Article 13

Living Your True Purpose (Header)

Living Your True Purpose (Article 13)If We Are The Body, by the CCM group Casting Crowns, was released in 2003 on their self-titled album. The song dealt with the issue of how many in the church Bible 9 are not fulfilling the commission we have been given to go throughout the world teaching about Christ and baptizing those who believe.

The writer of this song, John Mark Hall, is also the lead vocalist for the group. John Mark felt that the Church had forgotten what the “body of Christ” looked like and wanted to write a song that would teach concerning this subject.

The Scriptures, behind the lyrics, teach specifically about how the Church is made up of many members just as a body is made up of many members. Each member having a duty to fulfill while still accomplishing their main purpose, which is to worship God (Romans 12:3-5; 1 Corinthians 12:12-26; Ephesians 1:18-23; Colossians 1:17-20, 3:14-16), but if these members don’t fulfill their godly duties then they can impede the righteous work of the “body of Christ” — the Church. One thing we must be aware of is how ineffective we can be when we are idle, lazy, shiftless, neglectful, and slack off from our calling.

And there is one thing in particular that most of us ignore, and therefore don’t maintain properly, and that is our physical body’s health and wellness. Less than twenty percent of all Americans exercise regularly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and nine out of ten Americans think they are eating a healthy diet. Yet, according to a survey for Consumer Reports, sixty-eight percent of Americans are over weight and nearly half of those are considered obese. Think on these things with me for a moment.

If we, as true believers, are considered by God to be members of Christ’s body, and yet we don’t maintain our health and wellness then how can we hope to have the strength and energy to fulfill our calling — to fulfill our duty. If we, as followers of Christ, are considered by God to be members of the Church — Christ’s body — and we refuse to maintain our health and wellness in order to act out our mission, then we are no better to the body than a cancer cell. We must maintain our physical health and wellness, just as we must maintain our spiritual health and wellness.

It does the Church, and Christ, little good for you to be a devoted member and yet become sickly because you didn’t take the time to educate yourself about the human body’s physical or spiritual needs, or because you refused to act on that knowledge. We cannot effectively fulfill our duties if we become diseased, ill, and unstable. It is imperative that Christians — true worshipers of God — maintain both their physical and spiritual health and wellness.

How can we do this? By spending time educating ourselves about the human body’s needs for nourishment and physical activity. Our body requires natural foods, or whole foods, to absorb the right kind of nourishment. The more natural the food, the better for our body it is. Focus your diet on certified, organically grown fruits and vegetables (Genesis 1:29), and less on animal fats and proteins. And most certainly stay away from “convenience” foods, or “fast” foods, that contain antibiotics, genetically modified foods, pesticides, saturated fats, steroids, and other toxins. When the human diet is filled with ninety-five percent natural fruits and vegetables, there is very little disease or illness experienced.

The human body, on average, also needs about forty-five minutes to an hour of exercise a day. This doesn’t have to be consecutive minutes, either. It can be broken out into two or three sessions of physical activity during your daily routine. By taking the time to be physically healthy and well, your body will not become a hinderance to your soul when it tries to maintain a healthy regimen, too (1 Timothy 4:8). Our spirit requires a daily nourishment of Scripture (1 Peter 2:2-3). Reading God’s Word, and spending time in prayer, every day allows your needs and desires to be made known to God. It also allows for God’s needs and desires to be made known to us; prayer is not a one-sided conversation.

Now let me quickly clarify, not all illness is due to our being idle, lazy, shiftless, and neglectful. We live in a fallen and sinful world where disease, pain, and suffering are all apart of being alive. Sickness will occur no matter our best efforts at being healthy and well. What I am trying to focus our attention on is how poorly we, as a western society, have allowed our eating and exercise habits to become. Mankind all around the globe, in fact, has allowed modern civilization to become so unnatural — so synthetic — that we have blindly embraced this way of living and have neglected to notice what it is doing to our overall health and wellness.

