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!

Nehemiah 6


Nehemiah 6:9

“They were just trying to intimidate us, imagining that they could discourage us and stop the work. So I continued the work with even greater determination.”

‭‭Observation-What does it say?

Nehemiah was given a great task by God. He was to rebuild the wall that once protected Jerusalem from it’s enemies. Now right as Nehemiah was just about to finish, Sanballat and Geshem, would send out an invitation to Nehemiah. They wanted to meet with him. But Nehemiah knew they were just trying to pull him away from completing God’s work, and that they wanted to do him harm. So he refused to meet with them, telling them that he was doing a great work, and the work would cease if he were to meet with them (vs. 3). This back and forth went on four more times, ending with the same result. Then the fifth time Sanballat and Geshem tried to spread rumors  about Nehemiah. The rumors stated that Nehemiah and the Israelites were planning to rebel, and Nehemiah was only rebuilding the wall to become their king. But Nehemiah knew these rumors to be false. He stood his ground, followed his higher calling from God, trusted that God would decimate such rumors for him in order for this task to be completed. Then when the wall was rebuilt, all of the Israelites’ enemies were disheartened, because they knew this work was done by God (vs. 15).

Understanding-What does it mean?

God’s people are often tempted or distracted to leave God’s work unfinished. But we must stay the course, trust God, and see what He can do. When it is all said and done, God will be glorified.

Nehemiah was a man on a mission…a mission from God. He did not let the constant nagging of “peers” to stray him from his calling. He did not even let nasty rumors that were spread about him sway him from completing the task at hand. He could have easily fell down the path and off track by using his time and energy to “put out the fire” of meeting with Sanballat and Geshem regarding these false rumors about him. Instead, Nehemiah trusted God. He followed through on God’s agenda above his own. In the end, his enemies were disheartened and were handed defeat. God’s will was accomplished and His name was glorified because of it. 

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”-‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ 

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”-Hebrews‬ ‭12:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Life Application

Nothing in this world can give us a better sense of accomplishment and peace than fulfilling God’s calling for our lives..

When I finally get to meet God face to face, and He holds me accountable for all the things He has called me to do while I was still on Earth, I would hate for my report card to read like it did for me when I was in junior college- (Lots of Incompletes and Withdrawals). Instead, how awesome would it be to be able to please my God, my Lord and Savior, and my Master. Imagine if God would reply, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”-(‭Matthew‬ ‭25:23‬a ‭NLT). How satisfying would that be? 

All I know is when I leave this earth, I only hope and pray that I was able to do my best with what God has given me.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.” 2 Timothy‬ ‭4:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬
 To check out the discussion or to join in, click here.
-Moses Gaddi

Nehemiah 5


Nehemiah 5:9
So I continued, “What you are doing is not right. Shouldn’t you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies?

Directly after confronting outward opposition to the rebuilding of the wall Nehemiah must now deal with internal strife resulting from the poverty and hunger that some of the Jews are experiencing due to the rebuilding effort, the taxes of Persia and the exorbitant interest that the richer Jews are extorting from their countrymen in repayment of loans made in order to buy food. The situation is so dire that many families have been forced to mortgage their lands and even sell their children into slavery to eke out a living and meet their financial obligations. In response to the outcry of the poor, Nehemiah calls together the rich nobles and rulers to implore them to stop taking advantage of their poorer brethren in charging interest on any loans; a practice expressly prohibited in the Law of Moses. Nehemiah points to his own generosity in redeeming (buying back) some Jews from slavery, in feeding over 150 people at his own expense and his refusal to require of his countrymen the usual tribute and provisions for the governor’s table as an example of how the nobles and rulers should renounce their greed and free their countrymen from their oppressive obligations. The nobles renounce their usury and restore the land, vineyards and homes taken as collateral and repayment, and return the interest previously paid to them.
Nehemiah implores the nobles and rulers to do the right thing for two reasons – for fear of the Lord and for how their decisions and actions reflect on the Name and reputation of The Lord. People can excuse and engage in just about any behavior they desire, as there is never an end to the number of reasons and rationalizations we can use to justify any action or attitude. However the filters that my decisions must survive are the same now as in Nehemiah’s day – that being, “Is my decision or action obedient to God’s word and motivated by awe, respect and gratitude; and does it result in praise, honor and glory to the Name of the Lord God Almighty?”
Life Application
Without the proper respect and dreadful awe of the Lord, I will never fear the relational and circumstantial consequences of my actions and, without concern for how my actions reflect on the Lord whose name I bear, my sin, disobedience and rebellion will give unbelievers and scoffers the means by which they may defame and bring reproach to His holy name and character. Lord, may I reject any choice, activity or attitude that is not in total agreement with the letter and spirit of your word; not out of fear of losing my salvation but for fear of not properly honoring the great love, grace and mercy that purchased my salvation; and may I be willing to crucify any of the same if they result in anything less than the exaltation and magnification of the Name of the Lord.
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here
-Gary Parker

Nehemiah 4


Nehemiah 4:4-6

Hear us, our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity. Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight, for they have thrown insults in the face of[b] the builders.

