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 40

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Scripture

Isaiah 40:30-31

Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;

but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Observation – What does it say?

Unlike man-made idols of wood and precious metals which cannot help people in any way, God is the all-powerful Creator of the universe and provides unlimited strength to those who hope in him. Even where the most healthy, in-shape and energetic young person would get tired, the person who hopes in the Lord will have the strength to keep going.

Understanding – What does it mean?

This amazing promise of renewed strength and pictures of soaring, running and walking with ease are not for everyone. They are only for those who hope in the LORD. That word hope in the original Hebrew is also translated as wait. As a matter of fact, the majority of English translations seem to use the word wait in this verse. So the question for every person is, “What are you waiting on?”

This scripture leads me to believe that anyone (Christ-follower or not) who is weary and who isn’t having their strength renewed, hasn’t been hoping in, or taking enough time to wait, upon the Lord. In need of renewed strength? The answer is taking time to wait upon the Lord.

Life Application

Wait upon the Lord.

Although it hasn’t been intentional, every post this week has led me to think about our 28 days of prayer and fasting. When I prayed about my first 40 day fast several years ago, this verse in Isaiah was the one God gave me. As I set aside 40 days to stop waiting on tv, media, and around the dinner table, I would spend time waiting on God in prayer and the word instead. And as a result, God would renew my strength and cause me to soar. The picture of soaring was one of God granting me the ability to get an aerial view so to speak; the ability to see my situation, other people, the church, the world, etc, from his perspective.

God, next month as we fast the empty things we waste so much time waiting on, help us to follow through with waiting on you instead. And as we do, thank you that you will renew our strength and passion and bless us to see things from your perspective. Amen.

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



Isaiah 39

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Scripture

Isaiah 39:8

“The word of the Lord you have spoken is good,” Hezekiah replied. For he thought, “There will be peace and security in my lifetime.”

Observation – What does it say?

King Hezekiah opens his palace up for an ancient version of MTV Cribs. He gives some Babylonian visitors a grand tour of the palace and his storehouses showing off all his riches and valuables… things that he and his predecessors had worked centuries to accumulate. As soon as the Babylonian crew leaves, Isaiah walks in the door with yet another message from God: The Babylonians are going to ransack your palace and carry off every bit of wealth you showed off to them. And, if that isn’t enough, they will kidnap your own children too!

Rather than tearing his clothes in distress and seeking the Lord for mercy like he had in the past, Hezekiah is complacent and actually calls the news “good”! He was fine with the news because he assumed it would take place after he was dead.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Hezekiah, a man God put in charge of his people, seems to have had no heart for anyone except himself!

We know God would have had mercy if Hezekiah had only prayed. How?

God’s actions aren’t just random events. Rather, they are revelations of his character. When God heals someone that is sick, it’s important to recognize that he didn’t merely heal someone. He revealed that it’s in his nature to heal. It’s a critical distinction. When God provided enough to pay the bills last month it was a revelation that in his covenant relationship with you, he will always provide. In every action God is trying to reveal to us some part of his unchanging character and the nature of our relationship with him. Then, the next time sickness or financial hardship come we have no excuse to doubt or not turn to him. The fact that God healed and provided in the past is proof that he will heal and provide today if we look to him and trust him.

God had revealed to Hezekiah time and again the nature of his covenant relationship with him. He revealed that no matter the threat, sickness or bad news, if Hezekiah would humble himself and pray God would have mercy and deliver him. Although Hezekiah must have learned this about God, he didn’t have enough love for his citizens or even his own children to pray!

Contrast this with Philippians 2. Paul encourages the Christians to imitate Christ’s attitude and consider the interests of others instead of just their own. Jesus came and sacrificed himself because he loved the world and not just himself. Timothy was commended for being a man who, when everyone else was looking out for themselves, was genuinely concerned about others. The apostle Paul speaks of weeping for his lost Jewish brothers and sisters and even says he wished he could be cursed and separated from Christ himself if it meant they could be saved (Rom 9:3). Wow! What a contrast when you consider Hezekiah!

