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

 
 
 
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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!
 

1 Samuel_9

Scripture  1 Samuel 9:21 Saul answered, “But am I not a Benjamite, from the smallest tribe of Israel, and is not my clan the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why do you say such a thing to me?”

Observation-What does it say?  An unlikely turn of events, the loss of a few donkeys, leads Saul to meet with Samuel.  God had already given Samuel a vision of Saul, who would become the king of Israel.  As Samuel tells Saul that he is favored by God, he is surprised and expresses that he doesn’t feel worthy, since he is from the smallest family in the nation.  This goes to further demonstrate one theme of 1 Samuel, that God raises the powerless to promote his kingdom (2:8).  God using the powerless is further example that His kingdom is not of this world.

Understanding-What does it mean?  I started high school a little larger than the average kid, already about 6’1” but rail thin weighing in at only about 135 pounds.  And despite my normally even temperament, I had a mean competitive side of me and a little too much pride.  Taking up running, I found something that helped me in a lot of different areas in my life, including finding the focus I needed in my studies.  The little bit of natural success I found in the sport didn’t help my pride at all.  I remember thinking that I could beat just about anyone with the right amount of effort.  

Then one day, while running my best event, the 800 meter, I was astonished to see this little figure beside me.  Jameson Mora was only about 4’11” and weighed bout 95 pounds, but his stride was as big as mine and he was moving passed me.  It was as if he took a pin to my balloon of a head.   Pppsssssttt!  Jameson looked odd running to me.  He worked harder than anyone else, and you could see it in his face and the way he got every little bit of distance out of a stride that was too long for his little body. 

When we look at God’s story and the redemption of man, we see something similar.  He is continually showing us His power through the smallest, weakest and most unexpected things.  God is constantly using things that don’s make sense to us.  He saved the world with a crazy man and a boat (when it had never rained), birthed a nation through a couple that was too old, used a man that was supposed to die as an infant to lead a bunch of slaves out of Egypt.  God made it rain bread, and caused water to come from a rock.  He made three men completely fireproof.  He brought the message of Christ to Gentiles through a man who is guilty of murdering Christians.  

God tells us, my ways are not his (Isaiah 55:8-9), that in His kingdom the last will be first (Matthew 20:16), He uses the foolish things to shame the wise (1 Corinthians 1:26-31), and His kingdom was built on a stone rejected by builders (1 Peter 2:4-10).  God doesn’t call us to be perfect, but through His power we are made perfect.  He is the one who completes His work in us.  When we are small, He makes us great, and even makes us run a little faster than we think possible.

Life Application  When I feel worthless, and incapable of doing the good you have called me to, allow me to lean on Your words.  For you are my maker, you know my inside and out, you know every hair on my head and every freckle on my back.  You lift me up to do good works, and give me the strength to carry on.  I will trust in you, the maker of heaven and earth, my rock and fortress.  When life seems too big, I will hide in the shelter of your wings.       

-Tyler Galloway



1 Samuel_8

Scripture

1 Samuel 8:20

Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.

Observation – What does it say?

As Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons to lead in his place. However, they didn’t measure up as fit for leadership. So, the people asked Samuel to appoint a king to lead them.

Up to this point, God led his people through judges and prophets like Moses, Deborah and Samuel. Through these godly men and women, God effectively led and protected and provided for and preserved the Israelites. But, noticing the nations around them all had kings, they felt compelled to conform. Despite the warnings from God about going that route, the people demanded a king lead them instead of God.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Human tendency is to forget how much better God’s ways are and turn to substitutes.

This is insane! The last story recorded is of the Philistines coming to attack Israel. God went before them in battle and thundered before the Philistines, throwing the Philistines into such a panic that it made it a cake walk for the Israelites to defeat them. And here they are in the next breath asking for a king to go before them in battle instead!? They would rather a human with a title go before them than the God who just gave them victory. What a terrible substitute to desire! It wasn’t necessarily a sin to have a king, but it was like asking to remove Kobe from the lineup for game 7 and put in my eight-year-old son. You can do it, but it’s about the dumbest decision you could make.

Any substitute for God and God’s ways isn’t going to work!

