SOAP Bible Study

Set Your Hope


(S) 1 Peter 1:13  “Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be serious, and set you hope completely on the grace brought to you at the Revelation of Jesus Christ.”

(O) Peter is telling his readers to set their hope only on the grace of Jesus Christ.

(A) Not long ago, the lottery hit over a billion dollars.  The more it increased, the more tickets were sold.  Placing hope in less odds than being struck by lightning twice. Only 3 winning tickets were picked out of the billions sold.  Hopes dashed.  Our hope lies in something not of this world.  Something that cannot be made or bought even with billions of dollars.  It’s only found in the grace of Christ.

(P)  Lord, let me always put my trust and hope in you.

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Levites: Serving God


S:  Deuteronomy 10:8-9  “At that time the LORD set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of the LORD’s covenant, to stand before Yahweh to serve Him and to pronounce blessings in His name, as it is today.  For this reason, Levi does not have a portion or inheritance like his brothers; the LORD is his inheritance, as the LORD your God told him.

Observation:  The tribe of Levi has been called by God for special duty of service.  The work will be hard and there will be no earthly inheritance.  They won’t get rich by doing this but instead of an earthly inheritance, God will be their inheritance.

Application:  The work of a Christian is very difficult and leads to a cross.  Contrary to what some popular televangelist say, it isn’t a earthy prosperity Gospel.  Our inheritance is in Christ and the spiritual blessings found in our faith in God through Jesus Christ.  We are called to be servants, not the served. The workers in the field, not the masters in the house.

Prayer:  Great God, in the world I live in it’s extremely difficult to be the servant.  It goes against everything taught, yet that is what you have called me to be. A servant of you.  Not expecting a reward or inheritance to be found in this life but a promise of eternal life with you.  Give me the strength and courage to be your servant. Amen


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Stay Alert

S:  Mark 13:32-37  32 “Now concerning that day or hour no one knows—neither the angels in heaven nor the Son—except the Father. 33 Watch! Be alert! For you don’t know when the time is coming. 34 It is like a man on a journey, who left his house, gave authority to his slaves, gave each one his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to be alert. 35 Therefore be alert, since you don’t know when the master of the house is coming—whether in the evening or at midnight or at the crowing of the rooster or early in the morning. 36 Otherwise, he might come suddenly and find you sleeping. 37 And what I say to you, I say to everyone: Be alert!”

O:  Jesus is coming back!  That’s the one thing we do know.  He told his disciples that fact.  However, no one, not the angels, the Son, or even us know when that day is coming.  Jesus knew that people have the tendency to get “lax” over time and so He warned his disciples to stay alert!  Don’t be caught napping because you get so caught up in your routine.

A:  It’s very difficult to stand on the ready every moment of every day.  It reminds me of the 1960’s when everyone was on alert for the cold war.  School kids went through drills of getting under their desk and covering their head.  There was a level of preparedness.  It’s not there any longer.  After 911, our defenses went up and everyone took the level of threats seriously but now slowly our guard has been let down and there is an unbelief that something bad could happen.

How do we keep from falling in that trap as a Christian?  We constantly develop our spiritual disciplines:  Prayer, Scripture study, making sure we gather with other Christians who can hold us accountable and support us, worship, and loving one another.  This needs to happen daily.

P:  God, there are so many distractions from you. So many things that pull my attention away.  It’s so easy to watch a 30 minute TV program rather than spend that time in prayer, study or growing closer to you.  Give me the strength and courage to put all that aside, to keep focused on you and to not be caught by surprise. Amen

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Prosperity Faith???

English: C-21 Aircraft (USAF Photo)

English: C-21 Aircraft (USAF Photo) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Scripture:  1 Timothy 6:6-12

…who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.

Observation:  Obviously, there were some people/pastors/preachers/religious folk who had gone off script.  They were no longer teaching the Word of God and the Good News of Jesus Christ but were adding to it and Paul writes Timothy to give him some guidance in this area.

Application:  In our society today, there are many “mega-pastors” who are preaching a Prosperity message.  Telling their flocks that God wants to bless you and his blessings will make you rich.  In of itself, that is very true.  God does want to bless us and wants to make us rich, but I have a very hard time believing that what God has in mind is to increase our bank accounts and to have pastors flying around the country on private jets.  This doesn’t make sense to me and it doesn’t go along with my interpretation of Scripture.

