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!
 

Matthew 1

 

Scripture

Matthew 1:3

 Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah (and Perez and Zerah’s mother was Tamar);

Observation – What does it say?

If I’m going to be honest, the first 17 verses of Matthew are ones I used to skip reading. What could I possibly glean from reading some names? I mean, the Holy Spirit is good, but could he really teach me something from a genealogy? The answer, I’ve found, is a resounding “Yes!”

As part of Jesus’ family line, each one played a critical role in God’s plan for redeeming all of creation. But consider the people listed here. We know that no one is perfect, but one would assume that people with this kind of integral role would be relatively righteous compared to other people. But all throughout this list we find what appears to be the opposite. Here are a couple examples:

  • Tamar was Judah’s widowed daughter-in-law. She dressed up like a prostitute and seduced her father-in-law, all so she could keep this family line alive.
  • Rahab (verse 5) was a Canaanite prostitute.
  • Solomon (verse 6) was the product of his father David’s adultery with Bathsheba.

Understanding – What does it mean?

God chooses to use even the most broken people in incredibly significant ways!

This gives me so much hope! All throughout scripture and history we see God reveal himself to people who don’t deserve it and move powerfully to accomplish his will through sinful men and women. The man who wrote the majority of the New Testament and who was one of the greatest missionaries the world has seen used to kill Christians!

Yet, for some reason some of us feel that God couldn’t use us. We feel that our short-comings, imperfections and past are too difficult for God to redeem. If this passage teaches me anything, it’s that no one is too far gone for God to rescue and use for his glory. And, even our worst sins and failures can’t keep God from accomplishing his plans.

Life Application

Don’t disqualify yourself! Trust God’s power more than you trust your weakness; his ability more than your inability; the power of his Son’s blood more than the power of your stains.

If God can transform the lives of these sin-stained men and women and use them to change the world, why can’t he use me?! 

God, thank you that your arm isn’t too short to save. Thank you that the sacrifice of your Son was enough to forgive even me and all my sins. Thank you for saving us and also giving us significant purpose. May we live surrendered to you and be filled with faith that you can and will use us to change the world! Amen.
 
– Levi Thompson
 
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Philemon

 

Scripture

Philemon‬ ‭1:10-12, 17-18‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“that I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me. I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you……..So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me.”

Observation-What does it say?

Paul is appealing to Philemon, Apphia, Archipus and the church in this letter. (Vs. 1-2). First, he thanks them for their partnership, love, encouragement and refreshing. Then he makes a case for Onesimus, how he has changed, but instead of commanding them to take him back under their care (and Paul had every right to exercise that authority), he asked for their permission and consent. Paul also said that any wrong he has done to them to charge it to him. He appealed to them in love and demonstrated what it means to restore relationships back to God and the church.

Understanding-What does it mean?

Love, forgiveness and restoration is what the Christian life is all about. We are called to love and restore relationships with others and help restore relationships back (or newly) to Jesus. 

The Apostle Paul is an awesome leader. Not only was he a great leader, but a great brother in the Lord. He did everything in faith and love and this letter proves it. 

He appealed to Philemon on behalf of Onesimus. Based commentary, it is indicated that Onesimus was once a man who was useless (vs. 11) to Philemon and the church. He did not live a life of faith or in the Spirit, until Paul met him at the prison and God used Paul to convert Onesimus and change his heart. As a result, he requested that Philemon welcome him back as a brother and partner in Christ. He was no longer a slave, but a brother. (Vs. 16)

Life Application

Pray for God to heal and restore relationships back to Himself and back to the family through Jesus. 

Dear Jesus, we pray for hearts of restoration. Hearts that would love and forgive like you do. Hearts that would restore what was once broken, whether its restoration of our relationship with You after sin/rebellion destroyed it, or restoring a repenting brother/sister back to the family. Thank You for our brother Paul’s example of restoration in action. I pray we would be a church that takes action to restore relationships to You, others, and ourselves. Amen.

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


Titus 3

 

Scripture

Titus‬ ‭3:3-5‬ ‭NLT

“Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. But— When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.”

Observation-What does it say?

As Titus begins the daunting task of establishing churches in the large island of Crete, his mentor Paul writes him an encouraging letter to give Titus a practical plan to help strengthen and bring order to the churches there. Paul reminds Titus in verses 1-2 how all Christians should carry themselves. They should be submissive towards the government and its officers. They should be obedient and always ready to do good. They must not slander anyone and avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone. Finally, Paul reminds those who are believers how we once were before we knew Christ. We were once foolish and disobedient, and our lives were full of evil. But through God’s grace and mercy we were saved. And it is  that same grace and mercy we should be showing others as we preach the gospel of Christ.

