Article III, part 1

Truth or Dare (Article 3)

The Adventures of Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi, an Italian author from Florence, has been told in many different ways since it was first printed in book form in 1883. Though the story began, in 1881, as a series of children’s stories being printed for a newspaper in Rome, it has since been translated into several languages, and has become a play, television show, musical, and movie. Pleasure 3 Of these variations, none have been as well received world wide as the 1940 motion picture, animated feature, from Walt Disney Studios.

Released to theaters by RKO Radio Pictures, this children’s story, now simply known as Pinocchio, became Walt Disney’s second full length animated film to receive an Academy Award. In fact, Pinocchio received two Oscar’s and was only Disney’s second attempt at a full length animation. It will be Disney’s version of this popular story that I will use to illustrate why it is important to consider the “cup of Christ” before giving into the “chalice” of hedonistic pleasure.

Pinocchio was a wooden marionette carved by a poor, lonely wood carver named Geppetto, and brought to life by a compassionate, blue fairy. The blue fairy, upon bringing Pinocchio to life, tells the puppet that he can become a real boy if he proves to be “brave, truthful, and unselfish.”

To help Pinocchio along in his quest, the blue fairy appoints a cricket to be the puppet’s official conscience. The cricket, named Jiminy, is eager to oblige, but it doesn’t take long before Pinocchio is ignoring his friendly conscience and following a whole host of unsavory characters right into trouble. Two of the most dangerous, and reoccurring, tempters in Pinocchio’s life were the fox and the cat.

Honest John (the fox) and Gideon (the cat) weren’t the most dangerous because they were the most evil and vengeful — No. The fox and the cat were most dangerous because, unlike the other characters, they had convinced Pinocchio that they were trust worthy friends. Strong confidants. Friends that only wanted to give Pinocchio the best advice and counsel that any one could give, and they were so good at their con that they were able to get the little marionette to ignore his appointed conscience, Jiminy.

One of Honest John’s, and Gideon’s, most fiendish lies came about from a deal they had struck with a sinister Coachman, in a local tavern. The Coachman tells the fox, and the cat, about a side business of his. You see, the Coachman went about “collecting stupid little boys” and taking them to a place called Pleasure Island. The Coachman then offers Honest John, and Gideon, a cash reward for every boy they bring to him. Well, it’s not long before they set their target on Pinocchio, and trick him into a trip to Pleasure Island.

So, what is so very bad about a place called Pleasure Island? Nothing at first. Pleasure Island was simply a place where little boys could enjoy a carnival-like atmosphere. It was a place where there were no adults to supervise, or discipline. A place where little boys were encouraged to enjoy all the pleasures that their little hearts could contend with. Even if it was something like gambling, smoking, getting drunk, fighting, or wanton destruction. What ever they wished to do, they could do. Sounds pretty incredible. Do what you wish — no “strings” attached. Well, no strings that they were able to see.

It seems that once on the island, and once these little boys had partaken in their wanton hedonism, these little boys, including Pinocchio, would partake in a dastardly transformation. A transformation that would begin from within and continue until it had over taken them completely. You see, as these little boys began to behave like little proverbial “jackasses,” they actually — magically — transformed into real jackasses. Yes! Long ears, wiry, fur-covered skin, buckteeth, hooves — the works — and once transformed, they were sold either to work in the salt mines or as exhibits in the side shows, with the circus.

How many of us can relate to this puppet’s plight? We want to do right by our Creator, but we constantly choose to listen to the Devil’s lies, rather than the Holy Spirit’s still, small voice of truth. We choose to allow our desire to be happy today — now — this instant to rule our every thought. We so want to be gratified, mentally and physically, that we forget about the needs of the spirit. We sacrifice the eternal for the temporal, and then awaken one day as slaves in Satan’s “salt mines” or “circus side shows.” We cry for help, but our plight is only heard by the physical world as nothing more than the brays of a jackass.

Pleasure, in and of itself, is not the real issue. Pleasure, alone, didn’t trap Pinocchio and the other little boys. No, the real issue for us, Pinocchio, and the little boys in the story, is our lust for self gratification. Self gratification says, “You’ve worked hard for this money, and they didn’t pay you what you deserve. Go ahead and steal the money — you’ve earned it.” Self gratification will tell someone, “This person’s been flirting with you long enough. You know they like you, so go ahead and do with them what you wish. They’ll appreciate your having made the decision for them.” The gratification of one’s self always — ALWAYS, mind you — comes with a consequence to both others and yourself. Those consequences can never be avoided.

When we live to please ourselves, without thought of others or the ramifications that will transpire, then we leave ourselves open to the sweet, yet dangerous, enticements of hedonistic pleasure. We like pleasure. We want to trust that pleasure is our friend, that it only wants what is best for our well being. But it’s only when pleasure is contained in the eternal truths of God’s Word, Jesus Christ, that it can be to our benefit. Pleasure, achieved by way of self gratification, is simply going to cause hurt, pain, and possibly even death. Sure, it may be sweet ambrosia at it’s climax, but you will come down from that peak and step into a valley of disappointment or even fall into a chasm of destruction.

The dangers of pleasing one’s self is a lot like how Eskimos supposedly rid themselves of wolves. It’s said that Eskimos will create a “pop-cycle,” from frozen animal’s blood, and a large, sharp hunting knife. Once the blood has been frozen onto the knife’s blade, the handle of the knife is frozen into the ground. This leaves the savory, yet dangerous, treat exposed above the icy turf.

Wolf 1 Wolves, passing by, will smell the blood and begin to lick at the sumptuous goodie, never realizing the danger at it’s center. By the time a wolf’s tongue meets the sharp blade of the knife, its too numb to know that it is no longer licking the blood of some other animal — no — the blood it is now feverishly enjoying is the very blood from its own sliced and mangled mouth. The more the blood streams onto the blade the more excited the wolf gets until nothing remains but a severely maimed mouth and a very dead wolf.

