Bible Reading Plan
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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!
 

28 Days: Day 20

  • John 17:20-23 (NLT) 20  “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21  I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. 22  “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. 23  I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.

Protecting the Unity of the Fellowship

Here are some ways we can ensure that we protect our fellowship…

Focus on what we have in common not our differences:  we share God’s love, salvation, heaven and the grace of God. These are the things we need to focus on.

Be realistic in your expectations of your fellow brother or sister.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer says that the real beginning of community is when we realize that no church is perfect and that it is because all of us are imperfect and in need of grace.

Choose to encourage rather than criticize each other.

Refuse to listen to gossip.

Practice God’s method of conflict resolution.  (see Matthew 18:15-17)

Support and submit to your spiritual leaders.

 

Today again, as you go to prayer, confess the areas where you have caused the fellowship to weaken and choose today to protect and deepen our fellowship.  Remember as you do this we come one step closer to being a Great Commission Movement.



28 Days: Day 19

SCRIPTURE

  • Romans 12:9-13 (NLT) 9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10  Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 11  Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. 12  Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 13  When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.

OBSERVATION

Paul gives us some ways to truly deepen and protect our fellowship with believers. 
It starts with a commitment to do what is good and right. 
With that purposing of heart we are to love each other with genuine affection or love. 
We are to honor them. 
We are to pull our weight in the family and we are to work together with enthusiasm. 
Help those in need and be hospitable.

These things help us keep unity in the family.

UNDERSTANDING

God loves unity.  In fact it is so important that in the establishing of the church, God, in the New Testament gives more attention to unity of that church than either heaven or hell.

Unity is at the heart of fellowship.  Without unity you destroy the body of Christ.  Without unity there is no fellowship and without fellowship there is no church.

The Bible admonishes that we as believers are to make every effort to keep the fellowship of the church intact.  To be agents of unity, commissioned by Jesus to promote and preserve fellowship among believers.  In fact, there is the understanding that if you are causing disunity among the believers then you are in sin.  Anything that destroys unity and fellowship is sin

In the reading today two phrases really got my attention.

Love each other with genuine affection.  What does it look like for us to love each other with genuine affection?  It would mean looking out for each other, not speaking badly of them and even when they frustrate us we are not dishonoring towards them with others.  And that is just a start.

The other phrase that really struck me is, ”never be lazy, but work hard…”  I didn’t really think about it until I read it that when family members are not pulling their weight and helping it causes discord and disunity.  It wears down the ones who have to pick up the slack and causes there to be resentment.

LIFE APPLICATION

Today as you go to prayer will you ask God if you have been guilty of destroying unity and fellowship?  And when He shows you will you confess it to God and to His family so that there is healing for you and the family.



28 Days: Day 18

SCRIPTURE

  • Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV) 24  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25  Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

OBSERVATION

Fellowship with God must never become selfish. We must also fellowship with other Christians in the local assembly. Apparently, some of the wavering believers had been absenting themselves from the church fellowship. It is interesting to note that the emphasis here is not on what a believer gets from the assembly, but rather on what he can contribute to the assembly. Faithfulness in church attendance encourages others and provokes them to love and good works. One of the strong motives for faithfulness is the soon coming of Jesus Christ. In fact, the only other place the word translated “assembling” (Heb. 10:25) is used in the New Testament is in 2 Thessalonians 2:1, where it’s translated “gathering” and deals with the coming of Christ.

The three great Christian virtues are evidenced here: faith (Heb. 10:22), hope (Heb. 10:23), and love (Heb. 10:24). They are the fruit of our fellowship with God in His heavenly sanctuary.

Bible Exposition Commentary – Bible Exposition Commentary – Be Confident (Hebrews).

UNDERSTANDING

So you have decided to be part of the fellowship of the believers?  You are now on a direct course to fulfill the Great Commission.  Let us look quickly at some ways to deepen that fellowship so that we can get the most out of what God designed. 

Here are five ways we can deepen our fellowship…

  • Meet together regularly
  • Worship together
  • Spur each other on to love and good deeds
  • Encourage each other each time you meet
  • Eat in each other’s homes

LIFE APPLICATION

Did you notice how easily those aspects of fellowship are met when we are part of a GROW group?