No where in the Scriptures do we see someone profiting monetarily from their faith in God.  Paul didn’t get rich, he went to prison.  Peter and the other disciples didn’t get rich, they met very violent deaths.  Jesus didn’t get rich, he rode into town (not in a Lear Jet) not even on a big white horse, but on the back of a donkey’s colt.

Wealth and power are a very dangerous combination.  Our blessing is not in a big bank account, a big house, a nice car or even a jet.  Our blessing comes in the form of Faith, Hope, Love, Endurance, Godliness, and righteousness.

Prayer:  God, it’s so easy to desire the nicest things in life and to allow that desire to cloud our faith.  Keep me on track and on point in delivering your message so that I may not fall into those trappings of success that have caused so many good men/women to self-destruct.  Amen

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Throw Yourself into this Work

2 Timothy 2:1-7 So, my son, throw yourself into this work for Christ. Pass on what you heard from me—the whole congregation saying Amen!— to reliable leaders who are competent to teach others. When the going gets rough, take it on the chin with the rest of us, the way Jesus did. A soldier on duty doesn’t get caught up in making deals at the marketplace. He concentrates on carrying out orders. An athlete who refuses to play by the rules will never get anywhere. It’s the diligent farmer who gets the produce. Think it over. God will make it all plain.

Observation: Paul is writing to Timothy about keeping his focus on the main goal. That of spreading the Gospel. He is very forthright in say that the going is going to get rough. It did for Jesus and it will for all those who follow in the way of Christ.

Application: We are not promised an easy road but one that is difficult. As we experience hardships, obstacles, and roadblocks…don’t let it catch you off guard but know that it is part of being a soldier in the army of Christ.

Prayer: Lord, guide and direct us in our following of you. There are going to be rough times and times that it seems we’re coming under attack from all angles. Help us to feel your presence and your love. Amen.

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Mad at God

Scripture: Job 23:1-6 (The Message)
“I’m not letting up—I’m standing my ground.
My complaint is legitimate.
God has no right to treat me like this—
it isn’t fair!
If I knew where on earth to find him,
I’d go straight to him.
I’d lay my case before him face-to-face,
give him all my arguments firsthand.
I’d find out exactly what he’s thinking,
discover what’s going on in his head.

Observation Things are not going well in the life of Job and it seems that he has some anger inside that needs to be let out. God is his target. After all, Job has been living right, he’s been doing everything that God would want him to do and yet all this stuff is happening to him. It’s just not right!

Application How many times in my life have I been doing the best I can and bad things just keep happening? And when bad things happen, they don’t happen one at a time but come in bunches. Many times it really is no ones fault, it is just happening and I want to yell at God. This Scripture show us that it’s okay to get upset with God. Our God is big enough and can handle it. If we can’t be real with God, who can we be real with? This is part of being in a relationship.

Prayer Thank you God for being loving and allowing me to be me especially when times are not going so well. Please help me to continue maturing in our relationship and growing toward your grace. Amen

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The Power of the Holy Spirit

Scripture 2:41-42That day about three thousand took him at his word, were baptized and were signed up. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.

Observation: The powerful wind of the Holy Spirit has blown through the place and set everyone on fire. they are so delierious with the Spirit that others who saw them thought they had started happy hour way too early. Yet that was not it. Peter was urging those who would listen to change their lives and be baptized and it was happening at an incredible pace.

Application: This has been one of my favorite verses since I first felt the call to start a new church. How incredible is it to allow the Lord to use you in such powerful ways. Since the inception of The Bridge, our goal has been to follow the model of the first century church. To focus on the things they focused on and not to be distracted by all the other stuff. Sometimes we have succeeded greatly and other times we have fallen short. Our goal is still to reach people; share the Good News with them; and to help them build a bridge between themselves and God.

Prayer: Lord guide us and keep us focused. Amen

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Decision Making

Scripture: Acts 1:23-26 So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” 26Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.

Observation: Judas has betrayed Jesus and met with a pretty gory end. Therefore, there is an open spot in the disciples that must be filled. Now the other disciples are trying to decide who it should be and what do they do but open it up for the Lord to make the decision.

Application: What would my decisions be like if I prayed before making them and then left it up completely to God? I believe that we as humans want some control and there is a part of us that even though we know our God to be faithful and true, we don’t want to completely place our decisions in His hands. Yet, here is a great example of how we should let go and allow God to work in our lives.

