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God’s Plans Do Not Move In Straight Lines

Today’s S.O.A.P. for me was 2 Samuel 5.

SCRIPTURE

“David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years in all. He had reigned over Judah from Hebron for seven years and six months, and from Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah for thirty-three years.”
‭‭2 Samuel‬ ‭5:4-5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

OBSERVATION

I always learn so much from the life of David…

It’s amazing to me that God called David as a teenager to lead Israel however the journey to destiny did not at all happen the way he probably envisioned.
He probably thought he would just walk in and sit on the throne. However, between him and the throne was a giant, years in the military, an evil king trying to kill him, years hiding in caves, then seven years of only ruling part of the kingdom. The road to God’s ultimate direction for our lives is never a straight line. However He is always faithful to us. It is the giants, evil kings, and caves that teach us the faithfulness of God along the way. I bet he spent many days saying, “If a giant couldn’t stop God from accomplishing his will in my life, these kingly duties will not do it either.” He probably also had a different level of respect for the throne than someone who had just been given everything. Look at his leadership compared to the son of Saul that was put on the throne of Israel. David knew how to lead. Saul’s son only knew how to give orders.

APPLICATION

Three takeaways from this S.O.A.P about not becoming frustrated when your life is not going in a straight line.

  • You are learning the skills you will use later.
  • You are learning to trust God.
  • God is working on your character and attitude so you will not be crushed under the pressure of the blessings He wants to send into your life.

PRAYER

Help me to trust your process even when I do not see where you are taking me.

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Being Glad for The Pain

For today’s S.O.A.P, let’s look at John 11.

SCRIPTURE

‘Then Jesus became explicit: “Lazarus died. And I am glad for your sakes that I wasn’t there. You’re about to be given new grounds for believing. Now let’s go to him.” Then Jesus became explicit: “Lazarus died. And I am glad for your sakes that I wasn’t there. You’re about to be given new grounds for believing. Now let’s go to him.”’

John 11:14-15 https://www.bible.com/bible/97/JHN.11.14-15

OBSERVATION

There are so many different and amazing moments in this chapter that it can be difficult to narrow it down to just one. However, what struck me today is when Jesus says something that is rather shocking. When the disciples are not understanding his double meaning, Jesus says He is glad Lazarus has died. What? Really?! Yes. Read it again. Jesus said He was glad that Lazarus died. However, look at why He was glad. It was because He knew that death was not final. He knew that there was still a miracle in the future for Lazarus and his family. When we have bad things happen in our lives, I wonder if Jesus is as upset as we are. I wonder if we are ‘down in the dumps’ or depressed when Jesus is not bothered at all. Why? Because He knows that our current problem is not the end. Maybe Jesus would even say to us that He is glad it has happened. He is not glad for our pain, confusion, or trouble. He is glad because this is not the end. There is something better on the horizon. He knows that, when it is all over, what we are currently going through will increase our faith and trust in Him.

APPLICATION

Today, I will not be excited about my pain but rejoice that it is not the end. There is something much greater that God is working in me. I understand that God more interested in our progress than our comfort. So, today, I will embrace ‘the suck’ because I know it will not last forever.

PRAYER

Help me see You more clearly in my life.

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A Patient Teacher

Let’s S.O.A.P. John 10.

SCRIPTURE

‘Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant, so he explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. ‘ John 10:6-7 https://www.bible.com/bible/116/JHN.10.6-7

OBSERVATION

This verse stood out to me for two reasons. The first reason is a little specific to someone who speaks every week from a stage. It blessed me to hear that even when Jesus, a master orator, spoke people did not always understand. He had to restate what He said more simply so they could grab onto the spiritual truth. That makes me feel better when people do not always come away completely understanding what I said either.

The other reason is that Jesus had patience with His audience. He did not simply state His message then move on. There were no negative attitude or sense of impatience. He was willing to stay and restate His message so that people could understand Him even if that meant offending some. To me, this is a reminder that we will not always understand what Jesus is saying to us through His Word. Our minds may be clouded with preconceived notions, incorrect doctrine, or personal preferences. However, Jesus is patient and will continue to work in us even when we do not always understand. He is a patient teacher.

APPLICATION

Today, I will go to God’s Word and, if I do not always understand, I will look again. I trust that the patient Teacher will help me understand the words of life.

