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!
 

James_5

Scripture

James 5:13-16 13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Observation James 5 begins with a warning to the rich – those who had hoarded wealth and oppressed those who worked for them.  Then it speaks to perseverance – being patient in suffering.  Then it turns to the power of prayer! <3

Understanding
 
It’s always a good time to pray.  Troubled?  Pray. Happy?  Pray. [Praise.] Sick?  Pray. But, while God is all powerful and can work through ANYone, he calls us to be righteous and filled with faith as we pray. 
 
Life Application
 
I don’t know about you, but I’d hate to be a part of unanswered prayer – out of praying with weak or ineffective prayers, an unrighteous heart or lack of faith.  And it starts with the heart…
Matthew 12:34b
For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
Proverbs 4:23
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flows the springs of life.
Luke 6:45
The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.
So, may we protect our hearts, watch our words and pray with faith…and may those prayers go forth with power! To check out the discussion or to join in click here.
 
Rei


James__4

Scripture  
 
James 4:5  
 
Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”?
 
Observation-What does it say?  
 
The book of James, which is written by the brother of Jesus, covers a range of topics, most notably our faith in action.  In chapter four, he turns to a set of attitudes and behaviors which we should avoid: jealousy, covetousness, pride, etc..  In verse five, James reminds us of the amazing reality that the maker of the universe wants to be with us.  In a practical way, he shows how the materialism around us can deter us from being close to Him.
 
Understanding-What does it mean?  
 
I was sitting in the middle of the football field, with my eyes closed, thinking to myself, “I look really stupid.”  My cross-country coach had us sitting quietly thinking about racing, thinking about our breathing, thinking about crossing the finish line a winner, all while the football team and the cheerleaders were milling around us.  But my coach had a point, we couldn’t run to our full potential unless we had practiced it in our minds as well as in our bodies.  In fact, nowadays sports teams spend a lot of money on sports psychologists who help their players visualize being at the top of their game.  When you watch the olympics, you might catch a glimpse of an ice-skater standing on the side of the rink, flailing their arms around, visualizing their routine before it starts.

As Christians, one of our ultimate realities is we are going to spend eternity with Jesus.  I recently listened to a sermon by a pastor named Dave Lomas.  He was teaching on Revelation 4, and the picture of worship in heaven it gives us.  Lomas used this as a starting point to show that, since God wants to be the center of our hearts and that we will spend out eternity giving Him glory, our time spent worshiping on earth is an act of practice and visualization of eternity.  When we attend church on a Sunday morning, it is a practice of the corporate worship we will come to realize in heaven.

I find this to be the best way for me to rid myself of the distractions this world brings.  It is very hard for me to think about wanting a better paycheck or a bigger house, when I am surrounded by a group of God’s children who are immersed in singing of the greatness of God’s love.  Similarly to James, the author of Hebrews tells us to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” by continuing to meet together (10:24-25).  In Ephesians 5, Paul writes of how we can be imitators of Christ, encouraging us to lift up one another by “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord (5:18).”  

 
Life Application  
 
Jesus fill my heart with a joy, and fill my mouth with a song.  May my life be an act of worship to you, not only in my words but also in my actions.  Help me to encourage those around me to worship you as well.  Forgive me for the times where I am focused on the material things that will not bring me the satisfaction and fulfillment that you do.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48i4l1715uc  
 
-Tyler Galloway


James__3

Scripture

James 3:13

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.

Observation – What does it say?
In his continuing instruction to believers everywhere, the brother of Jesus and now pastor of the church in Jerusalem, James, wants his audience to understand the marks of true wisdom. He makes a distinction between wisdom that is earthly, unspiritual and has demonic origin and the true wisdom that is from heaven.

Understanding – What does it mean?

True wisdom is displayed through a good life, good deeds and humility. Many people are said to be wise and understanding because of their eloquent speech, good arguments, and ability to win verbal debates. But according to scripture, none of those things are included as characteristics of the wise.

The wisdom that comes from heaven is displayed through a good life! From good deeds done with a humble heart. Consider Jesus, our wise and humble King. His wisdom, which had its origins in heaven, was displayed through a good life (which sounds like an understatement), filled with good deeds that required him to lay down his rights as God and humble himself before others.
 
One of my favorite quotes is, “One good deed is worth more than a thousand brilliant theories.” – Unknown 
Wisdom isn’t merely cerebral, it has everything to do with action and a humble heart. 

