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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Article 14

Living Your True Purpose (Header)

Living Your True Purpose (Article 14)Psalm 40, by CCM artists Newsong, was one of fifteen songs recorded for their live worship album entitled Rescue. This particular track was released as a single, in 2005, Music Notes 1 and is basically a paraphrase of Psalm 40:1-3, which reads:

“I waited patiently for the LORD; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.”

Singing to God our testimonies of faith, our praises of gratitude, and our expressions of love have long since been apart of our individual and corporate worship. But what so many Christians fail to realize is that enjoying and singing worship music is not, in and of its self, worship.

What worship is, is a humbling of ourselves before God. From within that posture of humility, we can do many things before God. We can shout praises to Him, and be thankful that God is so merciful. We can raise our hands, like a child longing to be embraced by their father, and experience God’s holiness and love. We can testify to God’s grace and loving kindness towards humanity, to one another, and we can also express these sentiments and testimonials through our singing.

You see the singing of contemporary Christian songs, hymns, or even praise and worship music is not worship, but it certainly is one of many acts of worship. Worship is more than singing, because it can be defined as both a noun and a verb. Singing is only a verb. Worship is the blending of who we are, in Christ, with our actions of devotion to Christ. The way we blend the noun and the verb is best laid out in this formula that I introduced from within another study on worship entitled The Joshua Project.

In this formula we see that it requires the attributes of God, and our acknowledgment and application of those attributes, to produce the actions that equal worship.

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

God is faithful (Deuteronomy 7:9; Psalm 33:4; 2 Thessalonians 3:3); so as we come to know God’s faithfulness, and acknowledge the ways in which He has been faithful to us, we can in turn be more faithful to Him and see our faith grow. This faithfulness becomes a part of our lives and is seen by God as worship.

Our hope for salvation lies within God’s Son, Jesus Christ (Psalm 18:2; John 14:6; Acts 4:8-12). As we embrace salvation, through Christ, and acknowledge that our hope lies only from within Jesus’ sacrifice, then we can become transformed into true believers and grow closer to God. This acceptance of salvation becomes a part of our lives and is seen by God as worship.

God is love (Galatians 5:22-23; 1 John 4:8, 16); so as we learn more of God’s loving kindness, and acknowledge the ways in which He has shown us His love, we can then be more loving towards Him and see His love for humanity grow in us. True love, then, becomes a part of our lives and is seen by God as worship.

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

Well stated, Darlene. “An act of obedience of the heart,” is key to applying the above formula for experiencing true worship in our lives. We cannot acknowledge God’s attributes without an obedient heart [spirit]. The physical obedience, our “works” if you will, will be a result of our spiritual obedience, but we cannot and will not become true worshipers of our Creator through our physical works. It will always require an obedient heart at our core. Look with me at Ephesians 2:8-10:

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

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

So in closing, let’s eagerly and gladly sing a “new song” to God. Let’s sing of His faithfulness, grace, and love, but let us understand that this is an act of worship — it’s not worship, as a whole. Real worship is when we see the attributes of God, and acknowledge and apply those attributes through an obedient heart, which in turn produce the actions that equal worship.

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

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.

Psalm 40 lyrics and music written by (unknown). Copyright © 2005 Integrity Music, and Epic Records, a division of Sony Music. All Rights Reserved.

Video made available by Jason Ministries and Integrity Music, and Epic Records, a division of Sony Music; Copyright © 2005 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 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.

Article 2

Have you ever met someone, for the first time, and upon hearing their name found yourself in a state of disbelief or confusion? Maybe they looked a certain way and the name they bore didn’t quite match your mind’s expectations. Maybe an acquaintance you’d met on more than one occasion began to become a more familiar friend and upon your getting more accustomed to their personality you catch yourself thinking, “He/She doesn’t act much like a Herald/Samantha.”

Whether we wish to admit it or not, our names get linked in with our mind’s stereotyping of people. Why is that, you may ask? I believe that it’s due to the fact that names have meanings. They aren’t just empty sounds; devoid of significance. You see, in spite of all the attempts being made to make western culture “politically correct,” many cultures still name their children based on either the child’s perceived personality or based on the character they hope to see in the child later on in life. As we have read in Article 1, God’s Hebrew names all have deep significance. However, the name “Jehovah” has revealed its self as an enigma. Allow me to explain.

