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 V, part 2


In our last post we were discussing the first three of eight specific reasons why we needed to glorify and worship God daily. The first reason being that glorifying and worshiping God connects us to Him. Second, we need to glorify and worship God because in doing so we focus our attention away from ourselves and towards God. Thirdly, our need to glorify and worship God testifies of God’s goodness and mercy.

The fourth reason for glorifying and worshiping God is to reflect His glory to the lost. Much in the same way our worship is our testimony of the Father’s goodness and mercy to nonbelievers, so is it also a reflection of His glory. Remember, Paul instructed us to “live as children of light,” but what is the source of that “light”? It’s God’s light, God’s glory shining from Himself through us and into a dark, dark world. Even Jesus, God’s Son, taught this about Himself in John 8:54-55a, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. Though you do not know him, I know him.” Jesus, in worshiping the Father, reflected God’s glory into this sinful world, and even though people didn’t comprehend what they were experiencing was of God, they could still see the “light.” Odd thing about light — it’s blinding to some and illumination for others, and the more we as true worshipers allow ourselves to reflect God’s glory, the more like Him we become (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Reason number five: we need to glorify and worship God because doing so maintains joy in our lives. Again, as we learned in our article on “joy,” only in the presence of God can we experience true joy (Psalm 16:11); and when the justified are in His presence, they can’t help but to glorify and worship the God of mercy and grace. Look with me at Psalm 5:11-12:

But let all who take refuge in you [God] be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

Do you want to live rightly, with God’s blessings on your life? Do you want to be filled with real joy and have your eyes shine with it? Then do as the psalmist says above and take refuge in God; love everything about Him and then, as he also wrote in Psalm 19, verse 8, God will in turn cover you (clothe you, as we were intended) with His glory and you will be blessed.

The sixth reason we need to glorify and worship God is because it reminds us of God’s sovereignty. Just as many psalms declare the goodness and mercy of our Creator, they also emote of His awesome power and sovereignty. You can see it themed in Psalm 22: 25-28, as the psalmist states, “dominion belongs to the Lord.” You can read of it in Psalm 73:27-28 and Psalm 103:19-22, but I truly like the way it is written in Psalm 71:16-18. Read with me:

I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign Lord; I will proclaim your righteousness, yours alone. Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.

Did you comprehend that? You are sovereign, O God! Let me live as long as possible so I can declare it to as many as possible. Imagine, if we all prayed that prayer and lived it, what life would be like.

Seventh, our need to glorify and worship God allows all of creation to fulfill its purpose. Most of us recognize Psalm 19:1 when we hear it, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Some may recognize the words penned in Psalm 66:1-4:

Shout with joy to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious! Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you. All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you, they sing praise to your name.”

But how can the heavens declare anything? How can the skies proclaim God or the earth sing of His glorious name? Simple. You and I must do it. Humanity is the voice of creation. The heavens, the skies, the earth, the oceans, and all of the creatures on the earth and in the oceans (Psalm 69:34) are the visual portion of this huge and very corporate worship service known as life. Mankind, we are the voice ringing out in sweet songs of praise and adoration to our Creator, our Giver of life. If we don’t fulfill our purpose and remain vocal with our worship of God the Father, then God will give our job over to His other creations (Luke 19:40). (I really don’t think God prefers “rock” music when He is used to hearing choirs of angels. All right; a bad pun, I’ll admit it; and no slant is being made regarding contemporary Christian music, either, but do you seriously want to be showed up by a bunch of stones?)

I love the words Bob Hartman, guitarist and songwriter for the Christian rock group Petra, wrote for the song “Somebody’s Gonna Praise His Name.” The song was released on the album On Fire, and the lyrics of the chorus read like this, “Somebody’s gonna praise His name. Somebody’s gonna call Him Lord. It’ll either be you and me, or it’s gonna be a rock or tree. Somebody, somewhere is gonna praise His name.” To which he says at the end, “And it’s gonna be me.” Bob Hartman and the rest of Petra seem to know their purpose and have acted on it. Will you join them?

Lastly, the eighth reason we need to glorify and worship God is to rightly respond to God’s calling on our lives. Again, our calling, God’s perfect will for humanity — our purpose, more than anything else under the sun — is to glorify and worship Almighty God. The apostle Paul, in his first letter to the church in Thessalonica, stated, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). “Be joyful,” “pray continually,” “give thanks in all circumstances” are all acts of worship. Each is a crucial key to unlocking and revealing God’s glory in our lives; revealing the Father’s will for mankind — worship. God’s will is not so much about what you will do with your life physically. God’s will isn’t about whether you should or should not be in a particular profession, though living by His statutes may clearly dictate a profession to you and keep you from choosing another. It’s about living your life glorifying and worshiping your Creator.

