If 380 sailors of a crew of 510 died on one voyage, wouldn't you be concerned? That actually happened! The sailors were victims of scurvy. Haven't heard of it? You don't want it. Symptoms include bleeding gums, loose teeth, bulging eyes, stiff joints, bad bad breath, and death.
Scurvy was common among sailors until Dr. James Lind discovered the cure in 1747. The remedy was unbelievably simple: add more citrus to a sailors diet.
Giving sailors a daily supply of Vitamin C helped them survive and thrive. Easy fix, right? Not so. It took the British Navy more that forty years to issue the order to provide the necessary supply of lemon juice to their ships.
As I reflect on my own walk with God, read the accounts of God's people, and interact with friends at church who have a vibrant walk with Jesus, one practice makes all the difference:
Reading the Bible is my citrus, my Vitamin C for the soul. Let me tell you why.
Three Benefits of Reading The Bible:
God supplies a hundred reasons to read his word. Here are three:
- Reading the Bible will bring great emotional health.
Who doesn't get beat up and knocked down in life? People disappoint us. Tough times visit us. Black clouds of bad moods descend upon us. But God is there to "pick you up." He does this through the Bible. King David said, "The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul." In other words, reading your Bible is going to give you a sense of God's presence in your life and a better emotional state during your week.
- Reading the Bible will help you align your day with God.
There are two things that God values above everything: his reputation and his word (Psalm 138:2). When you read the Bible you begin to align your life with God's word.
- Reading the Bible will give you God's directions and good success.
Life is complex. You can try to figure it out on your own or you can follow the directions. God's says, "Great blessings belong to those who love the Lord’s teachings...they grow strong, like a tree planted by a stream—a tree that produces fruit when it should and has leaves that never fall. Everything they do is successful." (Psalm 1:1,3 ETRV)
A bible-reading plan that works
Many people don't read the Bible because they don't know how, they don't think they have the time, and they don't know where to begin. We're going to solve that over the next five days.
Remember those sailors? They needed their Vitamin C. When it comes to the Bible, you need your SOAP. SOAP is an acronym that stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer. Here is a brief explanation of the SOAP method from Wayne Corderio:
S is for Scripture
Open your Bible to your daily reading plan (more on that later this week). Take the time to read the passage and let God speak to you. When you are done, look for one verse that particularly spoke to you. Write it down.
O is for Observation
Observation is looking closely to discover things you did not previously see. What is God showing you in this scripture? Ask the Holy Spirit to "open your eyes," to teach you and reveal Jesus to you. Paraphrase the verse. Write it down in your own words.
A is for Application
Personalize what you have read, by asking yourself how it applies to your life right now. Perhaps it is instruction, encouragement, revelation of a new promise, or corrections for a particular area of your life. Write how this Scripture can apply to you today.
P is for Prayer
This can be as simple as asking God to help you use this Scripture, or it may be asking God for greater insight on what He is revealing to you. Write out your prayer. Remember, prayer is a two-way conversation. Take time to listen to what God has to say!
Now You Give it a try
Read the passage below. Don't rush this. It's your daily citrus! Once your read it, follow the SOAP method. I'm praying for you, asking the Lord to open your eyes to see what he has for you today in his word.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." Matthew 6:25-24 ESV
Scripture: What is the one verse that God used to speak to you?
Observation: What did you discover in this verse? What is God saying to you? Try writing out the verse in your own words (paraphrase it).
Application: How does this apply to your life right now?
Prayer: Take time to ask the Lord to help you do what he revealed to you.
A closing thought
Thanks so much for taking this journey with me. God will use it to change your life.
You have heard this proverb before haven't you?
This week, we are learning and re-learning "how to fish." As Wayne Cordeiro notes, reading the Bible in this way "re-patterns the way we think and transforms the spirit of the mind. Then, when we face similar situations as Jesus did, we begin to respond in the same way."
We'll continue our journey tomorrow -- and it is going to be great. I am going to share with you one big reason why people "jump ship" (stop their daily Bible reading). More importantly, I am going to give you three "secrets" for staying the course. Until then, stay on the journey.
- Scurvy - The challenges of scurvy and the work of James Lind are well documented. I found significant help from the BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/lind_james.shtml) and from The James Lind Library (http://www.jameslindlibrary.org/articles/james-lind-and-scurvy-1747-to-1795/)
- SOAP - I have been practicing a variation of the SOAP method for 40 years. It is the single-biggest difference maker in my relationship with God. The explanation for SOAP and the thoughts for "re-patterning the way we think" comes from Pastor Wayne Cordeiro. You can see more from Wayne by clicking here.