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 5

Living Your True Purpose (Header)

Living Your True Purpose (Article 5)I Refuse, by CCM artist Josh Wilson, was released in 2011. The song’s from Josh’s fourth project with Sparrow Records entitled Carry Me, Act of Kindness 2 and on this album listeners find him opening up his heart more than ever as Josh shares about his dealings with anxiety and panic attacks.

I Refuse, in particular, deals with how we as true worshipers of God cannot sit idle and allow opportunities of service to pass us by. Despite what is going on in our own lives, we must refuse to ignore these opportunities and get busy serving God and humanity.

You see, Christ came primarily to seek and to save mankind from their sinful nature (Luke 19:10), but He also came as a servant of humanity. To show us, by His divine example, how to bring hope to the hopeless and extend help to the helpless (Mark 10:45).

Though Jesus Christ is the KING of Kings, and the LORD of Lords, He did not come to earth to rule over humanity as a conquering, divine Monarch. That day will certainly come (Revelation 19 & 20:1-4), but Jesus desired to fulfill the Father’s wishes first. That wish is to see all of mankind forgiven, and to see all of humanity loving one another. Just as God loves us and came to serve us, we should all the more love and serve each other.

This directive to love and serve each other is one that true believers are to extend to all people. Regardless of their appearance, attitude, creed, criminal record, fashion sense, infirmity, job, life-style, nationality, philosophy, race, religion, social status, etc. A true worshiper of God will fulfill this Christlike instruction, no matter the person or the cost.

And it’s not that we, who are followers of Christ, are endorsing sinful living by loving and serving people who are living in debauchery or some other type of wanton sin. No! What a true worshiper of God is doing is separating the sinner from the sin — disconnecting the human-being from the ungodly action — and showing God’s heart to mankind.

Just as a Doctor doesn’t see a disease as a definition of who or what his/her patient is, so too does God not see us as being defined by our sinful acts. This grace exists because God has chosen to offer us His divine forgiveness, and because we who claim Christ as our savior have received that divine, gracious forgiveness, we are to act as God has and love the sinner while always hating the sin. No matter who the sinner is, and no matter what the sin is, we are to separate them from each other and love and serve all of mankind.

It’s hard, I know, to grasp something so broad and gracious as this exhortation, but remember if we don’t love and serve, then we are not acting as Christ asked us to. Remember the words of Jesus from Matthew, chapter five:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:43-44)

And just as Christ also said, later on in Matthew, chapter twenty-five, these words from His story of the righteous King:

“ ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ ” (Matthew 25:37b-40)

True believers are to act kindly towards one another, meeting each others needs, being that “city on a hill” that Jesus told us to be in Matthew, chapter five (Matthew 5:14-16). True worshipers are also to extend the love of Christ towards all of humanity, and nothing shows the love of Christ better than serving each other; meeting each other’s needs.

I’ll close with the lyrics from a very popular song released in 1969. It was recorded by a secular group, The Hollies, but delivers a great message for Christians to adhere to. The song is He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother, and the lyrics are as follows:

“The road is long, with many a winding turn that leads us to who knows where — who knows where. But I’m strong; strong enough to carry him. He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.

So on we go. His welfare is of my concern. No burden is he to bear; we’ll get there. For I know
 he would not encumber me. He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.

If I’m laden at all, then I’m laden with sadness that everyone’s heart isn’t filled with the gladness 
of love for one another.

It’s a long, long road, from which there is no return. While we’re on the way to there, why not share. And the load, doesn’t weigh me down at all. He ain’t heavy he’s my brother.

He’s my brother; he ain’t heavy. He’s my brother; he ain’t heavy. He’s my brother.”

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 Refuse lyrics and music written by Benjamin Glover and Joshua David Wilson. Copyright © 2011 Sparrow Records.

Video made available by Jason Ministries and Sparrow Records. Manufactured by EMI Christian Music Group; Copyright © 2011 All Rights Reserved.

He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother lyrics and music written by Marcus Congleton. Copyright © 1969, 2003 Parlophone Records Ltd.

