Article 9

Living Your True Purpose (Header)

Living Your True Purpose (Article 9)More To This Life, by CCM artist Steven Curtis Chapman, was released in 1989. It was from Steven’s third studio album, which bore the same name. Preaching 1 The song is about every day life, and how mundane it all can become when we don’t allow Christ to rule our lives.

Humanity was never meant to live a life of monotony. We were never meant to experience boredom, by living out a day-to-day routine that is filled with tiresome, uninteresting, repetitive actions. Life simply was never intended to be commonplace, yet for many of us living a “modern” twenty-first century lifestyle that is exactly what we are experiencing — pure dull-drum.

So why is it that mankind is all too familiar with all things plain and ordinary? Because most of us live out our every day lives from a purely physical perspective. And what’s worse is that many who claim to be Christians — people who have supposedly given themselves over to living a life that would resemble the life of Christ — are living out such unexciting lives. Hear me people; God did not create you to be mediocre, He created you to live a life full of purpose.

God’s purpose for humanity was to allow us to experience a life full of His Spirit. To bask in the glorious presence of our Creator. Our labor was to be the simple task of ruling and tending the rest of creation (Genesis 1:26-28, 2:15). But because we allowed our own selfish desires to interfere with God’s plan, we lost our way and in the process our life of abundance, too (Genesis 3).

So, God made a way for us to return to Him, and to again experience that life of abundance. Jesus Christ became the way for mankind to be restored to God’s original purpose. Jesus did so by becoming a blood sacrifice that would pay our debt of death, which we owed for choosing to be selfish and living a life of materialism. When we choose to surrender our lives over to Christ, we are choosing to die to our selfish wants and desires, and to embrace the life of a true worshiper, which can never be mundane (John 3:16-17, 14:6; Romans 6:23; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

For a believer, there can never be a secular life and a sacred one. Human-beings only have one life for which to live. God never asks us to compartmentalize our day-to-day lives in this way. We are never to live Monday through Saturday one way, and then live our Sundays another. We are not to live out our professional lives one way, and our home lives differently, nor are we to be contrasting yet again when we enter into the church. No! What ever we choose to do, at any moment of the day, we are to do that task, participate in that mission, fulfill that duty in God’s name. We are to do our jobs and satisfy our promises for the glory of God (Colossians 3:23).

You see, your job may not be directly connected to the church, but that does not mean that your work is less important that that of a pastor, or missionary, or any other cleric. If you are a true believer of Jesus Christ, then anything you do is of the utmost importance. If you follow the teachings of God’s only begotten Son, then you are called to live your life to the glory of your Creator (1 Corinthians 10:31). Once you grasp this understanding, and alter your attitude to model Christ’s, then a humdrum life will never again be one you need to embrace. A life so very abundant in God’s love, grace, and mercy will lift you to a life filled with excitement and new adventures.

So, let’s stop compartmentalizing our lives. Let’s dedicate ourselves to living our lives for the sake of Christ. Let’s surrender ourselves to fulfilling each and every one of our obligations for the glory of God, Almighty. No matter the job you are doing.

Wives, serve your husbands (Ephesians 5:22-24); husbands, rightly lead and love your wives (Ephesians 5:25-27). Moms, serve your families; Dads, rightly lead and love your families. Children obey and serve your parents (Ephesians 6:1-3); parents, rightly lead and love your children. Employees, no matter the business, serve your employers as if your were serving Christ, Himself. Employers, lead and care for your employees just as Christ would lead and care for them. Note these words from the Apostle Paul, which were written to the church in Ephesus:

“Slaves [Employees], obey your earthly masters [employers] with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free [poor or rich]. And masters [employers], treat your slaves [employees] in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that He [God] who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with Him.” (Ephesians 6:5-9)

There really is more to this life, than living and dying. There really is more to this life, than monotonous routines and sterile homes. And certainly there is more to this life, than living physically one moment and then living spiritually the next. Simply concede to live as the Apostle Paul instructed the people of Corinth:

“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (1 Corinthians 5:14-21)

Stop thinking of your life as belonging to yourself or the world, and start living your life as one who belongs to the LORD of all. Stop compartmentalizing every facet of the life you have, and start glorifying your Creator in every moment you are given. After all, if you are a true believer, “You know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:24)

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.

More To This Life lyrics and music written by Steven Curtis Chapman and Phil L. Naish. Copyright © 1989 Sparrow Records.