Satan uses physical pleasure much in this way. Each of us are hunted by him (1 Peter 5:8). The Devil watches us and learns of our enjoyments. Then Satan sets up a customized “pop-cycle” of deadly pleasures, just for us. We smell it, and look it over, but if we pursue the consumption of it, before listening to the council of God, we will certainly bear the pain of it. We may even die while trying to enjoy it.

Pinocchio learned his lesson the hard way, but through a selfless act, and the kindness of the blue fairy, he was able to receive redemption and became the real boy he was purposed to be. You and I can’t sacrifice enough to receive redemption (Romans 6:23a), nor do we have a kind, blue fairy waiting to help us, but we do have a benevolent Creator, one Who became as one of us (John 1:1-18). Our Creator over came the temptations of Satan (Matthew 4:1-11). God, in human form, endured pain and suffering for us. God suffered and sacrificed Himself for our redemption (John 3:16-17). All we need do is believe in the LORD, Jesus Christ, and we too can become the true worshipers of God, we were purposed to be.

In part two, of our study, we will look at several types of pleasure. We will discuss both the good and the bad that revolves around sexual pleasure, in particular, and we will reveal what King Solomon discovered after he drank heavily from the chalice of pleasure.

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.

Pinocchio © 1940, 2009 Buena Vista and Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Inc. 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 I, part 2

It is said that art imitates life, and I certainly believe that statement is true, thus my constant reference to various songs, TV shows, and movies. So as we continue this further look into the dangers we face when we drink from the chalice of wealth, instead of drinking from the cup of Christ, let’s consider the story from a popular American movie from the year 1987. It was released by 20th Century Fox, and was about monetary wealth, and all that encompasses it, both good and bad. The film was entitled Wall Street.

This dramatic film, starring Michael Douglas, Charlie Sheen, and Daryl Hannah, was intended by the director, Oliver Stone, to be a tribute to his father, Lou Stone, who had been a stockbroker back in the time of the Great Depression. The plot centers on Bud Fox, played by Charlie Sheen, a young stockbroker desperate to succeed on Wall Street. Mr. Fox becomes entangled with his hero, one Gordon Gekko, played by Michael Douglas, a wealthy, unscrupulous corporate raider. Bud, who was taught by his father (Carl Fox, played by Charlie’s real life father, Martin Sheen) that success was achieved through work and providing something of value, begins to embrace Mr. Gekko’s mantra that success is accomplished by speculating on the goods and services of others.

Throughout this movie, Bud gets deeper and deeper into the corporate greed that Mr. Gekko has exposed him to. Mr. Fox comes to enjoy all the perks that Gordon Gekko promised him, including one beautiful, blonde, trophy-girlfriend named Darien Taylor, played by Daryl Hannah, but as he begins his ascent up the corporate ladder his activities are noticed by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (the United States Securities and Exchange Commission’s was created in 1934 by Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt to regulate the stock market and prevent corporate abuses relating to the offering and sale of securities and corporate reporting. The SEC, as it became known as, was given the power to license and regulate stock exchanges, the companies whose securities traded on them, and the brokers and dealers who conducted the trading).

The plot comes to climax when Bud is deceived by Gordon, concerning a deal to buy and expand his father’s company, Bluestar Airlines. It is Mr. Gekko’s real intent, to sell Carl Fox’s company off piece-by-piece, but Bud work’s out an alternate plan of his own — his plan will drive up the stock on Bluestar Airlines and force Gordon Gekko to lose interest in the company. Mr. Fox’s plan works, but shortly after succeeding he is arrested by the SEC for insider trading and loses everything, including Darien, his trophy-girlfriend.

Bud realizes all too late what his greed had done to him; what it had cost him. Choosing to strike a deal with the SEC for a lesser sentence, Mr. Fox becomes an informer in a trap the SEC is setting for Mr. Gekko. The trap is successful and Gordon Gekko is severely sentenced, while Bud Fox accepts, with a clear conscience, his lesser sentence; ready to make right his wrongs and start over.

This story is a powerful picture of what can happen when monetary wealth is given full control of our lives. It paints a dark and vulgar image of just how really destructive money can be, when it is worshiped as an all-mighty god, either knowingly or unknowingly. This position of leadership, this place of sovereignty over our lives, was never meant to be occupied by anyone, or anything, other than our Creator — the Lord Jesus Christ.

In Scripture, money is one of the most talked about subjects there is. In fact, the subject of monetary wealth is discussed more times in the Bible than the subjects of faith, prayer, and Hell. Money is important. If Scripture makes approximately 2,350 mentions of it, and if fifteen percent of Jesus’ recorded words deal with this topic, then there is something very crucial about monetary wealth. What is so very important about it? Our finances are crucial because we can easily replace our true security in God with its false sense of security.

As we stated earlier, in Article One, part one, money can buy us the three main things we need to survive in this physically hostile world: 1) clothing, 2) food, and 3) shelter. All the things God promised He would provide us (Phillippians 4:19). Money also gains us access to companionship, pleasure, and power. But if God promises to meet our needs, will He not also give us friends and helpers along the way (Genesis 2:18)? Will our Creator not grant us real joy (Psalm 16:11)? Will God not fill us with His omniscient power (Psalm 68:35)? Monetary wealth is the one weapon the Devil can easily detonate upon the entire human race. It touches every one of us in a similar way, and can result in removing our worship from God to it. That is what the Devil wants — to remove God from our focus and refocus us to something else.

