Bible Reading Plan
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Weekends: Read any passages of your choice or catch up if you’ve fallen behind 🙂

 
 
 
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How To Soul Journal
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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!
 

Exodus 23

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Scripture

Exodus 23:19

“Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the Lord your God.

Observation – What does it say?

In the midst of all God’s commands the Israelites, he gives them specific instructions for observing 3 different annual festivals. Each festival is to celebrate God’s goodness and faithfulness to them – remembering how he delivered them from Egypt, celebrating the beginning of the harvest that year and giving thanks at the end of the year for all the crops God blessed them with. At each they would bring animal sacrifices and offerings from their crops to offer to God.

In regards to the offerings from their crops, God gives them this command to bring him the best of their firstfruits.

Understanding – What does it mean?

God wants his people’s best and first.

God didn’t want his people’s leftovers. God had given them everything! Anything he asked them to give back to him was completely justified because he was the one who blessed them with it to begin with.These festivals and offerings served as reminders to themselves that God was the provider of every good thing they had. God didn’t want the fruit that had ripened prematurely and was rotten or the vegetables that had been half-eaten by worms. He wanted not only the first of what his people harvested, but the best.

As I read this, it hit me that God gave us his best and first. More accurately, he gave us his best and only. Offered on our behalf was God’s one and only begotten Son, when none of us deserved it (John 3:16; Romans 5:8). The difference when we give God our best and first is that he fully deserves it!

Although we are under the new covenant and aren’t required to observe these feasts and to give the best and first of what comes out of the garden in our backyard, God still desires our best and first in every area. He desires we give him the best and first of our time, of our increase financially, of our talent, etc. Once again, when we give we are giving back to God because all we have is his to begin with.

Life Application

Give God my best!

God, forgive me for the times I try to give you my leftovers. I don’t want to wait to spend time with you each day until late at night when I’m exhausted and falling asleep. I don’t want to wait to give to you of my finances (which really aren’t mine but yours anyway!) until the end of the month if I have anything left over. God, make us a church that is passionate about giving you our best and our first in every area of our lives. You deserve it! Thank you for giving us your best and only. We love you! Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Exodus 22

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Scripture

Exodus 22:21

“Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.”

Observation – What does it say?

God is giving his people laws and commands to live by. As he desires his holy people, his chosen nation whom he brought out of Egypt, to live a certain way. These aren’t arbitrary or random commands, but they each boil down to loving God and each other. In verse 21, he gives them the specific command not to mistreat anyone who is a foreigner because they were once foreigners.

Understanding – What does it mean?

When God’s people remember where they were when God rescued them, it should cause them to treat people differently.

When God saves us we experience new life and things begin to change. We begin to desire God more than the things we used to, we begin replacing our old Friday night activities with new ones, we let go of old relationships in order to form new relationships with God’s people, etc. Everything changes as God transforms us more into the image of Jesus. It’s a wonderful thing! But with that change comes a natural separation from our old life and often times the people that were a part of it.  The more God transforms us and the farther removed we become from our old life, the easier it becomes to separate ourselves from the world and eventually, if we aren’t careful, we’ll find ourselves looking down our noses at those still living in sin.

When we would look down upon someone who doesn’t have God in their life, God would remind us, “Don’t forget that used to be you! Your sin may have looked different, but you weren’t any better than them when I found you and rescued you! So be compassionate, don’t mistreat them. Don’t oppress them. Instead, do what I did for you. Have compassion on them, serve them, love them, and seek to save their soul by introducing them into saving relationship with me.”

Life Application

When I see someone who is living in sin, rather than judging them, remember where I was when God saved me, and find a way to love them! Specifically those on my PII card – pray for, invest in and invite them to DSC and into relationship with Jesus.

God, thank you for saving me! May I never lose sight of where I was when you rescued me. Fill us with compassion for the lost. Give us more of your heart for them and make us a church without walls. A church that doesn’t hide out in our little bubble together, but who loves and serves those who don’t know you and invites them into personal relationship with you. Amen.

To check out the discussion or to join in click here.



Exodus 21

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Scripture

Exodus 21:15,17

15 “Anyone who attacks their father or mother is to be put to death.

17 “Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.

Observation – What does it say?

God is giving his commands to the Israelites outlining the way he desires his people to live. Part of his instruction is to kill anyone who attacks or curses their father or mother. The most significant thing I observed reading it this time is that there is no age cut off for honoring our parents.

