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!
 

Day 5

WEEK 1:  THE IMPORTANCE OF PRAYER

just pray 800x600THE DEVIL IS REAL

SCRIPTURE

1 Peter 5:5-9 (NIV)
5  Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
6  Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
7  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
8  Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

OBSERVATION

Peter warns us that the devil is real and always looking to destroy us. We cannot defeat him on our own we need God’s help and we must utilize the proper weapons of warfare to defeat him. Weapons such as the Word of God and prayer. We must practice with those weapons in order to wield them properly which means we must develop proper disciplines.

UNDERSTANDING

I remember the first time I went to the shooting range with a friend. He handed me the gun and explained what I needed to do and then he told me to point it at the target and squeeze the trigger. I fired off a few shots and they hit the target. I was so excited that I spun around with the gun and started yelling at my friend to about how I had hit the target. The moment I spun around everyone in the gun range dropped to the ground and started yelling at me. What I didn’t realize was that I had to put the gun down before turning around. Crazy putting that much power in the hands of a novice, yet that is exactly what God does. He gives us great power at our disposal to defeat and destroy the works of the devil but we must do the hard work of learning how to use those weapons well.

Peter says be self-controlled and alert. The word self-controlled or sober means we are to have self-control regarding intoxication but also carried the understanding of disciplining our mind and body so as to be able to wield our weapons well. In other words we must be disciplined to practice with our weapons.

Even as we are practicing and growing comfortable with our weapons we must be always watchful for the sneaky attack of the enemy. It is very rarely a full frontal assault but he tries to sneak in to our lives and worm his way in. We must be watchful, using God’s truth to discern his lies.

Resist him! How? When we see his lies we must have the courage to do something about it – to make the changes necessary so that he does not gain a foothold.

 

LIFE APPLICATION

God has given us His Word and prayer as weapon to destroy the work of the devil. (Ephesians 6) We must take time to practice praying and we must learn how to properly read and glean the truths of God’s word. The discipline of practicing with these weapons will serve us well when the enemy attacks. Paul in Ephesians 6:18-19 tells us to pray. Pray! Pray on all occasions. And when we have read the word of God we are able to pray according to will and truth of God.

  • Ephesians 6:18 (MSG) 18  In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

Let us be sober and self-controlled regarding prayer and God’s Word so that we can resist the devil. Satan has no control over the man or woman of God who has practiced wielding prayer and God’s Word.



Day 4

WEEK 1: THE IMPORTANCE OF PRAYER

just pray 800x600PRAYER’S POWER

SCRIPTURE

  • James 4:1-3 (NIV) 1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2  You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3  When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
 OBSERVATION

James gives us two thoughts about prayer in a larger discourse about friendship with the world. He tells us that many of us don’t ask God for what we want, and many times when we do ask we don’t always get it because our motives are wrong.

UNDERSTANDING

The central theme of the larger passage is that friendship with the world means hostility towards God. We can’t love both God and the world. The world’s mentality is always a selfish one. We want stuff for ourselves and for our personal pleasure. That motive stands in direct defiance of a life surrendered to God. If we are truly God-followers then we are to submit ourselves to His will and purposes – our prayers should always have the perspective of praying for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

And when we live with a selfish mentality we tend to get angry when we don’t get what we want. We fight, get angry, give up on God because “He didn’t answer my request.”

The other thought here is that some people won’t even ask God because they don’t believe that He cares or that He will answer – which speaks to believing the world’s thinking over believing God’s word. We cannot love the world and love God at the same time.

LIFE APPLICATION

God there are times my selfishness gets in the way of things. I pray for things with a completely selfish motive and then get angry at you if you don’t give it to me. Many times I am praying for the wrong things; a stone when you want to give me bread, a snake when you want to give me a fish. Forgive me for not trusting you when you say that when we ask you will answer. You may tell me no, you may tell me wait a while, you may tell me grow or you may say yes, and all of those are answers to my prayer. Give me the wisdom and courage to grow from the answers that you give me. Forgive me for allowing the thinking of the world to crowd out your thoughts, forgive me for being selfish and self-centered.

