Part 1

Heaven Is For Real (Header)

Heaven Is For Real “Is there life after death? Just ask 4-year-old Colton, who emerged from life-threatening surgery with astounding details about heaven! Colton’s account includes floating away, Heaven Is For Real (Book) looking down on his dad praying in the hospital, seeing God’s throne, and meeting relatives — including his sister who died in a miscarriage (and whom his parents had never mentioned). Riveting!”

This is the product description for the Thomas Nelson publication that became a New York Times #1 best seller. Since its release in 2010, Heaven Is For Real has captivated the hearts and minds of literally thousands of people. And now, there’s the 2014 release of the movie by Sony/TriStar Pictures.

According to the publisher, the book tells the true life story of when Colton Burpo survived an emergency appendectomy. Apparently his appendix had ruptured in his body and was poisoning his system. Colton’s family was overjoyed at his miraculous survival, but they weren’t expecting the story that would emerge in the months to come. For Colton’s story — as beautiful as it was extraordinary — would detail his trip to heaven and back.

You see, the soon to be four year old Colton, began telling his parents that he left his body during surgery — and gave proof by describing exactly what his parents were doing in another part of the hospital during his operation. He also talked of visiting heaven and relayed stories told to him by people he met there whom he had never met in life. Colton shared events that even happened before he was born. He continued to astound his parents with descriptions and obscure details about heaven that appeared to match the Holy Bible exactly, though he couldn’t even read yet.

With persuasive simplicity and the purity of a child, Colton talked of meeting long-departed family members. He describes Jesus Christ, the angels, how “really, really big” God is, and how much God loves humanity. Colton’s story is retold, in the book, by his father (Rev. Todd Burpo) but the wording is uniquely simple to match those of a very young child. Heaven Is for Real, both the book and the movie, offers a glimpse of the world that awaits believers. A world where Colton says, “Nobody is old and nobody wears glasses.”

Whether you read the book or see the film, Heaven Is for Real is said to forever change the way you think of eternity, as the story offers humanity the chance to see, and believe, like a child. I’ve not yet read the book, but I have seen the movie, and I was moved in an entirely different way.

Maybe it’s because I’m already a believer that I was not astounded by Colton’s details of heaven. As the publisher of the book indicated, nothing was disclosed (at least in the film) that could not be supported in Scripture. I realize that there are many theologians, both prominent and otherwise, who have debated the truthfulness of this father’s retelling of his son’s experience. Again, I have not yet read the book so I will not enter into that debate. No; what astounded me most about this story was that it consisted of so many “believers” (pastors and lay-persons, alike) who had to “see,” and “hear” Colton’s evidence for heaven to know that it is real.

Worship 36 What is the point of having faith in Jesus Christ — of calling ourselves Christian (someone who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ) — if we are not going to believe the very words of Christ regarding heaven or any other topic? Note these Scriptures, which are the very words of God’s begotten Son:

– Matthew 7:13-14 — “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

– John 14:2-3 — “In My Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.”

The Apostle Paul wrote these words to the Colossian church: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, Who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1-4)

And don’t forget the words of the beloved Apostle John: “Then one of the elders asked me, ‘These in white robes — who are they, and where did they come from?’ I answered, ‘Sir, you know.’ And he said, ‘These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, they are before the throne of God and serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; He will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’” (Revelation 7:13-17)

John the beloved, also known as “The Revelator,” went on to pen these words about heaven: “No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His servants will serve Him. They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. The angel said to me, ‘These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show His servants the things that must soon take place.’ [Jesus then said] ‘Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.’” (Revelation 22:3-7)

clouds 6 If our hope is in Jesus Christ, then what is the result of our hope? Why must Jesus even be our hope? God’s begotten Son must be our hope, because humanity is depraved and lost in self worship. This self-worshiping nature has doomed us to an eternal separation from our holy Creator. People are too selfish to even begin to know how to purify themselves and over come their evil essence, known as sin. It required the perfection of a true worshiper to over come the imperfections of humanity’s self-worshiping nature. That pure and perfect worshiper of God is His very own begotten Son, Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Jesus had to willingly lower Himself to the essence of a self-worshiping human, while all the while not participating in self worship. Christ had to live as one of us, and experience all of our hurts, temptations, and pains, and remain a true worshiper of God to become a pure and perfect blood sacrifice capable of cleaning up all of humanity’s sins. Jesus did this, and the result was our restoration to God the Father, by faith in Christ (Romans 3:21-28; Philippians 2:5-11).

