How Does the Soul Prosper?

III John 2 – Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

So how does the soul prosper?

To answer that question we need to understand the biblical difference between the 3 aspects of humankind: Body – Soul – Spirit

Isaiah 43:7 (b)

… for I [God] have created him [man] for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.

(For further research, please see the chart in this post entitled “Formed, Made, and Created”)

The body was formed by God from the dust of the earth.
The soul was made when God breathed into man.
The spirit was created in man by God.

The body is our physical being, our skin, organs, bones, and all of the other parts of our bodies that make us human. When we die, the body returns to the earth from whence it came.

The soul is the life within the body. Soul is inextricably tied to our breath life. Our soul life begins with our first breath when we are born and ends with our last breath when we die. Biblically, it refers to the entire experience of being human. Contrary to popular belief, soul is NOT the same thing as Spirit.

Spirit is given by God when someone becomes born again (Romans 10:9-10) Unlike our bodies and our soul life (breath life) which end at death, the gift of holy spirit cannot be taken away and does not end. (Hebrews 5:9, I John 5:11, Titus 1:2)

We were created for God’s glory.

In this teaching we will be focusing exclusively on the “soul” category.  This is the physical life we understand with our 5 senses.

How does our “soul” prosper?

Jeremiah 9:23-24 – Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: 24 But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.

God wants us to acknowledge Him as our source of wisdom, strength, and riches.  Without Him, the things we do are ineffective.  But with Him, everything we do is dynamic and powerful.

We keep God as a priority in our lives and our labour will prosper.  He can only prosper our “souls” when we are in fellowship and obeying His calling in our lives.  When we are outside of the “umbrella” of God’s favor, the things we do–don’t have as much of an impact.  We still get the job done but there is no abundance to it. Only God can provide true abundance and rewards.

Keeping God as our priority is a choice.  It is also a constant effort.  The enemy wants to steal our time, abundance, and allegiance. (John 10:10)

Those of us in the United States, just think about how we pledge our allegiance to the US flag.  What does that mean?  It means that we respect and honor the freedoms we have here, and vow our allegiance to the United States of America.  We stand behind our country because we believe it is the greatest country in the world!

Likewise we pledge our allegiance to God who created this country, the world, the universe, as well as everything and everyone in it…. and we keep His calling as a priority in our lives.

How do we prioritize our lives around God, rather than fit him into our lives? An example is told of a glass jar being filled with items to represent how we spend our time:

A teacher walks into a classroom and sets a glass jar on the table. He silently places 2-inch rocks in the jar until no more can fit. He asks the class if the jar is full and they agree it is. He says, “Really,” and pulls out a pile of small pebbles, adding them to the jar, shaking it slightly until they fill the spaces between the rocks. He asks again, “Is the jar full?” They agree. So next, he adds a scoop of sand to the jar, filling the space between the pebbles and asks the question again. This time, the class is divided, some feeling that the jar is obviously full, but others are wary of another trick. So he grabs a pitcher of water and fills the jar to the brim, saying, “If this jar is your life, what does this experiment show you?” A bold student replies, “No matter how busy you think you are, you can always take on more.” “That is one view,” he replies. Then he looks out at the class making eye contact with everyone, “The rocks represent the BIG things in your life – what you will value at the end of your life – your family, your partner, your health, fulfilling your hopes and dreams. The pebbles are the other things in your life that give it meaning, like your job, your house, your hobbies, your friendships. The sand and water represent the ‘small stuff’ that fills our time, like watching TV or running errands.” Looking out at the class again, he asks, “Can you see what would happen if I started with the sand or the pebbles?”

God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. If we treat God as an afterthought like the sand or water then we are only filling Him in whenever it is convenient. If we see God as one of the large rocks and make living His Word as the highest priority in our lives, then everything else we do will be blessed.

Hebrews 11:6 – But without faith [believing] it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

What happens when we diligently seek God?

Matthew 7:7-11 – Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

As we seek God our needs are abundantly met.  He opens doors for us and makes a way where there may be no way from our point of view.

Matthew 7:9 – Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

This refers to a large stone that was used to hold down stacks of flatbread that they ate in biblical times.  It would take the shape and color of the bread over time and would have even looked like a loaf itself.  A father would not give his son a rock instead of bread.

Matthew 7:10 – Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

Many people were fishermen in biblical times.  Often they would catch all kinds of critters in their nets including water snakes or eels.  A father wouldn’t give a serpent to his son instead of a fish for food.

Matthew 7:11 – If ye then, being evil, [having human nature] know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

As good as a father is to his son, or as good as we are to our families and one another, how much greater is God the Creator who provides all of our physical needs!

All it takes is a full and complete trust in Him.

Psalm 37:3-7 – Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. 4 Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. 5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. 6 And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. 7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.

Let’s put our trust in God the Creator and He will bless our lives.

