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!

Acts 1

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Acts 1:11-““Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.””
Observation-What does it say?
Jesus’ disciples had just witnessed Jesus ascend into Heaven and continued looking up into the clouds where He had disappeared. Two men dressed in white came over and encouraged them of Jesus’ second coming as they continued to stand there.
Understanding-What does it mean?
Before Jesus ascended, Jesus had told His disciples that He wasn’t going to leave them alone, but was going to send a helper, His Holy Spirit, to help them continue to do the work of being His witnesses to the ends of the earth. In verses 6 and 7, the disciples questioned when He would return, but Jesus told them that it wasn’t for them to know the time or day. What the Lord wanted them to know was that the Holy Spirit was going to come upon them and they were to be His witnesses on this earth.
Life Application
While we wait for His return, we must keep serving Him on earth.
God never lies. He always keeps His promises and one of those promises is that Jesus is coming back! As Believers, we eagerly await the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. However, we are not to be concerned about the day or the hour of His return. We are also not to do our own thing or sit around after being saved while waiting to be raptured or to pass on to the next life (whatever comes first). Instead, with the help of His Holy Spirit living in us, we must work and serve Him until He returns. Paraphrasing what those 2 men in white said to the disciples, basically, “Be encouraged and stop looking into the sky for Jesus. He is coming back, but it’s time to get to work!” Dear Jesus, we look forward to the day when we get to see you face to face. We pray that we would not be idle in the works You have called us to do, but rather work and serve You on earth until You call us home to our eternal residence. Thank You that You have given us of Your Holy Spirit to help us fulfill those works. It is all about You and all for You Jesus! Amen.
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Exodus 40

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Exodus 40:38

So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels.

Observation – What does it say?

Once they completed the assembly of the tabernacle a cloud descended and covered it and the glory of the Lord filled it. Continually, from this moment on, the cloud remained on the tabernacle. The cloud was visible during the day and there were flames of fire in the cloud at night.

Understanding – What does it mean?

God dwells with his people.

The ‘glory cloud’ was a visible manifestation of God’s constant presence with his people. The tabernacle and cloud represented God with Israel. You see the tabernacle in Jesus, when John 1 says that he made his dwelling among us. And then at Pentecost the Holy Spirit was poured out and he now dwells within every believer. This is so amazing! This is the kind of God we serve. He draws near to his people and dwells among them continually, wherever they are.

When God first encountered me, he drained me of all my hopelessness, anger, sadness and pain and he replaced it with a love and joy so great I can’t explain it with words! In that moment, I realized that God isn’t ‘out there somewhere’ doing his own thing, but he is real, he loves me, and he wants to be intimately involved in my life! Since that day my life has never been the same. Life with the presence of God means I have assurance that he will provide, protect and guide me. It means I can have peace and joy even when the circumstances around me are crumbling. Why? Because I’m not alone!

The Psalmist recognized and declared, The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” (Psalm 145:18) And, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

Jesus promised his disciples, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:20)

Life Application

Be aware of God’s closeness to me today.

God, thank you that you are with us! You are closer to us than the glory cloud was to the people of Israel. Thank you for your constant presence with us, for dwelling with us, despite our imperfections and weaknesses. Thank you for your great love! Help us to grow in our awareness of your closeness to us today. Amen.
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Exodus 39

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Exodus 39:32

So all the work on the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, was completed.

Observation – What does it say?

Following all the detailed plans God had given them through Moses, they completed the project down to every last detail.

Understanding – What does it mean?

The Israelites set a great example by completing the work God had given them to do.

That had to be such an amazing feeling for the Israelites. They gave of themselves and their resources, whatever it took, to complete the mission God had given them. They not only started strong but they finished strong.

I long to complete the work God has given me, to not lose passion or heart but to be on fire for God and faithful to the end. It’s so easy to start well but lose steam over time. It’s so easy to be mid-project and to get tired or discouraged or feel like the finish line is so far away. But like a marathon runner feeling the exhaustion and discomfort at mile 15, we have to look up, remember the finish line and keep going! It’s important we finish this race and complete the work God has given us to do.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

When he looks at the works he prepared for me and how I lived my life, I long to hear the Master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21)

Life Application

Keep the finish line in mind!