Video made available by Jason Ministries and Sparrow Records; Copyright © 1992 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 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.

Article IV, part 1



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “joy” as:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article III, part 2


In part one of Article 3, we began discussing our attitude of worship. We came to understand that to have the right attitude of worship requires us to choose to prepare ourselves for and to choose to respond to God in worship.

We also disclosed the five orders of worship (confession, gathering, giving, rejoicing, and studying) and examined, in depth, the first of the five — the order of confession. We continue now with the second order of worship.

Gathering is an order that acknowledges God’s love for us and His delight in our relationships (fellowship) with each other and with Him. After all, God created us to be in fellowship with Him and each other. We will discuss this more in Article 5 when we examine our purpose more deeply, but the truth is that God created us for fellowship. That’s why restoring our relationship to Him was so important after man sinned in the garden of Eden. In fact, God talked with the Hebrews 53 times regarding fellowship in four of the first five books of the Bible (Exodus-Deuteronomy). Fellowship is discussed 96 times total from Genesis to Revelation. God needs for us to understand that “it is not good for man[kind] to be alone” (Genesis 2:18a). John tells us in chapter 3 verse 16 that “God so loved [desired fellowship with] the world [mankind] that He gave [sacrificed] His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him [Jesus Christ] shall not perish but have eternal life.” It’s this sacrifice that Christ made on the cross that enables us to have real and lasting relationships with each other and, most important, with our Creator. John later wrote:
We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. . . . If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (1 John 1:3,7)

Giving is a special order of our worship as it builds our relationships with both God and each other. It teaches us about God’s peace and patience by removing our focus from self to a focus of service or sacrifice. In Proverbs chapter 18 verse 16 we see that “a gift opens the way for the giver and ushers him into the presence of the great.” I really like the way that reads. No matter the gift we choose to give; if the attitude is right, God will allow us into His holy presence. Our giving gets us an audience with the Almighty! This has nothing to do with our works, mind you, but it has everything to do with our hearts. A willingness to give of ourselves. Do you recall Paul’s words to the Ephesians concerning being saved by grace through faith, so that no man can boast in himself (Ephesians 2:8-9)? In the same way, whatever we may have to give we should give graciously as a result of our faith in Jesus Christ. Why? Because, as Paul also wrote in his letter to the Corinthians, “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart [by the prompting of the Holy Spirit] to give, not reluctantly [with doubt] or under compulsion [out of guilt or pressure], for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)

The order of rejoicing allows us to both give and receive God’s attribute of perfect joy. Deuteronomy chapter 12 verse 7 tells us, “In the presence of the Lord your God, you and your families shall eat and rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the Lord your God has blessed you.” The psalmist wrote in Psalm 118, verse 24, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” In God’s presence we receive true joy, and as we said before, giving is what ushers us into God’s presence. No matter what we set our minds to do, if we give of ourselves joyfully, give thanks in any circumstances, we can rejoice knowing we are doing God’s will (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). After all, He made all things with this purpose in mind. (We will go deeper into what God’s joy is and how we can both obtain it and give it in Article 4.)

The final order will reveal to us the godly attributes of faithfulness and self-control; this order of worship is studying God’s Word. These famous words of the psalmist teach us clearly:
How can a young man [or woman] keep his way pure? [Remember we are called to be holy.] By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119: 9-11)

Studying God’s Word, the Bible, gives us the ability to live the holy lives God intended, making us the true worshipers we were purposed to be. Self-control is the path to being found faithful, and self-control is obtained through studying the Bible. Deuteronomy chapter 11 verses 18-21 remind us to “fix these words [of God’s] . . . in your hearts and minds. . . . Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home . . . so that your days and the days of your children may be many . . . as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.”

Now that we have looked over these five orders of worship (confession, gathering, giving, rejoicing, and studying), let’s attempt to use them, as I said earlier, to prepare ourselves for worship individually, corporately as a family, or corporately as a church body and in response to God in our worship. We do this in three ways: physically, mentally, and spiritually. Recall from Article 1 that we can only become true worshipers of God if we remain faithful to the end (Matthew 24:5-13), serving God and each other with all our mind, body, and soul. Why? Because true worship requires our whole selves, and we are a three-part being made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). Just as God is three parts in one (Father, Son, and Spirit) so too are we three parts in one — the physical, mental, and spiritual. Each part should be applied to the five orders of worship in some way. For example, we could physically and spiritually confess our sins (preparation for worship) and then physically and spiritually repent (respond to God in worship). Yet another example could be to mentally and physically plan to gather for worship (preparation) and then go (physically and mentally) engage in worship (response), and so on through the remaining orders of worship. Joshua was able to prepare for worship and respond to God in his worship in all the various aspects of his life, within this same manner: individually, corporately as a family, and corporately as a nation.

