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!
 

Isaiah 16

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Scripture

Isaiah 16:4b-5

The oppressor will come to an end,
and destruction will cease;
the aggressor will vanish from the land.
In love a throne will be established;
in faithfulness a man will sit on it—
one from the house of David—
one who in judging seeks justice
and speeds the cause of righteousness.

Observation – What does it say?

Moab’s refugees will cry out to God for help. And God speaks through Isaiah about a time that the oppressor of Moab will come to an end along with destruction. And, in it’s place a new throne will be established when a man, speaking of Jesus, will sit on the throne who will rule in faithfulness and who will be quick to decide and do what is right.

God’s answer to Moab’s plea for help is none other than the Messiah. One day Jesus will take the throne and rule with absolute justice.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Regardless of the period in history we live, whether 3 thousand years ago or today, there have always been wicked rulers in the earth. Whether it was evil kings then or terrorists today, wicked people in places of power and influence have been


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Isaiah 15

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Scripture

Isaiah 15:5

My heart cries out over Moab…

Observation – What does it say?

In the middle of this message about the destruction and mourning that will take place in Moab, the prophet Isaiah interjects a personal statement. As he is going from horrible detail to horrible detail about Moab’s devastation he interjects, as though he can’t hold in the emotion any longer,


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Isaiah 14

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Scripture

Isaiah 14:23

“…I will sweep her with the broom of destruction,
declares the Lord Almighty.

Observation – What does it say?

Babylon was the greatest and most powerful kingdom at the time. This nation oppressed all the others and no one could withstand them. They were filled with pride at their greatness and forced harsh labor on God’s people.


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Isaiah 13

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Scripture

Isaiah 13:6

Wail, for the day of the Lord is near;
it will come like destruction from the Almighty.

Observation – What does it say?


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Isaiah 12

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Scripture

Isaiah 12:2

Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust and not be afraid.
The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.”

Observation – What does it say?

Following the prophecy of Jesus’ coming and the age of peace to come, Isaiah prophesies a declaration that God’s people will make in that day. This declaration reveals much about what the condition of their hearts will be and the nature of their relationship with God in the time to come. In this declaration, the people of God reveal some amazing things about their past, God’s faithfulness, and who God is to them.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Rather than just stating that the Lord is my strength and my defense, what struck me in this verse is the additional clarification, the Lord himself.

The Lord has such great concern and love for his people that he himself strengthens and defends them.

God doesn’t just send messengers, commanding angels to do the protecting and ordering other human beings to care for and strengthen each other so he can concern himself with something he deems more important. He commands the angels and other human beings, not to replace him as the strengthener and defender of men but rather to partner with him in what he is already doing. It is the Lord himself who is already intimately involved in the affairs of his people. It’s the Lord himself who strengthens and defends his people. The Lord doesn’t just grant us salvation, he himself is our salvation and he himself came and endured the cross. It is impossible to reason that God is distant or isn’t concerned with us or doesn’t love us when you consider the ways he has been, and currently is, intimately involved in our lives.

Life Application

Worship God for his personal and intimate involvement in my life!

God, who am I that the creator of the galaxies would concern himself with me and my needs? Your love for your people is beyond comprehension. With all the things you could give yourself to, you choose to give yourself to a people who least deserve it. Thank you for being the one to strengthen me, the one to defend me, the one to save me, the one to guide me and the one to provide for my every need. I’m so grateful! Help me to show it by the way I live, in my love for you and for others. Amen.



Isaiah 11

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Scripture

Isaiah 11:9

They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.

Observation – What does it say?

Continuing from the previous chapter, Isaiah prophesies about the coming of the Messiah, from his first coming to his second. He speaks about a time when there will be complete peace between all things, men and God, men and each other, men and the creatures of the earth. And he gives reason for this unprecedented level of peace in verse 9, saying no harm or destruction will take place for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Knowledge of God is the key to peace.

We become what we behold. The more we understand and experience the God of love, the more we will be changed into his same image. In that day, the earth will be as full of the knowledge of God as the oceans are filled with water. Imagining the vastness of the ocean and the immeasurable amount of water necessary to fill it is mind boggling. And even crazier is imagining the knowledge of God being just as vast and immeasurable. What we know of God, although we may think at times is a lot, is so minuscule! There is so much more knowledge of God we have yet to get acquainted with!

