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!
 

28 Days: Day 25

70 Hour prayer vigil begins today. http://signup.com/go/SbLkgzS 

Join us this evening @ 7 for a time of intercessory worship at the church.

SCRIPTURE

  • Luke 9:1-6 (NIV) 1  When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2  and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. 3  He told them: “Take nothing for the journey–no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic. 4  Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. 5  If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them.” 6  So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere.

OBSERVATION

The Twelve’s mission had a single purpose: they were to proclaim the kingdom of GodProclaim refers to a herald’s formal, authoritative, public announcement of important truth. In an era before mass media, that was how important messages were communicated to the public, just as town criers would do in later times. In town after town, the apostles publicly proclaimed that the kingdom of God was at hand because the Lord, Savior, and King had arrived. They also announced that entrance to the kingdom was through repentance, with confession of sin, and faith in the Messiah.

The preaching of the Twelve followed the pattern set by Jesus. In Luke 4:43 He announced, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.” At the beginning of chapter 8, Luke recorded that “He began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God”.   As Luke noted in that same verse, “the twelve were with Him,” learning from His example. When He sent them out, the Twelve preached the same message that Jesus did. The church today has that same responsibility to preach exactly what Jesus did without altering it. The church’s message is not a social, political, philanthropic, or moral one. It is a message of sin, salvation, and forgiveness, which without being changed has been explained and enriched in the New Testament epistles.

MacArthur New Testament Commentary, The – MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Luke 6-10. 

UNDERSTANDING

Jesus gathered up His disciples and sent them out to the nations.  The word is apostello or sent ones.  That is exactly what He commissioned us to when He gave us the Great Commission. 

We are sent ones to the world.

Two very simple thoughts about sent ones. 
A sent one makes the message of Jesus very simple and understandable.  Our message as disciples does not have to be complicated.  It is not about literally having better morals.  The message of Christ is not meant to be a feel good, or a positive thinking message.  It is a very, very simple message that we, as sinful people, are separated from a holy God.  God loved us so much that Jesus went on the very first Heavenly mission trip in order to give Himself for us, so that we should live.  We could be made right with Him, not by religion, not by works, but only by faith through the grace of God, believing in Jesus Christ.  It is a very, very simple message, and we are called to take that message into all of the world very, very aggressively. 

Number two, a sent one makes compassion central.  As disciples of Jesus, we should be the most compassionate, caring, and generous people on planet earth. 

LIFE APPLICATION

 Have you gotten the message yet?  We are Great Commission people and GC people are called to be missionaries – across the street, at our jobs, in foreign lands.  Will you go?



28 Days: Day 24

SCRIPTURE

  • Matthew 20:26-28 (NIV) 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27  and whoever wants to be first must be your slave– 28  just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

OBSERVATION

 It is not wrong to desire great usefulness for God, but we need to remember that God’s picture of success is not the same picture that the world has.  Too often we want to do God’s work and but we want to frame it in a worldly mindset. 

UNDERSTANDING

This servant mentality just flies in the face of everything we know in our culture.  Think about the language that we use to be the greatest in our culture.  You’re to climb to the top.  You’ve got to climb the corporate ladder.  If you want to be great, you rise to greatness, but in the culture of the kingdom, Jesus flips it around.  He says, “You really want to be the greatest?  You descend to greatness, serve others!” 

LIFE APPLICATION

So are you here at Desert Streams to serve or to be served?  Are you here to really be a part of what God is doing in people’s lives every week, or is it sort of a spiritual consumer idea where you get in, you watch the message, and then you are on with life?  A disciple of Jesus is a servant. 

So where are you serving?  How are you washing the feet of those in the family at DSC?  Are you a consumer or a contributor?  If you are not being a servant today is as good a day as any to start, ask God to show you where you can use your time, talents, treasures and testimony to serve.



28 Days: Day 22

SCRIPTURE

  • Mark 10:17-22
  • Luke 9:23-25 (NIV) 23 Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. 25  What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?

