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!
 

2 Corinthians 9: 6-7

 
Scripture
 
2 Corinthians 9:6-7
 
6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
 
Observation
 
Paul continues to write to the church of Corinth regarding the giving of finances, but in this chapter he emphasizes the heart behind giving. He highlights the the importance of what amount each person should give and how the attitude dictates the blessing.
 
Understanding
 
Heart dictates attitude, and attitude denotes blessing.
 
I know that Paul is directly relating this to the giving of finances, but this speaks volumes when also looking at our everyday actions. Personally, I have been struggling for the need of approval of others. I recognize that it is something I crave too much and too often, to the point that I overthink every action I make. This verse is a gentle reminder that I reap what I sow. If I long for the approval of others, I continuously put myself in a place of sowing anxiousness. In return my attitude reaps people-pleasing and not living for God. And as harsh as it sounds, why would the Almighty want to then bless me with an abundant harvest if I am sowing the wrong seed? In essence, I have not only wasted my time, but God’s time.
 
If I am to expect and overflow of blessing I’m all in! Not just that, I am all about sowing the right seed. Allow me to quote a well-known pastor I consistently listen to: “The difference between a tithe and an offering is the order.” In these verses, the difference between receiving a blessing and missing out is your heart. I don’t want to give all of myself to other people, just for the sake of being liked to only then give God the leftovers. In the same way I want to see the harvest come to fruition because I planted the right seeds. I want to give with my whole heart, and it be evident in the outcome. God longs to bless us, He’s just waiting for us to plant the right seeds and plant them abundantly.
 
Life Application
 
Trust that you’ve been equipped with the right seeds and get planting!
 
The harvest will only come if the seeds have been planted. If you are not at the place that you feel you have the right seeds then check your heart. Ask God to reveal to you His desires for your life. When He responds (because He will) make your attitude is cheerful, as it denotes what kind of blessing you will receive. Lastly, God loves a cheerful giver… but He’ll take it from grump as well.
 
-Allison Khan


2 Corinthians 8

Scripture 

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭8:2-5, 7-11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us….But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you —see that you also excel in this grace of giving. I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. And here is my judgment about what is best for you in this matter. Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.”

Observation-What does it say?

Paul is addressing the issue of stewardship in this letter, not just of money, but also of time (gotquestions.org). The Macedonians were pointed out as being generous givers and Paul encouraged the Corinthians to do the same.

Understanding-What does it mean?

God wants ALL of it, because all of it belongs to Him.

The Lord has given so generously to us because the only thing we are truly deserving of is hell. God wants our hearts and to give back our lives generously to Him. Our lives were bought with a price, Jesus’ blood. That’s why it belongs to Him.

I love how Paul mentioned that the Macedonians gave in the midst of a severe trial and extreme poverty. It was a privilege for them to partner with the church in ministry. It wasn’t a burden. They actually urgently pleaded to be part of giving and partnering with the church. It wasn’t when things were going well that they decided to be generous. It was when things were not going well that they remained joyful and generous. 

Life Application

Give generously. 

Have you ever wanted to take back your life, but then the Holy Spirit convicts you of why He saved you in the first place? That happened to me yesterday. Our lives are not our own. It belongs to Him.

“Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” Matthew‬ ‭10:38-39‬ ‭NIV‬‬

How are we managing and stewarding His resources? If we believe that it ALL belongs to God—our money, possessions, time, gifts/talents, lives, how are we doing with managing it for His glory, honor and Kingdom purposes? 

Dear Lord, I want to partner with You in ministry with a grateful and joyful heart, “urgently pleading for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people even in the midst of a severe trial or extreme poverty” as the Macedonians faced. Thank You for their example through Your Word. It is very encouraging. Amen. 

-Michelle Gaddi



Psalm_135

Scripture

Psalm 135:6

The Lord does whatever pleases him,

In the heaves and on the earth…

 

Observation

Psalm 135 is a call to praise.

“I. It begins with a call to praise God, particularly a call to the “servants of the Lord” to praise him… (v 1-3)

II. It goes on to furnish us with matter for praise.  God is to be praised,

1.     As the God of Jacob (v4).

2.     As the God of gods (v5).

3.     As the God of the whole world (v 6,7).

4.     As a terrible God to the enemies of Israel (v 8-11).

5.     As a gracious God to Israel, both in what he had done for them and what he would do (v 12-14).

6.     As the only living God, all other gods being vanity and a lie (v 15-18).

III. It concludes with another exhortation to all persons concerned to praise God. (v 19-21).

(https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/mhc/Psa/Psa_135.cfm)

 

Understanding

God does WHATEVER pleases HIM. 

        WHATEVER – it may not make sense to us, it may not be what we want, but God does what pleases Him and what works into His greater plan.

