Summary: We need to approach the New Year of 2015 with healthy souls. There are several things we can do to see to it that you soul is healthy this year. We need to make sure our souls connect with God or they will choose a cheap substitute. We are responsible.

Opening Video Illustration: The Real You from

Series: Acts Too – Soul Care

We need to approach the New Year of 2015 with healthy souls.

This is why we are stressing - Soul Care this Jan. 2015:

I asked you “How is your soul moving into this new year?”

Jesus said in Matthew 16:26: “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”

Jesus said in Matthew 22:37: “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

Jesus emphasized the importance of your soul not just in eternity but it’s health in the here and now! Your success this year depends on the condition of your soul!

John Orberg states this about our souls: “If your soul is healthy, no external circumstance can destroy your life. If your soul is unhealthy, no external circumstance can redeem your life (Pg 40, Soul Keeping).

Story of Louis Zamperini Olympian, WW2 Ware hero and prisoner of War in the new movie just released: Unbroken

Highlight his life from


Many people thought Louis Zamperini would not live long beyond his formative years, and on many occasions they were almost right. As a child of immigrants, Zamperini was often in trouble with the authorities, until a police officer suggested that Louis use his fleet feet for sport instead of mischief.

Olympian at Hitler's Berlin Olympic Games

By the end of high school, Louis had become a world class runner, setting a world high school record in the mile. He qualified to run on the 1936 Olympic team by tying the world record holder in the 5000 meter run. At the Games in Berlin, he was America's top finisher in the event, covering the final lap in an astounding 56 seconds.

Following the Olympic Games, Louis competed on many record-breaking teams at the University of Southern California (USC). Many claim Zamperini would have broken the four-minute mile had he not elected to retire from the sport and join the U.S. Air Corps as a bombardier in the South Pacific during World War II.

Crashed at Sea and Drifted for 47 Days

On a routine reconnaissance run, Louis' aircraft crashed into the Pacific Ocean. He and another crew member survived in a life raft for 47 days, drifting 2000 miles, into Japanese-controlled waters. His rescuers were also his torturers, as the Japanese put Louis into a series of prison camps. One particular guard wanted to make an example of the eternally optimistic Olympic runner, and for two years this guard tried to break Louis' spirit with verbal and physical cruelty.

Louis outlasted the guard, and when the war ended, Louis returned to Torrance, California to a hero's welcome. He partied with celebrities and married a debutante, but his life was spinning out of control due to a lack of direction. It was a chance meeting with young evangelist, Billy Graham, that changed Louis' life for good. He decided to become a missionary to Japan, preaching the gospel of forgiveness to the very guards who had tormented him during the war. His book, "Devil at My Heels" was an astounding record of Louis' life. Upon his return to the States, Louis created the Victory Boys Camp for wayward youth, where he taught other juvenile delinquents the skills to succeed in life. Meanwhile, Louis and his wife, Cynthia, raised two children of their own.

Honored and His Story Told

In 1998, the Olympic Winter Games were held in Nagano, Japan, just outside the town where Louis had been held captive. The people of Nagano asked Louis to carry the Olympic flame as part of the torch relay. The host broadcaster (CBS) created a 45-minute feature about Louis' life, which aired during the telecast of the Olympic closing ceremony.

Share His testimony from Hour of Power broadcast: How could his soul be healthy and whole through such a horrible ordeal? How could he choose to forgive his enemy and the torture? How could he be restored in His soul in one night?

So how is your soul? Is it restored healthy and whole as we move into the New Year? Is it wounded or damaged? Is it forgiving or bitter? Is it loving or hating?

Listen to some other Bible verses speaking of the soul:

• Deut. 4:29: “But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

• Deut. 10:12: “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul...”

• Psalm 23: 1-3: “The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name's sake.”

• Psalm 42: 1: “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. Where can I go and meet with God?”

The soul your soul matters and it's spiritual health will determine what you become in your life THIS YEAR.

You could ask the question: "What is the soul?" How does the Bible describe our souls? What does the Bible say about our souls?

