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May 2017
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“Exercising the Soul”

 

The Lord has blessed us with another beautiful day! Let me ask you, did you wake up
thinking, “This is a day that the Lord has made?” I know that sometimes (with one eye
open) it’s more like: “Where’s the coffee?” Regardless your morning routine, as part of
getting your day off to a good start, don’t forget to give thanks to the Lord! For all that
awaits you this day, is a gift to you from God.

Most of us have some form of exercise in the morning (or at least we should). We
typically identify this with getting our body in good shape, improving our circulation
system, and taking care of our heart – a way to help keep our body fit and our mind
sharp. Some folks do this by walking – a good form of exercise. However, have you
ever thought about exercising your soul? You might be thinking, “That’s a bit of a
strange question! How does one exercise one’s soul?”

Perhaps the more important question is, “What is the soul?” Typically, before we
exercise anything, we need to know a bit about what it is. Our first thoughts about the
soul might lead us to quickly conclude that our soul is our being, or spirit, or life.
I’ll tell you up front, I do not have an exact answer to this question, but I sense the
answer is complex, and worth further study by any disciple of Christ. However, I do
want to err on the side of the Truth found in the Bible, and what it teaches us, versus our
tendency as humans to speculate… So let’s continue.

If you ask any number of people this same question – What is the soul? — you will likely
get any number of answers. As a curious fact, persons replying to this question are
compelled to immediately elaborate on their initial answer, as if to qualify their first
thought. It would seem that the soul is something that needs more consideration. This
might call attention to our “need to expound” (human nature), when begin to consider
that no single, exact, simple explanation of “what the soul is” truly satisfies one’s mind –
perhaps better stated – “satisfies the understanding of one’s soul”.

We might conclude from this that the soul is something separate from our intellect – and
that our soul is different from our body.

The consequence of our intellect not being satisfied with a single answer (or set of
answers) to explain the soul, must have something to do with the very calling by our soul
for more understanding from this same intellect. Our intellect can discern with some
accuracy (assess/calculate/conclude) what can be determined through our experiences
and senses, but it has a hard time dealing with that which is unresolved by sensual
perceptions, such as faith, hope, love, trust, and so on… This can be as baffling, as trying
to “comprehend” infinity.

Some might conclude that such unresolved perceptions are the responsibility of one’s
spirit. – calling on the spirit’s ability to handle such matters. From this we might derive
that the soul is spirit and the spirit is the soul, but is this really the case? For is says in 1
Corinthians15:44, ”It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a
natural body, and there is a spiritual body.”

Does this imply that we don’t have to be concerned about our soul? This is hardly the
case, for the natural body (soul) and the spiritual body are highly related to our mind, our
heart, and our conscience – and there are eternal consequences to these relationships.
This can be perplexing… For the intellectual side of us wants to define the soul; the
spirit side of us convicts the soul; The emotional, heart side of us desires to understand
the soul; and the lustful side of us allows the use of the soul. Can these be correlated?
The answer is yes, but not exclusively in a worldly realm. How shall we view these
aspects of our so-called humanity, and the connections to our salvation and eternal life?
It’s time for us to turn our focus toward the Lord. For as Believers in Christ, we think
about Him, we are convicted by Him, we trust in Him, we love Him, we fear Him, we
praise Him, we glorify Him, and in all this — we know He has an eternal plan for our
lives that is based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. With such an acknowledgement in our
lives (faith), we can seek the guidance of our Lord on such questions of the soul —
turning to God for the answers.

“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your
works, And that my soul knows very well.” (Psalm 139:14)

God’s Word has hundreds of references to the meaning of the soul as a breathing body,
animal life, and the functions and qualities of we have as human beings. We might
conclude from this that there are considerations for the soul of mortality and immortality.
However, we cannot escape the fact that there are eternal ramifications for our mortal
actions here on earth, and the impact these have to our soul. Indeed, we ought to be
concerned about our soul.