Lord I will continue to ask because you tell us to but I will place every request before you and I will trust you that the answer you give is the correct one. I trust you God.



Day 3

WEEK 1:  THE IMPORTANCE OF PRAYER

Just Pray

MIGHTY MEN OF GOD

SCRIPTURE

  • Acts 6:1-4 (NIV) In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2  So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3  Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4  and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”

OBSERVATION

The apostles knew their priority was praying, preaching, teaching, and studying the Word. They would let nothing, no matter how urgent, distract them from those duties.

For them the it was not that serving in ministry was not important, it was the fact that serving in ministry had to be preceded by prayer.  Prayer preceded and pervaded everything they did.

We see the same with the apostle Paul, who was also devoted to prayer.

  • He wrote to the Romans that “God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you always in my prayers” (Rom. 1:9-10).
  • He told the Ephesians “I do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers (Eph. 1:16).
  • To the Philippians he wrote, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all” (Phil. 1:3-4).
  • Paul also prayed constantly for the Colossian church: “For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Col. 1:9).

Paul’s ministry was built on his devotion to prayer.  We all know what kind of results he had.

UNDERSTANDING

The apostles’ pledge to devote themselves to their ministry set the pattern for all to follow. Too many Christians today have left the emphasis on prayer and the Word of God. We get so busy with the details of ministering and doing leaving us little time for prayer and the study of God’s Word.  Nothing substitutes for God’s power in ministry and the only way we can really have that kind of power and anointing is by prioritizing prayer and the study of the Word of God.

LIFE APPLICATION

Father I am convicted that I have been placing the details of serving you above my relationship with You.  I get so busy with doing that I forget that the power and anointing for ministry and life flows out of communion with you in prayer and the study of your Word.  Forgive me for messing up the order.

 

Join us this evening from 7-8pm for a time of worship and prayer in the church Auditorium.


 



Day 2

WEEK 1:  THE IMPORTANCE OF PRAYER

Justpray_app

DAY 2: JESUS PRAYED

SCRIPTURE
  • Mark 1:35 (NIV)   Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
  • Luke 6:12 (NIV)  One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.

OBSERVATION and UNDERSTANDING

In the middle of a narrative on the choosing of disciples, healing people and driving out evil spirits Mark places a very interesting verse…Jesus stepped aside to pray!

Why would the God of the universe need to pray? 

My personal thought is that he was teaching the disciples about the importance of prayer.

Do you realize that everything God does in the work of ministry He does through prayer…

  • Prayer is the way you defeat the devil Luke 22:32, James 4:7
  • Prayer is the way lost people are saved. Luke 18:13
  • Prayer is the way we acquire wisdom James 1:5
  • Prayer is the way people are restored to God James 5:16-20
  • Prayer is how the sick are healed. James 5:13-15
  • Prayer is how we accomplish the impossible. Mark 11:23-24

Jesus wanted us to see that prayer was necessary for refreshing and reconnecting with the Father so that we could know His heart and live in His will.

Prayer was necessary for power to accomplish God’s will on earth as it is in heaven.

Jesus prayed regularly. On this occasion he went up the mountain to pray and spent the whole night praying. Mark tells us that when the disciples got up in the early morning, Jesus had already gone out to pray. Luke tells us that he could often be found in lonely places praying.

Prayer was as fundamental an element in the life of Jesus as breathing. He inhaled his Father’s presence so he could exhale his Father’s will.

Jesus was in constant contact with his Father, whom he spoke of in a very personal, intimate, and familiar way.

The source of Jesus’ fruitfulness was in his reaching Up to God in prayer with the Father.

The words “pray” and “prayer” are used at least twenty-five times in connection with Jesus in the brief record of His life in the four Gospels, and His praying is mentioned in places where the words are not used. Evidently prayer took much of the time and strength of Jesus.

LIFE APPLICATION

We are called Christ-followers, so what do you think should be our actions regarding this area of prayer?

Jesus did what he saw the Father doing and introduced his disciples to this very personal relationship with God, calling us into the same kind of intimacy with the Father that he himself has always known.

We are to live out the reality of that relationship always.

As his disciples, we are to model our lives after our Master.

