Bible Reading Plan
bible

Weekends: Read any passages of your choice or catch up if you’ve fallen behind 🙂

November 4: Esther 9, Revelation 17, Psalm 73

November 5: Esther 10, Revelation 18, Psalm 74

November 6: Job 1, Revelation 19, Psalm 75

November 7: Job 2, Revelation 20, Psalm 76

 
 
 
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How To Soul Journal
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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!
 

Ephesians_5

Scripture
 
Ephesians 5: 1-2a
 
“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ.
 
Observation-What does it say?
 
Paul is writing the Ephesians, urging them to walk in love, walk in the light they are filled with by Christ, and walk in the wisdom Jesus has shed on them through His teachings. Paul urges them to stay clear of the unbelievers’ influences, for that could lead to a grim path. Instead, they should be a light to them. They should help expose them of their sinfulness and their need of Jesus. Ultimately Paul wants to see them filled with the Holy Spirit, living a life that brings glory to God.
 
Understanding-What does it mean?
 
Does the life I live reflect Jesus and His ways?
 
I try to constantly remind my kids that as soon as they walk out that door, no matter where they go, (school, church, a friend’s house, a party, or even at their grandparent’s house), they are carrying my family name. “SO DON’T MAKE A FOOL OUT OF ME!”  My wife and I try to raise them the right way. We give them the tools they need to be successful, but it’s up to them if they decide to use it or not. It’s a daily prayer my wife and I share, praying our kids are making wise choices when we are not around.
 
I believe the same can be said about us as Christ Followers. When we choose to follow Jesus and get baptized to make our public declaration of our new life devoted to Him, we are now adopted into the family…the family of God. We too carry His name wherever we go. So am I making a fool out of Him? Am I telling people that I am a Christian, but my actions are proving otherwise? Am I living a life that is showing others the characteristics of my Father in Heaven? I sure hope so. After all, God also gives us everything we need in life to succeed. He gives us His Word, His Holy Spirit, and His Church to help guide us with our decisions. He also has an open direct line of communication whenever we’re stuck. We can pray to Him anytime, anywhere! How can we not succeed in life?! So let’s use these tools He blesses us with, and go out in this world and make Him proud!
 
Life Application
 
I am a child of God. Time to show the world the things my Father taught me.
 
Remember when you were a kid and your parent taught you something new? You couldn’t wait to try it out on your own, and even show your friends what you learned. For me it was tying my shoes, tying a neck tie, learning how to drive, or even grilling a steak. The bottom line is my dad taught me, and I repeated it, and showed it off and applied it to my everyday life. How can I show others the things my Father in Heaven has shown me? I can tell them about the love of Jesus. I can show them an unconditional love and forgiveness. I can give to those in need.
 
Father God, help me to carry the name of Christ Follower out in this world in a way that makes You proud. Open my eyes to those opportunities to do so. May those around me get a glimpse of Your light, and yearn to want more. In Your name I pray, Amen.
 
-Moses Gaddi


Ephesians__4

Scripture

Ephesians 4:32 NIV

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Observation-What does it say?

Paul opens this chapter by encouraging the church to be united as a Body in Christ and to grow up in maturity as they each do the work that Christ has called them to do. Paul then gives instructions for Christian living. The one highlighted to me was the last verse, about forgiveness.

Understanding-What does it mean?

Unity in the Body of Christ is impossible without forgiveness.

Paul LOVED the church and he knew what would lead to its disunity and ultimate destruction. He talks about several things such as impurity, greed, unholy living, lies, anger and unwholesome talk (aka slander/gossip). He then brings it back to Christ and reminds the church of the importance of being kind, compassionate and forgiving towards each other. He wanted them to remember what Christ sacrificed for them and how Christ loved and forgave them. Healthy churches are forgiving churches. 

Luke 17:3-4-Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

Matt. 18:33-35-And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

Matt. 6:15-But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses

Life Application

Confess to God any unforgiveness or bitterness lingering towards a brother or sister and forgive them from your heart.

Dear Jesus, we pray for Your strength to forgive our family from our hearts. We desire to love and forgive like You do. Teach us Holy Spirit to put aside any differences, anger or bitterness that the enemy would use to divide and destroy us, and instead help us remain united in You. Help us remain united to the mission You have called us each to and to do our part well. Help us to work together as a whole and healthy Body, growing in maturity with You as our Head. Amen.

