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

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

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?



28 Days: Day 8

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  • 2 Corinthians 3:1-3 (MSG) 1 Does it sound like we’re patting ourselves on the back, insisting on our credentials, asserting our authority? Well, we’re not. Neither do we need letters of endorsement, either to you or from you. 2  You yourselves are all the endorsement we need. Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. 3  Christ himself wrote it—not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives—and we publish it.

I think The Message translation of this verse says it best –“Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you”. And looking at you they are. The people in your sphere of influence know that you are a Christian and they are watching you as you work through all of life’s ups and downs to see if your actions match up with what you are saying; and we all know that actions speak louder than words.

There is nothing more compelling and attractive than a life of character and integrity. The most effective sermons are not delivered on Sunday mornings; they are preached daily as we act out our faith by living a life filled with the love, peace, joy and power that Christ has given us – and wants to give to others through us.

Take a moment to reflect on who is “reading” your life and whether the sermon that you are preaching by your actions is validating or contradicting the claims of Christ.



28 Days: Day 6

SCRIPTURE

  • Acts 2:42-47

OBSERVATION

One of the greatest enemies of a growing Christian is isolation.  I believe that this is why the early church stressed that believers devote themselves to the fellowship.  People need to be in community.  In community we can encourage one another, show love to one another, spur one another on to love and good deeds.  We can pray for one another. 

James tells us that we must confess our sins one to another to that we may be healed. Maintaining open, sharing, and praying relationships with other Christians will help keep believers from bottoming out in their spiritual lives. The fellowship helps to give the spiritual strength that provides victory over sin. And they also provide godly pressure to confess and forsake sins before they become overwhelming to the point of total spiritual defeat.  Then we have the understanding of accomplishing the mission of the church as well.  The most effective way that is accomplished is as the community of believers, each person bringing their gifts and talents to help make the mission possible.

UNDERSTANDING

One person’s witty definition of TEAM is together everyone achieves more.  Apart from being witty it carries great truth.  Together we can accomplish so much more for the kingdom of heaven than trying to do our own things. 

 There is power in unity.  Too often we run away from unity because we confuse uniformity with unity.  God does not call us to all look, act and dress the same but He wants us to come together and agree upon pursuing the Great Commission together.  When we allow God to knit our hearts together in the bond of His Spirit we can accomplish great and mighty things for the Kingdom. 

LIFE APPLICATION

If DSC is to be a Great Commission Movement we must be unified.  That means following the God appointed leaders and embracing their plan for fulfilling the Great Commission.  Yes there are many different ways to become a Great Commission Movement but a DSC family that is in unity will rally around the God appointed leader.  I guess that requires putting your trust in that leader but then again trust is the currency of unity. 

Will you join your heart, mind and strength in unity around the plan for the Great Commission here at DSC?  Ask God to help you be in unity with the DSC family.



28 Days: Day 5

SCRIPTURE

  • Acts 2:42-47

OBSERVATION

 “They devoted themselves to prayer…” 

 If we are to be a Great Commission Movement then this is one of the non-negotiables.  We have talked about prayer at Desert Streams for many years but still we lack this very important ingredient – an absolute devotion to prayer

UNDERSTANDING

Disciples of Jesus have some duties to perform.  According to the first church, the important duties were – being taught the scriptures, being involved in doing life together with other believers, being Christ-centered in their living and being people of prayer.  If we are not devoted to these things then God is not the highest priority of our lives.  Ouch that’s harsh – but still true.

  • John 14:13-14 (NIV) 13  And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

Jesus tells us that if we pray and ask for anything then He will do it.  Are we relentlessly pursuing God’s provision in every area of our lives – corporately and individually?

The devotion to prayer is key to the power of God demonstrated in the lives of believers.

LIFE APPLICATION

What would it look like if we were all devoted to praying together?  I believe the results would be phenomenal.  I wonder if there are any of you who are feeling a holy discontent for the way things are and you are longing for the way things ought to be?  You know it only takes just a few who are willing to pursue an absolute devotion to prayer, will you be one?  Could this be the time where the Called at DSC will rise up and begin to pursue prayer in such a way that it releases a torrent of souls saved? 