Why not make a commitment today to deepen our fellowship and in so doing strengthen the ability for us to fulfill the Great Commission.  Choose a couple of these to start on and let’s start deepening our koinonia.



28 Days: Day 17

Join us this evening @ 7 for a time of worship and prayer at the church.

SCRIPTURE

Ephesians 1:5 – “His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into His own family.”

OBSERVATION

Fellowship with other believers brings God pleasure because we’re formed for God’s family.  

You know why God made you?

Because he wanted a family, and that family is going to outlast your physical family because it extends into eternity. 

One of the most misunderstood ideas about the Christian life is that it’s just a matter of believing. But God says, “No, you’re not just ‘believers;’ you’re ‘belongers.’” You belong in the family of God. Did you know that fifty-eight times in the New Testament the word “one another” is used?

Love one another, care for one another, pray for one another, exhort one another, encourage one another, greet one another, and on and on and on.

UNDERSTANDING

As we read in Acts yesterday, the people who are serious about following Jesus devote themselves to the fellowship.  That word devote means to remain steadfast and faithful, to persevere and not be distracted.  Are you devoted to the fellowship?  There are so many things that fight to distract us from being devoted to the fellowship, things that are good but lead us away from God’s best.  We do a lot of rationalizing as to why we give those things higher priority but in the end the question remains…are you devoted to the fellowship?

LIFE APPLICATION

The challenge is that you will choose to be devoted to the fellowship here at DSC.  That means choosing to be present at our Sunday celebrations, being in a GROW group and choosing to be open and trusting with God’s people.  It also comes with the understanding of serving with God’s people.
 
So, will you devote yourself to the fellowship?  Why not join the family this evening as we worship God together.


28 Days: Day 16

SCRIPTURE

  • Acts 2:42, Ephesians 4:2-3, Hebrews 10:24-25 & Romans 14:19

OBSERVATION

Fellowship is the spiritual duty of believers to stimulate each other to holiness and faithfulness. It is not just getting together and having a good time but it is encouraging one another and spurring one another towards loving God, loving His people and serving His mission. 

It is most specifically expressed through the “one anothers” of the New Testament.  The basic meaning of fellowship is “partnership,” or “sharing.” Those who receive Jesus Christ become partners with Him and with all other believers (1 John 1:3). It carries with it the issue of accountability – being accountable to whether or not we are fulfilling God’s purposes for us.

UNDERSTANDING

“For a Christian to fail to participate in the life of a local church is inexcusable. In fact, those who choose to isolate themselves are disobedient to the direct command of Scripture.  (Hebrews 10:24-25)    The Bible does not envision the Christian life as one lived apart from other believers. All members of the universal church, the body of Christ, are to be actively and intimately involved in local assemblies.”

MacArthur New Testament Commentary, The – MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Acts 1-12.

LIFE APPLICATION

So the question is, “Are you a part of the fellowship or are you just attending a Sunday meeting?” 

God’s desire is that when you believed and were baptized, you were to be part of the fellowship where you gave others the permission to encourage and spur you on to fulfill God’s assigned mission.  By the way, spurring is not always a pleasant experience is it?
 
Why don’t you renew your commitment to the fellowship and allow them to help you be all you can be for God?  Commit to being involved in a GROW group where you can experience deep fellowship.


28 Days: Day 15

SCRIPTURE

  • Mark 1:9, Matthew 28:19-20, 1 John 2:3 & Acts 18:8

OBSERVATION

When we believe God and accept His gift of grace and love we are then washed clean and baptism reminds us of that work of God, as well as provides a testimony to others of the work of God.  Baptism is to be yet another avenue where we are given the opportunity to be His witnesses. 

UNDERSTANDING

Some reasons for baptism…

To Follow The Example Set By Jesus

(Mark 1:9 NIV)  At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.

Because Jesus Commands It

(Mat 28:19-20 NIV) “ Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, {20} and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

 (1 John 2:3 NIV)  We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.

It Demonstrates That I Really Am a Believer

(Acts 18:8 NIV)  Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized.

