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!
 

SAVORING…

So it has come and gone.  The gifts have been opened, the meals have been prepared and consumed and the family has visited.  It is so easy for us to start packing up the stuff and moving on…but I want to encourage you to take time to savor the season.  Today in the church calendar the Feast of St. Stephen is celebrated.  It is the time where we pack up food and give to those in need – growing up we knew it as Boxing Day.  You made up food boxes to pass out to people. 
 
What a great idea – passing on the blessings.  Beyond just the food, we have been blessed by God and during the next few days why not be purposeful about how you can pass on those blessings.  Write an encouraging note to someone, invite a couple of friends over for coffee and dessert and play a game.  Spend time playing with your kids.  The possibilities are endless.  Don’t pack up and go back to business as usual – take time to savor


MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Joy to the World the Lord has come,

Let earth receive her king

Let every heart prepare Him room

 

Father we make room for you, not just today but in all our days!  You are welcome here!



TRUST=SURRENDER

  • Matthew 1:18-25, Hebrews 11:1

Trust is demonstrated when we make God’s plans our own goals.

  • 2 Corinthians 5:6-9 (NCV) 6 So we always have courage. We know that while we live in this body, we are away from the Lord. 7  We live by what we believe, not by what we can see. 8  So I say that we have courage. We really want to be away from this body and be at home with the Lord. 9  Our only goal is to please God whether we live here or there,
The end result is that we see Joseph submitted to God.

Trust always means submission.

Maybe that’s why trust is so hard, because we are so unaccustomed to surrendering ourselves.

Surrender means loser, quitter, not good enough, not strong enough, failure. Except in God’s vocabulary — where surrender .. or submission means strength and victory.

Without faith, it is impossible to please God. The heart of Christianity is our faith .. the trust that we place in God. In Who He is. In what He said He will do. In what the Bible says He has already done. In the Jesus’ death on the cross, for our sins. In His resurrection that sets us free. The victory that has overcome the world is our faith.

Today, you are facing circumstances that you can’t completely understand. Disease, death, debt, divorce, have sent the train of your life way off the tracks. And you can’t figure it out! Joseph reminds us that waiting on Jesus isn’t always about final answers, it’s about complete faith.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. Faith is by definition, not quantifiable or measurable. We cannot diagram it on the board and examine its parts. It is the logic of the spiritual realm, the currency of the unseen dimension.

 

SAVORING

What do you think that Joseph was most in need of after learning that Mary was pregnant?  What emotions do you think he felt?  What were some of the first words that angel said to him in Matthew 1:20?  How could these words be a demonstration of God’s love and concern to Joseph?



WILL YOU CHOOSE TO TRUST?

Matthew 1:18-25

I imagine every one of us either has been, at some time, or is in now, a situation that we don’t completely understand. We cannot fathom the reasons why such circumstances have overtaken us or, despite many sleepless nights and anxious hours, we just can’t figure a way out, so what will be your response?

How do you get from restless uncertainty to complete trust?
Joseph spent time knowing God.

Three times Matthew tells us that the Lord appeared to Joseph. Three times God revealed Himself and His will to Joseph. There are some powerful truths we can latch on to here.

Trust comes easier the more that we know somebody.

  • Hosea 6:6 (TLB) 6 “I don’t want your sacrifices—I want your love; I don’t want your offerings—I want you to know me.

Trust requires that we discern God’s will.

  • Mark 14:36 (TLB) 36 “Father, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take away this cup from me. Yet I want your will, not mine.”
 

SAVORING

Spend time with God today not asking Him for anything except that He speak to you regarding what He wants of you.  Put aside at least half-an-hour where you can sit in silence after asking Him the question, “Father, what is on your heart?  What do you want to say to me.”



YOU WANT ME TO DO WHAT?

Matthew 1:18-25

How we deal with life’s interruptions is one of the defining qualities in who we are as people. Our character is determined NOT when life goes according to plan, but by how we react when it doesn’t.

I don’t know if there is any character in the Bible that faces this issue more personally than Joseph. The carpenter from Nazareth was anticipating his forthcoming marriage to Mary, and suddenly all of those plans are swept away in angel dreams, and Divine visions and the slow realization that instead of refinishing furniture, he would be raising the Son of God. Instead of merely waiting on the happy day of his wedding, Joseph found himself and his life upside down, while he waited on Jesus to be born.

You and I can understand why God chose this man to be the earthly father to Christ, when we really examine how Joseph handled the interruptions to his life with faith and obedience. His life may have veered off course, but Joseph was still waiting on God. You and I would do well to follow that example.

 

Joseph modeled complete trust in God, even when he didn’t understand what was happening.

Joseph married Mary, even when every ounce of reason in him, said this was another man’s baby she was carrying.

I know, I know, Joseph saw an angel, that’s why he trusted God. But I also know human nature. Joseph saw that angel once that we know of — he had to watch Mary’s belly grow with a baby inside for 9 months knowing he was not the father. Trust does not come easily when understanding is far removed.

I can hear God speak to me on Sunday and forget it by Tuesday! Joseph had to trust God for 9 long months while he waited.

SAVORING

The question is not whether life will ever careen off of your highway of hopes and dreams, BUT, what will you do WHEN it does!
How have you responded in the past, and how are you preparing to respond for the next time life changes directions unexpectedly?


OH THE JOY!

