Soul Journal
 
 
 
Weekend: Read any passage of your choice or catch up if you’ve fallen behind 🙂
 
 
bible
BIBLE READING
By following the new DSC Bible Reading Plan above, you will read through the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice every 2 years.
 
If you’re just beginning to develop the habit of spending daily time in God’s word and 3 chapters feels intimidating, we encourage you to just pick 1 of the 3 to read. Start small but start today!
 
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Matthew_14

Scripture
 
Matthew‬ ‭14:27-31‬ ‭NIV‬‬
 
“But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?””
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Observation-What does it say?
 
The disciples were afraid because they thought it was a ghost walking towards them on the water. However, Jesus told them not to be afraid because it was Him. Peter requested that Jesus call him out into the water if it was truly Him. Jesus did, so Peter got out of the boat, went out to Jesus in the water, and started walking on water! But, when he saw the wind, He took His eyes off of Jesus and started to sink.

Understanding-What does it mean?

Don’t take our eyes off of Jesus.

When Peter started focusing on the problem around him, which was the huge wind, he took His eyes off of Jesus, focused on the wind, became afraid and started to sink. How many of us take our focus off of Jesus when problems arise, become afraid and start seeking help for the problem or issue, instead of putting our faith in Christ knowing that He is more than able to take care of it? I admit I am guilty of this. At that moment, Peter still had a little faith, but it was misplaced faith due to fear and that wasn’t able to keep Him above water. It’s just like Pastor said the last couple of Sundays. “Fear is not the absence of faith. Fear is misplaced faith.”

Life Application

Keep our focus on Jesus and not on the problem.

 
Here are some words of a hymn that I love-“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full on His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”

Living in this world, we face many problems and challenges in marriage, with finances, relationships, health, work, family and the list can go on. However, we must stand firm in Christ and keep our eyes on Him in order to not be overtaken by them. Pastor Levi even said it in his soul journal post a couple of days ago—we must be quicker to pray than to plan.

Dear Lord, I admit that I would have reacted the same way as Peter did in fear because I have done so so many times. When life’s challenges hit, I seek Your help instead of seeking You first. Instead of meditating on the problem or issue at hand, please help me keep my eyes on You and who You are. I am reminded of the story of Mary and Martha. Martha was worried about many things (which I tend to be like) instead of sitting at Your feet first like Mary did. I pray we would all seek Your face more and not be fearful due to misplaced faith. Amen.

 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here.
 
-Michelle Gaddi
 

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Psalm 13

Scripture‭‭
 
Psalms‬ ‭13:5-6‬
“But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me.”
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Observation-What does it say?
 
Life’s struggles are caving in on David. It feels as though God has forgotten about him, while his enemies sneak over his defeat. So how does David handle all this heartache? He cries out to God (in prayer) of course!
 
Understanding-What does it mean?
 
God will fight for us!
 
“The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”-Exodus‬ ‭14:14‬ ‭NLT‬‬
 
We have been learning in church these last two weeks that God makes us brave and God will fight for us. And as we learned this past Sunday when life’s struggles seem to be impossible to overcome, we should pray and worship! King David knew this “strategy” and knew it well. King David was under constant distress. There seems to always be other lands trying to conquer him and take his throne, and enslave his people. Life’s pressure of being king and protecting his people must have been very difficult. But David knew WHO truly was in control. David knew just WHO to run to. David knew just WHO would fight for him! David knew that he was a child of God, and that God would fight for him! That is why David prayed, and that is why he worshipped. He knew of God’s faithfulness, love for his people, and God’s mighty power!
 
“The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.”-Psalms‬ ‭28:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬
 
Life Application
 
I am the man I am today because I have a God who fights for me!
 
Thank You God for fighting for me! Thank you for sending Your only son Jesus to fight on my behalf. Even in life’s struggles I will give You praise because I know You love me, and I know You are faithful. You use those struggles in my life to strengthen my faith and mold me to the man You want me to become. You have never let me down, so why should I stop trusting You?! God, quite simply, You are amazing! Thank You for choosing me. Amen.
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here
 
Moses Gaddi
 

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Genesis 12

Scripture

Genesis 12:12 

When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live.

Observation – What does it say?

Abraham just heard God make him promises to make him into a great nation and bless all the people’s of the earth through him. Then, on another occasion, the LORD appeared to Abraham and spoke to him. Pause and think about that! What did Abraham’s eyes see in that moment? What did God look like? How did his voice sound as he spoke? Few people can say they experienced God like Abraham did. Yet, right after these amazing God-encounters and promises, Abraham seems to be without faith! 

