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!

Exodus 28

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Exodus 28:29

“Whenever Aaron enters the Holy Place, he will bear the names of the sons of Israel over his heart on the breastpiece of decision as a continuing memorial before the Lord.dd2a2f6eb9ad959a59daeec03ac9d59b

Observation – What does it say?

Whenever Aaron and his sons entered into God’s presence, they wore these heavy ceremonial garments. And each part of their garments had a special symbolic meaning and served as continual reminders.
One element of these priestly garments was that they were covered with the names of the tribes of Israel as a continuing memorial. In other words, it served as an ongoing reminder of their holy calling to come before God to represent His people, not their own interests.

Understanding – What does it mean?

The priests didn’t just represent themselves but all God’s people.

When they came before God, the priests were reminded when they saw the names of the 12 tribes on their shoulders that they weren’t just coming to God for their own needs and desires but on behalf of all Israel. Under the New Covenant, God considers all believers priests. Writing to all believers scattered around the world, the Apostle Peter said:

1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession…”

Every believer is considered chosen and set apart by God as a priest, representing the ‘holy nation’ of believers around the world. Throughout the New Testament is this dominating theme of believers having a corporate mindset who should view themselves not as individuals but as those connected to, and representatives of, all believers. A few examples:
  • When Jesus taught his disciples to pray he didn’t have them pray, “My Father… Give me… Forgive me… Lead me..” but rather “Our Father… Give us… Forgive us… Lead us..” (Matthew 6:9-13).
  • The Apostle Paul commended the young pastor Timothy for being one who didn’t look out for his own interests but rather showed genuine concern for the welfare of the church (Philippians 2:20-21).
  • The Apostle Paul referred to each believer as a member of the body of Christ, each of us connected to each other (1 Corinthians 12:27).

Life Application

Be reminded that I’m not just representing myself when I come before God!

Are my prayers primarily revolving around my individual interests, needs and desires? Or am I seeking God for the needs and interests of his people?
Use language like ‘us’ and ‘we’ more than ‘I’ and ‘me’ when praying.
God, thank you for inviting us to come to you with our personal needs and concerns. But thank you for the reminder that we are called to seek you on behalf of our local church family and the family of believers around the world. What an awesome privilege! Thank you that we aren’t alone in this world, but are part of your church body. We seek you today for grace and favor and blessing not just for us individually but for all believers everywhere. Amen.
To check out the discussion or join in click here.

Exodus 27

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Exodus 27:1

“Build an altar of acacia wood, three cubits high; it is to be square, five cubits long and five cubits wide.

Observation – What does it say?

After describing the instructions for the Tabernacle, Moses describes the instructions for the area around the Tabernacle – the altar where they would offer sacrifices to God and the courtyard where the altar would be located.

Understanding – What does it mean?

The altar taught the Old Testament believer that communion with God requires sacrifice.

The first thing a worshipper would see when entering the courtyard around the Tabernacle was the altar. It served as a constant reminder that in order to come close to God and to have relationship with him, a sacrifice was necessary as atonement (compensation for) sin.

Hebrews 9:22 “…without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”

When Jesus died on the cross, he paid the ultimate price once and for all for the sins of mankind. Now, all believers come to God, not through the Old Testament altar, but through Jesus Christ. No more payment or sacrifice is necessary. This means that rather than coming to God through the altar outside the Tabernacle, we come to God through the altar of Jesus (Hebrews 13:10 refers to Jesus as the Christian’s altar).

Life Application

Remember that Jesus’ sacrifice is what makes it possible for me to draw near to God.

Just as the Israelites were reminded every time they approached the Tabernacle, I want to remind myself every time I approach God in prayer today: This relationship required the sacrifice of Jesus!

God, thank you for loving us so much that you gave your Son for us! Jesus, thank you for paying the price we could never pay so we could enjoy unhindered relationship with you! Every time we pray today, may we pause and remember your sacrifice that makes it possible. We worship you! Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.

Exodus 26

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Exodus 26:30

30 “Set up the tabernacle according to the plan shown you on the mountain.

Observation – What does it say?

The Tabernacle was a tent in the very center of Israel’s camp that was a constant reminder of God’s presence with them and a place for worship and sacrifice. It was made to be portable since God’s people are still traveling from Egypt, through the wilderness, to the Promised Land. This passage lists the detailed construction plans God gave Moses on Mt. Sinai for the Tabernacle. Trying to imagine a tent out of all these construction details can be difficult. If there is one passage it would be nice to have a pictures of, it would be this one!

Part way through the instructions God paused to remind Moses to stick to the plan he had given him on the mountain.

Understanding – What does it mean?