John Ortberg describes it this way, “We each have an outer life and an inner one. My outer self is the public, visible me. My accomplishments, my work, and my reputation lie there. But inside is my soul that part of me that speaks in silence to others but yells at me. It's the inside stuff of real life - what is your soul saying to you - how is your soul? (Is it connected to the breath of life or is it deflated by the things of this world and self?)… My inner life is where my secret thoughts and hopes and wishes live. Because my inner life is invisible, it is easy to neglect. No one has direct access to it, so it wins no applause (John Ortberg – Soul Keeping page 37-38).”

How is that inner soul of yours doing – is it thriving and growing or wilting and dying? Are you feeding your soul or starving it? Will you soul thrive this year or die more this year?

Back to what Jesus said: Luke 10: 27: He answered, " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

Jesus addresses the soul again – we need to love God with our soul – did you hear that – your soul – does it love God! Does your soul love the Lord or is it torn apart?

Your choices determine the health of your soul! Your giving determines the health of your soul! Your actions this year determine the health of your soul!

So I am asking again "How is your soul going into the New Year?"

I look around and I see "soul" missing from a lot of people's lives. I have heard it said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. What do people see when they look into your eyes? Is your soul healthy and vibrant or is it sick and lost?

To set the tone for this within our souls I am asking for you to consider a 21 Day time of Prayer and fasting from Jan 4 -25th. I am asking you to fast something that might hinder your relationship with the Lord. I am asking for you to practice a spiritual discipline which will strengthen your spirit and soul for this New Year.

What or how could I fast?

Here are Options for the 21 day Fast:

1. Fasting from ALL MEDIA – EXCEPT: Examples - Give up a) all TV except football b) all TV except rented movies c) all internet use except Facebook etc.

2. Fasting from SPECIFIC Media: Examples: a) No Movies or b) No TV or c) No Facebook etc.

3. Fasting from ALL FOOD – EXCEPT: Examples: Give up all food except for a) soup b) smoothies c) juice etc.

4. Fasting from SPECIFIC Foods: Examples: a) No Sweets b) No Breads c) No Red Meat etc.

5. 21 day FINANCIAL Fast: Purchase the book :“The 21-Day Financial Fast: Your Path to Financial Peace and Freedom” by Michelle Singletary. You can fast shopping for pleasure for 21 days, fast eating out for 21 days, fast buying anything unnecessary for 21 days.

6. Complaining Fast:Your goal is to not say anything negative - unless it is truly a problem solving situation and you are taking steps to help someone. With a "Complaining" fast, you will find yourself messing up many times - especially the first few days. Thus, you will need a "REBOOT" system. Here is an effective "REBOOT" system: If you mess up and give an unnecessary negative - as soon as you realize it you:

A) Immediately give THREE things for which you are "THANKFUL" - related to that person or situation and then

B) Immediately quote THREE scriptures which you have memorized. This will "REBOOT" your fast & will have great effect.

For instance, if you complain about the way someone drives: (Thats where I often sin) - you would immediately:

i. Thank Jesus for things like: great roads, the ability to drive, a chance to

pray for someone - rather than complain about them, that you have a car to drive etc.

ii. Then you would quote three scriptures such as Philippians 2:14, 4:13,

Isaiah 53:6, Prov. 11:12, 12:18, 18:21 Mt. 12:36-37

iii. Remember these core verses -write them on a note put on your mirror to read each morning:

• Phil. 2:14: “Do everything without grumbling or arguing.”

• Phil. 4:8: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.”

• Phil. 4:13: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

7. Talking about Myself Fast (Selfless fast): Your goal is to be Un-self-centered to Draw others out, to Affirm & Encourage others. You do NOT want others to know you are doing this fast. If someone asks you a question about yourself; answer it briefly then turn the conversation to questions for them or praises for them.