Understanding-What does it mean?

As Christ Followers we have to conduct ourselves a certain way, and be more understanding towards unbelievers…since we were one in their shoes.

Sometimes we may be a bit too judgmental or harsh around people we come into contact with on a daily basis. Yes they are worldly people, doing worldly (sinful) things. But we as Christians should “set the bar” for how they should be conducting themselves. The same way Jesus set the standard for us, and how we should live. We need to give them an example of how godly people respond to situations. We need to demonstrate to the world how Jesus calls us to live…with kindness, gentleness, humbleness, a heart to serve, a heart filled with passion for the lost, and ready to show them the same love and grace we were shown through Jesus Christ.

Life Application

Go out into this world and set the example, BE WHO CHRIST CALLED ME TO BE!

Dear Heavenly Father, help me go out today and be the man You called me to be. Give me the heart that aches for the lost. Give me your eyes and ears to see them. Give me the words to speak to them. May I be able to demonstrate to them the same unconditional love and grace you showed me, toward them. In Your Holy name Jesus, Amen.

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


Titus 2

 

Scripture

Titus 2:11-12
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age

Observation

Paul exhorts Titus to first lead by example and then to teach his flock regarding sound doctrine. Paul instructs Titus to encourage the various social classes of this Cretan church, or any congregation, to live lives that reflect the transforming power of God’s word, that protect the gospel from disgrace and that silences accusation from scoffers; with the understanding that the ability to do so is a gift of grace.

Understanding

Grace is the what makes all that I experience in relationship with God possible. It is by grace that I was predestined, chosen and elected. It is grace that places me into right relationship with God. It is grace that grants me all of the blessings that flow from relationship with God; and it is grace that enables me to live a life that walks in pleasing and glorifying obedience to God’s will and His word. It is all a work of grace because these are all favors that I could never earn or achieve. I experience them solely because of God’s love for me. I was not looking for them or asking for them when I received them. They were bestowed upon me in order that, by their transforming power, I might become a new creation that glorifies God and displays His saving power. If I were to “boast” about anything that qualified me to be their recipient, it would only be that I was the worst of sinners who could claim no redeeming quality of his own. It is not the desire of my rebellious will or the effort of my fallen flesh that facilitates even one moment of obedience, surrender or submission; but only the grace of God and the work of the Holy Spirit that enables me to live a life that honors the Giver of the grace in which I live.

Life Application

I have lived many long and discouraging seasons, filled with shame and condemnation, trying to ‘do” Christianity; hoping somehow to be holy by willing myself to “do” the life instructions of the Bible, only to fail miserably time and time again. Paul reminds me that it is grace that teaches me to walk after God; and to let the work of grace so transform me as to have all of the blessings of a life lived according to sound doctrine flow not out of the vanity and futility of works, but as a result of new life and identity in Christ that results from dying daily to the flesh and living according to the Spirit. Oh, grace! Teach me to say “No” to the world and “Yes” to God!
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here
-Gary Parker


Titus 1

 

Scripture

Titus 1:8-9

Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

Observation

This chapter begins with a salutation and prayer for Titus from the writer, Paul.  He then explains the reason Titus was left in Crete – to appoint elders or pastors in every town.  He first outlines what an elder should NOT be (v 6-7), then goes on to explain what an elder SHOULD be.

Understanding

Ultimately, the pastors / elders of the church are to have certain character and qualifications – as the leadership of the “flock” they are to be examples, both in word and in action.   

Life Application

I am so grateful that we have such great examples of God-serving leadership in our church.  May we honor them, pray over them, care for them and live out these same characteristics in our lives as we seek to honor Him and draw others to Him.

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

– Rei



2 Timothy 4

 

Scripture

2 Timothy 4:1

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge:

Observation – What does it say?

This passage, 2 Timothy 4:1-8, is bookended in both verses 1 and 8 with mention of the appearing of Jesus (his second coming). All of Paul’s commands to Timothy in this passage are given because Jesus is coming again:

  • preaching the word
  • enduring hardship
  • evangelizing
  • fulfilling his ministry

Then, Paul, nearing the end of his life and ministry, points to himself as an example of someone who already did it. Paul said he had…

  • fought the good fight
  • finished the race
  • kept the faith
  • and will now receive the crown of righteousness from God

Who will receive the crown besides Paul? Paul says “all who have longed for [Jesus’] appearing” (verse 8). It’s those who lived their lives thinking about and eagerly anticipating Jesus’ second coming.