Life Application

Don’t be so self-centered that I only pray hard when I’m the one in trouble!

As we approach January and our 28 days of prayer and fasting, even if we aren’t personally feeling desperate for God’s mercy and intervention in our lives (although we are!), why not commit to pray and fast for God’s intervention in the lives of others?

God, forgive me for being selfish and self-centered! Make me more like you. Fill us with your heart for our brothers and sisters in Christ, and for the lost who are desperate to know you. Lead us in how to pray for others today and during our 28 days in January. Amen.

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



Isaiah 38

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Scripture

Isaiah 38:4-5

Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah: “Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life.

Observation – What does it say?

Hezekiah is on his deathbed and God sent Isaiah to visit him and to give him a message. It’s a message I pray none of us ever get from God. Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.” Gee, how encouraging. But, rather than having Isaiah flogged for delivering such an unfavorable message, he responded just as he had in times past when receiving bad news. He prayed. And as a result, God healed him and added fifteen years to his life.

Understanding – What does it mean?

For the second day in a row, we read about Hezekiah responding to bad news in the best way. At this point, it’s reasonable to say that Hezekiah had developed the habit of turning to God first. And, God being immutable (incapable of change), he responds the same way every time. He alters Hezekiah’s course by delivering him from what was sure to destroy him.

God hears the prayers of his people, sees their tears, and responds by bringing deliverance.

This truth is played out all through scripture as God’s people pray and are then delivered from slavery, from invading armies, from the mouths of hungry lions, from a fiery furnace, from sickness and disease, from demonic oppression, and from sin and death.

As we read through scripture, it’s as though God is repeating to us over and over through the various passages, “If you’re in trouble or distress, seek me and I will deliver you!”

Life Application

If I believe God is faithful to answer me and deliver me, why would I turn anywhere else? And why pray half-hearted, weak-faith prayers when God has given me no reason to doubt or be timid in my requests?

Pray! And pray with faith that God WILL answer and bring deliverance. Not only for myself when I’m in distress, but for others. Our city and our world are full of people who are desperate for God’s intervention and deliverance!

Will you join me in praying for the next 30 seconds? Pray for God’s intervention and deliverance for any situations he might bring to mind.
 
To check out the discussion or to join in on it click here.
 
Also if you haven’t already, will you make the decision to join our church family in praying and fasting for 28 days in January? Imagine the transformation, deliverance and breakthrough we will experience next year as we all commit to seeking God together! For more information about those 28 days, click here.


Isaiah 37

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Scripture

Isaiah 37:1

When King Hezekiah heard this, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and went into the temple of the Lord.

Observation – What does it say?

Hezekiah heard the bullying and threatening words of Sennacherib king of Assyria’s field commander. And, in his distress he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth (a symbol of mourning and often repentance) and sought God. Then he sent a request to Isaiah to pray as well.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Hezekiah sought God FIRST. Before he sought the advice of any adviser, before he called the elders for a meeting and before he even asked other godly people to pray, he sought God himself. Even before turning to the great man of God, Isaiah, Hezekiah sought God himself.

Later he received another taunting message from the Sennacherib and he did the same exact thing:

Isaiah 37:14-15  14 Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord. 15 And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord…

God responds to Hezekiah by declaring he will protect his people and that Sennacherib will be destroyed. And in verse 21, God tells Hezekiah why: Because you have prayed to me…” 
 
God responds to his people when they look to him and seek him first.
 
Sometimes breakthrough, peace and deliverance are missed simply because we fail to look to God and ask him for help ourselves. James 4:2 says, You do not have because you do not ask God.” Although it’s great to have friends, leaders and pastors to pray for us, none of them can have a relationship with God for us. Nothing can substitute going to our own prayer closet and praying and worshiping with our own mouths. For the Christ-follower, seeking God is their FIRST response to bad news.
 