There were times when confession was needed, as in the story of Achan (Joshua 7), and so Israel prepared and responded accordingly. There were times when Joshua would gather the Israelites for corporate worship. In Joshua chapter 4 we read about the altar of remembrance built from twelve stones handpicked from the Jordan River to represent each one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Here we see Joshua planned with Israel and both responded together. He led the Israelites in giving fellowship offerings in chapter 8 verses 30-35 of the book of Joshua; both preparations were made and responses given. Rejoicing also takes place in many of Joshua’s stories; for example in the story of Jericho’s destruction, rejoicing in God played a key part in the Israelites winning that battle (Joshua 6). In this instance the planning was from the “commander of the army of the Lord” and Joshua and the Israelites responded faithfully. Finally, with regard to study, Joshua served under Moses while in the desert. Moses taught him on every aspect of the law God has entrusted him with. When Moses died, Joshua received the stone copies of God’s Ten Commandments. With this information, Joshua took charge of not just leading Israel but teaching them. In chapter 5 of the book of Joshua, he taught concerning the rite of circumcision; in chapter 8 he taught concerning fellowship offerings, and lessons continue throughout all twenty-four chapters.

In closing, let’s note once more that a right attitude of worship is an understanding that it is 10 percent God’s call in our lives and 90 percent how we will respond to His call in our lives. Let us also recall that an attitude of worship is ours to choose or reject. We must come to understand that to have the right attitude of worship requires both preparation for and a response to worship (attributes of God + preparing to acknowledge those attributes of God + acknowledgment of God’s attributes in us = true worship). Remember also the five orders of worship (confession, gathering, giving, rejoicing, and studying) which help us prepare for and respond to worship individually, corporately as a family, or corporately as a church body. And review with me the three ways in which we should prepare for and respond to worship: the physical, the mental, and the spiritual. These are a lot to consider; a lot to remember and apply, but oh so important to fulfilling God’s purpose in each of our lives.

Article 1 laid the foundation (example of a true worshiper); Article 2 set the cornerstone (the heart of worship); here we erected the first wall to our temple of worship (an attitude of worship). Now for the second — real joy!

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

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

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

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

Article III, part 1


In the last article we began our journey into understanding just what worship really is. We talked about how worship is defined both as a noun and a verb. How it is both something with physical properties as well as something we have to participate in.

We also laid out a formula that helps us to understand that the attributes of God and our acknowledgment of those attributes in our daily lives will produce the actions from us that equal worship toward God.

(attributes of God + acknowledgment and application of God’s attributes in us = worship)

We discussed how, although worship is but a single word, there are many words that help us understand what is at the “heart” of our worship; and we closed out our article by briefly touching on three particular words I called principles of worship: attitude, joy, and purpose. Over the next three articles we will break down each of these principles and study them more deeply, and I have chosen to begin our three-part discussion by focusing this article on our attitude of worship.

“Attitude” is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as:

(noun) the arrangement of the parts of a body or figure (posture); a position assumed for a specific purpose (a threatening attitude); . . . a mental position with regard to a fact or state (a helpful attitude) — a feeling or emotion toward a fact or state; . . . an organismic state of readiness to respond in a characteristic way to a stimulus (as an object, concept, or situation); a negative or hostile state of mind —  a cool, cocky, defiant, or arrogant manner.

And, The Life Application Study Bible (NIV) defines the word “attitude” as “(noun) a state of mind or feeling with regard to some matter.” That all makes sense — doesn’t it? Though both definitions are accurate and thorough, they leave me wondering what it was I just read. I end up asking myself, “How can I make sense of it?” I know a wonderful pastor and teacher who has just the right explanation.

Dr. Charles R. Swindoll, both best-selling author and the senior pastor of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas, has a very fine and simple quote regarding attitude. It’s from his book entitled Strengthening Your Grip, and it reads in part as follows, “Words can never adequately convey the incredible impact of our attitude toward life. The longer I live the more convinced I become that life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we respond to it.” Simple and to the point. Did you grasp what he said?