It has always been my understanding that the names “Jehovah” and “Yahweh” were both the same. Each has been understood by many to be Hebrew for the name God disclosed to Moses in Exodus 3:13-14, the name “I AM,” but that may not be so true after all.

Recall, if you will, that Hebrew names are sentences of sorts. “Yah” would be literally translated into English as the pronoun “He,” and “weh” would translate as “being.” So, literally the name Yahweh means “He Being” or the more familiar “I AM.” Now, where the name “Jehovah” becomes a puzzlement is in the fact that the letter “j” doesn’t exist in the Hebrew language. In fact, it didn’t even exist in the English language officially until about 500 years ago. Crazy stuff, this whole study of languages.

So, how did we come to add the letter “j” into our alphabet? Well, it began with the Germans making the Hebraic “ya” sound as a Germanic “ja” sound. We would say today that the “y” was transliterated into a “j,” but the actual letter came about when English scribes began to morph the Latin letters “i” and “y” into one character. The letter “i,” in both Latin and Old English, was a consonant and a vowel and when it was coupled with the letters “a” or “e” it created the sound we now recognize as the soft “g” sound or phonetic “ja” sound. As I understand it, the letter “j” was the last character added to the English alphabet, and was used officially in an English publication in the year 1634.

You see, this one letter — the letter “j” — affects the meaning of Jehovah’s name, because there is no letter “j” in the Hebrew language. So, since there is no letter “j” in the Hebrew language, it stands to reason that a mispronunciation seems to have taken place concerning Elohim’s most commonly used name. And if “Jehovah” has been mistranslated, then this name in English would appear to rightly mean “He Ruins,” or “He Destroys,” but we know from Scripture that God doesn’t cause ruin or destruction to anyone but Satan and his followers (Psalms 9:6, 52:5; Proverbs 10:29, 21:12), and God’s characteristics listed in Galations chapter 5, verses 22-23, record neither of these traits.

So, does “Jehovah” mean something negative about God or does it mean “I AM”? Is the name “Jehovah” appropriate for us to use when calling upon the Almighty, or not? I honestly can’t say one way or the other, at this point, as there are legitimate arguments for both views, but I will pose this thought.

Say you meet someone from a foreign country who has a very complicated pronunciation connected to his or her name. You want so badly to do this person a service, and show them respect, by correctly saying their name and yet time-and-time again you botch it up. Maybe their name has a marvelous meaning behind it and yet every time you say their name your phonetic bumbling transliterates that majestic name into something silly or maybe even disrespectful. You feel horrible for having done so, and expect this foreign acquaintance to chastise you at any moment for your mistake. Instead, however, he or she graciously smiles — possibly gives you a tender correction — and proceeds to offer you a more simplistic way to say his or her name. I believe this is what God does with us.

God knows what is in our hearts and knows how difficult foreign languages are for most of us who aren’t the scholarly type. Our Creator understands about mistranslating one word from one language into the next. God understands about varying alphabets and characters. The Father understands how easy it is for our imperfect minds to make an incorrect transliteration of a sound, or a letter, or a word.

I also believe that when we make these mistakes God smiles down at us and responds to us just as if we had called out His name in perfect Hebrew; just as if we spoke with a keen understanding of what we were saying. You see, God is not as concerned with us uttering correct phonetic sounds or pronouncing words perfectly. No, the Father’s concerned over whether or not our heart is right in its intention; whether or not our attitude of worship towards Him is pure. The Holy Spirit, God’s special intercessor, takes our imperfect sounds/words and makes them perfectly clear to the Father of life (Romans 8:26-27) and also interprets for us God’s own words.

Dr. Michael J. Svigel (Assistant Professor of Theological Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary), in a recent conversation with Jason Ministries, said this about the controversy surrounding the name “Jehovah.” Dr. Svigel said, “I wouldn’t worry about it too much. ‘Jehovah’ was originally pronounced ‘Yahova.’ It means ‘the One who IS’ or ‘the self-existing One,’ related to the verb ‘to be,’ hence, ‘I AM’ or ‘I AM the One who IS.’” Ponder that meaning for a moment — “I AM the One who IS.” Now there’s a name worthy of our praise — selah!

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.

Dallas Theological Seminary is located in Dallas, Texas, at 3909 Swiss Ave. (75204). For more information please visit them online at: http://www.dts.edu/

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.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jasonmin.wordpress.com/.

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

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

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

All rights reserved. The brief information quoted from this book appears in this article with the permission granted per the copyright statement which appears in the seventh printed publication, May 2007.

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

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

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