Photo courtesy of First Baptist Church of Royal Palm Beach
SOAP stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer. To SOAP journal, all you need is your Bible, a notebook, and a pen. Start by reading a chapter in the Bible. Here are the steps to journaling:
1. S: Write out an S on your paper and then jot the verse that stood out to you during your reading.
2. O: Next write out an O on your paper and note what you observe about the verse. What is God showing you about that verse?
3. A: Write out an A on your paper and write how the verse applies to your life and practical ways you can put this verse into action in your day to day life.
4. P: Finally, Write out an P on your paper and a prayer in relation to the Bible verse you are journaling on.
Here’s an example of one of my SOAP Journal entries to give you a better idea of this. Feel free to read through it quickly and scroll down to read about the other two ways to grow in the knowledge of God if your short on time. However, if you've got the time, enjoy!
Recognizing the Call of God on Your Life—Numbers 17:1-11 February 8, 2010
S (vs.5) The staff belonging to the man I choose will sprout, and I will rid myself of this constant grumbling against you by the Israelites." (vs. 8) Aaron's staff, which represented the house of Levi, had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds. (Numbers 17:5, 8b)
O In the previous chapter, Korah and his followers rose up against Moses and Aaron claiming they should be placed in an esteemed ministry position as Moses and Aaron were. They argued that Moses and Aaron shouldn’t be the only ones in leadership over the people—they were holy too. (16:3) In the end the Lord showed these spotlight hungry men that Moses was indeed chosen by Him when the earth opened up and swallowed the men and their households alive. Despite this, the Israelite community still grumbled. So in chapter 17 the Lord has had it with their grumbling over leadership and seeks to put an end to their complaints once and for all. The Lord instructed Moses to collect a staff from each leader from twelve tribes and write the name of each leader on their staff. The staffs were put in the Tent of Meeting in front of the Testimony, where God met with them on a regular basis. The next day “Aaron's staff, which represented the house of Levi, had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds.” It would have been clear enough if Aaron’s staff had simply sprouted. It would have stood out among the eleven staffs that hadn’t. But God wanted to drive the message home that Aaron was the man he had chosen. God knew the people would still find a reason to complain—explaining away why Aaron's staff sprouted. “You call that a sprout? That doesn’t mean anything. That could have happened because…”
Instead God not only made Aaron’s staff sprout, but in case someone would explain it away, refusing to believe God chose Aaron to co-lead with Moses, God had the staff also bud, blossom, and produce Almonds. It was a miracle. There was no way the people could deny God’s choosing. No more could they wonder who should be in leadership over the people. It couldn’t have been clearer.
A When God calls us to a ministry, He will not only communicate that choosing to us, but He will make it know, confirming it to others. To best recognize God’s call on our life we out to be looking for fruit in our life. What areas of our life are we witnessing the most fruit? If we are not sure, we can reflect on what is it we do that people give us the most compliments or call us “a natural.” Maybe it is when we exercise our gift of helps, hospitality, or encouragement. What ever God has called us to will be evidenced by fruit. The area to which God has gifted us in and called us to will not simply be evidenced by a single sprout, but it will be further evidenced by budding, blooming, and even fruit.
When God reveals your calling to you, and further confirms it to the people around you, “…Do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” (Col. 3:23-24) There is no higher calling, and more fulfilling work, than that which the Lord has called us to do.
P Lord thank you that when You communicate to us that ministry which you’ve called us to do, you make it abundantly clear, giving us “many infallible proofs, so that there is no question in our minds what You have called us to do. Help us not to miss those proofs, but like the people who witnessed Aaron's staff sprout, bud, blossom, and produce fruit, we’d know beyond a shadow of a doubt that special work that you’ve called us to do. In Jesus name, Amen.
SOAP Journal Ideas
* If you are reading through the Bible in a year, pick a verse that especially ministers during your reading that day and journal on that verse.
* Journal on verses related to an area you’d like to grow in or an area of weakness you’d like to overcome. This is a great way to grow in your knowledge about what God says on a specific area you’d like to grow in or overcome. For instance, if you’d like to grow in patience, you could journal on verses about patience. If you’d like to be more joyful, journal on joy verses. If you’d like to be more self-controlled, journal on self-control. So what area in your life would you like to grow in or overcome?
* Journal on the names of God to grow in your knowledge of Him. You could even journal on the names specific to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. If you journaled a new name each day, imagine how much you could learn about God in a month! A couple of years ago, my Ladies Bible Study group at church, we did Kay Arthur's Lord, I Want to Know You: A Devotional Study on the Names of God It was a wonderful study on the names of God.
* Journal on the promises of God.
* Pick a list from the Bible to journal on. You could journal on the days of creation (Genesis 1), the ten commandments (Exodus 20), the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), the characteristics of love (1 Corinthians 13), the seven churches in Revelation (Revelation 2-3)
* Journal on who you are in Christ
* Journal on what the Bible says about your high calling as woman after His own heart—or even more specifically, as a daughter, a wife, a mother, or a grandmother—whatever role God has put you in.
* Journal on verses you are working towards memorizing. Journaling on each verse will help cement the verses in your mind as you meditate on the verse to journal about it. For instance, if the Lord led you to memorize Psalm 23 you could journal on one verse a day. Your journaling would help reinforce the verses you are hiding in your heart. By the end of the week, you’d know Psalm 23 much better than you did before.
2. Read a book of the Bible every day for a month.
I first read about this in Tim LaHaye's, How to Study the Bible for Yourself. Reading a book of the Bible every day for a month is a very simple way to grow in your knowledge of God. It only takes minutes a day, but the knowledge you’ll gain is priceless. When I read Galatians each day for a month, each day I read it, I became increasingly familiar with the book. At first I read it I came across random familiar verses and said “Oh, I know this verse! I didn’t know it was in Galatians!” As I continued to read each day, I started to recognize the theme of each chapter, and began remembering what was coming next as I read through the book. By the end of the month, I could remember where a particular verse was within the book and I even had chunks of Galatians memorized simply because I had read it every day for a month. Is there a book of the Bible you’d like to know better? Here are some smaller books of the Bible that could easily be read all the way through in a sitting:
Old Testament: New Testament:
Song of Solomon Philippians
Joel 1 & 2 Thessalonians
Amos 1 & 2Timothy
Nahum 1 & 2 Peter
Habakkuk 1, 2, & 3 John
3. Memorize Scripture
Memorizing scripture is much easier than you think. It doesn’t take a gifted memory, it just takes repetition. Read or hear anything enough times and you’ll be able to recall it from memory. It just takes repetition. I got my start memorizing whole Psalms after reading Janet Pope's fabulous book, His Word in My Heart: Memorizing Scripture for a Closer Walk with God. I highly recommend this book if you are interested in memorizing verses in their context.
Well known Bible teacher Dr. Chuck Swindoll sums up the value of memorizing Scripture saying: "I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture...No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends! Your prayer life will be strengthened. Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective. Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change. Your mind will become alert and observant. Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced. Your faith will be solidified." (From Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life)
What better way to grow in the knowledge of God than by filling your mind and heart with the very words of God! I pray this has been a blessing to you and that you will use these three ways now and in 2012 to grow in the knowledge of God. As we increase in knowledge of Him, and His Word, we will find trusting God comes much more natural, especially when the discouragements and disappointments in life come. We will be transformed just like that tree in Jeremiah 17:7-8! I can't wait! :)
Questions for you: Which of these three ways can you incorporate in your life today? How might you incorporate all three in your life throughout 2012?
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Copyright © 2011 Brooke Espinoza.