Bible Reading Plan
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Weekends: Read any passages of your choice or catch up if you’ve fallen behind 🙂

 
 
 
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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!
 

1 Peter 1

Scripture 

1 Peter 1:16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
Observation 
 
Apostle Peter is writing to the exiles that are scattered throughout the land, encouraging them while they deal with trials of their faith. 
He encourages them to be HOLY. 
Understanding 

Holy – Greek word “hagios”- sacred, holy- set apart by (or for) God.
How can I be holy? Without sin the way God is holy, On a consistent basis? I can barely stick to something “good” for a season.
I can do all the bad habits for years with consistency but good healthy ones… not so much! Do u know how many diets I start on Monday… I’ve gained 20 lbs since my last round of starting on Monday ! Lol!
It seems out of reach…
I believe in Jesus Christ my Lord and savior who washed my Sins away by his blood that was shed for my redemption, I am “blameless, without sin” in God’s sight. 
“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.” (2 Timothy 1:9).
Holy also means set apart. 
Application 

Be Set apart. 
If I’m set apart unto God for his purpose then my intentions will be to look like the image of his Son and not like the world around me. 
2 Peter 2:5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I will continue to look in my spiritual mirror and check my reflection. Do I see goodness, self- control, godliness…
I will keep trying and trying and trying,  Doing again and again and again,  Until the Holy Spirit produces the qualities that will keep me set apart. 
We are called to be 
SET APART, UNTO GOD, FOR HIS PURPOSE
Deborah Lee 


James__5

Scripture
 
James‬ ‭5:5‬ ‭NLT
 
“You have spent your years on earth in luxury, satisfying your every desire. You have fattened yourselves for the day of slaughter.”
‭‭‬‬
Observation-What does it say?
 
In this chapter, James warns the rich over their love of money. James rebukes the rich for hoarding their riches, investing in meaningless material things that corrode and rot away over time, and the ruthless ways they cheated others to obtain their riches. Judgement is upon them! How they utilized the riches they obtained will determine how they will be judged.
 
Understanding-What does it mean?
 
How am I utilizing God’s blessings?
 
When it’s all said and done, and we meet God face to face, He is going to hold us each accountable on what we did with His blessings. Will God care if I purchased that nice house on the hills? Will God care if I bought that fancy sports car? Will God really care if I sent my kids to that Ivy League University? Ultimately, I’m going to have to answer to God regarding how I managed what He blessed me with here on earth, and how I used it to build His Kingdom and glorify His name. Did I use it to collect and hoard material things? Did I keep it all to myself? Or did I share it with the world to bring glory and honor to His name?
 
“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”
Matthew‬ ‭6:19-21‬ ‭
 
Life Application
 
Use your blessings to be a blessing.
 
We all have different gifts and blessings that God has given us. For some of us, it may be our finances. For some, it may be a heart of encouragement. And for others it may be wisdom from life’s experiences. Whatever the case may be, we all have something to offer others in their time of need, so why not share it with the world?Use the opportunity and platform God has given you to share and show His love today.
 
-Moses Gaddi


James___4

Scripture

 
James 4:5
 
Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us?
 
Observation-What does it say?
 
James, the brother of Jesus, continues to write to Jewish Christians to “encourage them to continue growing in their new Christian faith (got questions.org).” In this chapter, James is encouraging them to submit to God and flee from the desires of the world, “for the Spirit that the Lord has caused to dwell in them is jealous for their affection (vs. 5).” The way the footnotes paraphrased it is “that the Spirit He caused to dwell in us longs jealously.”
 
Understanding-What does it mean?
 
God is a jealous God.
 
The Lord will not settle for 2nd place in our lives. His Spirit wants to be the first and the only One in our hearts. He desires all of our affection, all of our time, all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. 
 
You must worship no other gods, for the LORD, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you. Exodus 34:14 NLT
 
For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.  Deut. 4:24 ESV
 
Life Application
 
Submit to Christ’s love for us.
 
When we submit to Christ’s love for us as our bridegroom, everything else pales in comparison. The Bible speaks about the church being the bride of Christ. In marriage, sometimes we think that jealousy is a bad thing, but honestly, if a spouse is not jealous for his bride and if he is okay with her giving her focus and attention to someone else (or vice versa), then there’s a problem. It’s no different with our relationship with the Lord. He loves and desires relationship with us and we break His heart when we choose the world over Him. There is an ongoing spiritual battle ensuing in the lives of believers (Eph. 6:12), but as we DAILY choose to submit to Him, be in His Word, pray, sing songs of worship/praise, stay connected to the Body and stand firm in the faith, the devil flees. 
 
Dear Lord, please forgive me for the many times I have broken Your heart when I’ve desired things not in line with my calling in life and identity in You or when I’ve complained instead of been grateful for Your love for me. Thank You that You are jealous for my affection and that You relentlessly pursue me as a result. With Your Spirit’s help, I commit to choose You everyday as You have chosen me. Amen.
 
