2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Scripture | Observation | Application | Prayer
I don’t know about you guys, but I do enjoy a good Bible Study.
I’ve got to thank my Church Fellowship Monrovia for continuing to push this Bible Study process (SOAP) on us season after season. And this fall they created a Life Journal which provides suggested daily readings and other resources to make the process very simple.
Powerful worship service, a good sermon and times of prayer are all rewarding experiences, but an intentional time of getting deep into God’s Word seems to draw me closer to the heart and mind of Christ unlike anything else.
It’s like a cup of coffee with a mentor, where you find yourself hanging on every word because each word matters.
I haven’t been very disciplined with this practice lately, I pick it up when I have some extra time or I “feel” like it. But as I press deeper into my own addiction recovery and Discipleship Journey and attempt to find my voice through my new Life Coaching endeavor I realized I have been developing several new positive daily rituals.
My Daily Rituals
Ramping up in the morning with a mental, emotional and spiritual priming exercises is a great way to start the day. Currently, I’ve been using a Tony Robbins video for a morning blast of endorphins.
Mindfulness meditation helps me to re-center my wandering thoughts and rogue emotions which attack with seemingly no rhyme or reason at random times throughout the day. Whether 5 minutes or 30, these are super helpful in self-regulation. Currently, I’m using a Muse Headband and the Headspace App for guided intervention.
Of course, stretching and exercise, healthy eating and intentionally cutting out sugary drinks and sweets while increasing water intake are a must throughout the day.
My nightly ritual includes a 1.5 hour time of winding down with comprehensive hygiene (read: flossing and washing face take effort to not blow off), journaling my awarenesses and gratitudes of the day, both highs and lows, and zero electronics 1 hour before bed. I find reading or listening to music slows me down nicely.
And having a fixed sleep schedule 7x days per week has proven to be the most healthy for our minds and bodies. Running on 5hrs of sleep during the week and then binging 10 hours on the weekends is not helpful or healthy. Figure out what is best for you and stick to it.
I do a daily devotional most days, and I pray and consider each meal a sort of communion with God so I haven’t been lacking in my spiritual life. However, I realized this morning that I don’t have the study of God’s word specifically built into my routines.
Surely I could get up a little earlier and make SOAP a part of my morning routine.
And of course, why not share that with you guys!
We don’t spend enough time together. I’ve drawn distant from my blogs, and that’s not OK. Connecting with others, even through an online medium such as this (or my other endeavor Life Mastery Project), can be great community connections where we get and give encouragement, insight, and support.
So, we’ll see how this goes. I would love for it to be a daily ritual, but I usually start out overly zealous with a project and then settle into more manageable routines.
What is SOAP
This process is about discovering God’s word in a new way that delivers something tangible and meaningful. It is about building a relationship with God’s word. There are no rules here.
There are many resources out there that take the time to explain SOAP better, but I will provide a brief overview here.
There are a ton of Reading Plans out there, choose one that you like. It should be something that gives you several verses to read daily but not be so overwhelming as to require an hour of grinding through text. Many study bibles break out groups of verses together within a chapter so reading one section could work well.
Once you have read the 1/2 dozen or so verses for the day, take a moment to reflect on what the overall message in the few verses means to you. Then take each verse individually and explore what you believe the author was trying to say. Then pick out some very specific ideas that stand out to you.
I truly get some deep AHA moments during this part of the process.
What I’ve found has been working well for me is framing questions from the observations. My thought process is something like “this is what the text is saying, how do I do or don’t do these things in my own life”. (more specific examples later in this article)
Through this process, I usually discover an area in my life that I have been complacent in. Or God breaks my heart for a cause or provides ideas on someone else in my life who could use my encouragement. Without fail, the prayer usually flows easily once I’ve spent a 1/2 hour in God’s word and intentionally sought to extract what God wants to say.
This is my actual SOAP exercise from September 28th that has really sat with me for a few days and which I believe may be what is spurring me on to want to kick off this new discipline.
28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
- Jesus continued on “AS IF” he were going farther.
- They “urged Him strongly to stay”.
- Jesus broke the bread and blessed it then gave it to them
- Once their eyes opened He disappeared
- Jesus pretended to continue on? That alone is fascinating but then seeing that the guys then begged Jesus to stay with them shows that Jesus wants us to want Him. How often do I “beg” to spend time with Jesus? Does He truly mean that much to me?
- Jesus shared his meals. We are meant to be in a community. Much like the church of Acts, they came together daily, they sold their possessions to care for each other. Our faith is not meant to exist in a vacuum. How am I intimately sharing my faith walk with others in my community, both inside and outside the church?
- Once their eyes opened He disappeared. How much do I actually need hand-holding and constant affirmation from God? What do I do when He disappears? Am I bold and confident or do I become insecure and fearful again?
Forgive me, Lord, that I treat you like many of my acquaintances – I ghost you until I desire you. I’m often driven by guilt or a sense of obligation when seeking you – not an overwhelming desire that blots out every other priority in my life. Renew my fire for you Lord.
And that’s all there is. The whole process really doesn’t take more than 20 minutes once you get into a rhythm and begin to get a feel for how to let scripture speak to you personally.
I will also use a Study Bible, Life Application Bible, and online Study Tools to get more in-depth understanding of scripture when it beckons for greater understanding.
The point is, the Bible is alive, it is how God speaks to us, along with the Holy Spirit who stirs our heart and Jesus Himself who set us free.
Find your own rhythm, your own song, your own dance with Christ then sing like nobody is listening and dance like nobody is watching.
Join with His Spirit and revel in the majesty of God’s word. Make it personal, make it real. His promises come alive when we savor the relationship.
Blessings in Christ,
p.s. If I stay on task this will be the intro to a new series that I will link in the header. Come back often to join me in my journey and please be encouraged to share your own experiences and insights in the comments of this or any post.