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!
 

Nehemiah 2

Scripture

Nehemiah 2:4-5

The king said to me, “What is it you want?”

Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.” 

Observation

As a reminder, Nehemiah is in a key position in the kingdom – a cupbearer, the person who tests the wine before the king drinks it to ensure he is not poisoned. In this position, one acts as a protector, servant and advisor…someone who gains trust from the king.

He is in a position where he is found in the king’s presence often, often enough that the king noticed that Nehemiah was sad and asks why.

Understanding

Nehemiah was ready.

When asked the question, “what is it you want?” Nehemiah was ready.  He had prayed (for 4 months), he had thought through what was needed (time, safety, supplies) and he gave clear answers on what he wanted – how much time he needed, letters to secure safety and supplies, and army officers and cavalry to go with him as he traveled.

Nehemiah was honest.

When asked why he was sad, Nehemiah was honest.  He shared that his sadness was sorrow of heart and he shared why – gaining sympathy before revealing the name of the city.  And his ask was big – time and resources to rebuild a city!

Nehemiah was obedient. 

Nehemiah was obedient to God and the king.  He didn’t ask for more than he needed, didn’t take advantage of the situation and we later learn (Chapter 6) just how dedicated he was, not allowing any distractions to keep him from “doing a good work.”

Life Application

Would you be ready if someone asked you today, “what is it you want?” 
 
We serve a God who loves us and knows us well, a God who knows what burdens our hearts, a God that created us for a time, place and purpose.  And, because of all this, we find ourselves in times of His favor, just like Nehemiah.  In those times, we must be ready, honest and obedient.   
 
God, I thank you for the favor you’ve shown me thus far.  I know you’ve created me with a plan and purpose and have put me in positions of leadership over and over again…whether for a reason or for a season.  May I never forget that, but rather seek your face for how you want to use me here and now.  May I prepare in prayer for future opportunities, may I speak up honestly when given the opportunity and may I follow through in bold obedience when favor is given. 

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

-Rei Bailey

PS I think I found a new commentary that I love. 🙂  See the whole break down of Nehemiah 2 here ->

https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/nehemiah-2/



1 John_4

Scripture  1 John 4:19-21   We love, because He first loved us.  If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.  And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.

Observation-What does it say?  The way we describe love, in sentimentality and romantic love, often falls short of the love we are called to through God’s word.  God’s love is infinite and is always good, and so we ought to try to reverberate this to those around us. In his commentary, John Clavin writes, “that as God has anticipated us by his free love, we ought to return to render love to him, for he immediately infers that he ought to be loved in men, or that the love we have for him ought to be manifested towards men.”  The love of the Father is through faith, while the love of men is evidenced through works. This echoes what is written in James (2:14-25), that we show our faith through our works.

Understanding-What does it mean?  Getting into an automobile and driving to work is, often times for me, an exercise in my faith.  Driving is a dangerous pursuit, especially in Southern California at commuting times. With the amount of time I am almost killed, I begin to wonder if I am the only one who knows how to drive.  And, there have been times when I feel it is important enough to tell the person who almost killed me that they don’t know how to drive. So, while driving, I am reminded of how well I love others.  More accurately, I am reminded of how I am completely inept at loving those around me.   

God often speaks to me while driving, especially in one area where I am lacking in showing His love to others, forgiveness.  As I start to yell at the person in front of me, I hear the Holy Spirit say, “What about the last time you did that?” My reaction to this has ranged greatly, from being upset that Jesus wants me to forgive others, to being grateful for how much I have been forgiven.  

Most nights, we pray the Lord’s prayer with our boys as they are going to bed.  Part of that prayer is “forgive our sins, as we forgive those who have sinned against us.”  Interestingly enough, this prayer is part of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-7:29). The beginning of this message Jesus tells us where it all begins, we are saved through his grace.  In Matthew 5:13-16, we are reminded to be the salt of the earth, and that salt is worthless once it has lost its saltiness.  