Will you say yes to prayer?  Join us on Sunday mornings at 9:20am.  You are part of the prayer team that powers a Great Commission Movement.



28 Days: Day 4

SCRIPTURE

  • Acts 1:8 and Acts 2

OBSERVATION

You have been handed an assignment and at first you think that this is mission impossible and that you will self-destruct in 10 seconds.  That is when you must remind yourself that God never gives us a task without equipping us for it. 

Like 007 we walk into the room with Q and we are outfitted with all the right equipment for succeeding at our mission – in our case all we have need for is Holy Spirit power. 

You will receive power to be His witnesses.   

UNDERSTANDING

Jesus is risen from the grave and for forty days appeared to people.  What an amazing experience it must have been.  As His witnesses He wanted them to be confident that He was truly risen, that He would be coming back, that they were on a mission to declare His gospel of Good News, and, He wanted them to know that they would have the power they needed for accomplishing whatever He would ask of them as they were about His business.

Look at Peter in our reading today and remind yourself that God wants to do through you just what He did in Peter.  Peter became a witness to the nations when He was empowered by the Holy Spirit. 

Begin right now by asking God to fill you with His Holy Spirit and get ready to accomplish the mission.

LIFE APPLICATION

What are you hesitant to do that you know God is asking of you in order to be His witness? 
What habit, addiction, sinful habit is keeping you from fulfilling God’s call on your life? 
Don’t hesitate, you have the Holy Spirit to empower you to overcome. 
You have the Holy Spirit who gives you direction when you are not sure what to do. 
You have the Holy Spirit who reminds you that you are forgiven and set free and can walk in boldness. 

Lord I pray that the power of the Holy Spirit will be evident in your people at DSC as they respond to being your witnesses.  Demonstrate your power through them with courage, miracles and great wisdom.



28 Days: Day 3

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

SCRIPTURE

  • Acts 1:1-11

OBSERVATION

Jesus came to earth with a mission – the mission was simple…proclaim that God loves mankind and wants to re-establish relationship with him.  Jesus proclaimed this news through preaching, teaching and by performing signs and wonders.  He also trained up a band of men to follow in His footsteps.  When Jesus went back to heaven He commissioned the disciples to continue with the mission – they were to proclaim the Good News of God’s love to all nations and to testify of the power of God displayed through Jesus’ life. 

UNDERSTANDING

When Jesus was resurrected He appeared to people for forty days.  During that time His purpose was clear.  He wanted the disciples to be fully confident of a few things…

That He was truly risen from the dead – Luke tells us that He gave them many infallible proofs of the reality of His resurrection.  Most of the people in Jerusalem knew that Jesus was crucified but they needed to know that Jesus was risen once again, so the disciples became the witnesses of the resurrection and having encountered Jesus and been assured of His resurrection He commissioned them to go and tell others that He was risen.  We no longer have to live in sin and separation from God.

He also wanted them to know that the time for being witnesses had an expiration date.  Soon He will return.  We may think that it has been a long time and He has not come back yet but you and I need to live in the reality that Jesus can return at any moment.

LIFE APPLICATION

You are a continuation of that mission given to the original band of followers – you are to testify of God’s power and allow His power to be on display in your lives.  You must also proclaim the Good News. 
 
You are to be His Witnesses – His living testimony.  How are you doing?  What are you doing to be His witnesses?
Jesus is coming back soon!  We who have encountered Him must be passing on the news with urgency.  Are we urgent about sharing the Good News with those who need to know?


28 Days: Day 2

SCRIPTURE

Matthew 28:17-20 (NIV) 17  When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18  Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19  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.”

OBSERVATION

Verse 20 of Matthew 28 is that Great Commission Call issued by Jesus to all His disciples.  We need to make sure we understand the scope of the calling.  Christians are called to go!  We are sent ones not ones who gather.  

