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!
 

Romans 9

Scripture

Romans 9:3

 For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race,the people of Israel.

Observation – What does it say?

I can’t help but think of the Hunger Games and Katniss Everdeen volunteering as tribute, to face death, in place of her little sister. Paul is saying, if he had the option he would take the place of eternal death and separation from Christ if it meant his people wouldn’t have to.
The Apostle Paul changes his tone on a dime. He had just gone into detail about all the beautiful facets of our new lives empowered by God’s Spirit and celebrating the power of God’s love.  Then he suddenly begins to express his grief over his people, the Jews, who are missing out on all of it! He is so grieved he wishes that he himself could be cut off from Jesus and all these amazing promises if it means that his people could be saved in his place. What a statement! 

Understanding – What does it mean?

Understanding the benefits of salvation should cause us to long for everyone to experience it.

Salvation is the most incredible gift, changing lives not only for this life but for the one to come! The greatest heartbreak for the Christian, is when those we love have not chosen to receive that gift. 
 
Paul’s tone change is completely understandable. As he is going on about all the incredible benefits of this life in Christ, in the back of his mind he can’t stop thinking of those who aren’t experiencing them.  

Life Application

Who has God placed in the back of my mind as I’ve been reminded of this great life I have in Christ? Who do I need to get intentional about praying for and investing in and inviting into relationship with Jesus?

God, forgive me for the times I’ve just been so content with my salvation and haven’t had regard for those who aren’t saved. Break our hearts for the lost. And move us like you moved Paul, to share the good news with them and see them receive you. We don’t want to just get emotional but to open our mouths and urge people to believe in you. Amen.
 
To check out the discussion or join in click here.


Romans 8

Scripture

Romans 8:29

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 and sisters.

Observation – What does it say?

In this portion of the letter that Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, he is telling them about how their lives should be different now that they are Christians. He talks about living lives controlled by the Spirit of God instead of our sinful nature and about what it means that we are children of God. Among all the beautiful and wonderful implications of being children of God – being heirs of God and a heavenly kingdom, being free from our old life, having a future hope, and the ways God loves and fights for us as his children – Paul points out that God has a purpose for every one of his children: To transform us into the image of Jesus.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Christlikeness is God’s goal for every Christian.

Being formed into the image of Christ means we will look like him.  Obviously not physically. I don’t know any Christians who started looking more like a Jewish man the longer they had been saved. Being formed into Christ’s image means we resemble his character – His love and humility, his joy and his gentleness.
God is more concerned with the kind of person we are becoming than any specific things we might do ‘for’ him. Although God has prepared good works in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10), the ultimate destination for every Christian isn’t a position or title or ministry role. Rather, the ultimate destination God has in mind has to do with character. And journeying toward this destination is a lifelong process. None of us are perfect yet. None of us completely resemble Jesus. We cant fall into the trap of setting false finish lines based on comparing ourselves with others who are less mature or with who we used to be. Being like Christ is the goal, not being better than we were or better than someone else. This “conforming into the image of his Son” is something God will be doing in each of us as long as there is breath in our lungs. 

Life Application

Do I look more like Jesus today than I did before God saved me? If the answer is no, I would doubt that I am in fact saved.

Do I look more like Jesus today than I did a year ago? …a month ago? …a week ago? How is my growth? Have I slowed in my transformation or can I point to recent evidence that God is continuing to transform me?

God, I am reminded that there is so much room that I have to grow. Please have your way in me. In the areas my growth has slowed I invite you to go to work. I want to look more like Jesus, to resemble his perfect character, to be holy, to love unconditionally, to be a servant of all. I surrender to you. Amen.

 To check out the discussion or to join in click here.



Romans 7

Scripture

Romans 7:2

 For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law that binds her to him.

Observation – What does it say?

Paul uses the illustration of the covenant of marriage to describe how those who are in Christ have been set free from the law. Like a woman whose husband dies is no longer bound to her husband, the woman (or man) in Christ is no longer bound to the law of sin and death. She is free to be bound to another. In this case, she is bound to Christ and the body of believers.

Understanding – What does it mean?

The Christian is no longer bound to the law but to Christ!

Our sinful man was bound to the law and it’s consequences. But according to 1 Corinthians 5:17 and Galatians 2:20, your old self was crucified with Christ on the cross and you are a new creation. Your sinful nature is dead. My sinful nature is dead. (Side note: Do I still sin? Yes. But that isn’t evidence my sinful nature is still alive. Adam sinned in the garden without having a sin nature.)

Now in Christ, our sinful nature has been put to death so we no longer have to obey it. We are no longer bound to it. And, we are no longer bound to the law’s consequences. We have been forgiven and made alive to God in Christ Jesus!

Romans 8 says, “Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”

Galatians 2:19-21 19 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God.20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

Life Application

Worship God for setting me free from the law and it’s consequences!

When temptation comes, remember I no longer have to give in because Christ set me free!

