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!
 

Proverbs 17

 

Scripture

Proverbs 17:9, 27

Whoever would foster love covers over an offense,
    but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.

27 The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint,
    
and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.

Observation

“You can tell the size of a [person] by the size of the thing that upsets him.”

― Adlai E. Stevenson

“You can tell the greatness of a man by what makes him angry.”

― Abraham Lincoln

Regardless of who said it first or the exact phrasing, the point is…what offends us and our reaction to an offense says a lot about who we are.  And, in a world that is soooooo easily offended and where gossip is prevalent, this is an area where we can notably set ourselves apart for God.

Understanding

A friend of mine used to always say one of his rules for life was “Do your best to never offend anyone…and never be offended.” 

While the above advice is good, there’s a good chance that, at some point in our lives, we will be offended.  Verse 9 speaks to the fact that we get to choose how we respond to an offense – we are to cover it in love.

Whoever would foster love covers over an offense,
    but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.

What does it mean to cover an offense in love?  I believe it refers to how we see and respond to the offense.  In a great book “Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High,” the recommended response for any “offensive” situation is…

“Rather than ask, ‘What’s the worst and most personal way I can take this?’ (leading to defensiveness), we should ask, ‘Why would a reasonable, rational, and decent person think or feel this way?’ (leading to curiosity). It’s hard to feel defensive and curious at the same time. Finally, it takes us to the only place where the feelings can be resolved: The source (the facts and story behind the emotions).”

First, we must frame it in the correct context – ultimately, seeking first to understand and believing the best about the person(s) involved; then, once appropriately framed, respond in love.  To respond in love means to consider the person(s) involved – including their character and reputation – as you respond.  If you cared about someone’s character and reputation, would you be quick to spread gossip about them, repeating the matter to everyone you/they know?  Of course not!  You would handle it respectfully, directly where possible and involving the smallest and most direct group possible where not. 

Life Application

When I look around and see people who live life, offended, I think how exhausting that must be.  We find what we seek…and there will ALWAYS be something to be offended by if that is what we choose to seek out.  May we choose to be different, a person of refreshing in our personal and professional lives – setting ourselves apart for the glory of God by choosing, instead, to respond in love. 

God, I thank you for the growth in this area in my own life.  Thank you for the reminder that we can always choose to respond in love – being gracious and considerate, even in times of offense.  May our response in situations we encounter this week be to your glory…another opportunity to be set apart and point people towards You.  In your name I pray. Amen.

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

– Rei



Proverbs 16

 

Scripture

Proverbs 16:3,9

3Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
    and he will establish your plans.

In their hearts humans plan their course,
    but the Lord establishes their steps.

Observation

Solomon continues sharing his God-given wisdom, specifically as it relates to the plans we make. If we want our plans to succeed, it’s time to lean in close and really consider these verses.

Understanding

Have you ever had something not go according to plan?

A couple years ago I was putting my son Noah to bed and before we prayed together I asked him, “What do you think you’re going to do tomorrow?” He replied after a short pause, “I’m going to Disneyland.” I chuckled, “I don’t think so. You have preschool tomorrow.” “No, I’m going to go to Disneyland.” Well you can guess what happened the next day. Let’s just say he was disappointed when I made him bring his backpack when we left the house that morning.

If he wanted things to go according to his expectation and plan, he should have planned to do what I told him.

It’s a simple analogy. We can plan whatever we want, but ultimately it’s the Father’s plans that will succeed and be carried out. So if we want our plans to be established and for things to go according to our expectations, there’s only one way that will happen: Align our plans with God’s plans. Live for God’s glory and not our personal happiness.

The Message Version puts verse 3 this way:

Put God in charge of your work,
    then what you’ve planned will take place.

If we let God sit on the decision making seat of our life, if we put him in charge of making the plans, only then can we know that our planning isn’t a waste of time.

Life Application

God, I seek you for your will for my life. Grant me and your church wisdom and guidance and help us to do your will. We commit all our plans to you! Give us the strength today to die to our desires and to live to glorify you. Amen.
 