We are complete in Him:   Body Soul and Spirit.

Our soul prospers as we keep God first in our allegiance and priorities.  We acknowledge Him as our source of strength!

From a teaching in August of 2009
[brackets indicate my comments]
All scriptures from the KJV version of the Bible unless otherwise noted

Leadership from God’s perspective

There are three keys to leadership from a biblical perspective:

Longsuffering
Gentleness
Temperance

These keys also happen to be listed in Galatians 5 as three of the nine “fruit of the spirit” Fruit of the spirit is “The nine visible attributes of a true Christian life” These are the outward manifestations of a solid inner spiritual walk with our heavenly Father.

Galatians 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith…meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

In each of our lives there have undoubtedly been people who exhibited these principles toward us.  Likewise we can show people the same.

The first principle we will look at is Longsuffering:

  1. Long Suffering

Long suffering is patience. It is bearing one another’s burdens. It may mean praying for someone, being there for someone, or even just listening. There are many great examples of this in my life. I have been allowed to grow in many categories as I was shown this patience and love.

Ephesians 4:2-3 – With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

In order to have someone’s abilities, we also have to learn to accept their shortcomings.

Colossians 1:11 – Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

God strengthens us with patience and longsuffering and we can have joy as we live that principle.

Longsuffering is a renewed mind principle. It may not always feel natural, but it is an attitude that we can develop.

  1. Gentleness

Gentleness means to have integrity and moral goodness as written in this context.  It also means kindness or usefulness.

Gentleness is what leads a person to change.  God’s gentleness allows us to change and grow naturally.  This is also how we lead people, with a kind attitude.

This is what made the tremendous King David so great.

II Samuel 22:36-37 – Thou  hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy gentleness hath made me great.  Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip

David was known for being a great warrior and leader for God but it was God’s gentleness that made David humble and courageous.

We should lead as David did, with unwavering courage, but a gentle heart.

I and II Timothy are leadership epistles.  II Timothy 2:24 reminds us for whom we speak and the attitude which we show to others.  Paul is reminding Timothy of this principle:

II Timothy 2:24 – And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,

The word “servant” in this verse is doulōs which is someone who has made the choice to serve God, a willing servant.

One of the requirements of being a leader and a servant of God is that we are gentle and understanding, as well as apt to teach.

  1. Temperance

Temperance is another word for self-control.  This is a great key as a leader because anything that a leader does is amplified.
What do I mean by that?  Let’s take for instance the President of the United States.

When the president does something good, it’s all people talk about.  It is even more obvious when a negative decision is announced and is discussed ad nauseam by our news media. Choices a president makes are amplified because those choices affect the people that a president is responsible for leading. In the case of a US president, that is hundreds of millions of people.

Likewise, we have a responsibility to keep our lives in check and exercise self-control or temperance.  We may not be leading a country, but we are called to lead God’s people; which is an even greater responsibility when it comes to the grand scheme of eternity.

The discipline of self is possibly the most difficult of disciplines.  This is because the nature of the world would have us doing the opposite. The environment around us subtly tries to influence us to drift apart from God and the greatness of His Word. It is our job to keep ourselves in check.

I Corinthians 9:25 – And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

This life is not only a physical competition at times, but a spiritual one. Every day we are in this world we have the ability to win spiritually.

Think of how much discipline it takes to be an Olympic athlete.
It means daily discipline in their eating habits, exercise, thoughts, and even who they associate with. Olympians generally don’t practice their sport with non-Olympians… simply because they will instinctively drop their game to match those around them.  If they want to win, they need to be around people who challenge them to win.

Likewise we should choose our association wisely.  If we spend the bulk of our time around people who oppose God and His ways we will instinctively begin to think the same way.  In this regard it takes much effort and temperance to surround ourselves with Godly people.

II Timothy 2:22 – Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

We are not only encouraged to avoid….but to FLEE youthful lusts. This is not only referring to the sexual category (although that is the connotation) it also refers to desires for material possessions and other potential distractions as well.

Anything that is a distraction from our walk with God falls into this category.

The benefits of keeping ourselves disciplined are eternal rewards and an incorruptible crown (as in I Corinthians 9:25 from earlier)

Temperance is one of the fruit (or evidences) of the spirit that is exhibited as we walk with our heavenly Father each day.

In this teaching we looked at Longsuffering which is patience.  In order to have someone’s positive qualities we sometimes need to accept their shortcomings.

Next we looked at Gentleness which is kindness and love shown toward others.  We can have the courage of David but also the gentleness and humility that made him great.

Temperance  is self control.  In order to be able to lead others we need to be accountable to ourselves and to those we lead.  This means that we are the same person behind closed doors as we are in public.  A great leader is a transparent leader.

With these qualities, or fruit of the spirit in mind, we can continue to walk in the position that God has called us to, as sons and daughters, earning eternal rewards with Him.

God Bless You!