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 VII, part 2

Truth or Dare (Article 7)

In our last post we read through a synopsis of the 1971 screen play, which was released as a movie by Paramount Pictures, entitled Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Willy Wonka 1

As we wrapped up the abridged version of the film, we began to see how mankind has become so preoccupied with selfish wants and desires that we end up treating God like some great, big, cosmic “candy man.” We all desire His sweet blessings, but most of us are not willing to join in on the selfless, bitter sufferings that God’s Son, Jesus Christ, calls us to endure.

In this article we will begin to look at the problem humanity has with being so very self serving, and we will reveal God’s remedy for overcoming this deadly disease. So as we begin, let’s consider one of the areas where symptoms of our selfish nature are most evident — the realm of advertising.

Most of us have seen, or heard, an advertisement that told us just how “special” and “important” we are. Flattery certainly can increase a business’ bottom line, especially when they seem to value our self worth. See if you recognize any of these famous slogans:

“Be All You Can Be” — U.S. Army, “Have It Your Way” — Burger King, “You Deserve A Break Today” — McDonald’s, “You Can” — Cannon, “Everything We Do Is Driven By You” — Ford Motor Company, “The Power To Be Your Best” — Apple Computers

Then there are the advertisements that appeal to our sense of entitlement:

“Be The First To Know” — CNN, “Two For Me, None For You!” — Twix (Mars, Inc.), “Nobody Better Lay A Finger On My Butterfinger” — Nestle’s Butterfinger, “Obey Your Thirst” — Sprite (Coca-Cola Co.), “This Bud’s For You” — Budweiser, “Think What We Can Do For You” — Bank of America, “Where Do You Want To Go Today?” — Microsoft, “Yours Is Here” — Dell Computers, “I Am What I Am” — Reebok, “I Love What You Do For Me” — Toyota, “It’s Everywhere You Want To Be” — Visa, “Because I’m Worth It” — L’Oreal

Selfishness 1 Selfishness is certainly a human trait, and placing Christ or others first unquestionably isn’t. And it’s not that we shouldn’t take care of ourselves — No — it’s when we over indulge in it that self servitude becomes deadly.

Our obsession with being selfish doesn’t just appear in commercial enticements, either, it appears in all areas of our lives. Above all other human traits, selfishness is mankind’s dominant characteristic. Think back over the previous six subjects discussed in this series. At the root of all of these topics is humanity’s selfishness.

What was the reason, from Article One, for people craving after money? Monetary wealth helps to ensure that our three most natural, and essential, needs are met on a regular basis — clothing, food, and shelter. When these “creature comforts” are not met regularly, then our 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. This natural desire for self-preservation, can open the door to selfishness.

In Article Two, it was our desire to be in control — to have power over our lives and our destinies — that also revealed another form of selfishness. Then there is our seeking to satisfy our appetite for personal pleasure, the topic of Article Three; also another form of selfishness. Even the subjects from Articles Four (religion), Five (philosophy), and Six (knowledge) reveal some form of humanity’s selfish nature.

When religion is practiced for the purpose of regulating and manipulating humanity, then the abuse of power being displayed becomes the act of sinful selfishness. God doesn’t long for our faith to be about legalistic rituals and traditions. God desires to experience a real and loving relationship with mankind. I’ll repeat this again, from Article Four, Jesus didn’t create you to be religious. Christ didn’t suffer and die for a pious philosophy. God’s son created you, lived as you, died for you, and conquered death — for you. True Christianity is not about religion; not at all. It’s about knowing and being known by the Creator of heaven and earth, Yahweh — the Lord, and savior, Jesus Christ.

The philosophies of the world are also steeped in selfish ideologies. Focusing on any thought process that pushes humanity to embrace who they are, just as they are, and working towards self improvement only if the individual deems it necessary. The whole idea of needing divine intervention, or giving God praise for human accomplishments, or acknowledging that there is a providential Creator in charge of the whole of creation, is rejected in lieu of mankind’s supposed ability to correct and right his/her own wrongs. This way of thinking leads into our topic from Article Six — knowledge.

