Article 3

Living Your True Purpose (Header)

Living Your True Purpose (Article 3)I Will Follow, by CCM artist Chris Tomlin, was released in 2010 and quickly became a staple on Christian radio, as well as in church services around the globe. Contact 3 The acoustic version performed at the end of the interview, in the attached video, really brings out the strength and sincerity of the lyrics. Lyrics that call all believers to fulfill Christ’s command to “follow” and “go.”

You see, if a believer is to be a true worshiper of God, then he/she must obey the commands of the triune God. One such command given by Christ, God’s Son, to His disciples was this:

“If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24)

Christ’s sacrifice on the cross gave humanity access to God’s forgiveness, and paid our debt of death (Romans 6:23). Death is what was due as a result of our rejecting God’s original purpose for us, and that purpose was to glorify and worship Him.

When we deny ourselves (a.k.a.: stop pursuing our own selfish desires) and agree to take up our “cross,” then what we essentially are agreeing to is to serve God as He calls us to and be willing to suffer as Christ suffered for the good of humanity (1 Peter 2:19-25). God becomes our focus, as does mankind, and we become less focused on our own selfish endeavors.

Another command, that we touched on in our last article, is the command to “go.” Christ gave us this commission just before ascending into heaven. He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:18-20a)

We are to go throughout this earth, the portions that God allows us to live and visit, teaching people about the message of hope that Christ makes available to everyone. Serving humanity, as Jesus served humanity. Bringing God to mankind, because mankind can never reach God on their own.

God became human to bring Himself to those who would believe, so that the believers — in turn — could do the same for other people (2 Corinthians 5:18-20). People who simply don’t know or don’t realize that they need God and can’t get to Him on their own.

Read with me these lyrics from the chorus of I Will Follow:

Where You go, I’ll go; where You stay, I’ll stay.
When You move, I’ll move; I will follow You.
Who You love, I’ll love; How You serve, I’ll serve.
If this life I lose, I will follow You — yeah — I will follow You.

We must follow God’s call on our lives to glorify and serve Him. We must go and be faithful to teach others about God’s hope, serve others as Christ did, and baptize those who choose to follow God’s call. Remember Christ said in the book of Matthew, chapter ten:

“Whoever acknowledges Me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in Heaven. But whoever disowns Me before men, I will disown him before my Father in Heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33)

So, with the words of God’s Son on our minds, let’s close with these words from the Apostle Paul:

“I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the Gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” (Romans 1:16-17)

Living Your True Purpose by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at jasonmin.wordpress.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.jsnmin.org.

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

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

I Will Follow lyrics and music written by Ruben Morgan, Chris Tomlin, and Jason Ingram. Copyright © 2010 sixstepsrecords/Sparrow Records.

Video made available by Jason Ministries, sixstepsrecords/Sparrow Records, and WorshipTogether.com; Copyright © 2010 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.

Advertisements

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.

Article I, part 1


People should take the time to study history. You cannot know where you are going if you do not know where you came from. The greatest of people, the ones who stand out in our history books, all knew who they were as it related to where they had come from. They also knew where they were going. They possessed a vision for the future.

Before we begin our study of worship, it is imperative that we examine someone who has lived as a true worshiper of the living God. Someone who knew his history and how it affected him, and someone who, in addition to others, had a vision for the future. Joshua was just such a man.

Others may be used as examples of what it is to be a true worshiper of God, but it is my opinion that no other biblical character ever exhibited as fully as Joshua what it was to be a true worshiper. Certainly, Christ is the ultimate example, but I’m referring to someone who was neither perfect nor was he deity in the flesh. Joshua was nothing more than a man willing to serve both God and mankind, and it’s that willingness to serve that God can use to do His most mighty of miracles through us all.