PRAYER

I trust you today. Lead me and guide me.

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Some People Have Value as a Bad Example

Let’s SOAP and Grow Together with John 6.

Scripture

‘Then Jesus said, “I chose the twelve of you, but one is a devil.” He was speaking of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, one of the Twelve, who would later betray him.’ John 6:70-71

https://www.bible.com/bible/116/JHN.6.70-71

Observation

This verse blew my mind today. Think about it. Jesus knew even at this point that Judas’ heart was sour. We knew when it came time, Judas would betray him for a little money. How many of us would keep someone around if we knew they were toxic? The answer is not many. Actually, I teach people to do the opposite! However, Jesus realized there was still a purpose for Judas even if that purpose was not a good one. This spoke to me because I need to be reminded that everyone has a purpose in my life even if just to be an example of what NOT to do. Instead of looking at people as friends and enemies what if I looked at them as friends and growing opportunities.

Application

Today, I will not be so quick to dismiss people but realize everyone has their value. No matter how hard it may be hidden from the rest of the world.

Prayer

Help me see the world and people the way you see them today.

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Miracles Often Look Like Obstacles

Let’s SOAP and Grow Together Today with John 5.

Scripture

‘“I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.”’ John 5:7

https://www.bible.com/bible/116/JHN.5.7

Observation

Before Jesus has a great discourse on the Kingdom of God, there is a story about a guy who ‘dodged a bullet.’ He had been waiting on a miracle for a really long time. Then, one day, Jesus comes into His presence and asks if he wants to be healed. Instead of simply saying, “Yeah, sure. I’m good with that,” he starts complaining about His current situation. He couldn’t see the opportunity because He was only focused on His problem. Luckily, Jesus had mercy on Him and the man was healed anyway. However, I wonder if he was talking to some friends later saying, “Wow, I almost missed it.” This is the price we often pay because, instead of looking at the possibilities in front of us, we only focus on the problems. We do not want to deny our situations and act like we do not have problems. However, we need to look equally as hard as possible miracles all around us as well. This guy was so focused on getting into that water that he may have even looked at Jesus as an obstacle. He may have been thinking, “Listen, I’ll answer your question but could you move after that? I have to keep watching this water for a miracle.”

The next miracle in your life could look like a current obstacle. Be sure not to dismiss it too quickly.

Application

Today, I will not look at everything as a mountain in my way but maybe as an adventure to take. Around the next corner could be the greatest experience, miracle, or moment of my life. I will not waste my opportunity to seize a miracle and to be a miracle to everyone I meet.

Prayer

God, open my eyes to see the miracles all around me.

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A Field Guide to Healing

Let’s SOAP and Grow Together Today with John 4.

Scripture

‘“Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?” ‘ John 4:29

https://www.bible.com/bible/116/JHN.4.29

Observation

I love the story about the woman at the well for many reasons. There’s so much to learn and grow from here. However, today I read something I have never noticed before. This woman had ISSUES… huge, hairy issues! When she comes to Jesus, He quickly dismantles her lies and gets right to who she is. Have you ever been a victim of this? Have you ever been trying to act impressive and someone cuts you down to size with just a few rightly placed words? I have. It hurts, bad. I came away feeling wounded, embarrassed and insecure. Not this lady. She actually experienced the opposite. She went back to everyone else and basically said, “You have to come see this guy. He has to be more than a man. He knew everything about it… you know that stuff everyone knows be we try to act like isn’t gone on… he knew that!” She was eager to share that He had outed her secrets. How is this possible? How could He have spoke right to her secrets and she later testifies to the whole village about it? I think it is summed up in one word: love. Jesus fully and completely loved her. His goal was to expose her but to heal what was going on inside. Because of this, she was willing to tell everyone who would listen. The Bible is full of statements and ideas we do not always like. We do not like them because they challenge our selfish desires, sinful natures, and stubborn pride. What if God’s Word is not there to enslave us but to heal us from sicknesses we don’t even realize we have?

Application

Today, I will honor God even when it does not always feel good. I will honor God’s commands and guidelines because I know that, like a good father, His will is always for my good. I will read God’s Word as an field guide for healing and not a book of dos and don’t. In His Word there is healing for my deepest hurts and wounds.