– Levi Thompson
 
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Proverbs 15

 

Scripture

Proverbs 15:16

“Better a little with the fear of the LORD than great wealth with turmoil.”

Observation-What does it say?

King Solomon continues to share his God given wisdom with us in this chapter. 

Understanding-What does it mean?

Money can buy a lot of things, but it does not buy purpose or peace. 

Most, if not all of the verses in proverbs are wisdom that King Solomon learned from personal experience. For example, King Solomon, who was the 2nd son of King David and Bathsheba, also wrote Ecclesiastes. In the book of Ecclesiastes, he tried to find significance and life’s meaning through his wealth, but discovered that the pursuit of wealth was meaningless, a chasing after the wind. (Eccl. 1:14). Verse 16 in this chapter is similar to that discovery. Fearing God and keeping His commands is what Solomon discovered was the true meaning and purpose of life (Eccl. 12:13-14).

Life Application

Pursue and surrender to God first and watch Him take care of the rest. 

Seek first His Kingdom and righteousness and all these things will be added to you. (Matt. 6:33)

I believe that we were all created to serve Someone greater than ourselves. Great turmoil is a result of chasing after things that do not matter in the light of eternity. The thing with chasing after money or anything else worldly is that the more we get, the more we want. We are never satisfied. There is only One who truly satisfies, Jesus, and living our lives in complete surrender and obedience to Him ends the search. It’s just like the story of the Samaritan woman at the well, who desired water that would never have her thirst again…who desired a life where she stopped chasing after desires that proved meaningless in the end. The answer was in surrendering her life to the living water, Jesus. (John 4)

Dear Jesus, thank You for coming to Earth to save us and giving us of Your living water. That is the reason that I was drawn to You and opened my heart to Your invitation of salvation, because You showed me that my desires for meaning and purpose could not be fulfilled through empty pursuits of guys, looks, popularity, money, and status, but rather in pursuing You. Thank You for the peace You have brought to my life as a result of me surrendering completely to Your will. Continue to draw me to Yourself. Continue to sustain me and complete Your work in me as I  pursue Your Spirit wholeheartedly and daily put to death the emptiness of the flesh. Amen.

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


Proverbs 14

 

Scripture

Proverbs 14:23

“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”

‭‭Observation-What does it say?

Solomon recognizes that a good honest day of hard work brings in more value than just merely talking about or planning something with no follow through. That kind of talk will just leave you empty and unfulfilled. 

Understanding-What does it mean?

Actions speak louder than words.

Chasing after your dreams and goals in life will get you nowhere without hard work and dedication. Solomon understood the meaning of hard work, and the value that it brings in life. Many times we merely dream big things for ourselves in life yet we rarely see these things come to fruition. We may have the proper planning, and even the right heart behind it, but we just don’t have the follow through. And without the follow through behind that great planning and talk, we are left unsuccessful and discouraged. If you want something in life, it’s gonna take some sacrifice, dedication, proper planning, and yes…hard work to attain it.

“Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper.” Proverbs‬ ‭13:4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The same goes in the spiritual sense. Many people claim they want more of God. They claim they want to see Jesus. They claim they want to have a closer, more intimate relationship with Him. But at the end of the day, it’s just mere words. There is no action behind them. It’s really unfortunate. The Bible tells us what we need to do to achieve these feats, (such as worship, pray, read His Word, fast, spend time with His people, etc.),  but we sometimes lack the “hard work” and discipline to get these things done. Or sometimes we just prioritize the wrong things in life that we are willing to work hard for. 

Let me encourage you all that true success comes from the Lord. It’s time to put Him as priority number One in our lives! Are we willing to put in the hard work to make that happen?

“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 ‭NLT‬‬

Life Application

Am I working hard to attain my spiritual goals? Or are they just mere words? 

These past 10 weeks I have been part of a weight loss challenge at work and have definitely been putting in hard work to attain better physical health. I’m proud to say that I’ve been able to lose 30 pounds thus far, and I am on my way to reaching my ultimate goal of being in the best shape of my life before I turn 40 years old next month. However, have I been neglecting my spiritual health because of it? The Bible reminds me:

1 Timothy‬ ‭4:8 -“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” 

 I have to be honest here and say that some days I’m so tired from the hard work I’ve been putting in physically, that my spiritual life suffers because of it. I fall asleep during my devotions, my prayer times are being cut shorter, and my priorities may have gotten out of whack! I know I need balance in life. I need both good physical and spiritual health. But I need my spiritual health to have priority here in order to maintain that balance. 

