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!
 

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


Psalm_37

Scripture
Psalm 37:4
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
 
Observation – What does it say?
David encourages us, in light of the evil people and brokenness in the world, to not worry or fret! Instead, trust God, delight in him and he will give us the desires of our hearts.
 
Understanding – What does it mean?
I love this verse! The first thing I see is that God wants to be delighted in. He wants to be enjoyed! It reminds me of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, “What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy him forever.” 
 
And as we do, God promises to give us the desires of our hearts. I understand that to have a double meaning. One, God deposits his desires in our hearts so we find ourselves wanting the things God wants. Two, God fulfills those desires he’s placed there. How encouraging! God desires to fill our hearts with righteous desires and then to satisfy them. And our part? Delight in him! 
 
Life Application
Delight in God today!
 
God, we choose to rejoice in you and celebrate you today! You are so easy to enjoy… you’re so good, faithful, kind, merciful and gentile. Your love has no limit. You are my beloved, my joy and my delight. We delight in you. Thank you that as we do, you fill our hearts with your desires and also satisfy them, resulting in even more joy and delight in you!! We love your ways. Amen.
 
– Levi Thompson


Acts_8

Scripture

Acts 8:4-8

Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.Observation

This chapter begins with “And Saul approved of their killing him” – with “him” referring to Stephen, after his discourse to the Sanhedrin.  And so began a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem – to include Saul “dragg[ing] off both men and women and put[ting] them in prison.” 

Understanding

The apostles were persecuted and scattered; but they were not silenced. 

I always wonder when I read scripture like this, what I would have done in their shoes.  In this case, I wonder at the boldness of the apostles – that although they were scattered and under heavy persecution, they continued to preach.  As they saw people getting dragged into prison, they continued to share the good news!  And, because of their faith and continued sharing, people were healed and “there was great joy in that city.”

Life Application

God, may I have the boldness to share the good news with everyone I meet – both in word and in actions.  And, if I’m persecuted or scattered in any way, may I continue to preach.  You’ve called us to know you and make you known.  May I never lose sight of the importance, the power, the necessity of that calling – to see lost souls saved.

In your name, I pray.  Amen. 

– Rei

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





Psalm_35

Scripture
Psalm 35:3
Draw also the spear and the battle-axe to meet those who pursue me; Say to my soul, “I am your salvation.”
 
Observation – What does it say?
David is writing in concern of his enemies. It is quite possible that his enemies are people in whom he had once been very close, like King Saul or Absalom (see 1 Samuel 24 or 2 Samuel 15). There were several instances in his life where David was hiding in caves from these people. David proceeds to meet the situation with prayer. At the end of this Psalm, David cries out to the Lord, with praise. In verse 28 David says to God, “And my tongue shall declare Your righteousness And Your praise all day long.”
 
Understanding – What does it mean?
We have all seen some people do some crazy things. I remember watching a video of a police officer conducting a traffic stop. During his contact with the driver, he is called just about every name in the book and treated with total disrespect by the driver. But he responds with a calm voice and continues on with an even temperament. He was still upholding the law, but he did so with love.
As I was reading this song of David, I was reminded of when Jesus was speaking with his disciples in reference to how we aught to treat others. In Matthew 5:40 he states, “And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.” In stark contrast to the way we want to respond to people who have done us wrong, Jesus asks us to give people grace and humility.
This is probably one of the best ways that we can act as God’s loving hands. When people take advantage of us, we have the opportunity to seek justice or to seek ways that we can bless others. Paul challenges us to fulfill the needs of our enemies (Romans 12:20) In seeking revenge for a wrong we cut short the love that God wants us to show others. But an act of kindness can often say so much more than a well formulated sermon.
It was once said, “Preach the gospel at all times. When necessary use words.” And we are also taught in the book of James that our actions speak louder than our words (James 2:18-19). And so, I will let God fight my battles while I seek to serve those who He is fighting with.
 
