Article I, part 2

It is said that art imitates life, and I certainly believe that statement is true, thus my constant reference to various songs, TV shows, and movies. So as we continue this further look into the dangers we face when we drink from the chalice of wealth, instead of drinking from the cup of Christ, let’s consider the story from a popular American movie from the year 1987. It was released by 20th Century Fox, and was about monetary wealth, and all that encompasses it, both good and bad. The film was entitled Wall Street.

This dramatic film, starring Michael Douglas, Charlie Sheen, and Daryl Hannah, was intended by the director, Oliver Stone, to be a tribute to his father, Lou Stone, who had been a stockbroker back in the time of the Great Depression. The plot centers on Bud Fox, played by Charlie Sheen, a young stockbroker desperate to succeed on Wall Street. Mr. Fox becomes entangled with his hero, one Gordon Gekko, played by Michael Douglas, a wealthy, unscrupulous corporate raider. Bud, who was taught by his father (Carl Fox, played by Charlie’s real life father, Martin Sheen) that success was achieved through work and providing something of value, begins to embrace Mr. Gekko’s mantra that success is accomplished by speculating on the goods and services of others.

Throughout this movie, Bud gets deeper and deeper into the corporate greed that Mr. Gekko has exposed him to. Mr. Fox comes to enjoy all the perks that Gordon Gekko promised him, including one beautiful, blonde, trophy-girlfriend named Darien Taylor, played by Daryl Hannah, but as he begins his ascent up the corporate ladder his activities are noticed by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (the United States Securities and Exchange Commission’s was created in 1934 by Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt to regulate the stock market and prevent corporate abuses relating to the offering and sale of securities and corporate reporting. The SEC, as it became known as, was given the power to license and regulate stock exchanges, the companies whose securities traded on them, and the brokers and dealers who conducted the trading).

The plot comes to climax when Bud is deceived by Gordon, concerning a deal to buy and expand his father’s company, Bluestar Airlines. It is Mr. Gekko’s real intent, to sell Carl Fox’s company off piece-by-piece, but Bud work’s out an alternate plan of his own — his plan will drive up the stock on Bluestar Airlines and force Gordon Gekko to lose interest in the company. Mr. Fox’s plan works, but shortly after succeeding he is arrested by the SEC for insider trading and loses everything, including Darien, his trophy-girlfriend.

Bud realizes all too late what his greed had done to him; what it had cost him. Choosing to strike a deal with the SEC for a lesser sentence, Mr. Fox becomes an informer in a trap the SEC is setting for Mr. Gekko. The trap is successful and Gordon Gekko is severely sentenced, while Bud Fox accepts, with a clear conscience, his lesser sentence; ready to make right his wrongs and start over.

This story is a powerful picture of what can happen when monetary wealth is given full control of our lives. It paints a dark and vulgar image of just how really destructive money can be, when it is worshiped as an all-mighty god, either knowingly or unknowingly. This position of leadership, this place of sovereignty over our lives, was never meant to be occupied by anyone, or anything, other than our Creator — the Lord Jesus Christ.

In Scripture, money is one of the most talked about subjects there is. In fact, the subject of monetary wealth is discussed more times in the Bible than the subjects of faith, prayer, and Hell. Money is important. If Scripture makes approximately 2,350 mentions of it, and if fifteen percent of Jesus’ recorded words deal with this topic, then there is something very crucial about monetary wealth. What is so very important about it? Our finances are crucial because we can easily replace our true security in God with its false sense of security.

As we stated earlier, in Article One, part one, money can buy us the three main things we need to survive in this physically hostile world: 1) clothing, 2) food, and 3) shelter. All the things God promised He would provide us (Phillippians 4:19). Money also gains us access to companionship, pleasure, and power. But if God promises to meet our needs, will He not also give us friends and helpers along the way (Genesis 2:18)? Will our Creator not grant us real joy (Psalm 16:11)? Will God not fill us with His omniscient power (Psalm 68:35)? Monetary wealth is the one weapon the Devil can easily detonate upon the entire human race. It touches every one of us in a similar way, and can result in removing our worship from God to it. That is what the Devil wants — to remove God from our focus and refocus us to something else.

Wealth can refocus humanity in countless ways (ex.: career, cars, clothing, drugs, food, sex, shelter, etc.), but by ultimately replacing God it can bring to surface many perverse and vile obsessions burning in the soul of mankind. As the character Gordon Gekko stated in Wall Street, “[Monetary] Greed captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.” In other words we become godless; obsessed with the survival-of-the-fittest lifestyle. We begin to embrace the whole kill-or-be-killed ideals of the humanists — we become self-serving.

