Conclusion

Living Your True Purpose (Header)

Experiencing the Life of a True Worshiper

Experiencing the Life of a True Worshiper

I Worship You, by CCM group MercyMe, is from the 2002 debut album entitled Almost There. Though this song was never released as a single, World 1 it helped to establish the style and character of music that has kept MercyMe at the top of the CCM charts for more than twelve years. In fact, Almost There is considered the number four best selling album from its decade (2000-2009).

I Worship You, is all about experiencing the life of a true worshiper on a daily basis. It’s about what it can feel like to worship God in all circumstances and life events. It is a song of genuine, godly worship, which is exactly what we have been discussing in this series.

As we close out this simple study on experiencing the life of a true worshiper, we will quickly recap what we have learned so that you can easily recall our various topics of interest. Hopefully this recap will also inspire you to revisit some of these articles and move you to grow in your relationship with God on a daily basis.

Articles One and Two dealt primarily with our first acts of worship — salvation and water baptism. Before we can begin a day-to-day relationship with God, we must first have placed our faith in His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ (Romans 10:9-10), and have been obedient to His command to be baptized (John 3:5).

Articles Three and Four explored the call of all worshipers of God to fulfill the “Great Commission” (Matthew 28:18-20). To go through out the world testifying of Christ’s Gospel message and baptizing those who would believe, and to do so by CO-laboring with other believers, in spite of their denominational background (1 Corinthians 3:1-11). You see the true Church, the “Body of Christ,” is not filled with members from any one Christian denomination. No! The Church is made up of true worshipers from all Christian denominations, and we must work together for the good of the kingdom of God.

Articles Five and Six were all about serving mankind, as Christ instructed us to, and suffering as Christ suffered. Though Christ came primarily to seek and to save mankind from their sinful nature (Luke 19:10), He also came as a servant of humanity. He wanted to be an example to us, revealing how we can bring His hope to the hopeless and extend His help to the helpless (Mark 10:45). Ultimately, our serving others and our suffering as Christ suffered will make us more like Him.

Articles Seven and Eight revealed to us the importance of spending time in God’s Word and in prayer. God’s Word was given in written form to teach us, guide us, and grow us to be more like Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 3:16-17). This can only be done by our spending time reading it, studying it, and applying what we’ve have learned. And we must also pray, as God’s power flows from Himself into our lives through prayer (James 4:10). Prayer is as essential to our daily relationship with God, as is the reading of God’s Word.

Articles Nine and Ten dealt with living an abundant life in Christ and with gathering to worship God in a corporate environment. God’s purpose for humanity was to allow us to experience a life full of His Spirit, but we rejected His purpose. To get that life back, we must dedicate ourselves to living our lives for the sake of Christ — daily — in all that we do (Romans 12:11). True believers are also tasked with helping each other grow into true worshipers of God (Hebrews 10:24-25). Christians cannot accomplish this duty if they remain separated from one another. This work can only be completed if we are faithful to gather before God on a weekly basis.

Articles Eleven and Twelve disclose to us the importance of giving, especially the giving of God’s love. You see, part of our call from God, to serve each other and to suffer as His Son suffered, is so that we can learn the art of giving. Christ served mankind to give away His love, and Christ suffered for the same reason (Matthew 20:25-28). Love — God’s love — is the reason we are instructed to give, and one of the greatest ways that we can model this godly giving of love is through our romantic relationships. God designed the marriage relationship to be a physical picture of His love for the redeemed (Ephesians 5:22-32).

Articles Thirteen and Fourteen taught concerning how we should care for our physical and spiritual bodies, as well as about celebrating God in our music. Since Christians are considered by God to be members of Christ’s body, we must maintain our health and wellness in order to have the strength and energy to fulfill our calling — to fulfill our duty. It is imperative that Christians — true worshipers of God — maintain both their physical and spiritual health and wellness (Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 3 John 1:2). This in turn will allow us the strength to testify of God’s grace and loving kindness towards us through our singing. Though singing is not worship, as a whole, it is an important vessel for expressing our devotion to God (Psalm 95:1; Colossians 3:16).

“Confession” and “Forgiveness” were the topics of Articles Fifteen and Sixteen. We learned that confession was more than an admission of wrong doing, but that it was also a statement of one’s beliefs — a testimonial. Through this act of worship we can confess Christ as our Lord, and testify to others of His Gospel message (Matthew 10:32-33; Romans 10:9). Confession also leads us to receiving forgiveness. Forgiveness grants us access to freedom. Freedom from bitterness and hate; freedom to live and to love. Forgiveness is divine, and it is strong enough to cover over all wrongdoings. All we need do is accept it (1 John 1:9), and then give it to others (Mark 11:25).

