Bible Reading Plan
bible

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

November 4: Esther 9, Revelation 17, Psalm 73

November 5: Esther 10, Revelation 18, Psalm 74

November 6: Job 1, Revelation 19, Psalm 75

November 7: Job 2, Revelation 20, Psalm 76

 
 
 
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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!
 

Acts_6

 

Scripture

Acts 6:15

15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

Observation-What does it say?

Stephen is described in the Word of God as “full of God’s grace and power (vs. 8) and filled with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit when he spoke (vs. 10 paraphrased). The members of the Synagogue didn’t like the fact that “they couldn’t stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke” (vs. 10). They felt threatened by it, very similar to how the Pharisees felt threatened by Jesus. As a result, they made up lies about Stephen and tried to get other people to buy into those lies. They spread false rumors about Stephen that eventually had him brought to the Sanhedrin. They even produced false witnesses to testify against him! However, Stephen remained at peace the whole time and his countenance proved that. His face looked like it was “the face of an angel (vs. 15).”

Understanding-What does it mean?

In the midst of trial and persecution, we can live in God’s peace.

Stephen didn’t literally get transformed into an angel and his face changed to that of an angel. Commentary says that Stephen, as a servant of the Lord, “possessed a clear conscience, cheerful hope, and Divine consolations, which enabled him to smile in the midst of danger and death.” (Matthew Henry’s Bible commentary-concise)

Stephen felt secure knowing he did no wrong and was confident in who his Defender was. The Holy Spirit’s peace and comfort was shining and showing through his face, which made it look like that of an angel.

Life Application

Jesus is our Defender.

The Lord is our defender and it is His job to avenge, not ours. (Romans 12:19).

Have you ever been falsely accused of something? The Biblical term for it is slander, which the New Oxford American Dictionary defines as “the action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person’s reputation.”

When we become Christians, living by a different standard than the world will naturally bring upon “haters” and opposition, sometimes from even within the walls of the church. Commentary blames “the heart of a fallen creature, which is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Matthew Henry’s Bible commentary-concise).” However, as Pastor preached in one of his sermons, we need not fear people, only fear God. When we are living in submission to God’s ways and living in righteousness, He will defend us.

“In God I trust and am not afraid. What can man do to me?”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭56:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭10:28‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Thank you Lord for being our defender. May we be reminded that we can have the “ face of an angel” even amidst opposition just like Stephen did, as we live for You. Amen.

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

-Michelle Gaddi



Acts_5

Scripture
 
Acts 5:11
 
“Great fear gripped the entire church and everyone else who heard what had happened.”
‭‭
Observation-What does it say?
 
Ananias and his wife Sapphira has sold some property. He and his wife had come to an agreement to keep part of the money, and gave the rest to the apostles, (claiming to the apostles that it was the full amount).
Then Peter called out Ananias for his betrayal. Peter told him that it wasn’t the apostles he was lying to, but he was lying to God! Then right then and there, Ananias dropped dead on the spot!
Then hours later, not knowing what had just happened to her husband, Sapphira was asked about the amount of money they were paid for the land, and she too lies about it. Sapphira’s fate was the same as her husband. She too fell right then and there at the apostles feet and died instantly. The news spread among the church and other people of what had happened, and great fear came upon them all.
 
Understanding-What does it mean?
 
God takes sin seriously.
 
I used to think that the punishment for Ananias and his wife Sapphira were kind of harsh. I mean, they still gave to the apostles right? It was their land/money to do what they pleased right? Their mistake was trying to lie about it! You see if you look at the historical aspect of this story, this was about the time that the church was first being established. And what if God let this betrayal slide on the onset of the church? How would that look? Isn’t God just and righteous? So God had to set the bar and an example of how He expects His church to run and function. God is trying to establish a standard of holiness and purity. God is showing His distaste for sin, and the penalty of sin…death!
 
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”-‭‭Romans‬ ‭6:23‬ ‭NIV
 
The death of Ananias and Sapphira was a wake up call to the church and those who witnessed the story. It is a great reminder of just how serious God is when it comes to the issues of sin, especially within His church. But despite what happened to Ananias and Sapphira, the church in Acts experienced great quality growth and deepened in fellowship because of it. God was able to use the situation to deepen His relationship with His people.
 
