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

Romans_4

Scripture

Romans 4:4 – Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation.

Observation – What does it say?

In this letter to the church in Rome, the apostle Paul touches upon no less than 10 important theological themes.  It is a letter that reads more like an “elaborate theological essay” (NIV text note).  In this day of emails, texts, tweets and blogs, you might say the book is more of a live feed; systematic and thorough.  In chapter four Paul illustrates the principle of justification by faith.  And for good reason.  The critics are blasting him for being against the law and rejecting the law’s essential part in salvation.  And these so called experts in the law have already taken up their position ready for Paul’s arrival in Rome.  Even more reason to unpack his teaching on the role of faith in our salvation. 

Understanding – What does it mean?

Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness Genesis 15:6

In the classic style of “Which came first … the chicken or the egg?” Paul takes the reader back to undisputed Jewish history; all the way back to the beginning.  Abraham had kept no law, rendered no service and performed no ritual that earned credit to his account before God (NIV text note).  It was his belief in the God who had made promises to him.  It was this action of belief that was credited to him as righteousness.  Then Paul turns to a more current illustration to make his point.  Current in Paul’s day and just as current today.  How would you feel if after a grueling work week the boss came up to you on payday and said, “Please accept this gift in appreciation for all your hard work.”  Pretty good until you open the envelope and find your payroll check.  Obviously, the boss is confused as to what constitutes a gift.  Simply put a wage is earned and thus an obligation while a gift is, well, a gift.  Repeat after me, “I have been saved by grace through faith – and this was none of my doing.  It is the gift of God and not by any works of my own.  I have no boast except in Christ.

Life Application

In today’s self absorbed environment it is tempting to rewrite Scripture and veg on my own self importance.  My resume of “good deeds,” not to mention the time I gave with my right hand and my left hand didn’t have a clue, is certainly enough capital to warrant justification, right?  Not a chance.  My right standing before God is predicated on His grace alone.  As the verse in “How Great Thou Are” so beautifully puts it, “I can scarcely take it in.”  Lord, keep us from the miry pit that is of salvation by works.  Especially as we share the Good News with those who are lost.  In Jesus Name.

-Warren Vivian

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



Romans_3

Scripture

Romans 3:9

What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. 

Observation

Romans, written by the apostle Paul, serves the purpose of explaining that salvation is [only] offered through the gospel of Christ.

Understanding

There is a common conception that Christians are judgmental and hypocritical.  Even I – a Christian myself – have been known to think/feel that way about other Christians…and have had my fair share of experiences where I have been judgmental and/or hypocritical.  Quite frankly, it’s because we are imperfect humans and, even at our best, we fail. 

Being a Christian doesn’t make us impenetrable, doesn’t make us invincible to the pressures of our peers or the society around us.  Like the Jews and Gentiles of the Bible days and like the unsaved of today, we too can come under the power of sin…we all fall short.  But, there’s good news… 

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 

Life Application

I think it’s important to remember humility in our everyday life…and especially in our salvation.  “Do we have an advantage?  Not at all!”  So, may we live humbly, love extraordinarily and lean on God to direct us and guide us as to where, when and how He wants to use us. 

God, burden my heart today.  May I see people and circumstances through your eyes, in a way that allows me to love more and love better…and, ultimately, that allows me to be a light in a dark world and a conduit of whatever you care to pass on to those I encounter.  Use me!  And show me where I can be more humble, kinder, more generous, more considerate…more like you. 

In your name, I pray. Amen!

– Rei

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



Romans_2

Scripture

Romans 2:13 

“for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.”

Observation-What does it say?

Paul continues in this chapter by addressing the idea of holiness.  People are not endowed with holiness by their heritage, and it is not an assumed thing because of being a member of the church.  In the previous chapter, he points out that God’s holiness and power are clearly seen in nature (1:20).  Since this is true, we have reason to ensure that our attitude towards His holiness is that of thanksgiving and gratitude. 

Understanding-What does it mean?

There is no better display of holiness, and of our thankfulness for God’s patience with us, than obedience in our actions.

