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 23

Week 4:  A Challenge

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CONFESSION LEADS TO BREAKTHROUGH
  • Daniel 9:3 (NIV) 3 So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.

Daniel prepared himself to pray because a lot was on the line.

In the Old Testament the religious use of fasting is often in connection with making a request before God. The principle is that the importance of the request causes an individual to be so concerned about his or her spiritual condition that physical necessities fade into the background. In this sense the act of fasting is designed as a process leading to purification and humbling oneself before God.  It is not an end in itself, but rather it is the disciplined training in preparation for an important event.
Bible Background Commentary – The IVP Bible Background Commentary – Old Testament.

A lot of times the people were fasting but the fasting was an outward show of ritual.  While they were “fasting” they were sneaking around doing all of their business as usual.  As a result the fast was meaningless to God because their hearts were not in it.

God is not looking for some outward ritual, He wants the brokenness of our hearts.  He wants us to fast because we desperately desire Him to move in our lives and in our world.  He wants us to fast because we want to draw near to Him.

We cannot fast and continue to live in sin and expect that God will answer us.

So we must start with personal confession.  Rooting out areas of sin in our own lives.

Spend some time simply asking God to show you areas of unconfessed sin in your lives.  As He shows you be willing and open to repent.

  • Isaiah 58:6-7 (MSG) 6 “This is the kind of fast day I’m after: to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts. 7  What I’m interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families.

As you fast this week it is not just about abstaining from food, seek to do these things as well (not just as outward actions but because of the inner work of the Holy Spirit).

  1. Be open to the Holy Spirit as He points out areas of injustice and exploitation and be willing to do something about it…beginning with prayer.
  2. Allow the Holy Spirit to point out areas in your life where there is unforgiveness and then be willing to forgive and let go of the offenses.
  3. Actively seek opportunities to be generous to those who are hungry, homeless and in need.
  4. Take time to spend with your family (church family included).  Be present and involved in their lives.


Day 22

Week 4:  A CHALLENGE
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PREPARATION FOR A BREAKTHROUGH
  • Daniel 9:1-3 (NIV) 1 In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom– 2  in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. 3  So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.

The year is 539.

The change of power in from Babylonian to Persian causes Daniel to look back at the prophecies regarding this.

Isaiah and Jeremiah had prophesied about the fall of the Babylonian empire and the rise of the Medes.

Daniel comes across a prophecy made by Jeremiah in 597BC.  In it Jeremiah prophesies that Israel would be in captivity for 70 years.

Why are they in captivity?  Why would God do this to them?

  • They had broken their covenant with God – that they would be His people and He would be their God.
  • They had taken to worshipping other gods and idols.
  • They became like the nations and cultures around them and instead of being the image of God to the world and bringing His light to bear on them – they were becoming more like the world.

When God sent them into captivity He was keeping His promise because He warned them that they would be punished if they persisted in disobeying Him.

  • The years in Babylon helped to cure the Israelites of idol worship.
  • The years in captivity also gave the land a chance to rest so that once again it could be fruitful.

The people had not heeded God’s command to let the land rest and had failed to honor the command regarding the sabbatical year.  There is an important component to prescribed rest – God demands it and when we don’t follow the command He will do what is necessary to ensure that rest is found.

So when Daniel makes the discovery about the 70 years the period of captivity was about to end.  If as Biblical scholars say the period of captivity started in 605 BC and it is now 539 BC it is a period of 66 years that have gone by.  It is not by chance that God sent Daniel to discover the prophecy of Jeremiah.  He did it because God had a job for Daniel.

The job was to begin to prepare the way for the new era in the life of God’s people.

That is where we find ourselves.

We are in a time of great political change – look at the world around us.

The church in America has been taken captive by big business.

We have become like the people around us and worship the same gods as the world all while calling it godly.

But God is getting ready to usher in the next era in His plan.

He has quickened the hearts of people with dreams and visions that point us to the fact that there is a move of God on the horizon and the reason He has revealed it to us is so that we can pray and begin to prepare the way for God’s move.

So what are we to do?

Daniel is a wonderful example of balance in the spiritual life, for he devoted himself to both the Word of God and prayer.   Some believers are so wrapped up in prophetic studies that they have little concern for the practical outworking of God’s will. All they want to do is satisfy their curiosity and then proudly share their “insights” with others. When Daniel learned God’s truth, the experience humbled him and moved him to worship and to pray.

 

Write down the areas you want to see God breakthrough in your lives, in your family and in our church family.  Our nation, our leaders.

Commit today to fast and pray this week.  Map out a plan for what you will do and how.  Ask God for strength and discipline to accomplish it


Day 21

Week 3:  The Greatest Prayer Ever Prayed
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Jesus Prayed That the World May be Saved
 
SCRIPTURE
  • Luke 19:10 (NIV) 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”

 

  • Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV) 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

OBSERVATION

Jesus’ mission was to seek and to save the lost and when He left earth He asks all of His followers to continue in that mission.  Anyone who becomes a follower of Christ automatically has been assigned the task of continuing Jesus’ mission.

