Article 8

Living Your True Purpose (Header)

Living Your True Purpose (Article 8)On My Knees, by CCM artist Jaci Velasquez, was just one of about eight singles released from her major label debut album called Heavenly Place. worship 9 The song is about prayer, and how God can grow us and make us into the faithful, peaceful believers He has called each of us to be.

Verse one reveals how life exposes all of us to good and bad times, but because of our connection to God, through prayer, we can endure the “ebbs and flows” of life. We can even be content, at peace, and surprisingly joyful.

The chorus is simple, and reveals that we may never understand the power that prayer connects us to, but that doesn’t change the fact that God’s power does flow from Himself and into our lives through prayer. Prayer is essential to our daily walk with God, just as much so as reading God’s Word is.

Praying is so simple, and requires nothing more than a humble spirit, an openness towards Almighty God, and a willingness to hear His voice and obey His commands. There is no special ritual or religious rite that must be adhered to. Just simply speak, listen, trust and be faithful to obey (2 Chronicles 7:14-15).

We can pray about anything that concerns us, interests us, or preoccupies our day-to-day lives. No subject or situation is beyond God’s ability to understand, and you certainly will not be bothering God, or disturbing Him from some other task or duty. God wants us to talk to Him. He wants us to tell Him about the things that are on our minds. No one thing is too small, or too petty, for God to draw near and listen to us speak about it. He loves each of us that much.

If you are one of the many who claim that God never answers your prayers, then consider the reasons why He may not have done so. It could be you lacked true belief that God would answer your prayer (Matthew 21:22; Hebrews 11:6; James 1:6-8). Another reason is that you may have asked for something out of selfish reasons, or you may have asked for something that would not benefit you (James 4:3). Or maybe, just maybe mind you, you asked for something that went against God’s will for your life (John 15:7; 1 John 5:14-15). Sin in our lives can also be a factor (Proverbs 15:29; Isaiah 59:1-2; Ezekiel 14:3). Maybe we ignored people around us who needed our help (Proverbs 21:13). Whatever the case may be, humble yourself before God and ask that He reveal to you the reason, and ask that He make you open to hearing His voice and to obeying His will for you.

Maybe you’re one who thinks he/she hasn’t had their prayers answered, but God actually did and you simply managed to miss His divine response. That does happen, and more often than you would think. God always answers our prayers based on His will for each of us, and does so in His own time; in His own way (Ecclesiastes 3:11; Isaiah 55:8). It could be that God chose to answer you, but He has delayed His divine reply so that He can receive the glory more fully (John 11:1-44). It could be that God sent His answer, but Satan or one of his many demons has blocked the angel dispatched to deliver it (Daniel 10:12-13). But more than likely, God has already answered and you have not realized it because the response came about in a different manner than expected.

There are those who want to pray, but feel as though they don’t know how, or don’t know what to say. If this is you, pray anyway. God’s Holy Spirit mediates for us, and interprets our prayers to our Creator (Romans 8:26-27). God is going to always know what our concerns, desires, needs and wants are. Vocalizing our requests through prayer is not for His benefit — it’s for ours. We must be faithful to spend time with God in prayer (Psalms 5:2-3; 1 Thessalonians 5:17). This allows a special intimacy to exist between us and our Creator.

As verse two, from the song On My Knees, indicates we can be in a crowd or alone — it doesn’t matter — God is there and will hear our prayer. There is no place too exposed, or too hidden, that God is not already there waiting and watching for us; ready to listen and speak to us. That’s just what our loving, heavenly Father does. He longs to hear our voices speak to Him, and we should long to hear His voice, too. Spending time talking to God, and listening to Him, is what will grow us into the true worshipers that He has called each of us to be.

So let me encourage you to get on your knees, daily. Sit before the Lord, God Almighty, and let His love change you. You’ll never really know how, but you can still experience the power of God, in your life, when you get on your knees and pray (James 4:10).

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.

On My Knees lyrics and music written by Nicole C. Mullen and Michael Hunter Ochs. Copyright © 1996 Myrrh Records (a division of Word Entertainment) and Epic Records.

Video made available by Jason Ministries, and Word Music Group; Copyright © 1996, 2006 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 1



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “joy” as:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Joshua Project by J.Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at jasonmin.wordpress.com.
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.

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.

Introduction


Adoration. Exaltation! Jubilation. Praise. Worship! What comes to mind when you hear or see the word “worship”? Do your thoughts gravitate towards one of the previously mentioned words? Or, do you possibly consider words such as admire, idolize, or even respect? Do you think of rock stars, Hollywood celebrities, idols, perhaps church, or how about God?

For many the thought of worship, as it relates to the modern church, conjures up images of musicians and vocalists leading a group of congregants in singing contemporary Christian praise choruses. Most Christian denominations even title their music directors as “Worship Leader” or “Lead Worshiper,” but is that really a good definition of worship? Is it just possible that the definition of worship is much more than what the modern church has made it out to be? The answer to that is a resounding “Yes!

As human beings, made in God’s image, we need to understand that worshiping our Creator is essential to our spiritual growth and an intricate part of our having a relationship with the Creator of heaven and earth. To do this, we also need to understand fully what worship is, how to properly worship, and how to live our lives being true worshipers of God. Jerry Solomon (biblical scholar, former Director of Field Ministries, and former Mind Games Coordinator for Probe Ministries) once said, “As is true with many terms used among Christians, the word “worship” can become a cliche devoid of significant content if we don’t stop to consider its meaning.”

It’s been my experience with churches throughout my lifetime, as a minister’s son, licensed minister of the gospel, and lay-person, that the average modern church does much to encourage those of us known as believers to participate in worship, especially at the corporate level, but very little time is actually spent teaching believers about what worship is and the many levels of worship we will and should expect to encounter along our everyday walk with God. It’s almost as if the modern church believes its members are “born again” with the instinct to worship God, and do so fully and properly. Yes, we are made new in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) and made as one with the Spirit of Christ (Galatians 3:28), but we must daily die to self (2 Corinthians 5:15), daily take up the cross of Christ (Luke 9:23), and daily choose whom we will serve (Joshua 24:15). Our worship of God is not instinctive but must be learned (Exodus 33:13; Psalm 119:102-105; 1 Corinthians 1213).

This series of articles, known as The Joshua Project, will correctly define for us all what worship is. It will examine the life of a true worshiper. It will allow us to understand both corporate and individual worship and break down the multiple levels of these two types of worship. It will journey into the who, what, when, where, why, and how of worship. It will bring clarity to the various acts of worship, such as our faithfulness, our witness, and our service. Our attitude, joy in life, and purpose for life will be defined as they relate to worship, and more important, The Joshua Project will show us how to apply them to our daily lives.

When our study is done, we should be able to reflect on both our spiritual and physical lives to see how important a healthy understanding of worship is to our spiritual growth, to our physical well-being, to our relationship with God, and to our relationship with other people. Only then can we properly continue our life’s journey refreshed and renewed and be appropriately named a true worshiper!

So, I invite you to take this journey with me, and let’s study together just what worship is, and let’s understand together just how to be transformed into the true worshipers God desires us to be.

The Joshua Project by J.Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at jasonmin.wordpress.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jasonmin.wordpress.com/.

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

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

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