Life Application
 
Ask God’s forgiveness of your sins. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal sins in your life that you may be blinded to.
 
Father God, I know you take sin seriously. I know that my sin deserves death. So I thank You for the grace and mercy You have shown me through Your Son Jesus. Forgive me of my foolishness and sinfulness. Holy Spirit reveal to me areas in my life that You need to work through. I release them to You Lord. Don’t allow the sin in my life to hold me back from experiencing Your full presence in life. In Your name I pray Jesus, Amen.
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here.
 
-Moses Gaddi


Genesis 32

Scripture

Genesis 32:26

But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

Observation – What does it say?

Jacob was about to face his brother Esau, for the first time since stealing both his birthright and blessing. He split all his family and possessions into two groups and sent them ahead of him while he stayed back alone for the night.

Then, something really surprising happened with no real explanation. “… a man wrestled with him until daybreak.” The man couldn’t overpower Jacob and Jacob refused to let go until the man blessed him.

The prophet Hosea referenced this experience Jacob had:

Hosea 12:3-5
In the womb he grasped his brother’s heel; as a man he struggled with God.
4 He struggled with the angel and overcame him;
he wept and begged for his favor.
He found him at Bethel
and talked with him there—
5 the Lord God Almighty,
the Lord is his name!

Understanding – What does it mean?

Super strange experience. This is one of those stories I wish was explained in more detail. I have so many questions!

On another note, there is a lot about Jacob that I don’t like. He was a liar and deceiver (the name Jacob means ‘deceiver’) of those closest to him. But one thing I do admire about him is that he fought for God’s blessings in his life – in this case literally. Even after the angel injured his hip, Jacob refused to let go without a blessing.

We all have shortcomings and struggles with sin like Jacob did, but my prayer is that they won’t keep us from drawing near to God. My prayer is that we would draw near and grab ahold of God in prayer, refusing to let up or give up until he answers. We know we don’t deserve it, but out of his grace, he delights in blessing us with all we need fulfill the amazing plans he has for us. Often times we just have to ask and not give up.
 
James 4:2 You do not have because you do not ask God.
 
Luke 18:1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.

Life Application

Don’t give up!

God, may us be someone who fights for your blessings; not just for ourselves but for others. Teach us to labor in prayer and to seek you and love you with all of our hearts. When things get difficult and it seems we’ve been praying all night, may we not give up. Give us the persistence and discipline to continue seeking that Jacob had. We believe your goodness and faithfulness and that you hear us when we pray! Amen.
 
– Levi Thompson
 


Psalm_31

Scripture

Psalm 31:21 NIV

Praise be to the Lord,
    for he showed me the wonders of his love
    when I was in a city under siege.

Observation

It is thought that David wrote this psalm when he was persecuted by Saul….It is a mixture of prayers, and praises, and professions of confidence in God, all which do well together and are helpful to one another.

  1. David professes his cheerful confidence in God, and, in that confidence, prays for deliverance out of his present troubles (v. 1-8)
  2. He complains of the very deplorable condition he was in, and, in the sense of his calamities, still prays that God would graciously appear for Him against his persecution. (v. 9-18)
  3. He concludes the psalm with praise and triumph, giving glory to God, and encouraging himself and others to trust in him (v. 19-24)

[https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/mhc/Psa/Psa_031.cfm]

Understanding

I loved stuff in all 3 of the chapters for today’s reading but for some reason this verse grabbed hold of my heart.

I’ve never been in a “city under siege” nor have I been chased around by a king trying to persecute me.  But I think we’ve all had experiences where we felt attacked, unsafe, frustrated by our circumstances and in need of some “wonder.”  And, as I think back in my own life, of the big and little ways that God has shown his “wonders of love” in those times, that has been one of the main things that has built and kept my faith.  When I’ve doubted and wanted to turn away, He’s used a person, a song, a scripture, something in the sky, His provision (and probably 100 other things) to remind me that I am seen, heard and loved. 

Life Application

Praise be to the Lord!

