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!
 

Ephesians_4

Scripture
 
Ephesians‬ ‭4:32‬ ‭NIV
 
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
‭‭‬‬
Observation-What does it say?
 
Paul opens this chapter by encouraging the church to be united as a Body in Christ and to grow up in maturity as they each do the work that Christ has called them to. Paul then gives instructions for Christian living. The one highlighted to me was the last verse, about forgiveness.

Understanding-What does it mean?
 
Unity in the Body of Christ is impossible without forgiveness.

Paul LOVED the church and he knew what would lead to its disunity and ultimate destruction. He talks about several things such as impurity, greed, unholy living, lies, anger and unwholesome talk (aka slander/gossip). He then brings it back to Christ and reminds the church the importance of being kind, compassionate and forgiving towards each other. He wanted them to remember what Christ sacrificed for them and how Christ loved and forgave them. Healthy churches are forgiving churches.

Luke 17:3-4-Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

Matt. 18:33-35-And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

Matt. 6:15-But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses

Life Application
 
Confess to God any unforgiveness or bitterness lingering towards a brother or sister and forgive them from your heart.

Dear Jesus, we pray for Your strength to forgive our family from our hearts. We desire to love and forgive like You do. Teach us Holy Spirit to put aside any differences, anger or bitterness that the enemy would use to divide and destroy us, and instead help us remain united in You. Help us remain united to the mission You have called us each to and to do our part well. Help us to work together as a whole and healthy Body, growing in maturity with You as our Head. Amen.

-Michelle Gaddi


Ephesians_3

Scripture

Ephesians 3:16-19

16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Observation

Paul, speaking to the Gentiles, shares of his experience and asks them not to become discouraged because of his sufferings.  He then goes on to pray one of my favorite prayers over them. 

Understanding

What a powerful prayer…and one of my favorites.  In fact, the NLT is something I hope and pray over my kids often – that their “roots will grow down into God’s love and keep [them] strong.” 

And if you back it up a few verses, I love the way Paul prefaces the prayer – “14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every familya] in heaven and on earth derives its name.” – a profound reminder of God as the source, the creator of all. 

And, then, fast forward a bit and you’ll see that Paul ends with giving glory where glory is due…

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Life Application

I want to spend my day praying this over everyone I meet and interact with – praying empowerment over them through His Spirit, praying that Christ will make His home in their hearts, that they’ll be strong in God’s love and that they’ll catch hold of just how deep, how wide, how long and how high God’s love is.  It’s a transformational love, a soul shifting love, incomparable and undeniable. 

God, may everyone I encounter today experience you in that wayMay I be a conduit of your love, a seed planter, a testimony sharer, a faith builder.  Guide my steps, take hold of my words.  May I be of use to you today.    

In your name, I pray.  Amen.

-Rei
 
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Ephesians_2

Scripture  

Ephesians 2:19-22 

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Observation-What does it say?  

In this letter, Paul is addressing Christians who would have been Gentiles.  In this time, there was a great amount of segregation between the Jews and the Gentiles by racial, religious, cultural and social barriers.  The Jews understood themselves to be close to God, His chosen people, while the Gentiles were enemies to God.  It was also common for Jewish Christians to impose their traditions and rules upon the Gentiles in order for them to be “real” followers of Christ.  Therefore, Paul is addressing the fact that Christ has reconciled both the Jew and the Gentile through His death on the cross.  

Understanding-What does it mean?  

“A player who makes a team great is more valuable than a great player. Losing yourself in the group, for the good of the group – that’s teamwork.”-John Wooden

I find it amazing that Jesus is both the most inviting and most polarizing force in the universe.  When we come to Him in humility, realizing that we are in need of His grace, He receives us and wipes away all our inadequacies.  And if we come to Him with pride in what we have done for Him, he turns us away.  Jesus is the great equalizer.  His work on the cross takes the place of anything that we have ever done in an attempt to gain an audience with God.  In Matthew, Jesus said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”  In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus further explains this in the parable of the sheep and the goats.  He separates those who sought after Him in truth and those who did it in pretense.  

In 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, Paul expanded on our corporate reconciliation to God in describing us as a body with many members.  You don’t ever look at your finger and think, “This finger really isn’t as important as my eye. I’m going to cut it off.”  Similarly, in the body of Christ there is no part that is more important than the other.  Thus, we should seek to cut off any attitude of favoritism in ourselves and our congregations, because Jesus came to die for the whole world.

Life Application 

Jesus, help me to seek out opportunities to build bridges to the “least of these.”  Show me areas where I can make those around me feel more connected to you.  Give me opportunities to lift up those that I might have looked down on in the past.