Wealth can refocus humanity in countless ways (ex.: career, cars, clothing, drugs, food, sex, shelter, etc.), but by ultimately replacing God it can bring to surface many perverse and vile obsessions burning in the soul of mankind. As the character Gordon Gekko stated in Wall Street, “[Monetary] Greed captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.” In other words we become godless; obsessed with the survival-of-the-fittest lifestyle. We begin to embrace the whole kill-or-be-killed ideals of the humanists — we become self-serving.

Country Music artist and Australian native Keith Urban sang a very poignant lyric, back in 2002. The song was entitled You’re Not My God, and the first verse, and chorus, are as follows:

It’s just a piece of paper, it says, “In God We Trust.”
And a little sure felt good, but a lot was not enough.
And everybody loved me when I was on a roll,
And I thought I had everything when I held the gold.

But you’re not my God, and you’re not my friend;
You’re not the one that I will walk with in the end.
You’re not the truth; you’re a temporary shot,
And you ruin people’s lives, and you don’t give a second thought.
You’re not my God.

Selah (Pause/Reflect).

So poignant, this thought — so powerful, this statement!

As we conclude this article, let’s look at a few more verses of Scripture from God’s holy Word. The first comes from the book of Psalms, the hundred-and-nineteenth chapter, verse 36, and states:

Turn my heart toward your [God’s] statutes and not toward selfish gain.

Our second verse comes from the book of Proverbs, and is the very first stanza of the eighteenth chapter, which reads:

An unfriendly man pursues selfish ends; he defies all sound judgment.

And our third verse comes from the book of Luke, chapter 16, line 13. It is a variation of Matthew 6:24, quoted earlier in Article One, part one, and says:

No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

Now read, once more, those three verses. Consider, again, the lyric of the song You’re Not My God, by Keith Urban. Ponder the story of the rich-young-ruler, that I shared at the beginning of Article One, part one. Do you see why monetary wealth can be so very dangerous? How such wealth can so easily deceive and blind us from our Creator? A love of money doesn’t, and never will, lead to a spirit of generosity — No! Humanity’s obsession over money will always create an over inflated sense of self-worth. We cannot serve both God and monetary wealth, because we cannot elevate our selves higher than almighty God. We must become less, and remain humble, so that He [God] can become even greater in our lives (John 3:30-36). This truth is also why the “Prosperity Gospel” is so dangerous.

You see, the “Prosperity Gospel” or a prosperity theology (sometimes, also, referred to as the “Health and Wealth Gospel”) is a false doctrine which states that financial blessing is always the will of God for His people. This teaching claims that our faith, accompanied by our positive speech, and donations to various Christian ministries, will always cause an increase to our monetary wealth. This false doctrine views the Bible as a type of contract between God and mankind; stressing the idea that if people exhibit enough faith in God, then He will deliver His promises of security and prosperity. Don’t believe this lie — ever!

God has promised to meet our needs, and no contract is needed. God cares for us because He created us (Luke 12:22-32). God does not place conditions on His promise to provide our every need. No strings are ever attached. Besides, it’s not your physical health and well-being that God is excessively concerned with — it’s your immortal soul He is so very attentive to. Why do you think God the Father sent His only begotten Son to live a perfect life, and take our sins with Him to the cross? Jesus didn’t come to die, and conquer death, so that we could have abundant monetary wealth; Christ did this so that we could have an abundant life with God the Father, in Heaven, for all eternity.

I leave you with this one last verse to consider. It’s from the Apostle Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, and it reads:

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18).

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.

Wall Street TM © 1987, 2000 20th Century Fox. All rights reserved.

You’re Not My God lyrics and music written by Keith Urban. Copyright © 2002 Capitol Records Inc.

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 7

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” How many times did we hear or even say those very words when we were kids? Usually it was a sarcastic response used to deflect some distressful comment. But if words can’t ever hurt us, then why do we feel the need to fend off verbal attacks? For this reason — words can hurt — sometimes they even hurt to the point of desiring death.

Words are powerful. With them people can build each other up, or tear each other down. Words can offer up expressions of positive sentiment, friendship, devotion, and love or these utterances can level expressions of negative sentiment, dislikes, division, and hate. With words we can forge unities such as families, friendships, peoples, and nations; with words we can also shatter and destroy all forms of solidarities. Why is that? Because the spoken word is a divine gift from our Creator, and we can exhibit His attributes of loving-kindness with each sound we make or wield an invisible, yet forceful, weapon of destruction.

How do we know that speech is a divine gift? Because, of all the earthly creatures God created, only mankind was given a portion of the Almighty’s very own self (Genesis 1:26-27). When Elohim did this, He bestowed upon man god-like abilities and attributions, one of which was the gift of speech. Oh sure, the rest of creation can communicate amongst themselves, even humanity in some cases has learned to communicate with the animal kingdom, but to annunciate precise expression of thought in detail requires a higher and more divinely inspired form of intelligence. You and I were given this gift.

We also know that speech is a divine gift because before humanity nothing else existed, save for God and His heavenly hosts, that could speak. In fact the first act of God’s powerful self exhibited in the Bible is His ability to speak, and with that speech creation came into being:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light (Genesis 1:1-3).

God said, “Let there be light,” and there it was. Power! Just consider that for a moment. We can form lasting unities amongst ourselves with words, but when was the last time you created something from nothing by simply speaking it into existence? Words are powerful, and not because they are exacting thoughts being expressed, but because they are divinely empowered. Without God’s Spirit behind them, the words “Let there be light” would mean nothing. Without portions of God’s Spirit existing in us, our words would be mere sounds, as well. With words God has made us and with words we display to all of creation, and to each other, the divinity that lives in each of us.

