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.

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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 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.