Bible Reading Plan
bible

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

November 4: Esther 9, Revelation 17, Psalm 73

November 5: Esther 10, Revelation 18, Psalm 74

November 6: Job 1, Revelation 19, Psalm 75

November 7: Job 2, Revelation 20, Psalm 76

 
 
 
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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 4

Scripture

“Eat the food as you would a loaf of barley bread; bake it in the sight of the people, using human excrement for fuel.” The LORD said, “In this way the people of Israel will eat defiled food among the nations where I will drive them.”

He then said to me: “Son of man, I am about to cut off the food supply in Jerusalem. The people will eat rationed food in anxiety and drink rationed water in despair, for food and water will be scarce. They will be appalled at the sight of each other and will waste away because of their sin.”

‭‭Ezekiel‬ ‭4:12-13, 16-17‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Observation-What does it say?

I highly recommend taking a look at the video “Overview of Ezekiel” that was posted on August 1st. It gives a great overview through illustration of what this book is about. 

Basically, Ezekiel was exiled from Israel, and he was given visions from the Lord of the destructions that were to come upon Israel because of their hardened hearts and rebellion. In this chapter, the Lord was continuing to give Ezekiel instruction on how to warn Jerusalem what they would suffer. Ezekiel would warn them through signs and actions, as an illustration of the destruction to come. This chapter shows the most extreme illustration. Basically, he was to “play the role of the scapegoat on the day of atonement for over a year and eat food cooked over poop as a sign of the nasty food people would have to eat during the siege of Jerusalem.” (From the video)

Understanding-What does it mean?

God is a loving father. Not only is He loving, but He is also just.

Rebellion against the Lord is something that should not be taken lightly. If you are a Christ follower, He loves us enough to discipline and correct us in our rebellion so that we would turn from it. Discipline from God is not fun! The more He loves us, the harsher it seems so we wouldn’t do it again. There are consequences to rebellion. I’m not trying to be preachy, but speaking from personal experience. 

If you are not a Christ follower yet, all rebellion will eventually get judged. In Higher Learning, we are studying the book of Revelation and God’s judgments poured out on rebellious man is clear. 

Life Application

Repent and turn from sin! 

Just like I shared during my testimony on Sunday, we need Jesus and need to turn from our wicked ways. The Lord loves us too much and sees so much more potential and purpose for our lives to leave us in the dark or leave us where He found us. I pray we would surrender our lives daily to His will instead of our own. Amen.

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


Ezekiel 3

Scripture

Ezekiel 3:18-19 NLT

“If I warn the wicked, saying, ‘You are under the penalty of death,’ but you fail to deliver the warning, they will die in their sins. And I will hold you responsible for their deaths. If you warn them and they refuse to repent and keep on sinning, they will die in their sins. But you will have saved yourself because you obeyed me.”

Observation-What does it say?

God has appointed Ezekiel the watchmen for Israel. God tells Ezekiel that whenever He sends him a message, he is to warn the people immediately. If Ezekiel fails to deliver the message, God will hold him responsible for their deaths. But if Ezekiel obeys God, and delivers His message to the people, (even if the people disregard the message), Ezekiel would have saved his life because he obeyed God. The people on the other hand, will have died in their sins because of their disobedience to God.

Understanding-What does it mean?

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

God not only gives Ezekiel the responsibility of being a watchmen to warn His people here, but God also gives us this same responsibility today to do the same.

“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

“For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 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?” Romans‬ ‭10:13-14‬ ‭NLT‬‬

As Christ Followers, we have been given the life giving message of the gospel, and we are not free to keep it to ourselves. God calls us to share it with ALL people! Now even if some people may not take to the message of the Good News, we still have to do our part and share it with them. We are there to help God plant seeds into people’s lives. Some people may even be called to help nurture and groom them for growth. But ultimately it is Jesus who will be the One who changes people’s hearts. And if we sit back and do nothing, we are guilty of their blood. For we knew the fate that awaits them, and we failed to even warn them. A heavy burden to carry into eternity. 

Life Application

Be bold, brace, and courageous to share the good news to someone who needs it today.

God give me Your heart for the lost. Give me Your eyes and ears to seek them out. Give me the courage, strength, and words to speak the truth into their lives. Help me to not fear the possibility of people’s rejection and anger because of it. Because at the end of the day Lord, I just want to be obedient to You. In Jesus name I pray these things, Amen.

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


Ezekiel 2

Scripture

Ezekiel 2:7
You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious.