Understanding – What does it mean?

God is passionate about his people honoring their parents.

Thankfully we are under the new covenant and don’t kill rebellious children anymore, otherwise I wouldn’t be here today… And my son might not be either. But our unchanging God isn’t any less serious about us honoring our parents today than when he gave this command.

Jesus called out the religious leaders who were using the excuse that they were giving to God so they couldn’t give to support their parents. Then the Apostle Paul reminded the Ephesian church…

Ephesians 6:1-3

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

There is no “when you turn 18” clause under that command. Honoring our parents is the command whether we are 4 years old or 40+ years old. Yet in our American culture youth are taught, and it’s enforced by their parents, that parents are responsible for their kids only until they are 18 and we only have to honor our parents until we are 18. “Come 18, I’m going to get that tattoo and date that girl because my parents wont be able to tell me what to do anymore.” The tragedy is that this is the common way of thinking not just for unbelievers but for most of the Christians I know!

Although there comes a time where children become adults and begin having to take full responsibility for their lives and decisions, adulthood doesn’t mean we do what we want and God no longer cares about us honoring our parents. Before we are 18 we honor and obey because we have to, but after we have the opportunity to honor and obey because we want to and see it as an opportunity to honor God.

Life Application

Regardless of my age, honor my parents!

Holy Spirit, show us what it looks like to honor our parents in this present season of our lives. Please reveal to us the ways we’ve allowed our culture to press us into its mold. Reveal any ways I haven’t been honoring to my parents and help me to change. I want to honor you by honoring them. Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Exodus 20

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Scripture

Exodus 20:21

The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.

Observation – What does it say?

I wish I could have been there to see this! As the Israelites gathered around the foot of Mt. Sinai, God descended in the form of a thick cloud on top of the mountain. There was thunder and lightning and a loud trumpet blast. Then God spoke from the mountain all the 10 Commandments. After speaking to them, the people were terrified and asked Moses to tell God to stop talking. Fearful, they stayed at a distance but Moses approached God.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Those God uses in significant ways are the ones who don’t stay at a distance!

In Israel’s case, they were actually commanded to stay at a distance. Fear was part of the reason they didn’t step closer, and the other was obedience to God’s command. Moses was the only one permitted to approach God on the mountain. But today, every Christian has been given unlimited access to the throne of God! God invites every believer to draw near to him.

Hebrews 4:16

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Under the New Covenant, everyone can approach God with confidence! Yet we still see the same thing among Christians today as in Israel thousands of years ago. The majority, whether by preference or some other reason, stay at a distance – Sunday morning Christians, those who look to check religious activity boxes in attempt to stay on God’s good side, those who don’t really strive to enjoy him, know him and please him every moment of every day. But the few who will approach God and pursue intimacy with him are the ones who, like Moses, are used by God to reveal his power and glory to the world. Those who prefer drawing near to God than any other thing are the ones who will change their generation for Christ.
I don’t want to be satisfied remaining at a distance. It may feel safer and more comfortable to watch on the perimeter, but even if everyone else stays at a distance I want to be closer to God!

Life Application

Go after God!

God, may we at Desert Streams be like Moses. Even if everyone else is content being at a distance, may we be ones that approach you! We want more of you, whatever it costs! Keep us from waiting for someone else to pioneer the way. May we make up our minds to be the pioneers, to set the example and show others what it looks like to seek you and abide in you. Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Exodus 19

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Scripture

Exodus 19:3,17

Then Moses went up to God…

17 Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God…

Observation – What does it say?

Moses, although he just set up a system delegating his governing authority to a set of judges, Moses is still the sole spiritual leader of Israel. He is the people’s representative to God and the channel of Gods wisdom to the people. And as the spiritual leader, Moses had his own relationship with God but also facilitated God encounters for the people he led.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Effective spiritual leadership is characterized by pursuing personal relationship with God and then helping others experience God for themselves.

Effective spiritual leadership begins with pursuing God myself. My mother-in-law often calls on me for help with her computer. But unless I’ve spent time with a computer and learned how to use it myself, I’m going to be useless to her. It will be the blind leading the blind. In the same way, I can’t teach people about a God I haven’t really spent time with and am unfamiliar with. Jesus called these kind of people blind guides.