Verses to quote: Prov. 1:5, 10:19, 16:21,24, 17:27-28, 18:13, 21, 20:5, Isaiah 53:6, Mt. 12:36-37 I Cor. 6:19, II Cor. 5:15, Lk.14:26, Mt. 16:24-26, Rom. 12:1

Great book to Read: “Quick to Listen / Slow to Speak by Robert Fisher

8. Anger Fast: Lose the anger for 21 days – stop – walk and listen before getting angry.

Verses to quote: Download handout from Anger series pt. 2 on our website. It has lots of scriptures on Anger.

Great book to Read: “Quick to Listen / Slow to Speak by Robert Fisher

Don’t just fast but also set spiritual growth goals during the 21 days:

1 hour of worship a day to the Lord

Listen to the Bible on CD everyday

Watch the miniseries the Bible

Read the Gospels

Set aside prayer time while exercising

Set aside prayer time while driving

Set aside prayer time while walking

Memorize 21 Scripture verses

So lets get started:

Todays the start of the fast this is why we are going to talk about soul care tonight at 6pm– worship tonight and spend time tonight ministering to our souls! We have prayer teams coming back that were here the night we showed the movie “Holy Ghost.”

Don’t forget about this Wednesday the7th – (No classes this night but we will have nursery and kids time in gym) But we will have personal prayer appointments which you will need to sign up for during the month of Dec. These soul care appointments will be from 7-8:30 pm: Each session will have a personal prayer time with you and for you!

We are calling these prayer sessions “Soul Care Appointments” Did you sign up?

Here are the different topics of the personal soul care sessions you can sign up for – you need to decide which type of session or sessions will minister to your soul – and spirit?

• Prophetic Prayer – 15 minute session per person spontaneously receive God’s heart for your life while you receive individual prophetic prayer.

• Coaching – 15 minute session - If you are facing a situation and you are looking for guidance and encouragement personally or in ministry along with prayer.

• Spiritual Direction – Spiritual directors will guide you along your spiritual journey for more intimate and dependent relationship with Jesus (30 minutes).

• Immanuel Prayer – 30 minutes let Jesus meet you in the middle of past pain, hurt, or loss and speak life and healing to you in a deep and meaningful way.

• Healing Prayer – 15 min have someone pray for your – anoint you with oil for physical healing from the Lord.

• Wise Sage – Needing to ask advice from someone with years of ministry experience. You get to ask Kathy and I questions about life and ministry and receive prayer from us in the end. (30 minutes)

Our goal is to have prayed for every single one of you through this 21 days of Personal Soul Care!

Point of the message last week --- “Fear not but embrace the New Year with faith – Be ready if Jesus Returns by signing up today for Soul Care appointments – be expecting a miracle from the Lord through these soul care appointments – Let’s get ready!

We titled our series: Acts Too (Soul Care)

Acts Too – The book of Acts is filled with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Chapter 2 on the first disciples and signifies the birth of the church. The churches early years are filled with miracles and hardships! It’s filled with salvations and rejections of Jesus! It’s filled with people embracing Jesus and others fighting against Jesus and his disciples. It’s filled with hope and death. It reveals the struggle between good and evil in this world. It highlights the good and the bad of church. But most importantly it shows what can happen in the church if the souls in the church are healthy and connected with the Holy Spirit! We want a church like Acts too! A church filled with people who are being the church and have healthy souls:

Acts 2: 42-47: 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

My vision for 2015 is to have a church like Acts Too with souls that are fired up for the Kingdom and hungry for a move of the Holy Spirit. But for us to get their will require us to do some soul searching and soul care!

Question: “What does the soul need to be healthy and whole this year?”

1. The soul needs a connection to its creator God or it will find another god (idol) to connect too.

a. Orberg states: Our soul’s problem, however, is not its neediness; it’s our fallenness. Our need was meant to point us to God. Instead, we fasten our minds and bodies and wills on other sources of ultimate devotion, which the Bible calls idolatry.

i. Idolatry is still a huge problem in Christianity today!

