Article 16

Living Your True Purpose (Header)

Living Your True Purpose (Article 16)Forgiveness, by CCM artist Matthew West, is from the 2012 album entitled Into The Light. Christ 9 The song was written by Mr. West after he heard an incredible story about a woman who lost one of her four children, a twin daughter, to a drunk driving accident.

As the attached video explains, the man who had caused the crash, that had killed both this young girl and her friend, was sentenced to twenty-two years in prison. But according to Renae, the mother of the deceased child, it was she that felt like a prisoner.

You see, bitterness and hatred had been building up inside of her soul, and she felt miserable and entrapped. It wasn’t until she felt compelled to reach out to this young man — while he was still in prison — and tell him she had forgiven him, that she began to feel released from her anger and her hate. In fact, she actually worked to see this young man’s sentence reduced to eleven years, and she has accepted this young man into her family, as one of her own.

George MacDonald, a nineteenth century Scottish author, poet, and minister, was quoted as having said this about forgiving:

“Forgiveness is the giving, and so the receiving, of life.”

Mr. West indicates that writing this song was very hard, because forgiving someone who has wronged you is extremely difficult. So the chorus became a prayer to God, saying, “Show me how . . .” Humanity must be shown how to forgive, we cannot do so on our own because it goes against our sinful nature. It’s God who knows how to truly forgive.

Recall with me Alexander Pope’s infamous quote from his poem entitled An Essay on Criticism. The quote reads as follows, “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” Mankind’s bent is towards wrongdoing (Psalm 51:5; Matthew 15:19; Romans 3:23), but God’s bent is towards faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, joy, kindness, love, patience, peace, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). All of these spiritual fruits, as they are referred to by the Apostle Paul, culminate into another divine fruit known as forgiveness. Look quickly with me at some biblical examples:

Genesis 3 — Adam and Eve choose to believe the lies of Satan, disguised as a serpent, instead of the truths of their Creator. God knows that humanity has chosen sin over righteousness, and seeks out the man and the woman. Adam and Eve are found by God to be hiding and scared. They are no longer clothed in His glory, but are naked and covered in leaves and vines. God gives them both a verbal scolding. Exclaiming to them the consequences of bringing wrongdoing into the world, but then shows compassion and forgiveness by killing an animal, skinning that animal, and preparing proper clothing to cover the man and woman’s nakedness. In doing this, God established the first example that rings true throughout the Bible, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22), and without forgiveness there is no life (Romans 6:23).

Genesis 6-8 — The world had become over run by evil. God was sorry that He had ever created humanity, and was poised to destroy all that He had made; ready to demolish all that He had once looked upon as “good.” (Genesis 1:10b) But one man, named Noah, found favor in God’s sight. God chose to spare Noah, and his family, and in doing so also chose to spare a portion of His lower creations; those considered a part of the animal kingdom. So an ark was built to house Noah, his family, and all the creatures God selected. The rains came, and the flood waters rose, and humanity’s sins were judged. Yet, God’s tender mercies were placed upon Noah, and all that were housed in the ark. When the waters recessed, and the ark was again set upon dry ground, Noah built an alter and sacrificed animal flesh to honor God’s loving kindness and forgiveness. Again, without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness, and without forgiveness there is no life.

Genesis 22 — God has chosen a specific man to make a covenant with. This covenant would be the foundation by which God would reestablish His lost relationship with mankind. The man’s name was Abraham, and the principle of the covenant would be established through the testing of Abraham’s faithfulness. You see, God had promised to make Abraham the beginning of a “great nation” (Genesis 12:2-3), but Abraham’s wife was barren and could not have children. Nevertheless, God continued to stand by His promise and grow Abraham in his faith. It wasn’t until Abraham was about one-hundred years old, and that Sarah was about ninety years old, that God fulfilled the promise of a child. But a short twenty years later, God asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, back to Him. Abraham, now nearing the end of his days, doesn’t question God. He gathers up what is needed for the sacrifice, including his one and only son, and heads out to the holy mountain of God. Isaac, old enough now to know what is expected at a sacrifice, begins to question his father about what they are going to sacrifice. After all, he sees no animal. Abraham stays focused and simply responds with, “God, Himself, will provide.” (Genesis 22:8) Abraham arrives, prepares the alter, binds up his son, and places Isaac on the alter. As Abraham raises his knife to return Isaac to God, he is stopped. God praises Abraham for his faithfulness, and provides a ram for them to complete their act of worship. Once more, God intercedes for humanity, and provides a sacrifice that would represent an even greater oblation. For by this special offering, yet to come, all of humanity would be forgiven, and allowed to experience abundant life.

