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!
 

Psalm_46

Scripture

Psalm 46:1

God is our refuge and strength,

    an ever-present help in trouble.

Observation – What does it say?

The sons of Korah, who penned this psalm, had discovered something about God. They found that in times of trouble, God interacted with them in a certain way. They found God revealed himself as their refuge, a safe hiding place. God gave them strength when they were weary or lacking courage. And, he didn’t stand by silently when they had a need but he’s a God who steps in to help.

Understanding – What does it mean?

This is such an encouraging verse to me! He isn’t just an ever present observer, but he is present to help, no matter what ’trouble’ we find ourselves confronted with. 

Today, we can be confident that we will experience God in the same way the Sons of Korah did. Why?

Anytime we read about God doing or acting in a certain way in scripture, we aren’t just witnessing an event but a revelation of God’s character. And we know God’s character doesn’t change based on the season or person he’s dealing with. He is the same always, immutable, and he shows no favoritism.

Hebrews 13:8

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.

James 1:17

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Romans 2:11

For God does not show favoritism.

Life Application

Receive the peace that comes from knowing there is no trouble I’ll have to face alone.

God, thank you so much for not just being the refuge of others, but for being my refuge, my strength, and my ever-present help in time of need. I look to you and put my trust in you today. Amen!

– Levi Thompson

 


Acts_17

Scripture

Acts 17:16-21, 32-34

16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. 18 A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 19 Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.” 21 (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)

32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.”33 At that, Paul left the Council. 34 Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed…

Observation

Paul (and friends) continued to share the good news to the nations – in Thessalonica, in Berea and in Athens.  They encountered different circumstances in each new territory but they remained faithful and obedient – steadfast in their mission to share the gospel. 

Understanding

Two things I grabbed from this…

We’ve all got a dog in the fight for salvation…even if ours has already been won. 

  • In verse 16, we learn that Athens is filled with idols – which distressed Paul. But he didn’t sit and wait silently or idly or in judgment; no, he “reasoned” everywhere he went.

I grew up in a Southern Baptist Church in the Midwest.  And, for some reason, as I read this, what popped in my brain was a bunch of elderly women in their “Sunday best” talking about how the world is “going to hell in a hand basket” as they shared the most recent gossip…but never taking the time to show God’s love, to actively care for the people they were gossiping about or “reason” with the unbelievers.

I’d like to be different.  Perhaps it takes a little more energy and ingenuity, perhaps I’ll be seen as weird or too nice or whatever…but I want to be someone who DOES something where I see God (and the things of God) being squeezed out by worldly distraction or obsession.  After all, as Christians, we’ve all got the same purpose here on this earth – to know God and make Him known.      

Robin said it best yesterday – God provides the ability, our part is availability.

  • In verses 20, 32 and 34, we see that – while Paul made himself available – some people were curious, some sneered and some believed and followed. It wasn’t Paul’s responsibility to make people believe or follow…just to be available and obedient and, as a result, people were saved!    

Life Application

God, thank you.  I’m consistently overwhelmed that you choose ME/US to partner with.  That YOU – the creator of all heaven and earth love us enough to pursue us and to use us to share your love with those around us.  Thank you for your heart and make mine more like yours…that I may see people through your eyes.  Show me the people you want me to speak to TODAY, give me the words, tell me where to go…may I be at your disposal.  In your name, I pray.  Amen. 

– Rei

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



Genesis_45

Scripture

Genesis 45:7 

“But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.”

Observation-What does it say?

Joseph has been through a lot up to this point in his life.  He was his father’s favorite, but hated by his brother’s.  He was sold into slavery, and then became one of the chief servants of his master.  His master’s wife accused him of trying to rape her, so Joseph was thrown into prison.  After a very long time, Joseph is recognized as a person who interprets dreams and is released to serve the Pharaoh.  All of a sudden, his brother’s come out of nowhere begging for food.  In this moment, Joseph had the power to completely destroy his family and send them away without food.  Instead, he uses his authority to take responsibility for the brothers that had disowned him and changes the course of their foreseeable future.

Understanding-What does it mean?

One of the things we have a habit of doing, as we raise our three young boys, is to say “The Lord’s Prayer” with them at night (Matthew 6:9-13).  Jed and Zeke both have it memorized, for the most part, which is awesome.  But as we start the prayer, it never fails that shortly into it we come to “Your kingdom come, and Your will be done.”  On most nights, I silently struggle with this.  To be quite honest, I have my own things that I want to get done in my life.  Some of which, like bicycling the coast of California, really have no bearing on God’s call on my life, which is to bring the Gospel to my sphere of influence.