But, by looking at the life of Jesus and the gospel, we catch an amazing glimpse of the God we serve. As Pastor Gary shared yesterday, it benefits us tremendously to meditate on all the ways God has blessed us. And, not only how he has blessed us, but what that reveals about his character. As we come to better understand this God of love, we will find ourselves more at peace internally as well as with each other.

Life Application

Ask God to fill us with the knowledge of himself.

Meditate on what God has done, and what that reveals about his character.

God, in a world filled with violence, discord, jealousy, and division, we recognize our desperation to catch a glimpse of who you are. We look forward to the day when the earth is filled with the knowledge of God and we will live in perfect peace. But as we wait for that day, please reveal more of yourself to us. And, may we your church meditate on your word, on the gospel, on the life of Jesus, and come to a greater knowledge of you. Fill our minds with thoughts of you, and our hearts with your peace. Amen.



Isaiah 10

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Scripture

Isaiah 10:12b-13a

“I will punish the king of Assyria for the willful pride of his heart and the haughty look in his eyes. 13 For he says:

“‘By the strength of my hand I have done this,
and by my wisdom, because I have understanding.

Observation – What does it say?

God utters a prophetic word of destruction against the king of Assyria. And the reason for the coming destruction and punishment is the king’s pride. The king had accomplished much and had grown in power, but rather than giving glory to God he took all the credit for himself.

Understanding – What does it mean?

God refuses to share his glory and desires that all men give credit where credit is due.

I’m not sure if anyone else has seen them, but I’ve come across some lumberjack competitions on ESPN where guys will compete in various timed events, cutting logs with chain saws, others with hand saws, and others with axes. When they crown the winner, they don’t put the chain saw or hand saw or ax on the podium. They don’t present the tools awards or trophies. Rather, all the credit and awards go the man who used them.

Verse 15 likens the king to an ax. Although the ax accomplished much, it was only due to the power and wisdom of the one swinging it. The king, like the ax, was merely a tool in God’s hand and powerless to accomplish anything without him. And no human being is different. Each is only able to accomplish what God, by his grace, allows.

Life Application

Give God all the glory! He deserves it!

When I have shared my testimony with some people, they try to give me the credit and say something like, “Wow, you must have just finally decided that you wanted to change,” or “That’s great you worked so hard and improved your life,” or “Good for you, you were determined and broke free of your addictions.” But the truth is that any desire to change, any strength to work hard and any determination to be different all came from God to begin with. God deserves all the glory for anything good that’s come from my life.

God, thank you for what you’ve done in my life. I humble myself before you and don’t want to entertain the thought for one second that I have accomplished anything good on my own. I don’t want to fall into the same trap as the king of Assyria. I praise you and recognize that you have been the source of anything good in my life. Thank you! Amen.



Isaiah 9

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 Scripture

Isaiah 9:7

The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.

Observation – What does it say?

Isaiah delivered the prophecy in the first 7 verses of this chapter to king Ahaz of Judah. This prophecy, delivered more than seven centuries before Jesus was born, was all about his coming, what he is like, and what he will do. God’s plan was laid out before Isaiah. And as if to answer the question, “What is the driving force behind this plan?” the prophecy is concluded with the statement that the zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this plan.

Understanding – What does it mean?

God not only has a vision and plan, but he is zealous and passionate about seeing it’s completion.

I love this because it points to the fact that we serve a passionate God! He is zealous about his vision, zealous for his plan to be accomplished. And, scripture reveals his zeal regarding many other things like his house, his name, justice, mercy, love, people repenting and coming into relationship with him, etc. When God’s people are zealous about the vision he’s given them and carrying out his plan, they are being like him.

Life Application

Ask God to fill us with the same zeal he has for carrying out his vision.

Pray daily about the vision he’s given us to multiply Christ-followers. Pray about each part of our strategy (Reaching, Recruiting, Resourcing, Releasing).

God, fill us with your heart. Fill us with your passion. We don’t want to carry out your vision merely out of a sense of obligation. Rather, we want to be driven by the same passion and zeal that drives you. Align our hearts and spirits with yours and use us to see your plans accomplished in the earth! Amen.



Isaiah 8

 

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Scripture

Isaiah 8:10

   Devise your strategy, but it will be thwarted;
propose your plan, but it will not stand,
for God is with us.

Observation – What does it say?

