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!
 

Romans_6

Scripture

Romans 6:1-

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?  By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 

Observation-What does it say?

In the chapter before this one, chapter 5, Paul speaks about how faith is the only thing that saves us.  We do our works as a byproduct of salvation and the Holy Spirit.  We can never work our way to salvation because Jesus died for us while we were still sinners. (Romans 5:8)

In this current chapter, Paul now speaks about whether we should continue sinning since we’ve been saved by grace through faith alone.  The answer is NO!  We have died to sin and therefore cannot live in it any longer.  We have put to death our old way of living.  We are no longer slaves of sin, but slaves to righteousness because of Christ. Just as Christ died and was raised to life again, we have been made new, as our old self was put to death and we are now new creations!

Understanding-What does it mean?

“You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” Romans 6:18

When we are no longer slaves to something or someone, we are no longer controlled or mastered by it. We are controlled by our new Master. 

Life Application

Have you accepted His invitation for salvation by faith, but still struggling and acting upon a sin that has you in bondage?  

If yes, spend time with Jesus everyday through prayer, His Word and worship and allow His love to penetrate Your heart, where being with the Light becomes more attractive than staying in the dark. Allow the Holy Spirit to remind You of Your identity in Him.  Allow the Holy Spirit to cleanse Your mind of thoughts of the flesh and fill it with thoughts of His Spirit. Allow Christ to remind You that He is stronger than anything the enemy has you in bondage over.  Replace thoughts and activities that you once did with new activities that glorify God’s name. Focus on what’s true, lovely and right (Phil. 4:8) and take captive thoughts that are not of Him so You can make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).   Put up safeguards that allow You to run far away from sin and not even get close to it.  Seek out Holy Spirit filled people who can pray for you, give you wise counsel and keep you accountable to your struggles.  

Hebrews 12:1-“….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.”

We all struggle in life, but we don’t need to be mastered by our struggles.  We all get tempted, but we don’t have to act on our temptations.  Christ died so that we could live in freedom from bondage.  We no longer have to reap the consequences of unwise decisions because we are now free to reap the benefits of sowing a life lived for Christ!

Thank You Jesus that You accomplished everything for us on the cross! Thank You for the new identity You have given us and for Your Holy Spirit who continues to convict us of sin in knowledge and truth. May we be sensitive to Your leading, and not be desensitized towards sin.  If sin wasn’t such a big deal for You, You wouldn’t have died to cleanse us from it. We desire to experience all that You have for us in this life without being held back in bondage from our old life. Please seal our hearts, minds and actions towards You alone Jesus.  Amen.
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here.  
 
-Michelle Gaddi


Psalm_78

Scripture
 
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭78:7‬ ‭NLT
 
“So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands.”
 
Observation-What does it say?
 
In this psalm that Asaph writes, he reminds the people of Israel to remember all the glorious things that God has done for them. He encourages them to teach each generation about God’s might, power, and ways so that each generation will know God, follow God, and love God.
Asaph also reminds them of their ancestors who were stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful towards God. How they provoked God’s anger and wrath, and what had happened to them. In short, Asaph wants the people of Israel to learn from their ancestors’ mistakes, remember God’s ways, and to tell each future generation to come about God’s might, power, and love.
 
Understanding-What does it mean?
 
Discipleship begins at home.
 
My wife and I always say our number one ministry is our kids. We want to make sure that they grow up knowing God, loving God, and serving God. I hope and pray also that it will be something they do, not because they feel “forced” to do it, but because they want to do it. God has blessed us with these kids of ours, and we only really have a short time with them before they grow up and become adults. So why not make it a priority to disciple them the way God intended?! Why not teach them at an early age before the world’s ways try to get hold of them?! I hope and pray that my wife and I are able to build a good and solid Christ-like foundation in our home, which our daughters grow to love. Lord willing, they too can someday, (not till they’re at least 26 years old 😉), teach their own kids about God’s love for them.
 