Father God forgive me for the neglect I may have been showing You lately. You deserve the best…MY BEST! I know I haven’t been giving You that lately. I also know it’s Your amazing grace that saves me, and not my hard works. But I pray that my hard works in life are not in vain. Let them be of value to You. Give me the desires to work hard to build Your Kingdom, not my own. In Jesus name I pray Amen.

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


Proverbs 13

 

Scripture

Proverbs 13:24
Whoever spares the rod hates their children,
but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.

Observation

The couplets of Proverbs 13 continue to proclaim the wisdom of correction, humility, honesty, prudence, diligence, truth, integrity, and righteousness.

Understanding

Far from being the verse that authorizes capital punishment as a parental strategy, Proverbs 13:24 uses the strongest hyperbole to point out that love must be the motivation behind the instruction and correction that we mete out to our children and that we must love our children enough to discipline and direct. However, when confronted with the courage that it takes to raise up a child in the way that they should go; the hard work it takes to instill the truth and wisdom of the Scriptures into their children’s lives and the inconvenience of holding their children accountable to the consequences of disobedience, so many parents choose to avoid character building conflict and correction; instead opting for pacification over guidance and they salve their guilty conscience by substituting involvement with material extravagance. Into this vacuum of leadership and discipleship flows the godless values of “this present darkness” and the result will be a generation that is amoral; rebellious; entitled; spoiled; disrespectful, and uninspired – truly a Lost Generation. Such will be the legacy of parents who loved their own comfort and peace more than they loved their children.

 Life Application

There is so much more at stake than our own personal comfort and popularity when it comes to raising up the next generation. The current lament at the spiritual and moral condition of today’s youth compels us to counter this demonic strategy by inspiring the youth under our sphere of influence. Whether they be our inheritance and charge by virtue of natural birth or spiritual adoption, God calls and commands us to train up a disciplined and empowered army to wage the battles that await this coming generation in such a way that they will emerge victorious and advance the kingdom of God because they “triumphed…by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony” (Revelation 12:11).

To check out the discussion or to join in, click here
-Gary Parker


Proverbs 12

 

Scripture

Proverbs 12:14, 18, 25

14 From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things,
    and the work of their hands brings them reward.

18 The words of the reckless pierce like swords,
    but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

25 Anxiety weighs down the heart,
    but a kind word cheers it up.

Observation

I continue to love the directness of Proverbs.  I literally laughed out loud with verse one

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
    but whoever hates correction is stupid.”

We aren’t allowed to say stupid in our house…but there it is in the Bible.  No minced words. 🙂

As we continue to read through the book, though, it can be summarized in a few words – live righteously!  Expanded a bit more…to live righteously, we must:

  • heed counsel
  • watch our words
  • work
  • promote peace

Understanding

The power of our words is mentioned many times throughout the Bible. From the power to speak life and healing…

Proverbs 16:24 – Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

To the importance of “fixing” God’s words to our hearts and minds and teaching them to generations to come…

Deuteronomy 11:18-21 – Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.

In short, our words have power…the power to heal, to bring peace, to speak life and also to speak death and destruction.  But why are our words so important?  It is because our words speak to what is in our hearts. 

Matthew 12:34b For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

Proverbs 4:23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.

Proverbs 16:23 The heart of the wise instructs his mouth And adds persuasiveness to his lips.

Matthew 15:18 But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these things defile a man.

So, in order to live righteously, we must watch our words and guard our hearts.

Life Application

God, may we be mindful of the power of our words today – choosing wisely when and how to speak.  May we consciously speak life into the lives around us – whether in prayer or in conversation with them.  May we be overflowing with your grace, your mercy, your kindness and your love – bringing peace and joy, understanding and love into our interactions with others.  And, in doing so, may people encounter you and come to seek and know you more.  May we also guard our hearts – being mindful of what we surround ourselves with, what we take in…that our words may not fall prey to the enemy.

