Article 1

Parasol of True Worship: Your Divine Covering

Parasol of True Worship: Your Divine Covering

As we stated in our introductory article, a parasol protects us from the sun, and an umbrella protects us against rain. Though these two tools appear very similar, one is made of a more sturdy material than the other. This allows for two objectives to be accomplished by one simple design.

Worship Umbrella 6a In a similar way, our worship of God grants us a protective covering that allows us to linger in His holy presence and endure the various testings of our faith. Our worship is a single, divine design, but it accomplishes two very different goals in the life of the true believer. To linger in God’s presence worshiping Him does not require as hardy a spirit as does worshiping God through hardship. So, as we begin to look more closely at the various parts of a parasol and umbrella, you will begin to see and better understand how the true believer can utilize worship on a day-to-day basis — in all circumstances — thus allowing them to grow closer to God and endure the testing of their faith.

The tube and handle is where we will begin our study, as the tube is basically the “backbone” or main support system of this device. The handle is also an important part of this support system, as it allows the tool to be embraced and put to use. So, let’s take a closer look at these first two components of the parasol and umbrella.

The tube, or shaft, of this instrument is generally made from a lite metal alloy, generally aluminum, but it can also be made from various types of wood or bamboo. The idea is to give the parasol or umbrella a lite weight, yet sturdy, support system that will provide the stability that is needed while preventing the user from experiencing fatigue during use.

The handle of a parasol or umbrella can be made from a variety of materials, such as wood, plastic, or rubber, and they can come in diverse forms. A crook handle is most commonly used, but some types have handles that are straight or slightly curved. Whatever the handle type, its purpose is the same — to provide a comfortable way for the user to remain in control of the tool while it is in use. The truth of God’s incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, is both the tube (or shaft) and handle of the “parasol of true worship.”

Bible 11 You see, it is the truth of the divine Word of God (tube/shaft) that provides the support system needed to experience real, godly worship. Jesus Christ — God’s holy, living Word — must be at the center of our worship. Only He is holy enough to protect us while we linger in the presence of our holy Father (Romans 5:1-2; Ephesians 3:12; Colossians 3:16-17), or strong enough to help us endure the testing of our faith (Proverbs 30:5; John 16:33). It is Christ, alone, Who’s charge is lite enough to not be a burden to the true believer embracing Him (Matthew 11:30). It’s only by clinging to Christ (handle) that the true believer can gain access to the holy Father (John 14:6; 1 John 1:5-7) and remain at peace while sitting under the “canopy” of true worship (Psalm 4:8; Isaiah 26:3-4; John 14:27; Colossians 3:15).

The handle of a parasol or umbrella may be made from a variety of materials, and fashioned in diverse forms, but it is only by taking hold of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that we can sit in the shade of the “parasol of true worship.” It is only by seizing the truth of God’s divine Word, that we can remain in the presence of God unscathed by His righteousness; able to endure His divine tests. For a sinful creature cannot linger in the light of pure holiness, nor can the sinner be found faithful, worthy, and consecrated. It is only by God’s grace, and faith in Jesus Christ, that the unholy can be admitted into the presence of holiness.

As we prepare to examine the next few components from our “parasol of true worship,” I hope you will take the time to ponder how essential Jesus Christ — God’s incarnate Word — is to your life. I ask of you to consider how important God’s living Word is to you gaining access to God, and I pray you will discover the truth of God’s holy begotten Son and what that means to you becoming a true worshiper of the Father. Again, as we noted earlier the Scripture John 14:6, no unholy human can come before our holy Father to worship Him except by taking hold of the truth of Jesus Christ, His divine and incarnate Word.

Parasol of True Worship: Your Divine Covering 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://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.

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

Part 3

Experiencing Hardship - Try True Worship (Header 1)

A Commentary on Psalm 118

A Commentary on Psalm 118

In our first post we introduced how worshiping God through our fears and hardships unleashes divine power in our lives, and we used the writer of Psalm 118 as our primary example. Give Thanks 2 Then in our second post we continued our in-depth look at this special Psalm, and proceeded to reveal Scriptural proof that encountering our fears and hardships with an attitude of worship will also make us conduits of God’s power, to a lost and dying world. In this third post we will conclude our in-depth look at Psalm 118, but before we read through our psalmist’s closing words let’s quickly review another story concerning an additional faithful worshiper of God — Gideon.