-Michelle Gaddi



Ephesians_3

Scripture

Ephesians 3:17-19

17 … And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Observation

Paul begins this Chapter revealing the mystery and marvel of God’s plan for the Gentiles.  Then he begins praying for the Ephesians. 

Understanding

Some notes to be taken…as Paul prays, he prays that the Ephesians:

  • Would be rooted and established in love
    • As Christians, follows of an all knowing, all powerful and loving God, we are called to be rooted and established in love, to reflect God’s love to those who know him and to those who don’t. What a powerful base to live from, to make decisions from, to speak from, to think from.
  • May have power
    • God’s plan for us is not to be docile robots, but individuals with power – power to heal, power to choose, power to speak up.
  • May grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ
    • There’s songs and scriptures that speak to this, but have you ever just sat and thought about this phrase? God’s love is all encompassing.  The same God that made the expansiveness of space, the mystery and depth of the sea, the height of mountains…THAT is the God who made us, loves us, calls us.
  • May be filled to the measure of ALL the fullness of God
    • ALL the fullness of God…I don’t think our human brains can even comprehend that. But the part that we can comprehend is big and oh so good. So, may we allow ourselves to be filled!

Life Application

Pray. 

Pray with boldness that Desert Streams would be rooted and established in love, have power, that we would grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, may be filled to the measure of ALL the fullness of God.

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



Ephesians__2

Scripture  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.

Observation-What does it say?  The letter to Ephesus, absent of some of the personal greetings used in Paul’s other writings, may have been a circular letter passed around to a number of churches in the region, which is now western Turkey.  One of Paul’s main concerns in this letter is a message of unity and completeness in the church.  He then “proceeds to show the steps towards their fulfillment. First, God has reconciled individuals to Himself as an act of grace (2:1-10)” (Barker, K.).  Because of our disobedience, we are cut off from life, but, through his grace we are reconciled. 

Understanding-What does it mean?  One of the hardest obstacles I have come to face, as a parent, is sticking to being the voice of discipline to my kids.  I really am just a big push over when it comes to holding their feet to the fire.  However, I know how important it is to help them gain their sense of discipline.  It sets them up for future success in faith as well as in other pursuits in life.  I have seen, too many times, the result of a child who was not taught to have discipline.  A child without discipline turns into a thirty year old who lives at home, without a job, and doesn’t take responsibility for their own.  Disciplining a child allows them the opportunity to freely turn back and see that it was done out of your great love for them.  

Paul’s words, here in the book of Ephesians, echo the words of the Psalmist in Psalms 90.  For both point out that we are not the driving force of our time here on earth.  It is God who prepares for us good works to be done.  It is our job to have the discipline to carry out that good work.  When we live outside those good works, we face the consequences of our decision of disobedience, namely separation from Jesus.  However, God, as Peter wrote, shows His deep love for us in His patience.  “So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him” (3:14-15).   

Much like I know my boys’ future success is dependent on building discipline now, so also does my faith depend on being disciplined in what God has asked me to do now.  God’s discipline is keeping me from the things that can ultimately keep me separated from Him in eternity.

Life Application:  Jesus, help me to seek out the good works you have prepared for me.  And when those seem hard to find, help me to remember the things you have shown me in scripture.  Help me to be kind to others, be generous to widows and protect the orphans.  Help me to offer words that encourage, and not words that tear down.  Above all, in everything I do, be evident through me.   

-Tyler Galloway



2 Kings_15

Scripture

2 Kings 15:35 Jotham rebuilt the Upper Gate of the temple of the Lord.

Observation

2 Chronicles 27:3 Jotham rebuilt the Upper Gate of the temple of the LORD and did extensive work on the wall at the hill of Ophel.

Fortifying the walls of the city would help to protect against outside enemies.

Understanding

Protect your relationship with the LORD.

Song of Solomon 2:15  Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoke the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.

Little foxes can be such a nuisance for gardeners. Little foxes come in and eat your fruit that were not intended for them. They can ruin your garden, your days and months of hard work.

You may not see them when they actually come in but you see the damage that is done, the holes that were dug, the flowerbeds that are torn.

Little things can cause a big problem that can ruin a relationship.

Watching T.V. Is not a big deal but when I am watching my favorite show instead of talking to my husband that I haven’t seen all day, that could create a distance in our relationship if it’s done consistently.

It’s the same way with all our relationships but especially with the LORD which is the most important of all.

There are so many little things throughout the day that can deter us from staying connected to the LORD, the mundane things like chores or down time, or no time. The list could go on.