I will read God's Word as an field guide for healing and not a book of dos and don't. In His Word there is… Click to Tweet

Prayer

Help me to run to your Word for strength, encouragement, and a guide to my life.

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Staying In My Lane

Let’s SOAP and Grow Together Today with John 3.

Scripture

‘He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.’ John 3:30 https://www.bible.com/bible/116/JHN.3.30

Observation

Think about John the Baptist. What kind of man would go out to a desert and start preaching so strong that people began coming out to the middle of nowhere to hear him? What kind of man would look at kings and say they were wrong and needed to repent before God? It would take a man with an all-consuming passion for God. It would take a man who feared no one and and the kind of man who would charge hell with a water pistol. He was probably the kind of guy who commanded the attention of a room just by walking in. Jesus said that among the prophets there was none greater than John the Baptist. However, at the height of his ministry, people began leaving and going to hear Jesus. To many, this could cause a bruised pride. At this point in Jesus’ ministry, only John the Baptist really knew who He was. It was still early. When one of John’s followers came to complain, he reminded this follower why John was there in the first place. He was there to do what he was called to do and nothing more. John did not try to step outside his lane. When that lane called him to move forward, he did. When he needed to step back and give the attention to someone else, he did. He did not despise his role. He simply did what he was called to do. Doing this laid the ground work for Jesus to come and bring salvation to world. That is an amazing legacy. Sometimes the greatest thing we can do is to be a stepping stone for someone else to rise higher. Sure, it is not always glamours and no one will be lining up to play you in the movie. However, when we all play our part, great things can be accomplished for the kingdom of God.

Application

God has given us all a ministry gifting. Another way to say that is God has given us all a way to make a difference in the lives of those around us. The worst thing we could do is start comparing our giftings and callings with someone else. We simply need to do what we are called to do. We are an integral part of the kingdom of God whether or not we ever see our name on billboards. Today, we will rest in the confidence that God is working in our lives and, like John, we can say, “Less of me and more of Him.”

Prayer

Today, help me Jesus to love the work you are doing in me instead of envying the giftings of others.

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Consumer or Contributor?

Let’s SOAP and Grow Together Today with John 2.

Scripture

John 2:14-16- “It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. 14 In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. 15 Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. 16 Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!”

Observation

The context of these verses are often misunderstood. Many people think that Jesus was upset because they were buying and selling in the temple. Actually what they were doing was providing a service to those who were traveling to Jerusalem and could not bring their sacrifices with them. The problem was not what they were doing but the heart behind it. They were over charging for their services and haggling over prices just like you would find in the city marketplaces. Jesus was saying that the House of God is not a place for seeing what you can get out a transaction but how we can serve one another. This reminds me of the attitude I must have when joining my church community. I must constantly watch my attitude and make sure I do not look at church for what I can get out of it. Rather, how can I serve my brothers and sisters in Christ? How can I honor God? How can I make a difference in the lives of those around me?

Application

When I attend church, I will focus on having the attitude of serving others not being served by others. I do not want to be a consumer but a contributor.

Prayer

Help me see others as a blessing and an opportunity to show your love.

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God Sees Us and Loves Us Where We Are

SCRIPTURE

John 1:45-48

45 Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.”

46 “Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”

“Come and see for yourself,” Philip replied.

47 As they approached, Jesus said, “Now here is a genuine son of Israel—a man of complete integrity.”

48 “How do you know about me?” Nathanael asked.

Jesus replied, “I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.”

OBSERVATION

What stood out to me the most about this scripture was that Jesus saw Nathanael before Nathanael came to him. Jesus saw Nathanael when Philip went to him. Jesus saw Nathanael when he doubted the Jesus could be the Messiah. Jesus saw him and loved him just the same. This tells me that Jesus always sees us. Instead of that filling us with pain and shame it can fill us with hope. He sees us and loves us even when we are not at our best.

He sees you right now and said, “I still love you.”

APPLICATION

I will stand in the presence of God today unashamed because he sees me and loves me. No matter what situations come into my life and how I feel, I know God is with me. I can conquer anything.

PRAYER

Help me, God, to feel your closeness and be comforted by knowing your hand is always with me.

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The Purpose of Inconvenience

Let’s SOAP and Grow Together Today with Judges Chapter 2.