So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.


The Jews were rebuilding a wall around Jerusalem.  In Chapter 1, Nehemiah learns that during the exile of the Jewish remnant, the “wall of Jerusalem [was] broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire” (v. 3).  He prays to God – asking for forgiveness and asking for favor from the king.  He visits the king and expresses the sadness in his heart – asking if he can go to the land of his ancestors and help rebuild the wall (Neh. 2:1-4); the king grants his request (because of God’s hand).  Chapter 3 shares the details of how everyone came together to rebuild it.

Yet, often when God’s work is being done, there is attack and ridicule from the enemy.

  In this case, the enemies of the Jews include Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs and the Ammonites.  When Sanballat hears of the rebuilding, he gets angry and begins mocking them.  Tobiah the Ammonite joins him in the mockery.  The Jews, knowing this, cry out to God.


Seek God first.

The rebuilding of the wall began with Nehemiah’s cry to God.  He was saddened by what he learned; but he didn’t wallow in the sadness, he sought God.  In doing so, Nehemiah felt that God had planted in his heart the desire to help rebuild the wall. 

When the enemy comes, do not get distracted, do not give up – seek Him and continue to carry out what He’s called you to do.

When Nehemiah and the Jews were ridiculed for rebuilding the wall, they again sought God.  They did not turn to revenge; they did not give up.  They sought God, asked Him to deal with those that were coming against them…and then they got right back to work.

We are called to do the same.

Galatians 6:9 (NLT)

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

Life Application

God, I’m so grateful to be called your child.  And thankful that you love me and seek relationship with me.  Thank you for the desires that you have placed in my heart and the ways in which you have equipped me, prepared me and called me to carry them out.  As I seek to be centered in your will, please give me renewed passion for these desires and help me remain steadfast, regardless of the enemy’s attempts to distract or dishearten me.  May I seek you and trust you throughout and, as a result, may your will be done.

In your name we pray, Amen.

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

Nehemiah 3


Nehemiah 3:17

17 Next to him, the repairs were made by the Levites under Rehum son of Bani. Beside him, Hashabiah, ruler of half the district of Keilah,carried out repairs for his district.18 Next to him…19 Next to him…20 Next to him…21 Next to him…

Observation – What does it say?

This entire chapter lists the massive amount of people whom God compelled through Nehemiah to join in rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem and it’s gates. The thousands of feet worth of wall to be rebuilt were divided among all the people to make the job manageable.

Understanding – What does it mean?

God supplies everything necessary to accomplish his will.

Notice God’s hand in each step:

  1. He stirred in Nehemiah a desire to rebuild.
  2. He gave Nehemiah favor with his leadership (the king) to rebuild.
  3. He gave Nehemiah favor with the men he was asking to help rebuild.

Philippians 2:13 NLT “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”

God not only gives us the desire to do what pleases him, but the power to do it! He supplies all we need – discipline, strength, resources, support, etc. He changes hearts, gives us favor, and provides direction us to accomplish his will. Ultimately, God is the one doing the heavy lifting.

It’s wasn’t Nehemiah’s eloquent request that caused the king to be pleased to grant it. Nehemiah said, “Because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests.” (Neh 3:8).

Life Application

First of all, I am reminded not to take myself too seriously. My responsibility isn’t to make something happen, but rather to simply lean into what God is asking of me.

Second, I am encouraged that God’s clearly communicated will for us to “multiply Christ-followers everywhere” is something that he will bring about.

As long as we are surrendered to God and obedient to him, he will supply everything necessary for us to accomplish his will!

God, we put our trust in you today! Thank you that you don’t set us up for failure. Praise you for supplying all we need to successfully carry out your will for our lives. Please show us any ways we haven’t been surrendered to you or areas we’ve been disobedient. Move upon our hearts as you moved upon Nehemiah’s! In Jesus’ name, amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.
– Levi Thompson

Nehemiah 2


Nehemiah 2:20a

“The God of heaven will make us prosper and we his servants will arise and build…”

Observation-What does it say?