SIDE NOTE: This is why we at Desert Streams say one of our core values is: prayer precedes (comes first and before anything else) and pervades everything we do. And, it’s also why we choose to put seeking God first every year by taking 28 days to pray and fast together. I hope you’re all planning to join us for that exciting time! To see the Prayer and Fasting Manual, click here.

Life Application

Be quicker to kneel than to text, quicker to pray than to plan, quicker to fast than to phone a friend, quicker to worship than to worry.

God, thank you for the example of Hezekiah. You are our only hope! When we get bad news, feel discouraged or afraid, it makes no sense to look anywhere else for help before looking to you. Thank you for giving us wisdom to plan and for surrounding us with others who will gladly pray for us and support us. But please keep us from substituting those things for seeking you ourselves, and seeking you first! Amen.
 
To check out the discussion or to join in on it, click here.


Isaiah 36

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Scripture

Isaiah 36:18

“Do not let Hezekiah mislead you when he says, ‘The Lord will deliver us.’ Have the gods of any nations ever delivered their lands from the hand of the king of Assyria?

Observation – What does it say?

As a king of David’s royal line, Hezekiah’s reign is anchored to a promise God made to King David hundreds of years earlier. Judah had enjoyed some success and security, but now everything seems uncertain. Not long before Hezekiah takes the throne in Jerusalem, Israel, his northern neighbor, in invaded and conquered by Assyria. Now more than 20 years later, the Assyrians move against Jerusalem and King Hezekiah. With bullying and intimidating words, the king of Assyria tries to force Hezekiah to surrender Jerusalem and its citizens.

Understanding – What does it mean?

God’s word is full of promises to his people, promises to forgive if they confess sin, promises to always be with them, promises to answer their requests in prayer, promises to provide and care for all their material needs and promises to return again, to reward his people and to take them to spend eternity in a place he has been preparing for them. And, through prophetic words, dreams and visions God has given glimpses of the great destinies he has prepared for individuals, church congregations and geographical regions.

All these promises and visions of God’s plans for his people seem great and it’s easy to believe for them when everything is going well. But here we see that it’s not uncommon for God’s people to face seasons where their faith is tested. Although the promises in God’s word remain unchanged and godly leaders like Hezekiah try to assure us of them, we still experience challenges that cause us to doubt. We don’t see the fruit we expect for our labor and God seems to be silent, finances are tight and we can’t see how God could possibly provide, we pray earnestly and don’t receive the answer we’re expecting from God, we ask for forgiveness but still feel ashamed, God seems to be delaying and we wonder if we’ll die before the fulfillment comes. The enemy whispers like he did in the garden, “Did God really say…” Or, he yells like the Assyrian field commander, “Don’t be misled into thinking the Lord will deliver you!”

When God makes a promise to his people, the enemy will always say things to bring discouragement, fear and doubt.

Life Application

Be prepared for the voices of discouragement, fear and doubt… and reject them!

Meditate on God’s promises and his faithfulness instead.

God, you are faithful! You always come through; you don’t lie or change your mind (Num 23:19). Forgive us for giving audience to the enemy’s speeches. Today we remind ourselves of your great and wonderful promises. We choose to walk in hope and joy, knowing we will experience the fulfillment of every word you’ve spoken and the lips of the enemy will be silenced! Holy Spirit, where you are present there is freedom. As you dwell within every believer today, bring freedom from the lies, fear and discouragement and deposit in each of us a new measure of faith. In Jesus’ powerful name, amen.
 
To check out the discussion or to join in on it, click here.


Isaiah 35

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Scripture

Isaiah 35:1-2a

The desert and the parched land will be glad;
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom;
it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.

Observation – What does it say?