Observation

After recovering from his heavenly vision, Ezekiel is commissioned as a prophet of God and encouraged to be courageous and obedient despite the rebellious nature of the Israelites to whom he is being sent. He is then offered a scroll of woe and lament, which he is to eat (Ch.3) in order that he might digest the word of God that he will be called upon to deliver to Israel.

Understanding

The experience of Ezekiel is that which is common to every believer throughout the ages. We have received the Great Commission to proclaim the gospel of Christ to a world that is as rebellious as was Israel at the height of her idolatry and spiritual adultery. And just as Ezekiel needed to be courageous and obedient despite the rejection of his message, so do we need to be faithful to the calling, regardless of whether or not the message is received or rejected. Additionally, we cannot deliver and defend a gospel that we ourselves have not fully digested, internalized and upon which our spirit and intellect has been nurtured and strengthened. We dare not attempt to fulfill God’s calling relying on theory, second-hand revelation and yesterday’s manna; but only as we partake of the scriptures as our daily bread.

Life Application

I am thankful that the onus to see anyone with whom I share the gospel to be saved is not upon me, but is the responsibility and sovereign work of the Holy Spirit. This truth frees me to be courageous and unapologetic as I preach the truth and to focus on equipping myself so as to be qualified to be used by God, partnering with Him to deliver His message of salvation to those whom He has chosen, called and elected.  

2 Timothy 2:15
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here
-Gary Parker


Overview of Ezekiel

To help you get the most out this next book in our Bible Reading, check out this video!
 


Ezekiel 1

Scripture

Ezekiel 1:12, 20a

12 Each one went straight ahead.  Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, without turning as they went.

20 Wherever the spirit would go, they would go…

Observation

Ezekiel contains the prophecies spoken by the prophet Ezekiel, so begins the vision – believed to be of God – that Ezekiel saw. 

Understanding

Amidst this beautiful and detailed vision that is painted by Ezekiel, the thing that stood out to me most was v 12 and 20 where it says “wherever the spirit would go, they would go.”

Today I’m writing from Trinidad.  One of the things that has been an ever present part of conversations on this trip has been the work and movement of the spirit.  A main take away from this trip and from the life of missionaries has been that we can construct the best of plans of how we will serve, how we will help, how we will make a difference or an impact…but, even with the best of intentions, those plans may fall flat on their face.  It’s the leading of the spirit that must guide us.  While the best laid plans may breed zero results, where the spirit moves there is power.

An example, we were set to visit the Hindu temple.  The plan was to pray over the people and place where the temple was, to be an example of God’s love, to “promote” Jesus where there was opportunity.  Probably a pretty good plan…but we never made it.  The van broke down on the way.  And I broke down in front of a preschool…where we had the opportunity to play with kids, speak life into the people who worked there and invite 2 of the kids to the youth conference we would be serving at later that evening.  The Spirit was present there.  Good work was done – God’s work.  People were prayed over and souls touched.

Another example, we learned of a family whose father was rarely present, whose mother had abandoned them and where the kids were essentially raising themselves…and living in filth.  One day we were scheduled to go and clean the house.  In the midst of the cleaning, the father showed up unexpectedly.  Unsure of what his response would be, the men of our group met with him, talked with him, prayed over him.  The end result?  He came to the church service we attended and spoke at that night and accepted Christ!!!  OUR plan was to clean a house; God’s plan was to save a soul.  Because of the presence of the Spirit, a father’s heart was redeemed…which has potential to provide far more to those children than just a cleaner living space.
 
A final example was a story shared of an evangelist who – visiting an area – noticed there were no youth at an event.  He asked “where are the youth” and they took him to a club that was packed.  He spoke to the owner, pleading to speak to them and was given 5 minutes at midnight.  I under 3 minutes, the group was on the floor crying out to God.  Human plans (over hours, days and months leading up to their event) could not turn out what the Spirit did in less than 3 minutes.

Wherever your Spirit goes, may we go too.

Life Application

May these things serve as a reminder, to seek God and follow His spirit…for where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom (2 Cor. 3:17)…and power and peace and joy and love.   And this world could use a little more of those things. 🙂    

God, thank you for the gifts that you provide…be gracious and patient with us when we seek to use those gifts for you but, perhaps, without including you or seeking you first.  Please help us to be sensitive to the movement of your Holy Spirit in our lives…and, most of all to be obedient when we hear it. 

In your name, I pray.  Amen.  

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

– Rei

PS I also loved this verse… Ezekiel 1:28

28 Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him.  This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.  When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.

May we be so full of God, that we provide a little radiance to the rainy days that others may be experiencing today! Go love on somebody! <3



3 John

Scripture

3 John 1:9

I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us. 

Observation – What does it say?