“But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”-Joshua‬ ‭24:15b
‭‭‬ ‭
Life Application
 
Take time to pray for the kids in your life.
 
Father God, I pray for Your wisdom and guidance. Help me find ways to continue to teach my kids about Your love. Help me to build an atmosphere here at home that centers around You. I pray for them as they head out into the world. May You surround them with good people. I pray for the Sunday School teachers and our church’s Children Ministry. Continue to give them ways to help teach these children of ours, fun and relatable ways to learn about You, and how to apply these lessons in their own lives. I also want to pray for all the parents. I pray that we continue to make it a priority to put You number one in our homes. May we live it out in a way that influences our kids to do the same when they get older. May Your ways supersede the world’s ways in our families’ lives. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here.  
 
-Moses Gaddi
 


Romans_4

Scripture

Romans 4:9-10

We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10 Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! 

Observation – What does it say?

The Apostle Paul points out to the Roman Christians the importance of faith when it comes to being made right with God. Using Abraham as an example, he shows that the sequence was: Faith -> Righteousness -> Circumcision. Abraham put his faith in God and therefore was made righteous. He was not made righteous because he was circumcised but because of his faith. Circumcision was a sign that he had already been made right with God.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Faith produces salvation and salvation produces good deeds.

There are outward signs of being made right with God. For example, circumcision (Old Testament only), a life of good deeds, service to God, etc. But those signs come AFTER God saves us, not before. We can’t forget that Jesus died for us BEFORE we could do anything to deserve it. In other words, “We do good works not so that we can be saved, but because we already are.” The outward signs are responses to, and results of, having been made right with God.

Remember John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” God wasn’t moved by our love for him, but by his love for us!

Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

Life Application
Don’t put stock in my works! It’s by faith alone in Christ’s work on the cross that positions you in the grace in which I now stand.

God, thank you for saving us! Thank you for loving us so much that you died for us even while we were still sinners. We recognize that our works have no bearing on our salvation. It’s only through our faith in Jesus that we are saved. We respond to your great love with a desire to love you in return. Help us to live lives that honor and please you. Amen.
 
– Levi Thompson


Psalms_76

Scripture

Psalm 76:11a

11 Make vows to the LORD your God and fulfill them… 

Observation

This Psalm is considered a Psalm of Asaph – the great singer and musician of David and Solomon’s era, a prophet in his musical compositions.  This Psalm celebrates a great victory of God on behalf of His people.

Understanding

As pure usual (as of late), seemingly despite the context of the chapter, one phrase stuck out to me…

“Make vows to the LORD your God and fulfill them…”

I remember a business mentor of mine telling me that execution was the differentiator in business – the differentiator that builds trust, sees projects through to completion, creates results.  And he’s not the only one to share those sentiments. 

“Ideas are easy.  It’s the execution of ideas that really separates the sheep from the goats.”
– Sue Grafton
 
“Ideas are cheap.  Ideas are easy.  Ideas are common.  Everybody has ideas.  Ideas are highly, highly overvalued.  Execution is all that matters.”
– Casey Neistat

It is both biblical and good business to execute – in this case meaning to follow through, to keep our word, our commitments.  In fact, we are called to it…

Blessed are those who keep his statutes
    and seek him with all their heart… – Psalm 119:2

Then he taught me, and he said to me, “Take hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands, and you will live. – Proverbs 4:4

And I don’t think this is just true of God’s desire for our obedience to following His word.  I believe this is also true of His desire to see our follow through and execution of the things He’s put on our hearts, the things we’ve committed to do for Him.  After all, we expect Him to follow through on the promises He’s revealed to us in our dreams, prayers, words spoken over us, right?   

Life Application

“Character is the ability to carry out a good resolution long after the excitement of the moment has passed.” – Cavett Robert

I think we’ve all had those mountain top moments where God feels so close and so real, times in our lives where we make big decisions for God based on something revealed to our hearts…may we have the character and courage to follow through even after the mountain top moment has passed.