Rather than trusting in God to bring them to pass, Abraham felt the need to take things into his own hands. 

Understanding – What does it mean?

Luke 1:37 “For no word from God will ever fail.”

I believe that until God fulfilled his promises to him, Abraham was invincible. God knew the people Abraham would encounter and he still made those promises to him. There was no reason to fear. (Of course that’s often easier said than done!) Furthermore, there was no reason to lie or be deceitful. 

Yet, Abraham felt the need to take matters into his own hands and not only live a lie himself but ask his wife to join in. Later he took matters into his own hands again, sleeping with Sarai’s maidservant Hagar, in effort to have a son when Sarai was unable to conceive. 

However, in both instances, God showed he didn’t need Abraham’s help to bring about his promises. Even when the Egyptians discovered the truth, God gave Abraham favor with them so that he and Sarai were sent away unharmed. And later, God enabled Sarai to conceive Isaac, through whom the promise would be fulfilled. 

God will never put us in a position where we will have to lie or be deceitful in order to experience the life and blessings he intends for us. 

Life Application

Trust God’s plan regardless of present circumstances.

Trust that God’s plan succeeding will never require me to lie or deceive.

God, thank you that you are always the one doing the heavy lifting. Even when you speak a promise regarding my life or future, it’s not up to me to make it happen. Rather, you are in control. Even in the storms of life you’re empowering presence is with us to see us through them. Instead of striving and stressing, we choose to trust and worship. We choose to be quicker to pray than to plan. Like Pastor Gary said on Sunday, when things seem impossible we choose to PRAY and WORSHIP. Amen.
 
– Levi Thompson

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Matthew_11

Scripture

Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

I love The Message version….

28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Observation

Chapter 11 brings about the recognition of Christ as the one that John and his disciples had been waiting for, Jesus’s frustration with the generation, His condemnation of the cities where the most “work” had been done with the least response…but He ends the Chapter in love and grace.

Understanding

“You will find rest for your souls.”

“Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”

“Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

These are bold statements…especially in a world of high blood pressure and anxiety and more stress related illnesses than we can count. But I believe these statements are just as true today as they were in Jesus’s time. 

Philippians 4:6-7

…6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearst and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Though our walk with Christ is not promised to be easy, we can take comfort in knowing that He will provide peace (and we can choose joy) despite circumstances. As with many promises, though, there is a premise.  We are to “come to Him,” “present our requests to God,” pray, “keep company with Him.”

Recently, I was having panic attacks due to stress. I didn’t feel stressed out but my body was telling me otherwise.  And, sure, there was reason to be stressed – kid stuff, work stuff, home stuff, etc.  I even remembered during that time recalling a conversation that I’d had months before with Levi where he pointed out that when people are stressed, they have usually taken their focus off of God; but I was sure that wasn’t the case.  If you would have asked me if I had been keeping my quiet times and prayers, I would have said yes…I thought I was…that’s part of my every day.  And this was during the fast…so wasn’t I even doing more of that???  I felt like I was.  But then came a spiritual assessment – a set of specific, poignant questions that make you really take stock of how you’re prioritizing reaching up, in and out…and I scored horribly.  It was then that I realized why I was feeling the way I did.

As children of God, we are invited to peace; but it’s not automatic, we first need to seek Him. Alongside that, though, is the accountability that comes with living in community.  We need to have relationships that keep us connected to Him and to each other.  In this case, I personally reached out to PG to thank him for the assessment because I needed and valued the course correction.

Life Application

God, I’m thankful for your many emotions. Your anger when you’ve got my best in mind and I choose to go my own way.  Jealousy over my heart.  Grace and tenderness. 

Knowing that you experience these makes me feel seen, known and understood…which should come as no surprise since you are my Creator.

Thank you for the peace you provide…the unforced rhythms of grace. May I be conscious of You as the source of that peace.  Help me to quickly recognize when I’m “off” and how to best get back on course; and surround me with a community honest enough to speak up when I fail to recognize it myself.  Help me to be that community to those I know and love as well.  And, finally, may I be so filled with peace that people experience your refreshing presence through the interactions you place me in today.

In your name, I pray…Amen.