Life Application

Honestly evaluate my wisdom.

Am I living a life centered around being good to God and others?
Am I living a life of good deeds? And are my good deeds done with selfish motives or in humility?

Ask God for wisdom! James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

God, fill us with wisdom and understanding. May our lives be increasingly marked by good deeds and great humility. Help us take our eyes off of ourselves and to take genuine concern in the welfare of others. We need you. We recognize we have so much room to grow and learn. Bless us with your wisdom. Amen.
 
– Levi Thompson


James__2

Scripture
 
James‬ ‭2:14‬
 
“What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?”
 
Observation-What does it say?
 
James is reminding believers to practice what they are preaching. James is encouraging believers to live consistently with what they have learned in Christ Jesus. James desires that all believers mature in their faith, by living a life that not only tells others about Christ’s love, but mainly shows others Christ’s love.
 
Understanding-What does it mean?
 
Actions speak louder than words.
 
“A person’s body that does not have a spirit is dead. It is the same with faith—faith that does nothing is dead!”-‭‭James‬ ‭2:26‬ ‭
 
What is the one word that people in this world use to describe Christians? Hypocrites. People think that we like to tell people how to live a more Godly life, but when it comes right down to it…we don’t even do it. We don’t even practice what we preach! And that is what James is imploring for all Christians to do. We have to not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. I mean how can I say that God is number one in my life if I’m constantly putting work and recreational things over ministry and going to church? How can I say that I trust God in everything, if I don’t even trust Him enough with my finances to tithe and give back what is all His anyways? How can I call Him Lord of my life when I’m constantly saying no or not right now to the things He asks of me? Or how can I say that I love Jesus if I’m constantly doing things that I know displeases Him? We all have to honestly look ourselves in the mirror and ask ourselves, “Does the way I live my life reflect Christ living inside of me?”
 
Life Application
 
They will know we are Christians by our love.
 
That chorus of that old school hymn is what I’m thinking of as I am writing this. But it couldn’t be more true. With our church challenging us this month to be “crazy generous”, how about doing something for someone with no strings attached. A simple act of kindness and love to let someone know that someone is thinking about them and that Jesus loves them. Let those around us know we are Christians by the way we act. Let them experience a glimpse of God’s love for them. May it bring them a new sense of hope and faith this Christmas season.
 
-Moses Gaddi
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James__1

Scripture

James 1:2-4-
 
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Observation-What does it say?

It is through suffering that our character and our faith is developed and strengthened. It is parallel to what Paul says in Romans‬ ‭5:3-4-

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

Understanding-What does it mean?

We must thank God for the hard times too.

Without times of suffering, we don’t have an opportunity to exercise our faith. If things went well all the time, where would reliance and dependence on God come in? Why would we ever need to run to Him? The pressure and sufferings that we experience in life gives God an opportunity to teach us perseverance and what it means to not give up and put our hope completely on Jesus Christ.

Life Application

Push through seasons of suffering with the Holy Spirit’s help instead of running away or giving up.

Because suffering plays a huge part in how God molds us into the image of Christ, we should be thankful and push through those seasons with the Lord’s help. It is unwise to run away or throw in the towel doing these times of refining.

Dear Lord, our hope, our help, and our faith come from You alone. I pray that we would rejoice not only in the happy times, but in our sufferings as well. Although it is not fun to go through hardships, I pray that we would rejoice that our faith, character and perseverance in You is being strengthened in the process. Amen.

-Michelle Gaddi


Hebrews 13

Scripture

Hebrews 13:2
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

Observation

Hebrews 13 primarily consists of how to live as body of Christ and worship. 

Understanding

My most favorite verse of today’s reading is verse two.  The New Living Translation says it this way:

Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! 

Just the thought we may have had the chance to “entertain angels” through our kindness or acts of love! <3

There’s a whole bunch of good stuff in these verses though…

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,

“Never will I leave you;
    never will I forsake you.”a]

So we say with confidence,

“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?”b]

…being grateful, the confidence we can have in our Lord, respecting our leaders and being grateful for their investment in our lives, etc.  Pretty much ever verse is something good!  But verse 2 speaks to my heart and part of the reason I feel I’m here on this earth…to be an example of love and to share the message of LOVE!