There is nothing worse in life than a know it all, someone who says, “You know what you oughta do…”  In high school I ran cross-country and long distance in track.  In the course of my running career, I ran into a lot of people who would give me “advice” on how I should run a race or train.  Some of them were close friends or family members.  In my earlier years, I would heed their “advice” only to be let down by the result.

As I matured in my quest to be the best distance runner I could be, I learned that I had to seek the advice of people who had been there before me and done what I was seeking to do.  As I learned to race and train from those who had been there before me, my success showed that I was following good advice.

Now as a parent, I find myself on the other side of the equation.  I am now tasked with being the one who has been there before training those who have not.  So my actions have to line up with what I want my kids to see.  What use is it to talk about what to do, or how to live by faith, if I am not acting it out (James 2:14-17).

Life Application

I need to be leading my family by example with humility.

When I am tempted to make short-cuts in life, help me to remember that I am showing Christ in my actions, whether my audience be my children or the guy in line behind me at the store.  Help me to lean on your strength Jesus, because you have been there before me, and you already know the way.  Help me obey with a joyful heart. 

– Tyler Galloway

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



Romans_1

 
Scripture
 
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭1:16‬ ‭NIV‬‬
 
Observation-What does it say?
 
The book of Romans is Paul’s letter to the church in Rome. It is one of the best books to refer to in order to learn about the doctrine of Christ. In this chapter, Paul explains the righteousness of God and the sinfulness of mankind, whose idolatry in serving created things instead of the Creator, has brought upon the wrath of God.
 
Understanding-What does it mean?
 
Because of the sinfulness of mankind, mankind is in need of a Savior.
 
The book of Romans is a great starting book for new believers and even non believers, picking up the Scriptures for the first time. In verse 16, Paul talks about why He loves the Gospel and is not ashamed of it. He is a new creation because of it.
 
Life Application
 
Our sufficiency does not come from ourselves. It comes from Christ. (2 Cor. 3:5)
 
Whenever I get tempted to think that I am something, I think back to what I had to offer Christ before I accepted His invitation for salvation and before He changed my heart. We were all depraved, sinful, unrighteous and without hope before Christ entered the picture. As a result, we should be giving Him our lives, our worship, and our obedience out of a grateful heart.
 
Thank You Jesus for pursuing me even before I had anything to offer You. Thank You for changing my wicked heart. May You continue to get the glory and honor for my life today. Amen.
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here
 
-Michelle Gaddi
 
Reference: gotquestions.org
 


Ezekiel 48

Scripture
 
Ezekiel‬ ‭48:35‬ ‭NLT
 
“The distance around the entire city will be 6 miles. And from that day the name of the city will be ‘The Lord Is There.’ ”
 
Observation-What does it say?
 
In this chapter, God gives Ezekiel the layout of how He wants the land divided amongst the people. God’s instructions were very precise on how wide the boundaries were going to be for each section of the land. He gave detailed instructions on each exit of the city. God even gave the city a new name once the time came to bring His people back to the land. He settles them securely in it, and dwells in their presence forever. And the name of the city on that day forward will be: “THE LORD IS THERE.”
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Understanding-What does it mean?
 
God always keeps His promises.
 
The name of the city (THE LORD IS THERE) is a tremendous promise given by God to His people, who must have wondered if the Lord would ever be with them again, (especially because of all their sinful acts against Him).
 
But God remembers all His promises. He remembers His covenant with Abraham and his descendants. He will never leave them or forsake them-(Hebrews 13:5b).
 
 “The Lord says, “Shout and rejoice, O beautiful Jerusalem, for I am coming to live among you.”
‭‭Zechariah‬ ‭2:10‬ ‭NLT‬‬
 
“I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.”
‭‭Revelation‬ ‭21:3‬ ‭NLT‬‬
 
Life Application
 
Walk in faith KNOWING that our God keeps His promises for His children.
 
Thank You God for your faithfulness! You are an amazing God! You always love me even when I’m unlovable. Your grace surrounds me each day, and my life is indebted to You. May my life reflect that by honoring You in all that I do. I look forward to the day to dwell in Your house with You forever. Amen.
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here
 
-Moses Gaddi 


Ezekiel 47

Scripture

Ezekiel 47:22

You are to allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the foreigners residing among you and who have children. You are to consider them as native-born Israelites; along with you they are to be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel.