How can we show our flavor (our faith and character), without acting it out?  How can we love without loving others, and forgiving them of the wrongs they have done to us?  Thankfully, because of the grace shown to us, we are able to go on loving others.

Life Application    Jesus, thank you for your grace.  Thank you that even when I fall short of your standard of love you forgive me.  Help me to live out this forgiveness, to show kindness to others. Give me practical ways to show love to others beyond forgiveness.
 
-Tyler Galloway


1 John _3

Scripture 

1 John 3:18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

Christian charity stands not in word but in deed, and proceeds from a sincere affection. (Geneva Study Bible)

Observation

John is speaking of our adoption into the family of God through Christ Jesus. He exhorts us to love as the Father and his Son have loved us. 

Understanding

1 John 3:16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?

“Showing” someone love always takes more time and usually sacrifice.

Application

Show our love to one another 

Laying down your life for our brothers and sisters might look like, not watching your favorite show so that you help them move, not purchasing a new toy for yourself this month so that you can meet a need, or staying a few minutes longer to talk after church.  

It may look like giving someone your sweater when its cold, or taking them to lunch, or praying together. 

How wonderful it is that we have a community of brothers and sisters that we belong to here at Desert Streams Church where we can give and receive love from one another. 

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” – Coretta Scott King.











Psalm 51

Scripture

“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.”

Psalm 51:17 NIV

Observation-What does it say?

Psalm 51 is a very powerful one, as King David wrote it after being confronted by the prophet Nathan for committing adultery with Bathsheba. Please read 2 Samuel 12:1-13 for the full exchange between those two men. It basically led to David being convicted by the Holy Spirit to repent and Nathan assuring David that his sin has been put away. He will not die.

Understanding-What does it mean?

Do our mistakes lead us to Godly sorrow or worldly sorrow?

Godly sorrow leads us to repentance, true inward change of the heart. Worldly sorrow is sorrow that doesn’t lead to inward heart change because it is a momentary sorrow. It is typically a result of getting caught and not wanting to deal with the consequences of our sin. 

King David’s Psalm demonstrates true godly sorrow and repentance from his heart. Also, the consequences of his sin led to him to draw closer to the Lord, not further away. 

Life Application

Repent and be healed! Move on!  Go and sin no more, just like Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery. (John 8:1-11)

As Bible.org states, “The tragic death of David’s son is a consequence of David’s sin, but it is NOT the penalty David deserves for his sin.”

There are consequences to sin. David and Bathsheba suffered the consequence of their sin, which was that they lost their son conceived as a result of their affair. However, King David’s response to that was quite humble. (Please see 2 Samuel 12:14-21).

Too many of us, after suffering the consequences of our sin, don’t move on. Consequences are meant to teach us, just like a parent who disciplines their child. However, it should train us to be stronger and better, not continue in the same unhealthy sinful cycle. David had his son by Bathsheba taken away as a consequence of his sin. Did he keep mourning after that? No. He moved on. 

Jesus came, died and resurrected to set us free to the guilt of our past. Let’s truly live that out! The enemy no longer has a hold on us and his lies no longer have to keep us in bondage. We are conquerors because of Jesus, who is the reason why we no longer have to live defeated, but live grateful and victorious everyday! 

Thank You Jesus for You, the most precious gift we could ever ask for. Amen! 

-Michelle Gaddi



1 John__1

Scripture
 

1 John‬ ‭1:8-10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.” 

Observation-What does it say?
 

John writes in this epistle (aka letter or message), that light and darkness do not mix. We cannot claim to live in Christ, while still living in the darkness. But then, he goes on to say that those who claim to be without sin have deceived themselves. Living in the light is impossible without dependence and surrender to the One who gives light, and that is Jesus Christ our Savior. 

UnderstandingWhat does it mean?
 
A self righteous attitude leads us away from Christ, rather than towards Him.
 