In stark contrast, we have Joseph.  He literally suffered through some of the most horrible circumstances a human could endure.  Through all this, his perspective was far different than mine is most of the time.  His horizon was clearly fixed on God’s goodness.  He knew that whatever he went through it was meant for good.  Me on the other hand, I can struggle with something as simple as filling out a form at work, or being willing to offer someone a ride who is less fortunate than I am.  

Paul writes so plainly on this subject in his letter to the Roman church.  In chapter eight, he reminds us “in all things God works for the good of those who love him.”  Further along in the chapter, he gives a picture of the greatness of God’s love for us, stating that there is absolutely nothing that can separate us from His love.  With this in mind, I know I need to change my perspective to be more like that of King Solomon, who instructed his son to lean on God’s wisdom (Proverbs 3:5).  As well as following the sage wisdom of Paul who tells us that the will of God in our lives is to give thanks (1 Thessalonians 5:18).  Because who knows, maybe in simply obeying God when he asks me to be generous to strangers, or to have a good attitude at work, that might be reaching a person that would otherwise not hear the good news of Jesus reconciling us through His sacrifice on the cross.

Life application

Jesus, thank you for your patience with me.  Thank you Holy Spirit for working on me, to perfect me daily.  Fill me with your love towards all men.  Help me to have a good attitude in my work, in my play, and in my times of devotion to you.  Help me to be a man who readily accepts responsibility to benefit others.  And give me a bold voice to share your love within my sphere of influence. Amen.
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here.
 
-Tyler Galloway
 


Acts_16

Scripture
 
Acts‬ ‭16:22-40‬ ‭NIV
 
‬‬“The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household. When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: “Release those men.” The jailer told Paul, “The magistrates have ordered that you and Silas be released. Now you can leave. Go in peace.” But Paul said to the officers: “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.” The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed. They came to appease them and escorted them from the prison, requesting them to leave the city. After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and sisters and encouraged them. Then they left.”
‭‭
Observation-What does it say?
 
Paul and Silas had just been beaten and severely flogged wrongfully, yet they responded in faith, with joy and worship.

Understanding-What does it mean?

 
Even through a difficult circumstance, they remembered that God was good and never lost faith.

How we respond to difficult circumstances is what will determine our joy. Joy was not based on circumstances for these men. Their joy was found in the Lord.

Life Application

Give your difficult situation over to Jesus and draw comfort from Him.

A whole household was saved because of Paul and Silas’ surrender and obedience to the Lord and their refusal to allow their circumstances to determine and define their joy. They knew Who their ultimate protector and redeemer was and put their hope in God instead of men. Also, they ended up encouraging more brothers and sisters in the faith after being released from prison.

What difficult situation are you facing today that you need to give over to the Lord in prayer and worship?
If you are in a good place right now, who can you think of to encourage in the Lord through their difficult circumstance? What has the Lord brought you through and comforted you with in the past that can be a comfort and encouragement to another person? Remember, after Paul and Silas were released from prison, “they went to Lydia’s house to meet with the brothers and sisters and encourage them.” (Verse 40)

Dear Lord, thank You for Your goodness. Thank You that no matter what we face, we can be encouraged that You are ultimately in control of the situation and therefore need not fear for our future. I pray that You would restore our joy in You as we respond to difficult situations in prayer and worship. I also pray that as we draw comfort from You, we would be able to comfort others going through hard times, for Your Word says that You are the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort and we would be able to comfort those with the same comfort we have received from You (2 Cor. 1:3-4). Amen.

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


Psalm_43

Scripture
 
Psalm 43:5
 
“Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God!”
‭‭
Observation-What does it say?
 
David is in a season in his life where he is feeling distraught and oppressed by his enemies. He is feeling as if God has turned His back to him. But David stays steadfast in the Lord. He knows God will never leave him or forsake him. David does what he knows best. He continues to seek God and worships Him.
 
Understanding-What does it mean?
 
When the going gets tough…seek God with your prayers and worship.
 
Times are rough in this moment in time for David. But like Pastor Gary taught us this past Sunday,  even through the darkest times in life, we need to remember that God is good (all the time). When it comes to this, David is a great example of how to live it out. Even when his enemies are seeking to destroy him, David remains confident in God. And why shouldn’t he?! God has proven Himself faithful to David time and time again. So David does what he knows best. He praises God with his prayers and worship.
 
Life Application
 
It is through life’s struggles where we develop our faith in God.
 