But having a great relationship with God isn’t enough to be called a leader. If I spend day and night on the computer and know everything about it, it doesn’t benefit my mother-in-law in the slightest unless I share my knowledge and experience and show her how to use it for herself. In the same way, I am not really a leader until I’m actually leading others into knowing and experiencing God for themselves. Want to know of you’re a leader? Look behind you. You may be pursuing God, but who are you bringing with you?

The Apostle Paul shared Jesus’ purpose for every kind of Christian leader:

Ephesians 4:

11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Christianity isn’t about a few super spiritual people who do all the ministry and who have a relationship with God for the rest. It’s all about equipping each other for ministry, building each other up so we reach unity in the faith. In the heart of every Christian should be the desire to know God more and to bring others with us.

Life Application

Keep pursuing God myself! The more I experience of him, the more I’ll have to share with others.

Look for opportunities to encourage and lead others in pursuing their own relationship with God.

God, reveal yourself to us! Give us a heart to seek you and to know you more. And as you we experience more of you, use us to lead others into having similar experiences of their own. Amen.

To check out the discussion or to join in click here.



Exodus 18

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Scripture

Exodus 18:4

and the other was named Eliezer, for he said, “My father’s God was my helper; he saved me from the sword of Pharaoh.”

Observation – What does it say?

Moses had named his son Eliezer, which means God is my helper. He named him that because he experienced firsthand that the God of his father had become his own personal helper.

Understanding – What does it mean?

When I read the phrase “my father’s God was my helper,” I experienced 2 desires stir up within me:

“my father’s God…”

  1. I want my children to see who my God is. The truth is that they will see who my God is. Some people will notice that their father’s god is alcohol or money or football or _______. It becomes obvious who or what our parents serve. I long for my children to see that Jesus is my God! I want them to see that I am consumed with, in love with, and devoted to, the Lord!

“…was my helper.”

  1. I want my children to experience God as their own helper. Moses had experienced his father’s God first hand and his father’s God had become his own. God has changed my life and I have chosen to serve him. He has encountered me and transformed me from the inside out, filled me with purpose and joy, and revealed himself as my provider, protector, healer and helper. I long for my children to experience God the same way!

Life Application

Set a godly example for my kids.

Pray for them to know God as I do.

God, thank you for my parents! Thank you for their example and that they have always encouraged me to seek and know you for myself. I can say as Moses did, “my father’s God has become my helper.” May my children someday say the same! You are my God and have been my helper. Please bless my children to know you as their God and as their helper. Help me to set a good example for them and to raise them to know and love you. Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Exodus 17

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Scripture

Exodus 17:7

And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the Lord saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

Observation – What does it say?

Once again, almost immediately after God reveals his love to Israel through miraculously providing food for them in the wilderness, Israel is quick to move on to the next issue and complain. This time they are thirsty and have the nerve to test the Lord and doubt his very presence among them. And yet, God was merciful and miraculously provided water out of a rock.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Don’t put the Lord to the test or doubt his presence!

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians about this very time Israel drank from the rock in the wilderness.

1 Corinthians 10:3-6

They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.

Although God still provided them with water, it wasn’t evidence that he approved of them. Verse 5 says God was not pleased with most of them. And verse 6 tells us what we should do in response to reading this passage in Exodus. Namely, that we should learn from their example and not set our hearts on evil things.

I believe the God honoring thing to do, the opposite of Israel’s example, would be to thank God for what he’s done and to trust him!

Life Application

Be thankful and trust God’s presence with us!

When difficulty comes, I choose to remind myself of the ways God has proved his love for me in the past. I choose to be thankful and I choose to trust him. The areas the Holy Spirit seems to be bringing to mind specifically are my finances and my children’s health and safety.

God, you’ve never given me reason to doubt your provision or your love for me or for my family. You’ve always cared for us, often in miraculous ways. Thank you! I put my trust in you to continue to provide for us, protect us and care for us. I know you love us. I know you are with us. And I rest in that today. Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Exodus 16

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Scripture

Exodus 16:3-4a

The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you.

Observation – What does it say?

The Israelites had just witnessed God split the Red Sea and deliver them from their enemies. They were worshiping God, singing and dancing before him. And in nearly no time, as they begin their journey into the wilderness, we find them complaining against God! They are whining about not having food to eat and saying things like, “Why didn’t the Lord just kill us in Egypt?” Ungrateful complainers.

Understanding – What does it mean?

