I started this blog because I wanted to make my faith, in some way, applicable. I wanted to “do” something with it. Before the blog I would do that by writing down notes and other things in a journal. One of those other things were my SOAPs. SOAP is a practical method for studying individual passages of the bible. It’s an acronym that stands for:
- S cripture – which verse or verses am I studying.
- O bservation – what stands out to me, what do I think it means in the context of the story.
- A pplication – how can I apply that meaning into my own life.
- P rayer – what do I need to thank for, appologize for or ask for as a result of this wisdom.
I figured it might be helpful to take you along with my bible study, and post my SOAP notes here. Do bare in mind that these are my personal observations, and that I apply them to my personal life. I still believe you can learn something from that, if only a stronger conviction of your own beliefs.
S – Scripture
So it is with faith: if it is alone and includes no actions, then it is dead. But someone will say, “One person has faith, another has actions.” My answer is, “Show me how anyone can have faith without actions. I will show you my faith by my actions.”
James 2:17-18\Good News Bible
O – Observation
Last Sunday we had a really great sermon on faith and action, and how we are called to serve. part of the sermon touched on this verse, from James. James wrote his book, or letter, as a general encouragement for early Christians, but also to correct some assumptions about saving faith, which is where this verse comes in. Because at first it seems to be almost categorically opposed to this well known verse:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast
Ephesians 2:8-9 | NIV
It seems that the readers of his letter thought that because they had already been saved, and that works were not part of that equation, they assumed they had no works to do. But they are not opposed;, they simply refer to two different processes. Paul, in Ephesians talks about Salvation. And indeed, nothing we do can save us anymore that Jesus already has. James, however, talks about sanctification; or the process of becoming more like Jesus. Becoming more saintly can only come after salvation.
I also like listening to Tim Mackie, a Bible scholar I have mentioned before. He rarely lets an opportunity pass to point out that in ancient Israel words like faith and love did not only mean the feelings we think they are today. They always include actions in their meaning. People apperently were not nearly as emotional back then as we are now, and often didn’t express their feelings and emotions with words, but with action.
A – Application
So I suppose that means that I should not only talk the talk of my faith, but also walk the walk. In my case though, I am not quite sure what that would entail, since for me it really is more of a mental thing.
Though I can definitely tell that I have grown in faith over the last couple of months. That has been accompanied by some changed behaviours I had not thought myself capable of. For example, I am more forward and open about myself and altogether more positive. I worry less and I have more faith in general. And it does show. People tell me I’m more confident and I get a lot of compliments.
But, I realize that I recognize that change with the benefit of hindsight, rather than that it stems from a conscious decision. So my challenge will be to decidedly act in accordance with my faith. My service could be more committed, so I will try to do that. And at work I can face different situations with the positive attitude I have acquired over the last few months. I can trust in my own God-given abilities and not doubt them. For I know that God has a good plan for me. He has given me talents to use, and people to help me. So I will step out in faith and follow the path God has laid before me, wherever He may lead me.
P – Prayer
Dear Lord, thank you for making a way for me and for allowing me to serve you. Thank you for the gifts you have given me, and the talents and friends. Help me to use them in ways only You can, so that I may show my faith. Help me to become who You made me to be, confidently, so that others will see You in me.
In Jesus’ name, Amen