God, I don’t want us to be a people that just begins the work you’ve given us but who finishes it! Remind us of the bigger picture and help us to work hard at the mission you’ve given us. I pray for those reading this who feel tired or discouraged. Refresh them today and renew their vision and passion. Amen.
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Exodus 38

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Exodus 38:24

The total amount of the gold from the wave offering used for all the work on the sanctuary was 29 talents and 730 shekels, according to the sanctuary shekel.

Observation – What does it say?

The Israelites freely offered from their own possessions all the valuable materials needed for building the sanctuary. Considering the gold alone, they offered the equivalent of about 2,200 lbs!

Understanding – What does it mean?

God deserves the best of what his people have.

What amazes me is the sheer amount that was freely given by the Israelites. They received no donation receipt or other goods in exchange for their offering. As a matter of fact, they received something way better in return, God’s presence with them! Often times we learn from reading Israel’s history what not to do. But here they set an incredible example for us giving not only what was most valuable, but lots of it!

Consider what they gave. The price of gold this morning is $1250.90/oz. That means the Israelites gave the modern day equivalent of $44,031,680 in gold! That doesn’t include the silver, bronze, fabric, wood, precious stones and countless hours of labor offered by the most skilled workers in Israel.

Today, our God given mission isn’t to build a temple but to build disciples. I can only imagine how much more ministry would be possible, how much quicker we would be multiplying disciples, if all God’s people including me offered the best of what they had! (God gave his best for us!) What if we all offered the best of our time and not just what’s left over, the best of our talent and skill and the best of our resources to reaching lost people with the gospel and discipling them?

Life Application

Where have I been failing to give God my best?

Where have I been giving God less than he deserves?

God, I want to give you my first and my best. You are worthy of it all! We are going to spend our time and talent and resources somewhere and I can’t think of any better place than on the mission you’ve given us. Forgive us for the times we put other things before you. Move upon our hearts to put your kingdom first and to trust you to take care of our needs as we do. Fill us with love for you and others. Fill us with faith. Amen.
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Exodus 37

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Exodus 37:5

And he inserted the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry it.

Observation – What does it say?

Bezalel and all the skilled workers built the tabernacle and all it’s contents according to God’s specific plans he had given Moses. Following those plans as he built the ark of the covenant, Bezalel fastened two rings to each side of the ark that he slid poles into. These poles were for the purpose of carrying the ark when they would move camp.

Understanding – What does it mean?

The ark was always meant to be portable. God had answered Moses’ prayer in chapter 34 for God’s presence to go with them wherever they went. And so, when God gave them the plans he had this decision in mind. The rings and poles were a continual reminder that wherever God would command them to go, he had made a way for his presence to go with them.

God has made a way to be with his people wherever they go.

Under the new covenant, when we believe in Jesus, God’s Spirit dwells within us. Rather than carrying God’s presence in an incredibly beautiful box overlaid with God, we have the incredible privilege of carrying him within our own bodies. The new covenant is better than the old, the new temple better than the old, and the new relationship with God better than the old.

Matthew 28:20b “surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Ephesians 1:13 When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit…

Life Application

Enjoy God’s presence with me today!

God, whether or not we ‘feel’ your presence with us we know that according to your word you are with us. We can walk in confidence, free from anxiety and fear, full of joy and faith, because you are with us and you are for us. Thank you for blessing us with your continual presence with us! Amen.
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Exodus 36

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Exodus 36:1 
“So Bezalel, Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord has given skill and ability to know how to carry out all the work of constructing the sanctuary are to do the work just as the Lord has commanded.”
Observation – What does it say?
God used skillful workers to accomplish His plans to construct the sanctuary. The words skill, skilled person, skilled worker, and ability are used 8 times in this chapter.
Understanding – What does it mean?
Although it was ultimately God who empowered His people to accomplish His plans and purposes, He also created people with a unique set of skills, passions, desires, gifts and talents. These skills and abilities helped them to accomplish the work that He had called them to.
Life Application
Use your gifts, talents, and skills in order to further the Kingdom of God!
Although it is ultimately God who empowers us through His Spirit to accomplish His mission, He has also created us with a unique set of skills, passions, desires, gifts and talents that help us do the work that He has called us to do.
We all have something to offer when it comes to furthering the Kingdom of Christ.  Whether it is a heart for teaching, leading, children, families, music, creative arts, marriage, multimedia, organizing, building and maintenance, there is always an area of service that we have been uniquely created for. One of the classes that we will be offering during our Spring quarter of DSU  is called “Finding My Place” designed to help you discover who God has created you to be and how that fits with his plan for your life.  I encourage you to sign up for that class if you’re curious as to what skills, gifts, and talents you have to offer to further the Kingdom of Christ.
Dear Jesus, thank you for the way you have created us all uniquely for service.  Thank you for the differing gifts, talents, and skills that are present within our family at DSC.  I pray that we would live our lives purposely for You as we discover how You have shaped us for our individual callings to further Your Kingdom.  In your name we pray, Amen.
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Exodus 35