John, an elder who oversaw a network of house churches, most likely in the area of Ephesus, writes this 3rd letter to a member of one of these house churches, Gaius. This John is most likely the same John who was a disciple of Jesus and authored the gospel of John. His purpose in writing is to encourage Gaius to welcome legitimate missionaries who come to visit his specific house church. The reason why this was necessary was because the leader of his house church, Diotrephes, was essentially being a jerk. He was refusing them even though they were fellow believers and going so far as to put people out of the church who showed them any hospitality.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Diotrephes wasn’t motivated by love, but by pride. John said he “loves to be first.”

Pride leads to sin. It was what caused Satan’s downfall; causes God to keep his distance from us; causes us to build walls between us and others, even if they are our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Rather than competing against Satan for souls, Diotrephes found himself competing against and rejecting the believers who weren’t a part of his local church.

Pride is the enemy of love.

Love is others centered, pride is me centered. They cannot coexist. If we are prideful, as soon as we find someone who is better than us, or liked more than us or esteemed higher than us, that person immediately becomes our enemy. And, if we are going to win the world to Christ, we cannot be making enemies of other human beings! As Graham Cooke said when someone came and verbally attacked him professing to be his enemy, “You’re not my enemy. I only have room for one enemy and it isn’t you. That enemy is Satan and I hate him with every fiber of my being. But you… I love you.” 

Life Application

Humble myself and put others first!

God, I recognize at times in myself this love for being first. I love to be recognized, appreciated, and to be the best at whatever I put my hand to. Forgive me for making it about me. Jesus, you were always for others and never for yourself. Make me, and all of us, more like you! In Jesus’ name, amen.

– Levi Thompson

 

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



2 John

 
Scripture
 
2 John‬ ‭1:5-6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.”

‭‭Observation-What does it say?

Encouragement was given by John to a “chosen lady and her children” to walk in love. The definition of walking in love from the passage was to be in obedience to God’s commands. Being in obedience to His commands also meant watching out for those who were teaching false doctrines. 

Understanding-What does it mean?

Love is walking in obedience to His commands according to His Word.

Everything we do as Christ followers needs to be driven by the truth of His Word. There are a lot of false teachings/doctrines about who Christ is and what love is. According to this chapter, some false teachings were that Christ only rose as spirit, but not in physical body. If matched up against Scripture, this is false. 

There is also a lot of false teachings about love. Love is portrayed in the media and the world (and has also creeped into our churches) as a butterflies in your stomach, happiness, heart racing, can’t live without the other person feeling, but Scripture says otherwise. If love was a feeling, how would we be able to love our enemies? (Matt. 5:43-48) If love was a feeling, how would we be able to forgive? (Col. 3:13) According to Scripture, love is an action and a choice. (1 Cor. 13) Love is also discipline. (Hebrews 12:4-13)

Life Application

Read His Word daily and apply it.

We cannot recognize false doctrine if we do not know the Truth of God’s Word. The enemy is great at deceiving us through well meaning resources such as Christian books and literature, and well meaning religions that teach about Jesus Christ and even claim to be Christian, but are not. Even some worship songs have an all about me tune to it and teach false doctrine. The enemy also deceives through our own feelings and emotions, where we compromise the Truth of God’s Word because we are “in love.”

The best way to recognize the counterfeit lies is to be so familiar with His Truth found in His Word, that we don’t know otherwise. That’s also how we recognize His voice/the Holy Spirit when He speaks to us. 

Dear Lord, I pray that You would give us the desire to make it a daily discipline to be so familiar with Your Word and Your voice of Truth that we wouldn’t know otherwise. Please protect us from the deception of the evil one and help us to seek and run hard after You alone. Amen.

Resource: gotquestions.org

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


1 John 5

Scripture

1 John 5:4-5 NLT

“For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.”

Observation-What does it say?

John presents the true foundation to see if one is a true Christ Follower. First they must believe that Jesus is the Christ and is born of God (vs. 1). Next, they must be living lives loving one another and keeping God’s commandments (vs. 1-3). Finally, they must be continually walking with God, overcoming any obstacles that may come their way because of their faith in Christ Jesus (vs. 4-5).

Understanding-What does it mean?

Jesus already secured the victory for us, but are we secured in Jesus?

This passage is a great reminder for me that I am a child of God, and as a child of God, I have to live my life according to His standards and not this world’s standards. It reminds me that I have a responsibility to show the same love towards others, the same way Jesus showed me when He died for my sins. Finally, it reminds me that the One I put my faith and trust in, is the One who will help me overcome this world and all its pitfalls.