Life Application 
Jesus give me the gift of patience when I come across those who oppose me. Help me to look through your lens of timing. I know that your timing in everyones life is different. But may my actions not hinder the love that you are giving to those around me. Help me to show my faith in you through my actions.
 
– Tyler Galloway


Be On The Lookout…

One of the passages in our SOUL Journal reading today was Acts 6.  I was struck by the unceasing work of Satan to try and destroy God’s church.  First he tried persecution, as we read in chapters four and five, but instead of destroying the believers it only had the effect of encouraging them and the church grew faster.  So Satan tried a different tactic, he looked to destroy the church by introducing sin into the body through Ananias and Sapphira, but God, through the Holy Spirit dealt with the sin quickly and decisively.  In chapter 6 we see another of the tactics Satan uses to divide, he stirred up dissension within the church.  He used perceived offenses to cause division. 

Truth is Satan uses these tactics still today.  Persecution, corruption and dissension are all ways today that cause God’s people to be distracted and lose heart.  A church that is filled with internal conflict spend all their time and emotional energy on that rather than on the mission at hand because any church focused on itself will not be focused on reaching lost people and even when people become Christ-followers what kind of family will they find themselves in – certainly not one that would help them become fully devoted followers of Christ.

May I encourage you this week to be on the lookout for these tactics of the enemy.  He desires to distract us and deter us from fulfilling our mission of multiplying Christ-followers everywhere.  Whether you fully believe it or not, this is your highest mission priority as a child of God.  Don’t let hard times, sinful decisions and dissension derail you. 

Speaking of mission, will you partner with the family at Desert Streams and plan on attending our Good Friday and Easter services and do everything within your power to bring someone with you who needs to hear the Good News of the gospel.
 
Pastor Gary


Acts_6

 

Scripture

Acts 6:15

15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

Observation-What does it say?

Stephen is described in the Word of God as “full of God’s grace and power (vs. 8) and filled with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit when he spoke (vs. 10 paraphrased). The members of the Synagogue didn’t like the fact that “they couldn’t stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke” (vs. 10). They felt threatened by it, very similar to how the Pharisees felt threatened by Jesus. As a result, they made up lies about Stephen and tried to get other people to buy into those lies. They spread false rumors about Stephen that eventually had him brought to the Sanhedrin. They even produced false witnesses to testify against him! However, Stephen remained at peace the whole time and his countenance proved that. His face looked like it was “the face of an angel (vs. 15).”

Understanding-What does it mean?

In the midst of trial and persecution, we can live in God’s peace.

Stephen didn’t literally get transformed into an angel and his face changed to that of an angel. Commentary says that Stephen, as a servant of the Lord, “possessed a clear conscience, cheerful hope, and Divine consolations, which enabled him to smile in the midst of danger and death.” (Matthew Henry’s Bible commentary-concise)

Stephen felt secure knowing he did no wrong and was confident in who his Defender was. The Holy Spirit’s peace and comfort was shining and showing through his face, which made it look like that of an angel.

Life Application

Jesus is our Defender.

The Lord is our defender and it is His job to avenge, not ours. (Romans 12:19).

Have you ever been falsely accused of something? The Biblical term for it is slander, which the New Oxford American Dictionary defines as “the action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person’s reputation.”

When we become Christians, living by a different standard than the world will naturally bring upon “haters” and opposition, sometimes from even within the walls of the church. Commentary blames “the heart of a fallen creature, which is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Matthew Henry’s Bible commentary-concise).” However, as Pastor preached in one of his sermons, we need not fear people, only fear God. When we are living in submission to God’s ways and living in righteousness, He will defend us.

“In God I trust and am not afraid. What can man do to me?”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭56:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭10:28‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Thank you Lord for being our defender. May we be reminded that we can have the “ face of an angel” even amidst opposition just like Stephen did, as we live for You. Amen.

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

-Michelle Gaddi



Acts_5

Scripture
 
Acts 5:11
 
“Great fear gripped the entire church and everyone else who heard what had happened.”
‭‭
Observation-What does it say?
 