When God gives specific instructions, he expects his people to follow them!

Moses is relaying these instructions to builders and artists who will carry out the plans. And, it’s almost as though God can see a builder coming with an idea to construct things a bit differently or an artist wanting to get creative with one part of the project. And he reminds Moses, “Stick to the plan!” He didn’t give all those details so they could be treated as options. And as a matter of fact, I cant think of any detailed instruction in scripture that God gave as an option.

When God says, “Forgive one another just as in Christ, God forgave you,” he doesn’t leave us the option of saying, “I’ll forgive everyone except that person. God knows what they did to me and he understands.” Nope. He didn’t leave us that choice. When God says, “You also must testify…” he doesn’t leave us the option of saying, “I get nervous and so I’ll leave telling people about Jesus to the pastors and evangelists.” God expects us every one of us to share about him!

“God knows my heart,” or, “God knows how hard this is for me,” or, “God knows how busy I am,” aren’t acceptable excuses for disobedience.

Life Application

God, are there any areas of my life that I’ve been deviating from your instructions? Are there any excuses I’ve been making where I should just be obeying?

God, this morning I ask that you would remind us of the instructions you’ve given us in your word. Help us to live in obedience to you and to not make excuses. Where we feel stuck or like obedience is difficult, help us to rely on your strength and grace to do what you’ve asked. Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.

Exodus 25

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Exodus 25:22

22 There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the covenant law, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites.

Observation – What does it say?

God gave Moses detailed instructions for building the Tabernacle, which would be God’s dwelling place among them. They would build an ark, a wooden box overlaid with gold that would hold the two stone tablets with the 10 commandments written on them. On each side would be a statue of a cherubim (angel). Between the two cherubim, the cover of the ark formed a kind of chair, a throne for God. And it was on that ‘mercy seat’ that God intended to dwell and where Moses could come meet with him.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Before Jesus came, it was only Moses or the high priest who had permission from God to approach the ark and meet with God. But now under the new covenant it’s not just one or two men who God invites to his throne to meet with him but all believers!

Hebrews 4:16

16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

God invites us to his throne! It’s in that place that we receive mercy and where God gives supplies us with his grace – all the wisdom, strength, guidance, healing, comfort and courage we need for every need we face.

After Jesus died on the cross the temple curtain was torn in two, symbolizing that God’s presence would no longer dwell in temples built by human hands but within every believer. Now that we are temples of the Holy Spirit, we don’t have to travel to some building on Ruether Avenue or anywhere else or to God’s throne in heaven to meet with him. Rather, he is with us permanently, enthroned in our hearts. The journey to God’s throne for us today takes place in our hearts whenever we chose to acknowledge and engage him. This means we have the privilege of coming to him whenever and wherever we desire!

Life Application

Take advantage of the access I have to God!

God, thank you for encouraging us to come boldly to you to receive your mercy and grace. Thank you for inviting us into relationship with you. May we be people who approach your throne with confidence today! Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.

Exodus 24

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Exodus 24:4a

Moses then wrote down everything the Lord had said.

Observation – What does it say?

Moses shared with the people of Israel all the commands God had given, and then Moses took the time to write down every last word God had said.

Understanding – What does it mean?

When God speaks, it’s worth taking time to write it down!

If someone were to ask me, “What was God speaking to you about during your times with him 2 weeks ago?” It would most likely be difficult for me to remember. If I can barely remember what God was speaking to me about 2 weeks ago, how can I expect to remember what he spoke 2 months or 2 years ago? Those words become lost to me, unless I take the time to write them down.

I’ve been so amazed reading back through my old journals about things God had shown me in his word, significant dreams, prophetic words, and impressions he gave me in my times of prayer. Many of which I had completely forgotten about until I opened my old journals and read them.

Moses wrote down all God spoke to him. King David wrote down many of his prayers. King Solomon wrote down the wisdom God revealed to him. The prophets wrote down the visions and dreams God gave them. And Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were compelled to write about their experiences with Jesus and all Jesus had taught and said.

Life Application

When God speaks, write it down!

I am committed to soul journaling, but also want to continue to take the time to write down my dreams that seem significant, things God has put in my heart to pray for and any prophetic words from others.

God, thank you for giving us lots to write down! Thank you for speaking to us through your word and through other people, circumstances, dreams and visions, etc. (We remember that every prophetic word/dream/vision/etc is subject to Scripture and that your word is the ultimate authority and primary avenue through which you speak.) May we show that we treasure your words to us by writing them down. May we be good stewards of every word you speak. Amen.

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

Exodus 23

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Exodus 23:19

“Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the Lord your God.

Observation – What does it say?