Articles Seventeen and Eighteen covered the subjects of rejoicing and having a right attitude. A true worshiper of God rejoices over what God is doing, not only in their own life, but in the lives of other believers (Deuteronomy 12:7). Rejoicing rightly prevents us from getting prideful and allows us to celebrate achievements and yet remain humble. A right attitude also influences our ability to rejoice correctly and remain humble. An attitude that is focused on God and His characteristics will remain healthy and positive (Philippians 2:5-8), while an attitude that focuses on self will cause heartache and undo pain.

There you have it, all eighteen topics neatly outlined for further review and study. I hope that if you haven’t followed along faithfully that you will consider going back through and studying further these essential acts of worship. If you have been with us throughout the series, then I pray that you would take the time to review these subjects and apply them to your daily relationship with God.

William Barclay, a Scottish author, minister, professor of theology, radio and television presenter, is credited with having said this about speaking the truth. He said, “Telling the truth demands a deliberate effort.” In like manner, so does living the truth. We must take the time and make the effort to live the life we were purposed to live. God deliberately made us for His pleasure, and we rejected His love. Now we, who have placed our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, must make a deliberate effort to embrace God’s truth, speak of God’s truth, and live God’s truth. If we do; if we endure to remain faithful to God’s plan for our lives, then we will see God’s purpose grow in us and shine forth from us.

I’ll leave you with one last quote from William Barclay: “Endurance is not just the ability to bare a hard thing, but to turn it into glory.” Endure the life of a true worshiper. Bare the sufferings of life, as Christ did, and watch God turn you into a beacon that shines His glory throughout the world.

Living Your True Purpose by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at jasonmin.wordpress.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.jsnmin.org.

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

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

I Worship You lyrics and music written by Regie Glenn Hamm and Peter Kipley. Copyright © 2002 Word Entertainment and Curb Records.

Video made available by Jason Ministries, Word Entertainment, and Curb Records; Copyright © 2014 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.

Advertisements

Article 7

Living Your True Purpose (Header)

Living Your True Purpose (Article 7)Thy Word, by CCM artist Amy Grant, was one of three singles released in 1984 off of the Straight Ahead project. Bible 14 Straight Ahead was Amy’s final project with her original label, Myrrh Records, before signing with A&M Records.

The song, Thy Word, is based on Psalm 119:105 which reads, “Your Word [God’s Word] is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”

God has promised us, all through out the Scriptures, that He would never leave us, nor would He forget about us (Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5b). The fact that God gave us Christ, Immanuel [God with us], as a sacrifice for our sins and a way to receive forgiveness is proof positive that God fulfills His promises (John 3:16-17). Christ also promised the Holy Spirit of God would dwell with each of us who believe and be a source of peace, strength, and be our intercessor (John 16:5-11; Romans 8:26-27). Yet another promise fulfilled. The Holy Bible, God’s written Word, is also another fulfilled promise that God will be with us.

You see, just as Jesus was given to us as a way to return to God’s presence, and just as the Holy Spirit was given to abide in our soul, so too was God’s Word given in written form to teach us, guide us, and grow us to be more like Him. How do we do this? By spending time reading it, studying it, and applying what you have learned.

Like anything worth doing in life, if you don’t spend real time getting involved with it then you will rob yourself of the opportunity it presents you. God’s Word is alive (Hebrews 4:12) and gives mankind access to the heart and mind of God. Through the Scriptures we learn of our sinfulness, God’s holiness, and how the two can be reconciled. The Gospel message — the “Good News” from God — was written down so that humanity could learn about God’s original purpose for us, and learn about why God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, and so we could know how to be reconciled to God, through Christ. In fact, when you spend time in God’s Word you are spending time with Christ, Himself, because Jesus is the very Word of God revealed to us in the flesh. Read with me these words from the Gospel of John:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testifies concerning Him. He cries out, saying, ‘This was He of whom I said, He who comes after me has surpassed me because He was before me.’ From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made Him known.” (John 1:1-18)

Now you know why the Word of God is alive, because it is Christ and He is alive!