You see, often this theme appears throughout the Old Testament, until it is ultimately played out in the New Testament through the sacrifice that God, Himself, makes. The supreme sacrifice, hinted at in Genesis chapter twenty-two, that would cover all sins that mankind had committed throughout history, during the period it took place, and since. That offering, of course, was God’s only begotten son — Jesus Christ. God’s son willingly became sin, though He had never sinned, so that through His death humanity could be forgiven (Isaiah 53:5; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Forgiveness truly is divine, and it is strong enough to cover over all our wrongdoings. All we need do is accept it (1 John 1:9), and then give it to others (Mark 11:25).

So, as we close out this article on forgiveness, ask yourself these questions that Matthew West posed in his video clip:

Is there someone I need to forgive?

Is there someone I need to ask for forgiveness from?

Can I forgive myself for what I have done?

Have I really embraced God’s forgiveness?

God has proven that He is ready, willing, and able to forgive us. All we must do is accept God’s forgiveness, and forgive others, then be ready to embrace life — abundant life!

“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Romans 5:8-11)

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.

Forgiveness lyrics and music written by Matthew West. Copyright © 2012 Sparrow Records.

Video made available by Jason Ministries and Sparrow Records; Copyright © 2013 All Rights Reserved.

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

Article VII, part 1

Truth or Dare (Article 7)

Childhood, for many, is full of wonderful tales of extraordinary adventures. Some are a bit odd, like Where the Wild Things Are, while others are more serious, like The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Kids Books 1 Most of the stories that were read to me as a child, or that I can recall reading myself, were chock-full of morals. Lessons about right-and-wrong that the author wanted his or her readers to learn about, and hopefully apply to their own lives.

The Poky Little Puppy, taught us to obey our Mothers, while the more complex — and thanks to political correctness, now controversial — stories of “Uncle Remus” taught us about the many character flaws of Br’er (Brother) Rabbit. Leroy “Encyclopedia” Brown, taught us that crime doesn’t pay at any age, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory showed us all what can happen to children who are spoiled by their parents, are left undisciplined, and are allowed to misbehave.

In 1971 this book was rewritten as a screen play and released, by Paramount Pictures, under the title Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. The movie was directed by Mel Stuart, and stared Peter Ostrum as Charlie Bucket, Jack Albertson as Grandpa Joe, and Gene Wilder as the infamous “candy man,” Willy Wonka.

The plot is set up early on, by the revealing of a special contest that is being hosted by Mr. Wonka. The contest involved five golden tickets that were hidden inside five chocolate Wonka Bars. This chocolate candy five-some was randomly packed, along side the normal chocolate bars, and shipped to the many candy retailers around the globe. The lucky children who find the five golden tickets, along with the escort of their choice, would win a private tour of Willy Wonka’s mysterious chocolate factory. A factory so exclusive that no one is ever seen going in, nor is any one ever seen coming out.

Willy Wonka 3 While the media feverishly tracks down each winner, we find that the five golden tickets made their way all over the western hemisphere. In Germany, Augustus Gloop (played by Michael Bollner), a preteen boy with an insatiable appetite, becomes the first to find a golden ticket. Veruca Salt (played by Julie Dawn Cole), an overindulged English girl, became the second to find one. Then the third child to find a golden ticket was a gum-chewing American girl, named Violet Beauregarde (played by Denise Nickerson), and the fourth child to find a valuable voucher was Mike Teevee (played by Paris Themmen. This little guy was a television junky from the U.S., and the final child to find a golden ticket was economically deprived Charlie Bucket, who lived in the small, unnamed, European town where Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory existed.

As the names of the five children became known to the public, a man claiming to be Arthur Slugworth (Willy Wonka’s arch rival in the candy business; played by Günter Meisner) begins approaching each child to offer them a large sum of money. This cash prize would go to the child that manages to get a hold of Mr. Wonka’s latest candy creation, known as the Everlasting Gobstopper, and pass it on to him.