UNDERSTANDING

Jesus prays that we will remain in the world.  Even though the world will hate us He does not remove us from this world because He has a job for us to do – He is sending us into the world to share the good news that God loves mankind and wants to restore them to relationship with Himself.  For everyone of us who are followers of Christ we have been given this mission – preach the gospel, leading people back to relationship with the Father, teaching them to obey the commands of God and encouraging them to go and do the same.  Sounds familiar?  At DSC the great commission is summed up in our strategy statement of…

Reaching out to lost people

Recruiting them into the family of God (salvation) and the family at DSC (fellowship with believers)

Resourcing (equipping) them so that they grow up in their spiritual maturity (teaching them to obey)

Releasing them to go into all the world and preach the gospel.

If you are growing as a disciple then you will be able to see the progression in these areas.  You will find that you are growing in your intimacy with God, His people and your desire to see people come to know God will also be increasing.

 

LIFE APPLICATION

We are “sent ones” sent by the Sent One.  This should be the priority of our life.  This mission is obviously close to Jesus’ heart, the question is, “Are you living on mission as a sent one of the Sent One?”

What changes need to be made in your life so that you can live more on mission?

Pray today and ask God to give you His heart for the lost. 



Day 20

Week 3:  The Greatest Prayer Ever Prayed

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Jesus Prays for Unity 
 
SCRIPTURE
  • John 17:11 (NIV) 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name–the name you gave me–so that they may be one as we are one.

 

  • John 17:20-21 (NIV) 20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21  that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

OBSERVATION

In Jesus’ prayer we are given some insight as to what is near and dear to His heart.  He wants us to be holy and sanctified, He wants us to glorify Him and in so doing glorify His Father.  And now He prays for our unity.

UNDERSTANDING

All of the things Jesus prayed for like our holiness and our unity ultimately brings glory to the Father.  God has provided all the resources to glorify Him and to remain faithful to Him.  We have His Word and it reveals to us all that we have in Jesus. 

We have the Son who is interceding for us, and since the Father always answers the prayers of His Son we can live with confidence.

We also have the fellowship of the church.  Jesus prays that we will be one as the Trinity is one.  Nowhere in the New Testament do you see such a thing as isolated believers.  Wherever you find the church you find them in fellowship.  Why?  Because God’s people need each other.  We are to live in unity.  That does not mean we dress the same and have no opinions of our own or are simply clones of one another, but unity means that we are united around the same purpose – to glorify the Father in our lives.  We glorify Him in the fellowship by loving one another, putting the needs of others above our own, by choosing to sacrificially love like Jesus loves.  We are to pray for one another and to forgive one another.  

Unity is not the absence of disagreements but it is the presence of a reconciling spirit.  We are willing to contribute our points of view but we do not allow our disagreements to divide us because we look to keep the unity of the spirit by a bond of peace.

 

LIFE APPLICATION

Where are there places you have not been living in unity?  Where your disagreement has led to division?  Jesus prays that we will have a reconciling Spirit.  Take a moment today and ask Him to show you the areas where you are not building the unity of the fellowship and then go to those people and reconcile so that we can live the way Jesus desires we live, in unity.  When we are obedient to this God is glorified!


Day 19

Week 3:  The Greatest Prayer Ever Prayed

Justpray_appJesus Prayed for the Disciples to be Sanctified

SCRIPTURE

  • John 17:13-17 (TLB) “And now I am coming to you. I have told them many things while I was with them so that they would be filled with my joy. 14  I have given them your commands. And the world hates them because they don’t fit in with it, just as I don’t. 15  I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from Satan’s power. 16  They are not part of this world any more than I am. 17  Make them pure and holy through teaching them your words of truth.

OBSERVATION

Jesus prays that we will be holy and set apart as we continue to live in this world of sin. He prays that because it is God’s will that we remain in this world for a while so as to be witnesses of His power and transforming love.

 

UNDERSTANDING

Jesus interceded for the disciples (and for the disciples to come) because He knew that His time here on earth had come to a close and it was now in the plan of the Father that the eleven carry on the work Jesus started. Jesus’ confidence was not in the resolve or resourcefulness of the disciples but in the power and love of the Father who had “given these men” to Jesus. In essence Jesus was asking that the will of the Father be fulfilled. And because the will of the Father meant that these men would be the witnesses who would carry the news of God’s love through His Son to the world Jesus knew they would be in for some rough times so He prays for their protection.