Prayer: Lord, help me to give up more control over to you. I admit, I like to make my own decisions and even though I know that you only desire what is best for me… I often think that I know better than you, even when time and time again, I have proven this to be incorrect. I love you and I trust you. Amen

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You want me to WHAT?

Scripture: Luke: 10-14″When you’re invited to dinner, go and sit at the last place. Then when the host comes he may very well say, ‘Friend, come up to the front.’ That will give the dinner guests something to talk about! What I’m saying is, If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face. But if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.”
Then he turned to the host. “The next time you put on a dinner, don’t just invite your friends and family and rich neighbors, the kind of people who will return the favor. Invite some people who never get invited out, the misfits from the wrong side of the tracks. You’ll be—and experience—a blessing. They won’t be able to return the favor, but the favor will be returned—oh, how it will be returned!—at the resurrection of God’s people.”

Observation: Once again, we get a look at Jesus turning the world upside down. Don’t fight for the head table because you might get embarrassed. Instead seat yourself at the LAST table. Sound familiar? First shall be last and last shall be first. Then he turns his attention to the host of the party and tells them to invite those who no-one ever invites. They won’t be able to return the favor but oh will the favor be returned.

Application: Here is Jesus wrapping up how to conduct ourselves and treat others in 2 short paragraphs. Put yourself as low on the totem pole and put others (especially the “misfits”) as high as you can get them. This doesn’t make sense to the world. It didn’t make sense then and it sure doesn’t make sense now. However, this is what we are called to do. Is it hard? Yes.

Prayer: Lord, help me to always put others first and self last. Amen

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Scripture: Luke 12:1-3 Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.

Observation: Here is one of the many times which Jesus gives his disciples a little tidbit of extra information. Wouldn’t it have been awesome to talk to Jesus one on one and hear his advice from his lips? Or would it have been overwhelming? Here, Jesus talks to them about the ramifications of gossip, talking about others in secret, letting everything you say or try to hide be revealed from the roof tops.

Application: How would we live differently if we knew that all our secrets were not going to be secrets? If everything we wanted to keep quite was going to be proclaimed from the roof tops. We would probably have a different attitude toward saying things and doing things that we knew everyone would find out about.

Prayer: Lord help me be the follower that you would have me to be.

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Scripture: Haggai 1:2-11 This is what the LORD Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come for the LORD’s house to be built.’ “Then the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai:”Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?” Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the LORD. “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the LORD Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house. Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the oil and whatever the ground produces, on men and cattle, and on the labor of your hands.”

Observation: The people are putting their own wants and needs above that of God. They are placing themselves first and what is happening is that they are not reaping as much as they would if they put God first.

Application How easy is it for us to do just that. We say that God is the priority in our life, that He is number 1 but our actions tell a completely different story. We spend our lives work, work, working and bring home very little because we have put ourselves above God. When we do that, our things, our money, our homes, our lives become our god and the True God is pushed down on the list of priorities.

Prayer Dear God, help me to always keep you my number 1 priority. It’s so easy to allow you to slip down the list but when that happens my life seems to slip. Amen

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The Least is the Greatest

Scripture: Luke 9:46-48 An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all—he is the greatest.”

Observation: Even the disciples were jockeying for position. There were 12 of them in the presence of the greatest person who ever lived and they were worried about who among them was going to be the greatest. A little selfishness, pride, and ambition showing through even though they were right there in the midst of God.

Application: How often do we allow our own concern for greatness to take control of our lives? How often do we get overly concerned with our own position to the detriment of others. Take a look around, way too often. Jesus makes a huge point here that goes against all that the world taught back in his day and is still teaching with a vengenece today…that we must be concerned about ourselves first and others next. However, Jesus says the opposite…those who are the greatest here are not going to be the greatest, and those who are the least will be .

Prayer: Lord help me to take the emphasis off of me and place it on others. Help me not to get caught up in the ways of the world by looking after “Number 1” first. Amen

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Caught in a Storm

Scripture: Luke 6:22-25 One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”

Observation: The part of this story that has always caught my attention is that the majority of these men in the boat were fishermen. They were used to being on the water and if there was anyone who knew how to handle a boat in rough water it was them. They also knew the dangers of being on the water during a storm. They knew the reality of their situation and they knew that it was quickly getting out of their control. Just like anyone else, when the situation gets out of control, we begin to panic. They were no different.