– Rei

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Psalm_10

Scripture
Psalm 10:1 
Why, Lord, do you stand far off?  Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
Observation– What does it say? 
In his life, David faced a lot of opposition and trials.  Not to mention the experiences he suffered as a result of his poor decision making.  Not only did he suffer the oposition of King Saul, who wanted to kill him, he also ended up finding himself being pursued by Absalom, his son, who also wanted to kill him.  In his Psalms, David so eloquently expresses his feelings of fear and desire for justice, all while brining his focus back to God, his protection and salvation.
Understanding– What does it mean? 
In light of this world, it can be so easy to look at the evil that happens on a daily basis and feel like God has abandoned us.  When a man decides to maliciously attack people with whom he has a minor grievance, causing death on a large scale, it feels like God is not there.  When a baby dies in the family pool, it feels like God is not there.  When we experience loss because of the injustice of others, it feels like God is not there.

It is so easy to forget that we live a life that is separated from God.  In these times, I find comfort in the fact that God’s timing is perfect.  2 Peter 3:9 states “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”  In Isaiah 58 and 59, we learn about how the nation of Israel acted sinfully towards the Lord.  And this is how he responds in verse 21, “As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord. “My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants—from this time on and forever,” says the Lord.

So though it feels as though God is far off, He is always close by and quick to remember his covenant with us.  At the end of Psalm 10, David comes back to the Lord and places him on the pedestal on which He belongs.  Starting in verse 16 “The Lord is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land.  You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror.”

Life Application 
Jesus, in times of uncertainty help me to know you are there.  Remind me of your mercy and lovingkindness.  And when I fall, help me to run to you with abandon, knowing that you are patient with me.  And Jesus, help me to reach out to those who don’t have you.  Help me to usher your peace into their lives. Amen.
 
– Tyler Galloway

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Genesis_9

Scripture
 
Genesis 9:16-17-
 
16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”
17 So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”

Observation- What does it say?

This chapter speaks on God’s promise to Noah to never destroy life and the earth again through a flood.

Understanding-What does it mean?

God keeps His promises.

Covenant is a fancy word for promise. God is a covenant making and keeping God. He always keeps His promises. In Kids church last week, we talked about the covenant God made with David, that his family line would last forever. That would happen because of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ parents, Mary and Joseph came through the family line of David. God orchestrated all of that because He is a Sovereign God! Another example was God’s promise to Abraham about how his descendants would outnumber the stars in the sky. He kept that promise through Abraham’s son Isaac.
 
God makes covenants with His people and He never breaks them. The rainbow was a reminder to Noah and is a reminder to us today that God would never flood the earth and that He continues to keep His promises. Because God gave Jesus authority over all heaven and earth since they are one, we can trust that what He says is true, even today.

“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭28:18‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Life Application

How different would our lives look if we truly believed that He kept His promises?

The Bible is filled with promises from God. These are promises that we can trust that He will keep.

God (Jesus) promised that He will never leave us or forsake us. He promised that He would give us His Holy Spirit as a deposit when He left the earth. He also promised that one day, He would return at an unknown time/hour to judge the living and the dead.

Thank You Lord that you not only make promises to Your children, but You keep them. Thank You that we can trust that what Your Word says is true. Thank You that we can trust that You will return for us one day. Your Word is full of promises. I pray that we would not only fill our hearts and minds with these truths, but truly live like we believe them. Thank You for Your Holy Spirit in us who enables us to live for You, have faith in You, and believe what You say is true. Amen.
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here.
 
-Michelle Gaddi

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Matthew_8


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Matthew_7

Scripture

Matthew 7:24

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

Observation – What does it say?

This analogy Jesus shares, comes right on the heels of a teaching about the fate of those who don’t do God’s will. He informs the crowd gathered during what we now refer to as “The Sermon on the Mount,” that he will reject those who didn’t do his Father’s will; even those who did miracles in his name. He emphasizes his point in this teaching about the wise and foolish builders, making a clear distinction between those who listen and obey and those who listen and do nothing. One will stand firm while the other collapses; one received by God while the other is rejected.

Understanding – What does it mean?

In reading this I am reminded of Jesus’ younger brother, James. As pastor of the church in Jerusalem, he wrote to them urging, “Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says!”

There is serious consequence for disobedience. For those of us who read God’s word frequently, who hear sermons often, God is going to hold us to a higher standard! We can’t claim that we didn’t know better. With every command of God we read, every challenge toward obedience we hear, we mustn’t take it lightly or allow it to stop with good intentions. Jesus is clear that the only one who is blessed, who is received by God, who is going to stand firm, is the one who does God’s will.

