Journal Entries
Every weekday you will find a journal entry here from someone different in our church family. 
 
Click the scripture title and scroll down to see a comments section where you can ask questions, share insights and post your own SOUL Journal entry for the day!
 

Revelation 5

Scripture  

Revelation 5:4-5 

Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it; and one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.”

 

Observation-What does it say? 

The book with the seven seals is representative of seven plagues, which will be described in chapter six.  The only one strong enough to open the book is proclaimed to be the Lion of Judah.  This is a Messianic title, which originates in Genesis 49.  Judah was Joseph’s brother, the one who thought it would be a great idea to sell him into slavery.  Twenty years later, when all of the sons of Jacob travel to Egypt looking for food, Judah becomes the pledge of safety for Benjamin, the son of Rachel and only full brother of Joseph.  Joseph, having recognized his brothers, put them to the test to see if they were willing to abandon Benjamin, as they had to him.  But, upon seeing how readily Judah was willing to become a slave to save his brother, Joseph lavishes them with gifts, knowing their hearts had changed.  In a similar fashion to the relationship of Melchizedek, Jesus is compared to Judah in his willingness to sacrifice himself.  Through his sacrifice he is able to overcome the world.

 

Understanding-What does it mean? 

Ask anyone who knew me when I was a kid and they will tell you I was not a model student.  I hated school and I don’t think it liked me much either.  I was easily distracted, overly social, fidgety and had way too much energy.  I would also daydream and doodle a lot.  Not to mention, my teachers didn’t know what to do with me and gave me the impression that I wouldn’t amount to much.  I failed classes, barely passed classes and had trouble retaining information.  To top it off, my brother was nearly a genius and scored 1460 on his SAT.  

But, as things go, I changed over time.  In my thirties, I learned how to be a student.  I learned that discipline and willingness to sacrifice a little of my time and a little of my fun meant I could accomplish something a little better.  As I approach the end of my college education at 36 (I’m on the 18 year plan), I am a little closer to the top of my class with a 3.88 GPA.  But, it took sacrifice, a lot of sacrifice to get there.

Like Judah, we all have the ability to change.  Our change, though, requires us to sacrifice.  To let go of our old self, and take hold of the new person we can be through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!   All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”(2 Corinthians 5:17-19)  Furthermore, when we accept this change through the free gift of grace, we have been adopted as sons and daughters of the King (Ephesians 1:3-14).  Beyond that, because of His ability to overcome, as displayed in Revelation, we have security for the future, in spite of how bad things get.  We have the authority to be bold and courageous like Joshua when he entered the promised land (Joshua 1:7-9).

 

Life Application

Holy Spirit, I ask that you help me with my confidence in you.  Remind me daily of your ability to overcome the enemy.  Thank you for your acceptance of me as your son.  

-Tyler Galloway


Psalm_108

 

Scripture – What stood out?

Psalm 108 

1 My heart, O God, is steadfast;

    I will sing and make music with all my soul.

2 Awake, harp and lyre!

    I will awaken the dawn.

3 I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;

    I will sing of you among the peoples.

 

Observation – What does it say?

David figuratively tells his instruments to wake up so that together they can wake up the morning sun. How? By praising and exalting God to start the day. His heart for God was so steady and true. That desire to praise him remained such a constant throughout his day and consequently his life.

 

David knew that it was not humans who gave him victories. It was God. He was able to consistently make this a principle inside his heart. I wonder if he remained so consistent!

Understanding – What does it mean?

With the emotional ups and down of life, I marvel at King David’s ability to persistently pursue and praise God. No matter what. Not only praise God, but to sing His praises. Maybe it is because I am not much of a musician but I find this so hard to relate to! When I feel dead inside, and I feel dead inside a lot…I think the hardest thing for me to do is have any sort of emotional connection with, anything. 

 

It’s so easy to sing to God when I’m happy. Lord, I want to be able to sing to You, no matter what.

 

Life Application How can I apply this to my life today?

I want to start my day tomorrow praising God. Just like King David used to. Then I want to praise God. Because God is worthy to be praised. In all things. Under all circumstances. No matter how I feel.