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Exodus 35:5

From what you have, take an offering for the Lord.

Observation – What does it say?

After receiving all the instructions, Moses assembled all the Israelites. It was time to get to work! They had the plans and the next step was gathering the materials and workers needed. So, God spoke through Moses that day commanding all the Israelites who were willing to offer what they had to help complete the project, whether material or skills. No one was demanded to offer something he didn’t have, but rather to offer to God “from what you have.”

Understanding – What does it mean?

God had blessed his people with materials and skills to fulfill the great task he had given them. Exodus 12:35-36 tells us that God moved on the hearts of the Egyptians to give them all kinds of articles of gold, silver and clothing as they were leaving Egypt. Then God supernaturally gave them skills in all kinds of areas, particularly Bezalel and Oholiab who would teach others these skills. I’m sure the light bulb went on for many of them as Moses spoke that God had given them these things for this very project.

What struck me is that God specified for the people to offer from what they had. He had given them resources and skills, and now they learn the reason why: those resources and skills were needed to accomplish God’s work.

I’m reminded of the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30. The man entrusted different amounts to each of his servants while he was gone. When he came back, regardless of how many talents each had, he judged them based on what they did with them. Did they produce something with what they were given? What we learn is that it doesn’t matter how much you have, but what you do with what you have.

God gives his people skills and resources with the desire that they would offer them back to God and use them to accomplish his plans.

Life Application

Today, I feel moved to offer back to God what he has given me!

What skills has God given me? What resources has God given me?

How can I offer those things back to God to accomplish his plans?

God, thank you for all that you’ve blessed us with! We recognize that all the skills you’ve given us, the resources you’ve given us, the passions and desires you’ve given us, all point to your plans for our lives. May we not be selfish, but willingly offer back to you all these things to help build up your church and fulfill the mission you’ve given us. Amen.
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Exodus 34

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Exodus 34:29

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.

Observation – What does it say?

Talk about a fast! Moses spent 40 days alone on the mountain with God without eating or drinking anything… not even water! An unbroken hour alone with God seems like a long time to many, but Moses spent an unbroken 40 days alone with God! And after more than a month alone with God, Moses came down from the mountain and when the people saw him they were shocked. Not because he had been gone so long and finally returned, but because his face was glowing! According to verse 29 his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.

Understanding – What does it mean?

God’s presence is transforming!

Moses went up the mountain appearing normal and came down glowing. When someone chooses to spend time with God, not just for 2 minutes here and there, but to linger a while, they are changed. I’m reminded of “the vine and the branches” talk Jesus gave in John 15. The more a branch is connected, the more fruit it’s going to bear and the more it’s going to look different than the branches that aren’t connected.

For Moses, it was his glowing face that caused people to notice he had been with God. And, for Peter and John it was their courage that caused people to make the same connection.

Acts 4:13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

When ordinary people spend time with Jesus it becomes obvious to the world around them because they look different, they have a different attitude, they love more, they rejoice more and they have more courage.

As I read this passage I couldn’t help but think of the people on our PII cards and really all the people in the world who are looking to see if Christianity is the real deal. They are looking to see if Christians are different. And the only way they are going to see any difference in us is if we spend enough time with Jesus to be transformed!

Life Application

Spend a little more time with God.

Think about the time you spend with God now. What does it look like for you to take the next step in spending a little more time with him?

Start where you are. Don’t try to spend 40 days straight if you’ve never spent 40 minutes straight 🙂 For you, maybe you haven’t been spending any regular time with God and so you decide to start with setting aside 5 minutes a day to pray and then read a chapter in the Bible. What does the next step look like for you?

