Bible Reading Plan
bible

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

 
 
 
divider
 
How To Soul Journal
pencil
 
soulj
 
divider
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!
 

Galatians 6

 

Scripture

Galatians 6:9-10

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Observation

As we continue through Galatians, I’m reminded of something that struck me from yesterday’s message…

The person of faith does not pass on the chance to help family.

  • It doesn’t matter if you’re outnumbered and it seems like you don’t have what it takes.
  • It doesn’t matter if you’ll have to convince your spouse/family to get on board.
  • It doesn’t matter if you’ve had conflict with that person in the past.
  • It doesn’t matter if they’re in trouble because of their own poor decisions.

As Levi shared yesterday, Abraham set aside the excuses and the comforts in order to protect his family…despite it being Lot’s own choice that brought him to the situation he was in, despite their past conflict, despite being outnumbered – going out with 318 household members against an ARMY (Genesis 14).

God blesses us so that we can be a blessing.

Understanding

Yesterday, I was convicted on the matter of my own blood-born family. But in reading today’s passage, I’m equally convicted on the matter of doing good to “the family of believers” to which I belong – our church.

In our Grow group, we discussed how often times it’s easy to “do good” to people at our work or when we are out and about…but somehow more difficult when it comes to our own family. We often have more patience, consideration, forgiveness and kindness to show strangers, colleagues, employees, etc. than we do our own flesh and blood or towards the church family where God has placed us. Why do you think that is?

In searching my own heart on this matter, I think – for me, at least – it is because we have less of a backstory and context with those we don’t know as well. We only see the parts of their story that they are willing to make known…which is probably closer to a highlight reel or filtered view.  And, perhaps with less backstory comes less judgement.  And, with less judgement come more grace.  In some ways, it’s almost as if the less we know, the more compassion we are able to give. 

Proverbs 3:27 (NLT)

Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them.

I think where it’s easy to get hung up is…WHO decides “who deserves it”? Newsflash! It’s not us. J We are called to see people through God’s eyes, have His heart for them and His compassion for them, give to others out of the abundance that He has given us.

Life Application

Dear God, may I see the world through your eyes! May we see the opportunities throughout today and this week to do good to others in Your name.  Lord, help me to remember that I was once lost yet received the greatest gift – salvation through Christ; and may I live in such a way that brings others to that same saving grace.  Until then, may I partner with you to “plant” and “water” as often as possible, that the harvest may come.  In your precious and holy name, Amen.

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

– Rei



Galatians 5

 

Scripture

Galatians 5:2

Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all.

Observation – What does it say?

Some had begun to spread a teaching within the Galatian church that contradicted the gospel. They were essentially saying that Christ’s work on the cross wasn’t enough for us to be justified before God and that it was necessary to also follow certain laws – namely the command of circumcision.

The Apostle Paul wrote with tons of emotion and frustration that this group of Christians he loved so much was being led astray from the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Christ ceases to be of any value to us the moment we attempt to make ourselves acceptable to God on the basis of our works!

Either Christ is everything to us or nothing. Either his death and resurrection is sufficient for our salvation or it’s not.  I think we can look at it this way: When something is of no value to us we throw it away. When we attempt to appeal to God for his favor and acceptance on the basis of a our good behavior, it’s as though we are taking Jesus’ work on the cross and throwing it in the trash. Christ is of no value to us if we try to pull out the, “I’m a good person so I’m just hoping God has a spot for me in heaven,” card. I heard someone say once, “If your works couldn’t save you, what makes you think they can sustain you?” This is what the Galatians were doing. They came to God through faith in Christ, but then were later trying to add their works to what Christ had done.

Paul concludes this thought by saying, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” The only thing at all that counts before God is faith! Believing Jesus’ work is enough for us is the way to pleasing God, and allowing that faith to express itself in love toward God and others.
 
But didn’t Jesus tell his disciples to store up treasure in heaven? Didn’t he say we will be rewarded for what we’ve done? Confused? Paul here is talking about salvation. Salvation and eternity in heaven is only achieved through faith in Christ. Rewards for our good works are completely separate from the reward of salvation. 
 

Life Application

Maybe God’s question for us isn’t, “Will you try harder?” but “Will you believe more?”