So don’t just rely on the Holy Bible for your spiritual nourishment. Allow Scripture to be your guide in all aspects of your life, including the physical (Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). God made this natural world for us to live abundantly in. It holds everything we need to be healthy and well. But because we sinned, rebelled against God’s perfect plan, we corrupted this world and now we corrupt it even further with all of our synthetic clothes, foods, fuels, housing, medicines, tools, and so forth. Modern humanity’s civilized world doesn’t need to be rejected, one-hundred percent, it just really needs a heavy dose of godly commonsense. Mankind needs to live in a natural environment, not a synthetic one, and Christians need to lead by example. After all, we are members of the “body of Christ,” our LORD and Creator.

I leave you with this Scripture from Ephesians, chapter five: “Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17)

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.

If We Are The Body lyrics and music written by John Mark Hall. Copyright © 2003 Reunion Records, a division of Provident Label Group.

Video made available by Jason Ministries and Reunion Records, a division of Provident Label Group; Copyright © 2004 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.

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Article III, part 2

Truth or Dare (Article 3)

In part one, of Article III, we began looking at what can happen to us when we allow wanton, hedonistic pleasure to rule our lives. We learned, just as the fabled character Pinocchio did, that there are consequences to satisfying our ungodly pleasures. God, however, has provided a way for us to be free from such wrongful desires. All we need do is believe in the LORD, Jesus Christ, and live according to His plan. Pleasure 5 In this article, we will look into the various types of pleasure.

There are pleasures of the mind, which consist of:

Solving the unknown (appeasing ones curiosity)
Using a unique skill to its full potential
Nurturing someone or something, or being nurtured by someone or something
Being apart of a community (a.k.a.: sociality; finding companionship, etc.)

There are pleasures of the body, which include any stimulation of the five senses:

Sight
Smell
Sound
Taste
Touch

And, there are the pleasures of the soul, which incorporate the nine “fruit of the spirit,” found in Galatians chapter five, verses twenty-two and twenty-three:

Faithfulness
Gentleness
Goodness
Joy
Kindness
Love
Patience
Peace
Self-control

Our pleasures can be to our advantage, and promote a healthy lifestyle. It can also bring about disastrous consequences, when acted upon without discretion or outside of God’s boundaries.

One example of a healthy pleasure is proper sleep. A lack of sleep has been found to cause anxiety, depression, and weight gain. You see, our bodies use sleep to perform important routine maintenance at a cellular, and metabolic, level. Proper sleep boosts our body’s immune system, and our brain’s means to store, and recall, details from our memories. Approximately seven to nine hours of sleep, each night, is necessary. Too little or too much sleep and our health begins to decline.

A second example of a healthy pleasure is consuming foods that you enjoy, and that also have healthy benefits to them. Something like chocolate. Yes, chocolate. Did you know that chocolate contains powerful antioxidants? It seems that cacao, which is taken from the cocoa bean during the manufacturing process, has been shown to improve the flexibility of blood vessels. This flexing of the blood vessels help us reduce our risk of heart disease, and heart attack, but note: not all chocolate is going to be beneficial. You must choose only dark chocolate, and make certain that it contains a minimum of seventy-five percent cacao, and you must limit yourself to one or two squares a day.

A third example of a healthy pleasure, and one in which I will focus the remainder of this article on, is sex. Healthy, monogamous sex is probably the most incredible experience that humanity will encounter in a life time. When men and women, by way of the marriage relationship, participate in regular, monogamous sexual relations, they experience an amazing form of pleasure that appeals to their entire beings. Rarely can a pleasure, other than sexual pleasure, appeal to a person’s body, mind, and soul. Though human sexual relations primarily function as a means of procreation, God also carefully and concisely designed it to be a deeply satisfying form of pleasure.

Healthy, monogamous sex, between a married man and woman, is also a special kind of physical work out; a beautiful act of tandem exercise that can burn as much as eighty-five calories per coupling. Pleasure 4 This physical exercise is unlike any other, as it results in the intermingling (or combining) of two bodies into one, and it results in the release of “feel-good” endorphins through out the human brain. When these endorphins release, the couple becomes less likely to experience depression, individually, and they are less likely to experience dissatisfaction with their marriage relationship, due to their deeply intimate connection with their spouse. A healthy, monogamous sexual relationship, within the confines of marriage, will not solve all the problems that a couple will face in their lifelong alliance, but it does bind them in such a way as to help strengthen their resolve to work through these issues.