Holy Spirit, I ask that you give me the ability to praise God, no matter what I am going through, no matter what I am feeling, no matter how dead I feel inside. Show me how to sing unto the Lord through all and in all. In the name of Jesus do I pray. Amen.

 

-kenneth lee

 



Psalm 107

Scripture

Psalm 107: 13-14

Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains.
 

Observation

This psalmist begins the chapter by saying that we should give thanks to Lord because of His goodness and mercy. Then they go into detail about different accounts of people who experienced the goodness of God. They talk about prisoners suffering in chains, yet when they called God answered, and more than that He broke away their chains.
 

Understanding

God answers us every single time.

I have always said that the love of God is so great because it has a response. God didn’t just say “I love you and want what is best for you,” instead he modeled what He wanted for us, and He then had His son pay the ultimate price for us. I think these verses solidify that notion. When we cry out to God, not matter what we have done, He does this amazing thing: HE ANSWERS! More than just that too, He breaks the shackles that bounded us to our sin. That’s the picture I got when I read this today, the chains breaking off, the clang as they hit the ground, and the realization of the fact that you are free! But here’s where I stopped today:

What then is my response?

I have been set free, not just to be imprisoned again. Don’t get me wrong, there are times that I still make mistakes and cry out for forgiveness (and God answers), but that shouldn’t be what I fall back on. I should be living a life free forever! Also, I should be trying to take as many “prisoners” with me as possible. I understand that I can’t break their chains for them, only God can do that, but I can remind others that God is so real! He is someone who longs to answer when we call. In fact, He eagerly awaits to break our chains, all we have to do is cry out.
 

Life Application

So how exactly do we live a life worthy of being set free? It is already laid out for us in Jesus’ life, all we have to do is try our best to live like Christ in everything that we do. I know it seems daunting, but here is the good news: if we find ourselves in distress all we have to do is call on God. He answers, maybe not in the way we expect, but nonetheless every time. So rid of your shackles because victory is ours!

-Allison Khan


Psalm 106

 

Scripture
 

Psalm 106:13-15-

 

13 But they soon forgot what he had done

    and did not wait for his plan to unfold.

14 In the desert they gave in to their craving;

    in the wilderness they put God to the test.

15 So he gave them what they asked for,

    but sent a wasting disease among them.

 

Observation-What does it say? 

Here’s a breakdown of this Psalm from Matthew Henry commentary (Christianity.com): The happiness of God’s people. (1-5) Israel’s sins. (6-12) Their provocations. (13-33) Their rebellions in Canaan. (34-46) Prayer for more complete deliverance. (47, 48)

 

Understanding-What does it mean?

Even through everything God had done for them, Israel forgot, went back to their rebellion, God gave them over to their desires and they suffered the consequences of it. 

 

Life Application

Don’t forget the faithfulness of the Lord. Actively wait for Him!

It’s very easy to experience the goodness of God throughout our lives (such as His protection, provision and grace), but then easily forget when put in situations where our faith is tested. This Psalm starts off with praise to God and His goodness, but then a complete turnaround as Israel forgot and went back to their old ways of thinking because they got tired of waiting for Him. Here’s a few Scriptures that encourage me when I get tired of waiting on the Lord.

Gal. 6:9- And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

Ps. 69:3 I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God.

James 5:7-Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.

Lamentations 3:25-The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.

Psalm 27:14-Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

Isaiah 40:31 But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Ps. 130:5-6 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.

Dear Lord, please help us to actively wait on You. Your timing is not our timing. When continual trials hit and we go through the wilderness like Israel did, it’s very tempting to go back to our old ways because the waiting period is hard. I pray that we would continue to persevere, remember Your faithfulness in the past, and hold tight to You and the promises in Your Word. Amen. 

 

-Michelle Gaddi



Ezekiel_25

Scripture

Ezekiel 25:3-4

3 Say to them, ‘Hear the word of the Sovereign Lord. This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because you said “Aha!” over my sanctuary when it was desecrated and over the land of Israel when it was laid waste and over the people of Judah when they went into exile, 4 therefore I am going to give you to the people of the East as a possession. 