So, as we reflect on living our true purpose, let’s not forget to spend time with God by reading through, and studying, the very Word of God — Jesus Christ. We can never hope to be true worshipers of God until we do. For just as our physical bodies need nourishment and sustenance, so too do our souls. Christ is that nourishment that grows our spirit; Christ is that sustenance that satisfies our soul. Scripture calls us to open the holy book and to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8); let’s sit at the table God has called us to and feast upon His Word — Jesus Christ.

Now that we know Who the Word of God is, let’s reflect again on Psalm 119:105, “Your Word [Your only begotten Son, Jesus Christ] is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Let Christ guide your life as you journey to become a true worshiper of God.

Living Your True Purpose by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at jasonmin.wordpress.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.jsnmin.org.

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

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

Thy Word lyrics and music written by Michael Whitaker Smith and Amy Grant-Gill. Copyright © 1984, 2007 Myrrh Records (a division of Word Entertainment) and EMI/Sparrow Records.

Video made available by Jason Ministries, and Word Entertainment LLC; Copyright © 2006 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 4

Living Your True Purpose (Header)

Living Your True Purpose (Article 4)We Will Stand, by CCM artist Russ Taff, was released in 1983. It was the first solo release after Russ left The Imperials, Prayer 5 and it became an anthem that called all denominations of Christianity to unite as one church. The Scriptures call this unified church the “body” of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-14).

As true worshipers of God we are not supposed to exist as independent believers, serving Christ on solo missions. No, we are each one member of a vast group of people known as “the Church.” Just as our bodies are made up of many cells, which make up many organs, which all work together to facilitate every member and limb, so too are we each tasked to work with one another for the good of each other and Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).

Jesus Christ, as the head of the body, dictates to the believer their function, and it is up to each one of us to respond to His call. If we do, then the “body” of believers known as the Church will benefit and Christ will be glorified (Colossians 1:17-23).

Does that mean the many denominations that exists in Christianity today are bad, or wrong? No! God is sovereign. He rules over all things, and has allowed every Christian denomination to exist for a reason. The many factions of modern Christianity may have come about because of something negative that took place in the past, but the fact still remains that God can use our mistakes — our divisions — for His glory and our good.

Consider the story of the Apostle Paul and Barnabus, in Acts chapter fifteen, where an argument ensued between the two over whether John Mark should be allowed to join them on their second missionary journey. Barnabus insisted that John Mark should be given a second chance at serving God in this manner, despite his having abandoned them on their first missionary journey. Paul, however, was not so benevolent at the time and refused to let John Mark accompany them. So, Barnabus left Paul’s side and went home with John Mark, and Paul teamed up with Silas (Acts 15:36-41).

Satan may have tried to divide Paul and Barnabus, and in all appearances did so successfully, but for those of us who have read the New Testament accounts we know that not only did Paul and Silas do some incredible things to further the kingdom of Christ but Barnabus was also able to mentor John Mark and see him become a great man of God. In fact, John Mark not only wrote The Gospel of Mark, he also later reconnected with Paul and became invaluable to him and his ministry.

True believers of Christ — Christians who are growing into the true worshipers that God has called them to be — must learn to unite as one body of believers, for the sake of Christ and His kingdom. True believers who are ready, willing, and able to look past each other’s differences (no matter what those differences may be) to see each other’s godly purpose and function.

Once we recognize the fact that we all have our special callings from God, not only as individuals but also as denominational bodies, then we can act as united members of the true Christian church (1 Corinthians 12:1-31a). The Apostle Paul, many years after his disagreement with Barnabus, dealt with factions and varying motivations in his letter to the Philippians. In the very first chapter, a more spiritually mature Paul writes:

“Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the Gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the Word of God more courageously and fearlessly. It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the Gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice.” (Philippians 1:12-18)

Instead of getting angry and disgruntled, as he had done earlier with Barnabus, Paul was able to love and encourage others to love. In spite of his situation, and the intent of others who claimed to be believers, and in spite of the negative motivations that propelled these people to act as they did. Paul simply focused on the “bigger picture” — the preaching of the Gospel message — the glorification of Jesus Christ, God’s Son. Shouldn’t we, brothers and sisters in Christ, do the same? Shouldn’t we act as members of a united body of believers? Christians who are not eager to maim and destroy each other, but act as a church body that loves, cares, and nurtures its self for the glory of Christ. Jesus did, after all, tell us directly this same thing in the thirteenth chapter of John:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

Come on brothers and sisters, take each other by the hand and love one another as Christ loves us.

Living Your True Purpose by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at jasonmin.wordpress.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.jsnmin.org.