God, thank you for your faithfulness.  I’m grateful for your heart towards your children.  When we disobey, doubt, turn away, throw a tantrum, you never turn your heart away.  Thank you for the ways you’ve shown me the wonders of Your love!  Open my eyes, today, to ways I can partner with You to show Your love to those I encounter and think of.   

In your name, I pray.  Amen. 

– Rei

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



Psalm_30

Scripture 
Psalm 30:11-12 
”You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness, That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent.  O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.”
 
Observation – What does it say? 
This Psalm was written by David, and was possibly written as a dedication for the temple.  However, prior to building the temple, David had done evil in the site of God and “70,000 men of Israel fell.”  (See 1 Chronicles 21&22).  David pleaded to God, and sacrificed burnt offerings, and God restored David and the house of Israel.  David writes that God’s wrath is fleeting, but His grace is everlasting (vs 5). 
 
Understanding – What does it mean? 
We have all done something that we aren’t proud of.  A lot of the time, those things come with some consequences that are very real.  A few years back, I violated some policies at work and in the process violated the trust of my partners, my department and the public I serve.  I didn’t do this out of mallice, but laziness, as I had probably had eight hours of sleep in the previous three days.  However, as a police officer, this was a huge mistake and as a result suffered the consequences of my actions in the form of some sanctions.  There are times that I feel I will never be able to put this behind me and move on.

In the same way, we are often guilty of violating God’s “policies.”  Jesus said that His law could be summed up by loving God and loving others (Matthew 22:36-40).  I can think of a many times where I have treated someone in a way that wasn’t loving, it’s easy when you drive in Southern California. (Just Kidding, but seriously…).  Putting God before all else can be difficult as well, as there are so many other things that can take His place in my heart, like placing my kids in His seat. 

The difference between work and God is Jesus’ death on the cross.  Jesus paid the ultimate consequence for us and made us whole.  When we go to Him he promises to give us a new heart in place of our heart of stone (Ezekiel 36:24-36).  We are promised to be a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).  When I think of the sin in which Christ has covered for me, I too want to dance like David.

Life Application 
Jesus, help me to stop living as I did yesterday.  I choose to let go of the past and press on towards you.  I choose to dance with you, in hopes of bringing you glory above all else. Amen.
 
– Tyler Galloway


Psalm_29

Scripture
 
Psalm 29:11

The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.

Observation-What does it say?
 
This Psalm that King David had written is very powerful and is the definition of worship—glorifying God for who He is. In this Psalm’s structure, King David first gives encouragement to worship.
Then, speaks of the power and might of God’s Voice and how He has authority over all. 
Finally, he ends with what God does for His people. He gives strength and blesses them with peace. (vs. 11) 
 
Understanding-What does it mean?
 
A life of faith flows out of a heart of worship.

We’ve spoken before on how Worship goes beyond singing on a Sunday morning, as it should be present every day in the life of a believer. This Psalm is a great example of the structure of worship and prayer. First, we must be encouraged to worship. Then, we must remember who He is..HIS character and HIS authority as King and Lord over all. Lastly, we receive the blessings that come as a result of a heart of worship.

In life, when we struggle, it is easy to do this backwards. We expect to see and receive what He can do for us before being reminded to give our worship to Him first. The result of this backwards thinking is doubt, questioning, confusion and anger towards God-attitudes of the heart that He does not desire for His children to carry. When we remind ourselves of who He is and take our focus off of ourselves and our own problems, our perspective shifts. Then, strength, joy and peace in Him regardless of the circumstances, results.

Life Application
 
Pray and worship first!
 
My youngest daughter, 6 year old Macie, has started to have questions about faith as she has been feeling frustrated with being sick. She has asked me, “Why isn’t Jesus healing me when I pray? I don’t think He hears me.”
 
I had to encourage her of the character of the Lord, how He loves her and is with her and He heals in His time. She must not give up praying and believing. I also encouraged her that God gave her a mommy (me) to take care of her while she’s sick.That’s my encouragement to us all as well. Let’s be reminded of His power and goodness before questioning what He can do for us. Let’s also be reminded of the people He has placed in our lives to help carry the load and burden that we often feel, whether it’s our church family/ministry leaders, a medical professional, a counselor, our friends, family, etc.
 
