These are a few of our SOAP notes from today’s reading. We encourage you to read and journal on your own first, then join us in conversation about what God revealed to YOU today. Click HERE to go directly to the daily reading if you wish.
Printable reading plan: Life Journal Reading Plan
Want to walk through the Bible one book at a time? Head over to Discover One Thing Online Study!
The Good in Troubles | Luisa Penaherrera
S~ Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow; for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.
If you need wisdom—if you want to know what God wants you to do—ask him, and He will gladly tell you. He will not resent you for asking. But when you ask Him, be sure that you really expect Him to answer… James 1:2-6 (NLT)
O & A~ What I learn from these verses: 1.Troubles will come 2.Troubles create opportunities for joy, for my faith to be tested (and grow) and for endurance to grow 3. When my endurance is fully developed, I will be strong in character and ready for anything 4. I can ask God for wisdom to know what to do. He faces troubles with me and is prepared to help me 5. He never gets tired of me asking 6.When I ask, I need to trust that He will answer and go with what He shows me, not doubt
P~ Dear Father, thank you for your word, your promise to be there and give me wisdom when I need it. Your promise of good things coming out of my troubles. Help me not to doubt. I believe, help my unbelief.
Mission Statement | Kelley Deases
S~ But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it — he will be blessed in what he does. James 1:25 (NIV)
O~ If we had not chosen Luke 10:42 as our guiding verse when we launched this blog/ministry, this verse from James would have been a fine alternative. Each one of us who writes for the blog and many others we know who regularly read the Word and use the SOAP method have discovered the profound truth in these words. When we look into Scripture — and continue to do this as a regular practice — and when we remember and put into practice what we read, this brings tremendous blessing. I have experienced for myself the truth and the power in James’ declaration.
A~ Last night we went to dinner with our across-the-street neighbors, who we love dearly but are moving with the military in just a matter of days. As a going away/Christmas gift, I gave them a copy of The Divine Mentor book and two Life Journals. This gave me an opportunity to share how life-changing this practice of reading God’s Word and journaling has been in my life and circumstance, and to encourage them to take me up on my challenge to read about it and give it a try.
P~ Father, I pray this young married couple will read this book and be inspired to approach Your Word in a new and fresh way. I pray You would multiply this small gift and use it to draw them ever closer in their walk with You.
Faith+Works = Completion+Joy | Tara Wiley
S~ You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. James 2:22 NLT
O~ The word “complete” stood out to me in this verse; I wondered if it were the same Greek word translated ‘perfect’ in other verses, which used to drive me crazy as a perfectionist… I could never be perfect, so why would the Bible tell me to strive for something I could not attain? Sure enough, the sticky word “teleioo” is at play here. The Strong’s definition has been a source of encouragement to me:
- to make perfect, complete
- to carry through completely, to accomplish, finish, bring to an end
- to complete (perfect)
- to add what is yet wanting in order to render a thing full
- to be found perfect
- to bring to the end (goal) proposed
A~ Definition 2a seems to apply most to this verse in James. I love the concept that our faith becomes more complete, more full, when we pursue actions motivated by our relationship with Jesus. I’ve definitely experienced this in my own life.
Our pastor yesterday referenced a secular study that found that people who are actively involved in a faith-based organization like church are happier. It’s almost like we were made to live out our love for Jesus by serving one another in community – oh wait; it’s exactly like that. 🙂 When James tells us to add works to our faith, it’s not because Jesus is standing over us, shaking his arms and yelling at us to get to work. No; it’s out of His love in knowing that we will find our greatest satisfaction in this life, our greatest joy, our greatest renewal and sense of completion, when we actively live out our faith.
It is absolutely true that I grow to understand, trust, and believe in Jesus more when I see Him at work in, through, and around me as I serve Him. So when I’m tempted to just step back and let others take the lead for a while (at home; at work; in relationships; at church), it’s such a source of encouragement to keep going, knowing that the reward will be a deeper relationship with Christ and a deeper sense of being more complete as a follower of Jesus. The happiness factor? Well, that’s just a blessed bonus. 🙂
P~ Lord, thank you for this reminder this morning to not grow weary in doing good, because I will reap a harvest if I don’t give up (Galatians 6:9). The greatest harvest: a deeper, more complete faith in You. That’s worth all the risk, all the sacrifice, all the hard effort not to be like this world! Thank You for the gift of faith, and the added bonus of true joy that comes when we put our faith to work, becoming an active part of what You are doing around us. Remind me of this as I work on logistics for an outreach event our church is doing (logistics: not my cup of tea) and later when I’m shivering outdoors in a large crowd (not my favorite thing!) to hand out hot chocolate in Your name. It’s all worth it!