-Michelle Gaddi
 
 


James_3

SCRIPTURE

James 3:3-5

3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.

5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.

 

OBSERVATION

James 2 shows “how unprofitable and dead faith is without works” and goes on to say that “such a faith is, however, apt to make men conceited and magisterial in their tempers and their talk. Those who set up faith in the manner the former chapter condemns are most apt to run into those sins of the tongue which this chapter condemns. And indeed the best need to be cautioned against a dictating, censorious, mischievous use of their tongues.”

 

UNDERSTANDING

There’s lots of great guidance in this chapter; but a majority can be summed up with…

Watch yo’ mouth!

  • As Christians, we will be judged more strictly by what comes out of our mouths.
  • The tongue, left unchecked, corrupts the whole body.
  • The tongue is not easily tamed.
  • Praising the Lord, while cursing those made in is likeness is a sign of an unchecked, untamed tongue.

It also requires us to acknowledge the power of the tongue. It’s small but mighty! And it can just as equally (though perhaps, not just as easily) be used for good!

It can be used to praise, to lift others up, to silence the lies of the enemy, to speak life into people and situations, to encourage, to give honor, to show love, to speak truth, to stand up for those that need it…

 

LIFE APPLICATION

Just like a great forest is set on fire by a small spark, we can use our tongues to set fire to all the good stuff today!  This requires a bridled or controlled tongue; there’s two ways to bridle our tongue – watch our mouths and be controlled in what we allow to come out…but perhaps the greater or more powerful one is, to start with the heart.
 
Proverbs 4:23 – Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flows the springs of life.  
 
What comes out of our mouths is merely a outflow of what’s in our heart.  
 
May we guard our hearts and use our tongues for all the good that God intended them for; let’s blaze trails of kindness, truth, love, honor, encouragement everywhere we go today.
 
 
 
Join the discussion here.


James___2

Scripture 
 
James 2:13
 
For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.

Observation-What does it say?  The author of this letter is James, who is most likely the brother of Jesus.  This letter covers a range of topics regarding Christian conduct, most of which are shown in contrast: rich and poor, pride and humility, faith and works.  In the second chapter, we are presented with a warning on our treatment of others and alternative to judgement  James reminds us, in a more plain dialect, of what Jesus told us in the parable of the Laborers Vineyard:  The first shall be last and the last shall be first. (Matthew 20:1-16)
After giving us fair warning of how we should treat those less fortunate than us, and be wary of showing favoritism on the basis of wealth, we are told how we might practically live out our life of faith.  We do this by putting action to the love we claim. In doing this, we will be more prone to see people through the lens of Christ’s love.  

Understanding-What does it mean?  I sat, listening to a conversation between two family members, as they discussed a recent interview for a job.  The interview had not gone as planned, and one of the subjects discussed was outfit choice for the outfit. The interviewee had decided, against sage advice, to wear jeans and a t-shirt to the interview.  When asked about this decision, they stated, “I don’t want to change who I am to get a job.”  
As I pondered this statement, I considered my attitude in coming to Jesus and how it was much the same.  What I show in my actions speaks much to the same tone, “Jesus, I love you, but I don’t want to change.” But, we know that we are, by nature, prone to sin and thus a natural enemy towards Jesus.  Acting out our faith, and loving those who we don’t naturally want to love, causes a change in our heart, thus allowing God to perfect us daily.  
In my day to day life, I need to go about the business of caring for those less fortunate than me.  In doing this, I am practicing the change I claim to desire from my relationship with Jesus. For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.  Philippians 1:6

Life Application  Jesus, help me to learn to let go of my sinful self.  Put me in places where I will be challenged to love in a sacrificial way.  In being obedient to giving and loving in a sacrificial way, I trust you are changing my will to be your will.  
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sILwvJShMV8
 
-Tyler Galloway



2 Chronicles 31

Scripture

2 Chronicles 31:1 When all this had ended, the Israelites who were there went out to the towns of Judah, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. 

They destroyed the high places and the altars 

throughout Judah and Benjamin and in Ephraim and Manasseh. After they had destroyed all of them, the Israelites returned to their own towns and to their own property.

 

Observation

Hezekiah sent a letter throughout Israel and Judah, telling the people to turn their ways and heart back to God. 

2 Chronicles 30:9 “He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.”

2 Chronicles 30:14 They removed the altars in Jerusalem and cleared away the incense altars and threw them into the Kidron Valley.

Hezekiah prayed. God heard his humble prayer and He healed the people. 

2 Chronicles 30:26 There was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the days of Solomon son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem. 27 The priests and the Levites stood to bless the people, 

and God heard them,

 for their prayer reached heaven, his holy dwelling place.

