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!
 

Romans_16

 
Scripture
 
Romans‬ ‭16:1-16‬ ‭NIV‬‬
 
“I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me. Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. Greet also the church that meets at their house. Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia. Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. Greet Ampliatus, my dear friend in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our co-worker in Christ, and my dear friend Stachys. Greet Apelles, whose fidelity to Christ has stood the test. Greet those who belong to the household of Aristobulus. Greet Herodion, my fellow Jew. Greet those in the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord. Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord. Greet my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord. Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the other brothers and sisters with them. Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas and all the Lord’s people who are with them. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send greetings..”
‭‭
 ObservationWhat does it say?
 
Paul continues to write to the church in Rome, who were “loved by God and called to be saints” (Rom 1:7), in order to encourage and teach them about the doctrines of Christ. (gotquestions.org)
In this chapter, specifically the first section, he is acknowledging and recognizing fellow believers who are near and dear to his heart.
 
Understanding-What does it mean?
 
No matter what we are going through in life, make a way to stay connected to those we love.
 
“You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ””
‭‭Acts‬ ‭20:34-35‬ ‭NIV‬‬
 
Even through the trials and tribulations of Paul’s life from arrests to imprisonment, Paul finds a way to connect with those dear to his heart through letter. I love how he honored each of them by name personally and specifically and then included some encouragement to the church, commending some for their obedience, but still warning them to be wise with the good and innocent with evil.
 
Life Application
 
Contact, pray for and encourage someone today!
 
Who can you or I contact today that we’ve been putting off because of our own personal schedules or issues? Let’s look outside of ourselves and be an encouragement to someone who needs it today!
 
Holy Spirit, help us to love You wholeheartedly and as a result love, serve and encourage others the way You have called us to. Please give us the desire to look outside of ourselves, our personal lives and struggles. Amen.
 
*Also, speaking of honoring and encouraging people, just a plug that our Grateful Gathering date has changed to Friday, Nov. 17th @ 6:30pm. Take a second to RSVP now.
I’m thankful to be part of a church where we seek to be intentional about giving thanks and honoring others.
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here
 
-Michelle Gaddi


Romans_15

Scripture
 
Romans 15:2
 
“We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord.”
‭‭
Observation-What does it say?
 
Paul writes to encourage his brothers and sisters in Christ to live a selfless life. To live a life the way Jesus did…which is to serve, and not be served. Paul encourages his fellow Christ Followers to help build one another up in the Lord.
 
Understanding-What does it mean?
 
Building a discipleship culture.
 
In one of Pastor Gary’s sermons he said, “In order to be a true disciple, you must be making disciples.” That really hit home with me. Am I a true disciple? It’s sad to say, but many of us get saved, and really only focus on ways we can improve our own faith, and ways we can build our own personal relationship with Jesus, (myself included). Sure that is an important thing to do as a Christian, but we are missing a major part of our faith in the process. The Bible tells us to love one another:
“Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.”-1 John‬ ‭4:11‬ ‭NLT‬‬
 
The Bible also tells us to value others more than ourselves:
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.”-‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2:3-5‬ ‭NLT
 
With these two verses and the verse that I chose in the opening, I know I must do my part and encourage those still growing in their faith, and help build them up into the person God has called them to be. It’s an investment in people’s lives by giving our own time and God-given talents to help make more mature Christ Followers everywhere. It’s an investment that is life changing for those involved!
 
Life Application
 
Become a true disciple by helping to build more mature disciples.
 
Sure, we have the excuse that “we’re too busy” or “I don’t have the time”, but I look back at the people in my life who invested in me. What if they shared that attitude? I’m sure they too were busy balancing work, family life, and personal life. But these people were called to a higher calling. They chose to live with an attitude like Christ. My life has been changed for the better because of it! And for that I’m eternally grateful! So thank you Pastor Gary for leading our Point Men Group. Thank You Pastor Parker for leading and teaching Higher Learning! Your men’s time and efforts helped make me to the man I am today.
So…isn’t it about time I pay it forward? After all, it’s what God calls us to do.
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here.
 
-Moses Gaddi 


Romans_14

Scripture

Romans 14:13 

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.

Observation – What does it say?

God’s plan of redemption includes both Jewish and Gentile believers alike.  The same righteousness that set apart the Jew for God’s eternal purpose was setting apart Gentile believers – a righteousness from God by grace through faith and not of works, (i.e., status, nationality, accomplishments etc.).   Prior to his arrival the in Rome the church had not received the teaching of an apostle. Paul addresses growing tensions between Jewish Christians who were being rejected by the larger Gentile group in the church.  His appeal is to those mature in the faith. 

Understanding – What does it mean?

