Journal Entries
Every weekday you will find a journal entry here from someone different in our church family. 
 
Click the scripture title and scroll down to see a comments section where you can ask questions, share insights and post your own SOUL Journal entry for the day!
 

1 Corinthians_1

Scripture  

1 Corinthians 1:18 
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
 
Observations – What does it say? 
Paul opens this letter with a message on unity in the church.  He discusses the things that distract and divide us, like who baptized us or who we first heard the gospel from.  As he continues, he contrasts the separation of the church with the one message of the cross.  He compares what we know as wisdom through Christ with the wisdom of the world.
 
Understanding – What does it mean? 
As I sat in my biology class during my sophomore year of high school, I remember the teacher discussing the finer points of evolution and thinking, “None of this makes sense.”  The look I got from her when I suggested the possibility of an intelligent designer and supernatural creation was something I will never forget.  She responded to me in a way as to suggest that one might be inclined to believe this “theory,” but only if they had lost their sense of reason.  Suggesting points of the Christian faith often brings similar looks.  

It’s funny to think that almost 2000 years ago Christians were having similar issues to what we have today.  The opposition that we see against the message of the cross is everywhere touting itself as wisdom.  To be honest, it is those looks and opinions that often make me cower from sharing the message of God’s redeeming love with others.  All too often I fear what others will think of me.

Opposition to the message of the cross is something we should expect.  If we were not going to face opposition God would not have told us to “put on the full armor of God, so that we can stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:11)  However, when we rely on Him, God gives us a spirit of power and discipline. (1 Timothy 1:7)

Life Application
Dear Lord, thank you for providing Your word to prepare me and sharpen me.  Thank you for providing Your body to support me in sharing your message.  Help me to keep my eyes on you when it comes time to tell someone of your love.  No matter how “embarrassed” I may feel, I know that your love is worth it.
 
– Levi Thompson


Romans__16

Scripture

Romans 16:19-20-

 
Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

Observation-What does it say?

The Apostle Paul is writing encouragement and admonishment to the church about the importance of standing firm in the Truth. They must not allow evil to infiltrate the church, but rather they must cling to what is good. Divisions can occur if they are not wise about what is good and not innocent about what it evil.

Understanding-What does it mean?

We are constantly in a spiritual battle (Eph. 6:12) and that’s why we always need to have our spiritual armor on. (Please see Ephesians 6:10-18 about the armor of God).

However, we can rejoice and have hope that we won’t be in the battle for long.

“When Satan seems to prevail, and we are ready to give up all as lost, then will the God of peace interpose in our behalf. Hold out therefore, faith and patience, yet a little while. If the grace of Christ be with us, who can prevail against us?” (christianity.com-Matthew Henry commentary on Romans 16)

Life Application

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭10:16‬ ‭NIV‬‬

There are a few reasons why we go through trials and tribulations in this life. Some are due to the consequences of our unwise choices/sin. Consequences are necessary as a result of loving discipline from our Heavenly Father. Sometimes we suffer as a result of another person’s sins. While another is a test of faith that produces endurance and character (James 1:3) just like Abraham and Jesus experienced. However, sometimes we go through storms for the pure reason that Satan freely roams this earth, lying, stealing, killing, destroying, deceiving and looking for those whom he can devour (1 Peter 5:8 ). He especially loves to target those adopted into God’s family, that’s why we need to be alert and sober. Paul understood the importance of encouraging the church to be wise in what is good, and also innocent (aka steering clear of) what is evil. Let’s take his advice church! Be encouraged that Jesus has overcome the world and it has been prophesied in God’s Word that He has already defeated Satan, so we have nothing to fear! Soon, death, mourning, crying, and pain will cease. (Revelation 21:4)

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
‭‭John‬ ‭16:33‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Dear Lord, thank You that You have already defeated the enemy, starting with Your death on the cross and resurrection from the dead and ending with his ultimate defeat. I pray that whenever we feel discouraged about the battle, that we remember You have already won the war. Your grace is with us (Romans 16:20) and that is something we can rejoice about! Thank You Jesus! In Your name we pray, Amen.

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



Psalm_88

Scripture
 
‭Psalms‬ ‭88:13‬ ‭NLT
 
“O Lord, I cry out to you. I will keep on pleading day by day.”
 
Observation-What does it say?
 
This psalm was written by Heman the Ezrahite. This was a very sad, gloomy, and hopeless psalm. When reading the book of Psalms, the author will write about their despair, but it usually follows with a glimpse of hope. Their hope in God. That God will bring justice to those who wrong them. But this author has lost all sense of hope. Life is pretty much kicking him while he’s down. He seems to have lost everything. He seems to be content knowing that darkness is his closest friend in life. That hope is gone and out the door.
 