Life is not made of circumstances. Life is made of choices. You choose how to react, positively or negatively, to your so-called “dead end” job. You choose how to react, positively or negatively, to your spouse’s infidelity. You choose how to react, positively or negatively, to your parents’ divorce. You choose how to react, positively or negatively, to your “ho-hum” life. You choose how to react, positively or negatively, to your best friend’s death. You choose how to react, positively or negatively, to all of life’s “circumstances.” You! Not anyone else; no one. Just you. Not even the Almighty Himself can dictate that to you. It’s your choice to react with a negative attitude about a circumstance in your life or with a positive attitude. Now, let’s adapt that concept into our worship.

To have the right attitude of worship, we must choose to do so. True worshipers understand that it’s 10 percent God’s call in their lives and 90 percent how they will respond to His call. Joshua understood God’s calling in his life to replace Moses as the leader of Israel and to conquer the enemies living in the Promised Land, but it took Joshua’s choosing to allow God to fulfill that calling in him that made Joshua the true worshiper that he was. Paul wrote about our choice to accept God’s call on our lives. In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, chapter 2 verses 5-9, he admonishes the church to have a Christlike attitude. In Galatians 1:6, he was upset to find out that many Galatians were “so quickly deserting the One who called them by the grace of Christ.” Understand; we choose to either accept or reject God’s call in our lives to be true worshipers. As Joshua said, “If serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve . . . as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). What a great attitude of worship!

Now that we comprehend what attitude means and that an attitude of worship is ours to choose or reject, we must realize that to have the right attitude for worship requires preparation. In understanding that we must make preparation for worship, we must also internalize that our preparation will require of us a response of worship. Let’s look back at our formula from the second article and expand it to include this concept: the physical attributes of God, and our preparing to acknowledge those attributes, followed by our acknowledgment of those attributes in our daily lives, will produce the actions or responses from us that equal true worship towards God.

(attributes of God + preparing to acknowledge those attributes of God + acknowledgment and application of God’s attributes in us = true worship)

As we prepare ourselves for worship, and then to respond to God in our worship, we should understand just what is involved in this process. As we prepare to worship individually, corporately as a family, or corporately as a church body, there are five orders of worship that will help us acknowledge various attributes of God. These five are well-founded scripturally:

Confession (Proverbs 28:13; 2 Corinthians 9:12-13; James 5:16; 1 John 1:9)

Gathering (Zephaniah 2:1-3; Acts 1:14; Romans 15:30; 2 Timothy 1:8-9a)

Giving (Genesis 14:20b; Deuteronomy 15:10; Proverbs 21:26b; Matthew 10:8b)

Rejoicing (Deuteronomy 12:7; Psalms 34:1-3, 118:24; Zechariah 9:9a; Romans 5:1-2)

Studying (Deuteronomy 31:12; Psalm 119:7; Proverbs 1:5; Matthew 11:29; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4)

The order of confession points us to acknowledging God’s pure, sovereign, and holy nature; just as it also allows us to acknowledge our fallen state. We read in Habakkuk chapter 1 verse 13, “Your [God’s] eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong.” This indicates both God’s perfect goodness (purity) and our imperfect wickedness (evil). This is why sin separates us from a sovereign God. Jeremiah wrote in Jeremiah chapter 32 verses 17-19 concerning God’s sovereignty:

Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you. You show love to thousands but bring the punishment for the father’s sins into the laps of their children after them. O great and powerful God, whose name is the Lord Almighty, great are your purposes and mighty are your deeds. Your eyes are open to all the ways of men; you reward everyone according to his conduct and as his deeds deserve.

Sovereignty dictates who God will love, who God will punish, and it maintains His purpose and deeds; we don’t and can’t do these things because we are sinful (missing the mark). We either accept God’s sovereignty in our lives, His calling to be one with Him and to be more like Jesus Christ, or we reject it and remove ourselves from God. Peter reminded us in 1 Peter chapter 1 verses 15-16, “Just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” If we do choose to be one with God and more like Jesus Christ, then we must live holy (set apart) lives.

We will discuss the other four of the five orders of worship in the next post, but let us recall from this blog that an attitude of worship is ours to choose or reject. We must come to understand that to have the right attitude of worship requires both preparation for and a response to worship (attributes of God + preparing to acknowledge those attributes of God + acknowledgment of God’s attributes in us = true worship).

We have begun the first wall to our temple of worship (an attitude of worship); Article 3, part two, will complete it.

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.

Strengthening Your Grip” © 1998 by Dr. Charles R. Swindoll

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 publication copyrighted 1998.