Application

Guard your time with the LORD.

Psalm 63:3 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.

John 7:38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’

We have experienced Him and know that He is and has to be our foundation. Let’s fortify our walls of protection that secure our relationship with the LORD, that will keep us from falling away.

Have a set time that you spend with LORD, like a date, an appointment, that is not meant to be interrupted or broken.

Worship is one of the best ways that keeps us connected and we can stay connected throughout the day.

Start fortifying your walls today.

Take a look at your day and get rid of the little foxes that are creeping in. Seal up the holes by first guarding your most important relationship.



Galatians_6

Scripture
 
Galatians 6: 9-10
 
9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have the opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
 
Observation
 
Paul continues to urge the church to act in according to the Spirit, but rather than looking at this through the lens of the law he centralizes it around the church itself. He also encourages the church to continue acting in goodness as it will lead to an abundance in return.
 
Understanding
 
A proper harvest will be reaped when the body of Christ moves in unison.
 
I find it ironic that Paul places these verses in tandem with one another. Often as a church we focus on bringing people to Christ, outside of the church, that we forget to recognize our family whom we gather with frequently. I’m not saying that we mistreat one another, but showing the goodness of God to people who already believe is just as important as showing it to someone who doesn’t. The phrase familiarity breeds fondness comes to mind, as we become fond and comfortable with one another yet we don’t always extend goodness to one another. Again, I want to emphasize that I am not indicating that we mistreat our church family, but we don’t always show our gratitude. Gratitude is not designated to only a small time in November when people are forced to say what they are thankful for. Gratitude expresses appreciation and goodness about a given thing. It’s the little things like buying the person you sit next to every Sunday a coffee from Mainstream, it’s posting one of PG’s one-liners that resonate with you, it’s offering to take someone out to lunch after service.
 
So why am I saying all this? Knowing each other and truly showing the goodness of God to those who we serve with will lead to not only a move of God within our own church but an overflow into our community. If we desire to see other people come to know Christ we must first hold the mirror up to our own church and ensure that we act with integrity and goodness with each other. As Paul says the moment we give up of doing good with each other is the moment we give up on doing good elsewhere. How do we act when we are comfortable with each other? Does it glorify God and bring goodness and gratitude to those we serve with?
 
Proverbs 27:17
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
 
Life Application
 
Prepare for the harvest by appreciating the workers.
 
Let’s be more intentional about connecting with our family and letting them know how thankful you are for them. It could a simple gesture like writing a note to someone in the church, or hanging out them outside the church walls. The point is the harvest is plentiful but the workers must be motivated to reap the harvest.
 
-Allison Khan


Galatians__5

Scripture

Galatians 5:22-26 NIV

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”

Observation-What does it say?

Paul was encouraging the church that they were free from the law because they now walked in the Spirit. The church was trying to be justified by the law.  Paul was reminding them that they were now free from the law. Being free from the law didn’t give them a license to live in the flesh and bondage to sin, but rather, gave them freedom to be led by the Spirit.

Understanding-What does it mean? 

As Christ followers, we are led by the Spirit, not by the law.

The church was trying to gain their righteousness through following the law. Paul knew that justification through the law would make Christ’s sacrifice null and void. There would be no need for His grace if that was the case (Verse 4). Paul understood what he was saved from and the true meaning of Christ’s sacrifice that had given him freedom from the law.  He was the most zealous religious person there was. He followed the law to a T. He was blameless if his righteousness was based on the law (please read Philippians 3:5-6). 

Life Application

Be led by the Spirit, not the law.

Once a Believer makes the decision to accept Christ’s invitation for salvation and makes a public declaration of it through baptism, the Holy Spirit enters his/her life. The Holy Spirit produces His fruits in us as we continue to be led by Him. He is the One who convicts us of sin. He is the One who enables us to follow God’s Word and apply it. We cannot mistake the law for the Spirit. The law keeps us in bondage. The Spirit frees us from sin and bondage. 

I’ve personally noticed that I feel a bigger burden on my life when I try to be a law abider and try to check off everything I need to do right as a Christian. Outwardly, I can sometimes pull it off, but in my heart and mind, it’s impossible. I tend to create an even bigger struggle for myself. However, when I allow His Spirit to lead me, there’s more love, peace and joy in my life because those are HIS fruits produced in me. We are not meant to produce our own fruits. That has always been His job, not ours. That has always been His burden to carry, not ours.