Life Application

GO LOVE ON SOMEBODY! <3

In combination with our Crazy Generous season, In ways big and small, overtly God-like and not may we love on people today!  🙂
 
– Rei

1 Corinthians 13

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.…13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

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



Hebrews_12

Scripture 
 
Hebrews 12:1-2  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
 
Observation-What does it say?  
 
Beginning in Hebrews 10:39 we see a picture of faith that does not give up, despite all the troubles that surround us.  This faith is an ongoing confident reliance on God.  We learn that we should give up on everything, good or bad, that distracts us from God.  We see Christ as the ultimate example of what this means, giving up life and suffering death on the cross.  Additionally, we learn to accept suffering in this present life as correction from a loving father.  To suffer better, we learn to have discipline like that of an athlete, who is willing to suffer in the short term for their reward.  
 
Understanding-What does it mean?
 
I used to follow running like most people follow football or baseball.  I was on the internet everyday checking stats and message boards about the latest news.  One year in particular, I followed a group of three men who were all trying to make it to the finals of the World Championship 5000 meter track race.  What made this more interesting is they all trained together, and they had all grown up only miles apart in Wisconsin.  They posted videos of their background, and different clips of training and racing leading up to the finals.

One of the hardest videos to watch in the series was a segment on their training in St. Moritz, Switzerland.  St. Moritz is a high altitude city and ski resort.  I had never heard of St. Moritz before watching the video, but the best way I could describe it is storybook perfection.  The mountains in the background are awe inspiring, there is a castle in the city that looks like Disneyland was designed after it, and the forest around the city is lush and green.  From the runners’ descriptions, it was an outside lover’s paradise. 

What made it so hard to watch was when they described their daily routine: wake up, do a morning run, eat, take a nap, stay inside, do an afternoon run, eat, go to bed, repeat tomorrow.  They all described how bored they were, while they were living in one of the most beautiful places they had ever been.  Because of their goal, they couldn’t take the chance of getting hurt.  Therefore, their coach would not allow them to do anything that could hurt them, including taking a walk to a nearby café.

In the best case scenario, even if those three runners placed first through third, only one of them is the winner.  How much more amazing would it be to find that same type of discipline in the pursuit of Jesus. After the first few verses, the author of Hebrews discusses the discipline we need to receive our eternal prize and he describes that prize as a consuming fire.  In 1 Corinthians 9:25, Paul writes, “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  I have to ask myself this, why not give up everything for Jesus?  Ultimately, there is nothing in this life that can bring me the fulfillment that He does.

 
Life Application 
 
Jesus, only You can satisfy everything that is lacking in me.  Because of that, I want to be obsessively consumed with the pursuit of your presence.  Until I take my last breath, I want to take the steps necessary to be qualified for the prize.  Help me to hear you when you are telling me to let go of something in order to come closer to you.  And on the day I meet you, Jesus, I want to hear you say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” 

-Tyler Galloway



Judges_8

Scripture

Judges 8:27

Gideon made the gold into an ephod, which he placed in Ophrah, his town. All Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family.

Observation – What does it say?
After the incredible victory God had given Gideon, defeating with 300 men an army of 135,000! Gideon asked the men to each give him a gold ring from their share of the plunder, which he made into an ephod (a usually elaborate, sleeveless garment worn by priests). That ephod led not only a few people, but all Israel to turn from worshiping God to worship it instead.
 
Understanding – What does it mean?
Your decisions never just affect you.
 
Our decisions aren’t made in a vacuum or apart from our family, community, and those around us. Whether good or bad, they always will have an impact on others. Someone once said to me, “You are always leading people, you decide where.”
 
Gideon’s radical obedience to God throughout the story led to all of Israel being delivered from their enemies and set free, experiencing peace for 40 years! An amazing legacy! The shame is that he also led all of Israel to worship an idol he created. That idol ended up turning Israel away from God, but specifically became a snare for him and his family.
 
Life Application
 
God, help me to honor you and follow hard after you. I don’t just want to talk about living for you, but I want my example to line up with my teaching. Use me to influence others toward you and, and by your grace keep me from leading others astray. Amen.
 
– Levi Thompson


Psalm__37

Scripture
 
Psalms‬ ‭37:1-2‬ ‭
 
“Don’t worry about the wicked or envy those who do wrong. For like grass, they soon fade away. Like spring flowers, they soon wither.”
 
Observation-What does it say?
 
