Article VI, part 3


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Selah.

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

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

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

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

They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love lyrics and music written by Peter R. Scholtes. Copyright © 1966 by F.E.L. Publications, Ltd./ASCAP (1925 Pontius Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90025).
If you want to use these lyrics, please contact the authors, artists or labs.

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

Advertisements

Article VI, part 2


Our last post began the construction of our fourth and final wall, as we returned to what is truly at the heart of our worship — God.

We also reviewed the three main attributes of God (faithfulness, hope, and love) and revealed that an obedient heart [spirit] was a very key ingredient to becoming a true worshiper.

Finally, we began to look at twelve ways in which we can begin to develop the discipline of being obedient to God, the Father, in our daily worship. The first being the reading and studying of Scripture. Being obedient to read and study Scripture is essential to our heart’s growth and well-being.

Prayer is the second way we can learn the discipline of obedience. Romans 12:12 admonishes us to be “faithful [consistent] in our prayer.” Philippians 4:6-7 teaches that if we desire peace in our hearts then we should pray to God and petition Him regarding the things that weigh heavily on our spirits. Paul told us to devote ourselves to prayer, in Colossians 4:2-5, and not just for ourselves but for our fellow believers. Why? So that the message of Christ can be proclaimed clearly for all to hear and believe.

Prayer takes us right into God’s presence. It’s how we not only communicate to God our wants, needs and desires, but also it becomes an offering of worship to God (Psalm 141:2; Proverbs 15:8). Being obedient to pray regularly keeps our hearts connected to God Almighty.

Our third way to begin developing obedience to God in our daily worship is in the playing and singing of songs. Remember in Article 5 we mentioned that creation was created to declare God’s glory and mankind is the instrument that God chose to hear His glory declared. Whether we think we can sing or play an instrument, or not, isn’t the point. The point is that God desires our hearts to be filled with His joy and praise, and He also desires for that joy and praise to be voiced back to Him.

One of my favorite TV shows is an old comedy from the 1960s entitled F-Troop, which starred Forrest Tucker, Larry Storch, Melody Patterson, and Ken Berry. In this sitcom, we get to experience the colorful mishaps of the various men assigned to serve the United States Cavalry at Fort Courage. Leading this group of rag-tag horse soldiers is Captain Wilton Parmenter (Ken Berry), and serving his captain as both orderly and company bugler is the no-talent Private First Class Hannibal Shirley Dobbs, played by James Hampton. No matter how hard PFC Dobbs tried, he could never make his bugle sing the various military songs required of it. But somehow, every time, the men managed to know what it was they were being summoned to do, and every time, no matter how horribly the bugler played, Captain Parmenter would always receive the last note with an honest-to-goodness, heart-felt word of encouragement. PFC Dobbs would beam at times, believing he had given his all to a gracious commander. That is what it’s like when God’s people sing or play their praises to the Almighty. Our best is never really all that good, but God loves our music just the same. In fact, God usually requests an encore!

You see, nothing exposes what is in the heart more clearly than music. Music gives voice to our laments and our praises. With one stroke of a chord we can know immediately if the heart is happy or sad. The Bible is filled with examples of this, but one book stands firmly out in front as the official songbook of Scripture. That book — Psalms!

Look through these verses from the book of Psalms for a few examples of how we can bring honor and praise to God through being obedient to the playing and the singing of songs: Psalms 33:3, 59:16-17, 71:22-23, 81:1-2, 95:1-2, and 98:4-6.

Family is the fourth way we can learn the discipline of obedience. Western civilization has long forgotten, it seems, the importance of family and the impact it can have on our future generations. We rarely see fathers, or even grandfathers, mentoring their sons in godly masculinity. We hardly see the tender care and godly teachings of life being presented from mother to daughter. Why? Parents have rejected their responsibilities to teach God’s Word, mentor a godly lifestyle, and discipline their children based on God’s statutes (laws). Parents have given up this right to the local church, area state child-care facility, or local government/private school. How sad. How irresponsible! If we are going to be obedient to God’s call on our lives to be true worshipers of the Almighty, then we (the parents) have to take back the home and begin again to teach our children to love, trust, and fear (respect) God.

Joshua understood this, as did many of the patriarchs of the Bible. Let’s revisit Joshua 24:15, mentioned in Article 3, which says, “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.” The psalmist understood this: “Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord” (Psalm 34:11). King Solomon, possibly the wisest man to have ever lived, said in Proverbs chapter 22, verse 6: “Train [teach/mentor] a child in the way he [or she] should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” The wise king also had this to add, concerning discipline, in verse 15 of that same chapter, “Folly is bound up in the heart [core/spirit] of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away from him [or her].”