OBSERVATION

The thing about being a disciple is that it will cost us.  There is a difference between being a believer and being a disciple…there are many believers today in the church – they confess that Jesus is God and have asked God to forgive them of their sins, but that is where they stop.  A disciple goes further – he/she has submitted themselves to God and given Him the right to tell them what to do, where to go and what to say.  In other words, they have allowed God to change them from the inside out.  That change does not come easy, it hurts, but it is worth it if we stick it out. 

Being a disciple costs us our time, it costs us surrendering our agenda and plans and being willing to follow Jesus’ agenda and plan for us.  Being a disciple is a covenant relationship not just good intention.  Understand that a covenant relationship is a binding contract that cannot be broken, and when we covenant with God to be His disciple we mean to see it through to the end. 

UNDERSTANDING

Sunday we talked about three responses to when God calls us to be about His business…

  • Here I am, I am not going.
  • Here I am, send someone else.
  • Here I am, send me.
I believe that in order for us to live the surrendered life of the disciple who says, “Here I am, send me!” we must be pursuing God in such a way that we have ongoing encounters with Him in His presence.  Are you pursuing God?  A disciple pursues the Master. 

I also believe that when we recognize our sin and God’s holiness and come to realize how much He has showered His grace on us then we find our hearts changing from I have to give up my life to “I get to give up my life for the one who has given all for me!”

LIFE APPLICATION

Who are you?  Are you a believer or a disciple?  Obviously, God’s desire is for you to be a disciple.  Are you willing to pay the cost?

God I pray that your people will say yes to following you.  I pray that their answer will be yes before they even know the question.  God may they trust you in such a way that they discover your best is better than anything could ever imagine and think for themselves.



28 Days: Day 23

Remember to sign up to pray for an hour during our 70 Hour Prayer Time

SCRIPTURE

  • Luke 5:10-11 (NIV) 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” 11  So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

OBSERVATION

When Jesus calls He inducts us into the union of fishermen.  Now, some people might say, “Well, I don’t even know where to start.  What do I do?  How do I go fishing?”  The beauty of this is that even if you don’t know about fishing Jesus will equip you to be a great fisherman. 

UNDERSTANDING

There are two pointers we can glean from our reading today that can help us be great fishermen – here is all you need to know to be a great fisherman. 

First, go into the fishing trade with the decision to have unquestioning obedience to God.  Peter followed the advice given and threw the net on the other side, even though there was no sensible reason to do so, but the catch was great because of his obedience to the Master Fisherman. 

The second thing is that we need to fish with absolute abandonment.  Peter became a “fisher of men” because he abandoned everything and followed Jesus.   

LIFE APPLICATION

A disciple goes fishing.  A disciple makes disciples.  A disciple leaves everything to be like Him, follow Him, and do what He’s been doing.  Take some time today to commit to following Jesus with absolute abandonment and unquestioning obedience.



28 Days: Day 21

SCRIPTURE

  • 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NLT) 24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25  All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26  So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27  I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

OBSERVATION

Those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize. No one would train so hard for so long without intending to win. Yet out of the large number of runners, only one wins.

A great difference between those races and the Christian “race” is that every Christian who will pay the price of careful training can win. We do not compete against each other but against the obstacles—practical, physical, and spiritual—that would hinder us. In a sense, every Christian runs his own race, enabling each one of us to be a winner in winning souls to Christ. Paul therefore counsels all believers to run in such a way that you may win, by setting aside anything that might hinder the reception of the gospel.

Holding tightly to liberties and rights is a sure way to lose the race of soul-winning. Many of the Corinthian Christians seriously limited their testimony because they would not limit their liberty. They refused to give up their rights, and in so doing they won few and offended many.

MacArthur New Testament Commentary, The – MacArthur New Testament Commentary – 1 Corinthians.

UNDERSTANDING

The simple definition of discipleship is a disciplined follower of.  If we are to be disciples of Christ then we must choose the path of discipline.  Paul tells us that a disciple is one who trains, who beats his body and makes it a slave.  All too often we have equated discipleship with someone teaching us or training us, but discipleship is more than that.  Teaching is the imparting of knowledge. Discipleship is imparting the knowledge and requiring a response to the knowledge. The difference between discipleship and training is that again discipleship takes it a step further.  Discipleship requires accountability for the training received. 

