I was listening to Pastor Steven Furtick’s message on Wednesday and it got me thinking (that’s the point, right?).
The message was about letting the dirt do the work. Regarding the parable of the growing seed, Pastor Steven explains that you should concentrate on doing your part while leaving the “how” of growing the seed to God.
Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens. Mark 4:27 NLT
The farmer plants, waters and weeds. That’s his what. How the seed will grow he doesn’t understand-it does it while he’s asleep for goodness sake.
Now Pastor Steven’s message is waaaay waaaay more eye opening and interesting and mind blowing than that. Please go listen/watch.
However, it did get me thinking. If part of our what is the word, why not share how I do it?
That might seem to be counter to Pastor Steven’s message. But you see, no one sat me down and showed me “how to word.” I kind of learned little tidbits from here and from there. I’ll tell you exactly how I do it though, because I know it’s something others have a hard time with. Whether it’s because of schedule, because of awkwardness or because of other reasons, getting in routine with God’s word can be harder than it seems.
There are three main parts to my routine that I think are critical:
- Do it first.
- SOAP method
So, let’s break those down.
Do it first.
If you don’t read God’s word first in your day it’s probably not going to happen. It’s not like reading a book or working out that you can do with distractions. It’s intimate, there’s a lot of critical thinking involved. That requires your best attention and a quiet time.
Reading God’s word first in the day also helps you by setting the tone for the day. If you can start with something good, positive, inspiring, that calls you to a higher level of living at the beginning of your day, you’ll be able to use that as fuel as you continue throughout your day. It’s like a morning pep talk.
Personally I also believe that reading it first shows God he is your priority. It’s like a tithe of your time, first thing in the day. It’s you putting him first.
None of this means it has to take forever or you have to light candles or do anything super fancy. Don’t put qualifiers on it. Do what you can, where you can, how you can. The doing is the point. Your heart is what matters to God.
Being a life long learner and a journalist, I believe in reading and researching things for myself. I love to hear how a Pastor interprets and I need that guidance in my life. So much so that I listen to Life.Church and Elevation Church every week in addition to my own church where I listen every Sunday.
However, I believe it’s important for me to “fact check” by reading the word myself or at least going back and highlighting it in my own bible. I read what they mention and I read the word all on my own. I also started reading through my bible (because Pastor Craig told me to) this year according to my own plan. For some reason, using other people’s “Bible in a Year” plans was just too intimidating to me and I never stuck with it. My own plan is to read one chapter a day, one book at a time. I’ve been jumping all over just based on what I want to do next. I am checking the books off as I go. Reading the word for myself is making me more familiar, smarter and allowing God to speak to me uniquely. It’s also helping to cement it in my brain. I’m not the kind of person who can just hear something and really understand and learn it. I need the visual too. Which brings me to my next point.
As I mentioned, I am a life long learner (I have 2.5 degrees) and a journalist. Writing is not only a way for me to communicate, but it’s always been a study method for me. I wrote out notecards for everything. Not only because of repetition, but because writing things out physically helps my brain remember them. Writing out verses helps me remember them, helps them get in my brain and my heart. Even if that’s not long term, it’s definitely a short term burst of deeper connection to God’s word that has made a difference in my life.
The verse is not the only thing I write out however.
SOAP is a method many folks use to really get a little more out of reading their bible. It stands for Scripture, Observation, Application & Prayer. So I begin my day by reading the word. Whichever verse sticks out to me, I write it out for the S. These verses come from either my own reading or a verse from a Bible App devotional I’m doing. I actually just started really trying to remember to write down the actual verse data (book, chapter, verse) so I can maybe someday be like those awesome people that remembers all that stuff. For now, remembering to write it down is the first step.
From there, I write out what I think the verse is saying or something that struck me about the verse. It’s important not to get stuck behind perfectionism here. Anything the word speaks to you is great to write down. You don’t have to be Billy Graham. There is no wrong answer.
Once you write down your observation, next you want to write down the application. How can you put what you’ve just observed into practice in your daily life?
Finally, pray about. Pray about the word, what you’ve learned and applying it.
It’s that simple. As you do it, you will get more comfortable and you’ll find a rhythm that works for you. Somedays everything I write is one line, some days it’s way longer. It really doesn’t matter. What matters is that we’re on purpose seeking to be close to God and allowing His word to get into our hearts and do it’s work. That’s the cool part. You’re doing the what here. He takes care of the how. We don’t understand it, but once that word is in there, God grows it, transforms it, just like the parable of the growing seed.
Here are a few examples from my journaling just to get you started. That’s the kind of person I am, I need exact examples and templates. Once I have that, I can tweak it to my own preferences. So, even though it’s a little scary, I’ll share with you:
- Scripture: God put me to work from the day I was born. The moment I entered the world he names me. He gave me speech that would cut and penetrate. He kept his hand on me to protect me. He made me his straight arrow and hid me in his quiver. He said to me, “You’re my dear servant, Israel, through whom I’ll shine. (Is 49:1-3 MSG)
- Observation: God has been working on me since I was born, my words are from him.
- Application: Stay in tune with God so I can keep doing his will and his light will shine through.
- Prayer: Dear God, Thank you for calling me by names and that you had words for me since I was born. Help me to stay in tune with you word.
- Scripture: 2 Cor 12: 7-10. To keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh…God said, “My grace is all you need, my power works best in weakness,” …when I am weak, I am strong.
- Observation: Weakness makes room for God. It allows God to get glory & proves faith & gives supernatural strength.
- Application: Accept my weaknesses, lean even more on God when they rear up.
- Dear God, thank you for my weaknesses and for giving me grace. I have felt it, I need it and it keeps me going. Thank you that I am plugged into my power source: you. Keep me running. In Jesus name, Amen.
- Scripture: The seed grew and produced a crop that was a hundred times as much as had been planted.
- Observation: This is a promise from God. He has already done this in my life.
- Application: Be good soil: honest, good hearted, cling to God’s word.
- Prayer: Father, thank you for showing me this promise. The abundance in my life is proof of this promise. It amazes me what you can do with a little. The little I have. Even this week, you have made me very successful (business) and all I did was obediently stick with it. I look forward to recognizing this promise more. In Jesus name, Amen.
I hope you see with this that it’s not super theological. I leave that for Sundays. This is just me and God’s word. Whatever comes of it, comes of it. The most important part is to just do it.
I hope this helps you!