Look with me at 1 Corinthians 10:31, which says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Paul, at this point in his first letter to the church at Corinth, was dealing with an issue of whether people should or should not eat meat that had been sacrificed to a pagan god. Paul explained that if that meat was eaten simply because of hunger, then there was no harm; but if it was eaten and caused them or someone weaker in the faith to get caught up in idol worship, then it was wrong. There was an attitude involved here (remember we discussed having an attitude of worship in Article 3); a motivation. Now, let’s apply this same attitude/motivation to our overall purpose of worship. No matter what you choose to do for a living, do it with the sole motivation of glorifying God, but if your career choice prevents this for some reason, then you should choose another and do so quickly. If we live our lives in fellowship with our Creator (1 John 1:3-4) and worship Him, then His overall will for us to glorify Him will guide us in correctly choosing our spouse, friends, job(s), food, anything and everything. Choosing to live our lives glorifying God is choosing to be holy (set apart). This is why we are urged by both Paul and our Lord, Jesus Christ, throughout the New Testament to worship God rightly. In doing so, we can finally experience our purpose and become true worshipers of God (Matthew 25:14-30; Ephesians 4:1-6; 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12).

Let’s quickly review our eight reasons for seeking out our purpose and worshiping God daily:

Connects the Creator to His creation
Focuses our attention on God
Testifies of God’s goodness and mercy
Reflects God’s glory to the nonbeliever
Maintains joy in our lives
Reminds us of God’s sovereignty
Allows all of creation to fulfill its purpose
Rightly responds to God’s calling

How was that for simple, yet complicated? I know it will take self-discipline and maybe even the discipline of God and other believers to get us to where we really can live out our purpose of worshiping God daily, but the concept is still really quite simple. Our physical limitations and our imperfections are what make it seem so complicated.

Joshua didn’t easily accomplish his worship of the Father either. Each one of these eight reasons for seeking out and worshiping God can be found in Joshua’s story, but none were devoid of struggle. Read over the book of Joshua, if you haven’t yet. Look back over Article 1 and re-examine the five megathemes to see how often the eight reasons listed above appear; take note of the struggles each opportunity for worship brought about in each of the five megathemes.

If I could somehow sum up this whole article in one sentence, it would be this: the dawn of forever is when you place your faith in Christ, but abundant life begins when you fulfill your purpose and become a true worshiper of God.

Three walls have now been erected; onward we go to constructing the fourth and final wall in our temple of worship.

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.

Somebody’s Gonna Praise His Name lyrics and music written by Bob Hartman (Based on Luke 19:40; Psalms 69:34, 148:9). Copyright © 1988 Star Song Music.
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 V, part 1


Have you ever asked the questions, “Why am I here?” “Why did God create me?” Or, perhaps you have asked this popular question: “What is my purpose in life?” And how many of you ended up more frustrated than before you asked because no one seemed capable of answering any of these questions for you?

Well, if you or someone you know is looking for the answers to these questions, search no more. I’m about to answer them for you and the answer is so simple it may be hard to comprehend. Are you ready? The answer is this — for God’s glory!

“Ah, say again,” you ask? Yes, you heard right, humanity was created to glorify God. Or, to simplify it into one word — worship!

You and I and all of humanity, in fact all of creation, from the beginning of time until now and moving forward throughout eternity, were made to glorify and worship the Lord God Jehovah — our Creator (Colossians 1:16).

Too easy of an answer for you to accept? Then we’ll complicate it by looking at this truth more deeply (spoiler alert: it will still be simple, but let’s continue).

Let’s begin by examining the definition of the word “purpose” (if we can comprehend its meaning, then we will more easily grasp why we care so much to know we have one and what it is). “Purpose,” according to The Merriam-Webster dictionary, is “(noun) the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists; a person’s sense of resolve or determination.” Did you catch that all important phrase, “the reason”? Hold on to that as we look to the definition of purpose as written in The Life Application Study Bible (NIV), which states it as: “(verb) intention; objective; God’s predetermined will.” Purpose is God’s reason (noun) for His objective or predetermined will (verb), or it is God’s reason for His objective or predetermined will to take place. God chose to create life, humanity in particular, for His glory (Colossians 1:16-17; Revelation 4:11), therefore creation declares His glory and worships God (Psalm 19:1; 148:5).

Do you recall the formulas from Article 2? God’s attributes (faith, hope, and love) plus our acknowledging God’s attributes equals our worshiping God. Well, in like manner, God purposed for mankind “life” and not just a mere existence either; God purposed for us all “abundant life.” Human beings simply need to acknowledge that God has intended for them “abundant life” and then allow themselves to experience true worship — our purpose.