Understanding – What does it mean?

The key to living a faithful life and finishing well is constant awareness of Jesus’ appearing!

If my ability to say what Paul did at the end of his life (verses 7-8) was only based on how I lived my life today, would I be able to? It’s important for us to consider that, because a life that “fought the good fight” and was able to “finish the race” and that “kept the faith” is made up of a life that DAILY chose each of those 3 things. 

Life Application

Make my daily decisions in light of Jesus’ second coming!

Daily I will be tempted to nap and be complacent rather than read my Bible or pray, to walk rather than run in this race, and to give into doubt rather than believe God at his word. But daily, I must choose rightly if I want to be able to say the same as Paul at the end of my life! I must make decisions through the filter of,

“Jesus is coming back. If he came back right now, which decision would I want him to find me making?”

God, fill us with excitement and anticipation for your second coming! May we be a church that lives and makes decisions in light of eternity. It’s only when we do, that we will be motivated to preach the word, endure hardship, share our faith and fulfill our ministry. Bless each person who reads this to be able to echo Paul’s words at the end of their own lives. Amen.

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


2 Timothy 3

 

Scripture

2 Timothy 3:14-17

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Observation-What does it say?

Paul is reminding and encouraging Timothy to continue living according to the Scriptures–the Scriptures that his mother Lois and grandmother Eunice taught him (2 Timothy 1:5). The Scriptures that he has learned and become convinced of. (Vs. 14)

Understanding– What does it mean?

We must not only learn the Scriptures, but also be convinced of them.

Based on freedictionary.comthe definition of convince is to cause (someone) by the use of argument or evidence to believe something or to take a course of action. So, when we become convinced of something, we not only believe it, but that causes us to take action.

Paul reminds and encourages Timothy the importance of Scripture and living his life according to God’s Word. Not just knowing the word, but living it out and taking action with it. Paul knew the discouragement Timothy faced as a Pastor, so He reminded Him to continue living a life submitted to God’s Word. Don’t just preach it, but live it.

Life Application

Become convinced of the Scriptures.

We become convinced of God’s Word in 3 ways:

  1. Study it
  2. Apply it/take action with it
  3. Get support to continue living in it through discipleship/mentoring 

We study Scripture by being in His Word daily, journaling it and memorizing it.

We apply it when the head knowledge gets to the heart and we submit to it.

We must get support and accountability to continue living in it, just like Timothy had with Paul. Making decisions through the filter of Scripture will be counter cultural/unpopular to the world and without support from Spirit filled people like our spouses, pastors, and leaders, it will be very easy to get discouraged and not continue to submit to His truths.

Dear Jesus, please help us all to be convinced of Your Word and continue living lives according to it. May it be more than head knowledge, but heart knowledge as a result of an intimate relationship with You Jesus. I also pray that we would get support especially when tempted to stray. Thank You for the awesome men and women and godly spouses that You have placed in our lives to help us continue living according to Your will and desires. I pray that Your desires would continue to become ours. Amen.

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


2 Timothy 2

 

Scripture

2 Timothy 2:24-26

“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”

‭‭Observation-What does it say?

Paul describes the type of temperament a Christ Follower should take on as we teach those who may oppose our faith. They must not be quarrelsome, but kind to everyone. They must be able to gently teach those who oppose our stance, so that they can see God’s love through it. Finally, they must be tolerant and patient with people. These are keys that Paul uses that can help defuse any volatile situation and allow Christ followers a way to dispel foolish arguments without destroying the antagonists.

Understanding-What does it mean?

What good is it to win an argument but lose those we get in touch with?

There are times we may find ourselves in situations where we are confronted by those who oppose our faith and beliefs. But this passage reminds me just how important our response to these people are. On one hand we can just rip into them with the knowledge we have on God’s Word. We can belittle them and their way of thinking. But what does that ultimately do? These people we come into contact with will probably walk away feeling dejected and maybe even resentful towards you because how you made them feel. Yeah, we may have won the argument, but we may have lost their soul to Christ.