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, Romans 4:17.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34.

What one believes has consequences; our faith is not lived out in a vacuum. Discipleship is more of a journey than an event as the new believer learns both the theological and practical aspects of the faith.  People are messy (My translation of Romans 3:23). Amidst the growing tension in Rome the apostle Paul masterfully introduces the scriptural principal of deference.  Imagine you are newly married and taking unwanted decorating advice from your mother-n-law.  Well, my wife was faced with that very unpleasant task.  After returning from our honeymoon my bride and I moved into a duplex that housed my Mother in the back unit.  While we would be away during the day my mother would leave little notes taped throughout the house with decorating suggestions.  I didn’t think much of it, “What’s the big deal anyway?”  I would come home from work only to witness what looked like steam coming out of my wife’s ears.  On a number of occasions I was given the opportunity to go live with “you know who”.  Eventually our heated interaction was distilled down to “an appeal of courteous respect, expressing high regard due an elder,” that is, in deference to . . . Mom.  Paul is addressing those stronger in the faith in how to conduct themselves in the company of weaker Christians.  There were a number of issues causing division in the fellowship; dietary laws, clean and unclean guidelines, religious observances and possibly decorating ideas, to name a few. 

Without minimizing sin many areas of disagreement can co-exist in the fellowship of believers.  A person of stronger faith might well lord his freedom over others and so enter into judgment which is clearly sinful.  The principle of deference says, “Conduct yourselves in such a way so as not to cause another believer to stumble.    Yield your rights to the greater good.  In this way we elevate the Kingdom of God out of trivial disputes and secure it in “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”  FYI – My mother has apologized profusely on a number of occasions for her lack of tact and my wife and I are celebrating our 40th anniversary in November.    

Life Application

It is so easy to be dragged into the mud over trivial matters.  The apostle Paul exhorts us, “make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” Father, help me to recognize those times when the better way is to surrender my rights for the greater good.  Bring conviction to any area of my life that might be an obstacle to the fellowship and so hinder your gospel from going forward.  In Jesus Name.

-Warren

 

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



Romans_13

Scripture

Romans 13:8-10

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,”a] and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”b] 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Observation

Paul is writing to the Romans, teaching lessons on submission to lawful authority, love to others and to live lives of integrity.

Understanding

Lots of good stuff in this chapter.  But, of course, my favorite is the instruction on love. 😉

Verse 8 – A reminder to be debt free, EXCEPT for the debt of love.  In other words, go love on somebody!

Verse 9 – A simplification of the law.  If we operate from place of love, there is no law to remember.  If we love, we won’t commit adultery because we love our neighbor and wouldn’t want to cause pain or anyone to stumble.  If we love, we will not kill with our words or actions.  If we love, we will not take away or steal from others.  If we love, we will be happy for others instead of coveting their things.  And the list goes on so…go love on somebody!

Verse 10 – When we operate from love, we fulfill the law.  When we love God first, we obey Him not out of legalistic submission but out of desire for relationship and not wanting to be separated from Him or His love.  So love God first!     

Life Application

Love God and love others! <3

God, thank you for your love.  May I love you and love others the way you do.  Give me your eyes today.  Give me your heart today.  May I see those I encounter today through YOUR eyes! 

In your name, I pray. Amen!

– Rei

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



Romans_12

Scripture

Romans 12:16 

Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.

Observation– What does it say?

In this chapter, Paul begins by encouraging us to offer ourselves to God as a sacrifice.  When we offer ourselves back to God, he will renew and transform us.  Paul continues by discussing how we are to be transformed in relation to the family of God.  We need to be acting in humility towards each other, and putting other’s needs above our own. 

Understanding– What does it mean?

I need to see other’s through the eyes of Christ, who laid down his life for other’s because he knew that his Father was the most important thing.

As a parent, it is easy to see when my boys are putting their wants in front of everything else.  Jed wants to be out of the car first.  Ezekiel wants to be left alone, all the time.  And Matthias wants to eat, even when the food is on someone else’s plate.  I know I did it myself when I was their age too.  My brother and I competed over everything, simply because we wanted to be first.  We both wanted to be the one who was the most important person. 

This desire to be important has probably been one of the most difficult things for me to dispense of.  I still want to be the best, at everything.  It affects my attitude at work, at play and at home.  I once got kicked out of a church league softball game because of this desire to be the best.  For that moment in time, winning the game became more important than the legs of the girl playing catcher that night.

Good sportsmanship is probably one of the most practical versions of God’s love that we can show to other’s.  When I learn to genuinely rejoice with other’s, instead of being upset that they got something I want, it can show the power of God changing us little by little.  Paul wrote about this same thing to the Philippians (2:5-11), stating that we nee to learn to lay ourselves down in service for one another.