In the book of Judges is where we find Gideon’s account of how God used him to return Israel’s worship to God, as most of Israel was at this time worshiping Baal. Gideon was timid and shy at first, and though he worshiped and obeyed God he would do so in his way — with a doubtful heart. But when God commanded him to fight the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples who had joined forces to destroy Gideon and his faithful few, the Almighty used a transformed and obedient worshiper to defeat thousands with only three-hundred:

“Dividing the three hundred men into three companies, he [Gideon] placed trumpets and empty jars in the hands of all of them, with torches inside. ‘Watch me,’ he told them. ‘Follow my lead. When I get to the edge of the camp, do exactly as I do. When I and all who are with me blow our trumpets, then from all around the camp blow yours and shout, “For the LORD and for Gideon.” ’ Gideon and the hundred men with him reached the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just after they had changed the guard. They blew their trumpets and broke the jars that were in their hands. The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, ‘A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!’ While each man held his position around the camp, all the Midianites ran, crying out as they fled. When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the LORD caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords. The army fled to Beth Shittah toward Zererah as far as the border of Abel Meholah near Tabbath.” (Judges 7:16-22)

Gideon’s faithful obedience and worship released the power of God upon the land, and Israel’s enemies were defeated. (You can read this entire narrative in Judges 6:1-7:25.) It was the same for our author; in verses fifteen through seventeen we can continue to feel how God’s power was welling up inside this man:

“Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: ‘The LORD’s right hand has done mighty things! The LORD’s right hand is lifted high; the LORD’s right hand has done mighty things!’ I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the LORD has done.”

Our author doesn’t fear his enemy. No, he exalts God’s love and power! This individual doesn’t fear mortal death, but acknowledges life because he knows the “Author and Giver of Life.”

You see, it does not matter that we have failed in our lives. God knows we aren’t perfect. Ever since mankind chose self-worship over the true and perfect worship of God we have struggled to regain our righteousness. But you see, righteousness was given to us by God when He created us. Humanity never could lay claim to such purity, it was always the property of our divine Creator. I understand that mankind was able to remove God’s righteousness by rejecting God’s purpose, will, and plan, but we could never hope to regain this divine quality once we gave it up — this thing called “righteousness” — unless God made a way to return it to us. Our “man of letters” understood this truth too.

“The LORD has chastened me severely, but He has not given me over to death. Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to the LORD. This is the gate of the LORD through which the righteous may enter. I will give You thanks, for You answered me; You have become my salvation. The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.” (Psalm 118:18-23)

clouds 6 See how he realizes he has deserved God’s discipline, and has even embraced it. Why? Because he also knows his fate should be death, but God has chosen to make a way for him to escape this fate and live. He acknowledges that his righteousness has been restored to him by God, by way of this “gateway” that his divine Creator has provided him. Thus we see a glimpse of what was yet to come in the human embodiment of God’s Word — Jesus Christ — His only begotten Son (John 1:1-5). What a marvelous thing to embrace, and what a confounding mystery for so many who have yet to grasp it.

As our writer closes out this psalm, he returns to his anthem of praise and worship:

“This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. O LORD, save us; O LORD, grant us success. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you. The LORD is God, and He has made His light shine upon us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will give You thanks; You are my God, and I will exalt You. Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever.” (Psalm 118:24-29)

Again, our psalmist is praising and worshiping God for His never ending, never changing love for His people, and again he encourages others to join in and enjoy the very presence of God. These are still plain words of worship towards God, but oh what power they posses. We too can access the divine, if we will just worship God in “spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24). That spirit being the Holy Spirit of God, Who indwells each of us who have become true believers, and the truth being the very Word of God — Jesus Christ — who gave us access to the divine Father through His gracious sacrifice and awe-inspiring resurrection.

So as you experience your fears, meet them “head-on” with an attitude of worship! We all will have to endure some type of dread. For many it will be an uncomfortable circumstance such as dealing with heights, seeing a dentist or doctor, or even public speaking. Maybe for you its a fear of insects, snakes, and spiders. Possibly its an anxiety towards dogs, enclosed spaces, flying, loud noises or storms. What ever the distress may be in your life, consider the words penned in this psalm and remember, “In the name of the LORD I [meaning you and me] cut them off.”