Country Music artist and Australian native Keith Urban sang a very poignant lyric, back in 2002. The song was entitled You’re Not My God, and the first verse, and chorus, are as follows:

It’s just a piece of paper, it says, “In God We Trust.”
And a little sure felt good, but a lot was not enough.
And everybody loved me when I was on a roll,
And I thought I had everything when I held the gold.

But you’re not my God, and you’re not my friend;
You’re not the one that I will walk with in the end.
You’re not the truth; you’re a temporary shot,
And you ruin people’s lives, and you don’t give a second thought.
You’re not my God.

Selah (Pause/Reflect).

So poignant, this thought — so powerful, this statement!

As we conclude this article, let’s look at a few more verses of Scripture from God’s holy Word. The first comes from the book of Psalms, the hundred-and-nineteenth chapter, verse 36, and states:

Turn my heart toward your [God’s] statutes and not toward selfish gain.

Our second verse comes from the book of Proverbs, and is the very first stanza of the eighteenth chapter, which reads:

An unfriendly man pursues selfish ends; he defies all sound judgment.

And our third verse comes from the book of Luke, chapter 16, line 13. It is a variation of Matthew 6:24, quoted earlier in Article One, part one, and says:

No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

Now read, once more, those three verses. Consider, again, the lyric of the song You’re Not My God, by Keith Urban. Ponder the story of the rich-young-ruler, that I shared at the beginning of Article One, part one. Do you see why monetary wealth can be so very dangerous? How such wealth can so easily deceive and blind us from our Creator? A love of money doesn’t, and never will, lead to a spirit of generosity — No! Humanity’s obsession over money will always create an over inflated sense of self-worth. We cannot serve both God and monetary wealth, because we cannot elevate our selves higher than almighty God. We must become less, and remain humble, so that He [God] can become even greater in our lives (John 3:30-36). This truth is also why the “Prosperity Gospel” is so dangerous.

You see, the “Prosperity Gospel” or a prosperity theology (sometimes, also, referred to as the “Health and Wealth Gospel”) is a false doctrine which states that financial blessing is always the will of God for His people. This teaching claims that our faith, accompanied by our positive speech, and donations to various Christian ministries, will always cause an increase to our monetary wealth. This false doctrine views the Bible as a type of contract between God and mankind; stressing the idea that if people exhibit enough faith in God, then He will deliver His promises of security and prosperity. Don’t believe this lie — ever!

God has promised to meet our needs, and no contract is needed. God cares for us because He created us (Luke 12:22-32). God does not place conditions on His promise to provide our every need. No strings are ever attached. Besides, it’s not your physical health and well-being that God is excessively concerned with — it’s your immortal soul He is so very attentive to. Why do you think God the Father sent His only begotten Son to live a perfect life, and take our sins with Him to the cross? Jesus didn’t come to die, and conquer death, so that we could have abundant monetary wealth; Christ did this so that we could have an abundant life with God the Father, in Heaven, for all eternity.

I leave you with this one last verse to consider. It’s from the Apostle Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, and it reads:

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18).

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.

Wall Street TM © 1987, 2000 20th Century Fox. All rights reserved.

You’re Not My God lyrics and music written by Keith Urban. Copyright © 2002 Capitol Records Inc.

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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Article I, part 1

Imagine you are young and highly successful in your work. Successful beyond your twenty-something years of living, much like Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, and cofounder, Dustin Moskovitz. Now picture your successes, your economic conquests, your prestige, your billions of dollars, and consider what happens to them when you die. You can’t take them with you, but maybe you can use them to ensure yourself a place in heaven.

You wish to be sure this is possible. You want to know all of your efforts are not in vain, so you seek out a very popular preacher or prophet you’ve heard about. This is what happened with a very rich, young man back in Jesus’ day. His story can be found in Matthew 19:16-23:

Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.” “Which ones?” the man inquired. Jesus replied, “‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.'” “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Wealth. No matter how great or small, our financial well-being is of great importance to us. So much so that even our soul’s eternal fate can be jeopardized for the physical comforts of today.

Humanity longs for wealth. Why is that, you ask? Mankind lives in a hostile world. Our bodies struggle against earth’s atmospheric temperatures, and disease, to maintain a constant 98.6 °F (37.0 °C). Our bodies crave vitamins, minerals, and moisture for health and wellness. Other creatures, and people, seek to do us harm for a variety of reasons. Wealth helps to ensure our three most natural, and essential, needs are met on a regular basis — clothing, food, and shelter. When these needs are met people tend to thrive, people can be content, people experience happiness.