But it didn’t stop there, Jesus also conquered death by rising from the grave. So not only can mankind be forgiven every selfish wrong, but humanity can embrace the hope of eternal life with God in heaven. Again, as Jesus said, “If it were not so, I would have told you.” (John 14:2b) Anyone claiming to be a Christian, especially those in the pulpits and serving as lay-persons, should be full aware of the reality of heaven, and even hell for that matter. Again let’s read the words of the Apostle Paul, this time to the Corinthian church:

“Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the Gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this Gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all He appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them — yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. Whether, then, it was I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that He raised Christ from the dead. But He did not raise Him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the first-fruits; then, when He comes, those who belong to Him. Then the end will come, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father after He has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For He ‘has put everything under his feet.’” (1 Corinthians 15:1-27)

Did you get that? If we truly believe that Christ is our hope beyond the grave, but do not truly believe in heaven, then we are to be pitied more so than any other religious group. Why? Because, if heaven isn’t real, then neither is Christ’s resurrection. And if the resurrection of the dead isn’t real, then we are still condemned as self-worshipers. Humanity is still lost and depraved.

Empty Tomb 1 Oh, but Christ did physically live! Jesus did physically die, and return from the grave! All praise be to our benevolent Creator, that our faith in Christ does give us hope! For our loving and merciful God made Jesus Christ to be our way to forgiveness and our way to eternal life. As Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)

Don’t get caught up in the need for evidence, when it comes to our faith. The evidence that does exist — the evidence that does substantiate our Christian claims regarding Christ, or heaven, or anything else disclosed in the holy Scriptures — should not be the cause of our faith, but simply an edification of our belief. The “punctuation” at the end of our “sentence,” and not the “subject” of the “sentence,” itself. As the author of the book of Hebrews stated, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1) Faith is believing without seeing, and not believing because you have seen.

In part two of this special commentary on true faith, we will conclude with an understanding of what real faith should look like in the everyday life of a person claiming to be a Christian — one who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ, God’s begotten Son.

Heaven Is For Real 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.

Heaven Is For Real” © 2010 by Todd Burpo & Lynn Vincent

All rights reserved. The brief information quoted from this book’s press release appears curtesy of Thomas Nelson, Inc. and Christianbook.Com.

Published in Nashville, Tennessee, by 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.

Movie trailer made available by Jason Ministries, and Sony/TriStar Pictures; Copyright © 2014

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 II, part 2


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

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

Love can be defined in many ways, as worship can be, but for the sake of this blog let’s keep it simple. Let’s focus on the core definition of love and also its attributes. Love can be simply defined as a strong affection, a strong desire, or a strong devotion. Its attributes, listed in 1 Corinthians 13:4-10, are: patience, kindness, without envy, without pride, without rudeness, isn’t selfish, isn’t easily angered, forgets offenses, is righteous, truthful, protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres and is always faithful. These sound similar to the attributes ascribed to God in Galations 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control . . .” No wonder Paul revealed to us, in 1 Corinthians 13:13, that above all of God’s attributes the greatest is love. In fact, Scripture reveals that God, more than anything else ascribed to Him, is entirely, 100 percent love (1 John 4:16). So we could easily apply the definitions of love directly to God’s character and say God is a strong affection toward us, God is a strong desire toward us, God is a strong devotion to us, and this was revealed to mankind through the incarnate Lord, Jesus Christ. If we can truly grasp this truth and trust it (have faith in it), if we can truly have confidence in the fulfillment of God’s love through Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection (have hope in it), if we can truly live a life of love (have a strong affection, strong desire, strong devotion to God) then we can truly worship God in our daily lives.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Faith

Hope

Love

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

Attitude

Joy

Purpose

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

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

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

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

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

Article II, part 1



What is the definition of worship? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines worship as:

(noun) reverence, homage or honor paid to God // ceremonies or services expressing such reverence; public worship // an utterly devoted admiration for a person; ‘Your (His) worship’ (esp. Br.) a courtesy title used to (or of) certain magistrates, officials, etc.

By defining worship as a noun (person, place, thing, or idea), Webster is indicating that the word has physical properties, parameters, substance — belonging.

But the word “worship” can also be defined another way. In the Life Application Study Bible (NIV) the word is defined as “(verb) to express praise and devotion.” So this definition reveals activity . . . involvement . . . choices being made.

So, which is it? Is worship something physical, tangible, and full of substance, or is worship an activity; something we choose to participate in, such as singing songs on Sunday mornings? Worship actually is both; the blending of two definitions — the noun and the verb. The best example of this mixture of two definitions is in the Hebrews’ view of worship.