Another benefit for married couples who participate in healthy, monogamous sexual relations, at a minimum of once or twice a week, is that their immune responses are improved. According to the Oxford Journals, and other medical magazines, our sex hormones positively affect our immune response toward such illnesses as the common cold, flu, and other more serious infections. It’s a pretty interesting arrangement, isn’t it?

Our bodies actually produce higher levels of an antibody (a.k.a.: immunoglobulin, or IGA) that can thwart colds, and flus, where those very germs most often enter the body. Ironically, our bodies can use the very act that can transmit germs and disease (sexual intercourse) to help prevent such illnesses from manifesting. This ultimately allows men and women, who are married, the freedom to enjoy more intimacy. God wants us to enjoy our spouses, passionately. He designed us that way; it’s only when we abandon God’s design for human sexuality that sexual intercourse becomes painful, and dangerous.

Did you know that the number one way to get a sexually transmitted disease (a.k.a: STD) is by having sex with multiple partners? Sounds odd to have to say, but societies all around the globe live as though this were some type of myth, or fairy tale. In fact, ninety-five percent of U.S. citizens under the age of thirty are sexually active. Thirty-three percent of the men polled, and nine percent of the women, stated that they had more than ten sexual partners in their lifetime. It is also believed that one out of every four non-married, sexually active Americans, by the age of twenty-four, will have contracted an STD. Furthermore, about sixty-five million people in the U.S. are now living with an incurable STD — sixty-five million! Bottom line, STDs such as Bacterial Vaginosis, Chlamydia, Genital Herpes, Gonorrhea, Human Papillomavirus, Hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, Syphilis, Trichomoniasis, as well as other life-threatening conditions (ex.: prostate cancer, cervical cancer, and oral cancer), are more common among people who have sexual intercourse with more than one person in a lifetime.

Sexual relationships affect more that just our physical bodies, though. As stated earlier, they also affect our minds and souls. Many psychologists, and religious counselors, have found that having multiple sexual encounters with a variety of partners places men and women at a higher threat of making risky choices on a regular basis. This cycle of making dangerous choices can lead to a life filled with unhealthy and risky sexual experiences (a.k.a.: homosexuality, pornography, prostitution, and other perverse sex acts), multiple unsuccessful relationships, which can nurture a lower self-esteem, and even lead to manic depression. Again, when we abandon God’s design for human sexuality, sexual intercourse becomes painful, and dangerous.

King Solomon, known as the wisest ruler in the history of the world, wrote this concerning uncontrolled, physical pleasure:

I [King Solomon] thought in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless. “Laughter,” I said, “is foolish. And what does pleasure accomplish?” I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly — my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven during the few days of their lives. I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired men and women singers, and a harem as well — the delights of the heart of man. I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me. I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 2: 1-11)

To gain worldly pleasures, of any kind, will never bring about real contentment, or gratification. No amount of excessive laughter, drinking of alcohol, or reckless abandon will ever fully appease us. Completing some great project, for yourself, won’t satisfy; owning a successful business, or some huge ranch, or farm, won’t fulfill. Access to the world’s richest treasures can’t gratify, nor can the world’s greatest library of music. Not even multiple sexual encounters with the world’s most beautiful people can quench what you long for — No. True fulfillment only comes through experiencing pleasures, not as the world defines them, but as God has defined them.

Worldly pleasures look similar to many of the pleasures God provides us. They appeal to our minds and bodies, but what the world can’t gratify is our souls. Only God can supply that kind of gratification. Note Proverbs chapter ten, verse twenty-three:

A fool finds pleasure in evil conduct, but a man of understanding delights in wisdom.