As believers our responsibility regarding discipleship is twofold; we are to be disciples and then be responsible for others becoming disciples.  We are to be transformed by Christ and be instrumental in transforming other believers, and it should be happening concurrently.  Every one of us are to be disciples and making disciples regardless of if you are a new believer or one who has followed Christ for years. 

LIFE APPLICATION

 

 

How many of us are missing the race and disqualifying ourselves from the prize because we are unwilling to lay down our liberties and rights?  We are afraid of accountability and discipline.  Let’s say yes to God’s way and what He has called us to.  Let’s be about the business of the Great Commission – being disciples and making disciples.  No excuses accepted!



28 Days: Day 20

  • John 17:20-23 (NLT) 20  “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21  I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. 22  “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. 23  I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.

Protecting the Unity of the Fellowship

Here are some ways we can ensure that we protect our fellowship…

Focus on what we have in common not our differences:  we share God’s love, salvation, heaven and the grace of God. These are the things we need to focus on.

Be realistic in your expectations of your fellow brother or sister.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer says that the real beginning of community is when we realize that no church is perfect and that it is because all of us are imperfect and in need of grace.

Choose to encourage rather than criticize each other.

Refuse to listen to gossip.

Practice God’s method of conflict resolution.  (see Matthew 18:15-17)

Support and submit to your spiritual leaders.

 

Today again, as you go to prayer, confess the areas where you have caused the fellowship to weaken and choose today to protect and deepen our fellowship.  Remember as you do this we come one step closer to being a Great Commission Movement.



28 Days: Day 19

SCRIPTURE

  • Romans 12:9-13 (NLT) 9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10  Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 11  Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. 12  Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 13  When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.

OBSERVATION

Paul gives us some ways to truly deepen and protect our fellowship with believers. 
It starts with a commitment to do what is good and right. 
With that purposing of heart we are to love each other with genuine affection or love. 
We are to honor them. 
We are to pull our weight in the family and we are to work together with enthusiasm. 
Help those in need and be hospitable.

These things help us keep unity in the family.

UNDERSTANDING

God loves unity.  In fact it is so important that in the establishing of the church, God, in the New Testament gives more attention to unity of that church than either heaven or hell.

Unity is at the heart of fellowship.  Without unity you destroy the body of Christ.  Without unity there is no fellowship and without fellowship there is no church.

The Bible admonishes that we as believers are to make every effort to keep the fellowship of the church intact.  To be agents of unity, commissioned by Jesus to promote and preserve fellowship among believers.  In fact, there is the understanding that if you are causing disunity among the believers then you are in sin.  Anything that destroys unity and fellowship is sin

In the reading today two phrases really got my attention.

Love each other with genuine affection.  What does it look like for us to love each other with genuine affection?  It would mean looking out for each other, not speaking badly of them and even when they frustrate us we are not dishonoring towards them with others.  And that is just a start.

The other phrase that really struck me is, ”never be lazy, but work hard…”  I didn’t really think about it until I read it that when family members are not pulling their weight and helping it causes discord and disunity.  It wears down the ones who have to pick up the slack and causes there to be resentment.

LIFE APPLICATION

Today as you go to prayer will you ask God if you have been guilty of destroying unity and fellowship?  And when He shows you will you confess it to God and to His family so that there is healing for you and the family.



28 Days: Day 18

SCRIPTURE

  • Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV) 24  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25  Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

OBSERVATION

Fellowship with God must never become selfish. We must also fellowship with other Christians in the local assembly. Apparently, some of the wavering believers had been absenting themselves from the church fellowship. It is interesting to note that the emphasis here is not on what a believer gets from the assembly, but rather on what he can contribute to the assembly. Faithfulness in church attendance encourages others and provokes them to love and good works. One of the strong motives for faithfulness is the soon coming of Jesus Christ. In fact, the only other place the word translated “assembling” (Heb. 10:25) is used in the New Testament is in 2 Thessalonians 2:1, where it’s translated “gathering” and deals with the coming of Christ.