Application: When I think of times in my life that have been the scariest or the times when I have begun to panic, it is because I have lost control of the situation. There is comfort and strength found in our own abilities to control what is going on around us. Yet, there are times in life, when we are not in control. The winds are beating against the sails of the boat, threatening to tear them apart. The waves are beating against the boat from all angles and there is a better than average chance we will be swamped. These storms of life take on many manifestations such as financial, sickness, grades, problems with spouse, alcohol/drugs, deadlines, or anything that can make you feel helpless and hopeless.

However, there is hope. We serve a God who can rebuke the winds, tell them to stop blowing and they obey! That’s amazing and if He can do that with the wind, just think about what he can do with my problems. If I will only trust in Him and not myself. Thats a pretty tall order.

Prayer: Almighty God, you are in control. Even when I think I am, you are and when I know I’m not, you are. Lord help me to rely on your strength, your wisdom, and your grace during those times when there is nothing I can do and to trust in you. Amen

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C’mon Let’s Go!!


Luke 5:27-28 After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.

Observation: The calling of Levi to be a disciple. Levi, when asked, got up and left everything to follow Jesus.

Application: What does it take to leave everything and follow Jesus? Does it mean that we have to leave our jobs, our families, our homes, our cars, our way of life, our sin? In many of those cases, I would have to say yes depending on the individuals situation. I think we are called by God to cast aside whatever may be hindering us from coming closer to Christ and or doing what God has called us to do. I have a friend who has been called to Guatamala and he, his wife, and 2 children have gone there to live and be missionaries. They left their home, their families, their cars, jobs and many other things including many creature comforts that make our lives easier so that they could go where God was leading them. Is everyone called to pack up and move to a foreign country. No. But we are called to serve God and that service is going to get in the way of some things in our life that carry a great deal of weight in our lives. Will we be able to give it up, let it go and follow God. I hope so. What Levi discovered as he left all to follow Jesus is that he got to spend three incredible years next to the Son of God.

Lord, May I have the will power, the desire, and the forethought to always lay aside so that I may travel closely with you. Amen

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All Riled Up!

Scripture: Luke 6:6-10 On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled. 7The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. 8But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” So he got up and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?” He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored. 11But they were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.

Observation: Here once again, we see the Lord of lords and the King of kings getting all these religious people all riled up and shows us a direct cause that he was hung on the cross. Jesus went around turning the whole world on its head and tearing up traditions and worthless rules and this really made a good many folks mad. They weren’t angry that he healed the man’s arm (why would they?) They were angry because he broke one of the “rules” to do it. This was radical and being radical leads to the cross.

Application: Jesus is still looking for some people who are willing to be radical in His name. To flip this world on its head and go against what the world says is right and do what Christ would have done. It’s radical, it’s dangerous and it leads to death on a cross. However, that is what Christ has called us to do…isn’t it?

Lord, give me the strength to be a follower in your army. To be radical and loving in ways that are dangerous and might get me killed. Lord, empower me to lead others down that same path. Not just tell them to go but to go before them, leading the way. In Christ.

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How do You forget Jesus?

Scripture: Luke 2: 41-45Every year Jesus’ parents traveled to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up as they always did for the Feast. When it was over and they left for home, the child Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents didn’t know it. Thinking he was somewhere in the company of pilgrims, they journeyed for a whole day and then began looking for him among relatives and neighbors. When they didn’t find him, they went back to Jerusalem looking for him.

Observation: Things had to be chaotic and there were people all around. Who’s got Jesus? Oh, he’s with the people who live down the street and all of a sudden, he’s left. It’s pretty easy. But yet the question must arise, “How do you forget Jesus?” Of all the people in the world who should not be forgotten and the one child you would think the parents would know every move…Jesus. How did this happen. Can’t you just hear the thoughts of Joseph, “Man, we’ve done it now…Lost the ONLY Son of God!”

Application: My thinking on this is somewhat humorous to me tonight, but shouldn’t we also be as diligent with Christ in our lives? Sometimes it appears that we who profess so much love in him have lost him also. Often times, we Christians act as if we have left Christ on the counter at home.

Lord, may I always live like you love me and share you most when I don’t say a word.