You see, when we seek to please ourselves, and ignore God’s plan for us to be rightly satisfied, we become nothing more than ignorant jerks. Dumb as a wooden stump with no true happiness to be found. This is what King Solomon was trying to say. Though he sought after foolishness, God allowed Solomon to remain wise enough to know it was indeed foolishness. Though he looked to gratify his own selfish desires, God allowed Solomon to remain wise enough to know that self-gratification always comes with a consequence and those consequences can never be avoided. Sexual pleasure, that is intended to please one’s self, will never really satisfy. Sexual intimacy requires two people, one male and one female, for a reason. That reason is for the man to gratify the woman, under the blessing of marriage, and for the woman to please the man. This is as our Creator intended.

I’m reminded of an interview from 1975. In this interview, Phyllis George, from the old CBS NFL Today show, asked Roger Staubach — then the starting quarterback for the American football team Dallas Cowboys — to reveal what he felt about his image as an “All American, straight guy” (he was very well known as a “clean-cut,” family man). Roger’s image was in stark contrast to another very popular American football quarterback, named Joe Namath. Joe, who also had been recently interviewed by Phyllis George, had become just as famous for his playboy lifestyle as he had become for his ability to quarterback the New York Jets. Roger Staubach responded by saying:

Roger Staubach You interviewed Joe Namath — everyone in the world compares me to Joe Namath. You know, as — you know, the idea that off the field he’s single, bachelor, “swinging.” I’m married, and family, and — you know, he’s having all the fun, [a smile crosses Roger’s face] and — I enjoy sex as much as Joe Namath [Phyllis begins to laugh], only I do it with one girl. You know, I mean it’s still fun.

A monogamous relationship is not a life sentenced to lamentation and sorrow; not at all. Sexual intimacy, as God intended, is free of disease, despair, danger, and worry; it’s both exciting and healthy.

True pleasure — the kind that really brings joy to a person’s whole being — can only exists when we experience it God’s way. And if we will, then we can also bring pleasure to our Creator, and others. You see, genuine pleasure is not about self-gratification at all, but about gratifying God and the other people in our lives. Let’s all strive to drink from the cup of Christ, and let’s all live merrier lives.

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.

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.

2011 in Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,200 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 37 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

New Feature — Periodically throughout this blog site you will see the following image: Simply click on the image and you will be directed to the appropriate video for that section of text.

Thank you for visiting Jason Ministries, and be sure to look for us on your favorite social media site.

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/.

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.

2010 in Review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is doing awesome!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,100 times in 2010. That’s about 5 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 16 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 17 posts. There were 41 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 4mb. That’s about 3 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was January 26th with 63 views. The most popular post that day was Welcome to Jason Ministries.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, twitter.com, stumbleupon.com, slashingtongue.com, and refzip.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for heart of worship, worship, worship god, the heart of worship, and worship hands.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Welcome to Jason Ministries September 2009
2 comments

2

Article VI, part 2 July 2010
1 comment

3

Article III, part 2 April 2010

4

About Jason Ministries September 2009
2 comments

5

Introduction January 2010

NEW FEATURE — Periodically throughout this blog site you will see the following image: Simply click on the image and you will be directed to the appropriate video for that section of text.

Thank you for visiting Jason Ministries, and be sure to look for us on your favorite social media site.

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/.

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 VI, part 3


As we complete our look into the twelve ways in which we can begin to develop the discipline of being obedient to God, the Father, in our daily worship, let’s quickly review the first four:

– The reading and studying of Scripture
– Prayer
-The playing and singing of songs
-Family

We continue with the fifth way we can learn obedience to God, and that is through our physical health and rest. By obeying God, growing in His Spirit, and becoming the true worshiper He intends us to be, we can reap physical benefits. Our physical health, for example, is contingent upon our fearing God and following His statutes (Proverbs 3:7-8, 4:20-22). Being rested is also crucial to our health, and no one is more rested than the man or woman who is at peace with the Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth (Psalms 16:8-9, 62:1; Matthew 11:28).