I like to let God’s Word speak for itself.  I am reminded of 2 passages to support the above understanding.  The first one is in Luke 18:9-14.  To paraphrase, Jesus was addressing the crowd, specifically those who were confident of their own righteousness and looking down on everyone else. it is about a Pharisee and a tax collector. The first one was self righteous, thanking God that he was not like the other sinners over there, because he fasted twice a week and gave a tenth of his wages.  The other man beat his breast and would not even look to heaven, asking God for mercy because he was a sinner.  Scripture says the one who was justified before God in this situation was the tax collector. 
 
The second passage I am reminded of is Matthew 19:16-26, where a man felt that it was his good works that would get him to heaven, and even told Jesus that He has kept all the commandments, and asked Him what he lacked.  Jesus knew the man’s heart and told him to sell his possessions and give to the poor.  The man ended up leaving sad because that was a sacrifice he couldn’t make.But then I love what Jesus told his disciples afterwards, when they asked him, “Who then can be saved?”  Jesus said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
 
Life Application
 

The only way to stand firm in our faith; to stand firm in our calling and stand firm when the devil attacks is to remain in the One who is unchanging and stands firm forever. Jesus Christ our Savior. 

I woke up one morning and the Lord gave me 2 words: STAND FIRM. I started doing a study in His Word looking for all the verses and passages where the word “stand” or “stand firm” is mentioned in Scripture. He was speaking to me personally to stand firm in the faith, stand firm when attacked by the enemy, stand firm in His Word, and stand firm in His work. After a day (or less) of feeling good about myself and trying to stand firm in my own strength, I admit that I started getting discouraged, telling the Lord that I was not strong enough and too weak to do what He was calling me to do. Then He brought me to this Scripture to remind me that it is only He who is able to stand firm. It is only His word that endures forever and as long as I stay connected, humbled and surrendered to Him and His Word, I will be able to stand firm. It is impossible without Him. 

“A voice says, “Cry out.” And I said, “What shall I cry?” “All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures (STANDS) forever.”” Isaiah‬ ‭40:6-8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Dear Lord, I pray that we would all stand firm in being humbled and surrendered to You. May you take away all traces of self righteous pride in our hearts and may we be fully dependent on Your strength and righteousness alone. Teach us to live in the light as You are in the light and when darkness tries to overtake us or trap us, may we run to You for refuge. Purify our hearts Jesus and help us to repent and turn from our wicked ways for Your glory alone, so men would see our good deeds and glorify You (Matt. 5:16, 1 Peter 2:12). Amen.

 
-Michelle Gaddi 


2 Peter_3

Scripture

2 Peter 3:17-18

17 Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

 

Observation

“The design here is to remind of Christ’s final coming to judgement. (1-4) He will appear unexpectedly, when the present frame of nature will be dissolved by fire. (5-10) From thence is inferred the need for holiness, and stedfastness in the faith. (11-18)” 

Matthew Henry’s Bible Commentary (concise) https://www.christianity.com/bible/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=61&c=3

 

Understanding

A reminder to the Christians of Peter’s day as much as to those of today to stay on guard, keep our eyes heaven-bound.  [Another reason or way that, like Pastor Levi shared yesterday, where our eyes look determines our outcome.] This worldly earth, we are just passing through.  It’s a temporary home at best; but, more accurately, this part of our lives is really a mission-based assignment – to know Him and make Him known.

 

Life Application

So, being forewarned, may we be on guard – protecting our hearts and minds.

May we keep our eyes on God – staying grounded in prayer and His word, praising God for who He is, how He’s shown Himself real so far and remembering His promises to come…and not letting our circumstances impact our faith. 

God, I thank you that you are worthy of our faith, our trust.  Your love never fails us or forsakes us.  May we turn our eyes to you and keep them on you – foregoing the distractions of this world.  May we grow in grace today.  And may you be glorified and honored as we do.  In your name we pray, Amen.

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



Psalm 48

Scripture:  Psalm 48:9  Within your temple, O God, we meditate on your unfailing love.

