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!
 

Matthew 7

 

Scripture

Matthew 7:1-2

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Observation

“This chapter continues and concludes Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, which is purely practical, directing us to order our conversation aright, both toward God and man; for the design of the Christian religion is to make men good, every way good.” –Matthew Henry’s commentary

Understanding

Is it just me, or does it seem we live in a world of constant judgment?  When a popular phrase is “Don’t judge me” and company marketing for things like gyms tout “No judgments.”  It’s in lyrics of popular songs – ie current hit “I got issues” by Julia Michaels. 

We are seemingly fed a diet of judgment between social media outlets, trash magazines, reality tv shows and even “news” outlets.  In short, we are set up for failure when it comes to obedience of this direction to NOT judge.   But this (like all godly direction) is worth the good fight.  Because, when we give in to the judgment culture, we contribute to the walk through the wide gate, down the broad road that leads to destruction (vs 13-14). 

13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. – Matthew 7:13-14

Like the rest of the Christian walk, we are called in this area of judgment to set ourselves apart.  What if Christians – typically known for being hypocritical – instead became known for creating a refreshing environment of truly no judgments?  A space where people could be themselves, be honest, transparent…and be loved and accepted?  Seems simple, small enough…but it could literally be life changing for those that experience it.  The way I see it, this could potentially lead to a reduction in things like suicide, drug overdoses, addiction, etc….since, often, people are trying to forget or escape things like shame, emotional pain, and stress.       

Life Application

Go out and love on somebody.  Love them just as they are.  Accept them, listen to them, create space for them.  Love them with no judgments.  <3 

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

– Rei



Matthew 6

 

Scripture

Matthew 6:1

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”

Observation – What does it say?

Jesus, continuing his delivery of the most famous sermon of all time, teaches the crowd about the importance of our motives. Whether we are giving to the needy, praying or fasting, our motive directly determines our reward.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Any reward for obedience that God has for us is lost when we do it for others to see.

It seems many Pharisees wanted to appear godly more than they actually wanted to be godly. Because it was all about what other people thought of them, they would be sure to let everyone know when they gave to the poor, they prayed on the busy street corners, and they would make themselves look terrible when they fasted just so others would notice and think they were spiritual.
 
Jesus condemned this behavior. He said, “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them.” To put it in the positive, “Go out of your way to make sure that the only one who sees the good you’re doing is God.” Then, you will know that your motive is right and your Father who sees what you do in secret will reward you.

Life Application

Be careful to practice righteousness in secret.

Would you rather have a pat on the back from people or a reward from God? I don’t know what the reward from God will be, but I’m pretty sure it’s better than any compliment or pat on the back from someone else.

God, forgive me for the times I’ve desired the praise from people more than from you. Forgive me for the times I’ve mentioned gifts I’ve given people, prayer times I’ve had and times I’ve fasted, with the desire for people to perceive me in a certain way. Help us to be people who always live for your approval alone! Help us to be careful not to do good to be noticed by others, but to be noticed by you. Thank you for the rewards you have in store! Next time we’re tempted to share about how great we think we are, remind us of the rewards we can have from you instead if we keep it between us. Amen.

– Levi Thompson

 

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



Matthew 5

 

Scripture 

Matthew‬ ‭5:21-22‬ -“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘ Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”

Matthew 5:23-24-““Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

‭‭Observation-What does it say?

This chapter is Jesus’ sermon on the mount. It is a sermon that Jesus preached to His disciples, covering various topics that is still applicable to Christian disciples today. Based on Matthew Henry bible commentary, “It is the longest and fullest continued discourse of our Saviour that we have upon record in all the gospels.”

Understanding-What does it mean?

The highest form of worship is loving our brothers and sisters in Christ. This is worship that is acceptable to God.

Here are a few Bible verses and quotes from several commentaries that I did research in. 