God, I worship you! Thank you for the riches of your grace, expressed in your kindness to us in Christ. Thank you for freeing us when we couldn’t free ourselves. Thank you for salvation and forgiveness and for new life! In view of your great mercy, we choose to no longer use our bodies to sin but we offer them as living sacrifices to you. Amen.

To check out the discussion or to join in click here.



Romans 6

Scripture

Romans 6:16

Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?

Observation – What does it say?

The Apostle Paul is highlighting the transformation Christians experience at salvation, from being dead in sin to being alive in Christ Jesus. Before being saved, every person was dead in their sin, using their bodies to satisfy their sinful desires. But at salvation, we experience transformation and freedom from sin in Christ. Paul points out that you are slaves of whoever you obey, whether sin or obedience to God.

Understanding – What does it mean?

You are slaves of the one you obey.

God is worthy of our complete obedience. Failure to obey God’s word or even the gentle nudge of the Holy Spirit means that we are obeying something or someone else. In other words, we all have a master. Either God, our sinful nature, another person, or the enemy. Or as Paul categorizes it: either sin or righteousness.

Romans 12:1 Therefore I urge you, brothers, on account of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

Life Application

This really made me think today. Who am I obeying? Who is my master? When I am faced with a decision to obey God or not, I must consider that disobedience to God means I am being obedient to someone/something else.
 
God, I want to obey you alone. I want to be a slave to you alone. I don’t want to be a slave to my sinful nature, which you freed me from, or to the enemy, whom you defeated. Give me the strength to walk in obedience to you today! Amen.
 
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Romans 5

Scripture‭‭Romans‬ ‭5:3-4

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

Observation-What does it say?

It is through suffering that our character and our faith is developed and strengthened. It is parallel to what James says in James 1:2-4-“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Understanding-What does it mean?

We must thank God for the hard times too.

Without times of suffering, we don’t have an opportunity to exercise our faith. If things went well all the time, where would reliance and dependence on God come in? Why would we ever need to run to Him? The pressure and sufferings that we experience in life gives God an opportunity to teach us perseverance and what it means to not give up and put our hope completely on Jesus Christ.

Life Application

Push through seasons of suffering with the Holy Spirit’s help instead of running away or giving up.

Because suffering plays a huge part in how God molds us into the image of Christ, we should be thankful and push through those seasons with the Lord’s help. It is unwise to run away or throw in the towel doing these times of refining. 

Dear Lord, our hope, our help, and our faith come from You alone. I pray that we would rejoice not only in the happy times, but in our sufferings as well. Although it is not fun to go through hardships, I pray that we would rejoice that our faith, character and perseverance in You is being strengthened in the process. Amen. 

To check out the discussion or to join in click here.

 
 


Romans 4

Scripture

Romans 4:9-10

We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10 Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! 

Observation – What does it say?

The Apostle Paul points out to the Roman Christians the importance of faith when it comes to being made right with God. Using Abraham as an example, he shows that the sequence was: Faith -> Righteousness -> Circumcision. Abraham put his faith in God and therefore was made righteous. He was not made righteous because he was circumcised but because of his faith. Circumcision was a sign that he had already been made right with God.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Faith produces salvation and salvation produces good deeds.

There are outward signs of being made right with God. For example, circumcision (Old Testament only), a life of good deeds, service to God, etc. But those signs come AFTER God saves us, not before. We can’t forget that Jesus died for us BEFORE we could do anything to deserve it. In other words, “We do good works not so that we can be saved, but because we already are.” The outward signs are responses to, and results of, having been made right with God.

Remember John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” God wasn’t moved by our love for him, but by his love for us!

Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

Life Application
Don’t put stock in my works! It’s by faith alone in Christ’s work on the cross that positions you in the grace in which I now stand.

God, thank you for saving us! Thank you for loving us so much that you died for us even while we were still sinners. We recognize that our works have no bearing on our salvation. It’s only through our faith in Jesus that we are saved. We respond to your great love with a desire to love you in return. Help us to live lives that honor and please you. Amen.

 To check out the discussion or to join in click here.



Romans 3

Scripture

Romans 3:3-4

What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. 

Observation – What does it say?

The Apostle Paul pointed to a popular argument at the time: The unfaithfulness of God’s people must point to the fact that God himself is unfaithful. He argues that God is not a reflection of his unfaithful followers! Even if every human being is unfaithful, sinful, and a liar, it doesn’t take away from the fact that God is completely faithful, holy and true.

Understanding – What does it mean?

You cannot blame a holy God for unholy followers.

We have all heard people make a negative observation of a Christian and say, “If that’s what a Christian is like, I don’t want to have anything to do with Christianity.” They get hurt or put off by one person and then use it to discredit God and the entire gospel.

So many people in our culture today are wounded by Christians. It’s inevitable. None of are perfect, and none of us (if we’re honest) can claim to be. The world will surely see our love and the positive effect that the gospel has had on our lives. But the world will also surely see that we are still imperfect. And it’s those imperfections that can lead others away from God if they believe that Christians are supposed to be perfect representations of God on the earth. Although that is our goal, none of us are there yet.