Observation – What does it say?

As the book that bears his name nears the end, one thing is abundantly clear for this Priest turned Prophet.  Whether it is oracles against Israel, oracles against the nations or the consolation for Israel, God’s sovereignty extends over all creation.  The vision of a restored Israel (chapters 40-48) includes an epic life-nurturing flow of water that is from God himself.  In this setting the angelic guide begins to instruct the prophet on how to distribute the land among the tribes of Israel. And it is here we find in verse 22 a gracious inclusion of the non-Israelites who settled in the land. 

Understanding – What does it mean?

“…for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations”  Isaiah 56:7b

In 1982 country singer Willie Nelson was nominated for a Grammy Award for Record of the Year.  On it was the hit song, “Always On My Mind.”  The sentiment of this love song was captured in the word “maybe.”  Maybe it appeared that I didn’t love you or hold you as I should.  And, maybe there were little things I should have said and done, but, “You were always on my mind.”  By no means am I suggesting that the song is allegorical. It is tempting to dismiss the alien (non-Israelite) who is living in the land from the restoration of Israel. After all, “the Old Testament is about Israel, right?” Verse 22 assures the reader that the alien was always on God’s mind.  Israel was chosen and set apart to be a light to the nations.  As believers grafted into the vine of Israel we are to be the same light to the nations as well.  Our commission is to know God and to make him known.  Remember, God’s sacrifice of his Son Jesus was to satisfy the penalty for the sins of the entire world – all who would draw near and believe. This is the Good News of John 3:16 being foreshadowed here in the book of Ezekiel. 

Life Application

The next time I get a little high and mighty as one of God’s children may I recall that I was once an alien, a foreigner, lost without any hope of restoration to God.  “But God!”  He has allotted me an inheritance that is not to be hidden under the bed but shared whenever, were ever and to whomever the Holy Spirit would lead.  I praise God for the extravagant inclusion that characterizes the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He loved, He gave.  I believed, I received. 

-Warren Vivian

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

 



Ezekiel 45

Scripture

Ezekiel 45:21

“‘In the first month on the fourteenth day you are to observe the Passover, a festival lasting seven days, during which you shall eat bread made without yeast.

Observation – What does it say?

This new temple after the Israelites are brought back from exile is described with many changes. But one of the things that remains the same is the command of God to observe the Passover. The Passover festival had a very specific purpose of remembering and celebrating the miraculous way God delivered his people from Egypt.

Understanding – What does it mean?

It’s interesting to me that remembrance and celebration of what God has done is a command.

Those people I’ve met who are the most passionate about loving God and loving others seem to all have something in common: They haven’t lost sight of what God has done for them. Their conversion experience hasn’t become old news. There results of continual remembrance are huge!

Psalm 22:27

All the ends of the earth shall remember
    and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
    shall worship before you.

That verse shows us that when we remember, the result is turning toward the Lord and worship springing up from our hearts. If we find the joy of our salvation fading and feel a bit stale or complacent, it would do us well to set aside some time to remember and celebrate. Relive in your memory where you were when God found you and the transformation he has brought to your life through Jesus Christ.

As we remember and celebrate, we’ll find our hearts echoing heroes of the faith in scripture:

Psalm 37:25 I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.

Psalm 23:6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Psalm 22:22 I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:

Life Application

Set aside some time today to remember and worship.

God, forgive us for losing sight of all you’ve blessed us with. I know that the enemy would love for us to believe that our life is nothing more than our present struggles. But you have been faithful! You’ve never failed us. Never. Help us to be more intentional about remembering your wonders and declaring your praises. Amen.

– Levi Thompson

 

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

 



Ezekiel 44

Scripture

Ezekiel 44:23-They are to teach my people the difference between the holy and the common and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean.

Observation-What does it say?

“This chapter contains ordinances relative to the true priests. The prince evidently means Christ, and the words in verse 2, may remind us that no other can enter heaven, the true sanctuary, as Christ did; namely, by virtue of his own excellency, and his personal holiness, righteousness, and strength. He who is the Brightness of Jehovah’s glory entered by his own holiness; but that way is shut to the whole human race, and we all must enter as sinners, by faith in his blood, and by the power of his grace.” -Matthew Henry Concise Commentary

Understanding-What does it mean?