Physically working and laboring for God is the sixth way we can learn the discipline of obedience. God did not command us to merely believe in Him, pray to Him, and wait on Him. He commands us to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19) and reminds us that when we “labor in the Lord” it’s not “in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58). In fact, this isn’t just about laboring for God’s kingdom; it’s also about working for our families and ourselves.

King Solomon wrote time and again how an idle man gains nothing but that “all hard work brings a profit” (Proverbs 14:23a), again not just monetarily speaking. Working and laboring for God means we can “share with those in need” (Ephesians 4:28b). No matter what we do, we should labor as “working for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23). If you are a hard worker, then God says you are respectable; and should you happen to be working for another person, which most of us do, then you should respect him or her and honor him or her, as well (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13). And know this about your work, “God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them” (Hebrews 6:10). When you work and labor for God, your toiling will be remembered by your heavenly Father.

The seventh means for learning the discipline of obedience to God is through our love and faithfulness. The psalmist tells us that our love for God brings about our faithfulness to Him (Psalm 85:10); and King Solomon taught that we should never let our love for God and faithfulness to God leave us, but we should “write them on the tablet” of our hearts (Proverbs 3:3). The apostle John wrote that if we truly love God we will become obedient to God (John 14:15), and he noted that our love for God and faithfulness to Him brings about encouragement and joy to other believers (3 John 3).

Most importantly, though, our love and faithfulness is a testament that we belong to Christ (John 13:34-35). As Peter R. Scholtes, a former Catholic priest, penned in 1966: “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love; they will know we are Christians by our love.”

Sacrifice and trust is our eighth opportunity for learning obedience to God. In fact, in the book of Romans, chapter 12, verse 1, we learn that offering ourselves to God as “living sacrifices” is a “spiritual act of worship.” God desires for us to willingly give of our whole selves to do His good and perfect works. Apostle Paul, the writer of Romans, just one verse later revealed that this sacrifice will allow us to know God’s “good and perfect will” (Romans 12:2b).

Being a “living sacrifice” also means that we can lift up the “sacrifice of praise” and “do good and share with others” (Hebrews 13:15-16). Our very words as well as our works and labors of goodwill can be sweet and pleasing to God. Our trust in the Almighty generally stems from our willingness to offer our lives up to Him; trusting in the fact that God intends good for us and not harm or ill-will. In Psalm 28:6-7 we read, “Praise be to the Lord, for He has heard my cry for mercy . . . my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped . . . I will give thanks to Him in song.” And a few chapters later, in Psalm 37:3-4, we see that if we do trust in God and do His good works, He will give us the desires of our hearts, which once again is referring to the spiritual things in life and does not necessarily guarantee us a Ferrari or huge estate in Hawaii. Remember what Christ told His disciples, in John 12:36, regarding trust. Jesus said, “Put your trust in the light [God] while you have it, so that you may become sons of light [God].” If we trust in God, we will become His children and seek after His spiritual attributes.

Our ninth way of learning the discipline of obedience to God stems from our fear and respect of our Creator. Why should we fear God and what does it mean to fear Him, you may ask? Well, King Solomon said in Proverbs 8:13 that “to fear the Lord is to hate evil.” Evil is everything that God isn’t. Evil isn’t love, but is hate. Evil isn’t faithfulness, it is doubt and infidelity. Evil isn’t hope, it is darkness and loneliness. So, if fearing God means we hate evil, then we are saying we fear the loss of godly attributes in our lives. Do you desire blessings, respect, and abundant life? Then present yourself to God in humility and fear life without Him (Proverbs 22:4).

“Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling” (Psalm 2:11); here is a verse full of contrasts. We serve God and each other because we want to obey His wishes for us to do so and we fear the idea of not being in His service. We also rejoice at the thought of being in God’s presence, but we tremble at His majesty and power. We praise God because we fear Him (Psalm 22:23a). God allows us into His confidence if we fear Him (Psalm 25:14). If mankind fears and gives the respect rightly due our Creator, then opportunities for true worship will be made known and humanity will benefit from it, for it will teach us not only to honor God but each other (1 Peter 2:17).