Ah, yes, but what about the evil words, the utterances of hate and destruction? These are surely not from God. No, but they are audible exhibitions of our fallen nature. Audible visuals of our separation from the divine Creator, Elohim. There is hope of restoration, though. For just as God created mankind with words, and just as humanity separated themselves from God with words (Genesis 3:1-19), so did He redeem mankind with His very Word — Jesus.

“Wait a minute,” you say. “Jesus is a word?” Not so much a word, necessarily, but the Word — yes, Jesus Christ is the very Word of God. Look with me at the Gospel of John. In the first chapter we see this pronouncement:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John [the Baptist]. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through Him all men might believe. He [John the Baptist] himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:1-14).

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” These are two of the most important sentences written in Scripture, for from these two groups of words we learn that not only did God speak His Word, but His very Word had existence with Himself, was Himself, and became human so that God, Himself, could live and experience our life and restore mankind to Himself. God’s Word existed as God, because His Word was God, is God, and thus became the incarnate God, Immanuel (God with us) — Jesus. Jesus, the Christ, is the living Word of God.

The Hebrew word for “word” is davar. Davar means both the “word,” itself, and its accompanying creative act. For example, in Isaiah 55:11 the “davar” (Word of God) goes out of God’s mouth to accomplish a task. That task being what ever God desires or purposes His Word to accomplish. If God’s “word” were simply a sound, devoid of life, then this statement would make no real sense, but as this is His “Davar,” His existing Word (Jesus) we can understand how God’s Word can return to Himself having accomplished a certain task. Only a being can have existence, be given a directive, and accomplish that directive. Jesus, the Christ, is the living Davar of God.

The Greek word for “word” is logos. Logos has an interesting definition, as it refers to a universal divine objective, exalted in nature, rising above all oppositions and imperfections in all of creation, including humanity. An eternal and unchanging truth present from the time of creation, available to every individual who seeks it. Restoration of mankind to God is Christ’s divine objective, His very nature being holy, perfect, and exalted. Christ rose above the imperfections of creation by living a perfect human life and did so in spite of His opposition. As Scripture notes, Christ is eternal and is God’s unchanging truth incarnate, and He knocks at the very door of your soul offering His gift of redemption to those who will answer and receive (Matthew 7:7-8; Luke 11:5-10; Revelation 3:19-21). Jesus, the Christ, is the living Logos of God.

When we take the time to study Scripture, we aren’t just studying words concerning the story of God and His people. We aren’t just reading messages of faith, hope, and love. No! We are reading and studying Christ, Himself — God’s Word.

Based on what John said about Jesus being the Word of God made into human form, and based on what he wrote concerning Jesus being the light of God’s Word to mankind, read and meditate on Psalm 119:11 & 105:

I have hidden Your Word [Jesus] in my heart that I might not sin against You [God].

Your Word [Jesus] is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

Finally, we know that Jesus is the incarnate Word of God, because He is named so. Read with me these words from Revelation, chapter nineteen:

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice He judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on His head are many crowns. He has a name written on Him that no one knows but He Himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and His name is the Word of God.

Jesus’ name is above all other names, because His name is the spoken Word of God. Jesus is to be highly lifted up, because He is the begotten, incarnate Word of God. Jesus is the existing Word of God, because He IS — the self-existing One, Yahweh, Jehovah, divine Creator — God.

Selah (Pause/Reflect).

His Name Is . . . 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 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 6

When I was seventeen years old, I surrendered to God’s calling on my life to become a minister of the Gospel of our Lord, Jesus Christ. I immediately began pursuing my calling, by leading music for various worship services and camp meetings. Occasionally, I would even perform vocal concerts for a variety of Christian focused youth events, but it wasn’t long before I felt God tugging again at my spirit. Leading me to believe He had more in store for me — something broader than my scope was able to see then. Shortly, thereafter, The Joshua Project began to dominate my every thought.

The Joshua Project, from inception, has always been about true worship. For only true worship could move the various Christian denominations out of their misunderstood practices and into the very presence of El Hakkadosh (The Holy God), El Shaddai (The God Who IS Enough), Adonai (The Lords and Masters), Jehovah (I AM The One Who IS), Yahweh (The Self-Existing One), Elohim — Devine Creator! One thing kept me from seeing this come to fruition, though, and that was my own lack of understanding.

God has had me on a journey. A journey that now, after twenty-nine years, I am just realizing I will never finish until I see Jesus, face-to-face. I also realize that what God has given me knowledge of, where true worship is concerned, I must begin sharing with the masses. Because to wait until my heart and mind know all there is to know about true worship is to have waited too long. So my blogging began, and The Joshua Project entered into the public eye for the first time in 2010.

If you have read my blog posts, I trust you have grown to understand that true worship is your ultimate goal. The very reason God created you and all that is around you. If you haven’t yet read The Joshua Project, then allow me to encourage you to do so. Until all of humanity realizes why God has created them, and until all of us who are called by His name understand just how to become a true worshiper, there can never be a resolve to our most common and central issue — our need to be restored to God.

In the second article of The Joshua Project, we began looking into what worship really was and we came to realize that the word “worship” was both a noun and a verb; an object and an action. Upon looking further into the word “worship” I presented a formula for applying the true essence of worship into our daily lives. The formula was revisited throughout that series on true worship and I also applied it to our current study of knowing God’s names, in the very first article.

The formula is based on the understanding of God’s three most essential attributes:

God is faithful
God is hope
God is love

A proper understanding of these three attributes of God, and our acknowledgment of those attributes in our lives, will produce the actions that equal true worship.