In this psalm, David’s main theme is to not concern ourselves with what the wicked are doing. Even if it seems they are prospering, our God is a God of justice, and they will soon be judged for their wrongdoings. Instead, David encourages us to remain faithful to the Lord. For the Lord will protect us and provide our every need.
 
Understanding-What does it mean?
 
The Lord gives, the Lord takes away.
 
It’s a humbling thought that at any given moment, God can take away all the things that took me so long to work for and achieve in my life. (My career, finances, family, home, or even my health can be gone in a twinkling of an eye)! It’s a great reminder to me on what, (or should I say Who), I truly put my faith in.
 
Now I hate to admit that there are times I can get caught up envying others and what they have. It can get frustrating sometimes. I mean here I am trying to live the right way and do the right things, and I’m just squeaking by in life. Then I see good old “Joe Schmoe” down the street doing whatever he pleases, and he seems to be living a more comfortable life than me! What’s up with that?!
 
But this psalm reminds me of the importance of remaining faithful to God. This psalm reminds me that God is ALWAYS faithful to those who trust and obey Him. At the end of the day when all the dust settles, and everything in this physical world is stripped away from us, what will “Joe Schmoe” have? As for me, I know I will still have my relationship with Jesus Christ. I know that He will never leave me or forsake me. I know that He will give me everything I need. I know if I delight myself in Him, He will give me my heart’s desires.-(Psalm 37:4). And I know that my faith in Him allows me to be in His presence forever. And that alone is something priceless that nothing in this world can replace.
 
“But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10:39‬
 
Life Application
 
Focus on the spiritual, not the material.
 
“And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?”-Matthew‬ ‭16:26‬
 
Father God, please forgive me for chasing worldly things. Forgive me for being envious of others. Give me a heart that is content with all that You give me. You my Lord have never gave me too little where I grow hungry, or too much where I may think I can do it alone. You give me just enough, everything I need in life. Thank You for Your faithfulness. I love You Lord. May the way I choose to live my life be pleasing to You. In Your Holy and precious name I pray, Amen.
‭‭‬‬
-Moses Gaddi


Psalm_36

Scripture

Psalm 36:5-6

5 Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. 6 Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.

Observation-What does it say?

King David’s Psalm opens with a message about the sinfulness of the wicked. He then speaks to the love and faithfulness of the Lord and petitions the Lord to continue His love towards those who KNOW Him. 

Understanding-What does it mean?

God’s love is what drives us to action.

God’s love, not punishment, is what drives us to action. Even His discipline is from a place of love (please see Hebrews 12:4-13). Loving discipline leads to a trusting relationship with whoever is doing the disciplining. If you are a parent, you understand this. Everything the Lord does is from a place of love and His goodness. Relying on His love means security in a loving, faithful God who will continue to keep us safe. It definitely opposes a life of sin and wickedness; a life and heart that does not KNOW the Lord, which eventually leads to death. 

Life Application 

Obey what the Holy Spirit tells us to do from a place of love, not fear. 

About a month ago, our daughters accepted Jesus’ invitation for salvation. However, our daughters were fearful about getting baptized, (which is the next step of obedience) because of being dunked in the water and people looking at them. I encouraged them not to do it if they’re afraid. I encouraged them to do it from a place of love and obedience and to pray to the Lord for what He would want them to do. Long story short, the Lord worked in their little hearts and they are now excited, no longer fearful of getting baptized at our next scheduled baptism on Dec. 23rd!

If Jesus cares about little children and can change their hearts and turn their fear into obedience and excitement, how much more can His love transform our hearts to obey what He calls us to do? Not just obey, but be excited about it!

So what is He calling you to do in obedience that you are fearful of? Getting baptized? Returning 10% of your income back to Him (tithing)? Not buying something(s) you have your eye on in order to be more generous/giving above the tithe? Leaving a relationship that is making you compromise your faith? Sharing the Gospel with someone you’ve been praying for? 

Be encouraged by His love and to obey not from a place of fear, but of love. 

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:18-19 NIV

Dear Lord, You know each of our hearts and what makes us fearful. I pray that as we grab hold of Your limitless love for us that we would step out in faith and obedience into all You have called us to do and become. Amen. 

-Please listen to this worship song “Your love Oh Lord” by Third Day. It is based on the Scripture passage chosen. https://youtu.be/0OBRvxrzhqs

-Michelle Gaddi