Scripture

‘I will no longer drive out the nations that Joshua left unconquered when he died. I did this to test Israel—to see whether or not they would follow the ways of the Lord as their ancestors did.” That is why the Lord left those nations in place. He did not quickly drive them out or allow Joshua to conquer them all.’ Judges 2:21-23 https://www.bible.com/bible/116/JDG.2.21-23

Observation

What if everything in your life is more spiritually connected than you could ever realize? By that, do I mean that every bad day, rude person, wrong order, or lost set of keys is a demon trying to bring you down? No. I mean, what if you are not a victim waiting on the next bad thing to happen without any chance of turning it to good. What if some of the things in your life were not placed there by God but can be used by God to bring about something good? For instance, some of the enemies of Israel were left in the land in order to test the people. Think about it. They had proven their hearts were easily manipulated and turned from God in the wilderness. Now, after conquest, they still needed to be reminded from time to time that all their hope comes from God. I wonder if we would ever experience trouble if we could more fully turn to God without the need to. However, many of tend to think we are pretty awesome when things go well instead of giving glory to God. Therefore, to keep us coming back to Him, sometimes God will allow a test to come along just to see if we still love Him and remember that all our victory is from Him.

What if some of the things in your life were not placed there by God but can be used by God to bring… Click to Tweet

Application

Today, I will see every distraction, inconvenience, or misunderstanding as a chance for God to work on my character and remind me to turn to Him. He is for me and not against me.

Prayer

Thank you Jesus for loving me enough to keep working on me day after day.

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The Right Mindset Brings Life (SOAP)

The Right Mindset Brings Life

Scripture

“True humility and fear of the Lord lead to riches, honor, and long life.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭22:4‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/pro.22.4.nlt

Observation

I use to think humility was seeing yourself as less than everyone else. I thought that the only way to be truly humble was to truly think you were no good. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Henry Cloud says that humility is not seeing yourself as less than you are. It is seeing yourself AS you are with both strengths and weaknesses. Humility is simply having an honest view of who you are. The Bible says that having this realistic view of who you are leads to riches, honor, and long life. That makes a lot of sense because when we take an honest look at ourselves, we can find all of the above:
-We have value.
-We are all great at something.
-We are not perfect yet and so need to give grace to others just like us.
-We need other people in our lives. No one can thrive for long as an island.
-Someone things we just are never going to be good at so let others excell in those areas and cheer them on.

Application

Today I will realize I have worth and limitations and both are good to know. Both can be celebrated for their on reasons. We are all a “work-in-progress.”

Prayer

Help me see my life for its possibilities not limitations.

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What If We Are Looking At Trouble All Wrong? (SOAP)

Scripture

“But before all this occurs, there will be a time of great persecution. You will be dragged into synagogues and prisons, and you will stand trial before kings and governors because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭21:12-13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Observation

This verse is found doing a discourse by Jesus. He is telling His disciples that even though the Kingdom of God has come and salvation is going to be paid for with His blood, that does not mean that all the trouble in their lives will fade. Actually, because of the Cross, their troubles may increase. He says they will be persecuted, accused, and generally have a succession of bad days simply because they have identified themselves as followers of Christ.
Notice what He says next. He does not apologize for this. He does not say that He’s sorry to ‘cause so much trouble.’ He, rather, talks about the trouble we sometimes face because of our faith as rather a side note to the real goal. The real point of the whole discourse was not to glorify our trouble but to exalt the fact that it gives us a chance to glorify Jesus. It is not always what happens to you but how you respond to trouble that makes the biggest difference. Are you using your issues as a chance to draw closer to God? Are you using your current situation as an opportunity to show those around you how to stand firm in your faith despite outward pressure? What if the current difficulty you are facing is not God failing you but rather because He has faith that you will not be crushed under the pressure? And, while He is working in your life He also working in lives of those watching you. That causes the current problems we may be facing to look a little different in the light of God’s faithful love toward us.

Application

Today, I will look at my pain as a promise that God is doing something bigger in me than I can currently see.  While it is not comfortable and I will continue to pray for a way out, I will do my best to stay faithful because I trust Him to see me through to the other side.

Prayer

God, when I do not always see your Hands working in my life, help me to still trust your character.

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