If the true prince is Christ and He is the only One who could enter the temple, if we are not covered by His blood, we cannot enter the holy temple of God either. Also, as we are covered by the blood of the lamb and receive His Holy Spirit, there will be a difference between us and the “common” or those of the world. We entered in as sinners and have now been cleansed and set apart for Jesus Christ.

Life Application

Because we are cleansed by Jesus’ blood and set apart for Him, can the world see the difference?

What personally encourages me and reminds me to be set apart for Jesus is filling my mind and my thoughts with Scripture. The enemy is the master of deceit and if we are not renewed DAILY in mind, spirit and heart, it’s very easy to be taken captive by the devil’s lies. Here are just a few Scriptures that speak on being set apart from the world. Holy Spirit, may we be washed daily by Your Word and live out what we believe so the world would know that we belong to You alone. Amen. 

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Rom. 12:2

I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. John 17:15-18

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Eph. 2:10

If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. John 15:19

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

-Michelle Gaddi



Ezekiel 43

Scripture

Ezekiel‬ ‭43:8-9‬ ‭NLT

“They put their idol altars right next to mine with only a wall between them and me. They defiled my holy name by such detestable sin, so I consumed them in my anger. Now let them stop worshiping other gods and honoring the relics of their kings, and I will live among them forever.”

Observation-What does it say?

The Israelites were living sinful lives. They were worshiping other kings’ gods, building idol altars next to God’s altar, and honoring the relics of their kings. This drew the Lord’s anger. Now the Israelites were exiled into Babylon. But even through all that, God is a God who will fulfill His promise. He wanted Ezekiel to let the people know that they must stop their foolish behavior, build Him an altar to His specifications, consecrate the altar to His orders, and then He will fulfill His gracious promise of bringing them back to the Promised Land and dwelling in their midst forever.

Understanding-What does it mean?

I’m so glad I serve a God who gives us “second chances” and is true to His word.

God could have easily banished the Israelites forever from the Promised Land and His presence. But instead, He remembers His covenant with Abraham, His promise for his people. He gives them another chance to enter His good grace. God offers the people of Israel repentance. If they repent from their sinfulness and does what He asks of them, He will welcome them back with open arms and dwell with them forever. 

It gets me thinking of all the sinful and foolish things I do against God. Yet because of His promise in Jesus Christ, I am saved from banishment from His presence. It also has me thinking of all the people who have wronged me and how I should give them the same grace that God has shown me in life. I must take a stand and act like a man of God no matter how much I may feel I am wronged or how detestable an act is done against me. God’s grace must prevail every time!

“The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him;”-Daniel‬ ‭9:9

Life Application

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” Colossians‬ ‭3:13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”-Luke‬ ‭17:3-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here.
 
-Moses Gaddi
 


Ezekiel 42

Scripture

Ezekiel 42:20b

It had a wall around it, five hundred cubits long and five hundred cubits wide, to separate the holy from the common.

Observation – What does it say?

If you’re anything like me, my brain has a terrible time trying to picture the descriptions in these chapters. Here’s a video that might help…

Understanding – What does it mean?

There is this theme throughout scripture of God’s people being in the world, but separate from it. Not just a separation from sin, but as stated here, separated from what’s common. I felt challenged reading this that God has not saved me, or any of us, so we could go on living an average, common life. We have been set apart for specific purposes.

Ephesians 2:10  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Just like the temple we read about in Ezekiel, we were created by God to be holy – set apart for his specific purposes. But as great as those things are that God has in store for us to accomplish, they aren’t automatic. We have been given free-will and if we aren’t careful to guard ourselves from the common stuff, we can miss out on those things.

Life Application

I feel the need to ‘build a wall’ in the sense that I create boundaries; boundaries that would keep me from wasting my time on common things that distract me from living on purpose. Paul said that, “everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial.” It’s not just about avoiding sin, but it’s about choosing what you want most over what you want right now.

God, forgive me for allowing the common, un-beneficial things to take the place of what’s most important. Help us to live on purpose and to be better about creating boundaries around those things. Amen.

– Levi Thompson

 

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