I recently finished a college class about the Pastoral Epistles. Our professor had us use a method for reading and journaling that was new to me. I thought I would share it with you. (Thank you, Dr. Loescher, for the suggestion!!)
S.O.A.P. Bible reading and journaling
SOAP is a method of Bible reading and journaling: Scripture, Observation, Application,
Prayer. It can be used with any daily Bible reading plan.
You’ll need a Bible, a journal and a pen.
S for Scripture
Open your Bible to today’s reading (according to whatever plan you are following).
Take time reading and allow God to speak to you. When you are done, look for a verse
that particularly spoke to you that day, and write it in your journal.
O for Observation
What struck you and caught your attention in what you read? What do you think God
is saying to you in this scripture? Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you and reveal Jesus to
you. Paraphrase and write this scripture down in your own words.
A for Application
Personalize what you have read, by asking yourself how it applies to your life right
now. Perhaps it is instruction, encouragement, revelation of a new promise, or
corrections for a particular area of your life. Write how this scripture can apply to you
P for Prayer
This can be as simple as asking God to help you use this scripture, or it may be a
greater insight on what He may be revealing to you. Remember, prayer is a two way
conversation, so be sure to listen to what God has to say! Now, write it out.
That’s the basics of how you do it. Here is my entry for 1 Timothy 1 which I turned in to my professor:
“This letter is from Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus, appointed by the command of God our Savior and Christ Jesus, who gives us hope.” (1 Timothy 1:1, NLT)
While I don’t mean to be simplistic in this observation, I was completely blown away by the last four words of this one verse as I read through the first chapter of Timothy. God gives us hope!!! When life looks desperate and bleak, He GIVES me hope. I have hope that He will carry me; I have hope that I will spend eternity with Him; I have hope that nothing touches me without His knowledge; I have hope that He works all things together for good. I have hope that He is my strength and my song; I have hope that I do not have to walk one step on my own. In summary, I have hope (and the peace that comes with hope) that the world does not possess.
Part of 1 Peter 3:15 says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” I guess my application of this verse from 1 Timothy would need to be that very admonition. I try to actively share the hope that I have in Christ Jesus with others. This world is tough; He provides hope to continue on through the difficulties. Through my friendships with people (saved and unsaved), I can point them to the source of my peace. When life seems hopeless, I can share hope. I was saved because of someone sharing hope with me. I knew that she had something that I did not possess, and I truly wanted to know what she had. She shared with me the hope of the Good News of the Gospel. I want to do that same thing for others.
Thank You, Father, for the hope that ONLY You can provide. When life seems hopeless, I can know that it is hopeful because You are God and You are hope! Let me cling to that and remember that. Then let me go and tell others of You and Your hope. Thank You that You freely give us good gifts! Thank You that You are the One “who daily loads us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah” (Psalm 68:19, KJV).
Loaded with benefits,