Knowledge 3 Knowledge about the physical, or the mental, or even the spiritual, can be selfish in nature when it exists without understanding (Proverbs 18:1). God promises to grant all of humanity wisdom, if we will seek it and ask God for it (James 1:5). When God’s wisdom is given, the person who receives it enjoys real knowledge that is coupled with genuine understanding (Proverbs 2:6, 9:10; Isaiah 11:12; Colossians 1:9). If you possess knowledge that prevents God from ruling over your life, then you are holding knowledge that lacks understanding, and that is dangerous. It’s dangerous because knowledge that exists outside of God’s wisdom is self serving (Proverbs 18:1). And when we are self serving, then we become destructive to ourselves and all of creation (James 3:14-16).

Life is not about any one individual. It’s not about God and any one individual. Life is meant to be a community. A community made up of people fulfilling God’s divine purpose, will, and plan. A populous where humanity serves God, as He has commanded, and each other before we serve ourselves. Life is not about selfishness. No, life is about sacrificing ourselves in the service of God for others (Psalm 1:1-6, 119:36; Matthew 20:25-28; Philippians 2:3-4).

While leading mass at the Capital Mall, in Washington D.C. back in October of 1979, Pope John Paul II made this statement:

“The great danger for family life, in the midst of any society whose idols are pleasure, comfort, and independence, lies in the fact that people close their hearts and become selfish.”

Godly wisdom from a godly man, but I’d like to take his statement one step further and say that the great danger for humanity, as a whole, is in when people close their hearts to God’s purpose, will, and plan, and become self serving.

In our series on worship, known as The Joshua Project, Article Four discussed how serving God, and others, before we serve ourselves can bring about true joy in our lives. The following is an excerpt from that post:

Joy 2 “Joy is not a temporal emotion, but an actual attribution of God’s character — a part of His being; a ‘fruit’ of His Spirit, according to Galatians chapter five, verse twenty-two . . . to understand fully what joy means, and to correctly apply it to our everyday life and worship, we will have to dissect the word . . . 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 . . . 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) . . . We can’t experience true worship if we can’t exist in God’s presence.

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 . . . 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.

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) . . . 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.

Service 1 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 . . . 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; Galatians 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 . . . 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).

praying hands 1 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 . . . 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.”

J.O.Y.Jesus, Others, and You — this is how we can avoid the dangerous lifestyle of selfishness.

I’ll say it again, the great danger for humanity, as a whole, is in when people close their hearts to God’s purpose, will, and plan, and become self serving. Henry Van Dyke, American author, educator, and clergyman, made this statement, “Self is the only prison that can ever bind the soul.” (from his poem entitled The Prison and The Angel) Escape the prison, that is selfishness. Embrace life to the fullest by living with real joy in yours. Don’t let your self become, as Robert Louis Stevenson once said, “A house of many windows.” This famous Scottish novelist, poet, essayist, and travel writer went on to complete his thought when he stated, “there we all sit, showing ourselves and crying on the passers-by to come and love us.”

God made us to desire love and affection from each other, and from God, Himself, but if we settle to receive “love” and “affection” by performing for artificial affection — if we settle to receive “acknowledgement” and human “connection” by entering into superficial relationships — if we utilize selfish tirades to hold on to endless cycles of cosmetic and fake companionships, then expect to be very unfulfilled. Expect to feel lost and alone. But if you seek genuine fulfillment, real love, and true affection, then find rest in knowing that God genuinely loves us more than any sincere human being ever could or would (John 3:16-17; Romans 5:8; 1 John 3:1). Enjoy the peace that comes from knowing that God provides our every need emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually (Philippians 4:19). We must all surrender our lives to the only One, who can bring us real, everlasting joy (Nehemiah 8:10; Psalm 4:7, 5:11, 16:11, 19:8, 28:7, 30:11). All it takes is our willingness to sacrifice our selves in the service of God for others.

I’ll close with this verse from Galatians, chapter five: “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.” (Galatians 5:13)

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.

Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory Copyright © 1971 Paramount Pictures. Renewed Copyright © 1999 Warner Bros. All Rights Reserved. TM ® & Copyright © 2001 by Warner Home Video, an AOL Time Warner Company 4000 Warner Blvd. Burbank, CA 91522. All rights reserved.

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

Article IV, part 2


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article III, part 1


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All rights reserved. The brief information quoted from this book appears in this article with the permission granted per the copyright statement which appears in the publication copyrighted 1998.

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

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

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