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!
 

Ezekiel 21

Scripture

Ezekiel 21:15-17

15 So that hearts may melt with fear
    and the fallen be many,
I have stationed the sword for slaughterb]
    at all their gates.
Look! It is forged to strike like lightning,
    it is grasped for slaughter.
16 Slash to the right, you sword,
    then to the left,
    wherever your blade is turned.
17 I too will strike my hands together,
    and my wrath will subside.
I the Lord have spoken.”

Observation

If I can be completely honest…Ezekiel has been the HARDEST book for me to Soul Journal on.  And I’m pretty sure what I took from today’s is perhaps out of context.  My understanding of this chapter, based on the commentaries is that it’s a further development of the prophecy in Chapter 20…that the people complained they could not understand.  [I’m with them!]  That being said, though, God used this to burden my heart towards the lost.

Understanding

God calls us to love Him, to prioritize Him, to KNOW Him and make Him known.  And, though, I don’t follow these prophecies, what burdened my heart is the experience of the rebellious and the lost – death and destruction.  Verses 15-17 speak to a specific wrath to be experienced by a specific group of people…but it is not unlike what will be experienced by those who don’t know and/or choose Christ.  Here it speaks of slaughter by sword; our understanding of hell is separation from Christ, blazing fire, weeping and gnashing of teeth. 

Life Application

So…while my context may be off base, I think the response should be the same.  Just as Ezekiel sought to warn the people, our hearts should be to live in a way that draws people to God!

God, I’m so grateful for the hope provided because of the cross!  May we live on purpose, with the desire to know you and make you known!  May I be bold in my obedience.  Open my eyes to ways to share your love today.  In your name I pray, Amen.     

– Rei

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



Ezekiel 20

Scripture

Ezekiel 20:11 I gave them my statutes and made known to them my rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live.

Observation – What does it say?

Ezekiel is in the middle of declaring these prophetic parables about what Israel has been like. He depicts Israel as a burnt useless stick, a rebellious wife, a dangerous lion that has been captured and then as two promiscuous sisters. As he paints these various pictures of Israel, he pauses at times, one of which is here in chapter 20, to argue that the judgment coming on Israel is deserved. Here, God explains through Ezekiel how he rescued his chosen people even though they rebelled against him. And, after rescuing them he gave them his commands. Yet they only continued to rebel.

Understanding – What does it mean?

What hit me in this verse is the reason God gave his people commands and ‘rules.’

The words ‘rule’ and ‘command’ have such negative connotations in our culture today. There is a lie that if we follow God’s commands we’re going to be restricted and kept from what’s truly going to make us happiest. But here, the truth is revealed.

Rules and commands aren’t designed to keep us from really living, but rather, to enable us to live life to its fullest!

This must be why David said things like this:

Psalm 19:7-8 The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul… The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.

Psalm 119:97-98 Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.
Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies.

[side note: Because we could never follow all God’s commands perfectly and therefore all sin, God sent his Son to die for our sins so that by believing in him we could receive the life we could never earn. Under the New Covenant, under grace, we don’t follow God’s commands in order to earn salvation or life, but as a loving response to the salvation and life we’ve already received.]

Life Application

Joyfully follow God’s commands, understanding it will result in a much richer, fuller, God-glorifying life!

God, thank you so much for you commands! Thank you for blessing us with your word that instructs us in how we are to live. The essence of being a Christian is learning to obey all you have commanded us to do. And we know that the Christian life, though not always easy, is filled with joy and fulfillment! May we obey you, even when it’s hard, knowing that our obedience is what will lead to a richer and fuller life with you. Amen.
 
– Levi Thompson
 
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Ezekiel 19

Scripture

“This is a lament and is to be used as a lament.”” Ezekiel‬ ‭19:14‬b NIV‬‬

Observation-What does it say?

Ezekiel is writing a lament over the nation of Israel as a result of their rebellion. Miriam Webster dictionary defines lament as “expressing sorrow, regret or unhappiness about something.” The tone and level of sorrow in this writing is very much like a eulogy speech given at a funeral. It focuses on the deep sorrow as a consequence of the nation’s rebellion, through parabolic writing. 

Understanding-What does it mean?