Nehemiah went to the king with a sad countenance. The king noticed his sadness and asked what was wrong. Nehemiah responded that he was sad because of the state Jerusalem was in. He desired to rebuild it and the king ended up releasing him to that project/mission.

Understanding-What does it mean?

Nehemiah had a heart for rebuilding Jerusalem and did not just sit back and let someone else rebuild it.  He took the steps needed to start the process because God’s hand was upon him.

What I like about Nehemiah was that he didn’t just stay depressed. He also didn’t  just pray for the rebuilding of Jerusalem. He took action to make it happen because He knew God was on His side. The steps he took to start the rebuilding process were:
1. He asked the king’s permission to go.
2. He gave the king a certain time frame when he would get the job done.
3. He had a plan. He requested letters as he had already foreseen some of the obstacles ahead, such as safely passing through until Judah and also obtaining the materials to rebuild. 
Life Application 

Take action. We must not wait for someone else to step up and rebuild. 

When God is on our side, who can be against us? (Rom. 8:31) The Lord has strengthened us with His Holy Spirit, His Word, wise counsel from parents and Spirit filled leaders of the faith, and blessed us with a brain to accomplish His will. Whether we are working to build His Kingdom, rebuild a strained relationship, or rebuild our own lives after straying from His best for us and dealing with those consequences, the Lord has given us everything we need to take action.

Dear Lord, thank You for Nehemiah’s example. He didn’t stay sad when his heart was breaking over the state of Jerusalem. He took action and did what He needed to do with the resources You had already given him. Please forgive me for the many times I have looked at situations hopelessly and did not operate on Your strength, not seeing things through Your eyes,  but my own. Please continue to give me clarity on rebuilding certain areas of my life and help me operate boldly in Your authority. Amen. 

To check out the discussion or to join in, click here.
-Michelle Gaddi

Nehemiah 1


Nehemiah 1:4

“When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.”


Nehemiah was a servant of King Artaxerxes, who served as the king’s cup bearer, and was living at the fortress of Susa. It was then when he received a visit from his brother Hanani. Nehemiah asked his brothers how things were going in Jerusalem. His brother told him that things were not going so well over there. Nehemiah was told that the people of Jerusalem were living without walls to protect them from their enemies, and that the people were being constantly harassed and oppressed. Nehemiah knew it was because of the people’s unfaithfulness of keeping God’s laws and decrees which caused them to be in that predicament. Nehemiah also knew of God’s promise to His people. He knew if the people would repent from their sinful ways and return to God, that God would rescue them and bring them back, no matter how far His people have been exiled. So the first thing Nehemiah did was get on his knees and he prayed. Nehemiah’s heart broke for God’s people. Verse 4 says that he mourned, fasted and prayed for days. Nehemiah confessed not only the people’s sins, but his own. He interceded on behalf of the people of Jerusalem, in hopes that God will forgive and restore.


 God often stirs people’s hearts before He moves in their circumstances.

In this case God stirred a strong compassion in Nehemiah’s heart for the people of Jerusalem. Nehemiah felt compelled to pray for God’s people. He felt the people’s pains and fears. He identified with the people. His heart broke for them. This is why he felt it so vital that he stepped in on their behalf, and he fasted and prayed for days. He knew if anything was going to change the people of Jerusalem’s circumstances, it would have to come from God.

I know we are now living in a world with so much terror, so much violence, and so much uncertainties that surrounds it. That is why we need more people like Nehemiah in it. People whose hearts break for the broken, and are willing to pray and fast to God on their behalf.  And with today marking a day in which a new Presidential regime is elected, who knows what is to come next?! All I know is if we expect God to step in and be present in our circumstances, we should all seek Him wholeheartedly, and pray. We need to pray on behalf of this nation, and it’s leaders. We need to pray for all of God’s people . We need to understand if God is going to move in any of our situations, it’s going to start from within our own hearts.

“And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭1:10-11‬ ‭NLT

“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.”-1 Timothy‬ ‭2:1‬ ‭NLT

Life Application

Pray for God’s voice to be heard as change takes place.

God, I pray for this nation as we strive to move forward and not backwards. Give our leaders your wisdom of how to run this nation so that we may be blessed . I pray for Your people to step up as the leaders You called us all to be (in our homes, workplaces, and everyday life). I pray for courage amongst ourselves, so that we can stand up for what is right in Your eyes, and Your voice be heard amongst all decisions that are made. Give us strength and perseverance to do this God. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here.
-Moses Gaddi


Judges 21


Judges 21:2-3
The people went to Bethel, where they sat before God until evening, raising their voices and weeping bitterly. “Lord, God of Israel,” they cried, “why has this happened to Israel? Why should one tribe be missing from Israel today?”