God, for the sake of your son Jesus Christ, please have mercy on us and forgive us for ever thinking we could add to what you’ve done. Jesus, you are enough. Our righteousness before you is like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). We all have fallen short and are desperate for your grace. May we put our hope in Christ and not in any ‘works’ for our salvation. And fill us with faith that expresses itself in love. Amen.
 
– Levi Thompson
 
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Galatians 4

 

Scripture

Galatians 4:6-7

“Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “ Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.”

Observation-What does it say?

Paul continues to admonish the church in Galatia, that righteousness comes through faith in Christ alone. It is not by works or upholding the law, but rather, the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. It’s a transformation that occurs from the inside out. 

Understanding-What does it mean? 

It’s about Christ’s sufficiency, not our self sufficiency.

The last 2 chapters of Galatians basically spoke on the sufficiency of Christ that enables us to live for Him because we are unable to do it on our own. In this chapter, we are reminded that we are adopted as His children.  We are no longer slaves to our former selves or sin nature, but rather God’s adopted child, made new and clean in His sight, just as Jesus was. In addition to the benefits of being part of His family, we also inherited His Holy Spirit as a deposit into our hearts. We were given His Holy Spirit and are being molded into Christ’s image not by our own efforts, but His.

“Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭3:5-6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians‬ ‭2:8-9‬ ‭NIV‬‬

 
Life Application

God alone is good. His grace and power is sufficient. It is our weakness (or dependence on Him), that makes us strong. 

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬

 
Even Jesus corrected a man who called him good teacher in Mark 10:18 and Luke 18:9.  He told him that no one was good but God alone. That proved Jesus’ complete dependency on the Father to carry out His will on Earth.
 
Dear Jesus, I confess that I am weak. Weak against the fleshly battles that wage war in my mind and heart…weak against the temptations that the evil one throws at me…weak against my striving to be righteous and perfect. I’m so grateful that You are the strong One in this relationship and that I can run to You for anything. I thank You that as I depend on Your Holy Spirit, run to Your Word daily and get counsel/prayer from Your children that I am made strong. I thank You that You do the bulk of the work in this relationship as I choose to submit to You daily. I am desperate and in need of You Jesus not just for salvation, but to sustain me until You take me home. To You be the glory alone and forever. Amen.
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here.
 
-Michelle Gaddi


Galatians 3

 

Scripture

Galatians 3:3

“How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?”

‭‭Observation-What does it say?

Paul writes to the the believers in Galatia, reminding them that it is not through their works, but through their faith in Jesus Christ that brings them salvation. Paul reminds them that it was Abraham’s faith, and not his works, that accounted Him as righteous before God-(vs. 6). Paul implores the people of Galatia to let go of the old Jewish belief of being made holy by trying to keep and observe the law. Instead, Paul encourages them to return to the true foundation of their faith…their faith in Christ Jesus alone.

Understanding-What does it mean?

Allow the works in my life to flow freely from my relationship with Jesus/The Holy Spirit. 

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:8-9‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Too many times in life we get caught up trying to be holy, and worst of all we try doing it on our own will power. What we end up doing is living a life based on “jumping through spiritual hoops”, or checking off our “Christian things-to-do-list” in order for us to feel like we are holy or feel like better Christ followers. And what usually ends up happening when we try to accomplish these things? We end up failing or we just simply run out of steam to do them anymore. I mean, why even try if we are just going to fail or burn out anyway? Are we forgetting the fact that we are already redeemed as holy because of our faith in Jesus?

Enter The Holy Spirit. As Christ Followers, are we forgetting that Jesus left us His Holy Spirit when he ascended into Heaven? Life as a Christ Follower is hard enough. Why try to live it on our own?  Why not use the things that God gives us to help us along life’s journeys? We have His Holy Spirit and His people. So let’s start out by opening up our relationship to His Holy Spirit. Allow our love for the One who saved us (by His grace), be the driving force that causes us to be obedient to Him. Let our faith and love for Him be the one that changes our mindset from “things I have to do”, to “things I want to do”. 

Life Application

God has equipped me with all the tools I need in life. It’s time I start using them.

