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!
 

Hebrews 4

Scripture

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.

Observation – What does it say?

The writer of Hebrews encourages his fellow believers to run to God in their time of need. Jesus is our high priest who enables us to come to God, and he also understands us. He experienced weakness and temptation as a man, just like every one of us (yet he didn’t sin), so he can empathize with us. He knows what it’s like to be in our shoes and so he invites us to come to him, confident that God will have mercy on us and supply us with everything we need.

Understanding – What does it mean?

God’s people have complete access to his help whenever they want it.

We have an all access pass to God! We can go to him anytime, anywhere, confident that we will find a good Father who is eager to meet us right where we are. He won’t just listen to our pleas, but will extend his hand to help us.

Although we know this, we often have an “I’ll be ok” mentality. Things aren’t that bad; I can manage on my own; I don’t want to bother God with it. So we struggle through trying to overcome life’s challenges on our own strength and own wisdom. And every time, we miss out on opportunities to experience God! He wants to be intimately involved in our lives and is just waiting for us to go to him!
Proverbs 3:5-6 
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

Life Application

Go to God!

What things have I been dealing with on my own instead of turning to God?

God, forgive us for relying on our own understanding and our own strength. Thank you for being so good! Thank you for the invitation to come to you. Thank you for the confidence we can have, knowing we will find mercy and grace. Help us to approach you today in our moments of need. Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Hebrews 3

Scripture

Hebrews‬ ‭3:3-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.”
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Observation-What does it say?

The writer is basically explaining that Jesus is greater than Moses. Moses was a man used by God, while Jesus was and is God.

Understanding-What does it mean?

Worship Jesus, not man.

Human beings do not have the power to save…only Jesus does.

Psalm 146:3-Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save.”

God is the creator and Moses was the creation. But because Moses was faithful to God and stayed close to Him, He used him in great ways. God spoke through him and worked in him to deliver the Israelites from bondage. It’s easy to want to worship the man that God builds up, however, without God, man is nothing. Because Jesus is God though, He is everything. He’s the builder of the house and is worthy of greater honor than Moses.

Life Application

If we want to do great things in life like Moses did, we must stay close to the Builder.

Our Triune God is the Source of our salvation and the builder of our faith, the builder of our strength, the builder of our confidence, and the builder of our purpose here on earth. If we want God to use us in awesome ways, we must be willing to die to ourselves and serve Him who is greater than ourselves. We must stay connected to Him through prayer and His Word. Only then will growth and transformation into His likeness take place. Dear Lord, I confess that it’s  easy to idolize and admire people who do great things for You, but help us to remember the reason they are able to do it and that’s because of You. You are the only One worthy of honor and glory and not us. Without You we are nothing. Thank You for great men and women of the faith who have chosen to die to themselves to live their lives for You. I pray that their example would point us to You alone. Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.
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Hebrews 2

Scripture

Hebrews 2:4

God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

Observation – What does it say?

The writer of Hebrews goes on to warn his readers to pay attention to the message they heard so they don’t drift away – that is, the message of salvation through Jesus. Then he gives us the purpose for all signs, wonders, miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit. The purpose of all those things is to point to the gospel!

Understanding – What does it mean?

Signs, wonders, miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit aren’t ends in themselves, but are intended to point people to Jesus.

Every time someone is healed, every time a miracle takes place, every time God supernaturally provides, every time he gives a word of prophecy or a word of knowledge, God’s desire is for people to be saved! All the things he does are to help him accomplish his will, which is to bring all people together under the lordship of Christ (Ephesians 1).

Life Application

Don’t forget that the gospel is central! And, share testimonies of what God has done with people who don’t yet know him.

While we long to see God move as we step out in daring faith, we must remember that God’s goal in all of it is to draw people into saving relationship with Jesus.

God, we thank you for the incredible message of salvation! Thank you for pointing each of us to it, and for saving us. As you move in our lives, use our stories to draw others to yourself. Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Hebrews 1

Scripture

Hebrews 1:3

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.

Observation – What does it say?

In this first chapter, the writer of Hebrews begins by declaring the greatness and superiority of Jesus.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Jesus is the exact representation of God and sustains all things.

Jesus isn’t just another man or a good teacher. There is nothing you can liken him to. Jesus is far superior to angels, to the great heroes of the faith, to anything or anyone in all creation! He created all things and sustains all things.

And, if you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus! When we read the gospels and how they reveal Jesus, they are revealing the radiance of God’s glory and showing us exactly what he is like.

There is nothing that comes close to Jesus!

Psalm 73:25…earth has nothing I desire besides you.

Philippians 3:8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ
Psalm 16:2 I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”

Life Application

Turn to Jesus! Point all my desires, affection, thoughts and love onto him!

Jesus! Your name is wonderful! There is no one like you. Your beauty is unmatched. Your majesty is beyond compare and your love is like none other. I worship you for all that you are today! Open our eyes to behold you; let us catch a glimpse of who you are. Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


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.