        HIM – God does not do whatever pleases us, He does what pleases Him and, again, what completes His purposes and plans, HIS will.

Life Application

I love that the entire chapter is a call to praise – in good and bad, recognizing God for who He is (whether terrible or gracious).…in ALL things, PRAISE!

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



Luke 3:21-22

SCRIPTURE
Luke 3:21-22   When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
 
OBSERVATION 
Jesus became one of us—“fully human in every way”—yet without sin.  He did this so he could be our High Priest and make atonement for our sins.  Jesus was baptized as one of us, not for His sins, but for ours.  
 
UNDERSTANDING
John is preaching a baptism of repentance and all the people are coming to him in the wilderness to be baptized.  And Jesus comes too and is baptized.  Why?  This is a question that has puzzled Christian thinkers going all the way back to the early church.  Why would Jesus, who had no sin, need to be baptized for repentance?  There are many suggested answers, but maybe the best is simply that Jesus was identifying with us. Luke begins Jesus’ baptism by saying, “all the people” were being baptized, and Jesus was baptized too, thus identifying Jesus with all the people.  That’s us.  By allowing John to baptize him, Jesus identified with us.  He had no sin of his own to die for, but he died for ours.  He had no sin of his own to be baptized for, but he was baptized for ours.
  • Hebrews 2:17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.
LIFE APPLICATION 
Thank you Jesus that you loved us so much that you would become like one of us.  Thank you for being my merciful and high priest and for choosing to take on my sins so that I can be made whole again.  Just as you have identified yourself with us I choose to identify myself with you – to live for you and to continue to fulfill what you started when you came to earth.


2 Corinthians 6

Scripture 2 Corinthians 6:16  What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

Observation-What does it say?  One of the constant threads seen through the letters to the Corinthians is to separate from the paganism which is so common among the residents of the city.  Earlier in the letter, Paul encourages the Corinthian church to live in the freedom that we have in Christ.  But this freedom does not come without a cost, or without difficulties.  In chapter four verses seven through ten, Paul takes time to reiterate that we will have strength to overcome this affliction in the power provided to us through Christ.  Here in chapter six, we see a cry similar to what Paul charged in Romans 12, to be separate from the world and its troubles.  This is not to say we are to act as elitists, but in humility knowing that what we have is intended to save the world.

Understanding-What does it mean?  I was in Idyllwild on a seven week summer ministry trip one summer.  I was fortunate enough to have a visit from my mom during one of the weekends.  I was excited to show her all the new places I had been, and particularly the bakery that was in town there.  Much to my surprise, she shared with me a special place to her.  I had never known that she had visited Idyllwild as a kid, and been to a Christian summer camp.  As we meandered in the mountains, she pointed out a little white chapel at the camp she had been at and told me that was where she had been baptized.  For a while, I got really wrapped up in these kind of “sacred places”.  Even still, I can get a little wrapped up in sentimentality to a building where something happened in my spiritual life.

However, I still struggle with the way I treat people.  I find myself frustrated with the behaviors of others and want to just tear them apart or just plain leave them behind.  But God’s word tells us that our bodies are the temple (1 Corinthians 6:13), we are all separately part of God’s body (Romans 12:4-8), and that we don’t live for ourselves but for Christ’s purpose (Romans 14:7-8).  So behind every “sacred place,” like a chapel or a church building, lies the thing that is truly important, the people that Jesus died to save from death.

In separating our actions from the actions of the rest of the world, we are putting God’s body on display.  In treating my brothers and sisters with the respect that a temple deserves, it should draw curiosity of the world around me, wondering why I care so deeply for others instead of tearing them down.  So my actions need to display a deeper care for the true temple of God, His children.

Life Application  Jesus, help me to look for ways in which to honor your temple.  Remind me to treat others with the care and respect they deserve.   And when my temper runs short, help me to humble myself and seek forgiveness from my brothers and sisters.  

-Tyler Galloway



1 Kings_22

Scripture

1 Kings 22:43 In everything he followed the ways of his father Asa and did not stray from them; he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. The high places, however, were not removed, and the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there.

Observation

Ahab, king of Israel, and Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, faced a huge battle against the Arameans. King Ahab was killed.

Understanding

Yikes! This convicted me so much! I feel like I’m doing pretty good right now. I’m doing my soul journal everyday, taking a biblical studies class, praying, doing good unto others… you know… I have the Christian thing pretty down…lol

But after reading this scripture I realize there may be some high places with idols that I just never bothered to tear down. I mean, does it really need to be brought down? What if I just don’t go over there very often?

I mean, when I am in trouble, sometimes food is the only thing that can save me. (really…)

Or when I am really upset with my family…or my husband… red red wine stay close to me…it’s just one glass

While these things may not be wrong to enjoy I have to ask myself what is the intent of my heart when partaking of these things? Is it because I feel like God cannot comfort me or help me? He cannot fill my void or counsel me to reconcile my relationships?

