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!
 

John 13

Scripture

John 13: 34-35

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

Observation-What does it say?

Jesus knows that his time in the world was soon coming to an end, and that he would be retuning to his Father in Heaven. So Jesus spends his last night with his disciples, eating with them, and washing their feet. Jesus was demonstrating to the very end the love he has for them. And now before he leaves them, Jesus instructs them with one final command, to love each other the way he has loved them.

Understanding-What does it mean?

If we as Christ Followers are called to love the way Jesus did, we must love blindly and unconditionally.

As I read this chapter, I am in awe of how loving Jesus is. Jesus knew who He was, where He came from, and where He was going. Still, Jesus had no sense of entitlement about Him. He served humbly all those in need, and willingly laid down His life for all. Jesus especially demonstrated this love the night He washed His disciples feet. I mean here was God in the flesh, and here He was in a lowly servant’s position washing His disciples feet. Not only that, but Jesus was still willing to wash the feet of Judas…the one who was going to betray Him! He shared an intimate dinner with Judas, and He washed his feet. He showed the same love to Judas, as He showed to the rest of His disciples. Now that is what I call a blind and unconditional love! How many of us can do that?

“But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”-1 John‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Life Application

 “If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” ‭Matthew‬ ‭5:46-48‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I try to remind myself of this verse every time I find myself heading down the path of anger and revenge towards the “unloveable”. I’m not going to lie, but it is something I struggle with. I tend to lean towards cursing my enemy instead of blessing them. It’s something I know God is trying to work in and through me as we speak. Doing today’s Soul Journal is a great reminder for me that I am far from perfect, and that I need to abide with the Holy Spirit in order to overcome this fault of mine.

Dear Jesus, forgive me for letting anger and pride get in the way of loving those you have called me to love. The grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love You have shown me countless of times is what I know I should be showing others around me. Jesus, I need You. I need Your strength and love to do this. Help me to do this. May You soften my heart to do so. I pray this in the power of Your name Jesus, Amen.
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here.
 
-Moses Gaddi
 


John 12

Scripture

John 12:3Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

Observation

It is six days before the Passover upon which Jesus will become God’s perfect paschal lamb. In the scenes presented in this chapter, Jesus is anointed by Mary, to the self-serving objection of Judas, and He makes His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, welcomed by the messianic proclamations of, “Hosanna!” and in fulfillment of messianic prophecy. His appearance, words and past miracles have the crowd divided and the Pharisees plotting His death. Jesus predicts His death and welcomes it that God may be glorified. This obedience and surrender is validated by the very voice of God, heard as thunder or the voice of an angel to those in attendance. Within Jesus’ statements to the crowd, He again proclaims Himself to be God in the flesh (v45).
Understanding
It seems like every time I encounter Mary in the pages of scripture, she is at the feet of Jesus. In Luke 10:39, she is learning at the feet of The Master. In John 11:32, Mary falls at Jesus’ feet in total surrender. Here, Mary is at Jesus feet to anoint, honor and prepare Him for His burial and she is present at the foot of the Cross as Jesus dies for the sins of the world. I am reminded that Jesus described Mary’s position at His feet as “the most excellent thing” and in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus proclaims that, “wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her”. It is no doubt that this intimacy and devotion is what kept her faithful to her Lord when all others fled, and what earned her the honor of being the first to behold the resurrected Christ, where she again falls at His feet in wonder and adoration.

Life Application

The safest place where I can be found is at the feet of Jesus. It is there where, like Mary, I will learn; where I can develop trust and humility and where I can worship Him in spirit and truth with the (costly) sacrifice of praise. It is through times of intimacy with Jesus that I am transformed and allowed to experience deeper knowledge, understanding and revelation of who Jesus is, what His will is for my life and how I may honor and serve Him – a privilege not experienced by those who follow Jesus from afar or for their own motives.

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


John 11

Scripture

John 11:33

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.

Observation

Lazarus dies.  When Jesus hears the news, he stays where they are for two more days but then heads back to Jerusalem (well, Bethany, which is near Jerusalem) to their home.  Last time Jesus was in Jerusalem, they threatened to stone him; so the disciples were less than excited about this idea.  However, Jesus is insistent that they will go because he plans to raise Lazarus from the dead.  He is first met by the sisters of Lazarus – Mary and Martha.

Understanding

I’m struck by the compassion and empathy shown by Jesus in this verse.  Jesus knows the ending.  He KNOWS He’s going to raise Lazarus from the dead.  So why is he “deeply moved in spirit and troubled?”

I think it’s a reflection of His crazy amazing love for us.  Even when he knows the ending, even when he knows HOW the hardship will be redeemed for good or how and when we will be healed…He is moved by His love for us when He sees us hurting. 

As a parent, I’m familiar with this feeling.  Though I may know something may hurt in the moment, I often have to pay attention to what is being created in the long term.  And even when I know it’s for the best for my child or for the overall picture, it still hurts to see them hurting…it’s still hard to see them upset.  But I don’t think that feeling is something that is to be reserved to only my children, my family or those I love.  No, as Christians, I believe we are meant to have a heart – more precisely, God’s heart – for all those that we encounter.  

Life Application

Dear God, thank you that not one tear goes unnoticed, not one heartbreak goes unseen, not one disappointment is unknown to you.  Thank you for knowing me inside and out and loving me anyway.  May I show compassion and have empathy for those that are hurting, especially at this time of year.  May I see them through your eyes and have your heart for them.  May I be a source of love, light, encouragement in a way that brings honor and glory…and, ultimately, hearts and souls to you!      

In your name, I pray.  Amen.

 

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

– Rei



John 10

Scripture

John 10:12-13

12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

Observation – What does it say?