God, make us bold, make us brave, make us committed – committed to do your will, to pursue you wholeheartedly and to live this life in a way that makes an impact for you.  Not my will but yours be done.  In your name I pray, Amen.

– Rei

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



Romans_1

The Book of Romans is filled with so much great doctrine on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that I had to quote commentary.  I would do it injustice and all of you reading a disservice by just picking and choosing verses without explaining it in context. -Michelle

Scripture

Romans 1:16

“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of every one who believes, first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”

Observation-What does it say?

“The Book of Romans was written by Paul. As with all Paul’s epistles to the churches, his purpose in writing was to proclaim the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ by teaching doctrine and edify and encourage the believers who would receive his letter. Of particular concern to Paul were those to whom this letter was written—those in Rome who were “loved by God and called to be saints” (Romans 1:7). Because he himself was a Roman citizen, he had a unique passion for those in the assembly of believers in Rome. Since he had not, to this point, visited the church in Rome, this letter also served as his introduction to them.” (got questions.org-Book of Romans)

Understanding-What does it mean?

“This chapter is a call to self-examination, the end of which should be, a deep conviction of sin, and of the necessity of deliverance from a state of condemnation. (Matthew Henry’s concise Bible commentary commentary-christianity.com)”

“The Book of Romans tells us about God, who He is and what He has done. It tells us of Jesus Christ, what His death accomplished. It tells us about ourselves, what we were like without Christ and who we are after trusting in Christ. Paul points out that God did not demand men have their lives straightened out before coming to Christ. While we were still sinners, Christ died on a cross for our sins. (gotquestions.org-Book of Romans)

Life Application

Do not be ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and be faithful to proclaim it!

“The Book of Romans makes it clear that there is nothing we can do to save ourselves. Every “good” deed we have ever done is as a filthy rag before God. So dead in our trespasses and sins are we that only the grace and mercy of God can save us. God expressed that grace and mercy by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross in our place. When we turn our lives over to Christ, we are no longer controlled by our sin nature, but we are controlled by the Spirit. If we make confession that Jesus is Lord, and believe that He is raised from the dead, we are saved, born again. We need to live our lives offered to God as a living sacrifice to Him. Worship of the God who saved us should be our highest desire. Perhaps the best application of Romans would be to apply Romans 1:16 and not be ashamed of the gospel. Instead, let us all be faithful in proclaiming it!” (gotquestions.org-Book of Romans)

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

-Michelle Gaddi



Romans_2

Scripture

Romans 2:28-29   

For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.

Observation – What does it say? 

This letter, written from Paul to the Romans, was written during a missionary journey.  Paul had yet to visit Rome and was writing out some of the basic principles of our faith in Jesus.  In chapter two, Paul highlights the fact that we are saved by grace through faith.  Our redemption is not through our actions, or through our heritage, but is a result in living out our faith in the cross of Christ.

Understanding – What does it mean? 

I remember being teased a lot as a kid.  I got teased about everything, I was too tall, to skinny, my teeth were to big, and my shoes the wrong kind.  The kids I went to school with were pretty brutal in their slander.  It seemed as though I could never fit in with the right crowd.  My social grace came when I found the sport of running.  When you run, it doesn’t matter what you look like, or how tall you are, the only thing that matters is putting one foot in front of the other as fast as you can.  Running is an equal opportunity for everyone to suffer. 

One of the things I love about this section of scripture is how faith in Jesus is described as being completely inclusive.  It doesn’t matter where you were born, what school you went to, whether or not you own a pair of Nike shoes, the only thing that matters is whether or not you surrendered your life to Jesus.  Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:8-9   For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Jesus’ death on the cross is the equal opportunity for everyone to find peace.

Paul also wrote later in Romans that we are all sinners and not worthy of experiencing God’s glory (3:23).  In God’s economy I am no different than anyone.  I am no more deserving of grace than drug addicts, or thieves, or people who are sexually impure.  We are all the same once covered with the grace that comes through faith in Jesus Christ.