Life application

I need to help people find the path to God, and that requires humility.

Jesus, remind me that your love is greater than all things.  Help me to see that my words can either lead people to that love or turn them away from it.  Most of all, give me the ability to see the joy in rejoicing with others.
 
– Tyler Galloway
 
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Romans_11

 
Scripture
 
“And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭11:23‬ ‭NIV‬‬
 
 
“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?” For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭11:33-36‬ ‭NIV‬‬
 
ObservationWhat does it say?
 
“The Apostle Paul trusts that God won’t give up on His covenant people, the nation of Israel. God is not done with Israel and He has used their rejection of Him for His own purposes. God’s covenant family is described as a big olive tree and the rejectors of Jesus have been cut off. But, one day, Jesus will be acknowledged by His people (Romans 5-16, the Bible Project).”
 
UnderstandingWhat does it mean?
 
God is patient and merciful. He keeps His promises and His mercy extends to the depths of sin.
 
As we read about the rebellion of the nation of Israel in the book of Ezekiel, we also read about the hope for the nation, hope for God’s chosen people, through a Savior, Jesus Christ, who would be the atonement for their rebellion and sin. His redeeming power had and has no limitations.
 
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
‭‭John‬ ‭3:16-17‬ ‭NIV‬‬
 
Life Application
 
No matter what a person has done in their past, no one is too far gone for Jesus to save.
 
There is no such thing as a person who cannot be saved by God. That’s why we must keep pressing forward in faith to share the Gospel with the unsaved, the unchurched and the rebellious. It is a free gift that can’t be earned, but given solely because God loved the murderer, fornicator, adulterer, idolator, liar, cheater, drunkard, worrier, basically you and me so much. If He loved me and you so much to forgive and save us, we must also love sinners enough to forgive them and share the gift that Christ has so freely given to us.
 
Thank You Lord for the hope we have through Jesus Christ. I pray that we would never stop to be on mission to share Your Good News with those who need to hear it and receive it. Amen.
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, 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 has the heart and desire for not just all in Israel to be saved, but for EVERYONE to be saved by having faith in Jesus Christ. Paul writes,“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”-‭‭Romans‬ ‭10:9‬ ‭NLT. And in verse 13 Paul writes, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Paul understands that it doesn’t matter if you are Jew or Gentile, because they both have the same Lord who gives generously to all who call on Him (verse 12). So Paul implores his brothers and sisters in Christ to help him with his crusade of sharing the good news, and bringing people to faith through knowing Jesus Christ.
 
Understanding-What does it mean?
 
Am I doing my part in sharing the good news to those who don’t know it yet?
 
The verse I picked today is a great reminder for me of my responsibility to be sharing the good news to those who may not have heard it, or even quite fully understand it yet. How will these people know any better? How can I expect them to be saved if no one is willing to share with them? 
 
I’m not going to lie, there were times I would get discouraged if I would share, and the person would reject the message. It would even harden my heart to want to do it anymore. I would carry the attitude of “I know I’m saved, but it sucks for those of you who aren’t!” Then I imagined “what if the person who shared with me the good news, carried that same attitude? Would have I been able to come to know Christ?” It’s a real humbling thought. So I have to continue to fight the good fight, and run the good race. I must continue to press on in this crusade to help others to hear the good news. It’s my mission as a Christ Follower.
 
L‬‬ife Application
 
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”-‭‭Matthew‬ ‭28:19-20‬ ‭NLT
 
I choose to do my part as a Christ Follower and share the good news to those who don’t know Him yet. I will not be discouraged if the person doesn’t accept the message instantly. It’s all about doing my part, and that’s sharing the good news to them. I will continue to pray for them, in hopes that the message they heard can Lord willing, someday bring change in their life.
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here
 
-Moses Gaddi


Romans_9

Scripture

 Romans 9:27

 Isaiah cries out concerning Israel:

“Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea,
    only the remnant will be saved.”

Observation – What does it say?

The unthinkable is pondered.  Have the people of Israel with their distinction as the chosen people of God, been rejected by the wrath of God?  And, has Israel’s plight resulted in making a way for the Gentile masses?  Paul grieves for “those of his own race.’  History proves God faithful for the criterion for righteousness (a right standing before God) has been, is, and always will be for everyone who believes.  Christ is the fulfillment of the Law.  Christ brought the Law to completion by obeying perfectly its demands and by fulfilling its types and prophecies” (NIV Text Note).  It is here we are reacquainted with the principle of the Remnant.  Let me introduce you to a dear sister in the Lord by the name Joanie Martin.

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  Matthew 5:17

Understanding – What does it mean?