“Forgiveness and reconciliation is the highest form of worship on earth.” (The Geneva study bible)

“Reconciliation takes precedence of all other duties, even of offerings made to God…..The lesson teaches us to be reconciled with all who bear grudges against us, and says nothing as to whether their reasons are sufficient or insufficient, just or unjust.” (McGarvey and Pendleton)

“This shows that one guilty of wrongs to his fellow-man cannot offer acceptable worship of God. (B.W. Johnson’s Bible commentary)

“We ought carefully to preserve Christian love and peace with all our brethren; and if at any time there is a quarrel, we should confess our fault, humble ourselves to our brother, making or offering satisfaction for wrong done in word or deed: and we should do this quickly; because, till this is done, we are unfit for communion with God in holy ordinances. And when we are preparing for any religious exercises, it is good for us to make that an occasion of serious reflection and self-examination.” (Matthew Henry’s concise commentary)

A gift or a prayer does not substitute for love. “For neither thy gift nor thy prayer will atone for thy want of love: but this will make them both an abomination before God.”-(Wesley’s Explanatory notes)

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians‬ ‭3:13‬ ‭NIV‬‬

““But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”Luke‬ ‭6:27-28‬ ‭NIV‬‬

““If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.” ‭Luke‬ ‭6:32-33‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.” Romans‬ ‭12:18-19‬ 

Life Application

God is a God of love and relationships. We cannot claim to love God, yet hate a brother or a sister in Christ. God wants us to forgive our brothers and sisters from our heart or else He will treat us the way the Unmerciful servant was treated in Matthew 18:21-35. 

“We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” 1 John‬ ‭4:19-21‬ ‭NIV‬‬

This is one of the, if not the longest Soul Journal I’ve written as an opening post because I believe it is important to God’s heart. I grew up in church and I’ve seen way too many times people look for another church or leave church altogether because they say they love Jesus, but they don’t love His people. They don’t love His bride. Scripture specifically states that that thinking is wrong!! We must love, reconcile and forgive our brothers and sisters from our hearts. When you forgive someone from your heart, you forego getting even with them, even in a passive way. Passive ways of getting even are gossip and leaving the relationship/church family without first trying to work it out. We cannot say we love God, yet be bitter and unforgiving towards a brother or sister in Christ. Jesus says being angry with a brother/sister is the same as committing murder.

In Scripture, Jesus goes as far as saying to leave our gift at the altar. When I personalize it, He’s basically telling me not to do ministry until my relationship with my brother/sister is reconciled, especially if I was the one in the wrong. If I don’t do it, that gift is unacceptable to God. Sounds harsh, but then again, the God we serve is a God is love and relationship and relationships are more important than how heartfelt it is when I pray, encourage, sing, play piano, lead worship, write a SJ, tithe, administrate or teach in Sunday school for Him. I must love Jesus and people first before the music or gifts I want to offer Him. 

Dear Lord, You know my life and my heart and some of the ways You’ve had to personally walk me through this. I’ve had to put aside my gifts so that I could reconcile with my brother and sister because of miscommunication, misunderstanding, or hurt/anger that we had to work through. I desire to worship You and prove my love for You not just through song, but also through loving and submitting to my spouse, my children, and loving my brothers and sisters in You. I desire worship that is acceptable to You. Amen. 

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


Matthew 4

 

Scripture

Matthew 4:19-20

““Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.”

‭‭Observation-What does it say?

Jesus began recruiting his first disciples. As he was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Peter and Andrew. They were fishermen and they were casting out their nets into the lake when Jesus approached them and asked them both if they would follow him so that he can make them fishers of men. How did the brothers respond?..They dropped everything immediately and began to follow Jesus.

Understanding-What does it mean?

To truly follow Jesus means we have to trust Him, leave our old mindset behind, and be willing to get out of our comfort zone.