 

Understanding 

2 Chronicles 31:20 This is what Hezekiah did throughout Judah, doing what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God. 21 In everything that he undertook in the service of God’s temple and in obedience to the law and the commands,

he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly.

And so he prospered.

Application 

Humble yourself and commit your whole heart to God. 

God is searching for those whose hearts are fully devoted to him. Whose hearts refuse to lift themselves above Him. Whose hearts are humble enough to be vulnerable and fully lean upon Him. We live and move and have our very existence because of Him. 

Is He not worthy? Is He not faithful? Is He not love?

He is waiting to pour out all he has to those who turn their hearts to him. He is waiting to heal our land, our homes, our kids, our marriages, our finances, our bodies…


Tear down the high places,
 
Let the Spirit rush in, 
 
Return to HIM.
 
 
 
 
 
 
-Deborah Lee


Hebrews_13

Scripture

Hebrews 13:8

8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
 

Observation

The author stresses in the verse prior to this one love and trust in one another and in the leaders of the church. They reminds the readers of the importance of keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, and while things on earth may change, Jesus never does.

 

Understanding

God is faithful, no matter the amount of times we change.

I can’t tell you how many times I change my mind within the first few hours of waking up, let alone the whole day. “No I’m not going to get out bed, but I need a degree to get a job… this top or this one, no I think I’ll go with a flannel… should I turn the alarm off or go back to sleep… toast or eggs for breakfast, both, but I had that yesterday… maybe if I just sit on my bed a little longer the seconds will slow down too…” This all goes through my head and I haven’t even gotten up to turn on the light in my bedroom. Yet if anyone was to question my competence, I would tell them with complete confidence that I trust my own opinion and I am somewhat confident in my abilities. Even though I can barely decide whether or not I should get out of bed! People can say all they want about my morning decisions, but there’s one thing I would hope that people will say of me long after I take my last breath: that I was convinced of the faithfulness and goodness of God, that I followed Him no matter what through every season of my life.

Because I know that surely God had has followed me. He has been the one thing in this life that has been the most consistent and constant thing. Something that actually blows my mind is the fact that it doesn’t matter how many times we change, God doesn’t. He’s the one thing that doesn’t have to evolve or adapt to circumstances, instead our circumstances should bend to His will and way. Yet somewhere we’ve swapped this way of thinking. We’ve told ourselves “I have to get with the times or I’ll be left behind,” but it isn’t worth it! Not then and not now and not ever. Why? “Because Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”Honestly someone should make that a sign or something 😉
 

Life Application

Focus on the one thing.

Paul puts it this way in Philippians 3:13-14—

13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

We can trust in the assurance that God never changes, so we must therefore focus our attention on the one thing that will remain long after we are gone. The past is gone and the new is coming, let’s strain for the prize that is heavenward and not one bound by the earth.

-Allison Khan



Hebrews 12

Scripture
 
Hebrews‬ ‭12:4-11‬ ‭NIV‬‬
 
“In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
‭‭
Observation-What does it say?
 
The author speaks about perseverance of faith, fixing our eyes on Jesus so that we don’t grow weary and lose heart and the importance of discipline from our Heavenly Father.
 
Understanding-What does it mean?
 
Loving discipline doesn’t destroy. It builds up.
 
Perseverance in faith comes through fixing our eyes on Jesus and also training. Part of that training comes in the form of discipline to build our faith and trust in the One who loves us with an everlasting love.
 
Life Application
 
Love is not only in the form of grace. It is also in the form of discipline.
 
I’m sure all of us have heard the quote, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
I like verse 4 that says, “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.” Obviously, that verse is talking about Jesus and being encouraged to persevere because Jesus had to endure so much more for us.
 
I went through a period of my faith where I can confidently say I was undergoing discipline from my Heavenly Father as a result of rebellion. It was so hard, that the sin wasn’t even worth the the cost and the consequences of that rebellion. God was teaching me a lesson. Even though I felt He was really hard on me, I was comforted by the Holy Spirit telling me that God loves me so much and that’s why He’s disciplining me this way. I am His beloved child. He had/has plans for my life that will be hindered if I continue in the path of rebellion.
 
Anyhow, the discipline didn’t pull me away from the Lord. It actually trained me, strengthened my faith and deepened my relationship with Jesus. I learned from it. It’s because of how lovingly He did it. He was with me through it all and I never doubted His love for me.
 
Let’s talk about it in terms of working out. When we are at the gym getting stronger, it hurts at first because we are not used to the discipline and new pressure being put on our bodies and muscles to grow it. BUT, the weights start getting lighter and we are able to lift more because we’ve embraced the pain for a short while and our muscles have developed what they call “muscle memory” to it.
 