Observation-What does it say?  The author of this Psalm is not known, nor is there an exact date or event to attribute it to.  However, according to Charles Spurgeon, it might be attributed to the overthrow of Moab, Edom, and Ammon, during the reign of Jehoshaphat (see 2 Chronicles 20).  This Psalm can be divided into three parts: Verses 1-3, a general praise of the Lord and His city; verses 4-8, a record of the confusion of Israel’s enemies attributed to God; verses 9-11, an invitation for God to reign over Israel forever. 

Spurgeon continues on in his commentary, addressing some of the intricacies of verse nine, pointing out the importance of mediating on God’s goodness.  If we allow ourselves, we could easily fall into the mundane routine of everyday life: wake up, go to work, eat dinner, go to sleep and repeat.  But when we take time to remember the good things God has provided for us, we find strength in times of trials.  Furthermore, when we meet together as a group of fellow believers, we act as a living temple.  And we, as living stones, have the ability to strengthen each other through sharing God’s goodness when we are together.

Understanding-What does it mean?  The other night I was scrolling through the pictures on my phone, trying to erase anything that was unnecessary because I refuse to pay for extra space in “the cloud.”  This is a process that always takes a little longer than I expect.  Inevitably, I end up showing my wife old pictures of our boys, her grandmother, family parties, vacations.  Reminiscing about the good times, often makes the struggles we have gone through seem much smaller.   

The holidays are going to be here before we know it and the same thing will happen.  We will get together with our families for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, catch up on life, remember the past and celebrate the things to come.  It’s through these times of fellowship that our family bond grows stronger.

In the family of God, we are called to do something similar.  Hebrews 10:23-25 reads, “23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”  We can take the opportunity to gather together, remember the hard times that God has brought us through, the goodness that he continually bestows upon us, and the future glory we will see through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.

Life Application:  Jesus, remind me to be grateful, to gather and to worship.  I cannot share your goodness, unless I am willing to share my life and open my home.  Bless our home, and help us to be a place of safety and fellowship for others.  

 

-Tyler Galloway



2 Peter 1

Scripture 

2 Peter 1:8-9  8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind,forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

Observation

The Apostle Peter a servant of God continues to encourage movement and growth to those who have been converted. 

2 Peter 1:4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

2 Peter 1:5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.

Understanding 

Do not be nearsighted. 

2 Corinthians 4:18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Look past what we see in the flesh. Look past what we see in our present. Look past what we see in our current trials, not to dismiss or deny what is before us but to look to the Glory that awaits us, to see the victory that has already been won!

Remember what we lost! 

Sin, our old nature, fear, condemnation… We have been set free! 

Application 

Keep Moving Forward. 

We are not bound by our past. He has given the tools to be transformed into his nature. Everyday we can apply what He has instructed for us.

Add to your faith goodness; 

To goodness, knowledge; 

To knowledge, self-control;

To self-control, perseverance; 

To perseverance, godliness; 

To godliness, mutual affection; 

To mutual affection, LOVE.

Holy Spirit, empower us to Keep Moving Forward in our faith. To move from our past, to walk away from the chains that bound us. Holy Spirit, open our eyes to see what is in the Spirit, the true reality, victory! Empower us to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ! In Jesus Name, Amen!

Deborah Lee



1 Peter_5

Scripture

1 Peter 5:5

In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
 

Observation

Peter urges young generations to learn and listen their elders, and for everyone (young and experienced) to act with humility and grace when dealing with fellow believers. He even argues that the success of “the flock” or the church is contingent on connection and accountability with each other; as he follows up these verses with a warning against the enemy.

 

Understanding

God does not abide by generational boundaries.

True confession: I get upset whenever I hear the words “well your generation…” Yes, I am aware my generation is lazy, I am aware my generation lacks the important skill of putting in hard work, I am aware of almost every little thing said about my generation. However, I think the thing that bothers me the most about this phrase is that I know everything said is true, and most things said are more times than not negative rather than positive. Yet, my generation does nothing with this information. Rather than changing our ways and proving otherwise, we get offended and post about it on social media as if that makes a difference.