In the midst of all God’s commands the Israelites, he gives them specific instructions for observing 3 different annual festivals. Each festival is to celebrate God’s goodness and faithfulness to them – remembering how he delivered them from Egypt, celebrating the beginning of the harvest that year and giving thanks at the end of the year for all the crops God blessed them with. At each they would bring animal sacrifices and offerings from their crops to offer to God.

In regards to the offerings from their crops, God gives them this command to bring him the best of their firstfruits.

Understanding – What does it mean?

God wants his people’s best and first.

God didn’t want his people’s leftovers. God had given them everything! Anything he asked them to give back to him was completely justified because he was the one who blessed them with it to begin with.These festivals and offerings served as reminders to themselves that God was the provider of every good thing they had. God didn’t want the fruit that had ripened prematurely and was rotten or the vegetables that had been half-eaten by worms. He wanted not only the first of what his people harvested, but the best.

As I read this, it hit me that God gave us his best and first. More accurately, he gave us his best and only. Offered on our behalf was God’s one and only begotten Son, when none of us deserved it (John 3:16; Romans 5:8). The difference when we give God our best and first is that he fully deserves it!

Although we are under the new covenant and aren’t required to observe these feasts and to give the best and first of what comes out of the garden in our backyard, God still desires our best and first in every area. He desires we give him the best and first of our time, of our increase financially, of our talent, etc. Once again, when we give we are giving back to God because all we have is his to begin with.

Life Application

Give God my best!

God, forgive me for the times I try to give you my leftovers. I don’t want to wait to spend time with you each day until late at night when I’m exhausted and falling asleep. I don’t want to wait to give to you of my finances (which really aren’t mine but yours anyway!) until the end of the month if I have anything left over. God, make us a church that is passionate about giving you our best and our first in every area of our lives. You deserve it! Thank you for giving us your best and only. We love you! Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.

Exodus 22

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Exodus 22:21

“Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.”

Observation – What does it say?

God is giving his people laws and commands to live by. As he desires his holy people, his chosen nation whom he brought out of Egypt, to live a certain way. These aren’t arbitrary or random commands, but they each boil down to loving God and each other. In verse 21, he gives them the specific command not to mistreat anyone who is a foreigner because they were once foreigners.

Understanding – What does it mean?

When God’s people remember where they were when God rescued them, it should cause them to treat people differently.

When God saves us we experience new life and things begin to change. We begin to desire God more than the things we used to, we begin replacing our old Friday night activities with new ones, we let go of old relationships in order to form new relationships with God’s people, etc. Everything changes as God transforms us more into the image of Jesus. It’s a wonderful thing! But with that change comes a natural separation from our old life and often times the people that were a part of it.  The more God transforms us and the farther removed we become from our old life, the easier it becomes to separate ourselves from the world and eventually, if we aren’t careful, we’ll find ourselves looking down our noses at those still living in sin.

When we would look down upon someone who doesn’t have God in their life, God would remind us, “Don’t forget that used to be you! Your sin may have looked different, but you weren’t any better than them when I found you and rescued you! So be compassionate, don’t mistreat them. Don’t oppress them. Instead, do what I did for you. Have compassion on them, serve them, love them, and seek to save their soul by introducing them into saving relationship with me.”

Life Application

When I see someone who is living in sin, rather than judging them, remember where I was when God saved me, and find a way to love them! Specifically those on my PII card – pray for, invest in and invite them to DSC and into relationship with Jesus.

God, thank you for saving me! May I never lose sight of where I was when you rescued me. Fill us with compassion for the lost. Give us more of your heart for them and make us a church without walls. A church that doesn’t hide out in our little bubble together, but who loves and serves those who don’t know you and invites them into personal relationship with you. Amen.

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

Exodus 21

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Exodus 21:15,17

15 “Anyone who attacks their father or mother is to be put to death.

17 “Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.

Observation – What does it say?

God is giving his commands to the Israelites outlining the way he desires his people to live. Part of his instruction is to kill anyone who attacks or curses their father or mother. The most significant thing I observed reading it this time is that there is no age cut off for honoring our parents.

Understanding – What does it mean?

God is passionate about his people honoring their parents.

Thankfully we are under the new covenant and don’t kill rebellious children anymore, otherwise I wouldn’t be here today… And my son might not be either. But our unchanging God isn’t any less serious about us honoring our parents today than when he gave this command.

Jesus called out the religious leaders who were using the excuse that they were giving to God so they couldn’t give to support their parents. Then the Apostle Paul reminded the Ephesian church…

Ephesians 6:1-3

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

There is no “when you turn 18” clause under that command. Honoring our parents is the command whether we are 4 years old or 40+ years old. Yet in our American culture youth are taught, and it’s enforced by their parents, that parents are responsible for their kids only until they are 18 and we only have to honor our parents until we are 18. “Come 18, I’m going to get that tattoo and date that girl because my parents wont be able to tell me what to do anymore.” The tragedy is that this is the common way of thinking not just for unbelievers but for most of the Christians I know!