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

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

We Will Stand lyrics and music written by Russ Taff, James Hollihan, and Victoria Taff. Copyright © 1983, 2001 Word Entertainment, a Division of Word Music Group, Inc.

Video made available by Jason Ministries, Kings Crown Media Corp., and Word Records; Copyright © 1983 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

Living Your True Purpose (Header)

Living Your True Purpose (Intro)For Future Generations — this song, by the CCM group 4Him, has long been one of my favorites since its first release back in 1994. World 1 It speaks of the responsibility that every true believer has in fulfilling the commission given to them by God, through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

The commission was simply this, to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I [Jesus Christ] have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20a)

As indicated in the above song, the call placed upon every true believer to fulfill this commission supersedes all the world’s issues. Drought, famine, fire, heavy rains, tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding, mud slides, severe illness, economic decay, riots, mass murders, suicide bombings, rape, war, etc.
This list of problems facing our physical world today seems to be endless, but if we stay true to our purpose then God will be empowered to fulfill His. Humanity endures pain because we humans have rejected our purpose. Our loving Creator allows harsh suffering, to bring mankind into a place of total submission to His will.

Our tribulations don’t exist out of randomness, they have forethought and meaning. Human life, both the good and the bad, really does have a purpose. We are more than just “dust in the wind.” We are God’s special, and treasured, creation (Psalm 139:13-16; Ephesians 2:10).

Almighty God has purposed for humanity abundant life (John 10:10). Abundant life is a life filled with every need imaginable being met (Philippians 4:19); every human desire aligning itself to God’s desires, and once people embrace this type of life then they can experience real joy and happiness, in spite of all the suffering (Philippians 2:12-18).

Until we consider the “big picture,” God’s plan for humanity, then we can’t begin to make sense of what is going on around us (Jeremiah 29:11). Our Creator’s plan for us is without flaw — perfect — just as He is (Romans 12:2). It is designed to put Satan, and his demonic minions, into their places and ultimately bring glory back to Yahweh through humanity’s worship of their Creator. This can only happen when you and I choose to embrace a relationship with Jesus Christ, and participate in the commission He bestowed upon us.

In this study we will examine, as we did in The Joshua Project what humanity’s purpose for existing really is, and we will disclose how people like you and I can live out our true purpose on a daily basis — in all areas of our lives — in spite of Satan’s spiritual attacks on mankind and other physical tragedies. In doing so, you and I can become the “light” of God to a lost and dying world. True believers living out Christ’s commission. Not only in our lifetime, but through the lives of future generations too.

Living Your True Purpose by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at jasonmin.wordpress.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.jsnmin.org.

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

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

For Future Generations lyrics and music written by Dave Clark, Don Koch, and Mark Harris. Copyright © 1994 Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group.

Video made available by Jason Ministries, 4Him, American Bible Society, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., and Universal Music Publishing Group; Copyright © 1995

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

Article III, part 2

Truth or Dare (Article 3)

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

There are pleasures of the mind, which consist of:

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

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

Sight
Smell
Sound
Taste
Touch

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

Faithfulness
Gentleness
Goodness
Joy
Kindness
Love
Patience
Peace
Self-control

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Truth or Dare by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.jasonmin.wordpress.com.

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

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

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

Article I, part 1

Imagine you are young and highly successful in your work. Successful beyond your twenty-something years of living, much like Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, and cofounder, Dustin Moskovitz. Now picture your successes, your economic conquests, your prestige, your billions of dollars, and consider what happens to them when you die. You can’t take them with you, but maybe you can use them to ensure yourself a place in heaven.

You wish to be sure this is possible. You want to know all of your efforts are not in vain, so you seek out a very popular preacher or prophet you’ve heard about. This is what happened with a very rich, young man back in Jesus’ day. His story can be found in Matthew 19:16-23:

Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.” “Which ones?” the man inquired. Jesus replied, “‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.'” “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Wealth. No matter how great or small, our financial well-being is of great importance to us. So much so that even our soul’s eternal fate can be jeopardized for the physical comforts of today.

Humanity longs for wealth. Why is that, you ask? Mankind lives in a hostile world. Our bodies struggle against earth’s atmospheric temperatures, and disease, to maintain a constant 98.6 °F (37.0 °C). Our bodies crave vitamins, minerals, and moisture for health and wellness. Other creatures, and people, seek to do us harm for a variety of reasons. Wealth helps to ensure our three most natural, and essential, needs are met on a regular basis — clothing, food, and shelter. When these needs are met people tend to thrive, people can be content, people experience happiness.