But in order to be true witnesses of the saving and transforming power of God they needed to be sanctified as well. That is, they needed to be pure, holy and set apart. Another way to say it is that they needed to become more like Jesus, and as they became more like Jesus they would be living witnesses of the power and love of God. That is why we are to be holy in an unholy world – to be His witnesses to the world.

The problem is that to live in the world means we are always in contact with the sinful nature of the world and if we are not careful it can rub off on us, which is why Jesus says that we are to wash daily in the Word of God – the scriptures. We are made pure by the daily washing in the Word that cleanses our hearts and minds and keeps our vision heavenly.

 

LIFE APPLICATION

The importance of PB& J stands out in this passage. In order to continue to be transformed into the holiness and purity of Christ we must daily spend time in prayer, bible study and journaling. Bible study and journaling go hand in hand because in order to truly glean what the Word of God is saying and how we are to put it into practice in our lives we must not just read but process the Word of God. It is why we do SOUL Journaling – because it helps us answer the questions of What is God saying and what will I do about it.

I encourage you to sanctify yourselves by the reading and studying of the Word of God and by spending time daily in prayer.



Day 18

Week 3:  The Greatest Prayer Ever Prayed
Justpray_appJesus Prays for the Disciples’ Protection
SCRIPTURE
  • John 17:6-11 (MSG) 6  I spelled out your character in detail To the men and women you gave me. They were yours in the first place; Then you gave them to me, And they have now done what you said. 7  They know now, beyond the shadow of a doubt, That everything you gave me is firsthand from you, 8  For the message you gave me, I gave them; And they took it, and were convinced That I came from you. They believed that you sent me. 9  I pray for them. I’m not praying for the God-rejecting world But for those you gave me, For they are yours by right. 10  Everything mine is yours, and yours mine, And my life is on display in them. 11  For I’m no longer going to be visible in the world; They’ll continue in the world While I return to you. Holy Father, guard them as they pursue this life That you conferred as a gift through me, So they can be one heart and mind

OBSERVATION

Jesus prays for the disciples (and all who would become Christ-followers) to be protected so that we could continue to carry out the work He started.

 

UNDERSTANDING

Jesus would soon depart to the Father and leave His disciples in the world. They had to stay in the world to carry out God’s plan in spreading the good news of redemption and in planting the church.

Since the disciples would be in the world, Jesus prayed for their protection. The hostility against God which fell on Jesus would now fall on the tiny band of apostles, and subsequently on many of Jesus’ followers. Jesus, in calling on His Holy Father, pointed up God’s distinction from sinful creatures. This holiness is the basis for believers’ separation from the world. He would protect them from the sin and enmity of the world by the power of His name. In Bible times a person’s name stood for the person.

Why did Jesus pray for their preservation? It was to promote the unity of the believers, patterned after the unity of the Father and the Son: so that they may be one as We are One (vv. 21-22). The unity here seems to be that of will and purpose. By being protected from the world they would be unified in their desires to serve and glorify the Son.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty.

 

LIFE APPLICATION

Jesus prays for our protection out loud so that we can catch a glimpse of what He is doing now in heaven on our behalf. He wants us to be filled with joy and courage to live out His mission here in this world because He is ever interceding before for Father as He did in John 17. We can take courage and walk in obedience to His commands to Go and preach the gospel; to go and make disciples of all nations; because He is praying for us. So what are we waiting for? We have Jesus interceding for us for protection from the world so that we can live in obedience to His command to multiply Christ-followers everywhere.

 

Father forgive me for being scared to walk in obedience to your command to make disciples. I am choosing to step out in faith and live in Your will. Show me the areas where I can be more missional and where I can truly reflect your image in a way that points people to you.


Day 17

Week 3:  The Greatest Prayer Ever Prayed
Justpray_appTHAT JESUS BE GLORIFIED
SCRIPTURE
  • John 17:1-5 (NIV) 1 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.
    2  For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.
    3  Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
    4  I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.
    5  And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

OBSERVATION

It seemed as though Jesus was being selfish in this prayer but the reason He wants to be glorified is so that the Father would be glorified.

 

UNDERSTANDING

Jesus began this prayer by praying for Himself, but in praying for Himself, He was also praying for us.

“A prayer for self is not by any means necessarily a selfish prayer,” wrote Dr. R.A. Torrey, and an examination of Bible prayers shows that this is true.

Jesus’ burden was the glory of God, and this glory would be realized in His finished work on the cross. The servant of God has every right to ask his Father for the help needed to glorify His name. “Hallowed be Thy name” is the first petition in the Model Prayer and it is the first emphasis in this prayer.

Bible Exposition Commentary – Bible Exposition Commentary

 

The Westminster Catechism reminds us that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. In this passage we read that Jesus’ desire is that we glorify Him because in glorifying Jesus we bring glory to the Father.

The word glorify means to bring honor, respect and worship to the one being glorified.