Because of in-fighting between the tribes of Israel, Benjamin finds itself on the brink of extinction because, due to a foolish vow, there are no Israelite women to be given in marriage to the men of Benjamin. After implying that God is somehow to blame for this dilemma, the tribes concoct a scheme to destroy the city of Jabesh Gilead for not answering the call to battle; yet spare the virgins of the city so that they may be given to the surviving men of Benjamin. This plan leaves them short 200 virgins. To make up the difference, the tribes resort to kidnapping as a way of circumventing the rash vow that led them into this mess in the first place.
Proverbs 14:12
There is a way which seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death 
How frustrating it was to read this chapter full of self-righteousness, foolishness and rationalizations. Imagine the death and heartbreak that could have been avoided had the tribes, once they recognized the error of their actions, simply acknowledged their sin and stupidity before God and repented. The more they tried to fix it themselves, the worse things got and the more people there were who were harmed.
Life Application
1 John 1:9  
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

If I was so foolish as to get into trouble, what makes me think I will be any less foolish in trying to get out of it? God paid a terrible price in order to afford me the grace to simply come to Him in humility and confess that I have sinned. Once doing so, I am forgiven and the door is opened for God’s wisdom and power to be applied to my present circumstance. The only wisdom I can show in such situations is to take advantage of this truth and allow God to lead me out of the trouble of my own doing.

To check out the discussion or to join in, click here.
– Gary Parker

Judges 20


Judges 20:26-28

26 Then all the Israelites, the whole army, went up to Bethel, and there they sat weeping before the Lord. They fasted that day until evening and presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to the Lord. 27 And the Israelites inquired of the Lord. (In those days the ark of the covenant of God was there, 28 with Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, ministering before it.) They asked, “Shall we go up again to fight against the Benjamites, our fellow Israelites, or not?”

The Lord responded, “Go, for tomorrow I will give them into your hands.”


Although this is the 3rd time they were coming before the Lord and preparing for battle, it was the first time that they 1) fasted, 2) presented burnt offerings and 3) presented fellowship offerings to the Lord.  His response was “Go, for tomorrow I will give them into your hands.”


It almost seems as if the Israelites made their own plan and came to God for His stamp of approval instead of seeking His counsel as to what they should do. 

When the Israelites heard of what had happened – the thoughtless murder of the concubine, they knew something needed to be done.  They desired justice.  But (and this is a big but!) they did not seek God first.  They came together and devised a plan, THEN came to God…and, in doing so, they missed the mark.

Even when our hearts are in the right place, we must seek God first. 

In verse 18, they ask

“’Who of us is to go up first to fight against the Benjamites?’

The Lord replied, ‘Judah shall go first.’”

But while they are asking the Lord for direction and He does answer, it appears as if the plan itself was of men.  The end result?  Twenty-two thousand men are struck down.

In verse 23, again they ask God

“Shall we go up again to fight against the Benjamites, our fellow Israelites?”

The Lord answered, “Go up against them.”

Again, he answers and provides direction…and 18,000 men are struck down.

But the third time they come around, they truly SEEK God.  They take time to fast.  They honor him with burnt offerings.  They offer up fellowship offering.  And this time God says he will give the Benjamites over to them.

God desires to be first and only.

From seeking God first (Matthew 6:33)…to giving of our first fruits (Prov. 3:9-10)…to the first two commandments…

Exodus 20:3-5

“You shall have no other gods beforea] me.

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God,

God makes it very clear where He wants to be prioritized in our lives.  And, just like he did in vs. 28, he promises to provide and deliver – whether it’s victory in a battle, overflowing barns (Prov 3:9-10), clothes to wear and food to eat (Matt. 6:33).

God’s promise remains the same – He will provide.

Life Application

God, thank you for your jealous heart!  Thank you for your desire for relationship with us – you children.  Thank you for your provision.  May I remember in proper order the priorities that lead to that provision, that fulfillment…ultimately, putting you first.  May I take time to seek your counsel in my daily decisions – both big and small – and always hold space for what you desire to do through them.  May I be used by you today – to right injustices, to make your name known, to show your kindness and love…and, ultimately, to draw others near to you. 

In your name I pray, Amen.

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

– Rei

Judges 19


Judges 19:1

In those days Israel had no king.

Observation – What does it say?

