SOAPing My Way to Maturity

In my last post on SOAPing I introduced the method of daily devotions.  I want to continue to share some of my personal devotions done through SOAPs with you so that you will see how powerful these can be in your own journey to maturity with the Lord.  I also am hoping that this will make you hungry to grab a scripture and try it for yourself!

Please share your thoughts with me.  I’m interested in hearing about how your SOAPing is impacting your life.  These can be very simple and very powerful.  Try it out!

Here’s my example from this morning… It’s titled:  The Impact of Immaturity

Scriptures:

Galatians 4:1 What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage he is no different from a slave although he owns the whole estate.

Galatians 4:3 So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces (basic principles) of the world.

Galatians 4:7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

Observations:

As I read through these scriptures last night I began to look at this from a new perspective.  I have always looked at these scriptures the “typical” way that they have been both viewed and taught by teachers and preachers but I feel that God has been pushing and challenging me over the past period of months to push the limits.  God wants me to challenge everything that I have ever been taught, to dig deeper to get His truth for me and not just what he has shown to other people.  I’m not saying that what He has shown others is wrong.  I’m just saying that just because that was the nugget of truth that set them free it does not mean that this will be the nugget of truth that I need to set me free.

The word has so many nuggets and part of the reason why people keep reading the word and it isn’t effective in their lives is because they haven’t gotten the right nuggets of truth out of the scriptures.  They are content to eat off the same nuggets God produced for other people.  But for their situations and their circumstances, God has other truths that are the right truths to set them free.  Not opposing truths, just deeper truths that speak to them directly.

So, what am I seeing here that I haven’t seen before?  What new truths and perspectives is God showing me about these scriptures that He hasn’t revealed to me through someone else’s study of the Word?

In the past I’ve looked at this scripture as a walk of maturity where a child had to be monitored and sit under tutors as they grew up into maturity until they were able to stand on their own two feet and the father said they were old enough or mature enough to manage the estate on their own.  That perspective takes these scriptures and views them through the eyes of the child of the estate and his growth from a child into an adult who is ready to take over the estate.  A child the father views as entitled and who will inherit regardless of his actions.  A child who walks in his father’s footsteps and grows to maturity.

But, there is another perspective here that I haven’t heard anyone address that God is addressing with me now.  There is the perspective of the slave.  These scriptures are talking about a person who owns the entire estate – they are the heir – the son.  The rightful owner and the one with all the control and authority on the estate.  But, because they are too young or immature to walk in that authority they are no different than a slave ON THE ESTATE THEY OWN.

They have full authority over everything but what they own (the slaves, tutors, guardians, and trustees) actually is controlling them.  Vs 2 talks about the guardians and trustees that they are subject to  — these people are actually people they have authority over but because of their age and immaturity they are subject to them.  At some point in their lives, they (the child) will step up and begin taking authority over these people – if they actually mature properly.

Depending on who the guardians, tutors, and trustees are and what areas of the estate they are in the child will mature in different areas at different times and stop becoming dependent upon them and will take authority over them or cast them out all together.  The child doesn’t mature all at one time in every area.  For example, the one who helps him take a bath will be told that he wants to do it himself when he reaches 4-6.  Even at this young age, he will take authority and dismiss her.

The person who chooses his clothes and helps him get dressed will be told by him to stop picking out his clothes and helping him when he gets somewhere between 8-14.  He will take authority and dismiss her.  He will do the same with the school teacher, the one telling him to clean his room, the nanny, the field hand, the one handling the finances, etc. until he finally takes authority over the entire estate.  Depending on how quickly he matures, he may take over the entire estate at 16 or 18 or 25 or 35…or never.  His maturity is dependent upon his decision to mature.

Application:

This is really powerful to realize.  What is this saying?  How does this apply to me personally and to the people to whom I minister?  This gives me a lot of insight into why people struggle in certain areas and not in others.  Pockets of strongholds and pockets of areas where people are still subject to slavery to sin or control of a spirit.  I see something deeper here than I’ve seen in the past.

It’s not just healing that needs to occur.  It’s not just taking authority that needs to occur.  It’s not just a breaking of the chains that needs to happen.  This gives me insight to what needs to happen in order for people to get to the place they need to be for the actual breaking free to happen.

Spiritual Maturity.  As long as we are immature in an area, we are content to be in slavery.  We are content to be ruled over by something that we have full authority over.  Until we begin to mature, we don’t begin to recognize that there is something out of order.  Then, as we begin to grow and mature the usurp feels unnatural until we can’t tolerate it any longer.  Then, we rise up and say, “No more.  Take your rightful position in submission to me!”