You see, it’s when we grow to know God that His sovereignty and holiness are revealed. Once revealed, we can see our short comings, our sins, in light of God’s perfection and come to understand our need for restoration to God through a relationship with His son, Jesus Christ. When all of these things come together, true worship begins to happen. That is why at the beginning of this series on knowing God’s names I posted this version of the above formula:

(Knowing God’s names + learning and understanding the meanings of God’s names = worship)

It is essential for us to know God. To know not only God’s attributes, but the very names that invoke those attributes into our lives. We will focus the remainder of this article on the greatest of all of God’s attributes — love.

Love can be defined in many ways, as worship can be. The Hebrews had two main words for love, “ahavah” and “chesed.” Ahavah was used when defining love on a human level, such as between a man and woman, or a parent and child. Chesed was used when defining love on a higher plain; a covenant love, such as between a sovereign and subjects.

The Greeks translated “chesed” as “agape,” which in English is translated as “loving-kindness” or “steadfast-love.” The attributes of this higher love are listed in 1 Corinthians 13:4-10: patience, kindness, without envy, without pride, without rudeness, isn’t selfish, isn’t easily angered, forgets offenses, is righteous, truthful, protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres and is always faithful. These attributes of love are seen as part of God’s character throughout Scripture, especially in Galations 5:22-23 when the Apostle Paul lists the fruit of God’s Spirit, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control . . .” No wonder Paul revealed to us, in 1 Corinthians 13:13, that above all of God’s attributes the greatest is love. In fact, Scripture reveals that God, more than anything else ascribed to Him, is entirely, 100 percent love. The Apostle John discussed this in detail, in the fourth chapter of his first letter.

So let’s simplify this all important attribute of God, as we did in the second article of The Joshua Project. Not because godly love is some how trivial — No! Because it is so very crucial to our growing into the true worshipers of the Almighty. We need to be able to ingest this information and apply it to our every day lives. Having said this, understand with me that love can be simply defined as a strong affection, a strong desire, or a strong devotion. Knowing this, we can now apply this definition of love directly to God’s character and say God IS a strong affection toward us, God IS a strong desire toward us, God IS a strong devotion to us. This was revealed to humanity through the incarnate Lord, Jesus Christ; if we can truly grasp this truth and trust it (have faith in it), if we can truly have confidence in the fulfillment of God’s love through Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection (have hope in it), if we can truly live a life of love (have a strong affection, strong desire, strong devotion to God) then we can truly worship God in our daily lives.

(Knowing God IS love + acknowledging that God IS love and applying His love in our lives = worship)

I’ll close with this excerpt from chapter four of 1 John:

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love . . . If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.

Remember, it is essential for humanity to know God; to be restored to God. Come, and let’s get to know Chesed, Agape — Love!

His Name Is . . . 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 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 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 4

The Ten Commandments, starring Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter, Edward G. Robinson, Yvonne De Carlo, Debra Paget, and John Derek, is a 1956 epic film that tells the story of the Hebrew’s exodus from Egypt.

The Ten Commandments, which was the last film that famed director Cecil B. DeMille presided over, is one of the most financially successful films ever made, grossing over $65 million at the US box office. If you adjust for inflation, this makes it the sixth highest-grossing movie domestically, with an adjusted total of $1,025,730,000 in 2012.

The film received seven Academy Award nominations including “Best Picture,” and won the award for “Best Visual Effects.” The American Film Institute (a.k.a. AFI) later voted The Ten Commandments as the tenth best film in the epic genre.

As epic as this film is in cinematic history, so too is this story’s monumental affect on man’s history and future. For it’s in this saga of the Hebrew’s exodus from Egypt that we see the formal beginning of God’s salvation and redemption of humanity on display, and where we see a subtle visual of one of God’s earliest of names — El Shaddai.

I realize that for most the name “El Shaddai” is more closely connected in our thoughts and minds to the very popular song written by Michael Card and more famously performed by Amy Grant, rather than the story of the Exodus, but grant (no pun intended) me just a moment and I’ll explain the association.

“God of the mountains” or “el shaddai,” was a Mesopotamian term that was used in reference of a divine mountain. This name was but one of the patriarchal names for the tribal god of the Mesopotamians. Now in Exodus 6:3, “El Shaddai” is seen identified solely with the Creator — the God of Abraham — and with His name, Yahweh, which is why this particular name of God (El Shaddai) could be derived from the Hebrews experience of seeing God’s fire atop Mount Sinai and from hearing God’s thunder from the Israelite camp at the base of the mountain. It could also explain, in part, the more popular interpretation of the name “El Shaddai” as meaning “God Almighty,” but linguistically this interpretation comes many years later from the English translators of the Septuagint (i.e. the Greek translators of the Old Testament).

These English translators determined that “Shaddai” came from “shad-ad,” a root verb that means “to over power” or “to destroy.” It’s also seen translated in the Latin Vulgate as “omnipotens,” which is where our English word “omnipotent” comes from. Yes, God is everywhere. Yes, God is all-knowing, and all-powerful, therefore God is Almighty. But while this is very true of God, I don’t think this quite reveals the essence of what this name really means. Also, long before Moses and the exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt, God makes use of this very name when introducing Himself to the Hebrew patriarch, Abram.

In Genesis 17:1, our Creator used the name “El Shaddai” when He confirmed His covenant with Abram, and his descendants, and renames Abram to Abraham. The more popular name of “God Almighty” certainly could apply here, as God is mighty enough to make this promise and fulfill it, but there appears to be more implied here. Especially if “Shaddai” is seen as a compound word within a compound name.

“El Shaddai” is one of 27 compound names known as “El constructs.” The names are formed by combining a shortened form of the name “Elohim,” meaning “Deity,” with some other name or title, in this case the name “Shaddai.” Split apart “Shaddai” and we get two smaller words: “sha,” which means “who,” and “dai,” which means “enough.” So, a closer look at the Hebraic practice of shortening a name of God (El from Elohim), and combining that shortened name with a descriptive attribute (i.e. Shaddai), and we begin to see that “El Shaddai” could translate as “God who IS Enough.” Pause and ponder that name for a moment (selah) — God who IS Enough!

