We're coming at these verses differently today. Over the last couple of months, I have been going through a study on the book of Ecclesiastes with Courtney Joseph who is a part of the Good Morning Girls and Women Living Well ministries. On their website, they go over a variation on the SOAP method of studying the Bible. She likes to call it SOAK, as in soaking up God's word and absorbing it into you like a sponge. I like that analogy, that imagery. She also uses colored pencils for highlighting verses in her Bible, which helps you to really "see" those verses in a new way- something I've come to love doing as I am so overjoyed by and thankful for the creation of color in this world! When Jesus created it from nothing at the beginning of time, I know that he was thinking of me (and obviously many, many others who love color in their world).
The "S" stands for scripture. To start things off, you're going to go read through Philippians 1:1-10 in your favorite translation. Personally, I read through it in my physical NIV Bible and then looked at the NLT and The Message. You choose what you like best. It was at this point that I highlighted verses 1-10 as I read. Mine were almost exclusively orange and yellow with a couple of purple verses in there as well, but there is no wrong way to do it. I use this key for choosing the colors: ColorCode from Women Living Well
From there, choose the verses that stand out to you and copy them down somewhere. That could be as simple as copying and pasting to social media, to a document on your phone, or even physically writing those verses down in a journal or on a card. I chose to write mine out. I feel like I remember them better and absorb the words better this way.
These are the verses that I chose:
"I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:3-6)
My choice didn't immediately stand out to me. I had to read a few translations before I knew for sure what I wanted to copy down. It may be the same for you. Ask Jesus where he's leading you. He'll show you. For me, I knew that a good part of the reason I chose to study Philippians next on this blog was that it's the book about finding joy. It's something I'm working on doing in my own life and I feel like God wants me to share this journey here with anyone who is reading.
The "O" stands for observations. What do you see happening in the verses you chose? Do you see a promise from God or maybe a prayer? Are there just a few words that jump off the page at you? Identify it, write it down.
I wrote the following in my journal about these verses this morning:
"God promises that he started a good work in each one of us. He also promises to see that good work through to the end. And that is a great reason for deep joy and peace."
To add to that here, I love that Paul tells us that God started a good work in his people. He is speaking to the Philippians specifically here but it's directed at all of us now that his letter is such a big part of the Bible. By accepting Jesus into our lives, we also accepted a big call from God. Our dreams may be big or small, but they are all God-sized and he will see them through to completion. I don't know what it will look like but the joy we are seeking is found on the journey to completion with God by our side.
It's time to apply this observation to our own lives now with the "A." This is what I wrote as an observation for me:
"God's only just begun with me. He isn't done. Together, we can do great things for the kingdom so long as I stay close to him so I can hear his leading whispers and feel his guiding hands on my shoulders. And he isn't finished with my children either. They too give him great joy! He isn't finished. He will not quit! He will not abandon us to our sin. Deuteronomy 31:6 assures us that "He's right there with you. He won't let you down; he won't leave you."
I love these words from The Message translation. He isn't going to leave. Sometimes, in the midst of sin either in our own lives or in the lives of those we love so much that it hurts, it's hard to remember that God loves us too much to watch us continue on in sin. He is pursuing us every moment of every day with a fierce love that just won't quit. And I am so thankful for that.
I don't have to worry about what my kids are choosing in their lives. God's got this. All I need to do is pray for them, offer them the advice that I find in his word, and let God do his job. Will they crash and burn sometimes? Yes. Will I be there when they brush themselves off and try again? You bet. But so will God. He was there before they fell, during the fall, and will always be there after and that is a reassuring thought for this Mama heart.
"K" is Kneeling in Prayer.
Father God, I love you so much. I am ever grateful for what you have done in my own life and what you continue to do as I screw up, mess up, fall, and fail over and over again. Thank you for never leaving me, never losing hope in my willingness to turn back to you, and never abandoning me to my own sin- though I greatly deserve that and more. Thank you for your unending grace and love and forgiveness.
I pray for each and every person who reads this, that somehow my imperfect words will reflect your perfection in an effective way. I pray that you will each one to you and to your endless joy. Help us to find the joy that only you can give, Jesus. We love you.