God, I pray that we would be a church that spends time with you and lingers in your presence long enough to be changed! May our lives reflect you to the rest of the world! Transform us in your presence as you transformed Moses and Peter and John. We want to know you more and in turn make you known to the world around us. Amen.

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Exodus 33

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Exodus 33:15-16

15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”

Observation – What does it say?

Because they were so incredibly stubborn that God might destroy them along the way, God told Moses he wouldn’t go with them as they journeyed to the Promised Land. So Moses once again goes to meet with God and to intercede on behalf of the Israelites, this time going to a tent he pitched outside camp that he called the “tent of meeting” where he an anyone else could go to meet with God. In the tent Moses pleads with God to go with them. He placed such a high value on the presence of God that he would rather dwell in the wilderness with God than in the Promised Land without him. From Moses’ perspective, God’s presence with his people was the only thing that showed God was pleased with them and that set them apart from everyone else!

Understanding – What does it mean?

God’s people should place the highest value on God’s presence being with them!

In scripture there seems to be different degrees of God’s presence. Before you write me off as a heretic, consider this:

God’s presence fills all his creation. Ephesians 4:6 …[God] is over all and through all and in all.
Although God is already present with everyone because they are part of his creation, when someone believes in Jesus they are filled with the Holy Spirit in a way that is different than the way God fills the rest of creation.
1 Corinthians 6:19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?
Then, Jesus tells these believers who are filled with the Holy Spirit in Matthew 18:20, where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. Again, he must be referring to a greater measure or experience of his presence than if they were alone.
Even beyond this there are instances where believers who already had the Holy Spirit and had already been together in prayer for a considerable amount of time were suddenly “filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 4:31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

Moses’ desire was that God’s presence would go with them in a way that was different from the way God already filled his creation. He desired God’s presence to be with them in a way that it was obvious to the rest of the world, in a way that set them apart from everyone else! This should be the desire of every believer! That we would experience God’s presence in greater ways, that he would fill in such a way that everyone we come into contact with throughout the week encounters him, that his presence would be so thick in the times we gather together on Sunday mornings that everyone recognizes it and is changed!

Life Application

Seek God, as Moses did, for his presence!

God, I don’t want to go anywhere without you! More important than planning or organization, more important than strength or wisdom or skill, more important than having all the finances or other resources, is having your presence with us! We are desperate for your presence! More of you God! Please fill us in greater measure. Would it please you to increase your presence in our midst as we gather together on Sunday mornings and as we go to school and work and are with our families and friends throughout the week. We love your presence and in every moment and every area we long for more! Amen.
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Exodus 32

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Exodus 32:11, 14

11 But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God…

 14 Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.

Observation – What does it say?

As Moses and Joshua were with God on Mt. Sinai receiving the 10 commandments, the Israelites grew impatient in waiting for them to come back down. When Moses and Joshua finally come down the mountain, they discover that in their impatience, the Israelites had turned to worshiping an idol that Aaron made for them. Moses was furious with them and so was God. God told Moses he planned to destroy them, but Moses prayed and asked God to have mercy. In response to Moses’ prayer, God relented and didn’t destroy them.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Prayer is input for the outcome.

Psalm 106:23 references this very point in Israel’s history: So he said he would destroy them– had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach before him to keep his wrath from destroying them.

An entire nation of people was spared from destruction because Moses prayed for them. Talk about having favor with God! Throughout scripture we see that God gives all his people the same favor as he invites them to seek him and give him input for the outcome.

Ezekiel 22:30 [God said,] “I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.”

James 4:2  You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.

If only we would ask God, things would be different! As we come to God in prayer, we have the ability to alter situations, to partner with God in saving people from an eternity separated from him, to see cities and nations changed by God’s power, and more!

Life Application

Am I giving input for the outcome?

Ask God who and what he wants me to pray for. And, pray with faith that God will hear and answer!

God, thank you for the amazing privilege of being able to come to you in prayer with confidence that you will answer! Teach us to be a people that prays and seeks your face so that those around us can experience your mercy and saving power. Show us what to pray for and where you are calling us to stand in the gap and intercede. Amen.
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