What an amazing revelation of God to Abraham, and to us. Yahweh wasn’t just making us aware of His might in this covenant. God was saying He was, is, and always will be sufficient to fulfill His promises to us, in us, and through us. Yahweh, is mighty! Yahweh, is enough!

We see another example of El Shaddai as being all sufficient in Genesis 49:22-26, as Jacob (Israel) is blessing his son Joseph. In this verse Israel says:

“Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall. With bitterness archers attacked him; they shot at him with hostility. But his bow remained steady, his strong arms stayed limber, because of the hand of the Mighty One [El Shaddai] of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, because of your father’s [Israel’s] God, who helps you, because of the Almighty [El Shaddai], who blesses you with blessings of the heavens above, blessings of the deep that lies below, blessings of the breast and womb. Your father’s blessings are greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains, than the bounty of the age-old hills. Let all these rest on the head of Joseph, on the brow of the prince among his brothers.”

See how God is described by Israel to be the mighty provider of Joseph’s blessings? God is shown to be Joseph’s strength to endure hardships. God is shown to be Joseph’s strong moral and spiritual foundation. God is shown to be Joseph’s sustenance and nourishment; not just to him, but to his children too. All in all, El Shaddai is Joseph’s “God who IS enough.”

So, how about you? Is God your strength in hard times, your foundation of truth, your sustainer in all you need, both physically as well as spiritually? Is God enough?

Do you allow God access to all areas of your life? Do you really have a deep enough relationship with God; one in which you can call upon El Shaddai in confidence? Do you really know “God who IS enough”?

Selah (Pause/Reflect).

I’ll leave you with this word from God to the Apostle Paul. It comes as a response to a painful plea that Paul made to our Creator to have a “thorn” removed from his life. God’s answer to Paul was not to remove the torment from his life, but to reveal Himself to Paul through the affliction. In this answer came an understanding; Paul came to know El Shaddai even more upon hearing and accepting these divine words:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

His Name Is . . . 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 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.

Cecil B. DeMille‘s The Ten Commandments Copyright © 1956 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved. TM ® & Copyright © 1999 by Paramount Pictures. 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.

Introduction

Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name . . .”

If you find that lyric very familiar it’s probably due to one very popular TV series — Cheers! Every Thursday night on American TV, from 1982 to 1993, NBC’s Cheers would begin with those words melodiously streaming from your television set right to your ears and I’ll bet you probably even sang along, if you watched regularly enough.

For those of you unfamiliar with Cheers, it was a simple sitcom about the human condition. A show that revolved around not only the lives of the folks that worked at the fictionally historic tavern in Boston, MA, known as Cheers but also of those who frequented the bar. (Right about now you are either reminiscing or wondering what this has to do with an article on God, His names, and our worship, but stay with me as it will all make sense shortly.)

This show starred several actors over its award winning 11 seasons (Ted Danson, Shelley Long, Nicholas Colasantos, Rhea Perlman, John Ratzenburger, Woody Harrelson, Kelsey Grammer, Kirstie Alley, and Bebe Neuwirth), but the most endearing character was played by George Wendt, and that character’s name was Norman “Norm” Peterson.

Mr. Peterson, was so well known at this bar — so much a fixture there — that no matter how full the tavern was, no matter how long it had been since the patrons had visited, everybody knew when Norman was there. Literally, every time Mr. Peterson’s oversized shape burst through the front door of Cheers the customers and employees alike all shouted in unison, “NORM!”

It seemed that everybody did indeed know his name. It was never, “Hey, you,” or “Hello, Dude,” or “Greetings, fellow humanoid.” No, it was always his name, “Norm.”

Calling on someone by name immediately grabs that person’s attention. It makes them aware of the individual’s intent to engage in a conversation or to offer up a cordial greeting. Our names give us identity, a sense of self-worth, and sometimes our names offer up clues as to our ethnicity, the place we come from, the type of person we are or want to be. Occasionally our names even come with titles that allude to our education or type of job we are enjoying. Names are essential to mankind’s community and communicating with each other within that community. And so it is with our Creator.

Our lives should be places where God is a welcome fixture and so much so that we too shout out His name(s) whenever we feel His presence. Too many of us (myself, included) pray to the Almighty or speak of Him in casual conversation as simply God. It’s become such a generic noun culturally that “God” holds no real meaning or brings about no real conviction to most. It’s safe and unobtrusive, generally, as “God” can refer to many religious figures, thoughts, or theologies. But, speak the name of Jehovah, Yahweh, Jesus, or talk of the Holy Spirit and immediately defense systems arise from within people who are listening. Rooms empty, tables are cleared, and doors become closed and locked; and all that occurred at the local church after Sunday services. O.K., maybe not in the church building, but you do know of the discomfort I’m talking about.

So, why is it that we as Christians are so seemingly ignorant or fearful of speaking of the one true God by name? Why don’t we even bother to address the Almighty by name when we pray? (I’m not talking about ending your prayer with the standard “in Jesus’ name we pray,” either. I’m speaking of truly addressing our conversations with God directly to The Almighty, clearly and intentionally by His name.) I’m certain that most of us who profess to be true “born again” Christians don’t even realize that by calling out to God, by naming Him “God,” we are not calling out to Him by name but by the essence of what He is. It would be like calling out to another person by calling them “Human.”

You may not know this, either, but there are three primary names of God in the Old Testament:

– God (Elohim/Deity)

– Lord (Jehovah, or Yahweh)

– Lord/Master (Adonai)

Beyond these, the one true living God is called by over eighty other compound names or descriptive titles; names that have real meaning and insight as to His very nature. Names that will teach us not only of God Almighty, but of how to serve Him and worship Him.