The three great Christian virtues are evidenced here: faith (Heb. 10:22), hope (Heb. 10:23), and love (Heb. 10:24). They are the fruit of our fellowship with God in His heavenly sanctuary.

Bible Exposition Commentary – Bible Exposition Commentary – Be Confident (Hebrews).

UNDERSTANDING

So you have decided to be part of the fellowship of the believers?  You are now on a direct course to fulfill the Great Commission.  Let us look quickly at some ways to deepen that fellowship so that we can get the most out of what God designed. 

Here are five ways we can deepen our fellowship…

  • Meet together regularly
  • Worship together
  • Spur each other on to love and good deeds
  • Encourage each other each time you meet
  • Eat in each other’s homes

LIFE APPLICATION

Did you notice how easily those aspects of fellowship are met when we are part of a GROW group?

Why not make a commitment today to deepen our fellowship and in so doing strengthen the ability for us to fulfill the Great Commission.  Choose a couple of these to start on and let’s start deepening our koinonia.



28 Days: Day 17

Join us this evening @ 7 for a time of worship and prayer at the church.

SCRIPTURE

Ephesians 1:5 – “His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into His own family.”

OBSERVATION

Fellowship with other believers brings God pleasure because we’re formed for God’s family.  

You know why God made you?

Because he wanted a family, and that family is going to outlast your physical family because it extends into eternity. 

One of the most misunderstood ideas about the Christian life is that it’s just a matter of believing. But God says, “No, you’re not just ‘believers;’ you’re ‘belongers.’” You belong in the family of God. Did you know that fifty-eight times in the New Testament the word “one another” is used?

Love one another, care for one another, pray for one another, exhort one another, encourage one another, greet one another, and on and on and on.

UNDERSTANDING

As we read in Acts yesterday, the people who are serious about following Jesus devote themselves to the fellowship.  That word devote means to remain steadfast and faithful, to persevere and not be distracted.  Are you devoted to the fellowship?  There are so many things that fight to distract us from being devoted to the fellowship, things that are good but lead us away from God’s best.  We do a lot of rationalizing as to why we give those things higher priority but in the end the question remains…are you devoted to the fellowship?

LIFE APPLICATION

The challenge is that you will choose to be devoted to the fellowship here at DSC.  That means choosing to be present at our Sunday celebrations, being in a GROW group and choosing to be open and trusting with God’s people.  It also comes with the understanding of serving with God’s people.
 
So, will you devote yourself to the fellowship?  Why not join the family this evening as we worship God together.


28 Days: Day 16

SCRIPTURE

  • Acts 2:42, Ephesians 4:2-3, Hebrews 10:24-25 & Romans 14:19

OBSERVATION

Fellowship is the spiritual duty of believers to stimulate each other to holiness and faithfulness. It is not just getting together and having a good time but it is encouraging one another and spurring one another towards loving God, loving His people and serving His mission. 

It is most specifically expressed through the “one anothers” of the New Testament.  The basic meaning of fellowship is “partnership,” or “sharing.” Those who receive Jesus Christ become partners with Him and with all other believers (1 John 1:3). It carries with it the issue of accountability – being accountable to whether or not we are fulfilling God’s purposes for us.

UNDERSTANDING

“For a Christian to fail to participate in the life of a local church is inexcusable. In fact, those who choose to isolate themselves are disobedient to the direct command of Scripture.  (Hebrews 10:24-25)    The Bible does not envision the Christian life as one lived apart from other believers. All members of the universal church, the body of Christ, are to be actively and intimately involved in local assemblies.”

MacArthur New Testament Commentary, The – MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Acts 1-12.

LIFE APPLICATION

So the question is, “Are you a part of the fellowship or are you just attending a Sunday meeting?” 

God’s desire is that when you believed and were baptized, you were to be part of the fellowship where you gave others the permission to encourage and spur you on to fulfill God’s assigned mission.  By the way, spurring is not always a pleasant experience is it?
 
Why don’t you renew your commitment to the fellowship and allow them to help you be all you can be for God?  Commit to being involved in a GROW group where you can experience deep fellowship.