Understanding-What does it mean?
 
No God = No hope. Know God = Know hope.
 
As much misery as the author of this Psalm is in, there is one thing, (other than the dark cloud that seems to be hovering over him), in life that he doesn’t quit on…CRYING OUT TO GOD! Although life seems hopeless for him, and he feels God has forgotten him, that doesn’t stop him from calling out to the Lord. In verses 1, 9, and 13 he clearly calls out to God begging for help. I believe it’s because he understands no matter how difficult life can be, or no matter just how much life’s struggles are stacked up against him, as long as God is with him, he has hope. He has a chance.
 
I believe the same goes for us. There are going to be moments in our lives where we feel hopeless, defeated, and alone. But no matter what life’s circumstances bring us, our hope is in Jesus. And we know that with Him, ALL things are possible. We know that Jesus was able to conquer this world. He even conquered death! And it’s with that hope in Him that we hold on to, knowing that with Him by our side, we too can conquer it too. 😊
 
“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”-‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭1:6-7‬ ‭
 
Life Application
 
Put your hope in Jesus.
 
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
Romans‬ ‭5:1-5‬ ‭
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here.  
 
-Moses Gaddi
‭‭


Romans__14

Scripture
Romans 14:17-18
17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.
 
Observation – What does it say?
The Apostle Paul, writing to the Christians in Rome, is discussing the way we live. We all have different convictions around the things scripture is unclear about. What kind of food is acceptable for Christ-followers to eat, if it’s ok to watch rated R movies, if we must set aside a specific day to observe the sabbath, etc. And Paul encourages them to not only consider what your personal convictions are, but your fellow believers. If what you do or eat causes another believer to stumble, then you are no longer acting in love. 
 
Understanding – What does it mean?
Bottom line, it isn’t as much about your personal convictions in specific areas, but it’s about living a life of “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” When we live in the Spirit, doing what is right, filled with peace and joy, the result won’t be contention or other believers stumbling but both God AND people approving!
 
Life Application
Live in the Spirit! Pursue what is right and walk in the peace and joy the Holy Spirit offers!
 
– Levi Thompson


Exodus 36

Scripture

Exodus 36:3-7 (NIV)

Then Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work. They received from Moses all the offerings the Israelites had brought to carry out the work of constructing the sanctuary. And the people continued to bring freewill offerings morning after morning. So all the skilled workers who were doing all the work on the sanctuary left what they were doing and said to Moses, “The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done.”

Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work.

 

Observation

 In Chapter 36 of the book of Exodus, Moses tells of how Bezalel and Oholiab were getting prepared to do the work of the Lord. They were given the task of building the holy Tabernacle and were required to follow the Lord’s orders as given by Moses.

 

Understanding

Our God is a God of abundance.

One of my favorite things about God is his abundant nature.  He’s not a “just enough” God.  When He gives, He gives more than enough.  [Think of the stories of the loaves and fish; there were always extra baskets to go around.]  When He loves, He lavishes us more than enough – to the point that He sent His perfect son to die for us.  When He provides peace, it’s not just enough peace to get you through a moment or day, it’s peace that surpasses all understanding. (Phil 4:7) You get the point.  We serve a God of abundance. 

I believe this abundance is just as meant for God’s family and church. 

We see this Acts 2 – “All the believers were sold together and had everything in common.  They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need” (vs 44-45).

And, here in Exodus, we see abundance in the skills, people and offerings…to the point that Moses had to ORDER that they STOP bringing their freewill offerings because they had more than enough!  Can you imagine?! 

Many times in churches it seems the same small group of people are doing ALL the stuff…and that leads to burnout.  Reading this brought life to a vision of our church as one that’s overflowing; and I believe we are on our way.  As I hear and see the amazing stories of what God is doing through the youth, through marriages, through the kids…I believe we are on our way to a period of abundance. 

I ask this as much of myself as of anyone reading – What part will you play?  How will you give of your skills, your time, your energy, your resources? 

 

Life Application

God, I thank you that you are a God of abundance.  Speak to me today – showing me the ways you would like me to give of my abundance in a way that creates abundance in my spirit, my home, my family, our church.  And, from that abundance, may lives be transformed. 

All to your honor and glory.  Amen.

 

– Rei



Romans__12

Scripture  

Romans 12:9-10 

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;

Observation – What does it say?

Paul closes chapter 11 by reminding us how great and big God is  and how big his love is for us.  Verse 33 says, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!”  He then enters chapter 12 by imploring us to live in a manner worthy of our calling, worthy of the greatness of God.  As the chapter progresses, Paul shifts into practical ways that we can live and show his love.  