Life Application 

Jesus help me to show your love to others equally.  Help me to see my neighbor and love them as myself, to be gracious to them as quickly as I want grace.  While I have opportunity on earth, help me to find good to do unto others.  And never let me turn from your truth. Amen.
 
– Tyler Galloway


Psalm_73

Scripture
 
‭Psalm‬ ‭73:13-14‬ ‭NLT‬‬
 
“Did I keep my heart pure for nothing? Did I keep myself innocent for no reason? I get nothing but trouble all day long; every morning brings me pain.”
 
Observation-What does it say?
 
This is a psalm of Asaph. In this psalm he wondered why the wicked seemed to be prospering. He envied them. They seemed to gain all the riches, and had no worries because they didn’t have a problem in the world. For Asaph, these wicked people seemed to live such painless lives; their bodies were strong and healthy, and the richer they were becoming, the crueler they would become. What was going on here?
 
Then God revealed to Asaph the destiny of the wicked. God had put them on a slippery path that was doomed with destruction! Asaph realizes that he was foolish and ignorant for envying the wicked. He realizes just how blessed he is for following God. And as long as Asaph remains faithful to God, God will be faithful to him. A glorious destiny awaits for Asaph when it’s all said and done.
 
Understanding-What does it mean?
 
Stay the course. Don’t be distracted by what others are doing.
 
This verse hit home with me because I too was once like Asaph. When I first became a Christian I would see others around me, living an aimless, Christ-less life, and they seemed to still be reaping all the world’s benefits. They were driving nice cars, going to nice colleges, and getting nice careers started for themselves. And here I was following God whole heartedly, struggling paycheck to paycheck, barely had enough to go to junior college, and working a dead end job. Is this the life I was destined to live?!
But like Asaph, God revealed to me that he had more in store for me if I just stayed the course. God had bigger and better things for me to accomplish, if I would just trust in Him. That moment in my life helped grow me as a Christian. It helped make me into the man I am today. I too (like Asaph), realized just how blessed I am to have God on my side. That no matter what comes my way, I can handle it, because He is with me!
 
“Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭73:23-26‬ ‭NLT‬‬
 
So who cares what others around me may have?! Their happiness is put in things that wear out over time, things that may be taken away in an instant. But my happiness is in Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior. And His blessings are eternal.
 
Life Application
 
Trust in God’s plan.
 
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”-‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:5-6‬ ‭NLT
 
Sometimes the best way for me isn’t always going to be the most comfortable path or even the most glamorous path. A lot of the times, the path that God will put me on is going to be rough and a bit bumpy. God will be using it to bring maturity and growth in me. He is refining me through life’s fire and life’s tests. But at the end of the day, He is always with me. And as long as I stay faithful to Him, I know that He is always faithful to me. And there is nothing in the world I would trade that for!  
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here.  
 
-Moses Gaddi


Exodus_22

Scripture

Exodus 22:21

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

Observation – What does it say?

God gave the Israelites the 10 Commandments, but in addition, he instructed Moses to give them many other specific laws (seen in chapters 20-23).  Several of these laws have to do with the Israelites conduct with those in their community, including this one. Because the Israelites were God’s chosen people, it could be easy to assume that the rest of mankind wasn’t as important to God or that he loved them a bit less. But that couldn’t be further from the truth! God set apart the Israelites so that he could bless all the nations of the earth through them. In other words, it was God’s love for those Israel regarded as foreigners, that he chose them.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Likewise, part of the reason God chose us to be adopted into his family is his great love for those around us who don’t yet know him.