Paul reminds us, human unfaithfulness doesn’t nullify God’s faithfulness!

Life Application

Have I been hurt by someone and blamed God for it? Has my perception of God been tainted because of my experience with others?

God, we declare that you are faithful. You are good. You are holy. You are kind. Help us to see you for who you are and to not fall into the bad logic that because someone who claims to follow you is imperfect it must mean that you’re imperfect. We disregard that and acknowledge that you are perfect in every way. We worship you. Amen.

To check out the discussion or to join in click here.



Romans 2

Scripture

Romans 2:4

Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

Observation – What does it say?

Paul calls out the Christians in Rome who had been judging other people for sinning. The problem was they were judging them for doing things that they themselves were doing! He points out to them that by doing that they were disrespecting God and the riches of his kindness. His kindness isn’t supposed to lead us to judging others but to repentance!

Understanding – What does it mean?

When God shows you kindness, he intends for you to change.

God is always after our character, molding and shaping us into the image of Christ. Every encounter with God should lead us to repentance and becoming more like him. Jesus demonstrated this truth time and again. He showed kindness to a lame man at the pool of Bethesda by healing him. And afterward told him:

John 5:14 “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”

At another time, the religious leaders brought a woman caught in adultery to Jesus, intending to stone her. Jesus showed her kindness and mercy, sparing her life. And afterward said:

John 8:11 “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
In each instance, Jesus extended great kindness to someone and then called them to repent, to change their mind about sinning any more.

Life Application

Meditate on the ways God has shown me kindness.

Have I been judging others and quick to point out their sin? Or, has God’s kindness led me to repentance? Are there still areas of sin I’m walking in that I need to surrender to him?

God, thank you so much for the kindness you’ve shown us! Thank you for saving me, changing me, and transforming my life! Forgive me for the times I pass judgement on others. Help us to walk instead in love and mercy. Holy Spirit reveal to each of us today any areas of sin you want us to repent of. We want to become more like you. Amen.
 
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Romans 1

Scripture

Romans 1:16

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 

Observation – What does it say?

The Apostle Paul begins his letter to the Christians in Rome by expressing his longing to visit them. He lists several reasons why he wants to visit, and among them is his desire to preach the gospel there and to have a harvest of souls. Where some people might be ashamed and afraid to tell people the message of salvation through Christ, Paul declared that he wasn’t! Why? Because through the Gospel, God will save everyone who believes!

Understanding – What does it mean?

The antidote for being ashamed of sharing the gospel is remembering that God will save anyone who believes it!

When we hear about sharing our faith, many Christians feel uncomfortable and afraid. Afraid that they don’t quite know what to say, afraid of what people will think, afraid of how people will respond, etc. But Paul learned to focus his thoughts away from those things and to continually remind himself what the gospel is: Good news! The only means to salvation!

When you recognize the greatness of the treasure you have to offer you can’t help but tell people about it. And, you find yourself like Paul wanting to travel, not for vacation but to share the gospel with those who haven’t heard it!

Life Application

Remember that God will save anyone who believes the gospel!

Find an opportunity to share the gospel with someone this week.

God, you know my desire to be used by you. I long to see souls saved. Please help me, help us, to recognize the opportunities you’ve placed before us. Give us the courage and the words to say, that we may give people the opportunity to be saved! Amen.
 
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Hebrews 13

Scripture
 
Hebrews 13:8“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
‭‭
Observation-What does it say?
 
The writer of Hebrews gave encouragement to Believers in various areas, but the overall theme points to the “superiority of Christ” (got questions.org) as Christ never changes and is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).
 
UnderstandingWhat does it mean?
 
Jesus Christ is trustworthy!
He does not change like shifting shadows (James 1:17b). In an ever changing world, serving a Lord that never changes, means we can trust what He says in His Word about marriage, money, giving, loving our neighbors, submitting to our leaders, etc. It means we can trust Him when He says our sins have been completely forgiven. It means we can trust Him when He says He will one day return and we will live with Him in eternity. 
 
Life Application
 
Hebrews 13:8 is a verse that is found on the wall of our church. Jesus Christ is the reason why we worship and gather on a Sunday morning. Jesus is the reason we are obedient to serve and give of our tithes and offerings. Investing in people or things that change like shifting shadows is unwise and will continue to leave us empty. However, investing our time, money, gifts, and talents to further the Kingdom of Christ will leave us with a return that will last forever, for eternity. What sounds like the better investment?
Dear Jesus, thank You that You stay the same and never change. Thank You that we can fully trust the promises in Your Word because You never go back on Your Word. I pray that when the world tempts us and tries to entice us to live for ourselves and/or material things, that we would be reminded of the better investment, which is You and Your Kingdom and glory. Amen. To check out the discussion or to join in click here.