Life Application

During the 28 days of prayer and fasting we turned from all God-substitutes and pursued the Real Deal. And as a result of turning to God for comfort instead of Instagram, turning to the Bible for truth and knowledge instead of the news, turning to worship to overcome life’s challenges instead of trying to temporarily forget them with Netflix, life has changed drastically! We are experiencing so much more life and joy and clarity and peace than before we began. So why go back to substitutes?! Has God not proven himself to be sufficient for all we need and desire?

Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

God, please forgive us for choosing substitutes for you and your ways. May we not go back, not conform to the patterns of this world, but fight to keep choosing you and keeping you first! Amen.
 
 
– Levi Thompson 


1 Samuel_7

Scripture
 
1 Samuel‬ ‭7:5‬ ‭
 
“Then Samuel told them, “Gather all of Israel to Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord for you.”
 
Observation-What does it say?
 
Samuel urges the people of Israel to return to the Lord by getting rid of all their images of their foreign gods, and turn their hearts back to God, by obeying Him, and Him alone. By doing this God will rescue them from the Philistines. So the people of Israel listened to Samuel. They worshipped, fasted, and confessed their sins to God. Samuel told all of them to gather at Mizpah, and he would pray for all of them. But when the Philistines heard all of Israel were gathered at Mizpah, they launched an attack against them. The Israelites were frightened. They begged with Samuel to continue to pray for them. So Samuel did. Samuel offered a burnt offering to God and pleaded with Him to save Israel. The Lord heard Samuel’s prayers and helped the Israelites defeat the Philistines.
 
Understanding-What does it mean?
 
God saves through prayer and repentance!
 
The power of prayer couldn’t be more evident in this passage. But I believe there was another key thing here that pushed the Israelites to victory over the Philistines here. It was their willingness to confess their sins and repent from them which saves them from the Philistine army. The Israelites realized that their sinfulness separated them from God’s favor. Samuel urged them to repent from their wicked ways and to obey God’s ways. The Israelites took Samuel’s advice. In the midst of all this they were surrounded by the Philistine army, on the verge of war and death. But through their prayers and repentance from their sins, God saved them from death. And that my friends is the message of the gospel!
 
It is our sinfulness that separates us from a Holy God. We are deserving of death. We are in need of a savior. God gives us this savior in His only son, Jesus. Jesus died on the cross for our sins. He rose again and conquered death. It’s on us to believe and trust in Jesus, and live by His ways. We need to pray to God to accept Jesus into our hearts and lives and repent from our sinful ways. It is then we too, like the Israelites in this passage, will be saved from death.
 
Life Application
 
The grace of God is for everyone.
 
Father God, thank You for Your grace and mercy. Thank You for sending Jesus to save me. I know there are others out there who are in need of saving. Give me eyes to see them and ears to hear their cries for help. Let me be like Samuel in this passage, and guide them to repentance and pray for their salvation. Give me the courage and the words to share the gospel with them. May You open their hearts to the gospel of Christ. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
 
Moses Gaddi


Psalm 61

Scripture

Psalm 61:1-8

“Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. For you, God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name. Increase the days of the king’s life, his years for many generations. May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever; appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him. Then I will ever sing in praise of your name and fulfill my vows day after day.”
‭‭
Observation-What does it say?

David does a few things in this Psalm. He cries out to God acknowledging his weakness in light of God’s strength; remembers that God has been his refuge in times past; and cries out for strength in order to continue singing praises to Him and fulfill his duties and calling as king.

Understanding-What does it mean?

Run to God for strength and encouragement instead of our own.

I’ve heard people joke that King David must have been bipolar because of his really high highs and really low lows as documented in the Psalms. However, the difference between David and mentally ill people is that David was able to encourage himself out of situations in the strength of the Lord. He runs and cries out to the Lord and as a result of His surrender and obedience, he finds peace, comfort and joy.

As the Apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:9, after asking God 3 times to take away a thorn in his flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment him and keep him from being conceited, God said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Then Paul said, “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

Basically, through all the opposition and weaknesses we face in this world, God’s grace and strength will always be enough to get us through. Needing comfort from the King of kings is not what makes us weak, but rather what makes us strong.