When these “creature comforts,” as they are sometimes called, are not met regularly, then happiness flees. Stress enters our lives and we lose our contentment. As we cease to thrive, our minds and bodies react in a variety of ways. Sometimes such struggles cause illness and disease to enter into our bodies. As our physical bodies are mortal, we fight to avoid anything that would lead to our untimely demise. Wealth, in many of our minds, is the one thing that can practically prevent such dangers from entering our lives.

Our financial strength also comes close to guaranteeing a few of our other desires, such as companionship, pleasure, and power. People tend to not want to be alone, and all of humanity longs to experience the pleasures of this physical life. Some of our physical pleasure comes from being acknowledged by others; to know that we are somehow special and to ultimately use those special gifts to rule over the others that appear to not be as gifted. Wealth can be a means to acquiring such desires as these, but the one longing that our wealth can never buy us is a place in heaven. Eternal security is not achieved by monetary means. Heaven can only be achieved through a relationship with God’s only begotten Son — Jesus Christ.

That was what Jesus was trying to teach both the wealthy young man, and His disciples. Jesus, by asking the rich young man to sell all that he had, was making the statement that physical wealth really doesn’t matter as much as following the ways of God. If the monetarily blessed young man had done as he was asked, then he would have enjoyed spiritual and possibly even physical riches beyond his wildest expectations, but because his existing physical wealth was really the object of his worship, and not the ways of God, he failed Christ’s test and in the end lost everything — foolishness!

Christ teaches us very plainly that, “No one 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.” (Matthew 6:24) This is not to say that monetary wealth is bad, but it is very clearly stating that to serve money, to worship this type of wealth, is wrong — even deadly wrong. Note what the apostle Paul wrote in chapter 6, verse 10, of his letter to Timothy:

For the love [worship] of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

When you love something so much that you abandon your faith in God for it, then you are exchanging the worship of the author and giver of life for the worship of the destroyer and taker of life. Death becomes your true object of affection.

When we meet next, Article 1, part two, will take us further into the dangers we face when we drink from the chalice of wealth, instead of drinking from the cup of Christ. We will read a contemporary story depicting these truths we have just revealed. So please return, and join us, as we continue this study of abundant faith and deadly fiction.

Truth or Dare by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.jasonmin.wordpress.com.

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

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

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

Article 3

Robert “Bob” Hartman, is possibly one of the greatest songwriters to have graced Contemporary Christian Music over the last 40 + years. His ability to take a passage of Scripture from the Bible, or to take a strong lyrical story based on biblical content, and apply that to a melody that is both enjoyable and awe inspiring is uncanny.

Robert’s songs are rarely so simple that you can disconnect your mind from what your ears are hearing, as a parent would be able to do with their child’s nursery music. No, Bob’s music commands your ears to take heed and listen. If music can make human ears stand at attention, then that is what takes place when one hears a Bob Hartman song. If you are unfamiliar with Bob Hartman’s name, you will most likely recognize his band’s — Petra!

Hartman originally was a member of the Christian rock band known as Rapture, but after the band’s break up in the early ‘70s and a move to Fort Wayne, IN, to attend classes at the Christian Training Center, Robert began to form the Christian rock band we know today as Petra.

Of all the songs that Hartman has penned, I think it is Adonai that stands as my all time favorite. It’s from Petra’s 1985 album Beat the System, and it helped to make that project one of the biggest Christian rock albums recorded at that time and the third-biggest Christian album of the 1980s (trailing only Amy Grant’s Age to Age and Sandi Patti’s Songs From the Heart). Allow me to share the lyrics of this Christian rock masterpiece with you:

Verse 1:
This thirsting within my soul
Won’t cease ‘till I’ve been made whole.
To know You; to walk with You.
To please You in all I do.
You uphold the righteous,
And Your faithfulness shall endure.
Chorus:
Adonai, Master of the earth and sky.
You, alone, are worthy — Adonai!
Adonai, let creation testify;
Let Your majesty be magnified in me.
Adonai, You are an endless mystery — Adonai!
Verse 2:
Unchanging, consuming fire;
Lift me up from mud and mire.
Set my feet upon Your rock;
Let me dwell in Your righteousness (repeat chorus).
Bridge:
When the storms surround me,
Speak the word and they will be still.
And, this thirst and hunger
Is a longing only You can fill — Adonai (repeat chorus).