It must have taken a lot of faith and trust in Peter, Andrew, James, and John to drop everything they knew in life, leave their families behind, and go onwards in following this man named Jesus. They were fishermen after all, and fishing is all they knew. Was Jesus that great of a “salesman” to sell them on this new life of fishing after men? Were they all just sick and tired of living the lower lifestyle of a fisherman, that they yearned for so much more in life, and believed this was their shot at it? Either way, these men all took a GIANT leap of faith when they decided to go ahead and follow Jesus. Just imagine being well crafted at a particular skill, a skill that has helped you make a living, and leaving not only that behind, but leaving your own personal “safety nets”, your family, behind as well?! Now if you were to fail at this, who will be there to help support you?! These men literally put their lives Jesus’ hands. They trusted Jesus to provide for them and help show them the way to something much bigger in life. Even if it meant learning something new and stepping out of their comfort zones, they were all willing to make that sacrifice. These men all knew that there was more to life and that they were going to be serving a bigger purpose. These men’s lives were forever changed because of it, and their stories will be shared for generations to come!

Life Application

When Jesus calls us in situations where we may feel overwhelmed or inadequate, that’s exactly where He wants us! So we can fully rely on Him!

“Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:9‬ ‭NLT‬‬

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


Matthew 3

 

Scripture

Matthew 3:16-17
As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.
 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Observation

Jesus’ cousin John is baptizing in the wilderness at the Jordan River. His austerity and activities soon capture the attention and condemnation of the religious elite. After pronouncing that his ministry of repentance is in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, John demands the fruit of repentance from the Pharisees and Sadducees; and warns them of impending judgement if they will not. John then announces the coming of the One whom he heralds and the fire baptism that will accompany His ministry. Jesus appears at the Jordan to be baptized. Though John, in all humility, is initially unwilling to do so, Jesus instructs John that His baptism is necessary to “fulfill all righteousness”. Jesus’ baptism is accompanied by theophanies that validate the beginning of His public ministry.

Understanding

Though the word “trinity” does not appear in the Bible, the concept of a triune God is clearly taught in scripture. Here, we see the presence of the Trinity at Jesus’ baptism. Jesus, God the Son is, of course, present. So is God the Father, whose voice confirms Jesus’ son-ship and the Father’s love for and pleasure in Him; as well is God the Spirit present, as a dove from Heaven, who falls on Jesus in empowerment of His earthly mission. Though each person of the Trinity is co-equal and co-eternal and co-divine; each has a unique ministry to believers. God the Father is provider, protector, healer, adopter and sovereign; the One who elects and glorifies. God the Son is both Lord and Savior; the Lamb of God as well as Redeemer and the one mediator between God and man. He is the One in whose name I have access to the throne of God and the One who defends me and intercedes for me; the One in whose righteousness I am clothed. Finally, there is God the Spirit; the great Comforter and Counselor and the One who sanctifies me, convicts me, leads me in repentance and who leads me into all truth. By Him I am able to understand scripture and am empowered to fulfill God’s calling and commission.   

Life Application 

May a balanced understanding and appreciation of the triune God allow me to fully experience the multifaceted ministries that God has made available to me by which I may live a life pleasing and honoring to the One true God represented in each person of the Trinity.
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here
-Gary Parker


Matthew 2

 

Scripture

Matthew 2:23

23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.

Observation

The Magi, having heard that Jesus was born, visit King Herod to ask where “the king of the Jews” is?  King Herod, disturbed, calls together the priests and teachers to inquire; and they inform him of the prophecy that he was coming out of Bethlehem.  Herod sends the Magi to Bethlehem and asked that they report back so he too “can go and worship Him.”

The Magi find Jesus and are warned in a dream to not return to Herod.

When they had gone, the Lord warned Joseph in a dream to escape to Egypt where they stayed until Herod died – fulfilling part of the prophecy about Christ.

Herod, upset that he had been fooled by the Magi, he gives orders to kill all the boys age 2 and under in Bethlehem, fulfilling another part of the prophecy re: Jesus.

Herod dies and an angel appears to Joseph telling him to go to Israel, which fulfills yet another part of the prophecy regarding the Savior.

Understanding

Two observations for me throughout this chapter…

  • God talks – seemingly a LOT – through dreams.
  • I’m always amazed at the intricacies of God’s plans unfolding. It was prophesied that Christ would be called out of Egypt, there would be weeping and great mourning for children that were no more, and that Jesus would be called a Nazarene…and here, through several events both big and small, that prophesy is created/unfolded.