Instead Paul reminds us the virtues we must carry as Christ Followers. We must be kind, tolerant, patient, and gently teach them the truth of God’s Word. It is our actions during this dispute that can speak volumes into their lives. Are my actions seeking to destroy my enemy and have him have hatred towards me? Or are my actions showing  my opponent mercy, grace, and help to get their lives back on track? Which one of these actions are more Christ-like?

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians‬ ‭4:31-32‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Life Application

Let the truth of God’s Word and the transformation in my life because of it,  be enough to show others God’s love and grace.

Father God, may my life today be pleasing to You. May my actions reflect Your love and grace to those I come into contact with. May the truth of Your Word alone set the lost ones free. Give me the strength to display these characteristics Paul speaks of in this passage to help teach others about You. In Jesus name I pray these things, Amen.

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


2 Timothy 1

 

Scripture

2 Timothy 1:12
“…I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day”.

Observation

In his second pastoral epistle to Timothy, Paul reminds him of his rich spiritual heritage and gifting. Paul exhorts Timothy to be bold, fearless and unashamed of the testimony of Jesus Christ and of his association with Paul. In fact, Paul encourages Timothy to preach and testify in such a way that he would share in Paul’s suffering for the same gospel. While Paul calls attention to those who have deserted him, he honors Onesiphorus who supported and refreshed Paul while he was imprisoned in Rome.

Understanding

Paul declares that the ability to endure all of the trials and afflictions that he has suffered for the sake of the gospel is because he knows on whom he has believed. This ability does not come from his merely knowing about Jesus, but proceeds from an intimate and empowering knowledge of the person of Jesus; a knowledge born of personal experience and relationship with the risen Christ.  Most of the human race knows about Jesus. They can give a fairly accurate biography of Him – his birth, life, ministry, claims of divinity; His crucifixion and “supposed” resurrection and ascension. Most can also give a yeoman’s accounting of the gospel. Yet, because this understanding is merely intellectual knowledge; known but not believed in, it does not transform and redeem. Sadly, even a Christ-follower can exist at the superficial level of head knowledge about Jesus, the Bible, doctrine, theology and the like, but fail to experience the full power of that knowledge because it has yet to find its way into the heart and it fails to flow out of fellowship and koinonia with the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus pointed out the profound need for personal relationship with Him as the source of salvation and transformation when He declared, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). Not the religion of Christianity; not the knowledge of dogma; not the adherence to legalism; but an abiding relationship with the person of Jesus Christ (John 15:5-6) that produces the fruit of worship, surrender, submission, obedience and love.

Life Application

Nothing will quench the transforming power of the word of God more than approaching my times in it as a matter of compulsion or duty. I need to remember that I can have a year’s calendar full of completed devotions yet fail to be changed as a result if I do not engage the word with the single most desire to know my Savior with ever increasing love, intimacy, gratitude and devotion. Even my teaching at Higher Learning cannot inspire and transform others unless it first impacts and then flows from my own deeper intimacy and knowledge of the One about whom I study and teach.

Daniel 11:32
“…the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.”
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here
-Gary Parker


1 Timothy 6

 

Scripture

1 Timothy 6:11

11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Observation

Paul, writing to Timothy, is making sure that it is understood that there is no Christian privilege…as Christians, they were to respect those in authority over them – regardless of whether they were believers.  In short, the way they work or serve should be a reflection of God in their lives – “serv[ing their masters] even better.” 

He goes on to explain that it is important to have godliness with contentment, to remain faithful to the call and not be distracted by the things of the world.

Understanding

In verse 11, we find direct advice and encouragement to Timothy but I think is equally attributable to Christians throughout time – to “flee from [the things of the world], and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. [To] fight the good fight of the faith.”

Like Timothy, we are called to be set apart for God…

  • To pursue righteousness – to be morally right and biblically justifiable, in a world that is fuzzy at best when it comes to morals and where the standard continues to decline
  • Godliness in a world that has raised up idols
  • Faith in a world that markets hopelessness
  • Love in a world that has become increasingly more isolated and self-centered
  • Endurance in a world that encourages short attention spans and chasing every whim and/or feeling
  • Gentleness in a world that sometimes makes it easier to remain guarded

These are the things that it takes to “fight the good fight.”

Life Application

Live life set apart…in a way that shows God in my life and in a way that draws others to relationship with Him too.

God, may I be a witness to you living inside of me…in EVERY encounter, EVERY conversation, EVERY situation, EVERY day.    

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

– Rei