In your great and powerful name, we pray.  Amen.  

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

– Rei



Proverbs 11

 

Scripture

Proverbs 11:24-25

24 One person gives freely, yet gains even more;
    another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.

25 A generous person will prosper;
    whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

Observation – What does it say?

Solomon observes in his God-given wisdom that it’s the generous who prosper, not the stingy. And those who withhold selfishly are the ones who end up broke.

Understanding – What does it mean?

The kingdom seems upside down at times; it seems to go against common sense. The way to see your bank account grow couldn’t possibly be to make regular withdraws and give that money away. But we see this kind of upside down principal throughout scripture. To truly live, Jesus tells us to die. To become the highest, he tells us to make ourselves the lowest. To become the greatest, Jesus commands us to be the servant of all.

The only way God will entrust us with more is if we are faithful with what he has already given us – whether money, talent, gifts, relationships, etc. And the way to be faithful with what God has given us, is to give it freely. As we are faithful, he will entrust us with more. The way to gain is to give; the way to be refreshed is to refresh others.

Life Application

Don’t wait until I’m rich to give freely. The question isn’t, “How much do you have?” But rather, “What are you doing with what you do have?”

God, may we be a faithful people and a generous people! Forgive us for the times we’ve clung to the money and resources you’ve given us in fear that we won’t someday have enough. We trust you to provide for us and we want to be a means of blessing for others. Show us who you’re asking us to give to and how much, and may we be obedient when you speak… even when it doesn’t make sense. Amen.
 
-Levi Thompson
 
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Proverbs 10

 

Scripture

Proverbs 10:29

“The way of the LORD is a refuge for the blameless, but it is the ruin of those who do evil.”

‭‭Observation-What does it say?

These proverbs show the difference between the consequences of the choices of the wise, verses the consequences of the choices of the foolish. The following are a few of the different paths that are mentioned in this chapter.

A wise son vs. a foolish son

Righteous vs. wicked

Lazy hands vs. diligent hands

Prudent son vs. disgraceful son

Wise in heart vs. chattering fool

Walking in integrity vs. walking a crooked path

Love vs. Hatred

Those who heed discipline vs. those who ignore correction.

Understanding-What does it mean?

In order to live a pure and blameless life, we must take refuge in Jesus. His grace is new every morning because His love and faithfulness has no end. 

“For you save a humble people, but the haughty (prideful) eyes you bring down. For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness. For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall. This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.” Psalms‬ ‭18:27-30‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Life Application

A wise life is led in humility and through complete surrender to Jesus Christ. It has nothing to do with what we are able to accomplish on our own.

“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”” Luke‬ ‭18:9-14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

The story of the Prodigal Son always gets to me. (See Luke 15:11-32). If you don’t feel you are good enough or not as “spiritual” as him or her over there or it’s too late to turn your life around, here’s some news. The awesome thing about Jesus is that at the foot of the cross, we are all the same. He gave the same grace to the younger son who left and the same grace to the older son who was prideful and jealous. The master will search for that one lost coin and will search for that one lost sheep until He finds him (Luke 15). There is rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents. (Luke 15:10)

Thank You Jesus for rejoicing over me when I returned from my rebellious/foolish path and returned to You. I pray for anyone struggling with a secret sin today, that you would extinguish the lies of the enemy who says to stay in darkness. Please help restore others back to You, so that we can rejoice together. Help us remain humble and submitted to You to continue to walk the wise path you have called us to. In Your Name we pray, Amen.

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


Proverbs 9

 

Scripture

Proverbs 9:10

“Fear of the LORD is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.”

Observation-What does it say?

Solomon writes once again in this chapter about wisdom and foolishness. He writes that both are inviting and calling out to those who are willing to listen. The question at hand here is “who are you going to listen to?” I don’t know about you, but I believe all of us desire to be wise. No one wants to be the fool. So in verse 10, Solomon writes that the foundation of gaining wisdom is having fear in the LORD. He continues to write that having knowledge in the Holy One will result in having good judgment. So at the end of the day, it is our understanding of who God is, what He can do, and our fear/respect of Him which will be our building blocks for gaining wisdom and being able to make better decisions in life.