The same goes with your hardships. When these times of misfortune appear, attack them with an attitude of worship! It may be a bankruptcy, divorce, or the loss of a job that brings you anguish. It quite possibly may be addiction, disease, a mental disorder, or physical pain that causes you to feel destitute. It may even be the death of a close friend or relative, a major move, or poor employment that causes you trouble. No matter the tribulation, recall that it is God Who is bigger than all our problems. And if God lives in you, then you too can “look in triumph” over your “enemies,” just as our psalmist did.

Suffering 3 This speaks volumes to me, because my hardship (as of the date of this post) is stage four colon cancer. This really ministers to me because my fear is the side affects from my chemotherapy treatments. Yet, because I have chosen to glorify God in this rough season of life, I can “cut off” the cancer that engulfs my body. Because I choose to possess an attitude of worship, and not focus on my discomfort and pain, I can “look in triumph” over these dread “enemies” known to me as anemia, discomfort, fatigue, pain, tumor growth, and all the other various side affects I am experiencing and will continue to experience until I’m healed.

Please understand that I am not promoting a “name it and claim it” doctrine; our psalmist wasn’t either. We cannot command our heavenly Father to do our bidding simply because we say so in His Son’s name. Our request must be in line with God’s divine purpose, will, and plan for our lives (Romans 12:2-3; Ephesians 1:3-12, 5:15-17; Hebrews 10:35-36; James 4:3; 1 John 5:14-15). Outside of God’s holy and righteous intent, our petitions have no authority. It is the LORD’s authority that matters; it’s His sovereignty that controls all things physical and spiritual.

The writer of this psalm came to understand our sovereign God’s authority and power over all things. He laid claim to this divine clout by allowing himself to rest in God’s sovereignty. It was through his godly worship that he could focus on this truth. It was through his reverent worship that he became a worthy vessel of God’s might and righteousness. It was through his joyous worship that God’s perfect intent for this man could be fulfilled, and God’s awesome power be made visible through this writer’s life, in spite of the changes taking place; no matter the unexpected situations that transpired around him.

So in closing, I invite you to join with me — you in your hardship and me in mine — and together let’s, “Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever.”

Experiencing Hardship? Try True Worship! 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://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.

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.

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.

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.

Conclusion

Truth or Dare (Intro)

Cup 1 In this study, called Truth or Dare, we have been examining the various chalices that mankind may choose to drink from while searching out eternal life. We have explored seven of the more poisonous libations found in the world’s chalices, and compared them to the life giving liquid that exists in the cup of Christ.

The first three chalices were filled with three very similar toxicants:

Physical Wealth

Physical Power

Physical Pleasure

These three particular vices, we discovered, are very closely linked because any one of them will aid us in acquiring any one, or all, of the others listed.

In other words, if I were to suddenly become a billionaire, and had access to more physical wealth than any one person could spend in a lifetime, then I could use my money to acquire positions of power over others and enjoy any physical pleasure my mind could conceive. Also, if I managed to gain a position of power first, then I could begin to use my influence to gain the monetary wealth I desired and consume the pleasures of my worldly heart. Then again, if one intently chased after the numerous pleasures that this world has to offer, that overwhelming desire to find satisfaction in such things could goad one along until they were wealthy enough or powerful enough to access them.

Physical wealth, power, and pleasure — all three available to humanity. All three are a part of our human condition, but all three can be very toxic and deadly if consumed from Satan’s chalice. As each of these three articles showed, it’s only when we quench our thirst for physical wealth, power, and pleasure from the “cup of Christ” that we can really be satisfied and escape their harmful side effects. Poison 3 Why? Well, just like with any hard drink if you don’t regulate how much you consume (either by drinking very little of it or by “watering” it down) the potency of that beverage will eventually overtake you. In Christ’s cup, all of our natural, physical desires become mixed with spiritual living water — God’s divine “fruit of the vine” — the holy, blameless blood of Jesus Christ. Consuming this recipe ensures us of life; life filled with an abundance of real joy.

In the three articles that followed physical wealth, power, and pleasure, we discovered that there were other dangerous drinks awaiting our consumption. The three additional toxicants examined were:

Religion

Philosophy

Knowledge

Within these three special vices we saw traces of the first three toxins, but also examined some very dangerous ideologies specific to each of these issues.