Stumbling! | Michelle Myers
S~ We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check. James 3:2 (NIV)
O~ Controlling my mouth, is going to be one of the biggest challenges that I have here on earth. It is also one of the most important ones, in regards to living a life of peace and righteousness, as well as being a good example of Jesus. James 3:5-6 says, “Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” YIKES!
A~ I am beginning to realize how strong the connection is between my thoughts, my emotions, and my tongue. It has been a busy day, and I planned on getting some stuff done around our apt. Things are piling up, because it just has been one of those seasons. Things did not go as planned, but I was handling the unexpected, but much needed visit to the chiropractor, the overflowing toilet, and the clean up that resulted from it pretty well. Along with patiently enduring the longer than anticipated lines at the grocery store, and the interruptions from my cell phone. Then, I went to pick up my friend’s kid from school. A quick trip…there and to his dad’s.
I didn’t think I had to get my own daughter, because she had an appointment her dad was taking her to. Half way though our journey, my daughter calls and asks where I went. Apparently, her dad was not picking her up, because her appt. wasn’t until later. Then she says, “Dad said you are taking me to my appt.” Really? That is not what he had told me. I still had a casserole to make, a gift to wrap, and we had a two hour church activity tonight. I tried holding it together. Then my mind started to drift toward the dark side,
“Why is communication so hard in this family?”
“Why didn’t he tell me?”
“He said he would handle this, and here I am picking up the slack again.”
None of this came out of my mouth, but it had overtaken my head, and in a split second, my heart went from peace and joy, to frustration and chaos. I said, “Ok, I will take you.” But it was so hard to shake off the feeling of frustration!
Her father came home and did take her, so I did good in NOT speaking out, but I also don’t want my negative thoughts to overcome my head, sending my emotions in the wrong direction, and turning my heart into something that isn’t glorifying to YOU. Because I know, if I don’t start getting a hold of the thoughts and emotions; eventually, what is in my heart will come out of my mouth! YIKES!
P~ Thank you God for helping me control my tongue this time around. Please help me with my thoughts that overtake my head, and my emotions that can easily make it impossible for me to see YOU, or any logical, good perspective. Help me to “patently endure all things”.
My Inconsistent Words | Joni Tyner
S~ Sometimes it (our tongue) praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. James 3:9 (NLT)
O~ The third chapter of James is talking about controlling the tongue. This scripture is pointing out that Christians are absolutely guilty of the sin of saying one thing and then doing another.
A~ As Kim has journaled many, many times, this is a simple concept that is INCREDIBLY hard to do!!! I have went to church many times and enthusiastically and genuinely praised God—hours later I hear myself saying mean, harsh things. I don’t want this to be so!!! I genuinely want my the words that flow from my mouth to be encouraging and filled with grace and love to EVERYONE, not just selective people at selective times in my day.
I recently saw an article (on Facebook again!!) about how often people judge and say negative things to McDonald’s workers. The article pointed out that some fast food chains are thought of in more negative ways than other minimum wage jobs.
The author of this article worked at McDonald’s for 4 years and constantly was asked, “when are you going to get a better job?” “Why do you work there? You are capable of so much more.” As well as many other negative comments. It pointed out that people seem to automatically categorize workers in certain jobs as dumb, lazy, and unmotivated and I realized I have been guilty of this attitude many times. I felt convicted to re-think and appreciate people from many types of employment. I have provided the link for those interested in reading her point of view. It isn’t a Christian article—but it is very transparent and real life—I definitely saw myself in some of the attitudes she sensed while working at McDonald’s.
P~ Dear Lord, please convict me to examine my heart and remove attitudes of judgment, superiority, and pride. I desire to have eyes of compassion and appreciation when I meet people from all walks of life. Once again, I am convicted by Your Word to strive to live and SPEAK in a way that gives You glory.