  • Ephesians 1:3-6 (MSG) 3 How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. 4  Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. 5  Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) 6  He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

I always want to give DeLaine the perfect gift.  I’ll be honest, I stress myself out because of it.  I spend a great deal of time listening to what she says she would like and then I start researching and figuring out what would have the most impact.  The moment I get the gift I am so impatient to give it to her.  I don’t want to wait, I want her to get it so that I can see the joy and wonder on her face that I did listen.  The greatest joy for me as a gift giver is watching people open the gift I gave them and seeing their joy and pleasure at it, and then having the satisfaction of seeing them use it.

I wonder if that is how God must feel?  I wonder if He was impatient to send the gift of His Son to the world?  I wonder if He must light up when we respond to His gift and open it up and use it.  Our reading says that He took great pleasure in planning this.  Does your response to His gift bring Him joy?

 

SAVORING

Look at Isaiah 7:14, Micah 5:2 and Hosea 11:1.  Do you get the impression that God was anxious to let us in on the surprise?
How does it make you feel knowing that giving you the gift of Jesus gave God great pleasure?
How can you thank Him for that gift?


PARKING LOT PRAYERS

I pulled into the mall and started to slowly drive around praying for a parking spot.  This time of year a parking spot is as elusive to find as Bigfoot.  As I pulled down yet another aisle I saw the reverse lights of a car coming out so I stopped and turned on my blinkers.  Thank you God, you heard my prayer.  I saw the problem a little too late, the car was backing out in a way that blocked me from immediately taking the spot and in that moment another car swooped in and took the spot.  I admit, I almost lost my salvation!  After another five minutes of fuming and looking I finally found a spot at about the furthest spot from the mall.  Honestly I came close to just saying, “Forget it, I am not going to follow through on my shopping.  I am so mad and frustrated.”

I wonder if that is how Joseph and Mary must have felt.  I wonder if he prayed and asked God to show him favor and allow them to find a room in the town.  After all, they were doing “God’s work.”  God did provide a room but not in the way that they were expecting and I wonder if they could have missed the miracle because they did not see God’s answer because it did not look like the answer they were expecting.  Too often we are missing God’s answer to our prayers because it is a stable not a room.  We despise His answer and turn away from it and miss out on the amazing things that happen because we simply trusted and enjoyed the journey.

 

SAVORING

  • Philippians 1:9-11 (NIV) 9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10  so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, 11  filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God.
  • Romans 8:28-38


THE RISK OF BIRTH

MADELEINE L’ENGLE

 

This is no time for a child to be born,

With the earth betrayed by war and hate

And a comet slashing the sky to warn

That time runs out & the sun burns late.

 

That was no time for a child to be born,

In a land in the crushing grip of Rome;

Honor and truth were trampled by scorn-

Yet here did the Savior make his home.

 

When is the time for love to be born?

The inn is full on the planet earth,

And by a comet the sky is torn-

Yet Love still takes the risk of birth.gift.

 

SAVORING
  • Romans 5:6-8 (NIV) 6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

 

Just take a moment for all of it to sink in and savor the love.



IT’S NOT SUPPOSED TO BE THIS HARD

When I said yes to God I must admit that I thought the rest of my life would be like the parting of the Red Sea.  Everything just going well and God just paving the way so that it all came easy.  So you can imagine my surprise that it has not been the story.  I wonder if Mary had some of those same thoughts? 

“I said yes to God, I am doing something of great significance, that I didn’t ask to do, so why is it so hard?  Isn’t God in this?”
“Why can’t we stay here in Nazareth and have the baby, why does it have to be so complicated?” 
“Why can’t we find a room?  Being obedient to God should not be this hard!  This could not be going according to God’s plan.  Someone screwed up!”
  • Galatians 4:4 (MSG) 4 But when the time arrived that was set by God the Father, God sent his Son, born among us of a woman, born under the conditions of the law so that he might redeem those of us who have been kidnapped by the law.
When the time arrived – in other words, God had planned all of these goings on.  The difficulty was all part of His plan!  And He did not spare His Son the difficulties either.

 

SAVORING

Is there anything in your life this time of year that makes you say, “It is not supposed to be this way!”  If so, is it because of your schedule and priorities of is it beyond your control?

Read Proverbs 3:5-6.  Is there anything in your life that doesn’t make sense, yet you are willing to trust the Lord and be obedient to His calling?

Read Isaiah 46:10-11.  What comfort can this verse give you.



WISE GUYS

Matthew 2:1-12

  • Matthew 2:11-12 (NIV) 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. 12  And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
Today is Wednesday and so I was thinking about camels, which leads me to think about the Wise Men. 
(For fun… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2s0RPrdB_8 )

The Wise Men had studied for a long time and had travelled far and after much danger and having to stop to ask for directions (which is always hard for any guy to do, much less a wise guy) they find Jesus.  Put yourself in their sandals, they are expecting a king, it is the reason why they had stopped off at Herod’s palace; what they find instead is a two year old toddler whose parents are common folk.  Jesus did not meet their expectations so what did they do? 

They chose to worship.

They chose to believe.

They did not hold back their gifts but gave them freely.

 

How about you?  In a season where expectations can be shattered and lead to stress and despair will you still choose to believe in Jesus, to choose to worship and to not hold back? 

 

SAVORING

What are some unmet expectations that you are struggling with?
What will you choose?