“A man or woman who does not spend much time in prayer, cannot properly be called a follower of Jesus Christ.”

Take a moment today to set aside specific time for prayer and times with God.  Make it a consistent time each day that will be developed into a habit.

Write down the days of the week and when you will be spending time in prayer and then set aside time to do the same at the beginning of each week.



Day 1

Justpray_app

WEEK 1: THE IMPORTANCE OF PRAYER

DAY 1: PRAYER BRINGS BLESSINGS TO THE CHURCH

The history of the church has always been a history of huge difficulties to overcome. The devil hates the church and seeks in every way to block its progress; by false doctrine, by division, by inward corruption of life. But by prayer, a clear way can be made through everything.

Prayer will…

  • root out heresy,
  • relieve misunderstanding,
  • sweep away jealousies and animosities,
  • obliterate immoralities,
  • and bring in the full tide of God’s reviving grace.

History proves this time and again. In the hour of darkest threats, when the case of the church, local or universal, has seemed beyond hope, believing men and believing women have met together and cried to God and the answer has come.

Today the church seems to be faltering, it may seem like is is now a dark day,

BUT—

God is getting ready to work, and now He is listening for the voice of prayer.

  • Will He hear it?
  • Will He hear it from you?
  • Will He hear it from the church as a body?
  • I believe He will.
  • Psalm 119:126 (TLB)  Lord, it is time for you to act. For these evil men have violated your laws,

 

Take a moment and write out your plan for the next 28 days.

Why are you fasting?

What area(s) would you like to see God bring change, growth or breakthrough? What do you want to see God do in you personally? In our church family? In your neighborhood?

What will you fast?

Who will you encourage to fast with you?

When will you set aside for prayer?
For the complete Prayer and Fasting Manual click
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Response:

Lord as we begin our 28 days of seeking you by fasting and praying we take time today to commit ourselves to the process.  We believe that prayer is powerful and brings about your will and your blessings on earth as it is in heaven.  As we spend time in prayer I ask that you will begin to reveal the areas of sin in our lives that keep us from living in your fullness  Show us where there is sin and disobedience that prevents us from experiencing your blessings fully.  God even as we begin will you show us broken relationships that need to be resolved, (Matt. 5:23-24), will you cleanse us of sin and unrighteousness and will you allow your will to be accomplished in us, on earth as it is in heaven.

God we are desperate for a manifestation of your presence in our lives here at Desert Streams. We ask that your presence be so obvious in us that it will draw men and women into relationship with you.  We pray for a harvest of souls this year at Desert Streams.  We pray that there will be a turning back to you in such a way that you become the priority and passion of people.

We invite you to work powerfully in us transforming us God as we spend the next 28 days seeking you.  Give the body at DSC strength, determination and courage to fast and seek you.  We pray that all the arguments and rationalizations that people give for not fasting will be torn down and instead there will be a turning of hearts towards you.

Thank you God for the amazing things that are about to happen as a result of your people seeking you through fasting and prayer.



Isaiah 50

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Scripture

Isaiah 50:4

The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue,
to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.

Observation – What does it say?

This prophetic word contrasts the disobedience of Israel with the obedience of the coming Messiah. The Messiah to come, unlike Israel, will know the word of God. And, he will know it because God wakens him every morning to be instructed in his word.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Romans 8:29 says, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

This is God’s goal for every Christian: to be conformed into the likeness of Jesus. If we are going to be like Jesus, we need to be instructed in the word. Not just on Sunday mornings, but

morning by morning.

We need to know this word that sustains the weary.

Psalm 1 says that the man who delights himself in God’s law, meditating on it day and night will prosper in all he does. If we are going to prosper in God’s eyes, if we are going to prosper in any area of our lives, we must devote ourselves to the reading, studying and memorizing of God’s word.

Life Application

This coming year, I will follow Jesus’ example by devoting myself to two things:

  1. Memorize more scripture, starting with 1 verse today.
  2. Start every morning in God’s word.
God, thank you for your word! Please give us hearts that are devoted to knowing it. As we dig into your word may it lead us into encounter with you and lead to transformation. May it not just be about information, but transformation. Write your word on the tablet of our hearts and bless us with minds capable of memorizing great amounts of scripture. Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Isaiah 49

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Scripture

Isaiah 49:14-15

14 But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me,
the Lord has forgotten me.”

15 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!