Father God I come to You today with a humble heart to ask You for Your forgiveness. Forgive me for the pride that I may have for thinking I can do life without you. Forgive me Lord for ever thinking that it is my good works that can bring me salvation. Forgive me for any selfish ambition behind them. May Your Holy Spirit remove those thoughts. Allow Your Spirit to transform me to do things for You freely out of the love I have for You, because of the love You have for me. In Your Holy name I pray, Amen.

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


Galatians 2

 

Scripture

Galatians 2:20
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.

Observation

14 years after receiving his commission to be an apostle to the gentiles, Paul visits with the leaders of the Jerusalem church, not to have his apostleship approved but to confirm that all were in agreement as to their respective calling and mission fields. Peter later meets Paul in Antioch where Paul challenges him concerning his hypocrisy when, during a visit by representatives of the Jerusalem church, Peter began to separate himself from gentile believers and insist that they follow Jewish dietary customs and rituals as a requirement of their faith. Paul reminds Peter of the central truth of the gospel, that salvation is by grace through faith alone and that no one will be justified by works.

Understanding

I remember being arrested by Galatians 2:20 and realizing that it’s truth was my only hope, considering how absolutely depraved my human heart is and how totally hopeless it is to try to produce anything good from that fallen condition. Scripture says that my human heart is deceitful above all things and that, as surely as sparks from a fire fly upward, so is my human heart inclined to evil all the time. This being so, how utterly futile and foolish is it for me to try to be righteous on my own merits. Can a fresh water spring produce salt water, or can a fig tree produce olives? I remember coming to the understanding that my only hope to live a life that was pleasing to God and that showed my love and gratitude for His saving a wretch like me is to reckon the old man as dead in order to allow Christ’s resurrection life to animate me. I need to stop trying to be righteous and realize that I already am righteous by virtue of being “In Christ” and to let His righteousness be revealed in me. My daily challenge is not to try to live a righteous life by my own effort but to live a life that is so crucified (dead) to the flesh that the life of the indwelling Holy Spirit is free to produce the fruit of righteousness in and through me. Christ clearly informs me of the impossibility of me, as merely a branch, ever producing fruit on my own and that my only hope is in abiding in the True Vine that can and does produce fruit through me. In recognizing this truth, I am free to focus on the one thing that God requires of me, that is to lay down my life, my will, my self, and my ego in order to allow Him to move in and through me.

Life Application

Truth be told, I am not very good at this. I have a very strong ego and my flesh constantly wants to come back from the dead and re-take the throne of my life. I want to be right; I want things to be done my way; I want to make the decisions and determine the direction for my life – a life that the Bible says is no longer my own; I was bought with a price. I need strive to be in such constant and intimate fellowship with God the Spirit that I can sense His conviction and discern His voice warning me when I am walking in my own will and relying on my own resources to do that which only He can do through me and to be whom He has already made me. My efforts need to be focused not on struggling but on surrendering.
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here
-Gary Parker   
 


Galatians 1

 

Scripture

Galatians 1:10

10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Observation                                      

Paul is speaking/writing to the churches of Galatia.  He reasserts appointment, character and mission.  He calls out the Galatians for “deserting the one who called [them] to live in the grace of Christ and…turning to a different gospel” (vs 6). He simplifies this choice of who to desert and who to follow to this question – who are they seeking approval from – man or God?

Understanding

This question has been a grounding force in my life.  I’ve spent a majority of my life feeling like I haven’t “fit in.”  And, honestly, the times that I have had the thought “I’m finally fitting in,” I’ve been quickly reminded that that’s not my mission.  But if, as we approach life situations, we ask ourselves this one simple question – who am I seeking approval from in this situation? – chances are we will not veer far from His will.

Also of note, this verse brings clarity to the fact that the approval of man and that of God are NOT synonymous.  Paul’s statement “If I were trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ” indicates to me that we can’t do both.  We can serve God OR we can serve the world…but we can’t do both.    

Life Application

Dear Lord, may I stay on mission! May I remember to serve YOU, not man…seek YOUR approval, not that of the world.  And may I find joy, confidence and peace in doing so.

Amen.

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

– Rei



Malachi

 

Scripture

Malachi 1:8

When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the Lord Almighty.

Observation – What does it say?

Under the old covenant or the law, Israel was forgiven and accepted by God because of their sacrifices to him. God is calling them out for offering unacceptable sacrifices. They wouldn’t be okay with offering a lame or diseased animal to their governor, but they were willing to offer them to God.