What a wonderful and hope inspiring passage! Isaiah shifts from declaring the gloom and doom awaiting Edom and the wicked nations to painting this beautiful picture of the absolute paradise awaiting God’s redeemed people. Where Edom’s prosperity and thriving will be turned into a wilderness, God’s people’s desert places will be turned into a lush garden as God comes to save them.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Paradise awaits God’s people. When he comes to save his people, weakness, fear, sickness and handicaps, depression, predators and sorrow will vanish instantly! God has a way of causing dry and deserted places to burst into bloom.

The word that caught my attention was burst. When God encountered me that morning I woke up on the ranch, joy and love and peace burst into full bloom in my heart. When the church was small in number and isolated to the upper room, Christ-like ministry burst into bloom as the Holy Spirit was poured out upon them. When Jesus shows up, when the Holy Spirit is poured out, when God moves on the heart of a person, new life bursts into bloom! There is immediate and complete life change!

Zechariah 4:6b

‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.

We find ourselves longing for change in people, situations, relationships, sin struggles and physical health. The solution often isn’t that we try harder but that we seek God. Only by his Spirit do we see genuine, lasting change and new life!

One moment of God’s favor yields far more than years of hard labor.

Life Application

Commit to join my DSC family in prayer and fasting in January. Now and during that time, focus on asking God to move in power! God, you are the one we are desperate for! When you move everything changes and we see the life and fruit we’ve been longing for. Strategizing, planning and hard work on our part are all good things, but ultimately it’s a move of your Spirit we are desperate for in our lives, our church and our world. Amen.
 
To check out the discussion or join in click here.


Isaiah 34

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Scripture

Isaiah 34:8

For the Lord has a day of vengeance,
a year of retribution, to uphold Zion’s cause.

Observation – What does it say?

The Edomites had taken advantage of Judah during the Babylonian conquest and had depleted their resources. Edom was a place of violence and wickedness and had become like Sodom and Gomorrah. Because God is just and could not let that stand, Isaiah prophesies that God will respond and vindicate his people by taking this great civilization and reducing it to nothing. It’s a horrible, hellish picture for the wicked people of Edom and their land.

Understanding – What does it mean?

It’s such a dark picture that I almost wanted to skim over it, looking for some positive and inspiring truth to journal about. But I couldn’t. The truth God forced me to open my eyes to today, to not look away from, is that this is the horrible fate of all those who are not one of his covenant people.

Without warning the day of judgment will come. Suddenly the window of opportunity to repent and put their faith in Christ will close. When Jesus comes back with his army of angels, it will be too late for people to change their allegiance and those who are not one of God’s covenant people will be cast into a place of suffering. Eternal, forever-long, never-ending suffering. Starving but never being able to eat, parched but never getting so much as a drip of water, burning up but never able to back away from the heat of the flames, exhausted but unable to sleep, teeth grinding pain and nothing to numb it, always craving death but unable to die… zero satisfaction or relief for all of eternity. This is the future of those who haven’t repented and believed in Christ.

Life Application

Fear God.

God, thank you for your mercy on us who have chosen to repent and believe in you. I fear you, recognizing that you alone determine my eternal destination. I’m unworthy and so grateful. Please remove from us any feelings of entitlement and remind us what you have saved us from, what we deserve. May this truth cause the hard parts of our hearts to become tender. Fill us with compassion and love and use us to turn the world to you. May we live in light of eternity, your Spirit continually reminding us of what awaits us and what awaits the unbelieving. Amen.
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Isaiah 33

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Scripture

Isaiah 33:5

The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high;
he will fill Zion with his justice and righteousness.

Observation – What does it say?

In light of the darkness around them, people destroying and betraying one another, Isaiah calls upon God. And, he knew God would be faithful to answer. He is God, there is no other above him, and where he chooses to carry out his will he will do so completely. There is no force in the universe, human or spiritual, that can oppose him or frustrate his plan.

Understanding – What does it mean?

The nature of God’s kingdom is that is imposes itself wherever God chooses. And the existing rulership, no matter how powerful, is removed without a fight.
 