This parent/child relationship is taken even further in Ephesians 6:1-4, where the apostle Paul admonished children to obey their parents “in the Lord” (meaning, according to God’s ordained plan and statutes). Paul took it further and stated that if we, as children, “honor” our parents, then God will grace us with a long, well blessed life. Does this mean we will be rich? No! Again, just as we discussed in Article 5, we are more spiritual than physical. God made us in the image of His Spirit, therefore we must think in these terms where blessings are concerned. And we can’t overlook verse 4, which reminds parents (fathers in particular, as we are generally less patient and kind) that we cannot “exasperate” (meaning, bully or infuriate) our children. We must parent and discipline our children according to God’s Word and by applying His attributes; just like I’ve instructed throughout this study regarding our worship.

Lastly, with regard to relationships in the home, there is more than just the parent/child relationship; there is husband and wife. This relationship is without a doubt the most important of all human relationships, as it’s this special devotion between a man and a woman that gives sinful humanity a physical glimpse at the spiritual — a living, breathing picture of the relationship God intended for mankind to have with Him. That’s how special the marital relationship is. This is why marriage vows should be taken so very seriously. We can’t jump in and out of marital relationships any more than we can be wishy-washy with our spiritual devotion to God.

The apostle Paul explained this when he penned Ephesians 5:22-33. In these eleven verses, Paul taught that women should submit to their husbands “as to the Lord” and that men should love their wives “just as Christ loved the church.” This shows us that when women live out the special role of submission (remember Article 4: serving/acting out of love and respect) to their husbands, then mankind can learn how to submit to God. Men, Paul’s words are teaching us that when we love our wives correctly, then humanity can see how much God really does love mankind. Serving and submitting to one another is not a shameful practice — it’s a godly act of worship.

This also applies to the “marriage bed.” In 1 Corinthians 7:3-5, Paul wrote:

“The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise . . . the wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband . . . Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self control.”

Sexual intimacy between a man and a woman, inside the marital vows, is a strengthening, bonding act, and meant to grow the devotion between them as well as protect the relationship from Satan’s attacks. Physical intimacy between the husband and the wife is more than procreating — it’s a weld that binds two weak, vulnerable human spirits into one strong, unbreakable life of godly worship. As the psalmist said in Psalm 128, verses 1-4, regarding a man and his family: “Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in His ways . . . blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table. Thus is the man [family] blessed who fears the Lord.”

Our next post on the subject of returning to the heart of worship will begin with the fifth way we can learn obedience to God, as we continue in the construction of our fourth and final wall on our temple of worship.

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

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

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

F-Troop Copyright © 2006 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Copyright © 1965 Warner Bros. 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 VI, part 1


Noted Australian worship leader and singer-songwriter (formerly of Hillsong) Darlene Zschech once said this about worship: “Worship is an act of obedience of the heart. It is a response that requires the very core of who you are, to love the Lord for who He is, not just for what He does.”

Such insight.

Here we have our study simply stated. Summed up in these two sentences, we read what worship is all about — God.

Review with me the three main attributes of God, our Creator, that bring about worship from His creation:

– God’s Faithfulness (God’s faithfulness + acknowledging God’s faithfulness = worship)
– God’s Hope (God’s hope + acknowledging God’s hope = worship)
– God’s Love (God’s love + acknowledging God’s love = worship)

But, let’s not forget to review another key ingredient present in our formula for being a true worshiper. A vital element that was very present in the megathemes we observed earlier from Joshua’s life and from our study in Article 4 concerning real joy; that ingredient is obedience.

It’s not physical obedience that we are talking about either. No, we are talking specifically about what Darlene Zschech called “obedience of the heart [spirit].” Why? Because we cannot acknowledge God’s attributes without an obedient heart [spirit]. The physical obedience, our “works” if you will, will be a result of our spiritual obedience, but we cannot and will not become true worshipers of the Father through our physical works. It will always require an obedient heart at our core.

Look with me at Ephesians 2:8-10:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Now, this passage of Scripture is speaking specifically about our salvation in Christ, our first act of worship, but what is essential here is the principle behind these verses. Just as we can do nothing to be saved outside of being spiritually obedient to God’s call of salvation on our hearts, so can we do nothing towards becoming true worshipers of God outside of being spiritually obedient to acknowledge God’s attributes at the core of our worship.