1. An idol is anything that usurps God’s rightful place in my life.

a. It could be sports

b. It could be money

c. It could be career

d. It could be house

e. It could be a friend

ii. Ortberg adds: “Idolatry is the most serious sin in the Old Testament, leading one scholar to conclude that the primary principle of the Old Testament is the refutation of idolatry. Idolatry, according to author Timothy Keller, is the sin beneath the sin. Anytime I sin, I am allowing some competing desire to have higher priority than God and God’s will for my life. That means that in that moment I have put something on a pedestal higher than God. That something is my idol. All sin involves idolatry. We all commit idolatry every day. It is the sin of the soul meeting its needs with anything that distances it from God.”

1. Ortberg, John (2014-04-22). Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (pp. 82-83). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

iii. If we do not connect our soul with God it will connect itself to something else as a counterfeit.

1. It’s the nature of the soul – it was designed to be in connection in adoration to God but if it cannot have God it find a something else to latch on too.

2. This will create unhealthy soul ties to things that bring us down spiritually and in turn lead to our demise.

b. Ortberg states: “Most people, especially religious people, would probably say their souls are devoted to God or a higher calling or an ideal. We want to believe that’s true even as we devote our souls to something else. “

i. The problem I see in the church is people do not give God what is rightfully his!

1. They skip church to relax.

2. They skip church to work.

3. They skip church for sports.

4. They take away time with God and replace it with something that should not be there.

ii. Ortberg adds, “but consider as honestly as possible the following statements . If any of them even slightly resemble your thoughts, it is quite possible you have discovered the true devotion of your soul: It’s Soul check time!

1. I think about money a lot, as in getting more of it. Sometimes I fantasize about winning the lottery or coming into a big inheritance. I have a mental wish list of the things I’d like to buy if money were no object.

2. I wish I had more power and control over others. It seems as if my spouse and kids just don’t respect me enough. Ditto at work. I know I would handle it carefully — I would just like to be a more powerful person.

3. I have missed important family events in order to pursue my career. I justify it by telling myself and my family that this is what it takes to provide for them. I tell myself that if I keep working hard, I will reach a level where I will be able to relax a little and spend more time with the people I love.

4. I consider myself an honest person, someone with good values. But I would set those values aside to pursue something important to me if I knew no one else would know about it.

5. I have desires that I prefer not to have my spouse know about. If I am confronted by any of those desires, I become defensive and try to justify it.

6. I have secrets that I am willing to lie to protect.

7. More than once I have had arguments over something I wanted to do but my spouse did not want to do. Or over something I wanted to buy that my spouse didn’t think I should buy.

8. Aside from my family and others I love, there are things in my life that if they were lost or destroyed, it would crush me, devastate me.

9. If my doctor told me I had to give up (alcohol, cigarettes, red meat, salt/ sodium, sugar, caffeine, etc.) because it was seriously putting my health at risk, I would find it difficult to the point of being impossible. I likely would not tell anyone in order to avoid accountability.

10. If you asked my family what was most important to me, they would likely refer to my job, my favorite hobby, making money. . . . They would probably not say it was them.

11. I love God, and I want to more closely follow him, but there is one thing that always seems to get in the way, and it’s. If your soul is devoted to something that becomes more important to you than God, that is your idol.

a. From Ortberg, John (2014-04-22). Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (pp. 83-84). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

b. So how did your Soul Check go! Is something affecting the health of your soul with God.

c. Question: “Why do you think God addresses the issue of idolatry and places it as one of the Big Ten in the OT?

i. Exodus 20:2: 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. 7 “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. 8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

ii. This is a big deal – idols will make your soul unhealthy and damaged. An idol will wilt and eventually kill your soul.

iii. The these first few commandments all deal with our relationship with God – that internal relationship and warn us not to allow our souls to tied up with false idols which will lead to our destruction.

iv. So how is you soul looking? Are their idols choking out the Holy Spirit from your soul? From you life?

v. Do you need to cut these soul ties this year?

T.S. – We must be aware that idolatry will destroy our souls – our connection with God – our relationship with the creator of our soul. Our souls were designed to be in God’s presence!