 

LIFE APPLICATION

Jesus’ first agenda in His prayer is that He is glorified, which begs the question…Are you glorifying Him is all that you do?
  • Why do you do the things you do?
  • What is your purpose behind your work, your play, your service and your relationships? Is it to glorify God?
  • Do these actions reflect well on Jesus?
  • Does it leave a sweet taste of Christ in the mouths of the people we are around?
  • How will you glorify Jesus today?
Pray for eyes to be open for the opportunities and then just glorify Him!


Day 16

Week 3:  The Greatest Prayer Ever Prayed

Justpray_appTHE LORD’S PRAYER

SCRIPTURE
John 17
OBSERVATION

Jesus’ prayer in John 17 falls into three sections…

  • Jesus praying for Himself
  • Jesus praying for His disciples
  • Jesus praying for the church to come
UNDERSTANDING

But to look at the whole prayer those three things fall into the larger container of Jesus praying that God may be glorified. He prays that the Father continue to be glorified in all that Jesus had done and was about to do. That was always the motivation of Jesus, that the Father be glorified. Even when He prays that He (Jesus) be glorified in verse one it, the motivation is so that ultimately the Father be glorified.

I also think that this prayer bridges Jesus’ earthly ministry with His heavenly ministry. In this prayer we hear Him interceding for His disciples and for His church and as Hebrews 7:25 tells us He is now in heaven interceding on our behalf. In essence we get a glimpse of what Jesus is praying for us even now.

A paraphrase of John 17:13 says, “These are the prayers which in heaven I will never cease to make before God. but 1 make them now in the world in your hearing so that you will know that I am going to be always promoting your welfare in heaven. When you know this, you will be partakers of My joy.”

I think it is one of the reasons Jesus prayed this prayer out loud in the presence of His disciples. He didn’t need to but He prayed out loud to let the disciples in on the conversation between the Trinity.

  • They caught a glimpse of the heart of God for us and how special we are to the Father and His Son.
  • They heard that God called them His own.
  • They heard how Jesus was praying for them regarding their mission and living in this world.
  • They heard Him ask the Father that the disciples and the church would live in holiness and righteousness.
  • They heard Him pray that they would live in love and unity – looking to always have a spirit of reconciliation rather than division.
  • They heard His heart for the world to hear the good news of the Father and be returned to relationship with Him.
LIFE APPLICATION

Father thank you for loving us so much you sent Your Son to reconcile us to you. Thank you Jesus that you came and that you completed the work the Father sent you to do. Thank you Jesus that your heart was always to bring honor and glory to the Father and now I ask that you would help us to do the same – may I glorify the Father by accomplishing the work that you have ordained for me. I pray that your people at DSC will have a heart to live holy lives and bring honor and glory to Your name. Father glorify us in order for us to bring even greater glory to your name.



Day 15

Week 3: The Greatest Prayer Ever Prayed

Just Pray

THE LORD”S PRAYER

SCRIPTURE

John 17:13-19 (NIV) 13  “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14  I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15  My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16  They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17  Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18  As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19

 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

 

OBSERVATION

Jesus in His prayer tells us that the Word of God is essential for us if we want to live victorious Christian lives.

 

UNDERSTANDING

Jesus prays that the disciples would have joy and then says that the joy comes from the words He spoke. (v 13)

The Word of God gives us joy to live overcoming lives in this world.  The Bible tells us that the joy of the Lord is our strength and we gain a perspective of joy as we read God’s Word to understand His character and revel in His promises.

 

God’s Word also assures us of His love for us.  (v14)

The world may hate those who are children of God but we are able to stand strong because of the assurance that God loves us.  We experience this love through the Holy Spirit but we know of this love because of God’s Word.

Jesus also tells us in His prayer that God’s Word gives us the power we need to live holy lives.  We live in an unholy world but we are called to live holy lives and that can feel insurmountable at times as we are bombarded with the things that lead us to unholiness.  This is why the Word of God is so important – we must daily wash our minds in the Word.

 

LIFE APPLICATION

Jesus prays that we will overcome the world and He tells us that the Word of God is one of the tools necessary to be able to accomplish that.

D.L. Moody wrote in the front of his Bible, “This book will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from this book.”

Are we taking advantage of this tool?  Are we learning to wield it properly, learning how to be proficient with it?  Are we practicing with the Biblical sword or do we wield it once or twice a week hoping that somehow we will be experts at it?



Day 14

Week 2: A PATTERN FOR PRAYER

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JUST PRAY!

We have looked at the Lord’s Model Prayer over the last week.  I hope you see that prayer is simple, it does not have to be long and it must never become mindless repetition.  The following is a diagram I use in prayer so that I can pray on track.  It keeps prayer fresh and new to me because every time I use it the Holy Spirit points out some area of focus.  Try it for yourself and see.  Let’s just pray.
Prayer Circle