Ananias and his wife Sapphira has sold some property. He and his wife had come to an agreement to keep part of the money, and gave the rest to the apostles, (claiming to the apostles that it was the full amount).
Then Peter called out Ananias for his betrayal. Peter told him that it wasn’t the apostles he was lying to, but he was lying to God! Then right then and there, Ananias dropped dead on the spot!
Then hours later, not knowing what had just happened to her husband, Sapphira was asked about the amount of money they were paid for the land, and she too lies about it. Sapphira’s fate was the same as her husband. She too fell right then and there at the apostles feet and died instantly. The news spread among the church and other people of what had happened, and great fear came upon them all.
 
Understanding-What does it mean?
 
God takes sin seriously.
 
I used to think that the punishment for Ananias and his wife Sapphira were kind of harsh. I mean, they still gave to the apostles right? It was their land/money to do what they pleased right? Their mistake was trying to lie about it! You see if you look at the historical aspect of this story, this was about the time that the church was first being established. And what if God let this betrayal slide on the onset of the church? How would that look? Isn’t God just and righteous? So God had to set the bar and an example of how He expects His church to run and function. God is trying to establish a standard of holiness and purity. God is showing His distaste for sin, and the penalty of sin…death!
 
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”-‭‭Romans‬ ‭6:23‬ ‭NIV
 
The death of Ananias and Sapphira was a wake up call to the church and those who witnessed the story. It is a great reminder of just how serious God is when it comes to the issues of sin, especially within His church. But despite what happened to Ananias and Sapphira, the church in Acts experienced great quality growth and deepened in fellowship because of it. God was able to use the situation to deepen His relationship with His people.
 
Life Application
 
Ask God’s forgiveness of your sins. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal sins in your life that you may be blinded to.
 
Father God, I know you take sin seriously. I know that my sin deserves death. So I thank You for the grace and mercy You have shown me through Your Son Jesus. Forgive me of my foolishness and sinfulness. Holy Spirit reveal to me areas in my life that You need to work through. I release them to You Lord. Don’t allow the sin in my life to hold me back from experiencing Your full presence in life. In Your name I pray Jesus, Amen.
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here.
 
-Moses Gaddi


Genesis 32

Scripture

Genesis 32:26

But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

Observation – What does it say?

Jacob was about to face his brother Esau, for the first time since stealing both his birthright and blessing. He split all his family and possessions into two groups and sent them ahead of him while he stayed back alone for the night.

Then, something really surprising happened with no real explanation. “… a man wrestled with him until daybreak.” The man couldn’t overpower Jacob and Jacob refused to let go until the man blessed him.

The prophet Hosea referenced this experience Jacob had:

Hosea 12:3-5
In the womb he grasped his brother’s heel; as a man he struggled with God.
4 He struggled with the angel and overcame him;
he wept and begged for his favor.
He found him at Bethel
and talked with him there—
5 the Lord God Almighty,
the Lord is his name!

Understanding – What does it mean?

Super strange experience. This is one of those stories I wish was explained in more detail. I have so many questions!

On another note, there is a lot about Jacob that I don’t like. He was a liar and deceiver (the name Jacob means ‘deceiver’) of those closest to him. But one thing I do admire about him is that he fought for God’s blessings in his life – in this case literally. Even after the angel injured his hip, Jacob refused to let go without a blessing.

We all have shortcomings and struggles with sin like Jacob did, but my prayer is that they won’t keep us from drawing near to God. My prayer is that we would draw near and grab ahold of God in prayer, refusing to let up or give up until he answers. We know we don’t deserve it, but out of his grace, he delights in blessing us with all we need fulfill the amazing plans he has for us. Often times we just have to ask and not give up.
 
James 4:2 You do not have because you do not ask God.
 
Luke 18:1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.

Life Application

Don’t give up!