As I read this it made me feel so upset. One of my pet peeves is when people are ungrateful. When I let a car go in front of me and they don’t wave or open the door for someone who doesn’t say thank you I get irritated. I can only imagine the irritation God has when he ‘goes out of his way’ (to say the least!) to miraculously deliver the Israelites from the hands of the Egyptians, and after a quick celebration they begin complaining against him!

But the way God responded floored me. He didn’t kill them. Instead, he responded to their complaints about not having food by promising to rain down bread from heaven for them to eat every day. Talk about unconditional love!

God is kind to the ungrateful. 

This is one of the most amazing things to me personally about God’s character. As I read this I couldn’t help but think of a verse in Luke:

Luke 6:35

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.

When we love our enemies and ‘go out of our way’ to show them our love, without expecting to get anything back, we are acting like our Father in Heaven.

Life Application

Worship God for his kindness to me!

And, love the ungrateful. Specifically I sense the Holy Spirit bringing to mind my son. He is a great kid, but I find myself annoyed when I see my wife or someone else trying to do something special for him and he complains. Rather than getting upset, I’m going to be intentional about loving him and being gentile with him.

God, forgive me for being a complainer! It’s easy to point the finger at the Israelites, but how often do you answer prayer and show me mercy and I fail to say thank you. So often I am so concerned with today’s challenges that I forget to stop and worship you for the way you’ve delivered me from yesterday’s. Thank you for being kind and merciful to us despite our ungratefulness! Help us to be more like you. Help us to be kind to the ungrateful and to love our enemies. Amen.

To check out the conversation or to join in click here.



Exodus 15

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Scripture

Exodus 15:20

 Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel (tambourine) in her hand, and all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing.

Observation – What does it say?

God delivered the Israelites from the Egyptians once and for all when he drowned them in the Red Sea. Filled with relief and joy at their deliverance, Aaron’s sister Miriam led them in singing and dancing to the Lord.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Because they’ve been delivered from their enemies, God’s people have reason to rejoice and worship!

The Israelites were saved from their Egyptian enemies who could enslave and kill them. God was with them and fought for them. And they sang, danced and praised God because of it.

How much more should we who are redeemed sing and dance and rejoice in the Lord, because he not only is present with us in a more personal and greater way than the Israelites (because we are temples of the Holy Spirit), but because he has defeated our ultimate enemy the Devil and freed us from his power and bondage! A gloomy Christian is a contradiction in terms, because Christians are those who have been set free and delivered from the enemy and who have new lives because they have put their faith in Christ. Anyone who recognizes that should be living in a constant state of rejoicing! If gloom or doom has been creeping in, it’s because we’ve lost sight of what God has done for us.

Philippians 4:4

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Life Application

Rejoice in the Lord today! Today, I will set aside some extra time to worship and praise him for what he’s done for me.

God, thank you for saving us! We worship you for fighting for us and for paying the price on the cross that we couldn’t pay. You’ve defeated the enemy once and for all and blessed us with a life of freedom and intimate relationship with you that will last forever! Remind us continually of what you’ve done for us and cause us to be a people who are grateful and who rejoice always in you. Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Exodus 14

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Scripture

Exodus 14:31

And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.

Observation – What does it say?

God parted the Red Sea through Moses’ obedience and the Israelites walked through on dry ground. And though the Egyptian army pursued them and were close enough for the Israelites to be alarmed, God saw that not one of them were harmed and that the enemy was completely destroyed. As a result, the Israelites feared God and trusted him and Moses.

Understanding – What does it mean?

When God moves in supernatural ways through his servant’s obedience, it causes people to fear and trust him.

All throughout the New Testament we see the same thing happen over and over again, from Martha rolling away the stone and seeing her brother raised from the dead and the observers put their faith in Jesus to 3,000 people who put their faith in Christ when they heard the apostles speaking in tongues and Peter obediently preached to them.

Today, we are desperate for God to reveal himself in supernatural ways that we may see many come to know him and put their faith in him. But just as he moved through Moses, through Jesus and through Paul, he chooses to move through his servants who will obey and give him the opportunity to move.

Life Application

Give God the opportunity to move!

This means responding to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Whether it’s to pray for the sick or handicapped, to deliver a prophetic word, or something else, it’s up to us to obey and give him the opportunity to move.
God, we want people to experience your power and to put their faith in you. It’s all about you Jesus. Glorify yourself through our obedience. Give us courage and faith to step out of our comfort zone. Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.