Joshua fit the battle ’round Jericho and the walls came tumbling down.” This is probably one of the most well-known lyrics any songwriter ever wrote, and quite possibly one of the most recognized stories from the Bible. But Joshua and his “battle” at Jericho is only one of many examples that led me to choose him as an example of true worship. The Life Application Study Bible (NIV), co-published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. and Zondervan Publishing House, reveals that Joshua exhibited five key themes, called “megathemes,” throughout his storied life. These five megathemes are what I will use to help you understand why Joshua is an excellent example of a true worshiper, and these same megathemes will lay the foundation for our study on worship as it relates to each one of us, who are children of the living God.

The first of these five megathemes is Joshua’s success as the leader of his nation and his family. God gave success to Joshua and the nation of Israel because they were committed to following God’s plan for their lives. It wasn’t about Joshua’s plans and desires. It wasn’t about what Israel’s elders wanted or what the Israelites wanted, either. Success was given to them by God when they trusted in God and His plans for them (Proverbs 16:3; Jeremiah 29:11).

Success came to Joshua, the elders, and the nation they served, Israel, because their faith was not in their military might, nor was it in their economy, their own physical strength, or even in their own intelligence. Their success came because of their faithfulness in following God’s plan, which for them was the conquering of Canaan.

You see, God’s plan, when followed faithfully, will always bring about success in our lives, as it did in Joshua’s life. We can’t set our standards for success by the world’s definition. No, it must be set by God’s Word. We must adjust our thoughts to always consider God’s way. Then and only then can we realize similar success in our lives.

So, where does this fit into our study of worship? How does Joshua’s success lead us to become true worshipers of God? Joshua’s worship is his testimony/witness of God’s success in his life to his people. The success God gave Joshua became an opportunity Joshua would later use to teach the elders and testify to the nation of Israel about the importance of being faithful to God (Joshua 24:29-31).

Faithfulness to God and a willingness to testify about our faith in God are just two of the several acts of worship we will study. In fact, faith is the second megatheme connected with Joshua’s life, so let’s examine this act of worship modeled by Joshua.

First let’s understand the original meaning of the word, as the Hebrews would have understood it. Faith, or emunah (em-oo-naw’), means “steady,” “steadfast,” or “to support,” but there is another Hebraic word connected to faith that is both an active and passive word meaning two things at once — bittachon (bit-taw-khone’). Bittachon means both “truth” and “trust.” You see, to trust in the truth — to be confident in the truth — (bittachon) makes you steady (emunah). This, all together, is “faith.”

Joshua demonstrated his faith in God by choosing to trust in God’s truth; not once, but on a daily basis, thus allowing God to move in Joshua’s life and providing opportunity for God to save him and the nation of Israel from their enemies and also allowing God to guide Joshua in his leading of this fledgling nation.

Ultimately Joshua, the elders, and the nation of Israel became increasingly aware of God’s faithfulness to them and, as a result, they all developed a strong confidence that God would continue to be faithful in the days to come. This faith allowed God to make both Joshua and the Israelites strong in many ways.

Our confidence and strength comes along in this same way. In order to do God’s work, we have to have faith that truly God wants what is best for us; trusting that He is not out to harm us in any way. God’s promises found in Jeremiah 29:11, and in other Scriptures, reassure us of His love and that He will be there to guide us in the decisions and conflicts we face on a daily basis. Truth and trust can’t begin to exist in our lives until we believe in God, wholly. Joshua had a steady trust in the truths of the living God (Joshua 24:14-15).

These first two of the five megathemes in Joshua’s life set up the principles we all will need to follow if we are to become the true worshipers that our heavenly Father desires us to be. Our faith in God allows Him to bless us with success. A wholehearted trust in God’s truths allows our faith in God to grow in all areas of our lives.

Article 1, part two, will take us through the remaining three megathemes in Joshua’s life. These five megathemes together will become the foundation for the temple of worship in which God desires to reside.

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.

Joshua Fit The Battle Of Jericho lyrics written as recorded by Elvis Presley (original author unknown).
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.