God, may us be someone who fights for your blessings; not just for ourselves but for others. Teach us to labor in prayer and to seek you and love you with all of our hearts. When things get difficult and it seems we’ve been praying all night, may we not give up. Give us the persistence and discipline to continue seeking that Jacob had. We believe your goodness and faithfulness and that you hear us when we pray! Amen.
 
– Levi Thompson
 


Psalm_31

Scripture

Psalm 31:21 NIV

Praise be to the Lord,
    for he showed me the wonders of his love
    when I was in a city under siege.

Observation

It is thought that David wrote this psalm when he was persecuted by Saul….It is a mixture of prayers, and praises, and professions of confidence in God, all which do well together and are helpful to one another.

  1. David professes his cheerful confidence in God, and, in that confidence, prays for deliverance out of his present troubles (v. 1-8)
  2. He complains of the very deplorable condition he was in, and, in the sense of his calamities, still prays that God would graciously appear for Him against his persecution. (v. 9-18)
  3. He concludes the psalm with praise and triumph, giving glory to God, and encouraging himself and others to trust in him (v. 19-24)

[https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/mhc/Psa/Psa_031.cfm]

Understanding

I loved stuff in all 3 of the chapters for today’s reading but for some reason this verse grabbed hold of my heart.

I’ve never been in a “city under siege” nor have I been chased around by a king trying to persecute me.  But I think we’ve all had experiences where we felt attacked, unsafe, frustrated by our circumstances and in need of some “wonder.”  And, as I think back in my own life, of the big and little ways that God has shown his “wonders of love” in those times, that has been one of the main things that has built and kept my faith.  When I’ve doubted and wanted to turn away, He’s used a person, a song, a scripture, something in the sky, His provision (and probably 100 other things) to remind me that I am seen, heard and loved. 

Life Application

Praise be to the Lord!

God, thank you for your faithfulness.  I’m grateful for your heart towards your children.  When we disobey, doubt, turn away, throw a tantrum, you never turn your heart away.  Thank you for the ways you’ve shown me the wonders of Your love!  Open my eyes, today, to ways I can partner with You to show Your love to those I encounter and think of.   

In your name, I pray.  Amen. 

– Rei

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



Psalm_30

Scripture 
Psalm 30:11-12 
”You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness, That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent.  O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.”
 
Observation – What does it say? 
This Psalm was written by David, and was possibly written as a dedication for the temple.  However, prior to building the temple, David had done evil in the site of God and “70,000 men of Israel fell.”  (See 1 Chronicles 21&22).  David pleaded to God, and sacrificed burnt offerings, and God restored David and the house of Israel.  David writes that God’s wrath is fleeting, but His grace is everlasting (vs 5). 
 
Understanding – What does it mean? 
We have all done something that we aren’t proud of.  A lot of the time, those things come with some consequences that are very real.  A few years back, I violated some policies at work and in the process violated the trust of my partners, my department and the public I serve.  I didn’t do this out of mallice, but laziness, as I had probably had eight hours of sleep in the previous three days.  However, as a police officer, this was a huge mistake and as a result suffered the consequences of my actions in the form of some sanctions.  There are times that I feel I will never be able to put this behind me and move on.

In the same way, we are often guilty of violating God’s “policies.”  Jesus said that His law could be summed up by loving God and loving others (Matthew 22:36-40).  I can think of a many times where I have treated someone in a way that wasn’t loving, it’s easy when you drive in Southern California. (Just Kidding, but seriously…).  Putting God before all else can be difficult as well, as there are so many other things that can take His place in my heart, like placing my kids in His seat. 

The difference between work and God is Jesus’ death on the cross.  Jesus paid the ultimate consequence for us and made us whole.  When we go to Him he promises to give us a new heart in place of our heart of stone (Ezekiel 36:24-36).  We are promised to be a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).  When I think of the sin in which Christ has covered for me, I too want to dance like David.

Life Application 
Jesus, help me to stop living as I did yesterday.  I choose to let go of the past and press on towards you.  I choose to dance with you, in hopes of bringing you glory above all else. Amen.
 
– Tyler Galloway