Understanding – What does it mean?

I recently read through Proverbs 13, which gives a similar practicality to how we live and treat those around us.  Verse three says, “The one who guards his mouth preserves his life;The one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.”  This verse got me thinking about the times where I have, haven’t, or have wanted to tell someone about how they have done me wrong.  Or even worse, when I have opened my mouth to offer someone “advise,” which was really meant as criticism of what they were doing.  Some of those words have been hurtful, wrong, and caused a separation in any opportunity I might have had to share the message of Jesus dying on the cross to set us free.

During our pre-marital counseling, our counselors told us that it is okay to argue.  Their caveat was, “You can never use the words always or never.”  The reason behind this is these are polarizing words, and they are words that cannot be tested against time.  Like when Jen says, “You always leave the toilet seat up.”  Or when I say, “You never bake me cookies.”  Not only are these things not true, they will never stand the test of time.  Additionally, always and never tend to go into areas of character, which are the most vulnerable areas in an argument.

Our words, especially to those closest to us, have immense power.  We have the ability to raise someone up over time, and in an instant we tear them down with one stupid comment.  James discuses this in chapter three of his letter, comparing the tongue with the rudder.  Jesus tells us to let our yes be yes and our no be no.  He was trying to warn us to be simple and truthful with the words we use with one another.

Life Application 

Jesus, help me to choose my words carefully.  Help me to walk by the Spirit, and not only on Sunday.  Help me to be your messenger as long as I am alive.  Let me search for words that edify and lift others up.
 
– Tyler Galloway


Exodus_34

Scripture
 
Exodus‬ ‭34:21‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest.”

‭‭Observation-What does it say?

Moses was given the 10 commandments (a second time) in this chapter. Exodus 20 was the first chapter where the commandments were mentioned. However, Moses broke the first set of tablets out of anger when he saw the calf the Israelites had made and them dancing and worshipping it. (See Exodus 32:19)

In this chapter, the 4th commandment is mentioned again. It speaks about the Sabbath Day and laboring 6 days, but resting on the 7th.

Understanding-What does it mean?
 
All of God’s commandments are important. However, out of all the commandments, the 4th commandment seems to be the one most easily overlooked, neglected and broken. 

We live in a fast paced society where working for more money, stuff, status and acceptance are important and as a result, workaholism is the norm. Our value is placed on what we do instead of who we are. However, even God, the Creator of the Universe, took a day off from his work of creating. He didn’t need it, but He was giving us an example (and Adam an example) for the importance of rest.

“On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭2:2-3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Life Application

We must establish safeguards to protect our Sabbath day of rest.
 
We try to establish safeguards in order to keep from breaking the other commandments, like stealing, adultery, murder, etc. What about a day of rest to the Lord? A Sabbath day of rest should be no different.

Also, it doesn’t matter what day of the week your Sabbath falls on. It doesn’t have to be Saturday or Sunday. It can be in the middle of the week like Tuesday or Wednesday if the weekends tend to be ministry days for you or you work for emergency services such as in the medical field.

Regarding what we are allowed to do on the Sabbath, I used to be very legalistic about it and make sure that all I did was read the Bible, listen to worship music, don’t answer any calls, don’t spend any money, etc. However, I still felt like I was trying to jump through religious hoops and I never felt well rested. Then the Holy Spirit reminded that I can do other things I enjoy too like go to the gym, read a book or go shopping, as long as I was doing it for His glory and remembering Him. “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭10:31‬ ‭NLT‬‬
As long as no heavy work or labor was being done, I was still honoring the Sabbath. I like how the NLT version of this verse puts it: “Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!””
‭‭Mark‬ ‭2:27-28‬ ‭NLT‬‬

(Just a warning that if you’re always used to being on the go, the enemy will attack during these times of rest and say you are not being productive or are being lazy. He will try to put your worth and value on what you do instead of who you are and who Christ says you are. Don’t listen to his lies. The enemy knows that when we take a rest day with Jesus, we will be more effective at furthering the Kingdom in our homes, workplaces, etc. I’m speaking from personal experience.)

If your workload requires 7 days a week of work, it is time to reevaluate your schedule. A day to refresh and recharge in Him, but also do NO work and rather do things that we enjoy, is important. It is important for our well being, and our spirit longs for these times of rest.
Whether we work in the world or in church ministry or both, it is important to observe a day of rest unto the Lord.

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

Michelle Gaddi


Romans__10

Scripture
 
Romans‬ ‭10:14‬ ‭NLT
 
“But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?”
 
Observation-What does it say?
 