During this series of articles we will not be studying all eighty plus names of our Creator, but each name that we do study will connect us with an attribute of God; an attribute that will call us to worship Him, whether corporately or individually. More importantly, we will show how to appropriately call upon our Lord by name in our daily circumstances.

When our study is done, we should be able to reflect on how important it is to our spiritual growth, to our physical well-being, to our relationship with God, to call out to Him by name. After all, if God cares so much for us that He knitted us together in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13b), that He knows how much hair is on our heads (Matthew 10:30; Luke 12:7a), if He sent His one and only Son to die for our sins (John 3:16), then how much more should we take the time to learn the name of the One who knows us and cares for us so intimately. Then and only then can we properly claim to know Him and be appropriately called a true worshiper of God!

So, I invite you to follow this study with me, and let’s learn together just how to make our lives a place where God can know that we care enough to call upon Him by name, and let’s understand together just how to become more intimate with the One who calls us by name.

His Name Is . . . 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 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.

Cheers TM ® & Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 by Paramount Pictures and Copyright © 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993 Paramount Network Television. All rights reserved.

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

Article IV, part 2


We have begun looking into how we as believers can experience true joy in our daily worship, even in the midst of serious suffering and strife, but to do this there are some things we must first understand about the word joy. So to understand fully what joy means, and to correctly apply it to our everyday life and worship, we will have to dissect the word; cut into what we said joy is and look around inside it — find what lies at its core. To do this we will literally take the word “joy” and examine it letter by letter. When we are done, the acrostic we end up with will be a simple and applicable tool with which you can allow God to bring real joy to you daily.

The first meaning we can find at the core of real joy is in the letter “J.” And that is true faith in the Lord, God Jehovah via a relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. (Jehovah is one of the forms of the Hebrew name for God.) As we studied earlier, all of us are sinners. To be a sinner is to be an arrow that has missed its mark or center, or to put it more clearly, missed the bull’s-eye. All of mankind was intended to exist in the center of God’s will and purpose. Sin, which was introduced into our lives via the “fall of man” in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-24), disrobed and removed God’s glory from mankind. Sin left us naked, vulnerable, and dying. There was no way the human race would ever be living in the center of God’s will and purpose ever again without divine intervention. A deep and true faith in God, via a relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ, is the only way humans can return to living in the center of Jehovah’s will and purpose. Let’s look over how we can have such a faith in God, before we move on.

First, we must recognize that sin has removed us from God’s glory (this is our current “fallen state”) and then realize that we need to be restored to the center and purpose of Jehovah (Isaiah 59:1-20). Remember the five orders of worship (confession, gathering, giving, rejoicing, and studying)? We can’t experience true worship if we can’t exist in God’s presence. Sin prevents us from being in the presence of the Almighty, and confession is the first step toward being in His will; returning us to the center of His will.

We must also realize that we do not deserve Jehovah’s grace, but deserve death. “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). Everything in life costs us something; nothing is free. Some costs we eagerly pay and others we are reluctant to pay, but life is a costly thing. Life costs us, male and female alike, something of each other in order to conceive a new life (child). The creation of the human race cost God, as well. Life cost Him, in the beginning, a piece of Himself — the breath of life and His image or spirit (Genesis 1:26-27). Life also cost Him the loss of our companionship when we sinned in the garden, as sin ushered in death, and death costs us our own lives as payment and prevents us from living with God eternally (again, see Romans 6:23a). But it’s because the Lord God, Jehovah, loved life — human life — so very much, it ultimately cost Him the life of His only Son, Jesus Christ. This truth is another aspect of experiencing a true faith in God. You can’t fully enjoy a relationship with God the Father until you understand fully the relationship we are to have with God the Son.

God longs to see mankind return to Himself and He knew humanity would never be able to do so on its own. Thus the reason God chose to pay our debt to sin (the wages of sin is death) by allowing His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die (John 3:16). Christ’s blood paid our debt (Hebrews 9:22b), and His sacrifice became God’s free gift of eternal life to all of mankind (Romans 6:23b). God never intended to condemn us (John 3:17), sin did that on its own. Jehovah only wanted our love and worship. Remember, death is what we deserved but eternal life can be ours, free of charge, if we will only trust in God, obey His will, and believe in His Son.

To fully trust in Christ we must know that just as life is costly so, too, are our relationships. A relationship with Jesus Christ costs us submission. I know the word submission in today’s equal rights world is yet another negative term, but if we will understand it and accept submission for what it really is, a willful act (choice) of servile flattery (serving/acting out of love and respect) then we will experience the eternal joy that God intended us to have in our lives. We must choose to submit to Christ’s headship over us, serving Christ not because He is our conquering hero but because we love and respect Him for what He chose to do for us on the cross. When believers do this, they become a part of Christ’s body, known as the church (1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 1:22, 5:29-30; Colossians 1:18, 2:10). Quickly, let’s take this concept of the church a little further.

The church is not just known as the body of Christ but its also known in Scripture as the bride of Christ (Christ therefore being the loving Bridegroom of heaven). As the bride, we are to submit to following Christ’s perfect will for us (Ephesians 5:23-32) just as wives are intended by God to submit to their husbands. (The picture being painted here is missed by our modern society because today we have allowed both ideas of traditional marriage and spousal submission to become ugly, meaningless, and disposable. Take time to study what is being presented here. Both men and women alike should meditate on what God intended and come to understand true submission.)