When these “creature comforts,” as they are sometimes called, are not met regularly, then happiness flees. Stress enters our lives and we lose our contentment. As we cease to thrive, our minds and bodies react in a variety of ways. Sometimes such struggles cause illness and disease to enter into our bodies. As our physical bodies are mortal, we fight to avoid anything that would lead to our untimely demise. Wealth, in many of our minds, is the one thing that can practically prevent such dangers from entering our lives.

Our financial strength also comes close to guaranteeing a few of our other desires, such as companionship, pleasure, and power. People tend to not want to be alone, and all of humanity longs to experience the pleasures of this physical life. Some of our physical pleasure comes from being acknowledged by others; to know that we are somehow special and to ultimately use those special gifts to rule over the others that appear to not be as gifted. Wealth can be a means to acquiring such desires as these, but the one longing that our wealth can never buy us is a place in heaven. Eternal security is not achieved by monetary means. Heaven can only be achieved through a relationship with God’s only begotten Son — Jesus Christ.

That was what Jesus was trying to teach both the wealthy young man, and His disciples. Jesus, by asking the rich young man to sell all that he had, was making the statement that physical wealth really doesn’t matter as much as following the ways of God. If the monetarily blessed young man had done as he was asked, then he would have enjoyed spiritual and possibly even physical riches beyond his wildest expectations, but because his existing physical wealth was really the object of his worship, and not the ways of God, he failed Christ’s test and in the end lost everything — foolishness!

Christ teaches us very plainly that, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Matthew 6:24) This is not to say that monetary wealth is bad, but it is very clearly stating that to serve money, to worship this type of wealth, is wrong — even deadly wrong. Note what the apostle Paul wrote in chapter 6, verse 10, of his letter to Timothy:

For the love [worship] of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

When you love something so much that you abandon your faith in God for it, then you are exchanging the worship of the author and giver of life for the worship of the destroyer and taker of life. Death becomes your true object of affection.

When we meet next, Article 1, part two, will take us further into the dangers we face when we drink from the chalice of wealth, instead of drinking from the cup of Christ. We will read a contemporary story depicting these truths we have just revealed. So please return, and join us, as we continue this study of abundant faith and deadly fiction.

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.

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 3

Robert “Bob” Hartman, is possibly one of the greatest songwriters to have graced Contemporary Christian Music over the last 40 + years. His ability to take a passage of Scripture from the Bible, or to take a strong lyrical story based on biblical content, and apply that to a melody that is both enjoyable and awe inspiring is uncanny.

Robert’s songs are rarely so simple that you can disconnect your mind from what your ears are hearing, as a parent would be able to do with their child’s nursery music. No, Bob’s music commands your ears to take heed and listen. If music can make human ears stand at attention, then that is what takes place when one hears a Bob Hartman song. If you are unfamiliar with Bob Hartman’s name, you will most likely recognize his band’s — Petra!

Hartman originally was a member of the Christian rock band known as Rapture, but after the band’s break up in the early ‘70s and a move to Fort Wayne, IN, to attend classes at the Christian Training Center, Robert began to form the Christian rock band we know today as Petra.

Of all the songs that Hartman has penned, I think it is Adonai that stands as my all time favorite. It’s from Petra’s 1985 album Beat the System, and it helped to make that project one of the biggest Christian rock albums recorded at that time and the third-biggest Christian album of the 1980s (trailing only Amy Grant’s Age to Age and Sandi Patti’s Songs From the Heart). Allow me to share the lyrics of this Christian rock masterpiece with you:

Verse 1:
This thirsting within my soul
Won’t cease ‘till I’ve been made whole.
To know You; to walk with You.
To please You in all I do.
You uphold the righteous,
And Your faithfulness shall endure.
Chorus:
Adonai, Master of the earth and sky.
You, alone, are worthy — Adonai!
Adonai, let creation testify;
Let Your majesty be magnified in me.
Adonai, You are an endless mystery — Adonai!
Verse 2:
Unchanging, consuming fire;
Lift me up from mud and mire.
Set my feet upon Your rock;
Let me dwell in Your righteousness (repeat chorus).
Bridge:
When the storms surround me,
Speak the word and they will be still.
And, this thirst and hunger
Is a longing only You can fill — Adonai (repeat chorus).