When we feel pain, do we look to earthly things to satisfy?

Imagine putting your chocolate cake or video games on a pedestal and you brought it gifts. You spoke to it and told it your problems or you stared lovingly at it. So weird…

Application

So what are your idols? What do you give your affections to?

Even though we may not visit them often… the idols need to come down.
 
Psalm 139:23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24. See if there is any offensive way in me, an lead me in the way everlasting.
 
What are the reasons we keep idols around except that we are not fully relying on God.
 
Lamentations 3:22 …fro His compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness! 24 “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in Him.” 25 The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. 

Father forgive us for not tearing all the idols down. Forgive us for running to something else for help, for fulfillment, for comfort… Holy Spirit search our hearts and reveal to us anything that needs to submit itself to the lordship of Jesus Christ in our life. Empower us to follow hard after you, in Jesus name, Amen.

Deborah Lee



2 Corinthians_4

Scripture‭‭
 
2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:8-10‬ ‭ERV
 
“We have troubles all around us, but we are not defeated. We often don’t know what to do, but we don’t give up. We are persecuted, but God does not leave us. We are hurt sometimes, but we are not destroyed. So we constantly experience the death of Jesus in our own bodies, but this is so that the life of Jesus can also be seen in our bodies.”
 
Observation-What does it say?
 
In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul is no doubt feeling the aches and pains of being physically persecuted. Paul reminds the Corinthians that the physical body is only a temporary abode. Our true heavenly perfected body awaits us in Heaven. Paul reminds them that all of life’s struggles they may be experiencing are only temporary. Paul encourages them to remain strong in their faith, that there is a purpose behind their struggles. That purpose is to shine the light of Jesus to others even through our struggles. To point those people still in “the dark”, towards the light. To give these people hope. A hope that never fails. A hope in eternal life. A hope in Jesus Christ.
 
Understanding-What does it mean?
 
Hope in the unseen.
 
How did Paul maintain such joy and obedience in the face of so much suffering and the threat of death? The answer should be one of every believer. Paul’s hope was in Jesus Christ and His resurrection. He could care less about his own peace and security. His confidence of an eternity free of sin, death, and sadness sustained him. Paul didn’t let life’s circumstances bring him down. Instead Paul put his complete trust in the promises of Jesus.
 
Sure it’s easy to be a Christ Follower when everything is good and going your way. But what if things became extremely difficult and each day was a struggle? How would you respond? I think what Paul is reminding us here is to keep our “eyes on the prize”. Our treasure isn’t here on earth. It awaits us in Heaven. We need to remain faithful and focused on the mission we are given…which is to multiply Christ Followers everywhere. Even in life’s struggles, stand strong knowing even Jesus Christ Himself wasn’t exempt from it. But know that if we submit to God’s will, the way Jesus did, we too will be in paradise alongside Him some day.
 
Life Application
 
Praise God through life’s ups and downs.
 
Father God, I thank You for watching over me throughout life’s ups and downs. Your love is constant and never changing. May You bless me with the strength to make it through this day. May I give You praise not only in the good times, but even through the difficult times. I know You will never leave me, and Your strength sustains me. Allow my faith and my life point others to Your light. May You get all the glory, honor, and praise. In Your Holy name I pray, Amen.
 
-Moses Gaddi
 


2 Corinthians 3

Scripture  2 Corinthians 3:3-6, 17 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life……Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

Observation-What does it say? 
 
“Paul’s critics solicited human references. Paul turns, instead, to divine references. For the credential that he has to offer is Christ’s own letter written with the Spirit of the living God on the hearts of his converts. His critics boasted, as well, of the presence and power of the Spirit in their ministry. But for them it was the Spirit’s presence as manifested in and through the working of signs, wonders and miracles (12:11-12).”  Paul, on the other hand, looked to the inward change of heart as the primary evidence of the Spirit’s presence. It is changed lives, not sensational feats, that are the true sign of a Spirit-directed ministry. -biblegateway.com commentary

Understanding-What does it mean?

Paul did not measure a successful ministry the way his critics did.
 
The fruits of a successful ministry are not just measured by how many miracles one has done, or prophecies spoken over people, or how many people converted, etc. Those are outward works and the critics of Paul’s ministry measured success by that! They boasted about it! No. Paul wrote that it had to do with an inward change of heart for Jesus, which goes deeper than outward works (only possible by the Spirit). This was in essence his letter of reference that displayed the Spirit’s work in his ministry.  There are gifts of the Spirit, but here, Paul speaks more about the fruits. There are many ministers who have the gifts, but not the fruits which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. 

Life Application  Outward gifts are important, but it’s important that the inward gifts of the Spirit are developed too. 