On the day of the grand tour, the winning quintet stood anxiously outside the huge metal gates of the mysterious chocolate factory, awaiting the arrival of their secretive host. As Willy Wonka makes his appearance, the children leap with excitement as they are now about to journey into the ever elusive candy factory of the world’s greatest candy maker. But before their trek would begin, they each had to sign a contract dictating to them that they could not touch, taste, eat, or take anything from the factory without permission from Mr. Wonka. If this contract is obeyed to the letter, then each obedient child would receive a lifetime supply of candy. It’s not long into the tour, though, that we see each child — one-by-one — fall into temptations grasp. Breaking their contract with the “candy man,” and finding themselves in one dangerous predicament after another.

The first to go, was the first to find a golden ticket — Augustus Gloop. While in the “Chocolate Room,” which was basically an indoor eatable park, the children were enjoying some wonderfully sweet treats — with Mr. Wonka’s permission, of course — when Augustus’ gluttony got the better of him. He was sampling the one thing they were told not to touch — the chocolate river. He had leaned in too far, while enjoying the sweet stream, and fell in. He was quickly pulled under by the current that constantly churned the chocolate river and ended up being pumped right into the “fudge room,” and out of the factory.

The second to go was little miss Violet Beauregarde, who fell victim to her obsession with chewing gum, while in the “Inventing Room.” She grabbed a piece of experimental gum, that was to have held all the flavors of a three-course meal, and quickly popped it into her mouth. As she described each flavor with intensity and enjoyment, she began to transform into a ripe, round blueberry. Mr. Wonka signals to his dwarf-like workers, known as Oompa-Loompas, to come and roll her down to be squeezed in a juicer and removed from the factory.

Willy Wonka 2 As the three remaining children work their way through the factory tour, they find themselves in a room of giant geese. The geese, as they soon find out, are the infamous geese that lay golden eggs. Veruca Salt, being the spoiled little girl that she was, quickly begins to demand that she be allowed to have one of the geese. Willy Wonka refuses her request which sends Miss Salt into a tirade of pre-pubes-ant furor. Her father begins offering Mr. Wonka large sums of money for one of the geese, so that his daughter’s tantrum can be quieted, but this was to no avail. Veruca becomes all the more enraged and ends up falling into an unlit furnace, meant to consume all the bad eggs laid by the geese, and thus becomes the third child to be escorted from the factory.

The fourth child to fall victim to his own voracious appetite for self-pleasure is our petite, American television addict — Mike Teevee. As Mr. Wonka begins to explain his invention for shrinking Wonka Bars, known as Wonkavision, Mike begins to exclaim that it works just like a TV transmission. He quickly pushes his way toward the machine and, upon starting it, places himself onto the platform that is meant to hold the giant Wonka Bars. To his Mother’s shock, her son is shrunk to the size of her thumb. Mr. Wonka summons the Oompa-Loompas to take the extra small Mr. Teevee to the “Stretching Room,” and then escort him off of the premises. Five children began the journey, but now only Charlie Bucket remained.

As Charlie and his grandfather follow Willy Wonka towards the end of the tour, they are surprised by the cold benediction and quick exit of Mr. Wonka into his office. Puzzled why they were not led out properly, nor given the life time supply of candy, both Grandpa Joe and Charlie quietly enter into the office of the “candy man.”

Inside the office, Grandpa Joe confronts Mr. Wonka about the grand prize. Willy Wonka is quite perturbed at their intrusion, and quickly responds by reminding them of the rules. You see, while on the tour, both Grandpa Joe and Charlie had snuck a taste of a strange gaseous concoction called Fizzy-Lifting Drinks. This breach of contract voided Charlie’s right to the award. Grandpa Joe, now infuriated, storms toward the exit and demands that Charlie follow along. Charlie, who had been watching the altercation between Mr. Wonka and his Grandfather, bows his head in shame. He knew he had done wrong, and he knew Willy Wonka had every right to be upset.

An Everlasting Gobstopper had been given to each of the children that had visited the “Inventing Room,” and Charlie’s Grandpa had every intention of selling it to Mr. Arthur Slugworth just as soon as he could contact him. But Charlie had other intentions, as he quietly places his sample of the newest of the Wonka candies on Mr. Wonka’s desk. With deep repentance in his voice, Charlie apologizes and walks towards the exit.

Willy Wonka 4 Slowly Willy Wonka reaches over to touch the hard candy laid upon his desk. “Show signs of good deed in a weary world,” we hear Mr. Wonka whisper. And with a quick turn in his chair, shouts:

“Charlie, you won! You did it; you did it!”

