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!
 

Acts 28

Scripture

Acts 28:14

And so we came to Rome.

Observation – What does it say?

Yesterday we read in Acts 27 of God’s promise to Paul through an angel that Paul and his companions would make it to Rome. And, though it was a loooong and difficult journey, God was faithful to his promise. As they sailed they encountered many stops along the way, great storms and were even shipwrecked. Yet, they made it.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Although the journey may be filled with many obstacles and setbacks, God is faithful to bring us where he’s promised.

Many of us have had dreams, visions or prophetic words spoken over us that speak to our destiny and God’s purposes for our lives. And at different points in the journey we can feel stuck in the storms of life, we feel shipwrecked, and can often become discouraged and lose hope. “Ugh, I’m never going to make it!” It can be tempting to doubt God’s promises when we discover the road is rough.

However, looking at Paul’s story I am encouraged! Even when we feel stuck, individually or as a church family, it won’t last forever! God is faithful to fulfill all the dreams and promises he’s placed in our hearts.

It reminds me of Mark 4:35-41, when Jesus calmed the storm. It says, 35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.”
They encountered a life threatening storm on the way and everyone thought they were going to drown. But if Jesus says you’re going to the other side, you’re going to get to the other side!

Life Application

When storms, obstacles and setbacks come, don’t doubt! Have faith that God will see me through!

God, thank you so much for your faithfulness! You’ve never given us reason to doubt you. I know we can expect to have trouble in this life, but I thank you that we can also expect that you will see us through it. We take a moment today to remember the promises you’ve made us and we choose to believe you will fulfill every one. Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Acts 27

Scripture

Acts 27:20b, 23-24

20b…we finally gave up all hope of being saved.

23 Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me 24 and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’

Observation – What does it say?

On his way to Italy, Paul and some other prisoners found themselves stuck on a ship in the middle of a terrible storm. The storm lasted for days with no break in the clouds, and everyone onboard finally gave up all hope of being saved. Shortly after this, Paul shared with all the men onboard that God sent an angel in the middle of the night to him. And this angel encouraged Paul that because of God’s plans for Paul to stand before Caesar, God would surely spare his life and the lives of everyone on board.

Understanding – What does it mean?

God speaks words of hope into the darkest of situations.

During my senior year of high school, I found myself feeling hopeless about the future. I had made so many poor decisions, destroyed trust with my family members, was facing several potential felonies and was struggling with strong addictions. In the midst of all that, one day I got a package in the mail from my grandma. It had a circular wooden box inside. I opened it and inside it was empty except a little piece of paper folded in half. I pulled it out, unfolded it, and it had this verse written on it:

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and future.

As I read it, there seemed to be so much weight in each word. It felt as if God himself was speaking each word directly to my heart and I began to weep. The heavy weight of hopelessness lifted off my shoulders in that moment. In my darkest hour, God spoke hope and a great destiny over my life. And they weren’t just empty words! God has surely changed my life completely since that day and his good plans continue to unfold each day in my life!

Life Application

In the darkest situations, turn to God’s word for hope!

God, thank you for turning our bleak circumstances into something beautiful! Thank you for your love and mercy, and for your grace that has transformed my life. You are bigger than our mistakes. You are bigger than our poor decisions. You are bigger than our past. As we look ahead, we believe that you have great plans to give us a hope and a future. Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Acts 26

Scripture

Acts 26:28-29

Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” Paul replied, “Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”

Observation-What does it say?

As Paul was stating his case to King Agrippa and defending himself against the accusations of the Jews, he began to share his testimony. He shared who he was before, who He became after Jesus encountered him and what God had done to help Him as well as the mission He had called him to. He also shared his heart that all who were listening to him may become a servant of Christ as well.

Understanding-What does it mean?

God’s gift of salvation is meant to be shared with everyone. It is not meant to be a great personal experience to keep to ourselves.

Paul shared His testimony, but he not only focused on himself and who he was before Christ and who Christ changed Him to be, but He also shared in verse 23 that the Messiah suffered and resurrected from the grave. He shared the Gospel message with the council. It was not just a great experience that was reserved for himself alone, but it was open to those who were listening.

Life Application

When we share our testimony, we must remember to share His testimony, the Gospel message, as well.

Merely sharing our testimony and what Christ has done for “me”, is great, but if it doesn’t include an invitation for them to receive the Good News as well, typical responses would be, “Good for you” or “I’m glad you were able to get out of that situation” or “I’m glad that worked for you.” Jesus’ testimony is the only one that can save people. Our testimony supports and proves that who He says He is is true in our lives, however, without the power of HIS testimony of His death, burial and resurrection (and why it all had to happen), it will be harder for them to become what we are. Paul desired that all who were listening would become as he was. That should be our desire too.