Although there comes a time where children become adults and begin having to take full responsibility for their lives and decisions, adulthood doesn’t mean we do what we want and God no longer cares about us honoring our parents. Before we are 18 we honor and obey because we have to, but after we have the opportunity to honor and obey because we want to and see it as an opportunity to honor God.

Life Application

Regardless of my age, honor my parents!

Holy Spirit, show us what it looks like to honor our parents in this present season of our lives. Please reveal to us the ways we’ve allowed our culture to press us into its mold. Reveal any ways I haven’t been honoring to my parents and help me to change. I want to honor you by honoring them. Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.

Exodus 20

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Exodus 20:21

The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.

Observation – What does it say?

I wish I could have been there to see this! As the Israelites gathered around the foot of Mt. Sinai, God descended in the form of a thick cloud on top of the mountain. There was thunder and lightning and a loud trumpet blast. Then God spoke from the mountain all the 10 Commandments. After speaking to them, the people were terrified and asked Moses to tell God to stop talking. Fearful, they stayed at a distance but Moses approached God.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Those God uses in significant ways are the ones who don’t stay at a distance!

In Israel’s case, they were actually commanded to stay at a distance. Fear was part of the reason they didn’t step closer, and the other was obedience to God’s command. Moses was the only one permitted to approach God on the mountain. But today, every Christian has been given unlimited access to the throne of God! God invites every believer to draw near to him.

Hebrews 4:16

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Under the New Covenant, everyone can approach God with confidence! Yet we still see the same thing among Christians today as in Israel thousands of years ago. The majority, whether by preference or some other reason, stay at a distance – Sunday morning Christians, those who look to check religious activity boxes in attempt to stay on God’s good side, those who don’t really strive to enjoy him, know him and please him every moment of every day. But the few who will approach God and pursue intimacy with him are the ones who, like Moses, are used by God to reveal his power and glory to the world. Those who prefer drawing near to God than any other thing are the ones who will change their generation for Christ.
I don’t want to be satisfied remaining at a distance. It may feel safer and more comfortable to watch on the perimeter, but even if everyone else stays at a distance I want to be closer to God!

Life Application

Go after God!

God, may we at Desert Streams be like Moses. Even if everyone else is content being at a distance, may we be ones that approach you! We want more of you, whatever it costs! Keep us from waiting for someone else to pioneer the way. May we make up our minds to be the pioneers, to set the example and show others what it looks like to seek you and abide in you. Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.

Exodus 19

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Exodus 19:3,17

Then Moses went up to God…

17 Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God…

Observation – What does it say?

Moses, although he just set up a system delegating his governing authority to a set of judges, Moses is still the sole spiritual leader of Israel. He is the people’s representative to God and the channel of Gods wisdom to the people. And as the spiritual leader, Moses had his own relationship with God but also facilitated God encounters for the people he led.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Effective spiritual leadership is characterized by pursuing personal relationship with God and then helping others experience God for themselves.

Effective spiritual leadership begins with pursuing God myself. My mother-in-law often calls on me for help with her computer. But unless I’ve spent time with a computer and learned how to use it myself, I’m going to be useless to her. It will be the blind leading the blind. In the same way, I can’t teach people about a God I haven’t really spent time with and am unfamiliar with. Jesus called these kind of people blind guides.

But having a great relationship with God isn’t enough to be called a leader. If I spend day and night on the computer and know everything about it, it doesn’t benefit my mother-in-law in the slightest unless I share my knowledge and experience and show her how to use it for herself. In the same way, I am not really a leader until I’m actually leading others into knowing and experiencing God for themselves. Want to know of you’re a leader? Look behind you. You may be pursuing God, but who are you bringing with you?

The Apostle Paul shared Jesus’ purpose for every kind of Christian leader:

Ephesians 4:

11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Christianity isn’t about a few super spiritual people who do all the ministry and who have a relationship with God for the rest. It’s all about equipping each other for ministry, building each other up so we reach unity in the faith. In the heart of every Christian should be the desire to know God more and to bring others with us.

Life Application

Keep pursuing God myself! The more I experience of him, the more I’ll have to share with others.

Look for opportunities to encourage and lead others in pursuing their own relationship with God.

God, reveal yourself to us! Give us a heart to seek you and to know you more. And as you we experience more of you, use us to lead others into having similar experiences of their own. Amen.

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