How Is Your Soul?

how-is-your-soulExamining our lives

*    Socrates famously said, “The unexamining life is not worth living”
*    Before that, King Solomon wrote an entire book about examining one’s life – Ecclesiastes
*    Years later St. Paul encouraged believers to examine themselves: Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.” – 2 Corinthians 13:5a
*    Sadly, we rarely do this

o    Instead we tend to think that our lives will take care of themselves
o    We just live – going from one day to the next

Introduction to the series

•    We are going to take a break from our study of the life of Jesus
•    Last month I had asked you all to read through 1 Peter
•    Not long after I did that, Vineyard USA released a small booklet about spiritual renewal

o    As I looked at both of these items, something begin to come together
o    At first I was going to wait until Lent as I think there is something powerful about corporate fasting and preparation for Easter

•    Yet the Lord said to do this now, so here we are
•    This is how this series is going to work

o    We are going to be looking at four questions

1.    How Is Your Soul? Examine your life; ask the questions of the heart.
2.   How Is Your Family? Your first church; how can you tend carefully to their needs?
3.    How Is Your Work? We work to give; how do we carry Christ into our work?
4.    How Is Your Calling? Join God’s future; what is your part in God’s mission?

o    Corporately, we will be looking at these four questions through the words of 1 Peter
o    Individually there will be four-weeks of daily devotions focused on these questions to help give our attention to our intimacy with Jesus through the wear and tear of life.

Working at our relationship with Jesus

*    Relationship take work; good ones take even more
*    Think about it

o    Best Friends – a lot of us have acquaintances or nominal friends – folks we know but really don’t hang out with

*    BEST friends, however, are ones that we hang out with – talk too and live life with
*    It takes work to keep a best friendship up as it means spending time with them

o    Marriage – the same thing is true between spouses

*    While some folks may think that you only have to say “I love you” once every 20 years, research around the world proves that you need to say it once or more a day
*    It takes time and energy to keep a marriage strong

o    Family – the same is true with family in general

*    If we don’t talk too or think about our family – brothers, sisters, parents, etc
*    We lose touch with them and our relationship suffers

*    The same is true with our relationship with Jesus

o    It takes time and energy to constantly build and strengthen our relationship with Jesus

*    There is a reason why Jesus said the greatest commandment is

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’–Mark 12:30

*    St. Paul in his first letter to Timothy said that we are to train [ourselves] to be godly” (1 Timothy 4:7)
*    If we turn to the old fisherman St. Peter we see the same principles

“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” – 1 Peter 2:2

*    Peter elaborates on this in his second letter (2 Peter 1:3-11)

3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

*    In summary, we are to work at our relationship with Jesus

o    We are not to just assume that going to church or believing a certain set of doctrines is enough
o    Jesus as called each of us His children – sons and daughters of the Most High

*    He is pursuing a PERSONAL relationship with EACH of us

o    Are we going to answer this call and push into Him?
o    Are we are to seek His face and listen for His voice?

Knowing who we are in Christ

*    The verse we just read in 2 Peter also highlights one of the most important things about examining our lives
*    Namely that Jesus loves us unconditionally and has given us everything we need

3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. -2 Peter 1:3-4

*    We have to know who we are in Jesus – this is the cornerstone of everything!!!
*    As St. Peter tells us in 1 Peter 1:3-5

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time

*    And in 1 Peter 2:9-10

9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

*    This IS who we are!!!
*    Do not let your fear or your emotions tell you otherwise! You are “God’s special possession”!!

Ignatius of Loyola (1491 – July 31, 1556)
Ignatius of Loyola (1491 – July 31, 1556)

Ignatius Spirituality

*    This leads us to the individual part of this series
*    St. Ignatius was born in 1491 in Spain and surrendered his life to Jesus in 1524 after being shot with a cannonball (he was a solider).
*    He was considered with the spiritual direction of Catholic Church at the time – remember that this was right after Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation (1520 AD)
*    As such, St. Ignatius developed a series of questions that are designed to help you recognize the movement of Jesus around us
*    Here is how it works:

o    Each evening set aside some time for a daily examen – 10 or 15 minutes

1.    Stillness – Become aware of the Presence of God
2.    Gratitude – Review your day with gratitude
3.    Reflection – Become aware of your emotions
4.    Joy and Sorrow – Choose one feature of the day and pray
5.    Hope – Look towards tomorrow

o    We are adding one additional question to the daily examen

*    Depending on the main question of the week
*    How is your soul? Family? Work? Mission?

o    There is also a short morning and evening prayer

*    I highly recommend reading these out loud
*    I know that it may sound strange for some of you as we are used to reading silently,
*    However, I have found that reading out loud does something to your mind
*    It makes the words you are reading become real – they move from just floating around your mind and enters into your soul
*    Try it and see. 🙂

*    Remember, this is not about emptying yourself

o    It’s about filling ourselves up with Jesus
o    Becoming aware of what He is doing around us
o    It recognizing and joining with Him as He works around us

*    This is about growing in Jesus

1 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wickedor stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,2 but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,  which yields its fruit in seasonand whose leaf does not wither—    whatever they do prospers. –Psalm 1:1-3

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