Life Application

Be more observant.  Look for God in the little things.  He is the master creator, the master designer, the master planner…and he’s got the whole world in His hands. 🙂

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

– Rei



Matthew 1

 

Scripture

Matthew 1:3

 Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah (and Perez and Zerah’s mother was Tamar);

Observation – What does it say?

If I’m going to be honest, the first 17 verses of Matthew are ones I used to skip reading. What could I possibly glean from reading some names? I mean, the Holy Spirit is good, but could he really teach me something from a genealogy? The answer, I’ve found, is a resounding “Yes!”

As part of Jesus’ family line, each one played a critical role in God’s plan for redeeming all of creation. But consider the people listed here. We know that no one is perfect, but one would assume that people with this kind of integral role would be relatively righteous compared to other people. But all throughout this list we find what appears to be the opposite. Here are a couple examples:

  • Tamar was Judah’s widowed daughter-in-law. She dressed up like a prostitute and seduced her father-in-law, all so she could keep this family line alive.
  • Rahab (verse 5) was a Canaanite prostitute.
  • Solomon (verse 6) was the product of his father David’s adultery with Bathsheba.

Understanding – What does it mean?

God chooses to use even the most broken people in incredibly significant ways!

This gives me so much hope! All throughout scripture and history we see God reveal himself to people who don’t deserve it and move powerfully to accomplish his will through sinful men and women. The man who wrote the majority of the New Testament and who was one of the greatest missionaries the world has seen used to kill Christians!

Yet, for some reason some of us feel that God couldn’t use us. We feel that our short-comings, imperfections and past are too difficult for God to redeem. If this passage teaches me anything, it’s that no one is too far gone for God to rescue and use for his glory. And, even our worst sins and failures can’t keep God from accomplishing his plans.

Life Application

Don’t disqualify yourself! Trust God’s power more than you trust your weakness; his ability more than your inability; the power of his Son’s blood more than the power of your stains.

If God can transform the lives of these sin-stained men and women and use them to change the world, why can’t he use me?! 

God, thank you that your arm isn’t too short to save. Thank you that the sacrifice of your Son was enough to forgive even me and all my sins. Thank you for saving us and also giving us significant purpose. May we live surrendered to you and be filled with faith that you can and will use us to change the world! Amen.
 
– Levi Thompson
 
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Philemon

 

Scripture

Philemon‬ ‭1:10-12, 17-18‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“that I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me. I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you……..So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me.”

Observation-What does it say?

Paul is appealing to Philemon, Apphia, Archipus and the church in this letter. (Vs. 1-2). First, he thanks them for their partnership, love, encouragement and refreshing. Then he makes a case for Onesimus, how he has changed, but instead of commanding them to take him back under their care (and Paul had every right to exercise that authority), he asked for their permission and consent. Paul also said that any wrong he has done to them to charge it to him. He appealed to them in love and demonstrated what it means to restore relationships back to God and the church.

Understanding-What does it mean?

Love, forgiveness and restoration is what the Christian life is all about. We are called to love and restore relationships with others and help restore relationships back (or newly) to Jesus. 

The Apostle Paul is an awesome leader. Not only was he a great leader, but a great brother in the Lord. He did everything in faith and love and this letter proves it. 

He appealed to Philemon on behalf of Onesimus. Based commentary, it is indicated that Onesimus was once a man who was useless (vs. 11) to Philemon and the church. He did not live a life of faith or in the Spirit, until Paul met him at the prison and God used Paul to convert Onesimus and change his heart. As a result, he requested that Philemon welcome him back as a brother and partner in Christ. He was no longer a slave, but a brother. (Vs. 16)

Life Application

Pray for God to heal and restore relationships back to Himself and back to the family through Jesus. 