So, let’s quickly look at our heart. Let’s define exactly what the heart is so we can fully comprehend its role in our obedience and our worship.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “heart” in this way:

(noun) 1) a hollow muscular organ that pumps the blood through the circulatory system by rhythmic contraction and dilation; regarded as the center of a person’s thoughts and emotions . . . ; one’s mood or feelings; courage or enthusiasm, 2) The center or inner most part of something; the vital part or essence.

In the Life Application Study Bible (NIV), “heart” is defined as “ (noun) organ that circulates the blood; the vital center of one’s being, emotions, and sensibilities.”

Just as our physical bodies require a physical heart to pump vital nutrients and oxygen through the bloodstream to all our various organs, muscles, and members, so too does our worship require a “heart” to pump God’s attributes (faith, hope, and love) from its core, out through our spirit, and further out into the body of Christ (aka: the church/other believers). When we are obedient and allow our “heart” to do this, then our spirit is able to truly worship God, whether individually or corporately.

Again, it’s the attributes of God and our acknowledgment of those attributes (through an obedient heart) that will produce the actions that equal worship.

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

Now that we understand that we need to be obedient with our hearts to receive and acknowledge God’s attributes in our lives, and now that we comprehend that God must be at the center of our lives to be true worshipers of Him, let’s look at twelve ways we can begin to develop the discipline of being obedient to God, the Father, in our daily worship.

The first of the twelve concerns the reading and studying of Scripture. The Bible is very clear throughout its sixty-six books that the best way to grow close to God and avoid sin is to know and obey His word.

Do you want to remain pure? Psalm 119:9-11 tells us that if we are memorizing Scripture and living by the statutes of God’s Word, we can accomplish purity. Do you desire to live the spiritual life God intended? Then do as Proverbs 6:23 and Matthew 4:4 instruct and make God’s Word your guide and your sustenance. Do you seek God’s blessings? Then hear Christ’s instruction from Luke 11:28 to heed God’s Word and obey it. Do you wish to be filled with joy and gratitude in your worship? Then “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” (Colossians 3:16). Are you uncertain that the love of God even lives in you? Remedy that by simply being obedient to God’s Word, as the writer of 1 John taught us in chapter 2, verse 5.

Being obedient to read and study Scripture is essential to our heart’s growth and well-being.

We have laid our foundation, set the cornerstone, and erected three walls on our temple of worship. When we connect next, we will continue in the construction of our fourth and final wall as we etch closer to completing our temple of worship.

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

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

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

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

Article IV, part 2


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Article I, part 2


In part one of Article 1, I revealed that Joshua exhibited five key themes, called “megathemes,” throughout his life. These five megathemes, taken from The Life Application Study Bible (NIV), co-published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. and Zondervan Publishing House, are what I chose to use to help us understand why Joshua is an excellent example of a true worshiper, and these same megathemes began laying the foundation for this study on worship as it relates to each one of us, who are children of the living God.

The first megatheme we looked at was Joshua’s success as the leader of his nation and his family. The second was Joshua’s faith in God. By Joshua choosing to trust in God; not once, but on a daily basis, he allowed God to move in his life which provided opportunities for God to save him and the nation of Israel from their enemies and also allowed God to guide Joshua in his leading of this fledgling nation.

The third megatheme we will examine is divine guidance. Joshua received instructions from God for every aspect of his life, and it was up to him to properly convey those instructions to the nation of Israel. And not just in word but also in his deeds; “talk the talk and walk the walk.” God’s law, the Ten Commandments, guided Israel’s daily living, and His specific instructions conveyed directly through Joshua provided them with the guidance they needed to enjoy all their successes.

Guidance from God for our daily living can be found throughout the Scriptures. We can find it in our prayer time, as well. By staying in touch with God and His principles for living, we will have the needed wisdom to meet the challenges and conflicts that life on earth brings (Psalms 25:4-5; 119:105). By allowing God’s guidance to prevail in his life and staying connected with God regarding all matters, Joshua was able to teach his people another important act of worship — obedience (Joshua 1:7-9).

Joshua is also one of the greatest examples of leadership, our fourth megatheme, in Scripture. Joshua’s confidence in God’s word, God’s plan, God’s strength, and God’s faith in him, a mere mortal man, became the very reason he was such a great leader and it’s a marvelous glimpse at Joshua’s character, courage, and spiritual maturity.

To be a strong leader like Joshua takes an uncanny ability to listen well. When God speaks, we have to have the type of relationship that makes God’s voice as familiar to us as our own family members’ voices are to one another (John 10:27).

We also must have the will to obey God and move when told to move by God. God will instruct us according to His plan, and we have to be diligent in carrying out His plan. Bottom line, strong leadership comes from being led by God Himself. Joshua revealed this act of worship to his elders and to his people by following God’s leading (Joshua 1:9-11; 23:1-3).