-Tyler Galloway



Ephesians_1

Scripture

Ephesians 1:3

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

Observation – What does it say?

In this opening section of his letter to the Christians living in Ephesus, the Apostle Paul praises God for all the spiritual blessings we have in Christ. 

Understanding – What does it mean?
God has freely given us every spiritual blessing in Christ. 

From a spiritual standpoint, there is nothing we lack if we believe in Jesus. We have already been adopted as sons and daughters, already been forgiven, already stand in right relationship with God, already have his favor and blessing, already have been given the Holy Spirit who lives inside of us, already have the promise of eternal life. All of this has been freely given to us simply because of our belief in Jesus.
 
Yet, sometimes we fell as though we have to do something more than believe. We feel compelled to pray more so God will really love us, compelled to go to church or help others or tithe so we can be certain we’re really forgiven and saved. But the truth in this verse is that there’s nothing we could do to get more from God because every spiritual blessing has already been given to us. As Paul points out in the next chapter, nothing we’ve received from God has been a result of our works or good deeds:

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— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

Life Application

God, please forgive me for the times I’ve attempted to earn something you’ve freely given me. Jesus, your sacrifice on the cross was sufficient payment for us to receive every spiritual blessing. Rather than attempting to earn anything, I choose to joyfully receive every spiritual blessing from you. And I choose to worship! Not so I can have an emotional experience or to get something else, but in response to the riches of your grace that you have lavished on us. You are worth of praise! Amen.
 
– Levi Thompson


Psalm_148

Scripture
 
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭148:5‬ ‭NLT
 
“Let every created thing give praise to the Lord, for he issued his command, and they came into being.”
 
Observation-What does it say?
 
David writes this Psalm giving praise to the Lord. David’s Psalm expresses how all things should give praise to the Lord. From the angels and armies in Heaven, to the moon and the sun, to the stars in the sky, and to the running waters and living beings on earth. Give praise! Because it was God who spoke all these things into existence, and without Him none of these things that surrounds us would be possible! So give praise to Him! From the heavens up above, to the creatures here below. Give God the praise He deserves.
 
Understanding-What does it mean?
 
All glory and honor belongs to God!
 
“They said, “Amen! Praise, glory, wisdom, thanks, honor, power, and strength belong to our God forever and ever. Amen!”-‭‭Revelation‬ ‭7:12‬ ‭
 
This Psalm is a humbling reminder to me that I am nothing without God. That He is the One who provides me strength to do my job. He is the One who provided this job for me. God is the One who gives my family and I safekeeping each and every day. God is the One who surrounds me with the people in my life to help shepherd me into a closer relationship with Him. It is because of God, who sent His only son Jesus to shed blood for me, that I am saved and freed of my sins. It is all because of Him, I am who I am today.
 
Life Application
 
Give God the praise He deserves not only with your words, but with your actions.
 
You ever watch a music awards show and see someone win an award, get on stage, get on the microphone to give their speech, and the first thing they say is “I want to thank God for this award. Because without Him, none of this would be possible.” I’m sure we all have. But if you’re like me, have you ever sat there and thought, “wait a minute, isn’t this person’s songs about objectifying women, murdering fools on the streets, and chasing that money?” Sure it was nice to give God praise and a shout out during their speech. But does this person’s actions and behavior truly give God the praise and honor He deserves?..Especially knowing that the God we serve hates sin?🤔
 
Christians already have this unfair reputation of being hypocrites as it is. Why feed into even more? If I am claiming to be a Christ-Follower, I better be sure that my actions are matching up with the words coming out of my mouth. Praising God should start with the words we speak, the songs we sing, which translates our daily behavior into a form of praise and worship to honor Him. This way we are sure to be praising God whole-heartedly!❤   
 
-Moses Gaddi


Galatians_5

Scripture

Galatians 5:22-26 NIV

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”

Observation-What does it say?

Paul was encouraging the church that they were free from the law because they now walked in the Spirit. The church was trying to be justified by the law.  Paul was reminding them that they were now free from the law. Being free from the law didn’t give them a license to live in the flesh and bondage to sin, but rather, gave them freedom to be led by the Spirit.

Understanding-What does it mean? 

As Christ followers, we are led by the Spirit, not by the law.

The church was trying to gain their righteousness through following the law. Paul knew that justification through the law would make Christ’s sacrifice null and void. There would be no need for His grace if that was the case (Verse 4). Paul understood what he was saved from and the true meaning of Christ’s sacrifice that had given him freedom from the law.  He was the most zealous religious person there was. He followed the law to a T. He was blameless if his righteousness was based on the law (please read Philippians 3:5-6). 

Life Application

Be led by the Spirit, not the law.