You see, the “candy man” wasn’t looking for perfection in his visitors. He was simply looking for honesty, and selflessness in their character. The other four children were selfish brats looking to be gratified to their hearts content, but Charlie — who understood the importance of doing for others — sacrificed his wants for the good of Mr. Wonka and his chocolate factory. So, not only did Charlie win the lifetime supply of candy, he also won the entire Wonka candy factory. This is what God is waiting for us to realize. God desires to give us so much more than just “candy.”

In the final minutes of the film, as Willy Wonka reveals to Charlie that he is giving him the entire chocolate factory, Mr. Wonka makes this statement, “Who can I trust to run the factory when I leave, and take care of the Oompa-Loompas for me? Not a grown-up. A grown-up would want to do everything his own way — not mine. That’s why I decided a long time ago that I had to find a child. A very honest, loving child. To whom I can tell all my most precious candy making secrets.” God longs to reveal His secrets of joy, life, and love to us, but we must cast off our “grown-up” ideologies, and self-centered desires. Jesus said, in Matthew, chapter eighteen, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

God truly desires to bless us abundantly, but humanity has become so preoccupied with selfish wants and desires (especially those of us living in the western hemisphere) that we end up treating God like some great, big, cosmic “candy man.” We all desire His sweet “chocolaty” blessings, but how many of us are willing to join in on the selfless, bitter sufferings that God’s Son, Jesus Christ, calls us to endure. If we will choose to suffer for Christ now, in this life, God will open up the treasures of Heaven to us.

I’ll leave you with these words that Jesus spoke in the ninth chapter of the Gospel according to Luke:

“Then He [Christ] said to them all: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.’” (Luke 9:23-24)

In part two, of this article on selfishness, we will look more deeply into what it means to be self-centered versus Christ-centered. We will attempt to cover all of the various ways in which selfishness can make an appearance in our lives, and reveal the way Christ would have us be.

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.

Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory Copyright © 1971 Paramount Pictures. Renewed Copyright © 1999 Warner Bros. All Rights Reserved. TM ® & Copyright © 2001 by Warner Home Video, an AOL Time Warner Company 4000 Warner Blvd. Burbank, CA 91522. 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.

Article III, part 2


In part one of Article 3, we began discussing our attitude of worship. We came to understand that to have the right attitude of worship requires us to choose to prepare ourselves for and to choose to respond to God in worship.

We also disclosed the five orders of worship (confession, gathering, giving, rejoicing, and studying) and examined, in depth, the first of the five — the order of confession. We continue now with the second order of worship.

Gathering is an order that acknowledges God’s love for us and His delight in our relationships (fellowship) with each other and with Him. After all, God created us to be in fellowship with Him and each other. We will discuss this more in Article 5 when we examine our purpose more deeply, but the truth is that God created us for fellowship. That’s why restoring our relationship to Him was so important after man sinned in the garden of Eden. In fact, God talked with the Hebrews 53 times regarding fellowship in four of the first five books of the Bible (Exodus-Deuteronomy). Fellowship is discussed 96 times total from Genesis to Revelation. God needs for us to understand that “it is not good for man[kind] to be alone” (Genesis 2:18a). John tells us in chapter 3 verse 16 that “God so loved [desired fellowship with] the world [mankind] that He gave [sacrificed] His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him [Jesus Christ] shall not perish but have eternal life.” It’s this sacrifice that Christ made on the cross that enables us to have real and lasting relationships with each other and, most important, with our Creator. John later wrote:
We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. . . . If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (1 John 1:3,7)

Giving is a special order of our worship as it builds our relationships with both God and each other. It teaches us about God’s peace and patience by removing our focus from self to a focus of service or sacrifice. In Proverbs chapter 18 verse 16 we see that “a gift opens the way for the giver and ushers him into the presence of the great.” I really like the way that reads. No matter the gift we choose to give; if the attitude is right, God will allow us into His holy presence. Our giving gets us an audience with the Almighty! This has nothing to do with our works, mind you, but it has everything to do with our hearts. A willingness to give of ourselves. Do you recall Paul’s words to the Ephesians concerning being saved by grace through faith, so that no man can boast in himself (Ephesians 2:8-9)? In the same way, whatever we may have to give we should give graciously as a result of our faith in Jesus Christ. Why? Because, as Paul also wrote in his letter to the Corinthians, “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart [by the prompting of the Holy Spirit] to give, not reluctantly [with doubt] or under compulsion [out of guilt or pressure], for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)

The order of rejoicing allows us to both give and receive God’s attribute of perfect joy. Deuteronomy chapter 12 verse 7 tells us, “In the presence of the Lord your God, you and your families shall eat and rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the Lord your God has blessed you.” The psalmist wrote in Psalm 118, verse 24, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” In God’s presence we receive true joy, and as we said before, giving is what ushers us into God’s presence. No matter what we set our minds to do, if we give of ourselves joyfully, give thanks in any circumstances, we can rejoice knowing we are doing God’s will (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). After all, He made all things with this purpose in mind. (We will go deeper into what God’s joy is and how we can both obtain it and give it in Article 4.)

