number Two, correctly explains just how real love — God’s love — can become a reality for each of our romantic relationships, by properly disclosing how to prioritize our “love lives.” There are three points we can get from this song, which will allow us to do so.

First things first, a right relationship with our Creator must take precedent over our desired romance (Matthew 6:33). In fact, all other relationships must be made secondary to the one that God desires for all of us to have with Himself. It doesn’t matter if the association you long to see improved is with family, friends, or is romantic in nature, no human partnership will flourish if loving and pleasing God is not the main focus of that connection.

Second, the person you are longing to love must know these two things: 1) God has priority in your life and in your potential relationship, and 2) without question, they are appreciated, cared for, and loved more than any other person in your life.

Then third, you have to realize that your desires, needs, and wants must not come before the desires, needs, and wants of almighty God, and the person you are seeking the romantic relationship with. In fact, as we have discussed this idea before regarding how to become a true worshiper, we’ve shown that it requires experiencing real joy in our lives. Joy that can only be found in our serving God first, others second, and ourselves last. The acrostic, J-O-Y, makes it easier to remember:

J — Jesus (God)

O — Others

Y — You

Apply this to all of your relationships, and you will see deeper more meaningful connections than you could have ever thought imaginable. This is what Christ, Himself, modeled. Read with me this passage of Scripture from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi:

“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:1-11)

Christ, Who is God, lowered Himself by becoming human. He served sinful humanity, and He did this because He longed for a loving relationship with us. Jesus sacrificed His desires, needs, and wants for our sake, and became a model of humility for us to imitate. Do you long for deep, satisfying relationships; true intimacy and real love? Then imitate true humility; mimic real love (Ephesians 5:1; Galatians 2:20; 1 Peter 2:21). Pattern your relationships with others after Christ’s relationship with humanity, then experience God’s love — true love.

Living Your True Purpose by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported 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.

Love Song for Number Two lyrics and music written by Becki Moore. Copyright © 1981 Maiden Music.

Video made available by Jason Ministries and Maiden Music; Copyright © 2013 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 11

Living Your True Purpose (Header)

Living Your True Purpose (Article 11)Give It Away, by CCM artist Michael W. Smith was released on his Change Your World project in 1992. Giving 2 Smitty’s song is an incredible testimony of God’s call to humanity to love one another, as Christ loves us. Love simply isn’t love until we give it away.

An additional CCM artist, David Meece, recorded another song about giving some twelve years earlier, entitled We Are The Reason. It was released in 1980, on his project entitled: Are You Ready?

In the first verse of We Are The Reason, the listener is drawn back to his/her childhood and the anxiously awaited gifts all children hoped they would be receiving on Christmas morning. Then just before the chorus, the listeners are reminded of God’s gift to humanity — the Christ Child.

As the lyrics to the chorus are heard, David explains so beautifully just what God’s gift really was, and why it was given. Disclosing to his listeners that God’s gift, the Christ Child, was given to make right our wrongs and to show us our purpose for living.

In verse two, we are reminded that as we grew up we began to learn that gift giving was more than just commercialism at Christmastime. That real gift giving requires something sacrificial; something much more costly than money. Then again, just prior to the chorus, David unwraps God’s gift to humanity. The holy present hidden within the Christ Child — God’s grace.

As the hope of Christ swells from the music and lyrics of the chorus into the majesty of God’s truth, revealed in the bridge, we hear the song exclaim:

“I finally found the reason for living. It’s in giving every part of my heart to Him. In all that I do, every word that I say, I’ll be giving my all just for Him — for Him!”

We — all of mankind — are the reason that Christ gave of Himself. Humanity’s sin is the reason that Jesus came to suffer and die (2 Corinthians 5:21; Galations 1:3b-4, 3:13). For an unholy world that was condemned to death, because of sin, God gave all that He could — His perfect and blameless, unbegotten Son — to show us our purpose for living and to reveal to us just how much our Creator loves us (John 3:16-17; Romans 5:6-10).

I know we have already discussed Christ’s sacrifice, in this series, and what that means to us. We have even discussed our expected sacrifices, in order for us to serve Christ and each other as we should. But what we haven’t really stressed is the giving portion of Christ’s sacrifice; the giving part of our service to Jesus. The giving of ourselves, wholly to God, as we embrace the gift of salvation and begin to live as servants of Jesus Christ; as we grow and become true worshipers of God (Matthew 20:25-28).

Giving is more than tithing to your local church, which you are called by God to do (Deuteronomy 14:22; Leviticus 27:30; Proverbs 3:9). Giving is more than donating money to a good cause, which we are also called by God to do (Exodus 25:2; Proverbs 28:27; Acts 4:34-35; Galatians 6:9). Giving is more than feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, healing the sick, providing for the poor, befriending the lonely, or showing kindness to the unloved. Giving is pouring out your own life into another (Isaiah 58:10). Giving is allowing yourself to be vulnerable to someone who may or may not take advantage of your humble state.

Giving should open us up to potential pain, and suffering. Why? Because it’s only in this state of weakness that we can relate to Christ’s sacrificial giving, and shine His light of grace and love to the rest of mankind (Matthew 5:14-16; 1 John 1:7). Recall with me the words of Christ at the last supper:

“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to His disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is My body.’ Then He took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’” (Matthew 26:26-28)

In the last supper of Christ, we have the perfect picture of what God’s gift entails. The bread, which represents the physical body of Jesus, is passed from Christ to His followers. Each one tearing away at Christ’s physical proxy and consuming it. It was the same for the cup of wine that Jesus shared. Each disciple took the cup from Christ and drank the liquid that represented His sacrificial blood. God gave humanity His most prized possession — His only begotten Son, Jesus — and it cost Christ His very life (Hebrews 9:12; 1Peter 3:18).