If we’ve been saved for a while, it can be easy to loose sight of who we were when God found us. We forget how sinful we were, how utterly helpless to save ourselves, how broken, how separated from God and how devoid of peace we were. God sets us free, forgives us, saves us, and transforms our lives. After time, entitlement begins to creep into our hearts and we feel we deserve this new life we have come to experience. Along with entitlement, we notice we aren’t struggling with the “big sins” we used to and can begin to look down our nose at those who do. Side note: There are no big or small sins in God’s eyes. Greed and lust and lying are on the same level as murder and adultery. 

The truth Israel was always to live in awareness of is that they were once foreigners. And that truth was to drive them to not mistreat foreigners they encounter. 

Life Application

Because we are no longer foreigners but have been adopted into God’s family through Christ, it should fuel us with compassion for those who are still on the outside! 

God, please forgive us for the times we’ve lacked concern or compassion for the lost. Give us more of your heart and may we be reminded of where we were when you found us. Use us to show your love and grace to those on the outside, to share the gospel with them, that they may be brought in. Amen!
 
– Levi Thompson 


Psalm 71

Scripture

Psalm 71:7-8

I have become a sign to many;
you are my strong refuge.
My mouth is filled with your praise,
declaring your splendor all day long.

Observation

This chapter of David’s love song / plea to God starts out with “In you, Lord, I have taken refuge…”  As the chapter continues, David continues to ask God to rescue, deliver, turn His ear, save, comfort him…and that he will continue to praise, proclaim His mighty acts, declare His power, shout for joy, tell of His righteous acts.

Understanding

I kind of love the balance of this passage – request and praise, praise and request.  But what stood out most was verse 7 – “I have become a sign to many.”  This is a reminder to me of the fact that each of us has a testimony; and, when we’re willing to share that in the way we “praise, declaring [God’s] splendor all day long” we “become a sign to many.”

Life Application

God, may your praise ever be on my lips.  May my life be so full of YOU – your joy, love, light, grace, peace, patience, kindness – that I become a sign to many…a sign that you are my strong refuge, my creator, lover of my soul, provider, redeemer and healer.  And may hearts be turned because of it.  In your name, I pray.    

– Rei

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



Psalm_70

Scripture 

Psalm 70:4 

Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; And let those who love Your salvation say continually, “Let God be magnified.”

Observation – What does it say? 

This Psalm is titled a song of remembrance, and is copied almost word for word from Psalm 40.  The repetition may have been purposeful, as the Matthew Henry Commentary explains, “may be of use sometimes to pray over the prayers we have formerly made to God upon similar occasions, which may be done with new affections.” 

Understanding – What does it mean?  As a kid in elementary school, I remember having nothing but animosity for “Matt.”  He was the closest thing I had, at the time, to an enemy.  He was better than me at sports, excelled in school, had an budding acting career, and the girl I “liked” was more interested in him.  To top it off, he was persistent in teasing me.  There were days that I wanted him to disappear, and I’m sure I made this desire known to God, on more than one occasion.  I prayed this every week.   

When this Psalm was written, David was in a time of need and seems to be at the mercy of his enemy.  Yet he still pray’s to let God be glorified.  Despite his situation, David still finds joy in the Father.  His first response is to turn to God, his lowly state perfectly juxtaposed by God’s greatness.   

As I was reading this, I found myself dwelling on the David’s request that God confuse his enemies.  I began to wonder how many times that I would have been on the other end of that prayer.  I wonder how many people that I have caused to pray for my confusion.  While David’s prayer definitely displays godly character, how many times have I prayed something similar and had nothing but selfish gain in mind.

God is interested more in us bringing glory to Him, than he is worried about who is coming to tear us down.  He is more interested in us leaning on him, than he is of us winning arguments with the who discourage us.  And why shouldn’t I trust Him, he created the whole earth and yet has time to listen to my prayers. 

Life Application 

Jesus help me to make my first response in calamity to holding on to you with reckless abandon.  And when I pray for your help, let me also be cognizant of the opportunity you provide for me to shout your name.  For I know you protect me, and you keep me from going under when I feel overwhelmed.
 
– Tyler Galloway