Dear Jesus, please give us the courage and a burdened heart for the lost to share our testimony AND Your testimony with them. Please give us the same love for them that You had for us when You brought us into the family. We desire hearts to be turned completely over to You. Amen. To check out the discussion or join in click here.

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Acts 25

Scripture

Acts 25:12

12 After Festus had conferred with his council, he declared: “You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go!”

Observation – What does it say?

Paul went from testifying before the Jewish leaders, to testifying before the commander, to testifying before Governor Felix, to testifying before King Agrippa, and now is looking to testify before Caesar!

Understanding – What does it mean?

With each opportunity, Paul was a good steward. He took advantage of every opportunity to share the gospel and didn’t back down. And as a result, God continued to entrust him with more and to increase his influence. God gave him favor to share the gospel with government officials and kings, and now was sending him on what would be an incredible journey to Rome where he would get to share with many more people along the way and many people once he got there.

Those who are faithful with little will be entrusted with much.

In a parable Jesus told about stewardship, the master said to one of the servants, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ (Matthew 25:21)

If you want God to increase your influence and kingdom impact, be a good steward of the influence you currently have. Good stewardship is the key to increase!

Life Application

Make the most of every opportunity to be used by God where he’s placed me right now.

God, may we be good stewards of the influence and relationships you’ve currently given us. Give us boldness to share with the 1 or 2 people in front of us who don’t know you, courage to disciple the few people you’ve placed us in relationship with in our church family. May we be faithful with what we have so that we may be entrusted with more. Lead us into increase. Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Acts 24

Scripture

Acts 24:14

However, I admit that I worship the God of our ancestors as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect.

Observation – What does it say?

After news came to the commander that more than 40 men had taken an oath to not eat or drink until they had killed Paul, the commander had Paul transferred to Governor Felix in Caesarea under the protection of 470 soldiers, horsemen and spearmen. The high priest and elders followed to bring charges against Paul before Felix. When Felix gave Paul the opportunity to speak and defend himself, Paul used this opportunity to share the gospel.

Understanding – What does it mean?

To the outside eye, it could appear that God had abandoned Paul. He wasn’t doing anything wrong yet was accused, arrested, imprisoned and people were trying to kill him. Many would say this was an instance of “bad things happening to good people.”

However, Paul saw things differently. He recognized that this series of events created opportunities for him to share the gospel with people he wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. Paul was able to see how God was working out everything into conformity with the purpose of his will.

While not everything that happens is good, everything that happens provides a good opportunity for us and others to to experience God.

During his time in prison, he wrote a letter to the church in the city of Philippi. At the very beginning of this letter, we get an insight into Paul’s perspective on these hardships:
Philippians 1:2 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.

Life Application

In the difficult situations I am facing, look for what God is doing!

God, how do you want to use me in this situation?
God, how do you want to reveal yourself in this situation?
Father, thank you for bringing about good things from even the worst situations! You are the Great Redeemer! You always turn the enemy’s plans against him and you always get the glory. Give us eyes of faith in the challenges we are facing. Use us and reveal yourself to us and others. Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Acts 23

Scripture

Acts 23:1

Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.”

Observation – What does it say?

After sharing his testimony and God’s plan of salvation with the crowd, Paul confidently told the spiritual leaders of the Jews that he had fulfilled his duty to God. Although the crowd turned against him and didn’t receive his message, Paul had a good conscience before God that he had fulfilled his duty.

Understanding – What does it mean?

The duty of every believer is to share God’s plan of salvation with those God places in front of us.

Paul didn’t walk away feeling regret because of the crowds response. He knew it wasn’t his job to change hearts. He couldn’t if he wanted to! It’s God’s job to save people. Only he can. Paul knew that his only job was to share, the best way he knew how, with the crowd God placed before him.

Life Application

Who has God placed in front of you that doesn’t know him? Have you fulfilled your duty to God by sharing Jesus with them?

Just share! And, don’t sweat people’s response!

God, of course we desire for people to receive the message of salvation when we share. But please keep us from feeling guilty when people don’t. We trust that you will draw people to yourself as we share. Please fill us with love for you and the lost, and may we each fulfill our duty to share the gospel. Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Acts 22

Scripture

Acts 22:1

 “Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense.”

Observation – What does it say?

The Apostle Paul got up to address the crowd of Jews. And from the start, he lets them know that he is one of them. He respectfully calls them “brothers and fathers” and speaks in their language, the Hebrew dialect of Aramaic. As a result he gained their complete attention, at least for a while. Unfortunately, once he mentioned God’s plan to not only save the Jews but the whole world, the crowd turned on him.

Understanding – What does it mean?

When sharing our testimony and the good news of Jesus with people, speak from common ground.

We aren’t looking down our noses at those who don’t yet know Christ, but we are sharing with them as people who at one point were in their shoes! The Apostle Paul gives us an inside look at his strategy for winning the lost in his letter to the believers at Corinth.