 

Observation – What does it say?

God executed his judgment on his people for their sin and idolatry. Their Ammonite neighbors watched down their noses as the people of Judah were carried off into exile. And, rather than feeling any sense of compassion, they laughed and mocked at Judah’s misfortune. As a result, God was now bringing judgement against Ammon.

 

Understanding – What does it mean?

Do you ever find yourself lacking compassion?

This convicted me this morning particularly in regards to my kids. I’ll often lack compassion. For example, I’ll ask my son not to jump on the couch and he jumps anyway and hits his head. He doesn’t usually get from me a, “Oh bud, I’m so sorry. Are you ok?” More like a, “I told you not to! That’s what you get.” And after a few seconds, “You alright?” I could definitely use a shift from being a bit less like Ammon and a bit more like Jesus.

Don’t make fun of people’s misfortune, even if they deserve it.

Even though Judah deserved it, from God’s perspective it didn’t give the Ammonites the right to mock and rub it in.

In Psalm 1, the godly, successful man is contrasted against the man who “sits in the seat of mockers.”

James 3:9-10 9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.

Jesus spoke of those who will be rewarded and said, “I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ (Matthew 26:36) Then he clarified, “…whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

In other words, following Jesus is about bringing your sick co-worker a meal rather than saying, “I’ve been telling them to take better care of themselves.” It’s about visiting those in prison rather than saying, “They committed the crime and deserve to be in there.”  And it’s about offering something to the cardboard sign holder on the corner rather than rolling up the window and making a judgmental comment. 

 

Life Application

God, forgive my lack of compassion! May we be people who are quicker to love than to judge, quicker to help than to laugh! Make us more like you. Amen.

– Levi Thompson



Psalm 104

Scripture  

Psalm 104:31-33 

 

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works; He looks at the earth, and it trembles; He touches the mountains, and they smoke.  I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.

 

Observation-What does it say? 

This psalm is a hymn to the creator.  The author uses the story of creation to demonstrate the glory of God, using the earth as a vision of God’s glory.  “The poem contains a complete cosmos sea and land, cloud and sunlight, plant and animal, light and darkness, life and death, are all proved to be expressive of the presence of the Lord”(Spurgeon).  Using the imagery of earth, we get an understanding of God as the sustainer of life.  All of His creation depend on His unfailing goodness and provision for life itself.  Contemplating on His creation helps us to gain perspective on His glory, so we can praise him properly.  

 

Understanding-What does it mean? 

As a kid, my favorite part of the year was summer.  Though it had little to do with being out of school.  Well, maybe that was some of it.  But, my love of summer really revolved around summer camp.  I started going to our church’s summer camp pretty young, I think my first time to summer camp was when I was seven, just after finishing the first grade.  It was the first time I can remember seeing the forest, or having a bonfire.  But what was most important and impactful on my life was the ability to connect with God, which is what drew me back every year.  And that was the whole idea of summer camp, getting out of our normal routine, into a beautiful setting, with the intention of worshiping Jesus.  

As I got into high school, winter camp became an option as well.  MIND BLOWN!!!  I was like, “You mean I get to go to the mountains, in the snow, and worship God  in the winter?”  I didn’t know what part of the year was my favorite anymore.  While times have changed, and camps are a fading trend, I still find I have a need to get out into the wilderness to reorient my perspective.  I love to hike and mountain bike.  These moments in the woods and desert, having the time to look at God’s creation, helps me to remember how powerful He is and of the beauty of his wisdom.  

We live in a culture that doesn’t encourage rest.  Phrases like “time is money” and “you can sleep when you’re dead” encourage us to be working continually.  Which draws us to focus on problems.  When we take time away to gain perspective, we can focus on the bigger picture and the solution.  Jesus being the ultimate solution to life.  Jesus himself retreated for times of prayer.  In Matthew 14, Mark 6 and Luke 6, we see an example of Jesus drawing away to gain perspective and, most importantly, meet with the Father.  