In the book Called To Worship: The Biblical Foundations of Our Response to God’s Call, by Vernon M. Whaley, we read that the Hebrew word used for worship is shachah, which means “to kneel, bow, prostrate yourself, or throw yourself down in reverence.” But there are four other very closely related words that Mr. Whaley says broaden the Hebrew description of worship; words that reveal the heart of their worship. These four words are: shabach, “to shout out to the Lord”; yadah, “to worship with raised hands”; tehillah, “to sing impromptu, spontaneous songs of praise”; and halal, “to celebrate God foolishly and boast about His attributes” of faithfulness, goodness, love, mercy, etc. (see Galatians 5:22-23). Can you see the blending of the noun and the verb? It’s a formula, really — a formula that requires the attributes of God and our acknowledgment and application of those attributes to produce the actions that equal worship.

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

A closer look at three key attributes of God should help you understand.

First, God is faithful. How do we know this? By studying Scripture and developing a relationship with God which allows Him the opportunity to reveal His faithfulness over time to us. Consider the following verses: Deuteronomy 7:9 reads, “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commands.” Psalm 37:27-28 says, “Turn from evil and do good . . . for the Lord loves the just and will not forsake His faithful ones.” Lamentations 3:22-23 states, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” And we also read in 1 Corinthians 1:9 that “God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” By knowing God’s faithfulness, and acknowledging His faithfulness to us, we ourselves can then be true worshipers of God through our faithfulness to Him.

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

Grasp with me that faith is not only being loyal to God, but it also requires a complete trust in God. Joshua understood this. As a Hebrew, Joshua defined faith as a complete truth and trust. If you know something is true, you can easily trust it with your whole self. You practice this every time you sit in a chair or walk through a building with multiple floors. You blindly trust that the chair will hold you; that the building won’t collapse on you. Joshua simply practiced this same principle of worship in his relationship with God. How else could he have led such a rag-tag nation into a new land filled with so many ominous situations and formidable opponents and do so without fear or hesitation?

Second, God is hope. Hope can be defined as desiring something with a confident expectation of its fulfillment. In Psalm 62:5-6 we read, “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.” Proverbs 13:12 reads, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Isaiah 40:31 famously says, “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Romans 5:1-5 states:

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ . . . and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.

Also, we read in Hebrews 6:16-19 that:

Men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of His purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, He confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.

If we desire a relationship with God and confidently expect that relationship to be realized through Christ, then God will fulfill that desire in us.

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

Joshua so desired a relationship with God and pursued that relationship with such vigor that he not only hoped in the idea of living in the ever elusive Promised Land but knew without any doubt that God would give it to him and the Israelites, as promised to Moses so many years earlier (Exodus 3:17). This is the same type of hope that we just examined and that Paul mentioned in Romans chapter 5 verses 2 and 5. The writer of Hebrews also wrote regarding this hope in chapter 11, verse 1, “Now faith [in Christ] is being sure of what we hope for [eternal life] and certain of what we do not see [God and the hereafter].” As Eliza E. Hewitt so perfectly penned in 1898, “When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be. When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory!” Such wonderful words; they reveal our hope and our worship as a result of that hope being realized.

In our next post we will continue with building the temple of worship God desires in us as we study the third key attribute of God — His love.

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 http://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.

Called To Worship” © 2009 by Vernon M. Whaley

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 2009.

Published in Nashville, Tennessee, by 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.

When We All Get to Heaven” by Eliza E. Hewitt, pub.1898, 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 I, part 2


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An odd way to end, commenting on failure rather than achievement. Just remember, Joshua didn’t fail in his faithfulness to God, though the fact is Joshua was fallible. The deception of Gibeon shows us this. It was the nation of Israel in its later years, though, that really failed. You and I must realize we can only become true worshipers of God if we remain faithful to the end (Matthew 24:5-13), serving God and each other with all our mind, body, and soul. The goal is achievable. Joshua was not a true worshiper because he was perfect, but because he wasn’t. Nothing noted above was a result of Joshua’s own ability, but a result of God doing a good and perfect work in and through Joshua’s life because Joshua was willing to serve God and the Israelites.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article I, part 1


People should take the time to study history. You cannot know where you are going if you do not know where you came from. The greatest of people, the ones who stand out in our history books, all knew who they were as it related to where they had come from. They also knew where they were going. They possessed a vision for the future.

Before we begin our study of worship, it is imperative that we examine someone who has lived as a true worshiper of the living God. Someone who knew his history and how it affected him, and someone who, in addition to others, had a vision for the future. Joshua was just such a man.