Thank You Jesus for Your Holy Spirit. Thank You for His role in giving us faith in You and molding and making us to be more like You. I pray that we would continue to walk in step with Your Spirit and not the flesh. Thank You for being greater than the one who is in the world and that we are overcomers, as 1 John 4:4 says, because of that truth. Amen.

Here is the chorus of one of the songs we sing in church called “Freedom”. It fits today’s chapter.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is

There is freedom, there is freedom

Where the Spirit of the Lord is

There is freedom, there is freedom

Come out of the dark,

Just as you are

Into the fullness of His love

The Spirit is here

Let there be freedom

Let there be freedom  

-Michelle Gaddi



Galatians_4

Scripture

Galatians 4:4-7

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.[b]Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba,[c] Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

Observation

“The apostle, in this chapter, is still carrying on the same general design as in the former-to recover these Christians from the impressions made upon them by the judaizing teachers, and to represent their weakness and folly in suffering themselves to be drawn away from the gospel doctrine of justification, and to be deprived of their freedom from the bondage of the law of Moses.” [https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Galatians+4&version=NIV]

Paul is speaking to the church communities of Galilee – basically working to undo the messaging they’d received about who they are and who God is.  The “Judaizing teachers” were bringing up the law of Moses in competition with the gospel of Christ and holding those in Galilee to legalistic ways of the Old Testament.  In other words, they were focused on the wrong things.

Understanding

Paul wanted the Galileans to recognize who they were in Christ – no longer slaves, but children of God. 

I feel like this same messaging needs to be undone today.  People view Christians as hypocritical and judgmental and Christianity as being bound to some legalistic set of rules geared towards perfection. 

Our message today should be the same as Paul’s then – you/we are no longer slaves, but loved by God…called His child and His heir.  I think many Christians today, myself included, struggle with image and recognizing who we are in God and who God has called us to be…not a lowly slave, but a son or daughter of the Most High.  Not someone bound to sin or to perfection, but set free and walking in victory as heirs to the kingdom. 

Life Application

Walk it out! 

We sang “You Are My Champion” yesterday and there’s a line that says “Let all the striving cease.  This is my victory!”  May we walk in victory today…but may we also live in a way that draws others into that victory.  People need freedom today and God has called us, placed us and equipped us to be part of His process of setting them free. 

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



Galatians_4



Galatians__3

Scripture:  Galatians 3:24-25  Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.  But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. 

Observation-What does it say?  Galatia, part of what is modern day Turkey, was a large province, which consisted of many cities that Paul had visited on his missionary journeys, including Antioch, Iconium and Lystra.  After his missionary trips here, other Jewish-Christian teachers arrived in the area and instructed the new converts that, in addition to their faith in Jesus, they had to follow certain Jewish traditions, such as circumcision and observance of certain Jewish Holidays.  Here in chapter three, Paul points out that God made a covenant with Abraham before there was the law.  Therefore, it was always faith, not works, that has connected us to God and set us free.

Understanding-What does it mean?  A few years ago, when it was still affordable, and before I had three kids, I was an Annual Passport holder at the happiest place on earth.  I’m not one of the really crazy Disneyland fanatics, I like to be a little more subtle about my obsession.  Instead of having all of the shirts, lanyards and pins, I buy wall art and glassware, things that can be hidden but still display my appreciation for the magical kingdom.  

One of the things I love about going to Disneyland is the drive there.  I love the anticipation of the journey and the build-up of excitement during the trip.  As a kid, my family would leave before sunrise, so we could be the first ones in the gate.  Well, actually it was so my parents could skip the traffic, but I didn’t know that until I had kids of my own.  On the trip, as you get closer and closer to Mickey’s house, there are more and more signs that point you to the final destination.  Big signs on the freeway, signs on the side streets.  Even the street names let you know how close you are with names like Disneyland Drive and Magic Way.

But as exciting as it is to see these signs and to drive on Magic Way, these things aren’t the point of the trip.  It would be silly to go all the way and then hangout in the parking lot all day.  The law we are given, things like the ten commandments, are not the endgame, they are the signs.  Our goal is to make it into God’s Kingdom, not just the parking lot.  

Life Application:  Jesus, help me to keep pressing into you everyday.  Help me grow in my faith everyday, and not to be satisfied with simply being a good person.  I want to move mountains and I can only do that with faith in you.  I know that through following you, I am able to do more than I ever knew. 

-Tyler Galloway