1 Corinthians 9:20-23

20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews.To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

Life Application

Become all things to all people, in order to win them to Christ!

God, help us to become more effective fishers of men. Give us the wisdom to find common ground with those who are lost and the favor to see them come into saving relationship with you. Use us! Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Acts 21

Scripture

Acts‬ ‭21:13‬ ‭

Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”

Observation-What does it say?

Paul was being warned by friends of the danger of going into Jerusalem to preach the Gospel. However, the above verse shows that Paul was ready and willing to die for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Understanding-What does it mean?

Paul was ready to surrender everything, even his own life, for the mission at hand.

Paul understood his mission on this earth and he was determined to follow through on it. A man who used to be part of martyring Christians was now willing to be martyred for the same cause. That 180 degree turn was only possible because of the grace of Jesus Christ that gave Paul new life and the Holy Spirit working in and through him.

Life Application

What better cause to give your life for than the cause of Jesus Christ!

During our daring faith series, we’ve been talking about stepping out of the boat in faith and surrendering our will, wants and lives for the cause of furthering the Kingdom of Christ. When Dave Arellano shared a couple of Sundays ago about what it means to be a soldier, a soldier is willing to die for the cause they believe in. A soldier is willing to sacrifice and surrender the comforts of sleep, recreation, and time to accomplish the mission that their commanding officer had assigned them to. With Christ as our commanding officer, are we willing to die completely to ourselves so that He would be glorified? Are we willing to put aside our comforts and what the world defines as success in order to further His Kingdom and fulfill His call over our lives? There is no greater purpose in life than living for His glory.

Dear Jesus, thank you for Paul’s story of redemption and for his determination to follow through on his call to glorify You, no matter the cost. We pray that his example would continue to inspire us to die to ourselves in order to fulfill our call to multiply Christ followers everywhere. Thank You for Your Holy Spirit that continues to help us in fulfilling that call. Amen. To check out the discussion or to join in click here.

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Acts 20

Scripture

Acts 20:24

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.

Observation – What does it say?

On his way to Jerusalem, Paul stopped to meet with the elders of the church in Ephesus. Not expecting to ever see them again, Paul gives the elders his final words. And in this discourse he tells the elders that his single purpose in life had been, and still was, to accomplish the task God gave him. He wasn’t living or working for any personal gain whatsoever. Rather, he had devoted every moment of every day to completing the task God had given him. One of his smaller sacrifices earlier in the chapter was giving up an entire night’s sleep to teach people until sunrise, pausing only to raise someone from the dead!

Understanding – What does it mean?

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:11, “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.”

It is wise for us to follow Paul’s example in laying aside all pursuits and goals that are selfish and don’t have to do with the task God has given us. Last Sunday we talked about giving God our best and highlighted the scripture in Paul’s letter to Timothy likening us to soldiers. As soldiers of Jesus Christ, we have to:
  • Define what we’re willing to die for.
  • Sacrifice our comforts.
  • Remove distractions.

All these things speak to what Paul had done. He attached himself to the task God had given him and he put aside all comforts and distractions to fulfill it.

Life Application

What am I aiming at? What are the goals I’m pursuing? Do they have to do with completing the task God has given me or are they unrelated?

Let go of the things that aren’t going to matter in eternity!

God, please give each of us clarity as to what you’ve called us to. Show us the specific tasks you’ve given each of us that will help us accomplish our mission of multiplying Christ-followers everywhere. We long to be used by you and to be great in your eyes! We long to fulfill the plans and purposes you have for us! Please help us to lay down our comforts and put aside our distractions and make our it our only aim to complete the task you’ve given us. Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Acts 19

Scripture

Acts 19:15

One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?”

Observation – What does it say?

Some men who weren’t believers in Jesus but Jews, attempted to drive out evil spirits by invoking the name of Jesus. Rather than submitting to them the spirit claimed to not know them, attacked them and beat all 7 of them sending them away naked and bleeding.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Authority over the enemy is only given to those who believe in and follow Jesus.

This passage shows us the lack of authority for those who aren’t Christians. But the rest of scripture is clear that complete authority over the enemy belongs to every single believer.

Jesus said to his disciples in  Luke 10:19, “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” He also said in Mark 16:17, “And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons…”

Those who believe in Jesus never need to fear the enemy or any evil spirit. We can be confident that because we have relationship with Jesus we won’t have to experience what the sons of Sceva did. Whew! Instead we will successfully drive out demons in Jesus’ name.

Life Application

When encountering the enemy or those with evil spirits, don’t ever be afraid but boldly drive them out in Jesus’ name!

God, thank you that you are for us! Thank you for the power in the name of Jesus! And thank you that you have given all of us, your followers, authority to overcome all the power of the enemy. Help us to walk in this truth and not in fear. And, use us to bring freedom to those being oppressed by the enemy in your name, Jesus. Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.