Life Application

I will draw comfort and strength from the Lord in order to pour out that same comfort to others.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭1:3-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

King David and the Apostle Paul were 2 great men of the Bible with amazing testimonies of the Lord’s love for them. Their greatness is not what God was impressed with. It was their acknowledged weaknesses—their humility and surrender that God used to uplift them to the status of leadership that they were in.

Dear Lord, I choose to draw strength from You alone. It inspires me that You never chose to work through perfect people, but those who were imperfect, yet dependent and reliant on You. It was amazing what the Holy Spirit was able to do in and through them as a result. I pray that I would always seek to be a woman after Your heart, always remaining humble and submitted to Your will Jesus. Amen.

-Michelle Gaddi


3_John

Scripture
3 John 1:5-6

5 Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters, even though they are strangers to you. 6 They have told the church of your love. Please send them on their way in a manner that honors God.

Observation
John is writing to commend and encourage his beloved coworker, Gaius, in his ministry of hospitality to itinerant messengers who were going from place to place to preach the Gospel of Christ. [https://www.gotquestions.org/amp/Book-of-3-John.html]

Understanding
Two things come to mind…

First, what Paul is encouraging Gaius in, is exactly what we are called to do as Christians today – to show hospitality (aka love) to strangers…sending them on their way in a manner that honors God.

Secondly, how sweet was his encouragement? Let this be an example to us of how to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ. To honor the things that they are doing well and tell them the ways we appreciate them.

Life Application
Go love on somebody!…in big ways and small ways, with the intention of showing them God’s love (as close as we can get to it, because we don’t even come close to His perfect love).

Take time to acknowledge and encourage one another…as often as possible! [Michelle Gaddi and Tina Kudelka are incredible examples of this.].

Dear Lord, may I be an extension of you, to be your hands and feet in this world, an example of your love to those I meet. Open my eyes to see people the way you do…to notice all the good and beautiful things about them…and may I take the time to acknowledge and encourage those things in them.

Thank you for being the ever-constant, perfect example of LOVE. Amen.

Rei

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



Acts Twenty Eight

SCRIPTURE

Acts 28:1-10 (NIV) 1 Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. 2 The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold. 3 Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. 4 When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.” 5 But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. 6 The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead, but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god. 7 There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and for three days entertained us hospitably. 8 His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him. 9 When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured. 10 They honored us in many ways and when we were ready to sail, they furnished us with the supplies we needed.

OBSERVATION

God had brought them to the Isle of Malta where the native people welcomed all 276 of them and did their best to make them comfortable. The storm abated, but the weather was cold; so the natives built a fire. After all he had done for the passengers, Paul could well have requested a throne and insisted that everybody serve him! Instead, he did his share of the work and helped gather fuel for the fire.

UNDERSTANDING

Paul never once acted like a prisoner or a victim, nor did he act as if because he had helped the crew so much that somehow he was going to get special treatment.  Instead he went to work serving people.  The truth is no task is too small for the servant of God, we must be like Jesus who humbled Himself and became a servant.  That is what Paul is doing here.

LIFE APPLICATION

Wherever we go, regardless of our situations, we can be a sweet fragrance of Christ to whomever we meet.  Are we being the fragrance of Christ to our world by serving them?  Or are we being victims or acting in an entitled fashion?
As we have seen throughout the book of Acts, God’s power is at work in and through us in the form of the Holy Spirit.  WE must continually seek to be filled up with the Holy Spirit so that we can be poured out wherever we go.  
 
Keep on being filled with the Holy Spirit!


Acts_27

Scripture 

 
Acts 27:23 
 
“For this very night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood before me”

Observation-What does it say? 

Paul is on his way to Rome to speak to Caesar on a ship that faces a grave torrent storm. Just the trip he needed after having been in prison for years, flogged, death plotted against him, and having stood before leaders giving his testimony of God’s grace poured out over his life. Paul should have received the death penalty from God. Instead, he is chosen to be the messenger of grace by the long awaited Messiah, Jesus Christ. 

Understanding-What does it mean? 