“This chapter contains two beautiful examples of the parabolic kind of writing; the one lamenting the sad catastrophe of Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim,  Ezekiel 19:1-9, and the other describing the desolation and captivity of the whole people,  Ezekiel 19:10-14. In the first parable, the lioness is Jerusalem. The first of the young lions is Jehoahaz, deposed by the king of Egypt; and the second lion is Jehoiakim, whose rebellion drew on himself the vengeance of the king of Babylon. In the second parable the vine is the Jewish nation, which long prospered, its land being fertile, its princes powerful, and its people flourishing; but the judgments of God, in consequence of their guilt, had now destroyed a great part of the people, and doomed the rest to captivity.” (Clarke commentary)

Life Application

We reap what we sow. Either we are reaping the benefits of being surrendered to Christ or reaping the consequences of continual rebellion against Him. 

Dear Lord, we do not desire a life where we are captive to our old life, but rather free from captivity as a new creation in You. I pray we would stay connected to You as our vine and experience the fruitful benefits, instead of reaping the consequences of disconnecting from relationship with You. Amen.

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


Ezekiel 18

Scripture

Ezekiel 18:31-32

“Put all your rebellion behind you, and find yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O people of Israel? I don’t want you to die, says the Sovereign Lord. Turn back and live!”

‭‭Observation-What does it say?

In this passage, God speaks to Ezekiel regarding people’s accountability for the sin in their lives. God will not punish children for their parents’ sinfulness, or vice versa, God will not punish parents for their children’s sins.  Instead, God tells Ezekiel that He will hold each person accountable for their sinfulness or righteousness. Those who live sinful lives will surely die, and those who live a life of righteousness will surely live. And you think God wants sinners to die? No! He wants them to turn from their sinfulness so they can live!-(vs. 23)

Understanding-What does it mean?

We serve a God who loves the sinner, but hates sin.

“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans‬ ‭5:8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

There are some out there that think we serve a wrathful God. A God who is just waiting for us to slip so He can punish us. But they are sadly mistaken if that is what they believe our God is all about. I love in verse 23 of this passage where God reminds Ezekiel that His heart isn’t for sinners to die and be punished. But rather God’s heart is for those sinners to repent, and turn away from their sinfulness. This way we all can experience God’s love the way He intended. We all know God’s love for us in John 3:16, “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

God’s willingness to come out of His comforts in Heaven, to be made human, and die a sinner’s death, and to do it all for us shows just how much He loves us and desires us to spend eternity with Him. But we must do our part in it as well. We must accept this free gift from God, by accepting His son Jesus as our Lord and Savior in our lives, and turn away from our sinfulness and begin living a life of righteousness. Because although we do serve a loving God, we also serve a just God. A God who despises sin and will punish those who commit sin in ways He sees as just. So let’s rid ourselves of our bad habits and begin living a life filled with the Holy Spirit and bearing His fruits. 

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:17‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Life Application

With all the hate going on in today’s world, I choose to live a life that will demonstrate God’s love for people to those around me.

Father God, thank You for Your unconditional love. Thank You for never giving up on me no matter how sinful I may be. You are a God of second chances, a God who desires for all people to come to know You, and live a life according to Your will. Give me strength to see the good in people, the way You see the good in me. Help me to demonstrate your love today in a way that will glorify and honor You. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

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


Ezekiel 17

Scripture

Ezekiel 17:24

And all the trees of the field shall know that I am the Lord; I bring low the high tree, and make high the low tree, dry up the green tree, and make the dry tree flourish. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it.”

Observation – What does it say?

In this prophetic parable about Babylon and Jerusalem, God declares that he will take the high, green tree and bring it low. And, he will also take the low, dry tree and make it grow tall and flourish. For Israel, because of their idolatry and sin, God’s glory had departed from them and they were facing God’s judgment. But thank God that isn’t the end of the story! The final picture is one of beauty, life, influence and being a living testimony to the Everlasting God.

Understanding – What does it mean?

God’s is ultimately working all things for the good of those who love him.

By the end of my 11th grade year, I had drifted hard from God. I had made so many poor decisions and had truly felt I destroyed my life. I was void of hope or joy. I had to face many of the negative consequences of my actions, but praise God, he grabbed ahold of me in my brokenness and despair and in his love exalted me! He has restored and redeemed my life!
This is such a comforting word to those who feel they have drifted from God. Like the prodigal son, we can all experience the Father’s love and exalting if we will turn from our sin toward him. Although there may be sorrow for the night, God brings joy in the morning.

Life Application

Praise God for what he’s done in my life! 