Sure I would like everything in life to go my way all the time. I mean, who wouldn’t want that?! But we would never truly understand how to trust God, seek God, and know God. Life’s struggles and hardships is what truly deepens our trust and faith in God. As I’ve been reading the book of Psalms, I’m realizing that David didn’t allow life’s circumstances, (good or bad), to dictate his relationship and faith in God. David was going to bring praise and worship to God no matter what! And I believe it is because of that, David truly understood the very nature of God, that God is good…all the time, and all the time…God is good.
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here.
 
-Moses Gaddi


Acts_14

Scripture
Acts 14:19b-20
They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.
 
Observation – What does it say?
Paul was dragged out by his enemies and left for dead. But the believers went to him and gathered around him and something in that act led to Paul being restored and healed to the point where he could get up and go back into the city.
 
Understanding – What does it mean?
Don’t underestimate the power of being surrounded by other believers.
It’s where we can receive prayer and encouragement and be reminded of the truth when we’re struggling. It’s where we experience the tangible love and grace of God and we care for one another. There’s some healing and deliverance and freedom that God chooses to bring only through other Christ-followers.
 
Life Application
I feel challenged reading this to consider, “Who do I know that is broken, hurting and/or in need?”
 
Jonathan traveled a considerable distance to help David find strength in God when he was struggling. The believers here in Acts went outside the city to Paul and gathered around him.
Once God brings someone to mind, the following question must be answered, “Will you go, and consider bringing some other believers with you, to pursue them and help restore them?”
 
– Levi Thompson


Acts_13

Scripture

Acts 13:38-39

38 Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.  39 Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin…

Observation

During a time of prayer and fasting, Barnabas and Saul were called out among the prophets and teachers to go and share the good news among the nations.  They were prayed for and sent off.  We rea of the challenges, resistance and life transformations that followed!

Understanding

Happy belated Resurrection Day! 

Hundreds of years later, the mission is still the same – to go and disciple nations.  There will be challenges and resistance along the way, BUT life transformation is possible and comes through the work Jesus did on the cross when unbelievers BELIEVE.  And, as we see here, the message is simple…and starts with faith of those who already believe. 

Life Application

I’m grateful that Jesus forgives sins.  I’m grateful that the message we are called to deliver is simple.  I’m grateful that we can still see and experience life transformation today. 

God, help us to be on mission today and every day.  To recall the reason we are here – to know You and make You known!  May we recognize the soft spot in people’s hearts that seems come around Easter and take full advantage.  All for your glory and honor.  Amen!

– Rei

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



Psalm_40

Scripture

Psalm 40:6  

“Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired; My ears You have opened; Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required.”

Observation – What does it say?

This Psalm of David may have been written toward the end of his life, as he was getting ready to pass on his legacy to Solomon.  It is written as a praise to God for rescuing him (vs 1-3).  He goes on to praise the character of God (vs 4-8) and acknowledges his continued need for God’s rescuing (vs 12-17).  In verse six we get a glimpse of the freedom that we find when Jesus came and fulfilled the law.  

Understanding – What does it mean?

I remember hearing the sound of my mom’s voice ringing out from down the street.  “TYLER!!!!”  She didn’t sound happy.  Right at that moment, the branch of the tree I was climbing snapped and I landed flat on my back.  Now the nice clothes I was wearing were dirty, I was in pain, and I knew I was in trouble because I had gone exploring on the hill around the corner from our house.  The very thing my mom had told me not to do, because we had somewhere to be.  

Flash forward about twenty-five years.  As we are getting ready to walk out the door for church, I look in the backyard, muddy from the recent rain, and I see my youngest and oldest son who are now filthy.  They had been clean only minutes prior.  I lost it, at no point had I told them they could go outside.  All I wanted from my boys was to follow directions.  Then I remembered that moment when I fell out of the tree.  I laughed and changed my tone towards my kids.  Being that I have been in that position before, I was able to be forgiving.

God doesn’t want a sacrifice that means nothing, He wants our obedience.  But we learn from this Psalm, that we will always be dependent on God’s grace in our lives.  We will never quite be able to overcome the sin in our life.  Because of this, God has also called us to be compassionate towards others (Isaiah 58:5-9).  Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice for us not being able to follow directions.  Knowing this, the author of Hebrews calls on us to persevere in our faith (Hebrews 10), because God is always faithful (2 Tim 2:13).

Life Application

God, I am so thankful for the sacrifice of your son.  I am thankful that I am never enough, but You are always enough.  Help me to remember this, and, just like you always have lovingkindness towards me, help me to be compassionate towards others. 
 
– Tyler Galloway


Psalm_39

Scripture
 
Psalm 39:4-7

4 Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. 5 You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure.[b] 6  “Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom; in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth without knowing whose it will finally be. 7 “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.

Observation-What does it say?