The final order will reveal to us the godly attributes of faithfulness and self-control; this order of worship is studying God’s Word. These famous words of the psalmist teach us clearly:
How can a young man [or woman] keep his way pure? [Remember we are called to be holy.] By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119: 9-11)

Studying God’s Word, the Bible, gives us the ability to live the holy lives God intended, making us the true worshipers we were purposed to be. Self-control is the path to being found faithful, and self-control is obtained through studying the Bible. Deuteronomy chapter 11 verses 18-21 remind us to “fix these words [of God’s] . . . in your hearts and minds. . . . Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home . . . so that your days and the days of your children may be many . . . as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.”

Now that we have looked over these five orders of worship (confession, gathering, giving, rejoicing, and studying), let’s attempt to use them, as I said earlier, to prepare ourselves for worship individually, corporately as a family, or corporately as a church body and in response to God in our worship. We do this in three ways: physically, mentally, and spiritually. Recall from Article 1 that we can only become true worshipers of God if we remain faithful to the end (Matthew 24:5-13), serving God and each other with all our mind, body, and soul. Why? Because true worship requires our whole selves, and we are a three-part being made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). Just as God is three parts in one (Father, Son, and Spirit) so too are we three parts in one — the physical, mental, and spiritual. Each part should be applied to the five orders of worship in some way. For example, we could physically and spiritually confess our sins (preparation for worship) and then physically and spiritually repent (respond to God in worship). Yet another example could be to mentally and physically plan to gather for worship (preparation) and then go (physically and mentally) engage in worship (response), and so on through the remaining orders of worship. Joshua was able to prepare for worship and respond to God in his worship in all the various aspects of his life, within this same manner: individually, corporately as a family, and corporately as a nation.

There were times when confession was needed, as in the story of Achan (Joshua 7), and so Israel prepared and responded accordingly. There were times when Joshua would gather the Israelites for corporate worship. In Joshua chapter 4 we read about the altar of remembrance built from twelve stones handpicked from the Jordan River to represent each one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Here we see Joshua planned with Israel and both responded together. He led the Israelites in giving fellowship offerings in chapter 8 verses 30-35 of the book of Joshua; both preparations were made and responses given. Rejoicing also takes place in many of Joshua’s stories; for example in the story of Jericho’s destruction, rejoicing in God played a key part in the Israelites winning that battle (Joshua 6). In this instance the planning was from the “commander of the army of the Lord” and Joshua and the Israelites responded faithfully. Finally, with regard to study, Joshua served under Moses while in the desert. Moses taught him on every aspect of the law God has entrusted him with. When Moses died, Joshua received the stone copies of God’s Ten Commandments. With this information, Joshua took charge of not just leading Israel but teaching them. In chapter 5 of the book of Joshua, he taught concerning the rite of circumcision; in chapter 8 he taught concerning fellowship offerings, and lessons continue throughout all twenty-four chapters.

In closing, let’s note once more that a right attitude of worship is an understanding that it is 10 percent God’s call in our lives and 90 percent how we will respond to His call in our lives. Let us also recall that an attitude of worship is ours to choose or reject. We must come to understand that to have the right attitude of worship requires both preparation for and a response to worship (attributes of God + preparing to acknowledge those attributes of God + acknowledgment of God’s attributes in us = true worship). Remember also the five orders of worship (confession, gathering, giving, rejoicing, and studying) which help us prepare for and respond to worship individually, corporately as a family, or corporately as a church body. And review with me the three ways in which we should prepare for and respond to worship: the physical, the mental, and the spiritual. These are a lot to consider; a lot to remember and apply, but oh so important to fulfilling God’s purpose in each of our lives.

Article 1 laid the foundation (example of a true worshiper); Article 2 set the cornerstone (the heart of worship); here we erected the first wall to our temple of worship (an attitude of worship). Now for the second — real joy!

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

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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.