This makes so much sense.  It is exactly what people need – and what I need to evaluate my own life and know where I need growth and maturity.  Where am I struggling?  This is the question people need to ask.

Am I struggling with fear?  If so, than I am immature in the area of fear and this is where I need to concentrate to gain spiritual maturity in my studies and prayer so God can help me to grow.  This is where I need to get mentoring and practical knowledge and exercise any other growth opportunities that will help me to become mature.  The quicker I become mature the less I will be willing to tolerate a lifestyle of fear.  This spirit that constantly controls me will begin to sicken me and I will start to take authority over it because I will realize that it is usurping my authority and will no longer tolerate its control over me as I mature.

Am I struggling with finances?  If so, than I am immature in the area of finances and this is where I need to concentrate to gain spiritual maturity in my studies and in prayer so God can help me grow.  This is where I need to get mentoring and practical knowledge.  I need coaching, I need classes, I need a budget, I need a plan, I need to practice fasting in my spending, I need to do whatever it takes to gain maturity in this area until I am sick of being controlled by a spirit of poverty, a spirit of greed, or whatever other spirits are controlling me and forcing my spending habits to be out of alignment with my income.  If my career is out of alignment with my need for income, I need to mature enough that that comes into alignment also. What do I need to do in order to bring these things into alignment?  What do I need to do in order to mature in this area?   What do I need to submit to in order to mature?

All of these things are a part of spiritual maturity but people don’t get the connection between how spiritual maturity connects to the natural world.  When we reach spiritual maturity these financial struggles will fall off because we will be subject to God to lead us and direct us and we will not be slaves to anything else – even ourselves in the area of finances.

Where else do people struggle?  What questions do they need to ask themselves? Am I struggling in my marriage?  In my relationships?  The same thing applies as in the other areas.  Am I struggling with the language I use?  Am I struggling with eating?  Wow-that’s a big one for a lot of people.  It’s just an area where spiritual maturity is an opportunity.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit.

Prayer:

God, this is good.  Thank you for showing me this.  This was like the missing link that people need to understand to diagnose themselves.  We all want to “solve the problem” but the truth is that when we go “solve the problem” what we are trying to do is take care of symptoms.  We need root cause to truly fix problems.  If the root cause of ongoing struggles where we are still in slavery to things that we have authority over in Jesus’ name then show us our immaturity clearly so we can begin to take steps to mature.

Make us want to mature.  Make us so sick of being slaves to the things we have authority over that we rise up and want to mature and take authority.  God show us that this world is our estate!  We own this world!  You gave it to us and put us in authority over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth!  Over everything that flies in the air!  Over every principality and power that is in the second heaven!  All authority and power is ours.  The only reason we are still subject to our slaves – the only reason our slaves are ruling over us, is because we have not yet matured in that area.

It’s not a judgment of condemnation, it’s just a statement of where we are in this walk.  Show us ourselves clearly and point to us where you want us to take the next step of maturity.  I know in my life the areas where you are maturing me right now.  This year is a huge year of growth and maturity for me in areas where you have not worked before.  I am a totally different person than I was just 7-8 months ago and I know you aren’t done yet.  I receive whatever it is you need to do in me to make me completely mature in these areas.  I want to walk in full power and authority – spiritual maturity in every area of my life.

I want to be whole.  Not fragmented.  Whole.  Complete.  Mature.

 

 

 

 

 

SOAPing Your Way to Intimacy

At our church we practice a form of daily devotions called SOAP.  This is an easy way of connecting with God by just taking one scripture and allowing God to speak to you.  Doing this helps us to develop a more personal relationship with God through His word.  This practice was first taught in a book by Wayne Cordeiro called, “The Divine Mentor.”

SOAP is an acronym. S=Scripture, O=Observations, A=Application, and P=Prayer

It’s just that simple.  Basically, you select a passage of scripture to read and when a scripture catches your attention choose it as your SOAP topic for the day.  That’s your “S”.

Then, write down your observations about the scripture.  Whatever you see in the scripture from any perspectives.  That’s your “O”.  Next, write down how this applies to you and your life on a personal level.  That’s your “A”.  Then, write out a prayer concerning these things.  That’s your “P”.  It’s that simple.

I’ve decided to share my SOAP from yesterday because I’m always transparent in my blogs and because I want you to understand what this looks like in practice.  However, yours may look and sound a lot different because this is personal to you.  God will speak to you in your own personality and your relationship with him will look different than mine.