The famous writer and lecturer Helen Keller understood this principle of worship. Despite being both deaf and blind, Helen was able to conquer her disabilities and pen these words regarding “purpose.” She wrote, “Many people have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” Think about that for a moment . . . “a worthy purpose.” No one is more worthy to be glorified, praised, and worshiped than our Creator! Allowing yourself to be wrapped in God’s glory, worshiping Him, is every person’s “worthy purpose.” Oh, the true happiness [joy] that will flood your soul!

Stop making life harder than it already is. Sin has wreaked enough havoc on mankind without adding in the pressure of seeking out one’s purpose or destiny. No matter what you choose to be or do in life, know that all that really matters is that you recognize God the Father purposed abundant life for you — abundant life that can only exist in you via your relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. Read John 10:10b with me: “I [Jesus Christ] have come that they [humanity] may have life, and have it to the full [abundantly].”

Now, “abundant life” is not to say that God will give you great physical well-being or physical stature or physical wealth or great physical anything. No! God is speaking in regard to our spirits being enriched by fulfilling our purpose to glorify and worship Him. Human beings, you see, are spiritual beings more so than they are physical beings. Therefore, we must consider the spiritual implications involved.

Best-selling author and theologian C.S. Lewis understood this fact. Mr. Lewis is quoted as having said, “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” Scripture even tells us we are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). God is not physical in His makeup, but spiritual. So the spiritual implications must be considered here, not the physical, and our physical bodies being made comfortable and happy on earth is not necessarily going to be revealed to us as part of our purpose. Can we experience such blessings? Yes; but don’t forget what we discussed in Article 4 regarding suffering — it’s normal (1 Peter 4:12-13). A prominent position in society, great wealth, and perfect health are perks or rewards some get to enjoy along life’s journey, but these things should never be expected nor should they be taken for granted. That’s why we call them “blessings.” They are special and out of the ordinary.

So, having been made in God’s image, we must realize and come to terms with the fact that we are spiritual beings more so than physical beings. And knowing this, we must begin in our lives the process of seeking out our “worthy purpose,” which is to glorify and worship God, thus enabling us to live life abundantly as it was intended. But why, you may ask, do we need to glorify and worship God? And, why does God desire this type of relationship with us? Well, there are actually eight specific reasons why we need to do so, and the same eight also explain why God desires our daily worship and glorification of Him. Let’s look at each one.

The first reason we need to glorify and worship God is because it connects us to Him. Jehovah never meant for us to be separated from Himself. We were meant to be in God’s presence, covered by His glory (Psalm 8:4-5) and reflecting His righteousness (Proverbs 4:18; Romans 1:14-17), as I stated earlier in Article 2, but Jehovah can’t cover us in His glory if we are disconnected, and we can’t reflect His glory if we are distant; both of which are caused by our sin, as explained in Article 4. Sin disconnected all of creation from God, the Creator of life, but Christ bridged that gap between God and humanity via His death and resurrection, thus allowing us to reconnect with the Father through faith in Christ. Worshiping the Father, through our relationship with Christ, reconnects us to our Creator, who then regains connection with His creation (Psalm 95:6-8a).

Second, we need to glorify and worship God because in doing so we focus our attention away from ourselves and towards God. In fact, this is the essence of true worship — giving God all our attention. David did this in many of the psalms he wrote. Like Psalm 29:1-2, “Ascribe to the Lord, O mighty ones, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness.” David doted on his Lord, as a young woman dotes over a first love. As she can think and speak of no other, so too was David totally focused on God, the Father. Another example is Psalm 96:7-9, which reads:

Ascribe to the Lord, O families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; bring an offering and come into His courts. Worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness; tremble before Him, all the earth.

When was the last time you were in the presence of the Almighty, totally focused on Him, doting on your Creator? If you can quickly recall the time, then you are living out this principle of worship; if not . . . maybe you should spend some special time with God being “still” (Psalm 46:10) and realizing your purpose.

Third, our need to glorify and worship God testifies of God’s goodness and mercy. If God’s wonderful attributes of faith, hope, and love cause us to worship Him when in His presence, then it stands to reason that those same godly attributes, when seen in our lives through our worship of the Father, will testify of them as well (Psalm 145:1-21). It’s the living out of these godly attributes that testifies and then attracts the nonbelievers of the world to consider a relationship with God. Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:8, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.” In other words, shine forth God’s attributes of faithfulness, hope, and above all else — love.

There are many psalms that reflect the truth that God is good and merciful, but none so well-worded as the Twenty-third Psalm. Read with me and meditate on these words:

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

The fourth reason for glorifying and worshiping God is to reflect His glory to the lost. We’ll study this reason we need to glorify and worship God, and the other four remaining reasons, more closely the next time we post.

Two walls have now been erected; stay with us as we continue constructing the third wall of our temple of worship.

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.

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

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