Once a Believer makes the decision to accept Christ’s invitation for salvation and makes a public declaration of it through baptism, the Holy Spirit enters his/her life. The Holy Spirit produces His fruits in us as we continue to be led by Him. He is the One who convicts us of sin. He is the One who enables us to follow God’s Word and apply it. We cannot mistake the law for the Spirit. The law keeps us in bondage. The Spirit frees us from sin and bondage. 

I’ve personally noticed that I feel a bigger burden on my life when I try to be a law abider and try to check off everything I need to do right as a Christian. Outwardly, I can sometimes pull it off, but in my heart and mind, it’s impossible. I tend to create an even bigger struggle for myself. However, when I allow His Spirit to lead me, there’s more love, peace and joy in my life because those are HIS fruits produced in me. We are not meant to produce our own fruits. That has always been His job, not ours. That has always been His burden to carry, not ours.

Thank You Jesus for Your Holy Spirit. Thank You for His role in giving us faith in You and molding and making us to be more like You. I pray that we would continue to walk in step with Your Spirit and not the flesh. Thank Your for being greater than the one who is in the world and that we are overcomers, as 1 John 4:4 says, because of that truth. Amen.

Here is the chorus of one of the songs we sing in church called “Freedom”. It fits today’s chapter.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is

There is freedom, there is freedom

Where the Spirit of the Lord is

There is freedom, there is freedom

Come out of the dark,

Just as you are

Into the fullness of His love

The Spirit is here

Let there be freedom

Let there be freedom  

-Michelle Gaddi



Psalm_146

Scripture

Psalm 146:6

He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
    the sea, and everything in them—
    he remains faithful forever.

Observation

A Psalm of David, speaking to who God is.

Understanding

A new favorite song is “Yes and Amen”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkHo70DeiMM

Like today’s scripture, the lyrics speak to who our Father is, His character, His promise…His faithfulness.

Earlier in the scripture it says not to put your trust in princes – because they die and, often, their plans along with them.  But what do we know of God’s word, God’s plans?

Isaiah 55:11

…so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (NIV)

so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (ESV)

Prince may not be a relatable context for us today.  But I think it’s worth giving thought to – who and what do you/I put your/my trust in?  Is it something temporary?  Something that will pass or change?  Or is it our ever constant, never changing faithful creator and Father?

Life Application

God, I’m grateful to be able to put my trust in you.  Thank you for revealing your character and your love for me day after day.  May my character reflect you in me.  May I live in faith, trust in and reflection of you. 

In your name, I pray.  Amen.

-Rei

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



Galatians_3

Scripture  

Galatians 3:2-3 

I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?

Observation-What does it say?  

The book of Galatians was written to a number of churches in the region of Galatia, or present day Turkey.  Paul’s visits to this area are recorded in Acts 13 and 14.  Paul taught that repentance and faith lead us to receive God’s forgiveness and new life.  However, after he left the area, a group of Jewish-Christians came in and began preaching circumcision and adherence to the Mosaic law as a precursor to God’s grace.  Many of the believers in the area had begun following these rules in place of living by faith.

Understanding-What does it mean?

“You can’t smoke.  You can’t drink. And, you can’t drink.”  These “rules” were very important not to break as a “Christian.”  Or at least that is how I understood it as a kid.  Being a Christian meant a life of abstaining from the things that were deemed “A SIN.”  Those three things were at the top of the list, and we didn’t even think about talking about sex.  It was like I lived in some alternate form of the movie “Footloose.”  Which, ironically enough, I remember my mom watching a lot.

These rules had been passed down from my great grandfather, who was a very charismatic preacher in the South.  And, although at a young age I had a real moment where, through the Holy Spirit, I came to understand that I was a sinner and needed God’s grace, shortly after I knew that I couldn’t break these rules.  I never quite understood why these things were so bad, but I knew those were the things “Sinners” did and I was not supposed to act like that.  I also remember feeling quite burdened by the weight of having to follow the rules.

I think this is largely still present in how Christianity is viewed.  We are seen as a bunch of hypocritical “goody two shoes.”  Later in Galatians, Paul encourages them to do away with the mindless adherence to laws, in favor of a life led by the Spirit, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free (5:1).”  Even Jesus told us to do away with striving to attain all of the precepts of Mosaic law, stating that all the law is fulfilled in loving God and loving others (Matthew 22:36-40).  

As it turns out, what I perceived as a bunch of rule following can actually be attained when we let go of the rules.  It comes as a result of my love for Christ.  We learn about this in the book of James.  The brother of Christ points out that a life steeped in the Holy Spirit leads to good works (James 2:18-25).  And so as we lean on the Holy Spirit, we naturally begin to abstain from things that would only hinder a close relationship with him (1 Corinthians 10:23).