Observation – What does it say?

Because of times of distress and affliction, God’s covenant people Israel cried out that God had forgotten and abandoned them. But God responds essentially by saying, “That’s preposterous!” He likens himself to a mother and Israel her baby. A mother could never forget her baby or lose compassion for it. But even if she did God would never forget or forsake his covenant children.

Understanding – What does it mean?

This text answers some common but difficult questions: “When I go through difficulty, does it mean that God has withdrawn from me?” “When I am afflicted, does it mean that God no longer has compassion on me?” “Does hardship mean God is disapproving of me or that he doesn’t love me anymore?”

The answer to all those questions is an emphatic “No!” The truth is, if we have become God’s child through putting our faith in Christ, he is always with us whether we ‘feel’ him or not. God’s compassion toward us doesn’t waver and his love for us is deeper than the oceans and as constant as his own existence.

Though we may feel at times that God has disappeared or forgotten about us, he hasn’t!!

When I read this text, I immediately thought of my wife and our 5 month old baby girl. If there is anyone she has her eye on, that she is continually thinking about, that she is passionate about caring for, it’s our baby girl. Regardless of how many dirty diapers she creates, how many times she wakes up crying in the night, how hard she is to console when she’s cranky, my wife’s heart is filled with undying love for her baby! This is how God is toward us.

God said in Deuteronomy 31:6, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Life Application

Trust that God is close to me and that he still loves me, regardless of my circumstances or how I feel.

Lord, thank you for the promises in your word! Thank you that regardless of what we experience we can rest in the knowledge that your love for us is unchanging. Thank you that even when we don’t ‘feel’ your presence in a tangible way we can rest in the knowledge that you are still with us in that moment. Thank you that you will never leave us or forsake us. Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Isaiah 48

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Scripture

Isaiah 48:10

10See, I have refined you, though not as silver;
I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.

Observation – What does it say?

Israel had been rebellious and stubborn, refusing to listen to God or turn to him. But God (two of my favorite words!), rather than discarding or destroying them, chooses to refine them through seasons of hardship and affliction.

Understanding – What does it mean?

For God, suffering is not an end in itself. The language God uses is, “the furnace of affliction.” Uh, no thanks. That sounds horrible. I’d rather meditate on other verses like, “God’s kindness leads us to repentance.” But, like it or not, suffering comes to all of us and thankfully it’s not for no reason or because God has malice in his heart toward us. The truth is, God allow us to go through suffering because he loves us. Sounds confusing, but God actually uses suffering and hardship to purge the bad and cultivate purity in his people, similarly to a silversmith refining silver in a furnace. I recently read a story that opened my eyes to the refining process…

Some time ago, a few ladies met to study the scriptures. While reading the third chapter of Malachi, they came upon a remarkable expression in the third verse:
    “And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver” (Malachi 3:3).
One lady decided to visit a silversmith, and report to the others on what he said about the subject.
She went accordingly, and without telling him the reason for her visit, begged the silversmith to tell her about the process of refining silver. After he had fully described it to her, she asked, “Sir, do you sit while the work of refining is going on?”
“Oh, yes ma’am,” replied the silversmith; “I must sit and watch the furnace constantly, for, if the time necessary for refining is exceeded in the slightest degree, the silver will be injured.”
The lady at once saw the beauty and comfort of the expression, “He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.”
God sees it necessary to put His children into the furnace; but His eye is steadily intent on the work of purifying, and His wisdom and love are both engaged in the best manner for us. Our trials do not come at random, and He will not let us be tested beyond what we can endure.
Before she left, the lady asked one final question, “How do you know when the process is complete?”

“That’s quite simple,” replied the silversmith. “When I can see my own image in the silver, the refining process is finished.”

Rather than despising suffering, Christ-followers should allow God to use it to transform them into his image, trusting that he wont give them more than they can handle.