“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.”John‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John‬ ‭16:33‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Life Application

Seek someone in life who you know that can benefit from hearing the good news. The good news of overcoming this evil world as long as they put their faith in Jesus!

Father God, give me direction to whom you would like me to share the good news with today. Help me to live the life of a Christ Follower that John describes in this passage. Help me to show the love that You have shown me to others around me. May they see Your light shine through me, and may it lead them towards a life with You. May it give them a new strength and hope knowing that their faith in You can help them overcome anything in this world. In Your name Jesus, Amen.

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


1 John 4

Scripture

1 John 4:10
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us 

1 John 4:19
We love because he first loved us.

Observation

In the fourth chapter of John’s first epistle, the apostle cautions his readers to test the authenticity of the spirit behind any teaching or prophecy; with a confession of the incarnation of Jesus as God in the flesh being the litmus test of divine origins (v.15). He warns that any doctrine that falls short of this acknowledgement is born of the spirit of Antichrist, but then encourages believers with the truth that our victory over this diabolical spirit is guaranteed through the Spirit of God resonant within each believer. Next, John exalts the perfect, sacrificial love of God and holds it aloft as the standard against which believers are to measure the quality of love that we offer others. To say that we love God while not loving our brothers is to not have the love of God in us.

Understanding

In these two verses, I am reminded of the divine origins of anything good, worthy, redemptive or glorifying to God that exists in my life. I wanted nothing to do with God when He sought me out and drew me to Him with His overwhelming and transforming love. In fact, I was spiritually dead when He found me and made me alive to His grace and mercy. There was nothing but sin, rebellion and corruption in my heart when He lavished His love on me. God loved me the most when I was the most unlovable. This truth, above any other, can be the only thing about which I could “boast” concerning why God chose to love me – I was chosen because I was so filthy, debauched and degenerate as to never, ever be able to claim that I was worthy of His love for me. Quite the contrary, I could have been the poster boy for one deserving of the full measure of God’s wrath against rebels and sinners – of which I was (am) the worst. And not just way back then, but now and every moment of every day of my life, God is the source and wellspring of all in my life that can be called good or of any worth. I cannot glorify God but through the (rare) times that I crucify my “self” and get out of the way long enough for the love and life of God, in the person of the indwelling Holy Spirit, to shine forth.   

Life Application

Lord, lead me daily, moment by moment to live out the truth of your word…

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

To check out the discussion or to join in, click here
-Gary Parker

 
 


1 John 3

Scripture

1 John 3:18

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

Observation

1 John 3 speaks to God’s love for His children.  It is also includes a call to be different – no longer walking in sin (lawlessness) – as His children…but instead to “love one another” (v 11).

Understanding

I just returned from 6 days at ComicCon in San Diego.  If you’re unsure what this is, some 120,000 people come to celebrate all things comic/character related.  Amidst the chaos and throngs of people, there were people each day with signs “Christ died for your sins.”  “Repent!  Turn to Christ.”  Some of them had blow horns.  Some of them played recorded scripture readings or sermons.  I’m not 100% sure what they thought would be the outcome of their approach but the reality was people came away feeling judged “I don’t understand what they think is so wrong with ComicCon” or prepared to mock the sign holders – “Oh, there’s the Christians” and various (much worse) other comments being made.  And, to be honest, the people with the blow horns seemed judgy…straight faced, no smile, spouting out their scripture…and they represented a picture of Christianity that I wouldn’t want to be a part of either.   

It made me wonder what a different approach may bring.  It was HOT and people were literally sleeping outside to get in.  If the intent was to love through action and, ultimately, to win souls to Christ, maybe handing out cold waters with those same scriptures…or “camping out” with the people on the streets and grass with the intent of developing connections that lead to sharing about Christ…or handing out little “blessing bags” to those that waited for hours…or maybe even creating little comics with the story of Jesus to give to the kids.  It’s easy to speak from a distance on how this could have been done better…but what if we all applied that same thought process to each situation we faced?  As I enter into this [situation/location], how can I show love through action that may open the door to share the good news? 

Life Application

May we look for ways to put our love in action – both towards those we love and those we don’t yet know.  May we have a heart for people – both saved and lost – the way that Jesus did.  A heart that seeks to show Christ’s love in tangible and intangible, big and small ways.  May we know Him and make Him known in everything we do. 

God, I thank you for your love for me, for your love for your people.  May I actively seek to partner with you, to be a conduit for that love in every circumstance, every situation, every connection I make throughout the day.  May my life be an outpouring of love through action and in truth to all those I encounter. 

In your name, I pray.  Amen.   

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

– Rei