Understanding-What does it mean?

Our relationship with God will help determine if we are living a life filled with wisdom, or foolishness. How’s your relationship with God going?

Oftentimes, people will ask me my opinion about the verse I chose, “Fear of the LORD…”. The best way I can describe it for them is comparing it to my relationship with my father when I was a kid. My dad laid out the ground rules to follow. He told me the consequences if these rules were broken. So you best believe I followed them, FEARING  what would happen to me if I dared break those rules! As the years went on, I began to understand my dad, and what he was trying to do for me and my sisters. I knew that he was only trying to protect us, that he wanted the best for us, and that he loved us so much. I realized that his life experiences and knowledge of this world totally outweighed my own. Once I was able to grasp this, fear was no longer a factor for me following his rules. I followed his ways because I respected his leadership. I honored him for the father he was. I loved him for loving me that much. That is why I chose to follow his ways. And I was the better off and wiser for it!

It’s the same thing when we initially decide to follow Jesus/God. We realize that He is Holy and mighty. We fear His wrath if we disobey Him. But once we build our relationship with Him, we begin to understand His true character and we understand His undying love for us. We understand that He is the author of life, and knows what is best for us. Once we are willing to grasp that, I believe fear will no longer be a factor of why we choose to follow Him and His ways. It will be because we love Him. And we will be wiser because of it!

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” James‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Life Application

Gaining wisdom is not a one time deal. We must seek it daily.

A lot of us can feel that we are already wise in our ways, that life is good right now. But as this chapter states, not only is wisdom calling out to us daily, but foolishness also calls out to us. If we are not careful, we may fall victim to foolishness. That’s why we must seek God and His wisdom daily. We must be obedient to the Holy Spirit when we hear Him calling to us. By doing this we can help prevent making foolish decisions, and falling into life’s traps and pitfalls.

Father God thank You for the wisdom You provide me each day. Thank You for Your protection and Your Holy Spirit. May You grant me an open heart, open mind, and open ears to hear Your Holy Spirit’s leading over my walk in life today. Help me God to make good choices today. In Jesus name, Amen.

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


Proverbs 8

 

Scripture

Proverbs 8:5
You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, set your hearts on [wisdom].

Observation

 Wisdom is always calling out to those who seek her and recognize her value – more precious than silver, costlier than gold and to be treasured more than even rubies. She is trustworthy; those who listen to her walk in prudence and discernment and they enjoy honor and prosperity. Wisdom came forth from God at the dawn of creation and all creation reveals His wisdom. Wisdom exalts those who heed her call and casts down the fool her ignores her voice.  

Understanding

Only someone who admits that they are sick seeks a cure for what ails them. So it is with wisdom. Only one who realizes how ignorant and foolish they are without her will ever value, listen for and heed her voice of instruction. The scriptures are full of counsel to not be wise in our own sight. We are cautioned to not lean on our own understanding and to beware the path that seems right to a man but, in the end, leads to destruction. In fact, the Bible says that as surely as sparks from a fire fly upward, so is man born to trouble and the inclinations of his heart are toward evil all the time. Only someone who agrees with this reality of his self-nature will ever, in recognition of his desperate condition, run post haste to take hold of the wisdom that is from without and from above. The one who is wise in his own self-estimation will scoff at the need for wisdom from any source other than that which is produced from his arrogant pride and which will surely result in failure and fall.

Life Application

While I understand the need to seek God’s wisdom in issues of great import and consequence, I need to value, covet and seek His wisdom in the everyday which I tend to address with my own faulty intellect and motives. God has wisdom for me for every personal interaction; every phone call or email; every thought, attitude, word and action if I will seek it. Wisdom is constantly calling, but I am rarely listening. Only when I silence the noise and voices that compete against her counsel and set aside human reasoning for the guidance of the Holy Spirit will I hear her voice as clear as a clarion call and walk, moment by moment, in the blessing of her offering.

To check out the conversation or to join in, click here
-Gary Parker