Last, we see Joshua as a conquerer. Now that can be seen as a negative characteristic in this post-sixties era where “make love, not war” still rings loud and clear in our politically correct American society, but the megatheme of conquest is not at all a negative trait. It is very much a part of our worship of the Almighty because it requires another act of worship, the will to serve. Remember we stated earlier, the will to serve allows God to do His most mighty of miracles through us all.

Understand that it was God who commanded Israel, through Joshua, to conquer the Canaanites and take all their land (Joshua 1:1-6). This was God’s plan. God was using the Israelites to fulfill His promise to Abraham (Genesis 15:18) and to bring judgment on the evil that was there in the land — the land God had promised Moses for Israel to inhabit (Exodus 3:17).

Joshua and the Israelites under him were faithful in accomplishing this mission of total conquest, for the most part. In Joshua chapter 9, we read the story of how the nation of Gibeon deceived the nation of Israel, thus preventing the annihilation of Gibeon. Gibeon became a slave nation under Israel, and thus became the first country to escape God’s judgment at Israel’s hand. This eventually became a trend in Israel’s behavior, and attention to God’s details wavered in the years after Joshua died. The Israelites’ commitment to God eventually faltered altogether.

To be faithful to God’s call and to love God as we should requires of us more than mere enthusiasm. It requires endurance in our commitment to Him (2 Timothy 4:7-8). There can be no room in our lives for complacency (Proverbs 1:32). God’s work in us, His plan for us must be completed (Acts 20:24). God’s instructions must be completely applied to every facet of our lives (Exodus 24:7; Psalm 119:1-8).

Joshua’s act of worship was to complete the task given him by God, and he did so, outside of Gibeon’s ruse. It was Israel’s failure in future generations that kept them from achieving their full spiritual potential as a people of God. The nation of Israel eventually removed their faith from God and placed their faith time and time again in man-made idols. The desecration of God’s chosen people came about when Babylon ransacked Israel in or around 586 BC, and for the next fifty or so years Israel lived in exile as a conquered people in a foreign land.

An odd way to end, commenting on failure rather than achievement. Just remember, Joshua didn’t fail in his faithfulness to God, though the fact is Joshua was fallible. The deception of Gibeon shows us this. It was the nation of Israel in its later years, though, that really failed. You and I must realize 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. The goal is achievable. Joshua was not a true worshiper because he was perfect, but because he wasn’t. Nothing noted above was a result of Joshua’s own ability, but a result of God doing a good and perfect work in and through Joshua’s life because Joshua was willing to serve God and the Israelites.

This is where conquest comes in as an act of worship. We have to allow God full control of our lives so that He will be able to mold us and make us into the perfect instruments of His glory that He desires us to be. It’s the Holy Spirit working in us and through us that conquers our daily evils, either in us or around us (Romans 8:9-13, 37-39). Realizing we are the temple for which God’s Spirit can reside (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) is one of the most marvelous aspects of worship we can hope to experience under the sun. Joshua, Israel’s elders, and the nation of Israel under them were all examples of what God can do through us when we are faithful to serve Him, wholly (Joshua 24:31). In later years, unfortunately, Israel was also an example of what happens when we don’t.

Let us now quickly recap what we just learned from the life of Joshua. First, we can only experience success if we are faithful in following God’s plan for our lives. Second, faith can’t begin in our lives until we truly believe God can be trusted. We must know that God wants what is best for us. Third, we must allow God’s guidance to prevail in our lives and stay connected with God regarding all matters. In short, we must be obedient to God in all things. Our fourth reminder is in the area of leadership. Strong leadership comes from being led by God. Then our fifth and final reminder concerns the idea of conquest, or being a conquerer. We really must allow God full control of our lives so that He will be able to mold us and make us into His likeness. Always be mindful that it’s the Holy Spirit working in us and through us that conquers all our earthly conflicts and dilemmas. As Paul told us in his letter to the Philippians (chapter 4, verse 13), “I can do everything through Him [Christ] who gives me strength” (NIV).

These five megathemes in Joshua’s life set up the principles we all will need to follow if we are to become the true worshipers that our heavenly Father desires for us to be. Our faithfulness to God allows Him to bless us with many successes. A wholehearted trust in God allows our faith in God to grow in all areas of our lives. Also, obedience to God’s Word allows His divine guidance to lead us in all things, thus making us into the leaders and conquerers He planned for us to be.

The foundation has been laid, so now let’s begin with building a temple of worship in our hearts, minds, and spiritual lives in which God desires to reside.

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.