Life Application

When suffering or facing difficult situations, ask God to show me what he is trying to accomplish in me through them.

God, I thank you that you allow us to experience difficulty so that we can be purified to look more like you. When I face hard situations, rather than complaining, I choose to ask you what you are trying to accomplish in me. May I not be stubborn, but yield to you and allow you to transform me. Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Isaiah 47

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Scripture

Isaiah 47:14

They cannot even save themselves
from the power of the flame.

Observation – What does it say?

Isaiah continues his prophecy against Babylon. They will soon discover that they had misplaced their trust in many things – their idols, sorceries and spells, wisdom, knowledge and astrologers – while failing to put their trust in the only One who has power to save them. The astrologers who look at the stars and make their predictions cannot save the Babylonians with their counsel. They can’t even save themselves!

Understanding – What does it mean?

Don’t rely on people to save you who can’t even save themselves.

Astrology may not be something common for us to put our trust in. But, there are those in our lives who may and it’s important we understand what the Bible teaches about it. Astrology is a false religion, a belief that doesn’t save or benefit it’s followers. Like Babylon, everyone who trusts astrologers and their predictions will one day come to recognize that they have been in error (verse 15). Not only is it powerless to benefit or save those who trust it, astrology is an idol and distraction from the one true God.

Whether it’s astrologers, psychics, political or economic analysts, a close friend or parent, none of them are able to save or provide guidance like our God. It’s our privilege and responsibility to not only model complete reliance on God, but to encourage others who are in error to repent and turn to God. Salvation comes by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Guidance comes from God alone, through scripture and the godly men and women around us who are in relationship with him.

Life Application

Look for opportunities to encourage people to trust in Jesus.

When people around me mention the trust they have put in counsel other than God’s, rather than keeping my beliefs to myself I choose to show them their error. Not out of pride, but out of love for them and a desire for them to know the truth.
God, bring people across my path who are in error. Use me to expose the truth of their error, your greatness, and your ability to save and guide them. Give me the words to say and may the power of the Holy Spirit work in their hearts and bring them to repentance and faith in you. Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Isaiah 46

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Scripture

Isaiah 46:9

Remember the former things, those of long ago;
I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me.

Observation – What does it say?

Once again, God is reminding Israel of how silly idols are. In particular, the so called gods of Babylon. Men find some material on the ground and craft an idol out of it. Although they cry out to it, it cannot answer or save them from troubles. God on the other hand is the complete opposite – not only alive but the source of life, all-powerful and the sustainer of every living thing. God declares that there is no other. He has no equal, there is none beside him or above him. He alone is God.

Understanding – What does it mean?

There is no adequate substitute for God.

There is no substitute! God is not one of many options, one of many worthy pursuits, one of many things that satisfy, one among others who created the earth, and Jesus isn’t just one of many paths to eternal life. There is nothing that can take his place in any way.

When there is anything we turn to for help, that we pursue, that we worship, that we look to for fulfillment besides God, it’s like we’re settling for a really bad knock-off of a good product, a kindergardner’s attempt to recreate the Mona Lisa with finger-paints when we’re offered the real thing, or trying to satisfy your thirst with salt water. It’s foolishness! Just as a gas engine cannot run off of diesel fuel, God designed us to run off of the fuel of himself. The great Christian thinker and author, C.S. Lewis, said, “God himself is the fuel we were meant to burn.” And, the human machine can run successfully on no other.

Life Application

Where have I been turning to a God-substitute instead of to God himself? When I have the answer, lay that thing down and choose God instead!

Our 28 days of Prayer and Fasting is a great opportunity to show God that he is our God and there is no other in our lives. It’s an opportunity to lay down the things we look to for satisfaction and sustenance – food, entertainment, tv and music, etc – and seek God instead. When we fast those things we are demonstrating, not just saying, that God alone satisfies and we choose to look to him instead of those things.
God, forgive us for turning to substitutes. Forgive me for choosing naps over prayer and choosing tv with my wife over reading the Bible with my wife. Nothing satisfies, fulfills, protects or provides like you do! Please help us to turn to you alone! We recognize this morning that you are God and there is no other. Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.