It was as though they were devoting their best animals to other things and giving God what was left over: the blind, diseased and lame. And, it obviously displeased God.

Understanding – What does it mean?

I felt convicted reading this. It reminded me of Pastor Gary’s question in our current sermon series, The Journey: “How often do we settle?” How often do we go halfway in our worship and obedience?  I don’t want to settle for giving part of my tithe, giving part of my life or part of my heart. And I don’t want to keep the best for myself while giving God the leftovers. Jesus doesn’t deserve to get put to the sidelines, to be sought when it’s convenient or as we’re falling asleep at night. It’s dishonoring to make sharing our faith or encouraging others something that, “I’ll try to get around to…”, all the while giving the best of our time and energy to other things.

God deserves and desires our best… he’s jealous for it.

Life Application

God, please keep us from keeping the best of our time, energy and resources for other things. Show us the areas we have settled and been trying to offer you the lame and diseased leftovers and what it looks like for us to give you our best. Thank you for giving your best for us. Amen.
 
– Levi Thompson
 
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here.


Joel

 

Scripture

Joel‬ ‭2:12-14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord your God?”

‭‭Observation-What does it say?

Judah was invaded by an army of locusts that destroyed everything-the field, the ground, the grain, trees, etc. (Joel 1:10-12) and ultimately led to famine in the land. The prophet Joel was warning Judah of additional destruction if they do not repent of their evil ways and return to the Lord.

Understanding-What does it mean?

Repentance leads to restored relationship with the Father, but rebellion leads to destruction.

This is another prophecy being given to a nation, revealing what God will do in His righteous anger and holiness if they don’t repent and turn from their wicked ways and return to Him. However, it is also a book that highlights how God would respond if they sought His forgiveness and repented from their evil ways. He is a God who is gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in love, with the power to leave a blessing instead of a curse (Joel 2: 13-14).

Life Application

God calls His church, His bride to repentance.

Repentance is different than just asking for forgiveness because repentance does a 180 degree turn from a life of sin. Just as Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery, but rather told her to go and leave her life of sin, (John 8:10-11), He commands us to do the same.

God is very slow to anger, giving us so many warnings before revealing His wrath, but His return is imminent (near). Although no one knows the day or hour of Jesus’ return, the Day of the Lord and the Day of Judgment is near. Will we be judged for choosing our own selfish wants and desires or will we be judged and hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Well done.” 

As we’ve been going through the book of Revelation in Higher Learning, Pastor Parker also taught that there will be 2 types of judgments–one for His children and one for those who closed their hearts to Jesus, which will result in destruction and despair in hell. So, let us not give up in prayer and opportunities to share with our loved ones and those on our PII card who do not yet know Jesus. We must also pray for our missionaries who are spreading the Gospel to the unreached parts of the world. 

Dear Jesus, it is true that Your Word is like a double edged sword, convicting us straight to the heart, judging our thoughts and the attitudes of the heart (Heb. 4:12). Writing this honestly convicted me to the point of making my heart hurt. Thank You for the hope and reminder that You will be returning soon to judge the living and the dead. Thank You for Your Son Jesus Christ who made a way for us all to come to You and be freed from the sin that used to bind us. Greater are You who are in us than he who is in the world. (1John 4:4).

May I keep these truths in my heart when I am tempted to stray. I also pray for those in the Church (with a big C) in a season of rebellion. Please draw them back to You in repentance.

Additionally, I pray for continued opportunities and boldness to share Your testimony and my testimony with those who don’t yet know the Good News and our brothers and sisters who are currently in the mission fields around the world. Thank You that You are not slow in keeping Your promise, but are patient with us all, not wanting anyone to perish, but all to come to repentance  (2 Peter 3:9). May Your Kingdom come, as we continue to work together as Your hands and feet, shining and sharing Your light in this darkened world. We pray this all in Your name and for Your glory alone Jesus, Amen.

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


Haggai

 

Scripture

Haggai 1:3-6

“Then the LORD sent this message through the prophet Haggai: “Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins? This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes!”

‭‭Observation-What does it say?