Often times in the Old Testament, prophets would not only speak their messages but they would act them out. And here, God asked Isaiah to embed his message into the name of his child. His name Maher-shalal-hash-baz means swift-the-spoils-of-war-and-speedy-comes-the-attacker. God’s message through Isaiah to Ahaz was this: “The two countries currently threatening you will soon be conquered by Assyria. Assyria will attack quickly, defeat them and carry off the spoils of war from Damascus and Samaria. So there is no need to fear them. Instead, trust in your God.”

Then God spoke to Isaiah again, and this second message was directed toward the nations who would threaten his people. God tells the nations that they can prepare for battle but it will be a waste of time. No matter what strategy they could devise or plan they could come up with to defeat God’s people, it’s wouldn’t succeed because God would be with his people.

Understanding – What does it mean?

God is with those who trust in him, providing safety and security.

What’s amazing about this verse is that it doesn’t just say the enemy’s plans wont stand because “God’s plan is superior” or because “God will come to fight for us,” but because “God is with us”! God with his people would make all the difference in the outcome. The power of presence…

I wouldn’t say I’m afraid of the dark. I just, uh… I just prefer the light. As a kid, I hated taking the trash cans out to the street after dark. My parents would send me out there and I’d be pulling trash cans behind me while scanning the bushes and continually looking behind me. Any slight noise and I’d almost pee. As soon as I would get the trash cans to the street I would sprint for the front door of the house, slam the door behind me and breath a deep sigh of relief. But, if someone came with me it was a different story. If my dad helped me and was next to me as I walked down the driveway I was completely different. No fear, no worry, no running, no panic. I’d take my time, joking and talking with my dad, and I almost wished something would come out of the bushes so I could watch my dad whoop it. My dad’s presence with me made all the difference in my ability to to face the dark without fear.

How much more amazing to think that the One who is with us always is the God of the universe?! It doesn’t matter the size of the enemy or how great the danger, God is greater. As we read a few days ago in Isaiah 6, God’s throne is high and exalted. There is none above him, none more powerful, none even close to equal with him. And this God, although he dwells on high, also chooses to dwell within each believer.

Matthew 28:20 And surely I am with you, even to the end of the age.

Romans 8:31 If God is for us, who can be against us?

Isaiah 54:17 No weapon forged against you will prevail… This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord…

Life Application

Trust in God! Whether or not I can feel or see him, God is always with me! He is present to protect and guide me.

God, thank you for your constant presence with us. Please cause that truth to sink in and to wash away any fear or anxiety we might be carrying. We give it all to you. We look to you and put our trust in you this morning. Amen.

 
 
 


Ezra 4

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Scripture

Ezra 4:4

 Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building.

Observation – What does it say?

The enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard they were rebuilding their temple and sought to frustrate them and keep them from building it. According to the last verse in the chapter, they succeeded in their efforts to halt the building project.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Whenever you make a commitment to the Lord, be prepared to face the enemy’s unrelenting attempt to set you back.

Verse 1 says the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard they were building a temple to the God of Israel. The reality is that we can’t build a church building to facilitate ministry, build new habits to grow spiritually or build others up spiritually without the enemy hearing about it. And then he comes prowling, seeking to do what he can to derail us.

Unfortunately, many people don’t realize this. When making a new commitment to God, many assume that since they’ve now turned to God that everything is going to go well from here on out. “God is finally on my side and my hopes haven’t been higher!” And at that moment the enemy attacks leaving them discouraged and feeling lower than before they turned to God.

Over the past month alone I’ve seen many people who have made a commitment to God to step up their personal spiritual growth including me. Some setting new goals for daily prayer and many choosing to develop the habit of daily SOUL Journaling. And, after following up with them about following through with their new commitment, nearly every person has explained to me how difficult life has been, how busy they’ve been and rattle off lists of excuses for why they haven’t been able to follow through. The enemy has been attacking many of us with busyness and distraction and our spiritual construction has slowed, and for some of us halted completely.

Life Application

Be prepared to face the enemy’s attempts to set me back!

My experience with this isn’t just by observing others second hand. I’m experiencing this in my own pursuit of God in this present season. God moved on my heart mid-September to really step up my pursuit of him in the secret place. And since then, I’ve experienced more busyness and distraction than I have all year.

God, give me wisdom in this season. Give me strength to overcome the attacks of the enemy. Grant us, your church, the power to stand firm and continue building spiritually and the power to say “No” to busyness and distractions. Amen.