Tools for the Journey

by Pastor Dave on January 31, 2012

Greetings Fellow Journeyers,

Hope you are truly enjoying your time in God’s Word, and that you are finding it not only inspiring but transforming. In my last blog entry a couple weeks ago, I said, “The Bible is not a Greek education book, but a Christian transformation book. I would suggest approaching the reading each day with a sense of anticipation and expectation. It is the living Word of God – it is quite literally God’s word to you, and as you read the pages of scripture, God actually will whisper his words to you through it.” 

Here’s how the book of Joshua puts it, “Do not let this Book of Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful.”  The question remains, how can the Bible be transformative in our lives?  How do we meditate on it so that we can be prosperous and successful?  How do we hear the whispers of God through the pages of scripture?  Let me pass along a simple tool that might help…

Meditation Tool:  S.O.A.P.

S.O.A.P. is a meditation tool that I discovered about 5 years ago that has helped me to meditate, hear from God, and apply God’s word to my daily life.  Not only does physical soap wash your physical body, but God’s word washes and nourishes our souls.  S.O.A.P. is also an acronym that means:

  • Scripture – What Verse phrase or word will I meditate on today?
  • Observation – What do you observe about this passage – what strikes you?
  • Application – How does this word from God’s word apply to your life today?
  • Prayer – form a prayer as a response to God’s word

You can use this Bible Study Tool with any Bible passage to help you to meditate on God’s Word.

Try it!

Get a journal or notebook, and use it to journal some simple thoughts as you read scripture. What?  Me, journal?! Please, don’t hyperventilate (call 911 if you are having trouble breathing).  YOU CAN DO THIS!!  Yep, you really can journal. It is really not painful, or hard, and it can be a meantingful tool. For me, journaling has been the single most transformative tool that the Holy Spirit has used in my own personal growth, and hearing the Lord’s voice.

How?

As you approach a passage of scripture, ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you. As you read, pay attention to what words or verse(s) stands out to you, or what strikes you as interesting, or what doesn’t make sense, or what words or phrases really hit you.  You don’t need a burning bush, often those little things that stand out to you as you read is God’s voice speaking to you – really!

Simply write down the letter S – and then write the scripture words, phrase, verse or verses that stand out to you word for word.

Then write the letter O – and prayerfully write down any observations that you make as you think prayerfully about those words or verses. This is the essence of meditation. Meditation simply means to think deeply about (literally – to chew on).  Ask the Holy Spirit to give you insights about this passage of scripture.

Then write the letter A – and ask the Spirit of God how to apply this word to your life today – in the next 24 hours.  What are you specifically called to do? Try to be as concrete and practical as you can.  For example, don’t just make your application – “I should pray more,” try to make it more specific… “This week I will try to pray for 10 minutes a day.”  This is how the word gets from our heads, to our hearts, to our hands – and into our lives.

Finally write the letter P – and write a simple prayer to God as a response to what he has spoken to you.

An example

Let me give you an example from my journal this week. At the top I will write the scripture I meditate on, and sometimes I give it a title – like a sermon title:

John 3:  The Posture of a Godly Man

S(scripture) – v. 30… John the Baptist said, He must become greater; I must become less.

O(Observation) – John’s life and this verse really speaks to the issue of pride.  At this point in John’s ministry he had a huge following and was baptizing many people.  He was recognized as a prophet and a man of God.  His disciples came to him and said, “Hey John, this dude Jesus is taking people away from us and now they are following him (my translation) – what are you going to do?”  Essentially John said – nothing – he must become greater; I must become less.  (He must increase, I must decrease).  John knew 2 things:  1) Everything he had was a gift from God.  This kept him from getting a “big head”.  2) He knew his purpose – this was to give glory to God and prepare the way for Jesus – not to draw a big crowd for himself.  He was secondary, Jesus was primary.  These things caused John to be grounded.

A(application) – This passage really struck me – It is easy to try to draw attention to myself.  The question the Spirit prompted in me is am I decreasing and Christ increasing in me? Today I want to consciously give glory to God every time attention might be drawn toward me, and praise God throughout the day!

P(prayer) – God, please cause me to decrease, and I ask you to increase in my life. Cause me to be filled with your Spirit, and not myself. Cause people to be drawn toward you through me. Help me to get out of the way, so you might receive all glory and honor.

So that’s how it works.  I would encourage you to give it a try.  It doesn’t have to be long. Sometimes I just journal a few sentences – or a prayer. Also, I can’t lie to you and say I do it every day, but I have found journaling a very meaningful part of my walk with Christ.

I would love to hear how you are doing with your Journey Journals.  If you have any insights that you would like to share – go for it – share them on the blog!  Blessings on your journey through the Word!

Dave Izenbart

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