 

UNDERSTANDING

 The church has become the gathering ones, haven’t we?  We have come to believe that the purpose of the church is for us to just be given knowledge, but that knowledge is useless if we don’t apply it to what we have been called to do – which is to go and proclaim the Good News to the world around us.  Go and tell them that God loves them and has made a way for them to have a relationship with Him.  Go and tell them that only God can satisfy the longing of their hearts and the emptiness in their souls.  Then once they have believed we are to baptize them – induct them into the team and then teach them to be a Great Commission Disciple – a go-er.  And where are we called to go?  To all nations! 

So are you ready for the mission?  Are you involved in the mission?

LIFE APPLICATION

How will you say yes to God about going?  How is the Great Commission being worked out in your lives?



28 Days: Day 1

SCRIPTURE

  • Matthew 28

OBSERVATION

Jesus is risen – He is alive and His resurrection gives us reason to believe and have hope.  His resurrection now brings us to the place where Jesus has commanded us to go and make disciples (believers in Jesus) of all nations.  If we do not go there will be others who go and tell lies (read verses 11-15) and people will believe a lie rather than the truth.  God loves us and He has the power to change our lives!  That is what Jesus commissioned His disciples to go and tell others.  Are you ready? 

We are to go and preach (teach them what we have learned about God), baptize those who believe and then disciple them.

Will you take time to pray today that God will give you a Great Commission passion? 
Will you respond to His Call? 

[Ask God that over the next 28 days He will fill your heart with passion and vision of how you are to be a part of a Great Commission Movement.]

UNDERSTANDING

What is God saying to me?

I notice that a couple of times in the passage that people have an encounter with God and then after the encounter they are asked to go and tell others of what they have learned and experienced.  It leads me to ask…am I having encounters with God?  If I am experiencing deeper intimacy and encounters with Jesus the next question is am I steward those things well?  To steward it properly means that I must do what is commanded of me…go quickly and tell others.

Our walk with God is not to be kept to ourselves but to share with others.  Quickly now, go and tell others!
 

LIFE APPLICATION

What does that look like in my life?  It means that I am to view my encounters with God not from a selfish point of view but with an eye towards how I can share it with others so that it helps them come into relationship with God.  
 
It means that I am constantly looking to grow closer to God so that I can share my life changing encounters with Him with others.  


REGIFTING-AGAIN

  • Philippians 2:1 through Philippians 2:2 (NIV) 1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.

 

Notice the if/then concept.
If we have received then we should give all these things to others.
 
It’s the concept of regifting. 
Scripturally speaking it is our mandate.  If we have gotten all these gifts we need to wrap it up and pass it on.

But, but they don’t deserve it…

  • They don’t deserve my forgiveness
  • They don’t deserve to be happy
  • They don’t deserve tenderness and compassion

You’re right…but neither did you.  Go back to what we have been reading in Romans.  We were not deserving of anything.

  • Romans 5:6 through Romans 5:8 (NCV) 6When we were unable to help ourselves, at the moment of our need, Christ died for us, although we were living against God. 7Very few people will die to save the life of someone else. Although perhaps for a good person someone might possibly die. 8But God shows his great love for us in this way: Christ died for us while we were still sinners.

God wants us to recognize that our responsibility is to regift what He has given us even if they don’t deserve it.

It requires a whole other way of thinking.  Jesus doesn’t want us to fall into the selfish mindset of keeping all the gifts to ourselves, he wants us to shift our thinking.

 

SAVORING

The Christmas season is not about you and what you want or don’t want, it is about Christmas mission.  Are you Christmas vacation or Christmas mission?



REGIFTING

Have ever regifted something?  Admit it you have. 
Have you ever forgotten to take off the tag the person who gave it to you had put on?  Or have you ever regifted the gift to the person who originally gave you the gift?

So is regifting such a bad thing?  I actually think that regifting is a biblical command. I think that regifting in the spiritual sense is actually mandated by God.

  • Matthew 10:5-8 (NIV) 5These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ 8Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.
  • Acts 8:14 through Acts 8:17 (NIV) 14When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. 17Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
Even Paul encouraged his spiritual son Timothy to regift…
  • 2 Timothy 2:2 (NIRV) You have heard me teach in front of many witnesses. Pass on to men you can trust the things you’ve heard me say. Then they will be able to teach others also.

 

SAVORING

What do these verses tell us we should be regifting?