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


Ezekiel 16

Scripture

Ezekiel 16:62

62 So I will establish my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the Lord.

Observation

In the previous chapter, God had compared Jerusalem to an unfruitful vine – fit for nothing but the fire; now he is comparing it to an adulterous woman that ought to be abandoned and exposed.  [Matthew Henry’s commentary].

Understanding

Again, God shows His desire for relationship with us.  He justifies what he intends to bring upon Jerusalem.  After all, it would be righteous justice.  Justice for their sin, their disobedience, their worship of other idols, their rebelliousness towards God.  But God gives the promise of mercy…that they would know that He is God. 

Life Application

May we heed the warning to Jerusalem.  Prioritizing and honoring God in all that we do!

God, thank you for your incredible mercy!  Thank you for your forgiveness and the love you show for your children.  Help us to honor you in the way we live out our lives…putting you first, loving on your people and living a life of repentance and obedience. 

– Rei

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



Ezekiel 15

Scripture

Ezekiel 15:5

If it was not useful for anything when it was whole, how much less can it be made into something useful when the fire has burned it and it is charred?

Observation – What does it say?

Because the people of Jerusalem had forsaken God and given themselves to idolatry, they had become useless, unfit for anything but the fiery wrath of God. God is pointing out to Ezekiel that they are already useless, but if possible to be any more useless, they will be after passing through the fire of God’s judgment.

Understanding – What does it mean?

People become like the God (or gods) they worship.

2 Kings 17:15 They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless.

The fate of those who worship idols is they become useless, without value. Jesus said if we get disconnected from him we’re like a branch that is thrown away, withers, and eventually is thrown in the fire. He also said if we lose our saltiness we’re no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled by men.

However, those who purify themselves of idolatry and sin not only avoid the fire but have the incredible privilege of becoming a useful tool in God’s hands! I love this passage from Paul’s second letter to Timothy…

2 Timothy 2:20

20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. 21 Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

Life Application

Prayerfully consider: Are there any idols in my life that are keeping me from being more useful to God?
 
God, I want to be useful to you! I want to be pure and holy, set apart for whatever you would have me do. Reveal to us any idols in our lives; any thing or any one we are turning to for comfort before you, any thing we a pursuing more passionately than you, any thing that is keeping us from fully obeying you. Draw all of us closer to you. Reveal the areas of sin and make us “instruments for special purposes.” In Jesus’ name, amen.
 
– Levi Thompson
 
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Ezekiel 14

Scripture

“Then the word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces. Should I let them inquire of me at all? Therefore speak to them and tell them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: When any of the Israelites set up idols in their hearts and put a wicked stumbling block before their faces and then go to a prophet, I the LORD will answer them myself in keeping with their great idolatry. I will do this to recapture the hearts of the people of Israel, who have all deserted me for their idols.’” Ezekiel‬ ‭14:2-5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Observation-What does it say?

Some of the elders of Israel came to Ezekiel, wanting to seek his wisdom as a prophet; however, in their hearts and outwardly, they were still worshipping their idols. The Lord spoke through Ezekiel and basically said that He was having none of it anymore. Their destruction was imminent. 

Understanding-What does it mean?

God desires a repentant and surrendered heart. We’re either in or out.

Being lukewarm or living a double life doesn’t cut it. 

“Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” Isaiah‬ ‭59:1-2‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Revelation‬ ‭3:15-16‬ ‭NIV‬‬

No one is perfect but Jesus. The Word says we have all fallen short of His glory. (Romans 3:23) We are all in the process of growing more into Christ’s image (sanctification). But, there’s a difference between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow. Godly sorrow leads to repentance and change as a result of intimately and personally knowing Jesus. We experience guilt as a result of conviction. Worldly sorrow is rooted in just wanting to get out of the consequences of our sins, yet repeating them over and over again without remorse or waiting until we get caught or we experience more bad consequences. It doesn’t lead to a change of heart, because the heart is not completely surrendered to Christ. The voice of the Holy Spirit is being ignored. That was the problem with the elders. They were being hypocritical, pretending that they wanted wisdom from the prophet Ezekiel, but the Lord really knew what was in their hearts.

Life Application

““Therefore say to the people of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices!” Ezekiel‬ ‭14:6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Dear Jesus, examine our hearts. We pray Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” I pray that Your Holy Spirit would expose and bring to light any offensive way in me or any idols in my heart and break me free. May I (we) be moved to godly sorrow and repentance so that we can experience a life of fruitful and abundant relationship with You. Amen.