Within two years of their return from captivity in Babylon, God’s people had returned to Jerusalem. They began to build God’s temple. But when their neighbors (the Samaritans), and others who had moved into the land in their absence, saw just how rapidly the returning exiles were reestablishing their society and their temple, they mounted an aggressive campaign to stop the building. And you know what?.. It worked! Progress on the temple stopped for 16 years! Instead of building a house for the Lord, the Israelites began building houses for themselves. Instead of seeking God, they sought to please themselves. Then the word of the Lord came to Haggai the prophet, in which Haggai spoke to Zerubbabel the governor of Judah, and Joshua the high priest. Haggai basically told them that they had lost their way and that they have forgotten the instructions of God, the God of their fathers.

Understanding-What does it mean?

Whose kingdom am I building here on earth? Is it God’s or my own?

The people of Israel got caught up with the busyness of life and they let the world around them help determine what they put their values in. They lost focus. They sought out earthly riches instead of seeking out God. And no matter how hard they worked to attain all these things, they just couldn’t gain any ground. Without God in the center of their lives, they were not receiving His blessings.

Now it’s easy for me to say “shame on you Israel!” But as I reflect on my own life, I hate to admit that sometimes I can be guilty of the same thing. How many times have I put my personal gains ahead of God’s plan? And no matter how hard I worked to attain certain things, I never felt satisfied. The more I got, the more I wanted. It can be a vicious cycle. The only thing that can break that cycle is coming to an understanding that God’s values are worth more than anything I value. 

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew‬ ‭6:33‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“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

What am I doing with the blessings God has given me?

One thing that still sits with me to this day is a sermon that Pastor Gary preached on. In it he reminds us that one day we will see God face to face and He will hold us accountable for the things He has blessed us with, and how we used those things to further His kingdom. And at the end of the day, God is not going to be impressed with how big a house we bought for our family, or what kind of car we drove, or even the money we accumulated that set up our families financially for life. God is more concerned with how we built His church, and furthered His kingdom on earth in His absence. It can be a bitter pill to swallow if we lose our ways like the Israelites did in this chapter. But as long as we learn from the past, center ourselves in God’s ways, there’s no telling the blessings that awaits us as we enter His kingdom.

God forgive me for my selfish ambitions. Forgive me for losing my way at times and falling trap with the worldly values instead of valuing Your’s. Give me a focus and a fire to help build your kingdom here on earth as it is in Heaven. Thank You for blessing me with so much. Help me to maximize those blessings the way You intended. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

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


Zephaniah

 

Scripture

Zephaniah 1:14-15
The great day of the Lord is near— near and coming quickly. The cry on the day of the Lord is bitter; the Mighty Warrior shouts his battle cry. That day will be a day of wrath.

Zephaniah 3:17The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Observation

Zephaniah prophecies about the coming Day of the Lord and pronounces judgement upon the nations; the enemies of Israel (Philistia, Moab and Ammon; Cush, and Assyria); even the whole earth. Judah and Jerusalem herself are not immune to God’s wrath because of her oppression, corruption, harlotry and rebellion. Yet, as always with God, He offers salvation and deliverance to any remnant who will not bow down to worship idols. Those who remain faithful and repentant will be gathered unto the Lord; freed from fear and unburdened; purified and restored. God will take great delight in them and He will give them honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth.

Understanding

The “Might Warrior” is mentioned twice in Zephaniah’s prophecy and comes to bring either wrath or deliverance. All the people of the Earth will encounter him on that great and terrible Day of Lord and they will be either cursed or blessed depending solely upon their faithfulness to the Lord God. This separating of the chaff from the wheat begins with Israel (Romans 2:9-10) and reminds me of two truths. Not all who are of the nation of Israel are members of the true Israel – those children of Abraham not by parentage but by faith who will participate in God’s in-gathering and restoration (Matthew 3:9); and that God is and will be faithful to His promise to Abraham and to His chosen people (Romans 11).

Life Application

We dare not rely on our parent’s faith, our church membership, record of attendance, service in ministry, generous giving, bible knowledge, or any works, for that matter, as the means to earn God’s favor, experience His blessing and enter His kingdom. I must allow the truth that all of these things cannot be earned but are only received as the free gift of God by faith and grace (Ephesians 2:8-9) to inspire me to respond to God’s election, unconditional and unmerited love with devotion, surrender and obedience as my highest act of worship; motivated by love and gratitude.   
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here
-Gary Parker