“…the God to whom I belong and whom I serve.”

I noticed that the Greek word for I belong is “eimi” which means I exist or I am. I can’t help to think that this phrase “I belong” was so much deeper than just saying that you “ belong” to someone the way a slave belongs to a master or maybe something more intimate the way beloveds “belong” to each other. I can’t help to believe that Paul was saying “…the God to whom I “exist”. Paul exists like if he had tucked himself inside of God the way a baby is tucked in their mother’s womb and he literally was living and breathing because of God sustaining his life. Serving God was not an option. He should have been dead so many times over, not just physically but eternally, and God chose him. God met him in his sin and brought him to life, thus he “exists.” 

Life Application

Father, we need you, I need you! Your grace and your mercy encase me. I need to stay in you always by reading your word, worship, prayer, and fellowship. Holy Spirit always bring to remembrance being tucked inside of God and now I live and move and have my being because of Him. In all the storms of life, when I am being tossed by the happenings of life; the bills, the chores, our jobs, marriage… and grossly off course with danger all around me, help me to know that I belong, I exist, I am in Him and he is in me! 

-Deborah Lee



Acts_26

Scripture  

Acts 26:28-29  Agrippa replied to Paul, “In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian.”  And Paul said, “I would wish to God, that whether in a short or long time, not only you, but also all who hear me this day, might become such as I am, except for these chains.”

Observation-What does it say?  Paul is sitting before King Agrippa, as part of his appeals process.  He is slated to go to Rome, to be heard by the Cesar himself, but before he goes, Governor Festus and Agrippa want to hear his story.  Paul expounds on his life as a pharisee, his attack on Christians, and his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus.  He goes on to tell them that, through his extensive knowledge of the scriptures, he could not deny that Jesus was in fact the Messiah.  As they were listening, they were trying decide what notification they were going to give to the Cesar as to why he is appealing his case.  Both Festus and Agrippa agree that the Jews have no case to hold Paul.  During Paul’s testimony, Agrippa is apparently deeply affected by  his words.

Understanding-What does it mean?  We all know that one guy, whether it’s at work or just an acquaintance, who is totally committed to whatever he is doing for about six months to a year and then onto the next thing.  Whether it’s mountain biking, or surfing, or snow boarding, it’s all you ever hear about from that guy for a period of time.  He gets all the right gear, spends a ton of money, and apparently masters the skill.  And what’s worse, he gets you interested in it too.  And now you have a new snow board, boots, pants, jacket, helmet, glove, an industrial tuning station in your garage, and you can barely make your way down the bunny slope.  Before you know it, your buddy is onto a new sport and you have just spent your life savings on a sport that you don’t really like that much, but are too committed to quit.

Paul is like that guy, except he takes it to the end.  He never lost interest, or moved onto something else, leaving his friends in the wake of a bored hobby.  Paul is the epitome of a true believer.  He takes the cause to the end, knowing that there is more left to the story.  Paul has the innate sense that he is part of something much bigger than himself.  He has tapped into that source that we are all looking for, and found his purpose.  Like the other apostles, his sense of resolve will carry him to lengths that would be unimaginable to most.  

Life Application  Jesus, I want to know you and experience you like Paul.  I know that this means I must commit myself to taking the time to come to you and to hear your voice.  I must listen through constant time in your word and prayer.  Help me to have the resolve to overcome my weaknesses and to place my trust in you. 

-Tyler Galloway



Acts_25

Scripture

Acts 25:25

I found he had done nothing deserving of death, but because he made his appeal to the Emperor I decided to send him to Rome.

Observation – What does it say?

While in prison, Paul had appeared on different occasions to stand trial before the Sanhedrin, Governor Felix, Governor Festus, and also was given audience with King Argippa. In each instance charges were brought against Paul, then he made his defense and shared the gospel with everyone present. At the final trial before Festus, Paul appealed to Caesar. In each instance, neither governor nor the king found that he was worthy of death or imprisonment. 

Understanding – What does it mean?

In order to fulfill our God-given destiny we may be wronged unjustly and find ourselves in positions of discomfort that we wish to escape. 