If you are currently undergoing discipline from our Heavenly Father, usually in the form of consequences from sin and also testing of character, embrace it! God loves you. If you are a parent or a teacher or responsible for another human being in another form, I don’t have to explain this further. We want the best for our kids and that’s why we discipline them in love.
I’d rather be disciplined by my Heavenly Father than neglected by Him.
 
Thank You Lord that You love us so much that You don’t neglect us and throw us away when we rebel or sin against You. Thank You that You care so much about us that You stay involved as a loving parent. It hurts when we undergo discipline and even testing of character, but I know the end results will “produce a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” as Your Word says. It also produces deeper trust in You as our Heavenly Father. I Love you Jesus. Thank You loving me first though. Amen.
 
-Michelle Gaddi
 
 


Hebrews_11

Scripture

Hebrews 11:1, 32-34

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 

32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.

 

Observation

Hebrews Chapter 10 closes out with the recommendation of the grace of faith and a life of faith to avoid apostasy – or abandonment of their religious belief.

Chapter 11 brings us to the actions of faith…with plenty of incredible, God-filled stories to back it up.

 

Understanding

This seems like a chapter to be read on the daily…reminders of all the faith filled lives that have gone before and the transformative work that God did through them.  But, first, a reminder of what faith is…

“…confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

Faith is believing – with boldness and trust – in God for unseen, the unknown.

It starts with first understanding and believing that this crazy, big, complicated Earth we live on, the stars and galaxies we see…the entire universe, was formed at God’s command (v 3).

But the chapter shares story after story – so much so that the author “doesn’t have time” to share all of them – of faith in action.  Faith that…

        Took humans from this earth without experiencing death

        Please God

        Saved Noah, his family and the animals from the flood (something they’d never experienced before)

        Brought Abraham to the promised land

        Gave life in a barren womb

        Created descendants “as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore” from a man, “as good as dead”

        Saved lives

        Brought healing

        Brought blessings

        Brought Moses, from abandoned child to freer of slaves

        Created dry land in the middle of the Red Sea

        Brought down the walls of Jericho

        Saved a prostitute

        Rose people from the dead

        …conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. (v 33-34)

 

Life Application

‘Cause I gotta’ have faith
I gotta’ have faith
Because I gotta’ have faith, faith, faith
I got to have faith, faith, faith

Hard not to read about faith and not sing George Michael in your brain. [But his lyrics are not quite in line with the message of the day. Lol.]

What are the things that build your faith?  What are the ways that God has shown up and shown Himself real to you? 

May we meditate on these things.  May we repeat them because we believe them…or repeat them until we believe them.  May we live with faith, a faith that resonates so deeply within that it MUST turn into action. 

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



Hebrews 10

Scripture  

 

Hebrews 10:35-36  Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.  For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.

 

Observation-What does it say?  

 

The audience in Hebrews is in an apparent crises of faith.  They are looking to go back to how things were before the good news of Jesus was revealed to them.  In writing to a group of Jewish believers, the author is reminding them that there is no longer a need to turn back to the ways of sacrifice.  Jesus, God’s son, was the ultimate sacrifice and did away with our need to cover our sin.  Because of the work done at the cross, there is victory for those who remain faithful to the end of this life.  Therefore, they are reminded that this life will pass and the rewards will come to those who endure.

 

Understanding-What does it mean?  

 

Because of my experience in my recreational pursuits, I often associate the idea of endurance and suffering with a degree of choice.  I chose to run a marathon, therefore I also chose to learn to endure through training runs.  But, endurance and suffering also has another side.  In this life of uncertainty, people are often faced with suffering through pains due to simply being caught up in a circumstance they did not create.  Innocent bystanders tragically caught in horrible accidents.  Toddlers who get sick because their pre-school classmate decided to come to school sick.  The list could go on forever.

I remember being at work and a coworker of mine asked, “How can you believe in God when there are so many bad things happening in this world?”  At the time, I was twenty years old, I was a little bit stumped by his certainty that this was evidence that God did not care, or simply did not exist.  I would be lying if I did not admit that I haven’t had the same question at times.  Having suffered several tragic losses, I was tempted to turn away from the God I know to be so good.  But, every time I would hear God saying to me that he was near.

Through tragedy, I am often reminded of the story of Job.  Job was blameless in this world, and allowed to suffer for no reason.  Through the loss of his family and all his possessions, Job remained faithful.  At the end of his suffering, Job, speaking to God, says, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” (Job 42:5)  For Job, it wasn’t until he had endured such a great tragedy that he saw how great God truly is.  Ultimately, God restored Job greater than before the suffering began.  

 

Life Application  

 

Jesus, draw near to me in time of turbulence.  Help me to know that you are with me, so that I can draw nearer to you.  Help me to keep my eyes on you in times of uncertainty, for I know your reward is coming.  

 

-Tyler Galloway