The temptation to forget His goodness and His character occurs when we do not worship Him first. As we worship Him first, we allow our hearts and mindsets to shift from ourselves to the Kingdom and we see things from His perspective instead of our limited perspective.

Thank you Lord for your strength and might. I pray that Your Holy Spirit would continue to remind us to pray and worship You first before coming to You with our requests and needs. You are strong, mighty and have authority over all the earth. Thank you that Your good, perfect and loving character never changes despite the circumstances around us . Amen.
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here.
 
-Michelle Gaddi


Matthew_28

Scripture
 
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭28:16-17‬ ‭NLT
 
“Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted!”
 
Observation-What does it say?
 
As both Marys went to visit Jesus’ tomb, they were greeted by a great earthquake. For an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, rolled back the huge stone that lay in front of the door of the tomb, and showed both Marys that the place where Jesus’ body laid, was now empty! Just like Jesus told them…He would rise again! Jesus is alive! Now the angel told the women to go and tell the disciples that Jesus is alive, and to tell them to head to Galilee, because it is there that they will see him.
So when the disciples arrived in Galilee, they went to the mountain where Jesus told them to go. It was there that they saw him and worshipped him, yet some of them still doubted.
 
Understanding-What does it mean?
 
Transformation does not happen quickly.
 
Even after all Jesus has done for them, all He has told them, all that they have seen with their own eyes, they still doubted?! We would like to think that the Resurrection alone would immediately transform these timid disciples into heroes of faith. But this particular verse is a great reminder that transformation does not happen overnight. Even after Jesus’ disciples saw him alive and heard him speak, they still doubted.
 
Now just when I was going to get down on Jesus’ disciples, I took a look at my own life. I looked back at all that I learned, all that Jesus has done in my life, and all that He has got me through. Yet when one of life’s roadblocks comes my way, what do I do? I find myself anxious, I begin to doubt God’s promises for me. Why?! I believe it’s a growing and maturing process we as Christ Followers all go through. Our lives as Christ Followers is a daily spiritual walk. A walk in which we should all be striving to grow and mature in Christ daily. I believe the “churchy word” for it is sanctification. It is our lifelong process as God’s children to become more like Christ each and every day. And it doesn’t stop either! It is something we all should be doing till the Lord calls us home.
 
Life Application
 
I must strive to be a better disciple each and every day, month, and year!
 
Too often we come across people who say they have been Christians for years and years. Yet they seem to be struggling with the same issues over and over. They tell you that they’ve been a Christian for 10 years, but it seems they’ve been repeating the same grade year after year with no growth. Or they can quote you scripture and know the Bible inside-out. Yet their lives contradict what they should already know. They have the information, but not the transformation in their lives. As Christ Followers we should be all about the transformation. We should be allowing the Holy Spirit to mold us and change us to be more like Jesus each day.
 
But how can I gauge my growth process spiritually? One simple way is by doing our church’s Spiritual Self Assessment survey. Just like a person who wants to lose weight, they need a scale and a mirror to monitor their progress. This Spiritual Self Assessment survey acts just like a “scale” for our spiritual lives. And if we are honest with it, it can help identify the areas in our faith we need to work on, and allows accountability for someone in church leadership to help guide you along your path. We all need to start somewhere in our walk with God. The key is to make sure we don’t settle where we are at, but we continue to make strides forward to become more and more like Him each day . 😊
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here.
 
Moses Gaddi


Psalm_27

Scripture
Psalm 27:8
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, Lord, I will seek.
 
Observation – What does it say?
David responds to the call in his heart to seek God’s face. Regardless of feelings or motivation or business, David chose to respond by acting on the desire to seek God.
 
Understanding – What does it mean?
God places the desire in all of our hearts to seek his face. And, we all respond in different ways at different times. When we are tired or lacking motivation, it’s not always easy. The challenge is to respond rightly, “Your face, Lord, I will seek!” 
When you want the wrong thing but you will the right thing, that’s righteousness.
Kris Vallotton
What I find encouraging is that the strength to respond rightly doesn’t come from within, but from above.
Philippians 2:13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
 
Life Application
Choose rightly today!
God, thank you that you not only give us the desire but the power to do what pleases you. From beginning to end you deserve the glory! We look to you and lean on you, not only for the desire for your presence to increase but the power to pursue it. Amen.
 