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


Ezekiel 13

Scripture

Ezekiel 13:8

“Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because what you say is false and your visions are a lie, I will stand against you, says the Sovereign Lord.”

Observation-What does it say?

Ezekiel gets word from the Lord to prophesy against the false prophets of Israel. These false prophets are speaking lies and giving false promises to God’s people. What’s even worse is they are claiming it is God who spoke to them and gave them these promises, when God has not even spoke to them at all. They are misleading God’s people and they have erupted God’s anger in the process.

Understanding-What does it mean?

Beware of counterfeiters of God’s Word!

It’s unfortunate that we live in a world that people will take advantage of other people’s faith, and use it for their own personal gain. If we as Christ Followers aren’t careful, and not deeply rooted in God’s Word, we too can fall victim to some of these false prophets that they speak in this chapter of Ezekiel. We must be on alert for these “wolves in sheep’s clothing”! 

“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” Matthew‬ ‭7:15-20‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Life Application

Do I know God and His Word well enough to not be duped by those who try to counterfeit it?

The only way to be able to spot a counterfeit dollar bill, is to truly know what the real one looks, smells, and feels like…even down to every little detail!

Being in a constant relationship with Jesus (through prayer, reading His Word, and journaling), helps protect us from these counterfeits. Because the more we know God for who He is, we also know the things that He is not. The more we read and understand God’s Word, the more we know to check to see if the words that some may say come from God, truly match up and align with God’s Word. So let’s not be the ones who get duped and misled by these false prophets. Let’s start our defense against these “wolves in sheep’s clothing” by knowing our Lord and Savior better. Let’s be in constant relationship with Him each and every day so we can identify the truth from the phony! 

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


Ezekiel 12

Scripture

Ezekiel 12:16
But I will spare a few of them from the sword, famine and plague, so that in the nations where they go they may acknowledge all their detestable practices. Then they will know that I am the Lord”

Observation

After declaring that Israel is a rebellious people with blind eyes and deaf ears, God instructs Ezekiel to prophecy in pantomimes of exile as a sign to Israel of what they will experience as a result of God’s judgement against their idolatry and adultery. Ezekiel symbolically packs for exile and escapes the city by digging a hole in the wall, indicating the manner in which the prince of Jerusalem and all of her inhabitants will flee the city, only to be taken captive by the Babylonians. Ezekiel also obediently eats his food and drinks his water before the Israelites in fear and trembling to represent how Israel will experience anxiety and despair when their land is laid to waste. Rebuking an oft-quoted proverb that mocks the prophets and their visions of impending judgement (and in doing so, also mocking God’s long-suffering and mercy), God announces that there will be no more delays and that the word of the Lord will be fulfilled in their day.

Understanding

God has always maintained a faithful remnant in Israel so that the Abrahamic Covenant may be fulfilled. When Elijah was overwhelmed and distraught as Jezebel (and even his fellow Israelites) sought his life, God reminded him that he had reserved seven thousand in Israel whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him (1 Kings 19:18). In speaking of Israel’s portion in the New Covenant, Paul testifies that there remains a remnant of True Israel that is by grace and not by works (Romans 11:5-6). Even during the Tribulation, known as the time of Jacob’s (Israel’s) Trouble, God seals 144,000 Israelites to evangelize the world during the end; a time that God will use to re-graft Israel into the True Vine, who is Jesus.

Life Application

I am impacted by two truths in today’s scripture.
 
First, although Israel constantly broke relationship with God, Yahweh is a covenant keeper. Even when Israel pushed God to the end of His patience and forced His hand of judgement, captivity and disbursement; He was and is always careful to keep Israel in a position by which His everlasting covenants to her may be fulfilled – not by their works but by His sovereign and unmerited grace. As I see God’s faithfulness to Israel, I can be sure that He will be as faithful to keep every promise in His word.
 
Secondly, in times past, God used the prophets as covenant announcers and enforcers who, with their prophecies and actions, declared the word and will of Almighty God in order that the people might repent and return to their God. Today, every Christian is called to be a prophet of God; if not by foretelling the future, then by forth-telling the truth of God’s word. By our testimony and our witness, we are to be a sign to unbelievers of God’s love and forgiveness for those who would confess Christ as Lord and Savior; yet also a sign of eternal judgement for those who reject the mercy of the Cross. Father, I pray that your church, of which I am a member, would have both the compassion to proclaim your love and salvation as well as the courage to announce the eternal consequences of those who reject your free gift of grace.
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here
-Gary Parker