Celebration and rejoicing is the tenth opportunity for learning obedience to God. The psalmist wrote in Psalm 5, verse 11, “But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy . . . that those who love your name may rejoice in you.” In the forty-seventh Psalm, verse 1, the director of music exclaims, “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.” The book of Psalms is full of verses where we are encouraged and taught to celebrate the goodness of God and rejoice in Him (Psalms 66:1, 100:1-2). God commanded Joshua, at the battle of Jericho, to shout out to Him at the blowing of the trumpet, resulting in a miraculous victory (Joshua 6:15-21). Our faith in God and obedience to worship Him in this manner will produce many opportunities for us to experience our Maker’s attributes in so many fresh and exciting ways (Romans 5:1-5). So, let us all “rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).

Being a peacemaker is our eleventh way to learn obedience to God. Christ taught that to be called the “sons of God,” we have to become true peacemakers (Matthew 5:9). But in order to be at peace with our brothers and sisters, we must first be at peace with our Creator.

In Psalm 119, verse 165, we read that “great peace have they who love Your [God’s] law, and nothing can make them stumble.” Obedience to God’s laws doesn’t just mean we are living right. No; it’s so much more than that! It means we are unified, one with, at peace with the living God, Creator of all life. How do human beings attain such peace with God? By faith in Jesus Christ, His Son.

Jesus said, “I have told you [His disciples] these things [truths about Himself and future events] so that in me you may have peace” (John 16:33a). God the Father and the Son both teach us of God’s laws and truths so that all of humanity can find peace . . . peace with both God and fellow believers. The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 5:1-2 these famous words:

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”

We are found justified in God’s eyes because of our faith in His Son, Jesus, and that relationship with Christ gives us the peace we so desperately seek to have with both God and each other. Remember this proverb from King Solomon, “A heart at peace gives life to the body” (Proverbs 14:30a). Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6); the peace at the heart of King Solomon’s proverb comes only from a true faith in Christ.

Our twelfth, and final, way for learning obedience to God is through our individual and corporate worship of God. We must now take all these things to heart that we have been studying concerning worship and apply them to our daily walk with the Almighty. Whether we are alone or with our families or with others at church, our ability to be faithful in this matter is crucial to our being seen by God as a true worshiper.

Christ taught us of a day when God’s true worshipers would worship Him in “spirit and truth” just as God is spirit (John 4:23-24). We can accomplish this by allowing God’s attributes (faithfulness, hope, and love) to surge through our spirits via our hearts on a daily basis, moment by moment, breath by breath. We can do this by gathering corporately as a family or church body and singing to God and of God, teaching of God, and encouraging each other with God’s Word (1 Corinthians 14:26). This can be done by praying for each other, praying for the lost, praying for our governmental leaders, and praying for our enemies (1 Timothy 2:1-6). We should take the time to testify to and glorify God, faithfully and together as a family or church body as well as individually (Psalms 22:22 and 25).

The writer of Hebrews in chapter 12, verse 28-29, penned these words concerning the importance of worshiping God daily: “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”

How will you be consumed? Will you be consumed in the spirit and truth that is our Creator; as a true worshiper of God? I hope upon the hope of heaven, Jesus Christ — our ultimate example of obedience and true worship — that you will.

I’ll close with a thought provoking quote from LaMar Boschman (Academic Dean of the International Worship Institute, author, and preacher): “When I worship, I would rather my heart be without words than my words be without heart.”

When someone writes or states a profound thought like this in Hebrew, we are generally instructed to stop and listen by the use of a simple word, “Selah.” Let’s read through this quote once more and really take in what it’s saying: “When I worship, I would rather my heart be without words than my words be without heart.”

Selah.

We have laid our foundation, set the cornerstone, and erected four walls on our temple of worship. We have but one thing left to do — raise the roof!

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.

They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love lyrics and music written by Peter R. Scholtes. Copyright © 1966 by F.E.L. Publications, Ltd./ASCAP (1925 Pontius Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90025).
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 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.