Published in Nashville, Tennessee, by Word Publishing Group a division of Thomas Nelson. Thomas Nelson is a registered trademark of Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Thomas Nelson, Inc., titles may be purchased in bulk for educational, business, fund-raising, or sales promotional use. For information, please e-mail SpecialMarkets@ThomasNelson.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 II, part 2


In part one of Article 2, we defined worship and began to look closer at two of three key attributes of God (His faithfulness and His hope) that produce the actions that equal worship, if we will choose to acknowledge them in our lives.

In this article we’ll begin with the third attribute — God is love.

Love can be defined in many ways, as worship can be, but for the sake of this blog let’s keep it simple. Let’s focus on the core definition of love and also its attributes. Love can be simply defined as a strong affection, a strong desire, or a strong devotion. Its attributes, listed in 1 Corinthians 13:4-10, are: 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 sound similar to the attributes ascribed to God in Galations 5:22-23, “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 (1 John 4:16). So we could easily apply the definitions 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, and this was revealed to mankind 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.

(God’s love + acknowledging and applying God’s love = worship)

Joshua understood God’s love for the people of Israel and also grasped the concept of living a life of love for God Himself. Joshua spoke in Joshua 22:5, “But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you: to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to obey His commands, to hold fast to Him and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul.” Christ also taught this very same principle of worship in Matthew 22:37-38 when He said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” Christ didn’t stop there either; Jesus followed up His statement on love by saying in verse 39, “And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” To truly live a life of worship, a life filled with God’s love, we must also love mankind as God loves mankind. Think on that. Caring for people is yet another act of worship, but we will look further into this attribute in Article 4.

So, how can we take these equations of worship and apply them to our lives? How can we grasp these truths and let them rule our hearts on a daily basis? Just as the Hebrews used special words to describe their heart for worship, we too can ascribe three key words or principles to help us focus on what is at the heart of being a true worshiper of God.

First, we must have a Christ-like attitude (Philippians 2:5-8), an overall attitude of worship. You see, an attitude of worship will both prepare us for worshiping God and set the stage for our response to God after we have begun worshiping Him. How can we have a right attitude? I’ll go into more detail in the third article, but basically we can create an attitude of worship in our daily lives by applying these five positive attitude principles:

– Rejoice in the Lord — always! (Psalm 118:24; Philippians 4:4)

– Have a gentle spirit (Proverbs 15:1, 25:15; Ephesians 4:2-3)

– Replace worry with prayer (Psalm 4:1; Philippians 4:6-7)

– Keep a proper perspective/outlook on life (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

– Apply what you have learned and live it (Ephesians 4:22-25; Philippians 4:8-9)

Second, we must have joy in our lives, and I mean real joy which must dominate our hearts (Psalm 51:10-12; Isaiah 12:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 5:16; James 1:2-4). Real joy can be defined as a celebration of faith (Psalm 16:11), a rejoicing in service, and being at peace. In the fourth article we will delve deeper into what joy really means to us and how we can achieve it in our lives, but we must now begin to understand the importance this principle will have in our daily worship experience (Psalm 19:8; Proverbs 10:28).

Our third principle: we must understand God’s purpose for our lives (Job 36:5; Psalm 138:8; Proverbs 19:21). Why are we here? Why did God create us? We were created to be covered by God’s glory (Psalm 8:4-5), to reflect His righteousness (Proverbs 4:18; Romans 1:14-17), and to be in fellowship with our Creator (1 John 1:3-4). In other words, God purposed us to be holy (set apart) and to worship Him. Article 5 will explore God’s purpose for us in more detail, but we must realize now that God has revealed in His word a very definite purpose for mankind; a purpose of consecration and worship.

In closing, let’s realize that worship is more than just a song sung on Sunday morning. Let’s choose today to recall the three key attributes of God:

Faith

Hope

Love

Let’s choose to also remember to acknowledge these attributes of God in our lives so that we can begin the process of becoming true worshipers in all things. Let’s choose today to recall the three words or principles that will bring into light for each of us what should be at the heart of our daily worship:

Attitude

Joy

Purpose

Pastor and teacher Graham Truscott was absolutely correct when he said, “When God’s people begin to praise and worship Him using the biblical methods He gives, the power of His presence comes among His people in an even greater measure.” The biblical methods discussed above are together the cornerstone now set upon the foundation we laid in Article 1. Let’s move forward then, as we continue with building the temple of worship God desires in us.

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.