This chapter contains one of the most horrible and gut wrenching stories in my opinion. Wickedness has become rampant in Israel. When some of the wicked men of the city were denied the opportunity to have sex with another man they took an innocent woman and raped her to death. This isn’t a horror movie. This isn’t fiction. This is real life, real people, real horror. Why? What could lead to this kind of moral decline? The first verse explains why, setting the bigger stage for this story: Israel was without a king.

Understanding – What does it mean?

We are desperate for good, godly leadership.

Judges 21:25 elaborates on this verse and says, In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.”

Without good leadership in place, wickedness grows without resistance. When everyone does what is right in their own eyes, it is a recipe for disaster. Our culture has been swinging in this direction for some time. Subjective morality is rampant. “What’s right for you is right for you,”  “To each his own,” and “I’ve found my truth,” are all common and respected phrases in our culture. Although they don’t prove to be biblical or even logical arguments, they are still quoted by many.

It’s obvious from this chapter that this isn’t a road we want to see our culture go down!

Life Application

Pray for good, godly leadership! And, choose to submit to the godly leadership God has already placed over me.

God, thank you for being our King! Thank you for your word that you use to instruct us in how to live. May we submit to your leadership and the delegated leadership you’ve placed over us in your church. And, we also pray for the elections coming up. Have your way in our nation and give us all wisdom as we vote. Have mercy. Let your kingdom come. In Jesus’ name, amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here.
– Levi Thompson

Judges 18


Judges 18:19-20

They answered him, “Be quiet!  Don’t say a word.  Come with us, and be our father and priest.  Isn’t it better that you serve a tribe and clan in Israel as priest rather than just one man’s household?”  Then the priest was glad.  He took the ephod, the other household gods and the carved image and went along with the people.  

Observation-What does it say?

The Danites were looking for a place to settle, so they sent 5 men to explore the land. Along their journey, they ended up near Micah’s house, where they met a young Levite priest.  They asked him to inquire of the Lord whether their journey had God’s approval.  The young Levite priest told them to go in peace as their journey was approved by the Lord.  After scoping out the land, the 5 warriors returned home to Zorah and Eshtaol and encouraged the Danites to attack Laish.  On their way back to Laish, they decided to stop over at Micah’s house again and steal their idols. In addition to stealing their idols, they also convinced the young Levite priest to come with them and be their priest.  He willfully consented.

Understanding-What does it mean?

God judges the heart, not the outward appearance. 1 Samuel 16:7

The young Levite priest knew religious phrases and gave the impression that he operated in authority of being close with God, as he gave permission to the 5 warrior spies to proceed on their journey in peace (vs. 6), but his heart was obviously far from the Lord.  Being a priest was just a job to him and he was in it for the wealth and recognition. When the opportunity came for him to increase his fame, pride set in and the love of money set in and he willfully agreed to go with the Danites.  In addition, he was the one who took the ephod and the other idols/gods when he went along with the Danite people. (Reference: Jeremiah Study Bible)

These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules. Matt. 15: 8-9

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.  Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.  1 Timothy 6:10

Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you.  Away from me, you evildoers!’ Matt. 7:22

Watch out for false prophets.  They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.  Matt. 7:15

Life Application

“It’s not about lip service, but about the heart.” -Brian Moen

Being in God’s Word daily helps us to discern what’s true from what’s false. In Soul Journal class a couple of days ago, the Holy Spirit directed me to lead the class to soul journal on Philippians 3. Paul was speaking about how although he had reason to put confidence in his flesh (and listed those reasons), he had NO reason to boast, except to boast in Jesus Christ. His righteousness was not of his own, but rather righteousness from God through faith in Jesus Christ. As a result of this discussion, one of our Catalyst students, Brian Moen said, “It’s not about lip service, but about the heart.” and that applies to our chapter today. The religious leaders and Jews in those days knew all the right words to say, but their hearts were far from the Lord. Their motives for serving God were not pure. Because their hearts were far from God, their rebellion was inevitable.

Let’s not just honor Him with our lips, but with our lives. Let our actions prove that He is Lord of our lives and not money, fame, popularity, or selfish gain. And let our love for each other also prove that we are His children.

Dear Lord, it’s easy to know all the right things to say, especially growing up in the church and hearing it my whole life.  But I pray that my actions would also prove that I belong to You alone and the choices I make would be a reflection of my identity as Your daughter and not the world’s. I pray against the devil who constantly tempts me to take my hope and trust away from You, but I thank You for giving me Your Word and Spirit to guide me into all wisdom and truth.  Please continue to strengthen me by Your power alone to live out my calling for You, regardless of what anyone else says or chooses to do with their lives. I ask this all in Your Name for Your honor and glory alone.  Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here.
-Michelle Gaddi