Life Application

God, where have I been failing to do your will? Show me the areas I’ve been failing to put your word into practice. I know I am saved by your grace, through my faith and not my works. But I also know that the genuineness of my faith will be reflected by the way I live. Please help us to be a people who have a genuine faith, expressed through passionately seeking to do your will. Amen.

– Levi Thompson

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Matthew_6

Scripture

Matthew 6:21

21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Observation

In Chapter 5, Jesus called out the Pharisees for the legalistic religion.  In this chapter, he warns His disciples against their hypocrisy and worldly-mindedness.  Verse 21 is preceded by vs. 19 and 20 that specifically warn not to store up treasures on earth but in heaven. 

Understanding

Writing from New York today.  Always grateful to get away from my normal day to day; and having the “space” often gives me a sense of refreshing, new perspective and reminds me of what’s important in life – what my treasure is.  [If you ever wonder where your treasure truly lies, look at where you are spending the most time and money. :)] 

When I travel I always miss my home church – all your beautiful faces!  But I had the opportunity to attend a Hillsong church in Manhattan.  My experience in New York before has been that maybe people were too distracted to pursue God.  I had attended churches before and always felt that His Spirit was missing.  But not so this time.  It was beautiful to see the venue fill up, to hear the voices of so many crying out to God, to hear of the vision that they have for New York and around the world…and it was a reconnection and continued confirmation of where God has called me to.

You see, I don’t think “our treasure” is necessarily coincidental or by our choice.  Of course, more relevant to the passage, we have the ability to choose our treasure – things that we prioritize before God; but when it comes to the treasure we are to store up in heaven, the ways that we pursue that and “store it up” comes in different avenues.  I know part of my heavenly treasure comes from the heart that God’s placed in me to give back, to help others, to travel…not for my gain (because those trips are never quite as fulfilling) but for the kingdom.  And I’m grateful that God continues to redirect and reaffirm that. 

Life Application

God, may we take time today to think of where our treasure is…not where we think it is but to take time to really evaluate what we are pursuing and where we are storing up our “treasure.”  May it be in and of you…that our heart would rest in the calling you’ve placed on our lives.  Guide us, direct us, affirm and reaffirm….give us boldness to live it out and grace when we fall short.  May we see your kingdom come – in ways big and small as we seek to live for You.

In your name, I pray…Amen.

– Rei

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Genesis_5

Scripture
Genesis 5:24
Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.
 
Observation – What does it say?
Enoch is mentioned in the bible only a handful of times. We know he is in the line of Jesus (Luke 3:37). We also know that he was a prophet (Jude 14). Most importantly we know that Enoch was a man of great faith (Hebrews 11:5). We learn here in Genesis that he walked with God and was taken up by God, that he never died. In the bible, when someone walks with God, it denotes an intimate relationship with God. Other characters that we know “walked with God” include Noah, Abraham, and Isaac.
 
Understanding – What does it mean?
Last year, I went on a backpacking trip with my friend Josh. We went to a place called the Golden Trout Wilderness outside of Lone Pine. This trip included a lot of walking, something like ten miles a day with lots of elevation gain. It was fairly grueling for me. But it was a good chance for me to grow my relationship with my friend, specially since I was dependent on him for directions and we had to depend on each other for safety.
Britt Merrick, an author and pastor, says that walking with someone requires three things: An agreed upon place, an agreed upon path, and an agreed upon pace. When we walk with God, we are surrendering ourselves to His place, His path, and His pace. Merrick writes further, in his book Big God, “So to walk with God, the Christian needs to be concerned with things that are consistent with the character of God and the plan of God.” Walking with God in this way requires intimacy.
One thing I have learned through backpacking is how much “fluff” I have in my life. When you are backpacking, there is a need to take the essentials for survival and not much more. You carry your food, water, and shelter in a bag that is attached to your back; it doesn’t really give you any room for fluff. God has asked of us something similar in our spiritual lives. After talking about Enoch’s faith, the author of Hebrews continues by giving us an example of this. Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith…”
 
Life Application
Jesus, I know that I get so easily distracted by so many other things in my life. I let my pride get in the way of what you are doing, and want to do through me. Help me to strip away the things that you don’t want, in exchange for the goodness you have in store for me.
 
– Tyler Galloway
 
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