From a teaching given in January of 2010
[brackets indicate my comments]
All scriptures from the KJV version of the Bible unless noted otherwise

 

Edifying one Another

I was inspired to do this teaching because of the value of edification and encouragement toward one another. It’s true that “what you say is what you get” and that there is power in the words that we choose to speak, whether negative or positive.

You’ve likely heard this quote:

Watch your thoughts; for they become words. Watch your words; for they become actions. Watch your actions; for they become habits. Watch your habits; for they become character. Watch your character for it will become your destiny.

-Frank Outlaw

This quote begins with the concept of “thoughts” but there is one before that; the heart.

Proverbs 4:23 – Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

The words of our mouth begin with what we hold in our heart, followed by how we decide to think.  Our conversation toward and about one another reflects what is in our heart.

Romans 12:4-5 – For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: [the same function] So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

According to the Word, we are to edify one another as members in particular.  We are all different, but there are many things about each of us that deserve edification, most especially our shared love for God.

Luke 6:36-38 – Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. 37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: 38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

The take away from this section of scripture goes back to what we hold in our hearts. It also covers the concept of giving and receiving. What we give out into the world, will always return to us. It’s important we are giving edifying, life giving words, thoughts, and actions outwardly in our lives.

God blesses what we give.  When we give of our time, God blesses us with efficiency of time.  When we give of our talents, He blesses us with more ability.  When we edify one another, we are edified.  When we give love, it is returned to us 100-fold.

This is the law of sowing and reaping and it works every time. (II Corinthians 9:6)

I looked up this word “edify” and it is found 11 times in 11 different verses in the New Testament:

We will look at each one of these and see how it applies to our lives.

Romans 14:19 – Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

“Follow after Peace” That sounds to me like a continual process.  This must also mean that following after peace is not always easy. It takes a concerted effort on our part to live this way.

1 Corinthians 10:23 – All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient [not advisable, not recommended]: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.

Paul is referring to the things which were not against the law, but were not a blessing either.  (Some examples today would be; gambling money away while a family suffers, a woman wearing very revealing clothing when not appropriate to do so, or a church leader drinking too much alcohol.)  The things Paul is alluding to here were not against the law, but they probably did not edify, and in fact may have distracted and caused unnecessary problems. The same is true in our day and time.

God edifies us by way of the Holy Spirit and our manifestation of the gift He gave us. The evidence and proof of eternal life is found in the operation of the manifestations of Speaking in Tongues, Interpretation of Tongues, and Word of Prophecy as noted in 1 Corinthians 14:

1 Corinthians 14:4-5 – He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. I would that ye all spake with tongues but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.

When we speak in tongues, it edifies us. When speaking in tongues is brought forth publicly in a group setting it is always to be interpreted by the speaker so that others may be edified. God gives both the tongues and the interpretation to the person operating this manifestation. God also provides a word of prophecy (which is either the foretelling of future events, or declaring of God’s love for us) as the manifestation is operated by the believer for the benefit of the people present.

We are edified as we speak in tongues in our private prayer life and the Church is edified during a believer’s meeting when the manifestations are interpreted. God provides everything we need to operate these, and all 9 manifestations (1 Corinthians 12:1-11)

1 Corinthians 14:12 – Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts [spiritual matters] seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.

This scripture encourages us to develop our ability to manifest Holy Spirit in order to edify the household.  We are to be zealous for spiritual matters!

1 Corinthians 14:26 – How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.

Still referring to the manifestations, we are encouraged to all be eager and prepared to manifest at all times.  Verse 27 goes on to say that we are to have at least two or three people in order to have a public meeting including the manifestations.

2 Corinthians 12:19 – Again, think ye that we excuse ourselves unto you? we speak before God in Christ: but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying.

God instructs us to do all things for the purpose of edifying.

Ephesians 4:11-12 – And he [God] gave some apostles; and some prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers; For the [purpose of] perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

The gift ministries listed in verse 11 are for the purpose of perfecting the saints, moving the Word, and edifying the body. These are gifts from God to the people. These are not gifts given to the individual. Each of us can be any and all of them at different times in our lives and God gave the ability of each of these to all who are born again.

Ephesians 4:15-16 – But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

God has called us to speak the truth – with love in our hearts.  We don’t do it because it’s necessarily easy or fun.  We do it because it is what God wants.

Ephesians 4:29 – Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

It’s like the classic movie “Bambi” when the character named Thumper said “If you can’t say something nice… don’t say nothin’ at all”

1 Thessalonians 5:11 – Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

This is a fitting scripture to close this teaching. Now here is a practical way to put your edification to good use.

Make a concerted effort for the next days and weeks to edify and speak words of encouragement.

God Bless You!

From a July 2009 Teaching
[brackets indicate my comments]
All scriptures from the KJV version of the Bible unless otherwise noted

Teachings from the Word of God