 
Life Application 
 
Holy Spirit, help me to have an attitude like Jesus (Philippians 2:5-11).  Help me to gain perspective when I can.  Most of all, help me to worship God because he is the creator and sustainer of my life.  It is only from this perspective that all the hard things in life can have meaning.     
 
-Tyler Galloway




Psalm__103

Scripture – What stood out?

Psalm 103

8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious,

    slow to anger, abounding in love.

9 He will not always accuse,

    nor will he harbor his anger forever;

10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve

    or repay us according to our iniquities.

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

    so great is his love for those who fear him;

12 as far as the east is from the west,

    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

 

Observation – What does it say?

Another beautiful psalm of David. This psalm reveals the counterpart to God’s Wrath – His Compassion. I have read the old testament many times now and here is a verse that has always stuck to me, Deuteronomy 5:9 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,”

But in psalm 103 we find the counter measure to that in verse 17 “But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children-”

 

Understanding – What does it mean?

Author Lois Tverberg, in her book Reading The Bible With Rabbi Jesus writes:

 

Our English word fear narrowly focuses on being afraid. To us, fear is the opposite of trust and is synonymous with worry, dread, or fright. But yirah encompasses a much wider range of meanings from negative (dread, terror) to positive (worship, reverence) and from mild (respect) to strong (awe). Whenever you read “revere” or “reverence” in your bible, the word yirah is most likely behind it.

 

What a wonderful explanation for the word fear in psalm 103:11, and 17. My whole life I have interpreted the english bible’s interpretation of the fear of the Lord one and only one way, and that was the “tremble in dread and terror” definition. But here we read that the same root word for fear in hebrew was also used to mean reverence and awe

Doesn’t that open up a totally different perspective? The picture of God I have in these verses is no longer the angry, terrifying destroyer of men, who instills fear but instead it is that of a Holy and Just God who is capable of applying both justice and mercy who instills reverence and awe. And what does God do to those who revere him with awe – he loves them…with a love so great says David. He does not treat us as our sins, as our bad decisions, as our bad desires deserve. Instead he removes our transgressions. He removes our trespasses from His ledgers, from the column that reads “must pay in full for the wrongs you committed this time and that time and that time”.

 

Life Application How can I apply this to my life today?

I would like to be somebody who reveres you with awe Father God. Teach me how to do that appropriately given my own limitations Father God. Show me what it is to have a healthy fear of You. Perhaps it is similar to the fear a man has of his 64 year old, 115 lb, immigrant mother that he outweighs by over 150 lbs. Perhaps not. Show me how to properly revere You, Lord, so that my children’s children would be faithful recipients of Your Love and Your Righteousness.

What can I do to increase or to work on my healthy fear of the Lord today? Father I will try my best not to use Your name in vain today. That is one small way I can begin to improve on developing a reverence for You! Love You Lord.

 

-kenneth lee

 



2 John__1

Scripture

2 John‬ ‭1:5-6

‬ ‭

“I am writing to remind you, dear friends, that we should love one another. This is not a new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning. Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning.”

 

Observation-What does it say?
 
In this second epistle, John is writing to the church, reminding them to be mindful in three things:
 
Discernment: The church needed the ability to separate the truth and error when it came to false teachings.
 
Love: According to John no one can claim to love Christ or His church and then not walk faithfully in the truth. Love and truth distinguish God’s people from those who do not belong to Him.
 
Hospitality: The apostles Peter and John both agreed that hospitality is the Christian’s duty and joy, as well as an act of love (1 Peter 4:8-9). But John in this chapter reminds the church that hospitality does have boundaries. God’s people must not welcome, accept, associate with, or support anything or anyone who undermines the truth of the gospel (2 John 1:9-11).
 
Understanding-What does it mean?
 
The power of love.
 
No!..I’m not talking about the song by Huey Luis and the News from the 80’s movie, Back to the Future.😆 I am talking about God’s love. Let’s put it this way, Jesus simplified following the entire Ten Commandments by doing these two things that involve love.
 
“Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.””-(Matthew‬ ‭22:37-40)
 
So as you can see, love is the foundation of what we are to do as Christ Followers: My love for God, and my love for my fellow man. It really sounds quite simple. But keep in mind, Jesus calls us to love the unlovable and even calls us to love our enemies. So it can be quite challenging at times. But it’s through our love for one another, that people, especially non believers, can experience God and His love first hand.
 
Life Application
 
God is love.
 
Because God is love and we are His children, we are an extension of His love when we go out into the world and love one another. So let’s go out into this dark world right now and share God’s love. Buy someone in need a gift card, send someone an encouraging text, give someone a helping hand, or let someone know that they are loved. Let people see the light and hope in His people, so that they too, can yearn for that love and experience in their lives as well.😊
 
“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”-‭‭John‬ ‭13:35
 
-Moses Gaddi
 


1 John_5

Scripture

1 John 5:4-5 NLT

“For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.”

 

Observation-What does it say?

John presents the true foundation to see if one is a true Christ Follower. First they must believe that Jesus is the Christ and is born of God (vs. 1). Next, they must be living lives loving one another and keeping God’s commandments (vs. 1-3). Finally, they must be continually walking with God, overcoming any obstacles that may come their way because of their faith in Christ Jesus (vs. 4-5).

 

Understanding-What does it mean?

Jesus already secured the victory for us, but are we secured in Jesus?

This passage is a great reminder for me that I am a child of God, and as a child of God, I have to live my life according to His standards and not this world’s standards. It reminds me that I have a responsibility to show the same love towards others, the same way Jesus showed me when He died for my sins. Finally, it reminds me that the One I put my faith and trust in, is the One who will help me overcome this world and all its pitfalls.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”John 3:16 NIV

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NLT

 

Life Application

Seek someone in life who you know that can benefit from hearing the good news; The good news of overcoming this evil world as long as they put their faith in Jesus!

Father God, give me direction to whom you would like me to share the good news with today. Help me to live the life of a Christ Follower that John describes in this passage. Help me to show the love that You have shown me to others around me. May they see Your light shine through me, and may it lead them towards a life with You. May it give them a new strength and hope knowing that their faith in You can help them overcome anything in this world. In Your name Jesus, Amen.

-Moses Gaddi



Ezekiel_20

Scripture

Ezekiel 20:11

I gave them my statutes and made known to them my rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live.

 

Observation – What does it say?

Ezekiel is in the middle of declaring these prophetic parables about what Israel has been like. He depicts Israel as a burnt useless stick, a rebellious wife, a dangerous lion that has been captured and then as two promiscuous sisters. As he paints these various pictures of Israel, he pauses at times, one of which is here in chapter 20, to argue that the judgment coming on Israel is deserved. Here, God explains through Ezekiel how he rescued his chosen people even though they rebelled against him. And, after rescuing them he gave them his commands. Yet they only continued to rebel.

 

Understanding – What does it mean?

What hit me in this verse is the reason God gave his people commands and ‘rules.’

The words ‘rule’ and ‘command’ have such negative connotations in our culture today. There is a lie that if we follow God’s commands we’re going to be restricted and kept from what’s truly going to make us happiest. But here, the truth is revealed.

Rules and commands aren’t designed to keep us from really living, but rather, to enable us to live life to its fullest!

This must be why David said things like this:

Psalm 19:7-8 The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul… The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.

Psalm 119:97-98 Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.

Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies.

[side note: Because we could never follow all God’s commands perfectly and therefore all sin, God sent his Son to die for our sins so that by believing in him we could receive the life we could never earn. Under the New Covenant, under grace, we don’t follow God’s commands in order to earn salvation or life, but as a loving response to the salvation and life we’ve already received.]

 

Life Application

Joyfully follow God’s commands. Understanding it will result in a much richer, fuller, God-glorifying life!

God, thank you so much for your commands! Thank you for blessing us with your word that instructs us in how we are to live. The essence of being a Christian is learning to obey all you have commanded us to do. And we know that the Christian life, though not always easy, is filled with joy and fulfillment! May we obey you, even when it’s hard, knowing that our obedience is what will lead to a richer and fuller life with you. Amen.

– Levi Thompson