Remnant – The word conjures up images of scraps, leftovers, remains, those left behind, refugees or a subgroup of some kind.  I was a new Christian in my mid-thirties.  The Bible was Aramaic to me but God showed great patience with me as I was introduced to biblical principles.  Around this time I was serving in a deacon type role and was assigned to the shut-in ministry.  That is how God brought Joanie into my life; a wisp of a frame, frail in statue but sharp as a whip.  She had come through Ellis Island from England, was sponsored by a family in California and employed as a mother’s helper (Don’t you dare call her a Nanny).  Joanie never married, never drove a car and never returned to England.   She may have been housebound in her later years but she still lived out a dynamic faith touching hundreds with the love of Christ. Countless times I would watch as she reached into a bag of mismatched pieces of yarn and crocheted what I affectionately called a “Joanie.”  Each afghan was a unique tapestry of color and design that was saturated in prayer and the promises of God.  From there they were off to a home for runaway girls; girls who would arrive with little more that the clothes on their backs; a welcome gift from an anonymous servant. As it was in Elijah’s time, God had preserved a faithful remnant amongst the Jewish people.  This “bag of thread” continues today and at any time could be assembled for God’s glory. 

Life Application

The lesson of the Remnant asks of me, “Who or what is the focus of my worship?  Has my knee bowed to someone or something other than Christ?  I am in this world by no choice of my own but, “am I of it?”  Have I adopted the ever changing standards of my surroundings or have I kept my eye on the prize?  Am I a piece of the fabric of this world or am I a piece of yarn awaiting the Master’s hands?  Father in heaven, I thank you for your Word that continually fits me for your plans and purposes for my life. 

-Warren

 

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



Romans_8

Scripture

Romans 8:5-8

5-8 Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life.  Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them – living and breathing God!  Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life.   Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God.  Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God.  That person ignores who God is and what he is doing.  And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.

Observation

Romans 8 is a continuation of Romans 7…where Paul talks about Christians being free from the law of sin and death.

Understanding

In reading verse 5 and looking at today’s culture, it seems the majority of the world is “obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle.”  But we are called to trust God – trust His actions in us and put our focus on him.  And when we do, it “leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life.”  But as Paul says, you can’t do both; in fact, “focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God.”

Life Application

So, what does that mean for us as Christians?  How do we live this out?  As counter cultural as it sounds, we put our focus on God. 

God, I thank you for the gift of freedom you provide in response to the law of sin and death.  Help me to put you first – today and every day.  In a world that is self-absorbed, may I run counter; may I be focused on you and be a reflection of your love and sacrifice to everyone I meet.

In your name, I pray. Amen!

– Rei


Romans_7

Scripture

Romans 7:15  For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.

Observation-What does it say?

At the beginning of this chapter, Paul tells us that it is through Jesus’ death that we are united to him.  We were once slaves to the law, by which we understand sin, but we are now freed from it through the cross.  So if I am free from sin, why do I still struggle with it.  Paul states that we struggle with sin because we are alive in the flesh, despite how we want to live in our spirit.

Understanding-What does it mean?

I like to ride bikes.  It doesn’t matter much what kind, road bike, mountain bike, even beach cruisers from time to time.  I have even been known to ride a dirt bike from time to time (but that usually doesn’t end well #brokenleg).  One thing that I tend to struggle with when I ride my bike is turning as I am riding down hills.  I can’t seem to get over the fear of going fast and turning. 

Part of the problem is that instead of looking towards the horizon to see what I am approaching.  Instead, I get fixated on the obstacles that are directly in front of my front wheel, like small rocks, little patches of sand, an oil spot, etc.  All these things are so small that you naturally avoid them when you are focussed on where you are going instead of minute problems.  When you focus up ahead, you can avoid the larger problems, like cars and bends in the road, the things which can cause much greater harm.  This is the same lesson we learned in Driver’s Ed, look as far ahead in traffic as possible. 

In my life if I want to struggle less with my sin, I need to change my focus to what’s up ahead.  I need to set my sights on the eternal an not the temporary.  To paraphrase what Pastor Gary said on Sunday, we are aliens here, and our citizenship is in heaven.  My striving should not be for the temporary, or the things I want here, i.e. a new truck or a promotion at work (not that there is anything inherently sinful about those things).  My striving needs to be heaven bound.  Philippians 3:8-14 

Life Application

Jesus help me to set my eyes on you.  Help me to look to my future home in the light of your grace.  I want to let go of the things that are holding me back here, and take hold of the things that you want in my life.  For I know that you want my heart and to give you that I need to spend time with you.  Help me to take joy in spending time with you, even when I don’t “feel like it.” 
 
– Tyler Galloway
 
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.