Perry Emerick – Mesa Campus Pastor
I recently had a friend call me up and ask me about verses in the Bible that talk about earthquakes and end times and things like that. Of course, this was coming off the East Coast 5.8 magnitude earthquake that had the news world going crazy. Personally, being from California, 5.8 earthquakes happened all the time and barely made the news. But the interesting part of the conversation is when I used the opportunity to talk to him about his own Bible reading. His answer was like many answers I have heard about personal Bible reading, “I have a real hard time doing that. I have a hard time staying focused and retaining any of it.”
Focus and retention can certainly be difficult when it comes to Bible reading. I have wrestled with that many times. I have had many a Bible reading time where I have walked away and had no idea what I just read. The reason that happens is because often I am just reading to check it off my list. When I read that way, I tend to think about other things as I read, and usually end up with zero retention when I am done. But I have come to firmly believe that every person can retain greater Bible knowledge and confidence with a few simple steps. As a church, we have put a heavy emphasis on using what is called the S.O.A.P. method (Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer) when it comes to Bible reading and study. Here are four reasons why I think using the S.O.A.P. method are so valuable:
- Reading with the intent of writing out a verse or idea that speaks to us increases focus.
When you are trying to find something, you look differently. A simple example is the classic “Where’s Waldo?” pictures. If I just showed you a picture of a drawing of a bunch of people, you might casually look at it and move on. But if I asked you to find Waldo in that same picture, you would study that picture to try and find what you are looking for. The same is true with the Bible. When we are looking for a truth that speaks to us, we read it differently.
- Writing things down improves mental processing.
Often for efficiency, we will be more direct and concise when writing down our observations. When I write my thoughts, I am forced to focus on clarifying that thought to get it out efficiently, and I find that I think it through better when I do that.
- Writing out an application adds personal accountability and discipline.
It’s one thing to just write down an observation, but when you write out a personal challenge with that observation, it changes everything. You have now planted the seed of transformation in your mind and heart as a result of those verses. Now, when you knowingly do something opposite, it is more likely that you will recall what you wrote, and you will become even more focused on working on it.
- Praying about it concedes there is spiritual opposition and that we need God’s help to overcome.
Truth is, we are in a spiritual battle. The parable of the sower and the seed talks about the birds coming along and eating the seed on the path. That is a picture of what Satan wants to do. We invite God’s Spirit to cover us, and what we desire to learn when we pray to Him about it.
There is life-changing truth in the Bible. Jesus himself said that “man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” If the word of God you are getting only happens on the weekends, you will be severely malnourished. It is more important than ever to be feeding ourselves daily on God’s word!Click here for the photo credit on this post