Let’s ponder the definition of submission once more from the above paragraph: “a willful act (choice) of servile flattery (serving/acting out of love and respect).” If you are married, try applying this idea to your relationship. If you do, your relationships will improve beyond your wildest dreams; your life will bloom and grow beyond what you ever imagined possible, and your relationship with Jesus Christ, God’s Son, will fill you with a joy that can only come from being centered on Him.

The second meaning we can find at the core of real joy comes from the letter “O” and is in two parts: be obedient in unity and serve others. The first, being obedient in unity (meaning that we should make every effort to be at peace with our brothers and sisters in Christ), is the key to understanding the second, which is to serve others. Ken Sande, author, lawyer, and founder of Peacemaker Ministries, says in his book The Peacemaker that peace (or unity) is the “presence of genuine harmony, understanding, and goodwill between people.” Realize, it’s Jesus Christ’s sacrifice (that we just talked about in discussing true faith) which allows for real unity (or peace) with other people. Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians:

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two [Jew and gentile] one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. (Ephesians 2:13-18)

We are called to do all we can to live unified, as one (at peace) with each other (Romans 12:18). We cannot be restored to the center of God’s will and purpose if we are not restored to each other, which brings us to the second part of this second meaning of joy.

Serving others is a crucial part to our receiving true joy from God and to our corporate worship. Obeying Jesus Christ’s call to serve mankind over self is a core truth we must grasp if we want to become the true worshipers that God intended us to be. Christ himself came to serve us, so why should we not also serve as He commands (Mark 10:45; Gal. 5:13; 1 Peter 4:10)? Remember our (the bride’s) submission to the Bridegroom of heaven means we both serve Him as well as mimic, or imitate, Him. We can do this when we allow Christ to make His Spirit dominant within us (John 3:30; Ephesians 6:7) and when we follow His model of self sacrifice, which was to lay aside His heavenly throne to become human, live a human life, and die a sinner’s death so that we could be restored to God as holy and righteous (2 Corinthians 13:4; Philippians 2:6-8). Faith in Jehovah and submission to Jesus comes first, then obeying Christ by being united as one body (the church) and serving each other (the members of that body) comes second. So, what’s third? You!

The letter “Y” represents being at peace within yourself, and is the last meaning we find at the core of true joy. Ken Sande says in The Peacemaker that internal peace is a “sense of wholeness, contentment, tranquility, order, rest and security.” Sounds to me like a piece of heaven on earth. I can’t recall the last time I truly felt this way for more than a moment, but this type of peace can be ours daily. Real peace comes to us, via the Holy Spirit, from the Lord God, Jehovah, and is a gift that awaits all who are faithful in submitting their whole life to His Son, Jesus Christ (1 John 3:21-24).

Our internal peace is also a by-product of righteousness (Psalm 85:10, 119:165; Isaiah 26:3, 32:17, 48:18). Righteousness and inner peace are ours through our relationship with Jesus Christ. If we do not allow God’s righteousness to grow and dwell in our daily lives, then we will not only live a life of stress and unrest, but we will put the Son’s reputation at risk. How many people do you know that feel negatively toward Jesus or toward going to church or toward Christianity? Is it not because the “righteous” have bragged about how good they are, only to turn around and dishonor God by acting immorally or unethically? Have we not all talked about love, grace, and peace only to turn around and show nothing of these things in our dealings with people and daily dilemmas? Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans that “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you” (Romans 2:24b). Christ’s reputation depends on our being genuine in our faith and peacemakers with each other (Matthew 5:9; Romans 12:18; Colossians 3:15-16).

And returning once more to our first meaning of real joy (true faith via submitting to Jesus Christ’s headship over the body) by acknowledging the Son’s headship and submitting to serving Him, we gain peace within our own spirit (Romans 15:13; 1 Corinthians 14:33; Hebrews 12:11). Then by following (submitting to; serving and mimicking) Christ’s example to serve others, we remain at peace with our brothers and sisters resulting in our own spirit being at peace with God and ourselves (Ephesians 4:3-6; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; Hebrews 12:14).

This is joy! And joy’s core meaning: to allow God’s real joy into our daily lives and daily worship. Did you catch the acrostic from earlier? Here it is once more:

J – True faith in the Lord, God Jehovah and submission to His Son, Jesus Christ.
O – Obedient to be unified as one body (the church) and to serve others (the members of the body).
Y – Be at peace within yourself by being faithful to submit to Christ and serve others.

Remember from Article 3 that the order of rejoicing allows us to both give and receive God’s attribute of perfect joy. J.O.Y. — Jesus, Others, and You are how we can have this eternal attribute in our daily life. This is how we can have joy in suffering. This is the real meaning of joy that no dictionary could define. Only in God’s presence can we receive true joy, and giving of ourselves in submission to Christ’s will and serving others is what ushers us into God’s presence.

This is what Joshua experienced daily in his life as he led his family and the nation of Israel in genuine worship of the Almighty. Joshua was careful to be faithful in all God asked of him, to obey every command given, and to serve his people, the nation of Israel, by keeping them united and at peace with each other (Joshua 24:31). Joshua never had to struggle to lay his head down at night and be at rest because he was at peace in his faith. This same joy, God can give to you. Now, do you really have the “joy, joy, joy, joy” down in your heart? I hope so, and let’s have no more of that asking, “Where?”

We are now ready to raise our third wall in our temple of worship. That wall is — our purpose!

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

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

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

The Peacemaker” © 1991, 1997, 2004 by Kenneth Sande

All rights reserved. The brief information quoted from this book appears in this article with the permission granted per the copyright statement which appears in the seventh printed publication, May 2007.

Published by Baker Books a division of Baker Publishing Group, P.O. Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287; www.bakerbooks.com.

Down In My Heart (I’ve Got the Joy)” by George Willis Cooke, pub.: Unknown, Copyright: Public Domain

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