LIFE APPLICATION

Baptism is one of the ways that we align ourselves with other believers, in essence it is an initiation into the fellowship of the believers, the church.  In aligning with the fellowship of believers we agree to be part of the Great Commission team. 

Are you a part of the Great Commission Team?



28 Days: Day 12

SCRIPTURE

  • James 5:16 (NIV) 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
  • 1 Timothy 2:1 (NIV) 1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone–  

OBSERVATION

“One thing more, the soul-winner must be a master of the art of prayer. You cannot bring souls to God if you go not to God yourself. You must get your battle-axe, and your weapons of war, from the armoury of sacred communication with Christ. If you are much alone with Jesus, you will catch His Spirit; you will be fired with the flame that burned in His breast, and consumed His life. You will weep with the tears that fell upon Jerusalem when He saw it perishing; and if you cannot speak so eloquently as He did, yet shall there be about what you say somewhat of the same power which in Him thrilled the hearts and awoke the consciences of men. My dear hearers, especially you members of the church, I am always so anxious lest any of you should begin to lie upon your oars, and take things easy in the matters of God’s kingdom. There are some of you—I bless you, and I bless God at the remembrance of you—who are in season, and out of season, in earnest for winning souls, and you are the truly wise; but I fear there are others whose hands are slack, who are satisfied to let me preach, but do not themselves preach; who take these seats, and occupy these pews, and hope the cause goes well, but that is all they do.”

(The Soul Winner Charles Spurgeon [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989]

UNDERSTANDING

All around us we see evidence of people who are struggling with and breaking under the stress and strain of everyday life; lost people who are at the end of their rope and without hope. In their time of need, they do not need judgment or condemnation or pithy Christian clichés. What they need is to feel the mercy and compassion of God from the people of God. There is no better way to convey that we care than to offer to pray for someone. Even the most skeptical or unreligious person will accept our offer and see it for what it is.

There is power in prayer! Not only in it’s power to communicate our love for the hurting, but it also releases the redemptive power of God into that person’s life and circumstances. Whether they ever admit it or not, they will understand that your prayers helped and God will use that truth to touch their hearts with His love.

LIFE APPLICATION

The next time someone shares a struggle or concern with you, offer to pray for them right then and there. If they decline, don’t be offended. Respect their feelings and let them know that you will be praying for them. Check in with them often, continue to walk with them through the struggle and be ready to rejoice with them when God answers your prayer on their behalf. Remember, people don’t care what you know until they know that you care. Care enough to pray!



28 Days: Day 11

SCRIPTURE

  • 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV) 15  But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,

OBSERVATION

What does it mean to set apart Christ as Lord in our hearts?  I think that this is the pre-requisite for having a good witness.  When we set apart Christ as Lord in our hearts we are saying that God is the sovereign ruler of our life.  We are saying that He gets the highest priority, our deepest worship, that He is the One who has the right to tell us what to do.  When we live like this it will always foster questions from those around us and then we must be prepared to tell them what it is we are doing and why.

 

UNDERSTANDING

If you’ve ever served on a jury, you know that it can be a tedious and boring process. As a juror, you sift through charts, timelines, physical and circumstantial evidence, opinion and speculation…day after day. But the entire courtroom sits up and pays special attention when an eyewitness takes the stand. There is something riveting when someone testifies to what they have personally seen and heard. If they are telling the truth, not even the most skillful cross-examiner will be able to impeach the witness.

It is the same with our testimony concerning Christ. No amount of book knowledge, clever arguments or contrary opinion can ever shake our experience with the living Lord Jesus. When we share what Christ has done in our lives, we speak from experience. We don’t need to be expert bible scholars or theologians to give our testimony – we lived it! We have firsthand knowledge of, and a personal relationship with, a savior and friend who walks and talks with us, who has forgiven our sins and who promises us abundant and eternal life. Everyone within your scope of influence; friends and family, co-workers and school-mates, everyone you know, should hear about what God has done in your life and that He can do the same for them.

LIFE APPLICATION

As you choose to consecrate (set ourselves apart) our lives to God, prayerfully ask Him to place you in situations where you can share your faith and when those opportunities present themselves – Preach it! 



