Friday, March 13, 2009

SOAP for the Soul

I put this together a while ago for a sermon that I haven't preached yet.

As a starter here is mine from yesterday.

Reading Matt. 24:15-35
(S) v24 False prophets and messiahs will arise doing signs and wonders, to the point of deceiving the elect.

(O) We like to think that we are two smart to be gulled. The smart people are at a greater risk.

(A) We are to be on guard, testing the spirits to prevent being taken

(P) Father, help us to be diligent in testing what we hear and read
1) Soap

We all know that Bible study is important, but often we are not sure how to do it. There are lots and lots of books that get used in Bible Study groups. Sadly often what happens is that the book is studied, not the Bible. We wouldn't go to the grocery store and expect to find lumber or building supplies. So why do we accept Bible studies that don't study the Bible.

We all use soap to clean our selves and other things. There are all kinds of soap, this is an incomplete list

• Murphy's Oil Soap

• Fels Naptha Soap

• Ivory Soap

• Quilt Soap

• even home made lye soap.

{Poll congregation for more kinds of soap.}

But what do we use to clean a soul? Ivory soap won't work there, scrubbing bubbles won't work either. We need a different cleaner. Like most questions, this one isn't new, and the best answer is in Psalms.


* 9. * How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.
* 10. * I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.
* 11. * I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
* 12. * Praise be to you, O Lord; teach me your decrees.
* 13. * With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth.
* 14. * I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.
* 15. * I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.
* 16. * I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.

Ps. 119:9 - 16 NIV

So what we need to clean our soul is scripture, but it is not enough just to read it. If that is all we do we run the risk of forgetting what we read, when we need it most. Here is another piece of good news, you don't have to be a Christian for this to do you some good. When I was 16 I read through the Bible. It was another two years before I became a Christian, but the Bible reading didn't hurt me a bit.

However, it works even better if you are a Christian.

A great Bible teacher, Dawson Trotman, once asked the question what made the difference between Bible reading and Bible Study. Trotman claimed that the difference was pencil and paper. He went on to say that the act of writing, helped organize the thoughts of the mind.

2) S. O. A. P.

That brings us to SOAP.

2.1 Tools

First, what do we need for this Bible study method:

1. You will need a Bible.

2. You will need a reading plan.

3. You will need paper and a pen or pencil.

4. You will need to set aside some time.

Everything except the time you can get at Dollar Tree for about $3.00.

2.2 The way that it works is this.

2.2.1 Prayer

Beginning with prayer we ask God to be with us as we study the Bible. The following prayers are suggested as examples.

1. The Prayer for Illumination

Almighty God, open our hearts and minds by the power of your Holy Spirit, that, as the Scriptures are read and your Word proclaimed, we may hear with joy what you say to us today, Amen.

2. The Covenant Prayer

I give myself completely to you, God. Assign me to my place in your creation. Let me suffer for you. Give me the work you would have me do. Give me many tasks, or have me step aside while you call others. Put me forward or humble me. Give me riches or let me live in poverty. I freely give all that I am and all that I have to you. And now, holy God -- Father, Son and Holy Spirit -- you are mine and I am yours. So be it. May this covenant made on earth continue for all eternity. Amen

3. Last but certainly not least, the Lord's Prayer is good too

Where ever the reading plan has us reading we read that section of scripture. We are looking for a verse that, for lack of a better description, jumps off of the page. You might want to make a small mark at that verse so you can find it again. We continue to read to the end of the section to make sure that we have the context.

2.2.2 Scripture

That brings us to the S in soap - which stands for Scripture - Now we return to the verse that jumped off of the page - we need to paraphrase it, that means that we are rewriting it so that it becomes meaningful to us. This is something that I wrote recently.

2.2.3 Observation

Once we have written our paraphrase we come to the O - which stands for Observation - Now we look at the passage again and we put down in our own words what the verse is saying to us. Now we have a handle on what the verse means to us today and have it down on paper.

2.2.4 Application

The A stands for Application - what we should be taking away from the verse and apply in our life. Again we are writing it down in our own words, that is one of the important things throughout the process is getting it down in our own words.

2.2.5 Prayer

Now we need to write a prayer to help us learn our lesson, and apply it to our life right now.

3) So lets review

1. Bible study is important because it helps us clean up our soul.

2. Many Bible studies involve studying a book other than the Bible - good but not the best.

3. Many people study the same verses over and over again - a reading plan keeps us moving through the Bible.

4. Prayer we start with prayer - here are some good ones:

(a) The Prayer for Illumination
(b) The Covenant Prayer
(c) The Lord's Prayer

5. Scripture - we read scripture

(a) (S) Look for a verse that stands out. Paraphrase the Verse.
(b) (O) Reflect on what the verse means to you today, and how it relates to the world around you.
(c) (A) Apply the verse to our life.
(d) (P) Pray.

6. Save the information for future reference. Over time it becomes a personal Bible study.

4) Challenge

Are you ready to kick it up a notch?

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