Listening to God in 2021

A couple of week ago, in our reading of Core52, we look at what is called the Great Commission.

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18–20

In his last words, his last words on earth, Jesus tells us to make disciples. He assumes we are already disciples.

At its most basic meaning, a disciple is a learner. When it is applied to Jesus, in light of his life and teaching, it takes on a fuller and deeper meaning. A disciple of Jesus refers to a person who has committed to Jesus as King and to learning to trust, obey, and follow him with all their life.

To be a disciple of Jesus is more than believing that Jesus will save you from your sins so you can go to heaven. It is more than making Jesus your life coach so you have a more enjoyable and successful life now. It is accepting King Jesus’ pardon for our sins against him and choosing to live a new life with him as King. Accepting forgiveness is easy. Leaning to live a new life can be challenging. That is why we need to intentionally embrace habits that will help us do that.

Although there are many habits, they fall into four broad groups.

  • Listening to God
  • Talking to God
  • Meeting with God’s family to encourage and be encouraged
  • Join God in his mission in the world

I want us to start the new year by focusing on listening to God. Listening to God means paying attention to what God says as found in his Word, the Bible. We do that in many ways. The most foundational way is reading the Bible daily. Many of you already do that. As we start 2021, I am encouraging each of you to make a new or renew your commitment to regularly read God’s Word. There are different ways to do that. If you have a way that works for you, keep doing it. If not or you want to try some thing new, I would like to suggest that you join me in part of what I plan to do this year.

One thing I am going to do this year is to read one chapter of the New Testament each day, Monday through Friday. I will use Saturday and Sunday to reflect, rejoice, and do other reading. In addition to reading a chapter of the New Testament Monday through Friday, I am going to do SOAPS. It’s a simple and effective way to listen to God when reading the Bible that any follower of Jesus can use.

SOAPS stands for

  • Scripture
  • Observation
  • Application
  • Prayer
  • Share

Let’s look at each section a little more.

Scripture – Read a passage of scripture and write down a verse or two that jumps out to you. Writing it out reinforces it and allows God to further speak to you through that verse.

Observation – Write down your personal observations that come from this passage or at least one of the following. Something you learn about God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit or yourself. Any sin that you should avoid. Any promise you should accept. Any command you should obey.

Application – How does it now apply to your every day life? What can you do to apply this in your life today? Specifically, what should you change (in your beliefs or your behavior) in light of this passage? Is there a personal message for you? Is there something specific that God wants you to do today? Write down at least one specific application from the passage.

Prayer – Write a one or two sentence personal prayer based on your observation and application.

Share – Choose a person with whom to share what you learned today and share it.

SOAPS is a way of listening to God by reading your Bible and then believing and doing what God says. It is very practical. All you need is a Bible, something to write on like notebook or document on your computer, and pen.

Below is my schedule.

□ 1/1 Mark 1
□ 1/2 Reflect
□ 1/3 Rejoice
□ 1/4 Mark 2
□ 1/5 Mark 3 
□ 1/6 Mark 4
□ 1/7 Mark 5
□ 1/8 Mark 6
□ 1/9 Reflect
□ 1/10 Rejoice
□ 1/11 Mark 7
□ 1/12 Mark 8
□ 1/13 Mark 9
□ 1/14 Mark 10
□ 1/15 Mark 11
□ 1/16 Reflect
□ 1/17 Rejoice
□ 1/18 Mark 12
□ 1/19 Mark 13
□ 1/20 Mark 14
□ 1/21 Mark 15
□ 1/22 Mark 16
□ 1/23 Reflect
□ 1/24 Rejoice
□ 1/25 Acts 1
□ 1/26 Acts 2
□ 1/27 Acts 3
□ 1/28 Acts 4
□ 1/29 Acts 5
□ 1/30 Reflect
□ 1/31 Rejoice
I will be sharing more about listening to God by paying attention to what God says in his Word. It will be an emphasis in the first part of 2021.

When we resume our morning devotions on January 4, I will be sharing with you from my timing listening to God by using the SOAPS method. Each day I will share from what I read and wrote from the previous days reading and expand on it for the devotion.

The most important thing is that you listen to God by reading the Bible, regardless of what method you use to do that. Join me in making a renewed commitment to that in 2021.