Life Application

Jesus, ultimately I want nothing else than to be with you.  So help me to get a little closer to you everyday.  I want to walk away from the things that distract me from you.    And I want to thank you for taking the burden of sin away from me by dying on the cross.

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

-Tyler Galloway



Numbers_27

Scripture

Numbers 27:15-23

15 Moses said to the Lord, 16 “May the Lord, the God who gives breath to all living things, appoint someone over this community 17 to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the Lord’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.”

18 So the Lord said to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit of leadership,[a] and lay your hand on him. 19 Have him stand before Eleazar the priest and the entire assembly and commission him in their presence. 20 Give him some of your authority so the whole Israelite community will obey him. 21 He is to stand before Eleazar the priest, who will obtain decisions for him by inquiring of the Urim before the Lord. At his command he and the entire community of the Israelites will go out, and at his command they will come in.”

22 Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He took Joshua and had him stand before Eleazar the priest and the whole assembly. 23 Then he laid his hands on him and commissioned him, as the Lord instructed through Moses.

Observation-What does it say?

Zelophehad’s daughters had a dilemma that they took up to Moses, Eleazer the priest, the leaders and the whole assembly at the Tent of Meeting. Moses ended up going directly to the Lord FIRST for wisdom. 

Understanding-What does it mean?

Moses went to the Lord for wisdom and then obediently followed through with God’s directions in faith.

Instead of making a decision based on his own knowledge or opinion, Moses went to the Lord.  Not only did he go to the Lord to obtain direction, but he was obedient to His response. 

Life Application

Go to the Lord for wisdom and direction. Follow through with His directives in faith. 

We get wisdom and direction through staying connected in prayer, His Word, and through Spirit filled people/leaders in the Body of Christ. In everything we do, we should seek the Lord. 

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”-Jeremiah 29:13

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” -John 10:27

“If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever; the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”-John 14: 15-17”

Dear Jesus, I pray for humble hearts so that we would constantly seek You for wisdom and be faithful to obey when You give us direction.  Amen.

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

-Michelle Gaddi



Galatians_1

Scripture
 
Galatians 1:10
 
“Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.”
‭‭
Observation-What does it say?
 
Paul is writing to the churches of Galatia. He is reprimanding them for falling so easily away from God. They were being fooled by people who were preaching a “counterfeit” message of the gospel. These people were twisting the words of Christ for their own selfish benefit. Paul understands his letter won’t be winning him any popularity contests with the people of Galatia, but he knows it is something that has to be addressed. It’s God’s way over his way.
 
Understanding-What does it mean?
 
Playing for an audience of One.
 
Paul knew he wasn’t going to be liked by these people who he was calling out on the carpet. I mean, who in this world likes to be thrown under the bus like that anyway?! But Paul understood the importance of his mission. His mission was to build God’s Kingdom. He knew that God put this responsibility on him. A responsibility to shepherd these people and grow these people to become more mature Christ Followers. He didn’t care whose feelings he hurt along the way, as long as the message of Christ was being upheld with integrity and honor, and Christ’s people were being brought up in that same manner. The truth had to be told! And let’s face it, sometimes the truth hurts!
 
Being a Christ Follower isn’t about being popular with others. As a matter of fact, Jesus tells us that the world will hate us because we follow Him.
 
“And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved.”-Matthew‬ ‭10:22‬ ‭NLT
 
Being a Christ Follower is about living a life that is pleasing to God and no one else! Making the right choice in life can be a difficult decision to make. It may cause us friction amongst our family and friends. But at the end of the day, God is going to hold us each accountable for our life’s choices. It is Him alone that I need to be concerned with pleasing.
 
“In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success.”-Proverbs 3:6 TLB
 
Life Application
 
Called to a higher standard of living.
 
With being a Christ Follower, a leader at home, work, and church, I am called to live my lifestyle a certain way. God demands my excellency in each aspect of them. People are watching. They’re seeing how I react and behave in certain situations. I am called to a higher standard because of who I am in Christ and what he has entrusted me with. I must set a Godly example the way Jesus did for his disciples. How did Jesus do it? By staying connected with God, His people, and showing love to others along the way. No matter how much people hated Jesus for doing it, Jesus followed God’s will ’til the very end, which is something I should be striving for each day.
 
God, give me the strength to follow You no matter how difficult a choice it may be. May You give me the courage and the boldness to stand firm and strong in my faith. May the love I have for You come first and foremost in every decision I make, and may I have no hesitations because of the repercussions it may result in. I love You Lord. May my actions prove it. In Jesus name, Amen.  
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here.  
 
-Moses Gaddi