Words escape me, as I try to describe how these lyrics call my soul to worship the Creator of heaven and earth. Hear them sung, and you will be hard pressed to deny your spirit’s desire to leap for joy and shout, “Praise Adonai!” But, why? What is it about this song — this lyric — that makes it so special? I believe it’s power to move the human spirit lays in the name “Adonai.”

“Adonai” is a Hebraic name for God (Elohim/Deity), and is the emphatic plural of the title “Adon.” Adon, which means “Lord” or “Master,” is generally the title given to men of authority or angels but at times was also used when referring to Yahweh. So, since Adonai is the plural form of Adon, its meaning is interpreted as “Lords” or “Masters.” When the emphatic plural is formed in Hebrew using a singular possessive ending (example: “my Lords” or “my Masters”), it always refers to God. Our Creator, the triune God, was recognized by the Hebrews as the “Lord of Lords” (Adonei ha’adonim) or Lord Yahweh — Adonai Adonai!

I personally get emotional — spiritually moved — over this particular name of God, but I also realize that most Americans, really most contemporaries of the western hemisphere, don’t quite grasp just how powerful a title like “Lord” or “Master” is, due to our democratic societies. So very quickly, I want to help you grasp just what this truly means. We’ll begin by defining “Lord.”

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a “Lord” as:

(noun) someone or something having power, authority, or influence: lord of the sea | lords of the jungle. A master or ruler: our lord the king.

(verb) act in a superior and domineering manner toward someone (lord it over).

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a “Master” as:

(noun) 1 – a man who has people working for him, esp. servants or slaves: he acceded to his master’s wishes. A person who has dominance or control of something: he was master of the situation. 2 – a skilled practitioner of a particular art or activity: I’m a master of disguise. A great artist, esp. one belonging to the accepted canon: the work of the great masters is spread around the art galleries of the world.

(adjective) 1 – having or showing very great skill or proficiency: a master painter. Denoting a person skilled in a particular trade and able to teach others: a master bricklayer. 2 – main; principal: the master bedroom.

Here, in these two definitions for “Lord” and “Master,” we see four key attributes to understanding why God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit is Adonai.

First, our Lords, our Creator has power (Deuteronomy 8:17-18), authority (Matthew 28:18), and influence (Psalm 2:7-9; Jeremiah 28:14) over all of His/Their creation (Psalm 89:7-11). Yahweh is the ruler over all of it. Whether we accept His authority, or not, doesn’t matter — God is our Lord — Adoneinu!

Second, God is sovereign, superior, and does dominate over all (2 Chronicles 20:5-6; Psalm 89; Proverbs 8:15-17). Just because we are in a time of grace, and are not seeing God’s righteous wrath displayed in the way mankind saw it displayed in the Old Testament, does not mean that Jehovah isn’t in control. It doesn’t mean He is inferior, or weak — God is the Lord of Lords — Adonei ha’adonim! Which brings us to our third attribute, we are called by the triune God to serve Him.

Almighty God’s mercy allows us to choose to serve Him (Joshua 24:14-15; 1 Peter 4:1-11), for now, but make no mistake — there is coming a day — Yahweh will reveal the truth of His dominance, His control, and all of His majesty will be revealed (Philippians 2:9-11; Revelation 20:11-15) to all of His creation! It’s on that day that every man, woman, and child will bow before their Creator and proclaim Him/Them as Lords, Masters — Adonai!

Lastly, our fourth attribute, God has great skill and proficiency over all people, places, and things. Creation is our Creator’s testimony of this fact (Genesis 1-2; Psalms 19, 40:7-11, 139:13), as is man’s ability to learn and improve his physical state (Exodus 4:10-12; Leviticus 1-27). For it is by Jehovah’s skill in creating and His ability to teach that empowers the creativity and ingenuity of humanity — God is the Lord Yahweh — Adonai Adonai!

Selah (Pause/Reflect).

Praise, Almighty God — Adoneinu — You are the master of the earth and sky. Only You, Lord God, are worthy of being called “Master.” Devine Creator — Adonei ha’adonim — let all of creation testify, and let Your majesty be magnified in the spirit of humanity; be magnified, especially, in me. Lords, Masters — Adonai — You are an awesome, majestic, endless mystery. Adonai Adonai!

His Name Is . . . 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 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.

Adonai lyrics and music written by Robert “Bob” Hartman. Lyrics based on Genesis 15:2, Matthew 5:6, Hebrews 12:29, Psalms 40:2. Copyright © 1985 Star Song Records/A&M 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.

Introduction

Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name . . .”