2. The soul needs God’s presence to be healthy and whole!

a. Genesis opens up with the creation of Adam and Even and God in the garden of Eden.

i. But they sin and this causes separation between the two with God.

ii. But our souls were created to be with God – this is why our souls search for Him-for connection with Him – for meaning from Him!

1. This is why an idol will never satisfy our souls – our inner being!

2. This is why some millionaires are miserable.

3. This is why people with fame and fortune commit suicide. Their souls are unhealthy!

b. Ortberg notes: If you read through the Bible, you get the sense that the soul was designed to search for God. The Hebrew Scriptures — which might be thought of as the Great Soul-Book of human literature — are almost obsessed with this thought.

i. Listen to these few verses from the Bible:

1. The soul thirsts for the Mighty One (Ps. 63: 1).

2. It thirsts for him like parched land thirsts for water (Ps. 143: 6).

3. Like a laser it focuses the full intensity of its desire on him (Ps. 33: 20).

4. It lifts itself up to him (Ps. 25: 1)

5. It blesses him (Ps. 103: 1 – 2, 22)

6. It clings to him (Ps. 63: 8)

7. It waits for him in silence (Ps. 62: 1).

a. Ortberg notes: “Indeed, the soul lives in God.” The soul seeks God with its whole being. Because it is desperate to be whole, the soul is God-smitten and God-crazy and God-obsessed. My mind may be obsessed with idols; my will may be enslaved to habits; my body may be consumed with appetites. But my soul will never find rest until it rests in God.

i. Above from Ortberg, John (2014-04-22). Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (p. 116). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

ii. Our souls need to be connected to God’s presence – what changed and transformed the disciples in Acts two – a connection of their soul with the Spirit of God – it was an internal connection not and external one – it changed their perceptions – it drove our their fears of the future.

iii. The Acts two experience spoken of turned disciples who were afraid into courageous warriors for the Kingdom and even though they would be arrested and beaten for their message. They would not lose their joy – they would sing praises to God after beatings and while in prison.

1. Healthy souls – infused with the Holy Spirit can do this!

2. They can thrive in any environment – even in hostile environments!

c. Ortberg states, “For the soul to be well, it needs to be with God. One of the most intriguing phrases in the Bible is where Adam and Eve “. . . heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day.” God is Spirit, which means he doesn’t have a body, legs, or feet. What does it sound like when God goes for a walk? The point of this remarkable phrase is that walking is something you do with somebody you care about — a friend with a friend, a child with a parent. Two people in love would go for a walk. It’s not really about the walk; it’s about being with someone. This God — this God of the Bible — is a God who wants to “be with.” Our souls were made to walk with God.”

i. Ortberg, John (2014-04-22). Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (p. 117). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

ii. Is your soul walking into the New Year with God?

1. Or is your soul hiding from God?

2. Or is your soul running away from God?

d. Jesus makes this staggering claim in John 15:5: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

i. I am the vine; you are the branch tells me I have to be connected to the one who gives me life – who feeds my soul and nourishes my inner being.

ii. Ortberg states, “Bearing fruit means that we will do wonderful things in our lives for God and his kingdom, but we don’t really have to try all that hard. Instead, we are to make sure we are “with God.” That’s what it means to “abide in the vine” — live intimately with Jesus from one moment to the next. “If you don’t do that,” Jesus says, “nothing much will come out of your life.”

1. Do you want thrive this year – be attached to the vine – be in God’s presence!

iii. Ortberg adds, “It’s kind of like he invites his followers into an experiment because they’re just very ordinary people. How much can an ordinary person do in life on this earth with God in the ordinary moments? And how can I really make sure my soul is with God all the time?”