 In this Psalm, David understands that this life is temporary and uncertain and offers Himself up in submission towards God.

Understanding-What does it mean?

We must put our hope in Christ and live in light of eternity.

This life is short. “Everyone is but a breath…” as verse 5b states.

This reminds me of the book of Eccelsiastes where King Solomon writes about how there’s more to this life than working and toiling under the sun to eat, drink, and being merry. It is all meaningless in light of God’s Kingdom. At the end of the book (spoiler alert), Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, King Solomon concludes with:

“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”
‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭12:13-14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Life Application

We are called to love and serve others, not just serve ourselves.

Jesus instructs us to be servants in Matthew 28, Mark 10 and John 13, just like how He did not come to be served, but to serve others and give His life as a ransom to many.

One morning, the Lord reminded me of this truth through His Spirit. Basically, there were some personal things I was working on regarding marriage and finances. Those things had started to get better, but I felt like my Spirit was longing for more. More of just making sure my household was in order. Don’t get me wrong, it is VERY important to make sure your household is in order and managed well. (See Timothy 3:5). Also, I am not saying do not take a Sabbath rest by yourself and with your family to recharge. That is Scriptural and healthy. However, just going to work 5 days a week or more for a nice house, vacations, family time, more toys, etc., will not fulfill me, because my Spirit longs to serve others and be on mission for Christ WITH my family as well.

What are some roadblocks getting in the way of serving others and being on mission for Jesus? Speaking from personal experience, the Spirit will never be satisfied with “chasing after the wind” because there is truly more to life than just living for ourselves.

Thank You Jesus for your example of serving others and teaching us to do the same. Thank You for King David and King Solomon who also taught this truth. Thank You Your Spirit in us who convicts me (us) and gives us that urge to do more because living for ourselves doesn’t completely satisfy. I pray that our lives would testify of Your greatness alone. Amen.

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

Michelle Gaddi



Acts_10

Scripture
 
‭‭Acts‬ 10:34-35‬ ‭NLT
 
“Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right.”
 
Observation-What does it say?
 
Cornelius, a devout, God-fearing man, received a vision of an angel of God coming toward him. The angel instructed Cornelius to send some men to a town named Joppa, to find a man named Simon Peter.
 
The next day as Peter was praying, he received a vision from God. The vision at first confused Peter. But as he was trying to figure out what his vision meant, the Holy Spirit instructed Peter to go with the men who were downstairs looking for him. So Peter obeyed and followed these men back to Cornelius’ house.
 
When Peter arrived at the house, he was greeted by Cornelius and his closest family and friends. Cornelius shared with Peter the vision he received from God. And although it was against Jewish custom-(Peter being Jewish), to enter a Gentile’s home, let alone associate with one, Peter now understood what his vision from God meant. Which is he shouldn’t think of anyone as impure and unclean. So Peter shared the Good News with Cornelius and his friends and relatives that day. As they all heard the message Peter was speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening. They spoke in tongues praising God! Peter’s Jewish companions were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit was received by the Gentiles too! So Peter baptized all who were there that day in the name of Jesus Christ.
 
Understanding-What does it mean?
 
God shows no favoritism.
 
Although during that time it was against Jewish customs for a Jewish person to associate with a non-Jewish person, Peter receives a vision from God that helps him understand that he shouldn’t think of anyone as impure or unclean. Peter now understands that God is the God for all humankind. That no matter where you are from, no matter who you are, as long as you seek God, you will be given the light as to how to know Him. Just is the case with Cornelius. Cornelius brought his family and friends to learn about God. And they were able to receive not only the knowledge that they were seeking, but more importantly they received Jesus Christ into their hearts and His Holy Spirit into their lives that day.
 
Life Application
 
If you are willing, God is able.
 
Cornelius was willing to be obedient to God’s direction. Peter was willing to be obedient to God’s direction. The result?..God used that moment in time to bring a whole household to be baptized and saved!
 
This past Sunday Pastor Levi reminded us in his sermon that all those cool stories and events that happened in the Bible isn’t just limited to those people in them. God shows no favoritism. It could happen for us too! They were just ordinary people like you and I. Some were fishermen, some were shepherds, some were even against the teachings of Jesus at the time. But God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things! All to bring Him all the glory, honor and praise!
To show others of God’s great power and grace! All we have to do is be willing to be obedient to His direction for us. Because as Pastor Gary reminded us before, God cares more about our availability, than our ability. So are you willing to experience the great wonders that God has in store for you? Are you willing to be part of God’s story like those in the Bible? Then say yes to God and let’s see what great works He will do!
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here.
 
-Moses Gaddi