For example, from within religion, philosophy, and knowledge you can find traces of our desire for physical power. Humanity’s lust for control will drive mankind to abuse their search for spiritual guidance, mental peace, and understanding of all things spiritual and physical. Thus the resulting concoctions reveal a variety of poisonous drinks, as false or legalistic religions appear, worldly ideologies that promote self-centeredness become our focus, and empty teachings that lack the wisdom of God ultimately destroy our lives.

Then our final article disclosed the main ingredient, the base substance, mixed into each drink served up in the chalice of Satan. What’s this staple element of potency? Selfishness. No matter what drink Satan chooses to tempt you with, it will always be heavily lined with a huge portion of selfishness.

Selfishness is the one ingredient certain to remove our gaze from God and His statutes, and place them inward towards our own desires and wants. As long as we continue to over indulge in the libation of selfishness, then Satan knows we will never successfully surrender our lives over to God (Proverbs 18:1; Romans 2:8; James 3:16). Yahweh will never be respected as our sovereign Creator, Jesus will never truly be our Lord, and the Holy Spirit will never really be our guide.

Humanity, as we stated in our introductory article, has a choice. We can embrace the dares that Satan dictates to us, and then experience eternal death, or we can choose to embrace God’s truth, and live forever.

Drunkeness 1 By drinking from Satan’s chalice, our spiritual senses become dulled, forcing us to look death in the face and act as if nothing is wrong; as if all is right and normal. Those that make this choice act on the lie that truth is relevant to their own wants and desires. They accept Satan’s lie that says absolute truth is really the biggest falsehood of the ages. The one really big problem with that — you can’t make the truth go away, and escape it’s consequences, by simply choosing to not believe in it. Famed American science-fiction author Philip K. Dick acknowledged this when he said, “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”

Merriam-Webster defines the chalice as a: (noun) a drinking cup — goblet. Wikipedia says a chalice is “a goblet or footed cup intended to hold a drink. In general . . . it is intended for drinking during a ceremony.” Most chalices are formed from a precious metal or made of crystal, then they are lined with precious stones and jewels. The reason is they are meant to “wow” and impress people. These aren’t cups for every day use. These are special vessels meant to be used for special occasions.

The term “poisoned chalice” exists, because somewhere in human history someone figured out that the glitz and the glamour of these goblets, used during a celebration or feast, is so distracting that no one would ever consider questioning the liquid being served in it. Today this term is applied to a thing or a situation which appears to be good, at first, but when it is received or experienced it becomes, or is eventually found to be, dangerous. This is why I refer to the lies humanity receives from Satan as a “chalice filled with poison.”

Scripture also compares the truth of God and the lies of Satan as drinks to be consumed by us. Paul wrote these words to the church in Corinth, “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too.” (1 Corinthians 10:21a) Real truth can only be consumed from the “cup of Christ.” Why? First, because Jesus spoke of Himself as being real truth (John 1:17, 14:6, 18:37) and second, because Christ calls us to consume His truth from His cup (John 4:1-26, 6:53, 7:37-38; 1 Corinthians 10:16).

People cannot find the way to experiencing everlasting life by partaking of any old drink from within any old vessel. Not even if the world decorates their vessels with precious metals, stones, and jewels. No matter how much gold and silver is shaped and formed; no matter how many fine and rare stones or jewels adorn the chalice, it won’t make the poison in it any safer for our consumption.

Cup 9 Christ’s cup appears simple. It’s not adorned with fancy jewels and other distractions. The “cup of Christ” is plain, understated, and accessible to all. Christ’s cup is absent of fancy decor, because it’s not the drink of selfish, pious, and pompous people. Christ’s cup is to be consumed by the selfless, sincere, and humble human. Men and women capable of surrendering their lives to God, in exchange for the substance that grants them eternal life — the blood of Christ. It’s only by drinking in the sufferings of Jesus — now, in this physical world — that we can be allowed access to the wondrous inheritance of God’s Son.

I’ll close with this thought concerning mankind’s endless search for truth and eternal life. It will require us to return to the chamber of the Holy Grail, that we spoke of in our introductory article. As we all stand there, contemplating the various chalices we could drink from, remember this phrase — low probability verses high impact.

No matter how many religions, doctrines, philosophies, ideologies, and studies perk your interests and pleasure your spirit, consider the probability of their being true verses God’s Word being true. Consider the impact these religions, doctrines, philosophies, ideologies, and studies will have on your eternal soul verses the impact that God will have on your soul. If you believe there is at least a one percent probability that, when you die, you will be judged by this holy God spoken of in the Holy Bible, and in this series, then you had better seriously consider the cup of Christ. It only requires that you look past the glitz and the glamour of all the other chalices in the chamber, and (as the guardian said) choosing your cup wisely.