 
“Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips.” Proverbs 27:2
 
What do people say about us when they compliment us or speak well of us to others? Are they only complimenting our outward works (such as you are a great singer or a great teacher or a great administrator), etc.? If there is nothing about our character in any of those compliments, it might be time to build up our references in those areas as well. 
 
Real talk: While writing this, I am also being convicted myself.
 
When someone offends us, do we respond with a gentle/kind word or do we chew their heads off, think bad things and spread bad gossip about them?
 
When someone treats us unfairly, do we treat them unfairly back or do we love our enemies and forgive them as Christ has forgiven us? 
 
When life’s unfair circumstances hit, are we joyful and have peace through the trials or do we have a victim mentality?
 
When we are tempted in any way, do we hold fast to goodness and respond with self control, or do we give in to the temptation? 
 
When there is something we want right now, but can’t have it yet, do we throw a fit/complain and go into debt/blame God for it or do we delay gratification and wait patiently for it? 
 
When we commit to something (or someone), are we faithful to follow through on it to the end, or do we want to give up at the first sign of hardship?  Do we leave when a better opportunity comes along? 
 
Dear Jesus, I pray that we would have the fullness of Your Spirit, both in gifts and fruits. I understand that it is only by Your doing that these things will come to pass, so I pray for a heart that is fully submitted to Your will whenever convicted. You usually ask me to move in a way that goes against my human nature or the worldly norm. I pray You would strengthen my faith and trust.  I want to always say Yes to You and No to my flesh and the enemy. Amen. 
 
-Michelle Gaddi


1 Kings_19

Scripture

1 Kings 19:11-12

11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

 

Observation

The story of Elijah continues.  “How he was driven into banishment by the malice of Jezebel his sworn enemy (v. 1-3), how he was met, in his banishment, by the favour of God, his covenant-friend. How God fed him (v 4-8).  How he conversed with him, and manifested himself to him (v. 9, v 11-13), heard his complaint (v 10-14), directed him what to do (v 15-17) and encouraged him (v 18).  How his hands were strengthened, at his return out of banishment, by joining of Elisha with him (v 19-21).” [Excerpt from Matthew Henry’s Commentary of the Whole Bible – www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/1-kings/19.html}

 

Understanding

What struck me about these verses is that 1) even when Elijah was banished in the earthly world, God met him with favor and 2) God doesn’t come always come in the ways that we think, hope or expect.  Big, powerful actions came – wind tearing mountains apart and shattering rocks, an earthquake, a fire…but God came in a whisper. 

That brings to mind two things…the first, I was recently encouraged that, while God doesn’t always move the way we think He will, OUR [only] part is obedience.  If God calls us, we respond in obedience.  That obedience may not bring the result we expect or want…but God’s movements are not always explicit, they’re not always obvious.  It may just be a seed being planted, or perhaps watered, for a crop that we will never personally see.  And the second thing is our homework from yesterday – to look for God in the ordinary.  His fingerprints are EVERYwhere.

 

Life Application

God, may I be bold in my obedience and consciously aware of your presence.  May I walk, speak, trust, move in a way that brings honor to you.

 

In Jesus name, Amen.

 

Rei

 

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



Luke 2:21-40

SCRIPTURE

Luke 2:21-40 (NIV) 21  On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived. 22  When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23  (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24  and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.” 25  Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26  It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27  Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28  Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 29  “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. 30  For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31  which you have prepared in the sight of all people, 32  a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” 33  The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34  Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35  so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” 36  There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37  and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38  Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. 39  When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40  And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.  
 
OBSERVATION
After Jesus’ birth, His parents followed Jewish customs. These included circumcision on the eighth day, the dedication to the Lord of a firstborn child, and Mary’s purification.   While performing these common customs, Joseph and Mary are surprised at church. God loves taking the ordinary and seemingly mundane moments of obedience and turning them into extraordinary moments.  
 
UNDERSTANDING
Joseph and Mary show up at the Temple to do what is required—the customs of the day—and they are met by two very excited old timers! First Simeon, then Anna prophesy over Joseph and Mary and their baby, and start declaring the news to anyone who will listen that this baby is God’s salvation. This is the ONE.  In the midst of something ordinary, the extraordinary happens.   This would be like you showing up at church today, and suddenly, God speaks to you or heals you or changes you!
 
Or this would be like you doing your daily time with God— PB&J (prayer, Bible reading and journaling) and God shows up in an extraordinary way.  
 
LIFE APPLICATION
The same is to be expected of us today.  On any given Sunday when you do what you are supposed to do – show up to worship and connect with God’s people – God invades and turns the ordinary into the extraordinary.  I wonder how many times we may have missed out because we didn’t want to do the necessary requirements?
Or how about PB&J?  Those moments of obedience and commitment to relationship that become extraordinary because God invades our ordinary activities.
 
Be ready for God to surprise you…He loves doing it!