S.O.A.P. – “Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer”
One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, and he began to teach them. “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth. Matthew 5:1-5 NLT
“I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”
Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant, so he explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” John 10:1-10 NLT
Here is the truth: God wants you to be happy! Seriously, God created you for happiness (that’s what “blessed” means!). That’s why human beings are best when they are happy!
In this series, we will learn how to be the very best version of ourselves and find the steps that lead to lasting happiness.
Lasting happiness does not come about because of you, me, politicians or the economy. It is God who does the transforming, but only to the extent that we cooperate!
How would you define the “happiness” that Jesus wants you to enjoy?
Are you surprised that the first mark of happiness is being “poor and realizing your need for him”? Why do you think this is the first step?
From the overtly Christian “Celebrate Recovery” to the biblically-derived 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, every “12 Step program” starts with this same principle: recognizing our own poverty instead of our power. Do you think it is a coincidence that Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount began with this principle? Why or why not?
Have you considered that your lack of happiness might be directly connected to your desire to fix, manage, and control your own life or the lives of others? Read Jesus’ words again…what is your next step of surrender?
Lord, it is impossible for me to know how much you love me. The love I can see is overwhelming. Thank you for sacrificing so that I can be truly happy. Help me not settle for fake happiness—help me see you clearly so I can experience the real thing!