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

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

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

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

Article 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 VI, part 1

Truth or Dare (Article 6)

Imagine with me that medical science has figured out how to manifest academic knowledge into a pill. A college student, needing help with their course work, Science 5 goes to the pharmacy and asks the pharmacist what kind of “knowledge pills” are available. The pharmacist lifts up a case filled with samples of these modern marvels and opens it up in front of the student.

“We have pills for English literature,” the pharmacist stated as he held out a sample. The student quickly takes the pill, swallowing it and almost immediately gains new knowledge concerning English literature. “Wow! What else do you have?” asks the student.

“Well, I have some pills for several studies. Such as art history, biology, and world history,” replies the pharmacist. The student urgently asks for samples of these, and gulps them down. Again, almost in an instant, the student has acquired new knowledge relating to those subjects. Then the student asks, “Do you have a pill for mathematics?” The pharmacist says, “Yes, but you must pay for this one.” The student agrees, and waits as the pharmacist walks away to the storeroom.

Moments later the pharmacist returns with a humongous pill, and after hoisting it onto the counter, with great effort, the student gasps and says, “I have to take that huge pill for math?” To which the pharmacist replies, “Well, yes — math always has been a ‘hard pill’ to swallow.”

Knowledge. Unlike wisdom, knowledge can be a little easier to acquire, though not as easy as simply swallowing a pill. It requires from us, just as wisdom does, our pursuit of it. Educational facilities can’t force people to learn. Just ask any teacher who’s worked with public school kids for any number of years. They can attest to how hard it is to teach children that refuse to learn, or suffer from a learning disability, but teachers from all grade levels will also tell you how rewarding the job can be when students — hungry for knowledge — grow and grow academically.

Francis Bacon Francis Bacon, an English philosopher, statesman, scientist, jurist, and author (who served both as Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England), is credited with having said, “Knowledge is power.” It is true that knowledge can empower us to obtain many opportunities in life, but apart from understanding it can become a dangerous weapon. A weapon capable of destroying countless lives. You see, knowledge apart from understanding leaves us empty of wisdom, and a person without wisdom is capable of committing horrific acts against all life forms; especially against human life.

There are many ways to obtain knowledge these days, as computers are accessible in almost every area of the globe. There are also plenty of books, and in some areas microfilm is still available. Some television programs are used to educate us, as well as some radio programs, movies, CDs, and DVDs. Smart phones are basically a portable computer which can access the internet, pod-casts, other sound files, and even some movie files. All of these tools grant us nearly instant access to some type of knowledge, but none of these tools are better used than when employed within the academic system, be that system public, private, or home.

Academia opens us up to all types of knowledge, such as basic reading skills, writing skills, and mathematical skills. From there, mankind can be introduced to countless course studies, for example history, a variety of language skills, the various arts, general business and financial skills, and the many varieties of science, just to name a few. Knowledge really is powerful, but again it must be coupled with understanding to be beneficial to us. Academia may give us access to knowledge, but we must remember that only God can correctly couple our knowledge with understanding. When we allow this to transpire in our lives, then God will grant us access to His wisdom (Proverbs 2:6).

We also need to realize the role that faith plays in our attaining real knowledge. People have incorrectly believed that faith is for superstitious people, and not for the person who seeks intelligence. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, we all exercise faith on a daily basis. We rarely consider the artistry, mathematics, and science involved in the production of a chair, staircase, skyscraper, car, plane, boat, etc., yet without knowing how these various items happened we day in, and day out, use these tools and believe they will function as expected. That is faith.

The faith you exhibited when you sat in your chair today did not in anyway lesson the significance of the artistry, mathematics, and science placed into it, nor did it make you a superstitious fool. As the writer of Hebrews stated in the first verse of chapter eleven: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” We don’t see the creative process of the artist, the mathematical formulas and laws of physics used by the builder of the chair, but we are certain they are properly applied as we hope to sit comfortably and not fall to the ground. This also applies to our faith in the divine Creator. We don’t see God, Himself, but we see and even experience Him on a daily basis through creation and our faith.