Words escape me, as I try to describe how these lyrics call my soul to worship the Creator of heaven and earth. Hear them sung, and you will be hard pressed to deny your spirit’s desire to leap for joy and shout, “Praise Adonai!” But, why? What is it about this song — this lyric — that makes it so special? I believe it’s power to move the human spirit lays in the name “Adonai.”

“Adonai” is a Hebraic name for God (Elohim/Deity), and is the emphatic plural of the title “Adon.” Adon, which means “Lord” or “Master,” is generally the title given to men of authority or angels but at times was also used when referring to Yahweh. So, since Adonai is the plural form of Adon, its meaning is interpreted as “Lords” or “Masters.” When the emphatic plural is formed in Hebrew using a singular possessive ending (example: “my Lords” or “my Masters”), it always refers to God. Our Creator, the triune God, was recognized by the Hebrews as the “Lord of Lords” (Adonei ha’adonim) or Lord Yahweh — Adonai Adonai!

I personally get emotional — spiritually moved — over this particular name of God, but I also realize that most Americans, really most contemporaries of the western hemisphere, don’t quite grasp just how powerful a title like “Lord” or “Master” is, due to our democratic societies. So very quickly, I want to help you grasp just what this truly means. We’ll begin by defining “Lord.”

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a “Lord” as:

(noun) someone or something having power, authority, or influence: lord of the sea | lords of the jungle. A master or ruler: our lord the king.

(verb) act in a superior and domineering manner toward someone (lord it over).

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a “Master” as:

(noun) 1 – a man who has people working for him, esp. servants or slaves: he acceded to his master’s wishes. A person who has dominance or control of something: he was master of the situation. 2 – a skilled practitioner of a particular art or activity: I’m a master of disguise. A great artist, esp. one belonging to the accepted canon: the work of the great masters is spread around the art galleries of the world.

(adjective) 1 – having or showing very great skill or proficiency: a master painter. Denoting a person skilled in a particular trade and able to teach others: a master bricklayer. 2 – main; principal: the master bedroom.

Here, in these two definitions for “Lord” and “Master,” we see four key attributes to understanding why God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit is Adonai.

First, our Lords, our Creator has power (Deuteronomy 8:17-18), authority (Matthew 28:18), and influence (Psalm 2:7-9; Jeremiah 28:14) over all of His/Their creation (Psalm 89:7-11). Yahweh is the ruler over all of it. Whether we accept His authority, or not, doesn’t matter — God is our Lord — Adoneinu!

Second, God is sovereign, superior, and does dominate over all (2 Chronicles 20:5-6; Psalm 89; Proverbs 8:15-17). Just because we are in a time of grace, and are not seeing God’s righteous wrath displayed in the way mankind saw it displayed in the Old Testament, does not mean that Jehovah isn’t in control. It doesn’t mean He is inferior, or weak — God is the Lord of Lords — Adonei ha’adonim! Which brings us to our third attribute, we are called by the triune God to serve Him.

Almighty God’s mercy allows us to choose to serve Him (Joshua 24:14-15; 1 Peter 4:1-11), for now, but make no mistake — there is coming a day — Yahweh will reveal the truth of His dominance, His control, and all of His majesty will be revealed (Philippians 2:9-11; Revelation 20:11-15) to all of His creation! It’s on that day that every man, woman, and child will bow before their Creator and proclaim Him/Them as Lords, Masters — Adonai!

Lastly, our fourth attribute, God has great skill and proficiency over all people, places, and things. Creation is our Creator’s testimony of this fact (Genesis 1-2; Psalms 19, 40:7-11, 139:13), as is man’s ability to learn and improve his physical state (Exodus 4:10-12; Leviticus 1-27). For it is by Jehovah’s skill in creating and His ability to teach that empowers the creativity and ingenuity of humanity — God is the Lord Yahweh — Adonai Adonai!

Selah (Pause/Reflect).

Praise, Almighty God — Adoneinu — You are the master of the earth and sky. Only You, Lord God, are worthy of being called “Master.” Devine Creator — Adonei ha’adonim — let all of creation testify, and let Your majesty be magnified in the spirit of humanity; be magnified, especially, in me. Lords, Masters — Adonai — You are an awesome, majestic, endless mystery. Adonai Adonai!

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.

Adonai lyrics and music written by Robert “Bob” Hartman. Lyrics based on Genesis 15:2, Matthew 5:6, Hebrews 12:29, Psalms 40:2. Copyright © 1985 Star Song Records/A&M Records.

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.