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!
 

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

 

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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

 
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-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.

 
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-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)

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-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.   

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– Rei



1 John 2

Scripture

1 John 2:15-17

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

Observation What does it say?

I love the way The Message version paraphrases this passage:

Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.

Understanding – What does it mean?

We’re at a fork in the road. We are forced to make a decision between two options: Love the world and it’s ways (which is all about living for myself) OR do the will of God. One road leads to passing away, the other to living forever. And, this isn’t a one time decision. Following Jesus and doing his will is an ongoing decision we’re forced to make in every situation throughout every day.

Life Application

How convicting! How often do I want my own way? Uh… always. How often to I want things for myself? If I’m honest… all the time. How often to I want to appear important to others? Again, pretty much always.  These desires continually become the driving motives that determine the decisions I make and the way I live.

Do everything purely for the love of God.

I long for the motive driving every one of my actions, every one of my words, to be my love for God.  “I’m picking up this piece of trash in the parking lot because I love you.” “I’m doing these dishes because I love you.” “I’m responding kindly to my wife because I love you.” “I’m driving the speed limit because I love you.” “I’m getting up early to pray because I love you.”

God, forgive me for my selfishness. You saved me and set me apart to live for you! Not myself. I’ve lived for myself and the result wasn’t good. I want to walk in the plans you have for my life! I want to do everything purely out of love for you. Help me to do your will today. Amen. 
– Levi Thompson
 
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1 John 1

Scripture

1 John‬ ‭1:8-10‬ ‭NIV‬‬-

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.” 

Observation-What does it say?

John writes in this epistle (aka letter or message), that light and darkness do not mix. We cannot claim to live in Christ, while still living in the darkness. But then, he goes on to say that those who claim to be without sin have deceived themselves. Living in the light is impossible without dependence and surrender to the One who gives light, and that is Jesus Christ our Savior. 

Understanding-What does it mean?

A self righteous attitude leads us away from Christ, rather than towards Him.

I like to let God’s Word speak for itself.  I am reminded of 2 passages to support the above understanding.  The first one is in Luke 18:9-14.  To paraphrase, Jesus was addressing the crowd, specifically those who were confident of their own righteousness and looking down on everyone else. it is about a Pharisee and a tax collector. The first one was self righteous, thanking God that he was not like the other sinners over there, because he fasted twice a week and gave a tenth of his wages.  The other man beat his breast and would not even look to heaven, asking God for mercy because he was a sinner.  Scripture says the one who was justified before God in this situation was the tax collector.

The second passage I am reminded of is Matthew 19:16-26, where a man felt that it was his good works that would get him to heaven, and even told Jesus that He has kept all the commandments, and asked Him what he lacked.  Jesus knew the man’s heart and told him to sell his possessions and give to the poor.  The man ended up leaving sad because that was a sacrifice he couldn’t make.But then I love what Jesus told his disciples afterwards, when they asked him, “Who then can be saved?”  Jesus said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Life Application

The only way to stand firm in our faith; to stand firm in our calling and stand firm when the devil attacks is to remain in the One who is unchanging and stands firm forever. Jesus Christ our Savior. 

I woke up one morning and the Lord gave me 2 words: STAND FIRM. I started doing a study in His Word looking for all the verses and passages where the word “stand” or “stand firm” is mentioned in Scripture. He was speaking to me personally to stand firm in the faith, stand firm when attacked by the enemy, stand firm in His Word, and stand firm in His work. After a day (or less) of feeling good about myself and trying to stand firm in my own strength, I admit that I started getting discouraged, telling the Lord that I was not strong enough and too weak to do what He was calling me to do. Then He brought me to this Scripture to remind me that it is only He who is able to stand firm. It is only His word that endures forever and as long as I stay connected, humbled and surrendered to Him and His Word, I will be able to stand firm. It is impossible without Him. 

“A voice says, “Cry out.” And I said, “What shall I cry?” “All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures (STANDS) forever.”” Isaiah‬ ‭40:6-8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Dear Lord, I pray that we would all stand firm in being humbled and surrendered to You. May you take away all traces of self righteous pride in our hearts and may we be fully dependent on Your strength and righteousness alone. Teach us to live in the light as You are in the light and when darkness tries to overtake us or trap us, may we run to You for refuge. Purify our hearts Jesus and help us to repent and turn from our wicked ways for Your glory alone, so men would see our good deeds and glorify You (Matt. 5:16, 1 Peter 2:12). Amen.

 
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-Michelle Gaddi 


Esther 10

Scripture

Esther 10:3

“Mordecai the Jew became the prime minister, with authority next to that of King Xerxes himself. He was very great among the Jews, who held him in high esteem, because he continued to work for the good of his people and to speak up for the welfare of all their descendants.”

‭‭Observation-What does it say?

Mordecai was promoted by King Xerxes. He was second in rank next to the king. He was held in high regards not only by King Xerxes, but by all his people, because of his willingness to stand up and fight for the welfare of the people and all their descendants.