1. From Ortberg, John (2014-04-22). Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (p. 118). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

2. God wants to use your life for the Kingdom of Heaven – but to do so requires you be connected and locked into Him and His presence.

e. Ortberg states, “Jesus began this grand experiment with his twelve followers. They’re like his pilot group. He appointed those twelve disciples so that they might be with him. One of them, Judas, chose not to be with him in the end and ended up killing himself. The other eleven change the world because they’re with God through Jesus. Then there is what has come to be called the Acts 2 community — the first attempt at church. Jesus has returned to be with his Father, but he is still present through his Holy Spirit. Though he is not present physically, his followers find another way of doing life. They devote themselves every day to what Jesus taught: to prayer, to fellowship, to breaking of bread together. They shared what they owned; they served each other’s needs. Ethnic barriers came down as they became known by the way they loved each other. It’s a different community, devoted to a Jesus way of life with God.”

i. Ortberg, John (2014-04-22). Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (p. 119). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

ii. This is what we desire here at Christian Hills Church. To achieve this means we all must be connected and immersed in the presence and the power of the Spirit of the Lord.

f. Real Life Story from John Ortberg:

i. Over the recent centuries, every once in a while a follower of Jesus gets a vision for this kind of intimate life with God. Centuries ago a man named Nicolas Herman, who was an uneducated household servant from a poor family, got converted to the Christian faith by looking at a tree. It was winter, and the tree was barren, but it occurred to Nicolas that the tree would grow leaves again in the spring. This produced in him a deep sense of God’s care and power. It struck him that if God does that for trees, he would surely do it for a person. So this young man entered into a monastic community, spent his life in the kitchen as a cook and dishwasher, and all the while privately devoted his life to being with God. Today we know him as Brother Lawrence. When he died, friends gathered some of his letters together and turned them into a book. The book is called The Practice of the Presence of God. It was written in the seventeenth century and is now thought to be the most widely read book in the history of the human race other than the Bible — this, from an uneducated dishwasher. When the soul is with God it doesn’t matter if you are a dishwasher or a president. The soul thrives not through our accomplishments but through simply being with God.

1. Is your soul connected and with God or disconnected?

g. Can we do this today – be in God’s presence like we read about in Scripture and other stories of the past?

i. Ortberg adds, “Now it’s our turn. How do we — ordinary people living in our world of technology and economic challenges, huge moral debates, and rapidly changing beliefs — how do you and I find a Jesus-way to live? How do we discover the “with God” life that we saw in the lives of the disciples, the Acts 2 church, Brother Lawrence, and others before us?”

ii. Ortberg, “While there are no magic formulas for being with God, lately I have been conducting a little self-test that I call The Soul Experiment . It’s a simple way of focusing my soul on God throughout the day. I begin each day by challenging myself: How many moments of my life today can I fill with conscious awareness of and surrender to God’s presence? Then I try to deliberately imagine myself doing that at home, at work, in my car, when I’m online, when I’m watching the news, when I’m with others. Can I do the “with God” life all the time? I’ve been trying to make this the goal of my day as opposed to a list of things I have to get done. Can I just keep God in my mind today, regardless of what I’m doing?

1. Ortberg, John (2014-04-22). Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (pp. 119-120). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

2. Are you up to take on The Soul Experiment?

T.S. – Your soul needs the presence of God to keep it healthy and whole but you are the one who has to decide to let God in because you are the keeper of your own soul.

3. Your soul needs a keeper – a maintainer of it’s health and it’s you!

a. You are responsible for your own soul? No one else is!

i. Your pastor is not responsible for your soul.

ii. Your spouse is not responsible for your soul.

iii. Your mom and dad are not responsible for your soul.

iv. Your church is not responsible for you soul.

v. You are!

b. Apparently we believe that by some magic, the law of consequences doesn’t apply to us.

i. I can spend without getting into debt.

ii. I can lie without getting caught.

iii. I can let my temper fly without damaging my relational life.

iv. I can have a bad attitude at work and get away with it.

v. I can avoid disciplining my children without their getting spoiled.

vi. I can neglect the Bible and still know God.

1. Our capacity to live in denial about the law of consequences is huge and is damaging to the soul. In the Bible it takes God a long time to teach the human race about this!

