As I’ve mentioned before, S.O.A.P. or “Life Journaling” as it is sometimes called, has been a pivotal tool in my own Spiritual Formation. It was introduced to me as a young Christian and became a mainstay for my own development. How has S.O.A.P. gone for you? Have you participated regularly with this process? Today I’m going to give you a peek into my own journaling. Below is my own S.O.A.P. for today’s reading.
17 For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News?1 Peter 4:17 (NLT)
Peter reminds readers that no one is off the hook from the judgement of God. When I hear this, I am quick to think of just the punishment; however, God’s judgement includes the eternal restoration of order of a broken world. But life matters. Our decisions matter. The ways in which we order and conduct our lives have not only consequences in this life, but are ultimately held up before a perfect and spotless God. Our culture is really good at looking and judging the actions of others. Our 24 hour news cycle teaches us that whatever is worth doing is worth scrutinizing for hours, as to whether it is noble or destructive. Peter today invites us to be willing to turn that scrutiny on our own lives, not to destroy ourselves, but to allow God’s light to illuminate the darkness that is so prevalent in all of us.
As Jesus Followers, we have the opportunity for lots of practice in following Jesus. The natural transition is to move from figuring out our own formation to helping others. But God never wants us so concerned about the formation of others that we are unwilling to look at ourselves. I spend a considerable amount of time teaching, instructing, and generally helping others with their spiritual journey. But God’s judgement “begins with us . . .”, those that profess Jesus as Lord. Sometimes all of this instruction and help for others can make me feel as though I am an expert, HA! I may have had more practice, or a spiritual gift of teaching, but I am just one of the apprentices alongside everyone else. Some of my most relatable ministry moments are birthed out of my humility, not my mastery. That’s frustrating at times. I enjoy polished Chris. I enjoy the Chris that has everything figured out. But I am at my most effective when I embrace my own weakness and submit it to the Lord. Today I commit to letting God’s instruction to “begin with me”. As I write devotions, it will be easy to think of others without allowing these words to begin with me. I will use these devotions as a point of application for me first.
Lord you are so good. Even as I feel your scrutiny on my actions, I am so thankful for your gentle instruction. My examples of discipline growing up have been harsh and destructive, but God, I’ve never felt safer to be corrected. Thank you for being a loving Father. Help me to continue to embrace my own weakness. Help me to continue to push courageously into this calling with humility and openness for what you want to do. Use me as you see fit. Amen.
I pray you found this helpful! Join me on Thursdays at 8am over ZOOM to participate with these devotions. Everyone has a chance to share; it is so lifegiving to walk through this formation with others.
As a reminder, here are our steps for S.O.A.P:
- Find a quiet place and read the SCRIPTURE of the day. Read it again. Read it slowly. Read it out loud!
- What OBSERVATIONS did you make? What does this passage teach you about God or yourself? Are there any calls to action? Do you have any questions?
- How will you make APPLICATION of this scripture and live your life differently today in light of what you just read? Be specific!
- Let it marinate. Take some time for PRAYER – thank God, confess any shortcomings, and ask to be empowered. Sit for a few moments and see if God has anything else for you.
Here is our passage for the day:
16 But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name! 17 For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News? 18 And also, “If the righteous are barely saved, what will happen to godless sinners?”1 Peter 4:16–18 (NLT)
We are praying for you!