Psalm 119:9-16; Ephesians 5:25-27
It was another glorious day outside. I hope you took some time to go out into your yard, get some fresh air, and maybe say a little prayer or two. Good evening and welcome to our nightly devotional Bible Study.
Over the last few nights we have talked about the authority of God’s word for our lives. God’s word is living and active because it has God’s breath in it, His spirit is at work through the Word. It is the perfect tool for ever Christian to prepare themselves and use in the service of being a witness for Jesus, for service, and for personal growth in their faith. Not only that but God’s word can work in the lives of unbelievers to bring them to salvation. It is a powerful book.
Psalm 119:9-16 says,
How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
By living according to your word.
I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
Praise be to you, Lord;
teach me your decrees.
With my lips I recount
all the laws that come from your mouth.
I rejoice in following your statutes
as one rejoices in great riches.
I meditate on your precepts
and consider your ways.
I delight in your decrees;
I will not neglect your word.
You might say, “I understand that the God’s word is important but how do you study it? How do we dig a little deeper? How do I meditate and consider the ways of the Lord in my life?” Some people struggle with studying the Bible. I know when I first started reading and studying the Bible I found it hard to find applications. But don’t fear, as students of the word we need a little help sometimes just like students in school need their teacher to guide them.
Ephesians 5:25-27 gives us a helpful hint. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. ”
Paul was talking to husbands about loving their wives as Christ loves the church. But did you notice a phrase there. “By the washing of water by the word”. This phrase reminds of how Christ cleanses us with baptism and the Word of God.
Studying God’s word can be a cleansing experience. The picture that probably comes to most of you is of a big bubble bath with lots of soap.
SOAP is our key for helping us study the word of God. The letters of the word SOAP are an acronym for this key. S is for Scripture, O is for Observation, A is for Application, P is for Prayer.
S = Scripture. Psalm 119:105 - Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. For the word to give us light we have to plug into it. One of the first things you need to do in the study of God’s word is pick out a scripture and understand what it is saying. It’s hard to get anything out of your study if you just don’t understand it. This is the mind part of the lesson. We’re taking about head knowledge here. So yes, there is a little research involved. Here are three important things for you to do:
Make sure you have a version of the Bible that you can easily read and understand.
Investigate who wrote the passage, to whom it was written, and if possible, why his message to them was important. What was he trying to say to the people that he was giving this message? You can best apply the passage to your life when you understand what the message was to them.
Use the tools available. There are several tools available for doing this. I like to use the Bible Handbook, A Bible dictionary, and a commentary. If you don’t have these you can order them on Amazon…or you can get them for free from online sites like biblegate.com and biblehub.com.
O= Observation. The second thing you need to do is observe the scripture. Pr 2:2 says, “Let your ears listen to wisdom. Apply your heart to understanding (NIRV).” As you read through the text what stands out to you most? This is the heart part of the lesson. Here you have to humbly submit yourselves to the Lord. You have to allow the Holy Spirt to work in you to show you a key in the passage. Sometimes it is easy to spot and sometimes it takes some real soul searching to see what you need to apply. That leads to the next step.
A= Application. The third thing you need to do is apply the scripture. Pr 24:31 says, “I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw.” This is the hands and feet part of our study - time to get busy. Application is not just saying something like, “I need to get closer to God.” No, it’s formulating a plan to do it. It requires goals and objects. This is where that dreaded word “change” comes in. You can’t just know that you need to do something different, you have to make a plan to do it. This can be really hard. Sometimes it helps to have an accountability partner here to help keep you on track.
P=Prayer. Prayer maybe the last part of Bible Study but it actually should be a part of the whole thing. It doesn’t matter if you pray first or if you pray somewhere in the middle. Prayer is the key to the whole thing. It’s asking God to help you see what is in the scriptures, to observe what you should be getting out of it, and to apply it your life. This is the mouth and ears part of our lesson. You must talk to the Lord, He loves to hear from you. But you must also listen and apply what He has for you in the Word. This is very important. 1 Jn 5:15 - This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
With that in mind we want to pray.
I hope that you found this helpful. Now that you are sequestered at home you may have some time to use productively. The amount of time you spend in Bible Study is in direct proportion to what you will get out of it and how you will grow. The more you study the more your faith will grow.
I hope you will join us tomorrow night, Sunday, for our Bible Study on Revelation at 6:00 pm. Don’t forget that we are also using FB Live for Sunday School at 10:00 am with Richard Smartnick and Worship Service at 11:00am live from my living room. We are working on Drive-In church on April 12 for Easter but we will also continue with our presence on FB Live as well… More about Drive-In Church later.
Good night and God bless you.
PRAYER THOUGHT: Dear Heavenly Father; I want to understand your word better. I want to know what you have planned for me. I want to know how to keep my way pure. Help me to dig into your word, to study the scripture, to observe what it means for me, to apply it my life, and to find my help in you. Thank you for your Word, Thank you for Jesus in whose name I pray, AMEN!