If it were’t for this imprisonment (lasting years!) Paul wouldn’t have had opportunity to stand before governors, kings and all these people of influence and present to them the gospel.

How often do we make it all about us? In our immaturity, not recognizing God’s purposes are much more important than our comfort, we complain and play the victim. “I can’t believe I’m here.” “I don’t deserve this.” “God, I’m so frustrated at you.” How can God use us us when we make it all about us and what we want and feel we deserve?! What if we’re in that situation because we prayed and asked God to use us, and so he sent us there to bring his love and truth.

Paul chose to rejoice because he recognized his chains could actually serve to advance the gospel and bring people to Christ (see his letter to the Philippians which he wrote while in prison)! I doubt he was excited about the chains, but he was more than willing to endure them because he was excited about the possibility of being used by God to save the lost.

Life Application

Rather than looking at work or home or church or the DMV through the lens of, “Do I like it here?” I should be looking through the lens of God’s will, “God, I’m here for a purpose, help me to see what it is. What are you doing here and how do you want me to partner with you?”

Ephesians 5:16a,18 Make the most of every opportunity… do not be foolish but understand what the Lord’s will is.

God, in every situation may we not look through the lens of personal preference but kingdom purpose. Give us eyes to see what you’re doing and help us, like Paul, to make the most of every opportunity. Amen.
 
– Levi Thompson


Acts__24

Scripture
 
Acts‬ ‭24:25
 
“As he reasoned with them about righteousness and self-control and the coming day of judgment, Felix became frightened. “Go away for now,” he replied. “When it is more convenient, I’ll call for you again.”
 
Observation-What does it say?
 
Some of the Jewish Elders, and the lawyer named Tertullus went to governor Felix to present their case against Paul. Paul was being accused of being a troublemaker who was constantly stirring up riots amongst the Jews all over the world. He was being accused of being a ringleader of a cult, and Paul was being accused of desecrating the Temple. Of course all these accusations were false, but Felix, who wanted to gain favor with the Jewish people, left Paul in prison. While in prison, Felix would send for Paul quite frequently. Deep down Felix was hoping Paul would bribe him with money for his release. But instead Paul used those times to share with Felix and his wife Drusilla about faith in Jesus Christ. One day Paul reasoned with them about righteousness, self-control, and the coming day of judgement. This talk frightened Felix. He told Paul to “Go away for now. When it’s more convenient I’ll call back for you again.”
 
Understanding-What does it mean?
 
What will you do when the power of the Holy Spirit convicts you?
 
As Paul was sharing the Word of God with Felix and his wife, Felix felt the conviction from the Holy Spirit (spoken through Paul) of his wrongdoings in life. Now Felix had a choice to make here. Would he allow the Holy Spirit to convict him of his faults so that he may repent against them? Or would he ignore the calling, try to hide from it, and let pride get in the way of making the right decision? Unfortunately, Felix chose the latter.
 
There will be times in life where the Holy Spirit speaks to us and pierces straight to our heart. It may be something we need to do, or it may be something we need to rid ourselves of in our life. The choice won’t always be easy. But if I was to learn anything from this passage this morning, it is that I can’t just pick and choose sections of the Word of God I choose to follow. Don’t be like Felix and listen to God’s Word, take it in, but as soon as it tells you something you may not want to hear or are uncomfortable with, you shut it out. No! Instead I need to take a long look in the mirror, allow the Holy Spirit to reveal my faults, and direct me in the way He needs me to go. Allow the power of the Holy Spirit to transform me from the inside out.
 
Life Application
 
Don’t let pride get in the way from the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
 
There is one unforgivable sin the Bible speaks of. It is the blaspheming or rejection of the Holy Spirit.
 
“Anyone who speaks against the Son of Man can be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.”
Luke‬ ‭12:10
 
The Holy Spirit is alive! It reaches out to you, trying to guide you to do what is right in God’s eyes. Don’t turn away from Him. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide your words, your actions so you may be right with God. Do not blaspheme Him or reject Him. Our time on earth is limited. And we never know when our time here is up. So shouldn’t I be using that time accepting the Holy Spirit’s guidance, instead of rejecting it?
 
-Moses Gaddi