“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him
who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)

From this we can infer (revealed to us) that our soul is something very precious, worth
taking care of, and although we are unworthy, our soul is worth preserving in holy
righteousness as faithful servants of Christ. As such, our “complete being” needs to
follow the example of Christ.

“So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on
immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed
up in victory.” (1 Corinthians 15:54)

You might choose to conclude that exercising the soul is what we do every day as we
approach God in faith and love – understanding that His love, grace, and mercy flow
through our lives. Another way to look at this is that our soul is the object of the Holy
Spirit, where in our current state of humanity, we have chosen to accept Christ in our
lives, repent of our sins, and be obedient to God. In this regard, our soul is the recipient
of our obedience to God and the salvation that only comes through faith in Jesus Christ.
Perhaps it makes more sense to say, “It is God that exercises our soul”, for we are His –
even unto death.

“Behold, all souls are Mine; The soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is
Mine; The soul who sins shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:4)

We must realize that it is God that is in control, and we are to be good stewards of the
soul given us. We ought not to take for granted that which God has created. For God
made all living beings, including all creatures of the earth, and He chose to give us life.
“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his
nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7)

Regardless our understanding (or intellectual doctrinal bias) of these relationships of
spirit, body, soul, and mind — when we put our faith and trust in God, we know that
our soul is comforted – we may not be able to explain it in theological terms – we just
know it! This is the consequence of the soul superseding the mind. This is the trust we
have in God that comes from the faith we have placed in Jesus Christ, which calls us for a
purpose, and helps us to understand the things we can comprehend, and all that we cannot
comprehend. In total, this is the sanctifying process we find ourselves in – that of
growing in Christ.

This is part of the mystery of our being transformed in Christ, for it says in Romans 12:2,
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the
renewing of your mind.”

Realize that in this life, our soul plays a significant role in carrying out the commandment
that Jesus gave in Matthew 22:37. “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your
God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’” (Matthew
22:37)

Take this commandment seriously in your Christian walk in life. Take to heart the
significance of your soul, and God’s desire for you to mindfully present yourselves in full
devotion to Him.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies
a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans
12:1)

To reflect on the questions addressed at the start of this message… Is your soul worth
exercising? What is your soul? Perhaps the above has served to stimulate your thinking
and understanding of the soul as it relates to your being – your life – a life that God
breathed into existence.

In closing, let me show you a soulful object in the night sky that astronomers call “The
Soul Nebula”. This is an emission nebula named ic1848. This object has been optimally
placed by God next to “The Heart Nebula”, named ic1805. Below is a wide-field astroimage
of this heavenly object, which is sometimes referred to as “The Fetus Nebula”.

 

The “Soul” nebula is a glorious object for us to behold, as it represents the sanctity of
life.

The astro- image above was taken last year from my Sagrada Observatory here in Las Cruces.
In fact, this particular image is a mosaic of 4 individual images seamlessly brought
together to show the scope of this rather large object.

As a point of interest, I took the liberty to show the similarities in the Soul Nebula image
above, to that of the human photo below. I think it’s a striking comparison and a
reminder that we are all witness to God’s Creation – both in the heavens, and here on
earth. This little guy pictured below is only 54 days old! God’s creation is amazing!
One question you might have… Does this little creature have a soul? This may be better
left for another discussion, or perhaps left to these questions: What does your heart tell
you? What do you feel in your soul?

Just like you, God knew you before you were in your mother’s womb. “Before I formed
you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you
a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5) This verse in Jeremiah affirms our
understanding of the omniscience of God. Yes… Just as God knew Jeremiah, He knows
everything about you and me – and just as God had a plan for Jeremiah — God has set
you aside for a special task.

As you get ready for the week ahead, exercising your soul, recommit to be obedient to
God, and make it your commitment that “You shall love the LORD your God with all
your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”

May the Lord place someone in your path this week to share the Good News of Jesus
Christ. Amen!

Have a great week!

Your brother in Christ,
Mike Sherick

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