– Levi Thompson


Genesis_26

Scripture

Genesis 26:28 NIV

28 They answered, “We saw clearly that the Lord was with you; so we said ‘There ought to be a sworn agreement between us’ – between us and you.  Let us make a treaty with you…

Observation

Chapter 26 begins with the Lord appearing to Isaac (Abraham’s son), telling him to stay in Gerar. He was trusting and obedient in that matter…but then immediately shows his lack of faith/trust when he tells the men that Rebekah (his wife) is his sister. Eventually, the truth is revealed and Abimelek gives orders that anyone who harms him or Rebekah be put to death.

Everything Isaac does from that point on brings “fruit.” Crops are planted and returned a hundredfold. He becomes rich and his wealth grows. He gains so many flocks and herds and servants that he is asked to move for being “too powerful.”

In his new space, he recognizes God as the source for all his success, saying “Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land.”

God comes close – appearing to Him and reinforcing His blessing, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.”

The next visit is Abimelek with his adviser and commander of his forces…which is met with a question from Isaac, “Why have you come to me, since you were hostile to me and sent me away?”

Understanding

There’s so much good stuff here – God’s provision (the crops, the wealth, the flocks and herds and servants), His grace with Isaac’s lack of faith, a reminder to give God glory as the source for all our earthly gifts and successes. But what struck me was the observation from Abimelek shown in verse 28. 

Abimelek recognized that God was with Isaac and it brought further favor – a peace treaty.

Life Application

God, you have given me so much favor, so many blessings…may I always remember and give you the glory as the source for my provision. Help me to show faith in my giving – giving more and often, as you direct me to.  Give me your heart, your eyes for the people and situations around me – that I may be used by you. 

In your name, I pray. Amen. 

– Rei

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



Matthew_25

Scripture
Matthew 25: 22-23, 29
“Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
“For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.”
Observation – What does it say?
At this point in time, Jesus is in Jerusalem during the time of the passover. He has already told His disciples of His coming death, in chapter 20. In chapters 24 and 25, He is talking with His disciples about His second coming. In 24:42 Jesus tells us that we need to be on alert because we don’t know when He will arrive. Chapter 25 goes on to show us a couple of examples of being faithful while waiting for Him.
Understanding – What does it mean?
Faith; the short and long of it!!
I feel like I spent a considerable amount of time in my twenties worried about finding out what “God’s will” for my life was. I wanted to have a deep conviction that I was fulfilling my destiny. Part of my angst during this time was due to a few events that seemed deeply traumatic at the time. In my searching, I never really slowed down to evaluate whether or not I was being faithful with the opportunities God had placed right in front of me. Additionally, I have always had the tendency to compare myself to those around me and complain about how they received a better hand to play with.
One of the beautiful things that we get a picture of in this parable is God’s economy. In God’s economy ten is equal to four. As the master responds to his servants, he tells both the good servants “Well done. You have been faithful with a little, to you more will be given.” We see that God is more concerned with how we steward what he has given us, rather than how much it is. It is only in mans economy that 10 is more than 4, or that 1st place is better than 28th place. In reality all of the things God has given us belong fully to Him, he has simply asked us to take care of them for a bit.
In Romans 12:3-8 Paul tells us about our spiritual gifts. In this passage he points out that God has distributed our gifts as He sees fit, and that as the body of Christ we are interdependent on each other not independent. Nobody in the church is more important than the other, the worship leader no more important than the person in charge of cleaning the toilets. What is important is that we use our gifts to glorify God, and this requires some amount of perseverance. Galatians 6:9-10 says “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” So do good because Jesus is coming, we just don’t know when.

Life application
Jesus, help me to stay faithful in the small things. Because I know that in bringing you glory in these things will help me to see the big picture. I know and trust you have the big picture already taken care of. I choose to lean on your understanding and not my finite wisdom. Help me to find joy in holding the door for a stranger, in driving my car in a courteous way, in being generous with the money and time you have given me. I want to be a good light for you, Matthew 5:14-16
– Tyler Galloway