I encourage you to start SOAPing because this practice is very effective for really connecting with God.  But I don’t encourage you to try to have my relationship with God.  I encourage you to have your own that looks like the way you relate to God.  Talk to God the way you talk to Him.  Write as much or as little as your personality dictates you write.  Let Him speak to you in the language you understand.

Here’s my SOAP… I hope this is helpful and encouraging for you.

 6/13/14 – Obscurity

Scripture:

GW – John 1:5 The light shines in the dark, and the dark has never extinguished it.

KJV – John 1:5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

Comprehend:
From G2596 and G1983; to take eagerly, that is, seize, possess, etc. (literally or figuratively): – apprehend, attain, come upon, comprehend, find, obtain, perceive, (over-) take.

Observations:

I see something new and different here today that I’ve never noticed before.  In the past when I’ve read this scripture I’ve read it as the light came in (Jesus) and shines in the darkness and I interpreted that as “ before the darkness”.  The mental picture I always had in my mind when I read this was that we, the people, were the darkness.  It was our darkened minds.  Jesus came and shined the light in front of us but because our minds were darkened we comprehended him not – we didn’t receive him.

But that’s not what this scripture is saying at all.  When I read this in the GW translation at first I thought that it had been misinterpreted because “comprehended” in the KJV was translated as “extinguished” in the GW.  But when I looked closer at this I realized that the GW was right and I was wrong.  What I had thought, or maybe what I had been taught, was wrong.  The darkness isn’t us.

The original word for darkness here is From G4655; dimness, obscurity (literally or figuratively): – dark (-ness).

So the scripture says that Jesus shines his light into the dimness, into an obscure place, and the obscurity does not seize or take possession of his light.  What it is saying here is that the obscurity (even if it is the obscurity of our minds) does not have the power to overpower the light of Christ.

This is why Christ came into the world and he was just a small obscure baby.  Just one man.  He never tried to make a name for himself.  He didn’t have to seek fame.  He walked in humility.  Even in obscurity.  But the obscurity could not consume him.  It could not extinguish him.

His power was so great that obscurity would never cause his power to be extinguished.  His light is so bright in contrast to the darkness that the darkness can never consume it.  That one baby.  That one man – brought salvation to the world and transformed everything.  His power still reigns and his message is still spreading powerfully across the earth.

Application:

We don’t need to be concerned with making a name for ourselves in order to be effective as a church or as ministers or as Christians.  This is such a confirmation for me.  I already know this and I’m fully persuaded but temptation is always right there before me.  People intend for their statements to be complements, but what they really end up being for me are temptations implanted in the back of my mind waiting for an opportune moment of weakness to pounce.

Genesis says it so eloquently, “Sin crouches at your door waiting to pounce.  It wants to control you, but you must master it.”  These temptations come in the form of: “You should be preaching on TV,” or “You should be preaching to thousands,” and “You remind me of Joyce Meyer.”

I feel like God gave me the perfect response the other day to the “You should be preaching to thousands” compliment, even though I am probably not supposed to say it out loud to other people, it’s more like an inside joke between me and God, “Well, if God thought that too then, I would be preaching to thousands.”

I don’t have any lofty desires.  I just want to love God and love God’s people.  I just want to help people and preach the Word.  I want to teach and help people take the chains off their lives.  I want to let God use the stuff I’ve experienced to others’ benefit.

Prayer:

Lord, when you gave me that response the other day it just filled me with joy, set me free, and made me laugh so hard!

I’m perfectly content to preach and teach in obscurity.  Because I’m scared, ashamed, have low self-esteem, or any of that stuff?  No, of course not.  I just have no need to become famous.  I want you to be famous.  I want to see people’s lives changed.  Obscurity can’t wash you out!  Obscurity can’t extinguish your power.  And fame can’t make you any more powerful than you already are.

I will pour your love and truth out to one.  I will pour your love and truth out to three.  I will pour your love and truth out to twelve.  I will pour love and truth out to fifty or a hundred.  I will do the same for a thousand or ten thousand.  I won’t know the difference anyway.  I never count how many people are in the room because I truly don’t care.  I don’t care how many – I care WHO.

Help me to always touch each one as if they are the only one.  I never want so many that I forget whose they are — they are yours not mine.  They are not my disciples – they are your children.  They don’t need me – they need you.  There’s nothing I can say that will help them – but plenty I can say that will hurt them if I have my own interests in front of theirs.

Obscurity can never hide or extinguish your power but it can only magnify your power in me.  I choose.  I choose to walk in obscurity.  I choose.  Whether I preach to one or one thousand or one million – I choose to be obscure.

If and when you observe me doing otherwise, shut it down.  Shut me down.  Don’t allow me to continue.  Don’t let me bring harm to your people.