Have you ever heard of the SOAP method for reading the Bible? It stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer. This method is easy to remember and it helps you organize your thoughts during personal devotions.
I think the best way to learn how to read the Bible using the SOAP method is to give you an example of a devotion I have written on Jeremiah 29:11. Are you ready? Let’s begin.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).
In the context of this passage, the Israelites were in exile. They were being punished by God because of their disobedience and unwillingness to listen to His commandments.
Consequently, the prophet Jeremiah confronts the false prophet Hananiah for lying to the Israelites. The false prophet declared to them that Israel would be set free from the enslavement of Babylon in two years, but this was false hope.
This is why Jeremiah wrote 29:11. He wanted the Israelites to understand that, despite their circumstances, God has a plan to prosper them. He has a plan to give them hope and a bright future, even though they are under the dictatorship of Babylon. In fact, He wanted the Israelites to help prosper the nation that brought them into slavery.
Of course, this is not what the Israelites wanted to hear. They wanted to go back to the promised land. A place where they could be autonomous and not under the governing authority of a pagan nation. However, this was the will of God. In verse 10, the Lord tells them:
“When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place.”
After understanding the context of this passage, you can appreciate this often quoted Bible verse. Yes, God has a plan to prosper and give hope, but it requires commitment. We must be patient and long-suffering, knowing that when we trust in the Lord with all our heart, He will direct our paths. But it doesn’t always happen as we expect it to.
For the last four years, I have been taking prerequisites to get into medical school. Even though I already had a college degree and a seminary education, all those classes I took didn’t qualify me to apply. I had to start from the very beginning. This was frustrating.
While the journey was hard, it was well worth it. I know God was reminding me that He has plans to prosper me and give me a future. When I allow Him to guide me, anything is possible. For the last year, I wasn’t sure if I would make it, but then a door opened up and now I will be starting medical school in the fall of 2020. I am so excited!
If the Israelites can wait for 70 years, surely I can wait for four. He has a future for me. Plans to prosper my family and I. I want to serve him as a doctor and spread his kingdom throughout the world. Praise be to God for being so patient with me. He never gives up on us!
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for crafting a plan for your people. You care about our safety and prosperity. You want to see us achieve great things for you. Thanks for promising us a life of victory. When I face adversity, I know I can trust in you as the author and finisher of my faith. I give you all the praise, honor, and glory. In Jesus’s name. Amen.