God’s kingdom coming to a place he chooses is like the light being turned on in that room. There’s no recognition of the darkness that once ruled. Without a struggle or fight, it just becomes light with no trace of what once was. Justice fills places that were unjust. Righteousness fills places and hearts that were wicked. Faith is deposited where there was doubt. God-worship completely fills places once used for idol-worship. Healing and wholeness comes fully, making sickness and pain just faded memories.
 
God doesn’t mix in with what’s existing, as if there are strands of light now next to strands of darkness. Rather, he FILLS.
God is not content with a little influence, a little justice or a little righteousness. He FILLS. And if a place or heart is FULL of his justice and righteousness, there is no room for anything else!
 
A similar analogy is in verse 14, referring to God as a consuming fire! Fire has no prejudice or preference. It burns anything in it’s way and consumes completely.

Life Application

Ask God to fill the earth with everything he is.

God, thank you that when you choose to fill a heart or a place there is nothing that can resist you. Your love melts the hardest hearts, your kindness turns the most stubborn around, and your arm is strong enough to defeat any enemy. We invite you to come to fill us, our church and our city and the world with all that you are. Let your kingdom come and will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Fill us with your righteousness, your justice and your love. The world is desperate for you. Not just for a little of you but for you to come and FILL the earth like the water fills the seas.  Amen.
 
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Isaiah 32

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Scripture

Isaiah 32:1-2

1See, a king will reign in righteousness
and rulers will rule with justice.
Each one will be like a shelter from the wind
and a refuge from the storm,
like streams of water in the desert
and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land.

Observation – What does it say?

Isaiah prophesies of a good king, ultimately referring to the coming Christ, and others in places of leadership who will bring about incredible transformation in the lives of the people. Because they will seek to do what is right before God and to bring justice, they will be like streams of water in the desert causing life to come to people and things to be set right.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Although this is about a good king and just rulers, the principle carries over to the church today. The invitation to step up and lead and to make a difference is extended to everyone who chooses to follow Jesus. As a matter of fact, that desire to be used by God to change the world gets written into the spiritual DNA of each person who chooses to follow him. Those who choose to say yes to that invitation, those who choose to lay their lives down to serve others, those who seek to love others with the love of Christ, those who seek to do right before God and others, will be like streams of water in the desert that bring life and refreshing to people wherever they go.

Desert streams. It’s the identity of every Christian, but something God has especially emphasized with our local church family. We are called to bring life and refreshing to the spiritually dry, desert places.

Wherever we ‘flow’ throughout the week – work, home, running errands, etc – we are called to bring life and refreshing to everyone we come into contact with. Rather than complaining that the desert is dry, that the culture is ungodly and gossiping about people’s imperfections, we need to remember that is the very reason God has placed us in those situations and in those people’s lives! We are there to bring the opposite spirit; to usher in the presence of God and to bring change!

Life Application

What are the driest places God has placed you? What situations or relationships are the most trying, frustrating or draining?
What does it look like for you to bring life and refreshing there?

God, thank you for placing us each around people that need refreshing and to taste of your goodness and love. Help us to live on purpose today, to recognize the dry situations you’ve placed us in and what it looks like for us to bring your refreshing and life there. Amen.



Isaiah 31

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Scripture

Isaiah 31:4-5

This is what the Lord says to me:

“As a lion growls,
a great lion over its prey—
and though a whole band of shepherds
is called together against it,
it is not frightened by their shouts
or disturbed by their clamor—
so the Lord Almighty will come down
to do battle on Mount Zion and on its heights.
Like birds hovering overhead,
the Lord Almighty will shield Jerusalem;
he will shield it and deliver it,
he will ‘pass over’ it and will rescue it.”

Observation – What does it say?

God is frustrated with Israel because they looked to the people of Egypt for help against their enemy, Assyria. Rather than looking to God, who has infinite power and strength and commands the armies of angels, they looked to mere mortals who cannot even protect themselves… not very wise.

Yet, because of his great love for his people, God


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