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God Loves Even the Wicked

Scripture: Ezekiel 33:10 “Son of man, speak to Israel. Tell them, ‘You’ve said, “Our rebellions and sins are weighing us down. We’re wasting away. How can we go on living?”‘ 11 “Tell them, ‘As sure as I am the living God, I take no pleasure from the death of the wicked. I want the wicked to change their ways and live. Turn your life around! Reverse your evil ways! Why die, Israel?’

Observation: Here i a plea from God through the prophet Ezekiel to those who are not living the life that God desires them to live. They are doomed and wasting away. Their life is burdened by the weight of sin and its a struggle and God wants them to know that it doesn’t have to be this way. God is saying through Ezekiel, “I’m not having fun here watching you and there is a better way.” Yet, God puts the ball back into their court so that the decision is theirs not God’s.

Application: There are so many who struggle in life and feel like a huge weight is attached to them that they are having to carry around. I know this feeling intimately and the only way that I found to shed the weight/burden was to turn my life around. I had to quit doing the destructive things that I was doing and make a deliberate decision to follow God. Does this mean that I have never done wrong again, NO. But I now have been let in on a little secret…The more you live a life that God wants and desires for you to live, the more happy, satisfied and content one will be.

Prayer: Thank you God for your love and Grace. Thank you that you never give up on us, even when we have given up on ourselves. Thank you for the extraordinary ways that you continuously convey your mercy. I love you.

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Boldly Living for God

Scripture: Daniel 3:16-18 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, “Your threat means nothing to us. If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. But even if he doesn’t, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn’t serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.”

Observation: King N has decided that he would create a golden statue that everyone would bow to and pray to. However, S,M,A were not going to have anything to do with it. Even though they had reached a level of authority above the common folk, they had their faith in God. Even faced with a death by fire they refused to turn their back on God. An important part in this was they did not know what the will of God was in this situation. They did not know if God would save them from the furnice or not, but what every the outcome they were resolute with it. “But even if he doesn’t, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.” The bottom line is they were going to be faithful to God.

Application: How hard is it to stay faithful even in the face of death? It would have been so easy for them to bow and save their lives and yet they knew that their lives were a gift from God. In my life today, there are many occasions to bow before the golden statue and deny God. It is constantly being aware of the big picture that is necessary to overcome. I must keep my eyes upon God and constantly place Him first in my life.

Prayer: It is so easy to bow down before other gods. To place them first, especially in difficult times. Lord, give me the strength and desire to continuously place you first in everything that I do. Amen

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Getting Others to Pray with You

Scripture: Daniel 2:17-18 Daniel then went home and told his companions Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah what was going on. He asked them to pray to the God of heaven for mercy in solving this mystery so that the four of them wouldn’t be killed along with the whole company of Babylonian wise men.

Observation: Things have been going well for Daniel and his three friends. God has blessed them in knowledge of books and life and they were gaining some notice by the King. All of a sudden, Daniel realizes that there is about to be a mass execution and he is on the list with all the others to be put to death. Gaining the back story from a guard, Daniel is willing to go before the king to describe his dream and interpret it for him. Knowing that he is blessed by God, he still takes time and realizes the importance of prayer and asking others to pray also.

Application: Like Daniel, God has blessed me in so many ways. As I sit here, I’m thinking that I should be in prayer 23 of 24 hours in the day and yet life goes on. In difficult situations, my first reaction is often times not to stop an pray but to try and solve the problem on my own. I have also noticed that I have to be in real trouble to ask someone else to pray for me. Why is this? Probably because it is a declaration that we cannot solve whatever it is on our own. It is a admission that we are dependent upon God and to be dependent upon someone other than ourselves takes control out of our hands. We as humans don’t necessarily like that.

Prayer: Dear God, I admit that I don’t pray as much as you would like for me to. I admit that I am stubborn and self-reliant to the point of weakness. I realize that for me to achieve all that you have set before me, I can’t do it on my own and I must rely on you. Lord, please continue to work in me and help me to continue growing closer to you through prayer. Amen.

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New Bible Study

A group of us from The Bridge has started a new small group that is going to focus on reading and discussing Scripture. We are going to use Wayne Cordero’s SOAP method for our study and I’m going to use this blog to journal. I’m excited as I think its going to be great fun and very enlightening.

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