28 Days: Day 10

SCRIPTURE

  • Ephesians 4:29 (NIV) 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
  • Proverbs 12:18 (NIV) 18 Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

OBSERVATION

Sapros (unwholesome) refers to that which is corrupt or foul and was used of rotten fruit, vegetables, and other spoiled food.  Paul also wrote in Colossians 3:8, “put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth”

In addition to renouncing corrupt and harmful language we are to develop speech that is pure, helpful, and pleasing to God. Paul here mentions three specific characteristics of wholesome speaking: it is edifying, appropriate, and gracious.
MacArthur New Testament Commentary, The – MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Ephesians.

UNDERSTANDING

The schoolyard saying that “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is a lie. The incredible power of the spoken word is evident in the Genesis account of creation where God chose to speak the world into creation – “And God said…” In the same way, we have the power to speak into existence such things as life and death, blessing and curses, identity and destiny. There is not one of us who cannot identify a time when words either lifted us up to the heights of encouragement and possibility or cast us down to the depths of condemnation and despair.

As Christians, we represent Christ in every aspect of our lives, including the words that we use. Our God is a God of truth, blessing, and encouragement. Are those attributes of the Savior evident in the words we use? Men and women who have been made in God’s image have had that image corrupted by society, sin, disobedience and the lies of the enemy. We can be used by God to help lost souls reclaim their rightful identity in Christ as we speak words of value, purpose and redemption into their lives.

LIFE APPLICATION

Replay some of your recent conversations in your mind. How would you have been impacted by the words spoken if you were the listener instead of the speaker? Do your words build up or tear down? Does a change need to take place?

In a world today where the common rhetoric is hate what an amazing witness of God’s love we will be if we speak words that are gracious, edifying and healing.  Let’s go win the lost with our words.



28 Days: Day 9

SCRIPTURE

  • Philippians 4:4-8, 12-13
  • Philippians 4:5 (NIV) 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.

OBSERVATION

 Epieikēs (gentle spirit) has a richer meaning than any single English word can convey. Hence, commentators and Bible versions vary widely in how they render it. Sweet reasonableness, generosity, goodwill, friendliness, magnanimity, charity toward the faults of others, mercy toward the failures of others, indulgence of the failures of others, leniency, bigheartedness, moderation, forbearance, and gentleness are some of the attempts to capture the rich meaning of epieikēs. Perhaps the best corresponding English word is graciousness—the graciousness of humility; the humble graciousness that produces the patience to endure injustice, disgrace, and mistreatment without retaliation, bitterness, or vengeance. It is contentment.

Gracious humility runs counter to the cult of self-love that was rampant in ancient society, and is rampant in modern society as well. But focusing on self-love, self-esteem, and self-fulfillment leads only to greater and greater instability and anxiety. On the other hand, those whose focus is not on themselves cannot be knocked off balance by inequity, injustice, unfair treatment, lies, or humiliation. They can say with Paul, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am” (4:11). Spiritual stability belongs to the graciously humble.
MacArthur New Testament Commentary, The – MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Philippians.

UNDERSTANDING

Attitudes are contagious. Spend a minute or two with a grouch and pretty soon you will find yourself complaining and fault finding. We have the amazing ability to influence the emotional state of those around us. So, with what kind of attitudes are we “infecting” the people around us? After spending a few minutes with us, do people come away from that time uplifted and encouraged or bitter and angry? How are we reacting to the everyday stresses of life? Are we confident of victory or resigned to defeat? If we are constantly grumbling, what does that say about our hope in Christ?

In today’s reading, Paul describes how he was able to maintain attitudes of peace and confidence in the Lord through Christ who gave him strength, regardless of the circumstances. How about us? Are the people around us seeing the same thing in our lives? God does not promise us that life will be free from trials and tribulation, on the contrary, Jesus promised us that we would face those very things. What God did promise us was that He would be with us through all of them, that He would give us the power to face them as overcoming conquerors and that He would use our attitudes to draw unbelievers to Him.

LIFE APPLICATION

I want to preach the message of God’s hope and victory as we maintain an attitude of joy and peace in all circumstances. How do your attitudes reflect on Christ and affect those around you?