Understanding-What does it mean?

Put others’ needs above your own.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians‬ ‭2:3-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Mordecai was blessed by God not only because of his obedience towards Him, but also because of the heart he had for God’s people. Often times we can get caught up with a self-centered life. We believe that the world revolves around us. We end up behaving more like Haman, than Mordecai. But God honors those who humble themselves and puts others before themselves. In this book we saw what happens to those of us who can get too prideful (Haman). And we also see what can happen to those who obey God and place the needs and welfare of others before their own (Mordecai). 

“For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Matthew‬ ‭23:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Life Application

The keys for having joy in my life can be summed up with this acronym:

J-Jesus

O-Others

Y-Yourself

Father God may You give me the heart to serve others and care for them. Remove any pride in my heart that can cause me to fall. Instead let me walk into this day with a humble heart, ready to serve You and Your people. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
 
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-Moses Gaddi 


Esther 9

Scripture

Esther 9:28

These days should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family, and in every province and in every city. And these days of Purim should never fail to be celebrated by the Jews—nor should the memory of these days die out among their descendants.

Observation

After King Xerxes issues a decree allowing the Jews to defend themselves against those who sought to carry out Haman’s edict of annihilation, the Jews enact retribution on their enemies but do not lay their hands on any spoils of victory since securing the safety of their race, and not material gain, was the purpose of the slaughter that followed. After total victory is achieved and the bodies of Haman’s ten sons are impaled and displayed as a sign of infamy, Mordecai sends letters to all of the provinces instructing the people to celebrate with great feasts to commemorate God’s deliverance (even though within the Book of Esther God’s name is not mentioned once). Mordecai further instructs that it should be a festival that is kept at the same time each year from generation to generation – without end.  

Understanding

“Pur,” in the Persian language, means “lot”; and the feast of Purim is in reference to the time when Haman decided the day of the Jewish destruction by casting the lot. It was established as an annual feast, the celebration of which is kept to his day. Purim is considered one of the longest celebrated religious obervances ever – having been continuously kept for over twenty-five centuries. On both days of the feast, modern day Jews read the Book of Esther in their synagogues. The copy read must not be printed, but written on vellum in the form of a roll; and the names of the ten sons of Haman are written on it vertically, arranged like bodies impaled on poles. Whenever Haman’s name is pronounced, they make a terrible noise in the synagogue. Some drum with their feet on the floor, and the boys have mallets with which they knock and make a noise. Traditionally, Jews were to prepare themselves for their carnival by observing a three day fast prior to the feast, in imitation of Esther’s fast in preparation to appear before the king; but in modern times they have mostly reduced it to one day. The modern feast is celebrated with costumes, toys and gifts.

Life Application

The Jewish religious calendar is filled with many other feast days in addition to Purim, such as Rosh Hashanah (New Year); Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement); Passover, Succoth (Festival of the Tabernacles) and Hanukah (Festival of Lights), to name just a few. God uses each of them as a means by which we can remember His providence and protection in the past so that our faith may be strengthened for today and tomorrow. Christian celebrate holidays such as Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Easter and Christmas in remembrance of what God has done in the past. I pray to look upon these holidays with fresh eyes of faith and appreciation for God’s faithfulness. But I don’t have to wait for annual events to celebrate God’s mighty hand in my life. I can and should daily remember, rehearse and thank Him for all of His goodness and grace that I experience every moment of my life.

 

Deuteronomy 4:9
Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.

Psalm 103:2
Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits  
 
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Esther 8

Scripture

Esther 8:17a

In every province and in every city to which the edict of the king came, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating.

Observation – What does it say?

What a great ending! The road here wasn’t easy for Mordecai, Esther and the Jewish people. It was paved with a powerful enemy, many tears and fears, desperate prayers and fasting, Esther risking her life, and times where it seemed their destruction was certain. But God, clearly at work in every detail worked everything to this amazing end! The Jewish people were safe, Mordecai had been honored as royalty, Esther was still queen, and everyone was throwing a party because of their exceeding joy.

Understanding – What does it mean?

This story reminds me of Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works together for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

The journey is often crazy, filled with trials and what appears to be major setbacks on the way. Think about Joseph sold as a slave and then made a prisoner before ruling in Egypt. Think about Abraham waiting for what seems like much too long before his wife was able to conceive. Think about all of creation falling into sin and groaning as it eagerly awaits the redemption of all things.

The bottom line is that just because things are rough right now it doesn’t mean God is absent. We can be confident that God is working everything together for a good ending.

If it isn’t good, it isn’t over.

Life Application

Trust God’s plan.

God, I know life is filled with unexpected trials things to be worried about. But I also know that you are our good Father. You care for us, provide for us, protect us; you never let us down. Thank you for always being in the details even when we don’t see it. Thank you for the hope we have today because we know you work all things together for our good! We receive your peace and hope today. Amen.
 
– Levi Thompson
 
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