2. Above from Ortberg, John (2014-04-22). Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (pp. 90-91). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

c. Bible Story from John Ortberg:

i. One of the ways God tries to teach this concept is in an obscure and really bizarre little story that starts the book of Judges. As the book begins, Israel is fighting: “It was [at Bezek] that they found Adoni-Bezek and fought against him, putting to rout the Canaanites and the Perizzites. Adoni-Bezek fled, but they chased him and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and big toes.” I’m not making this up. When I grew up in Sunday school, our main educational technology was called the flannel graph. I don’t ever remember seeing this character named Adoni-Bezek with no thumbs, no big toes . Seems like a gory way to start off a book in the Bible. As I’ve learned from years of reading and studying and teaching the Bible, there’s always a good reason for whatever is in the Bible. In this case, if you learn about this story, it can actually save you a world of pain. Adoni-Bezek said, “Seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off have picked up scraps under my table. Now God has paid me back for what I did to them.” Things were violent back then, but even then this was big-time torture. Adoni-Bezek does thumb and toe removal not once, but seventy times. It was his signature move. Then, to intensify the humiliation of these rival kings, he feeds them by having them eat scraps under the table. He was sowing terror and cruelty and getting away with it. Until one day . . . Now he’s the ex-king with no thumbs and no toes under the table. But notice — he doesn’t say, “Israel did this to me”; he says, “As I have done, so God has repaid me.” All those years, all that torture, all those victims — someone was watching the whole time. It’s not just that there is a Law of Consequences in the universe. There is a God of Justice in the universe. “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” And the primary arena in which this is true is that little plot of ground that has been assigned to your care — your soul. A soul that is not kept properly will surely die.

1. Ortberg, John (2014-04-22). Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (pp. 91-92). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

2. If you do not focus on your soul then you will reap what you sow! You have to take care of your soul!

d. Bible Story from John Ortberg:

i. Once there were two brothers who could not get along. They had grown up together, played together, fought together, laughed together; perhaps they had been close. But when they grew up and their parents died, they had an argument about how to divvy up the estate. It grew severe enough that they couldn’t get along anymore; the money was more important than the love of one brother for another. One of them — the younger, who didn’t have any leverage — decided to get some outside help. He approached a rabbi: “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” That teacher was Jesus, but he didn’t play arbiter; instead, he gave a warning and told a story. The warning was that a person’s life does not consist in the abundance of their possessions. The story was about a wealthy farmer who harvested a bumper crop one year. He said to his soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.” His life became an upscale village filled with expensive homes. But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your soul is required of you.” When Jesus says the man’s soul will be required, he uses language from the business world; it’s a term that would describe a loan that had fallen due. Our souls are on loan to us. One day, God will review with us what our souls have become. That is what will matter from our lives. The stream is your soul. For it to flow freely, the keeper of the stream must clear it of anything that becomes more important than God. Ortberg, John (2014-04-22). Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (p. 94). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

e. YOUR SOUL IS FOREVER and you are responsible for it!

i. Jesus said, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body . . . rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” A lot of people would be shocked to know Jesus said something like this because we think of him as always saying comforting words, especially “Fear not.” I have not counted them, but I have been told that there are more than 365 “fear nots” in the Bible. So why all of a sudden is he telling us to be afraid? Because the stakes are so high — the body eventually ages and wears out, but the soul lives forever. And how you live determines the destination of your soul. We don’t like to think about this, but the Bible teaches that we will one day stand before God who is the judge of our eternal destiny. If you live your life in deliberate violation of his will and his ways, your soul will eventually be destroyed by being completely separated from God. That was the essence of Jesus’ warning: Protect your soul. Guard it. Make room in your life to care for it.

1. Ortberg, John (2014-04-22). Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (p. 97). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.


What do we need to know from this message?

• Our soul needs to be connected to its Creator or it will find an idol to connect too.

• Our soul longs for God and His presence and it will not be satisfied by a cheap imitation. If we are not attached to His presence we will slowly die.

• Our soul’s health is our responsibility. God gave us this responsibility.

What do we need to do?

• So we need to care for our souls and move into the new year healthy and whole in our souls!

Communion: It’s now time to evaluate our souls as we take communion for the first time this year.