If you find that lyric very familiar it’s probably due to one very popular TV series — Cheers! Every Thursday night on American TV, from 1982 to 1993, NBC’s Cheers would begin with those words melodiously streaming from your television set right to your ears and I’ll bet you probably even sang along, if you watched regularly enough.

For those of you unfamiliar with Cheers, it was a simple sitcom about the human condition. A show that revolved around not only the lives of the folks that worked at the fictionally historic tavern in Boston, MA, known as Cheers but also of those who frequented the bar. (Right about now you are either reminiscing or wondering what this has to do with an article on God, His names, and our worship, but stay with me as it will all make sense shortly.)

This show starred several actors over its award winning 11 seasons (Ted Danson, Shelley Long, Nicholas Colasantos, Rhea Perlman, John Ratzenburger, Woody Harrelson, Kelsey Grammer, Kirstie Alley, and Bebe Neuwirth), but the most endearing character was played by George Wendt, and that character’s name was Norman “Norm” Peterson.

Mr. Peterson, was so well known at this bar — so much a fixture there — that no matter how full the tavern was, no matter how long it had been since the patrons had visited, everybody knew when Norman was there. Literally, every time Mr. Peterson’s oversized shape burst through the front door of Cheers the customers and employees alike all shouted in unison, “NORM!”

It seemed that everybody did indeed know his name. It was never, “Hey, you,” or “Hello, Dude,” or “Greetings, fellow humanoid.” No, it was always his name, “Norm.”

Calling on someone by name immediately grabs that person’s attention. It makes them aware of the individual’s intent to engage in a conversation or to offer up a cordial greeting. Our names give us identity, a sense of self-worth, and sometimes our names offer up clues as to our ethnicity, the place we come from, the type of person we are or want to be. Occasionally our names even come with titles that allude to our education or type of job we are enjoying. Names are essential to mankind’s community and communicating with each other within that community. And so it is with our Creator.

Our lives should be places where God is a welcome fixture and so much so that we too shout out His name(s) whenever we feel His presence. Too many of us (myself, included) pray to the Almighty or speak of Him in casual conversation as simply God. It’s become such a generic noun culturally that “God” holds no real meaning or brings about no real conviction to most. It’s safe and unobtrusive, generally, as “God” can refer to many religious figures, thoughts, or theologies. But, speak the name of Jehovah, Yahweh, Jesus, or talk of the Holy Spirit and immediately defense systems arise from within people who are listening. Rooms empty, tables are cleared, and doors become closed and locked; and all that occurred at the local church after Sunday services. O.K., maybe not in the church building, but you do know of the discomfort I’m talking about.

So, why is it that we as Christians are so seemingly ignorant or fearful of speaking of the one true God by name? Why don’t we even bother to address the Almighty by name when we pray? (I’m not talking about ending your prayer with the standard “in Jesus’ name we pray,” either. I’m speaking of truly addressing our conversations with God directly to The Almighty, clearly and intentionally by His name.) I’m certain that most of us who profess to be true “born again” Christians don’t even realize that by calling out to God, by naming Him “God,” we are not calling out to Him by name but by the essence of what He is. It would be like calling out to another person by calling them “Human.”

You may not know this, either, but there are three primary names of God in the Old Testament:

– God (Elohim/Deity)

– Lord (Jehovah, or Yahweh)

– Lord/Master (Adonai)

Beyond these, the one true living God is called by over eighty other compound names or descriptive titles; names that have real meaning and insight as to His very nature. Names that will teach us not only of God Almighty, but of how to serve Him and worship Him.

During this series of articles we will not be studying all eighty plus names of our Creator, but each name that we do study will connect us with an attribute of God; an attribute that will call us to worship Him, whether corporately or individually. More importantly, we will show how to appropriately call upon our Lord by name in our daily circumstances.

When our study is done, we should be able to reflect on how important it is to our spiritual growth, to our physical well-being, to our relationship with God, to call out to Him by name. After all, if God cares so much for us that He knitted us together in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13b), that He knows how much hair is on our heads (Matthew 10:30; Luke 12:7a), if He sent His one and only Son to die for our sins (John 3:16), then how much more should we take the time to learn the name of the One who knows us and cares for us so intimately. Then and only then can we properly claim to know Him and be appropriately called a true worshiper of God!

So, I invite you to follow this study with me, and let’s learn together just how to make our lives a place where God can know that we care enough to call upon Him by name, and let’s understand together just how to become more intimate with the One who calls us by name.

His Name Is . . . 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 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.

Cheers TM ® & Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 by Paramount Pictures and Copyright © 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993 Paramount Network Television. All rights reserved.

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

Article 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.
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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.

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

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