Paul’s heart is for EVERYONE to know God, to be saved, and to find salvation through their faith in Jesus Christ. Paul understands that that can only happen by sharing the good news not only with his Jewish brothers and sisters, but to share it with the Gentiles as well. So Paul writes this letter of encouragement to anyone who is willing to help him carry out God’s mission for the world so that everyone can have the opportunity to not only hear the message, but to receive the message.
 
Understanding-What does it mean?
 
It’s my responsibility as a Christ-Follower to share the Good News with people. It’s Jesus’ responsibility to change people’s hearts.
 
I live by a little saying that goes, “just do your best, and let God handle the rest!” It’s something so simple too. Basically it reminds me to not worry about the things in life that are out of my control. Leave those things to Jesus!.. in prayer!
 
This same concept can be used when sharing the gospel with someone. Most times I shy away from sharing because I’m scared of rejection. What if the person rejects the message I give them? But God just asks me to go out there in the world and to share the gospel. I can’t control whether the person I share with is going to accept the message or not. All I can do is my part. The part that God calls me to do, which is to plant the “seed” in their hearts. Leave it up to God in prayer to handle the rest. It is God who changes hearts, and He will take the seed that I planted, and be the One who ultimately nourishes it to blossom into something beautiful. But how can something blossom into something beautiful if there was never a seed that was planted?
 
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”-‭‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭1:8‬ ‭NLT
‬‬
Life Application
 
There are opportunities all around me to share the gospel. All I need to do is be aware and obedient to the Holy Spirit’s prompting.
 
Father God, I pray that You open my eyes today to opportunities out there to share the good news with people. Forgive me for shying away from past opportunities because of fear of rejection. Give me strength to follow through on Your prompting. Allow me to plant the seed of the gospel in people’s lives, and trust in You to nourish it into something beautiful. In Your name Jesus I pray, Amen.
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here.  
 
-Moses Gaddi


Romans_8

Scripture

Romans 8:3 (TLB)

We aren’t saved from sin’s grasp by knowing the commandments of God because we can’t and don’t keep them, but God put into effect a different plan to save us.  He sent His own Son in a human body like ours – except that ours are sinful – and destroyed sin’s control over us by giving himself as a sacrifice for our sins. 

 

The Message version is my favorite…

 

Romans 8:3-4 (The Message)

God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son.  He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant.  In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all.  The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that. 

The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it.  And now what the law code asked for but we couldn’t deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.  

 

Observation

This Chapter speaks to the privilege of Christians, the grace of a loving Father and creator…and the truth of the good news that makes it all so.

 

Understanding

The commandments were set to be followed yes, but God has always cared more about the heart of His people than the law.  He knows we are imperfect (at best) and would fail…over and over again.  So He didn’t watch from afar or simply let us fail forward; He created a path for us to eternity with Him that is contingent on a heart choice, not our day to day human choices. 

And the most beautiful part?  It does not require our consistent striving for a perfection we’ll never reach; but, instead, that we “simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.”

 

Life Application

Thank you, Lord, for your heart and your grace towards us.  May we choose to live in a way that honors that and also reflects it to those around you – extending grace and love to everyone that we encounter. 

 

– Rei

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



Romans_7

Scripture  

Romans 7:4 

Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.

Observation – What does it say?

Paul opens this chapter with a discussion on our relationship to the law.  He uses  the analogy of marriage to illustrate his point.  As a person is subject to their spouse, or ex-spouse, while they are still alive, so to are they free from that person in their death.  Similarly, we are subject to the law while we are still alive.  However, when we submit our lives to Christ then we are dead to sin and no longer bound to it.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Getting married was a lot of fun.  You get all dressed up, you say a bunch of sappy things like “a ring is a symbol of love because it has no end,” and then you have a party where you are the center of attention.  I loved getting married.  And then, a couple months later, I had my first big fight with Jen.  That moment was like an epiphany, but nowhere near as fun.  The realization that you now have to put your money where your mouth is and prove that love has no end.  

Marriage, like parenting, has been one of the greatest ways for me to learn about the character of God.  When I chose to marry Jen, I chose to give up one lifestyle and embrace a new one.  I had to kill off some of the bachelor habits that I had, like surfing four days a week, and bring life to a new part of me.  Marriage was a new adventure that I had to embrace.

In our life with Christ, we embrace the newness of life.  In Titus, Paul writes, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires…”  Later in Romans he writes, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

In Christ we get the freedom to move away from the sin in our lives, which is the cause of our demise, and move towards the only one who can make us complete.

Life Application 

Thank you Jesus for making me a new creation in you.  Thank you for the sacrifice you paid to make me a new creation.  I choose to be faithful to you and the life you provide me through the death on the cross. 

– Tyler Galloway