Dear Jesus, we pray for hearts of restoration. Hearts that would love and forgive like you do. Hearts that would restore what was once broken, whether its restoration of our relationship with You after sin/rebellion destroyed it, or restoring a repenting brother/sister back to the family. Thank You for our brother Paul’s example of restoration in action. I pray we would be a church that takes action to restore relationships to You, others, and ourselves. Amen.

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


Titus 3

 

Scripture

Titus‬ ‭3:3-5‬ ‭NLT

“Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. But— When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.”

Observation-What does it say?

As Titus begins the daunting task of establishing churches in the large island of Crete, his mentor Paul writes him an encouraging letter to give Titus a practical plan to help strengthen and bring order to the churches there. Paul reminds Titus in verses 1-2 how all Christians should carry themselves. They should be submissive towards the government and its officers. They should be obedient and always ready to do good. They must not slander anyone and avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone. Finally, Paul reminds those who are believers how we once were before we knew Christ. We were once foolish and disobedient, and our lives were full of evil. But through God’s grace and mercy we were saved. And it is  that same grace and mercy we should be showing others as we preach the gospel of Christ.

Understanding-What does it mean?

As Christ Followers we have to conduct ourselves a certain way, and be more understanding towards unbelievers…since we were one in their shoes.

Sometimes we may be a bit too judgmental or harsh around people we come into contact with on a daily basis. Yes they are worldly people, doing worldly (sinful) things. But we as Christians should “set the bar” for how they should be conducting themselves. The same way Jesus set the standard for us, and how we should live. We need to give them an example of how godly people respond to situations. We need to demonstrate to the world how Jesus calls us to live…with kindness, gentleness, humbleness, a heart to serve, a heart filled with passion for the lost, and ready to show them the same love and grace we were shown through Jesus Christ.

Life Application

Go out into this world and set the example, BE WHO CHRIST CALLED ME TO BE!

Dear Heavenly Father, help me go out today and be the man You called me to be. Give me the heart that aches for the lost. Give me your eyes and ears to see them. Give me the words to speak to them. May I be able to demonstrate to them the same unconditional love and grace you showed me, toward them. In Your Holy name Jesus, Amen.

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


Titus 2

 

Scripture

Titus 2:11-12
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age

Observation

Paul exhorts Titus to first lead by example and then to teach his flock regarding sound doctrine. Paul instructs Titus to encourage the various social classes of this Cretan church, or any congregation, to live lives that reflect the transforming power of God’s word, that protect the gospel from disgrace and that silences accusation from scoffers; with the understanding that the ability to do so is a gift of grace.

Understanding

Grace is the what makes all that I experience in relationship with God possible. It is by grace that I was predestined, chosen and elected. It is grace that places me into right relationship with God. It is grace that grants me all of the blessings that flow from relationship with God; and it is grace that enables me to live a life that walks in pleasing and glorifying obedience to God’s will and His word. It is all a work of grace because these are all favors that I could never earn or achieve. I experience them solely because of God’s love for me. I was not looking for them or asking for them when I received them. They were bestowed upon me in order that, by their transforming power, I might become a new creation that glorifies God and displays His saving power. If I were to “boast” about anything that qualified me to be their recipient, it would only be that I was the worst of sinners who could claim no redeeming quality of his own. It is not the desire of my rebellious will or the effort of my fallen flesh that facilitates even one moment of obedience, surrender or submission; but only the grace of God and the work of the Holy Spirit that enables me to live a life that honors the Giver of the grace in which I live.

Life Application

I have lived many long and discouraging seasons, filled with shame and condemnation, trying to ‘do” Christianity; hoping somehow to be holy by willing myself to “do” the life instructions of the Bible, only to fail miserably time and time again. Paul reminds me that it is grace that teaches me to walk after God; and to let the work of grace so transform me as to have all of the blessings of a life lived according to sound doctrine flow not out of the vanity and futility of works, but as a result of new life and identity in Christ that results from dying daily to the flesh and living according to the Spirit. Oh, grace! Teach me to say “No” to the world and “Yes” to God!
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here
-Gary Parker