To young generations now and to come, if the Bible is your standard listen to this truth: the elders placed in your life are there for a reason. They teach you everyday whether you are aware of it or not. Learn from them rather than opposing them. I have seen too many people around my age march around like they have all the knowledge and experience in the world that they miss an important lesson, that is tough to swallow, but necessary: submission. We are called to respond to the will of God, but if we can’t submit to God’s people than we will never be able to submit to God’s standards.

To more experienced generations now and to come: I apologize for any offense we young people may have caused, but can I ask for one thing of you? Patience. Rather than being quick to anger when a young person fails to understand or respond in a way of your liking, drown them with grace and humility. One more thing, thank you. Thank you for investing in young people, it doesn’t return void (even though it seems like sometimes it may).

Bottom line: God doesn’t care what generation you come from, what background you come, or where you think your going all He wants is your obedience through submission to one another.
 

Galatians 5:13 (ESV)

For you were called to freedom. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

 

Life Application

Humility is a timeless fashion.

It isn’t an accident that Peter follows up his sentence about submission with one of grace and humility. Humbleness should follow every Christ-follower wherever we go, it is ultimately what draws people to the Father. If you want to see favor in your life, be humble before the Lord. If you want to see lives transformed, be humble before the Lord. May we never forget our upbringing in Christ, but may we choose to submit to the One who designed it.

-Allison Khan   



1 Peter 4

Scripture
 
1 Peter 4:1-6
 
Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. 2 As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. 3 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. 4 They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. 5 But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.
 
Observation-What does it say?
 
Peter speaks about living for God and suffering for being a Christian.
 
The book of 1 Peter “gives persecuted Christians a powerful reminder that they have hope in the midst of their suffering. From the time of Abraham, God’s people were a misunderstood minority and should expect to face hostility because they live under King Jesus’ rule (thebibleproject.com-1 Peter).”
 
Understanding-What does it mean?
 
When living set apart from the world, suffering and opposition are part of the package, but there is Hope!
 
“However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” 1 Peter‬ ‭4:16-19‬ ‭NIV‬‬
 
Life Application
 
Christ’s love and strength are sufficient to handle any suffering or opposition that the enemy/world tries to throw our way.
 
When I accepted Jesus’ invitation for salvation at 16 years old and it was no longer my parents’ faith, but mine personally, opposition happened immediately.
 
I was still in high school and I became very different. I was in my 2nd year and attended a public high school. I no longer had my hope in boys or looks. While a couple of my best girlfriends were sleeping around with their boyfriends, rebelling against their parents and having hope in worldly things, my hope shifted to more eternal things. I was listening to Christian music, serving in church ministry, working part time and concentrated on school. That was my life. I was also very vocal about my faith and brought a Bible to school. A guy that I had liked for the longest time got a hold of one of my best girlfriends and asked her what had happened to me. He said, “She is like a God-fanatic now!” He said it in a very negative way. That really broke my heart and after 7 years of crushing on him (knew him since elementary school), I IMMEDIATELY lost interest in him. My hope was now in Jesus Christ and Christ became completely sufficient. Christ gave me my worth and value. It didn’t matter how much I was made fun of, how people were gossiping about me behind my back, or even how it drew a wedge between me and my best friends. The Lord was changing me from the inside out and the joy I felt because of being loved by Him helped me through all that opposition and suffering in my high school years.
 
Fast forward to today and opposition and suffering still occur; however, through it all, God continues to build and strengthen my character and make me more into Christ’s image. Every step of the way, He has been with me like He was in the past.
 
Dear Lord, I pray that as we suffer according to Your will, that Your Holy Spirit would help us commit ourselves to You. Help us continue to do good. Help us to remain faithful to You as You are to us. Amen.
 
-Michelle Gaddi