Knowledge 2 As our faith grows, so too will our understanding of the knowledge God has made available to us. This knowledge, whether acquired through academia or through simply living life, will eventually give way to God’s wisdom, but only if we grow in our faith and seek to know the truth. This is the premise for which academia began; to teach concerning what is true. Yet despite this lofty goal, and all the educational tools at our disposal, people today are getting less truth, because God’s wisdom — God’s knowledge and understanding — has been removed from academia. One subject where this is most prevalent is the subject of biological science.

Linus Pauling, a chemist and pacifist, once said, “Science is the search for truth.” Yet today, in biology classes all around the globe a lie is being taught repeatedly, in spite of the evidence being massed against it. The lie began as a simple scientific theory. A scientific theory that was presented because a certain scientist began to have doubts regarding how life and all of creation happened. The lie? Darwinism, or the study of macro-evolution.

Now before we address the lie of macro-evolution in detail, I want you to understand that doubting is certainly a human characteristic. Doubts drive us to question. We question things like who, or what, caused life and all of creation to exist. Doubt moves mankind to ask when and where did such things transpire. Our doubt leads us to ask why things are as they are; to want to understand how things came about. Doubt is a part of the imperfect human spirit, but it is not a virtue.

Doubt might push us toward knowing the truth, and it might help us become certain that what we have discovered is the truth, but it can also cause us to miss the truth, altogether. Greg Laurie, an author and pastor, once said, “Sometimes doubt is the foyer to enter the sanctuary of certainty. Doubt is an act of the mind. Unbelief is an act of the will.” You see, though we doubt, and though that doubt can lead to understanding what is true, it will not lead us to believe the truth. That is our choice. If we are determined to ignore the evidences of God and live within our doubts simply because we do not want to believe in God, or simply because we are mad at God and religion, then no amount of seeking answers to our questions — no amount of study — no amount of knowledge will lead us to see, and know God.

King Solomon penned in the book of Proverbs, “There is a way that seems right to a man and appears straight before him, but at the end of it is the way of death.” (Proverbs 14:12) This “way that seems right to a man” is the way of knowledge without understanding. It’s choosing to believe in something because we do not want to deal with God’s truth; to foolishly refuse to believe God’s truth thinking that if we refuse it then we will somehow be exempt from it. Unfortunately, choosing to be ignorant of God’s truth does not result in bliss. Recall with me the Warner Brothers’ cartoon characters, Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner.

Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner are two of the classic cartoon characters from the Warner Brothers’ animated series known as Looney Tunes. The coyote was always trying to make a dinner out of the roadrunner, but he could never catch him. Wile E. Coyote would even make ridiculous inventions, or make outlandish purchases, to help him catch Road Runner, but it was always to no avail.

Coyote-Roadrunner 1 One of the classic gags that took place in nearly every “Coyote/Road Runner” animated short, was the bit where the coyote would be chasing the roadrunner up through the desert mountains and inadvertently both would go running off of a cliff into the open air. Road Runner would stop (in midair, mind you) and stand there staring at the coyote. Wile E. Coyote would give a big sinister grin, thinking that he had finally caught his fast, feathery foe, but quickly he would realize that he and the roadrunner were defying the laws of gravity.

Before making his infamous fall to the ground, a sign would emerge from the coyote asking Road Runner how he was ignoring the law of gravity. The roadrunner would respond with a sign of his own stating that, unlike the coyote, he never studied law. A quick, and hearty, “Beep-Beep” would emerge from the happy-go-lucky bird and off he would go; running across the open sky and back onto the mountain road. Meanwhile, the poor ol’ coyote would drop like a “lead balloon.” Coyote Falling 1 Wile E. Coyote would fall into the screen, until all you see is a brief cloud of smoke puffing up from the ground below.

We are not living in a world of “Wile E. Coyotes” and “Road Runners.” God’s truth exists whether we know of it, and understand it, or not. We cannot ignore God’s truth, or remain uneducated of God’s truth, and expect to escape the results of it. As the Apostle Paul said in the first chapter of the book of Romans:

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — His eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.” (Romans 1: 18-22)

In our next two posts we will begin to disclose the foolishness of macro-evolution. We will show you, in as much detail as we can, how scientific knowledge is dangerous when God’s truth and understanding is not applied to it. We will also expose the sinister agenda behind American Darwinists.

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.

Looney Tunes is a trademark of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner are ™ and © Warner Bros., or Turner Entertainment Co. 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.