Today, we still tear away at God’s holy gift. Whenever we observe the Lord’s supper, and break the bread, we tear into the flesh of Christ and reveal the gift of God’s grace that was hidden inside. The present of salvation, which can only be received by those who consume the perfect blood of Christ (John 6:50-59; 1 Peter 2:24). But be aware, this holy gift can’t be rejected without cost, and it certainly can’t ever be exchanged (John 14:6, 17:3). For it’s only by accepting the present of God’s grace — the consuming of Christ’s blood — that humanity can be cleansed from all evil and saved from eternal death (Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:13-14; 1 Peter 1:18-19).

So each time you are given an opportunity to give, consider what it cost God to give His gift of grace to you. And each time you receive a gift, and tear it open, remember Who was torn open when all of humanity opened God’s present on the cross. Then as you choose to embrace your gift, or not, consider whether you have truly accepted the present of God’s grace. I pray that you have, and I pray that you will always give as Christ gave. For Jesus gave not only until it hurt, but He gave all of Himself unto death (Philippians 2:1-11). After all, a gift — even the gift of eternal life — isn’t a gift until it’s given away.

Pic 1

Living Your True Purpose by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported 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.

Give It Away lyrics and music written by Wayne Kirkpatrick, Amy Grant Gill, and Michael W. Smith. Copyright © 1992 Reunion Records, a division of Provident Label Group.

Video made available by Jason Ministries and Reunion Records, a division of Provident Label Group; Copyright © 1993 All Rights Reserved.

We Are The Reason lyrics and music written by Tamara Savage, Warryn Campbell, Trecina Atkins-Campbell, Erica Monique Atkins-Campbell, and John T. Smith. Copyright © 1980 Myrrh Records, a division of Word Entertainment.

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 5

Living Your True Purpose (Header)

Living Your True Purpose (Article 5)I Refuse, by CCM artist Josh Wilson, was released in 2011. The song’s from Josh’s fourth project with Sparrow Records entitled Carry Me, Act of Kindness 2 and on this album listeners find him opening up his heart more than ever as Josh shares about his dealings with anxiety and panic attacks.

I Refuse, in particular, deals with how we as true worshipers of God cannot sit idle and allow opportunities of service to pass us by. Despite what is going on in our own lives, we must refuse to ignore these opportunities and get busy serving God and humanity.

You see, Christ came primarily to seek and to save mankind from their sinful nature (Luke 19:10), but He also came as a servant of humanity. To show us, by His divine example, how to bring hope to the hopeless and extend help to the helpless (Mark 10:45).

Though Jesus Christ is the KING of Kings, and the LORD of Lords, He did not come to earth to rule over humanity as a conquering, divine Monarch. That day will certainly come (Revelation 19 & 20:1-4), but Jesus desired to fulfill the Father’s wishes first. That wish is to see all of mankind forgiven, and to see all of humanity loving one another. Just as God loves us and came to serve us, we should all the more love and serve each other.

This directive to love and serve each other is one that true believers are to extend to all people. Regardless of their appearance, attitude, creed, criminal record, fashion sense, infirmity, job, life-style, nationality, philosophy, race, religion, social status, etc. A true worshiper of God will fulfill this Christlike instruction, no matter the person or the cost.

And it’s not that we, who are followers of Christ, are endorsing sinful living by loving and serving people who are living in debauchery or some other type of wanton sin. No! What a true worshiper of God is doing is separating the sinner from the sin — disconnecting the human-being from the ungodly action — and showing God’s heart to mankind.

Just as a Doctor doesn’t see a disease as a definition of who or what his/her patient is, so too does God not see us as being defined by our sinful acts. This grace exists because God has chosen to offer us His divine forgiveness, and because we who claim Christ as our savior have received that divine, gracious forgiveness, we are to act as God has and love the sinner while always hating the sin. No matter who the sinner is, and no matter what the sin is, we are to separate them from each other and love and serve all of mankind.

It’s hard, I know, to grasp something so broad and gracious as this exhortation, but remember if we don’t love and serve, then we are not acting as Christ asked us to. Remember the words of Jesus from Matthew, chapter five:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:43-44)

And just as Christ also said, later on in Matthew, chapter twenty-five, these words from His story of the righteous King:

“ ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ ” (Matthew 25:37b-40)

True believers are to act kindly towards one another, meeting each others needs, being that “city on a hill” that Jesus told us to be in Matthew, chapter five (Matthew 5:14-16). True worshipers are also to extend the love of Christ towards all of humanity, and nothing shows the love of Christ better than serving each other; meeting each other’s needs.

I’ll close with the lyrics from a very popular song released in 1969. It was recorded by a secular group, The Hollies, but delivers a great message for Christians to adhere to. The song is He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother, and the lyrics are as follows:

“The road is long, with many a winding turn that leads us to who knows where — who knows where. But I’m strong; strong enough to carry him. He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.

So on we go. His welfare is of my concern. No burden is he to bear; we’ll get there. For I know
 he would not encumber me. He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.

If I’m laden at all, then I’m laden with sadness that everyone’s heart isn’t filled with the gladness 
of love for one another.

It’s a long, long road, from which there is no return. While we’re on the way to there, why not share. And the load, doesn’t weigh me down at all. He ain’t heavy he’s my brother.

He’s my brother; he ain’t heavy. He’s my brother; he ain’t heavy. He’s my brother.”

Living Your True Purpose by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported 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.

I Refuse lyrics and music written by Benjamin Glover and Joshua David Wilson. Copyright © 2011 Sparrow Records.

Video made available by Jason Ministries and Sparrow Records. Manufactured by EMI Christian Music Group; Copyright © 2011 All Rights Reserved.

He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother lyrics and music written by Marcus Congleton. Copyright © 1969, 2003 Parlophone Records Ltd.

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.