Others may be used as examples of what it is to be a true worshiper of God, but it is my opinion that no other biblical character ever exhibited as fully as Joshua what it was to be a true worshiper. Certainly, Christ is the ultimate example, but I’m referring to someone who was neither perfect nor was he deity in the flesh. Joshua was nothing more than a man willing to serve both God and mankind, and it’s that willingness to serve that God can use to do His most mighty of miracles through us all.

Joshua fit the battle ’round Jericho and the walls came tumbling down.” This is probably one of the most well-known lyrics any songwriter ever wrote, and quite possibly one of the most recognized stories from the Bible. But Joshua and his “battle” at Jericho is only one of many examples that led me to choose him as an example of true worship. The Life Application Study Bible (NIV), co-published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. and Zondervan Publishing House, reveals that Joshua exhibited five key themes, called “megathemes,” throughout his storied life. These five megathemes are what I will use to help you understand why Joshua is an excellent example of a true worshiper, and these same megathemes will lay the foundation for our study on worship as it relates to each one of us, who are children of the living God.

The first of these five megathemes is Joshua’s success as the leader of his nation and his family. God gave success to Joshua and the nation of Israel because they were committed to following God’s plan for their lives. It wasn’t about Joshua’s plans and desires. It wasn’t about what Israel’s elders wanted or what the Israelites wanted, either. Success was given to them by God when they trusted in God and His plans for them (Proverbs 16:3; Jeremiah 29:11).

Success came to Joshua, the elders, and the nation they served, Israel, because their faith was not in their military might, nor was it in their economy, their own physical strength, or even in their own intelligence. Their success came because of their faithfulness in following God’s plan, which for them was the conquering of Canaan.

You see, God’s plan, when followed faithfully, will always bring about success in our lives, as it did in Joshua’s life. We can’t set our standards for success by the world’s definition. No, it must be set by God’s Word. We must adjust our thoughts to always consider God’s way. Then and only then can we realize similar success in our lives.

So, where does this fit into our study of worship? How does Joshua’s success lead us to become true worshipers of God? Joshua’s worship is his testimony/witness of God’s success in his life to his people. The success God gave Joshua became an opportunity Joshua would later use to teach the elders and testify to the nation of Israel about the importance of being faithful to God (Joshua 24:29-31).

Faithfulness to God and a willingness to testify about our faith in God are just two of the several acts of worship we will study. In fact, faith is the second megatheme connected with Joshua’s life, so let’s examine this act of worship modeled by Joshua.

First let’s understand the original meaning of the word, as the Hebrews would have understood it. Faith, or emunah (em-oo-naw’), means “steady,” “steadfast,” or “to support,” but there is another Hebraic word connected to faith that is both an active and passive word meaning two things at once — bittachon (bit-taw-khone’). Bittachon means both “truth” and “trust.” You see, to trust in the truth — to be confident in the truth — (bittachon) makes you steady (emunah). This, all together, is “faith.”

Joshua demonstrated his faith in God by choosing to trust in God’s truth; not once, but on a daily basis, thus allowing God to move in Joshua’s life and providing opportunity for God to save him and the nation of Israel from their enemies and also allowing God to guide Joshua in his leading of this fledgling nation.

Ultimately Joshua, the elders, and the nation of Israel became increasingly aware of God’s faithfulness to them and, as a result, they all developed a strong confidence that God would continue to be faithful in the days to come. This faith allowed God to make both Joshua and the Israelites strong in many ways.

Our confidence and strength comes along in this same way. In order to do God’s work, we have to have faith that truly God wants what is best for us; trusting that He is not out to harm us in any way. God’s promises found in Jeremiah 29:11, and in other Scriptures, reassure us of His love and that He will be there to guide us in the decisions and conflicts we face on a daily basis. Truth and trust can’t begin to exist in our lives until we believe in God, wholly. Joshua had a steady trust in the truths of the living God (Joshua 24:14-15).

These first two of the five megathemes in Joshua’s life set up the principles we all will need to follow if we are to become the true worshipers that our heavenly Father desires us to be. Our faith in God allows Him to bless us with success. A wholehearted trust in God’s truths allows our faith in God to grow in all areas of our lives.

Article 1, part two, will take us through the remaining three megathemes in Joshua’s life. These five megathemes together will become the foundation for the temple of worship in which God desires to reside.

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

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

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

Joshua Fit The Battle Of Jericho lyrics written as recorded by Elvis Presley (original author unknown).
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.