Today I’m spending some time with my devotions (Bible, journal & reading plan) in a packed out FourBucks…um…I mean Starbucks. Many have come out from the drippy wet weather to warm themselves by the fires of a French Press and to drown themselves in Liquid Love. As I’ve been sitting here reading my Bible I’ve noticed many others around me doing the same. A gentleman in the corner just stuck headphones on his ears and has opened the Word. A group of gals next to me are talking about Scripture, praying for one another and sharing life together. This is reflective of only one coffee shop/gathering point amongst many in our community (we are in the Pacific Northwest right?). Imagine us turning homes, workplaces, cafeterias, classrooms, etc into sanctuaries all throughout our community at various times throughout the days of the week. Imagine hundreds of us linking our hearts and minds around passages of Scripture while asking the Holy Spirit to illuminate the Word of God to us individually and collectively.
“All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16
As we read God’s words, we begin to see how God responds to things. Doing daily devotions re-patterns the way we think and transforms the spirit of the mind. Then when we face similar situations as Jesus did, we begin to respond in the same way. We begin to understand that His words always build, strengthen, affirm, and give life.
Journaling is an excellent way to both record and process what God has spoken to us. It’s also a useful tool to use at a later time, to reflect on and review some of the ‘gems’ that you have received. Without writing them down, you may forget those blessings and some very important lessons! And while journaling is a very personal time with the Lord, you may want to share some of your daily journaling with your small group or mentors. Through discussion, you may be able to look deeper into what God is speaking to you, gain new insight and even encourage others.
You’ll need three items: a Bible, a pen/pencil and a journal. There are many journals you can purchase at a bookstore or a plain notebook will do. The West Salem Foursquare Life Journal is handy because it offers “how to journal” instructions to help you get the most out of your daily readings and devotions. There’s a section for special prayer requests where you can record the day you began praying and the day God answered your prayer. It also has a Through-the-Bible Reading Plan, using daily scripture readings from the old and new testaments to guide you through the entire Bible in just one year. Life Journals may be purchased at West Salem Foursquare. You can also use our online daily devotional at www.wsfc.org .
Next, set aside a certain time in your schedule each day and find a quite place where you’re not likely to be distracted. Many find peaceful meditation sites in nature, by the beach, in the back yard, or in a favorite lawn chair. It’s not important when you do your devotions, but that you make it a very important part of your day. Give God the best part of our day, whatever time that is. For morning people, it’s a great way to start your day. For others, it’s 20-minute lunchtime appointments with Jesus. For the night owls, it’s the final act of the day, the time to quiet their hearts and hear God’s voice.
Now what? Who talks first, God or me? One way to do your devotions is to follow the simple acronym, S.O.A.P., which stands for Scripture, Observation, Application and Prayer.
S for Scripture
Open your Bible to the reading found under today’s date of your Bible bookmark. Take time reading and allow God to speak to you. Highlight, underline or place a mark in the margin of your Bible, next to the scriptures that stand out. When you are done, reread the Passage you marked, look for one that particularly spoke to you that day, and write it in your journal.
O for Observation
What do you think God is saying to you in this scripture? Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you and reveal Jesus to you. Paraphrase and write this scripture down in your own words, in your journal.
A for Application
Personalize what you have read, by asking yourself how it applies to your life right now. Perhaps it is instruction, encouragement, revelation of a new promise, or corrections for a particular area of your life. Write how this scripture can apply to you today.
P for Prayer
This can be as simple as asking God to help you use this scripture, or it may be a greater insight on what He may be revealing to you. Remember, Prayer is a two-way conversation, so be sure to listen to what God has to say! Now, write it out.
If this seems a little overwhelming, take it slow and keep it simple. No matter how you decide to do your devotions, the important thing is to show up for your daily appointment, because God is always waiting for you!