After healing a man born blind on the Sabbath, Jesus is confronted by the Pharisees. He begins teaching them about how he is different from them through an analogy about a shepherd, a gate and some sheep. At one point, Jesus says he is the good shepherd (verse 11) and that he lays down his life for his sheep. He contrasts himself with a hired hand. The hired hand doesn’t own the sheep so he isn’t willing to risk his safety to protect them. Instead, he abandons them when a predator comes, only interested in saving himself. 

Understanding – What does it mean?

Jesus is our Good Shepherd!

It’s no wonder the sheep choose to follow him! They know he won’t abandon them for anything. As a matter of fact, he is willing to lay down his life before he would allow them to be destroyed. This is obviously a picture of the cross. What an amazing Savior we have! He didn’t run away to save his own life. Instead, moved by his love for us, he gave it all! And Paul reminds us…

Romans 8:32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

The cross was not just an isolated event. It was a revelation of the unchanging heart of God toward his children. The same love the Good Shepherd had for his sheep that moved him to lay down his life, is the same love that moves him to graciously give us all things.

The Pharisees acted like hired hands. They cared nothing for the people. Jesus previously called them out for demanding much of the people they led but not being willing to lift a finger to help them. They were in it for what they could get out of it, not because they had genuine concern or care for the people. The complete opposite kind of leader than Jesus.

Life Application

Follow him! And, be like him!

Jesus, once again, this morning, I declare that I choose to follow you. It isn’t a burden to listen to your voice and follow, it’s a joy! Because, I know how good you are and how much you love me! Thank you for your great concern for us and for laying your life down! Help us to stick close to you. And, help us to be like you. May we have great concern for each other, not acting like hired hands, but like you; willing to lay our lives down for each other. Amen.
 
– Levi Thompson
 
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


John 9

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-Michelle Gaddi 


John 8

Scripture

John 8:20-11

“Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Observation

One morning Jesus went to the temple, where people gathered to hear Him teach. As He was teaching, some teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought Him a woman who was caught in the act of adultery. They asked Jesus what they should do to this woman. They were trying to set a trap for Jesus. The way He answered their question would determine if they would have any basis for accusing Jesus of wrongdoing. Jesus replied with an answer that cleared the room, and silenced the crowd. He said in verse 7, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”  With that being said, each person began leaving in silence one by one. You could have heard a pin drop, (or in this case, a stone drop). All who were left standing there were Jesus, and the adulterous woman.

Understanding

God desires to bring healing and reconciliation to human relationships, rather than judgement and destruction.

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”John‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭NIV

If you think about it for a moment, Jesus was the only One who stood at those temple courts that day who had not sinned. So if anyone had the right to condemn and stone this woman, it would be Jesus. Instead, Jesus showed grace and compassion to this woman. He chose not to condemn her for her sins, and tells her to “go and sin no more.” 

“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:21‬ ‭NLT

Life Application

Jesus is quick to forgive, but we as individuals have a part to play as well…We must believe in Him and repent!

Nothing further was recorded in the Bible about the woman in this story. I would like to think that she was able to turn her life around, believe in Jesus’ ways, repent from her sinful nature, and share the good news of the grace and mercy that was shown to her that day by a man named Jesus. I would like to think that she told everyone she came across with in life about the day she was saved from an inevitable gruesome death, and instead was given another opportunity in life, and that the people who heard her story wanted to know more about the man who saved her…Jesus.

Father God thank You for the grace and mercy that You surround me with each and everyday! Please forgive me for being judgmental against other sinners, when I should be looking at my own sinfulness, and doing something more about it. Give me a heart of compassion and love towards others like You. Help me to share with others the good news of how You saved me. May You give me the passion to share it in a way that encourages others to yearn to know more about You as well. Holy Spirit open my eyes and heart to the people You would like me to share with today. May You give me the right words to speak into their lives. In Your holy and precious name Jesus, Amen.
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here.
 
-Moses Gaddi

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John 7

Scripture

John 7:6-9
Jesus told them,
“My time is not yet here; for you any time will do….I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.”

John 7:16
Jesus answered,
“My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me.

John 7:28
I am not here on my own authority, but he who sent me is true.

John 7:18
Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.

ObservationJesus’ brothers, who did not believe that He is the Messiah, sarcastically suggest that He go to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles and publicly display His works. Jesus sends them ahead of Him and then follows a few days later. Anticipating the possibility of His appearance at the festival, the crowds are divided in their opinion of Jesus as a good man or one who is demon-possessed. Upon arrival, Jesus condemns the crowds for the disbelief and hypocrisy. Despite the uproar and public unrest caused by His teachings, the temple guards who were sent to arrest Jesus return to the chief priests and the Pharisees empty handed, being convinced by His testimony that Jesus was a man sent by God.

Understanding
As I read about this confrontation between Jesus, the crowds and the religious leaders, I see Him moving in divine timing, instruction, authority and motive. Because Jesus sought and walked in God’s will, He experience power, effectiveness and divine protection during His life and ministry. (John 7:25-26; 46)
 
Life Application
In light of Jesus’ example, I am challenged to ask a few questions as I “live and move and have my being” (Acts 17:28).
  • According to God’s plan and purpose, when is the right time to speak/act?
  • Do my thoughts and word originate from the throne of God?
  • Are my words and deeds Spirit inspired and empowered?
  • Whose glory am I seeking in all I do?
     
     If that which is on my heart to do can survive these cautions, then I can expect transformed lives to result from my surrender and obedience and I can act boldly and without fear, assured of God’s divine provision and protection.
    To check out the discussion or to join in, click here
    -Gary Parker


John 6

Scripture

John 6:11-13

11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

Observation

Jesus had been doing miracles and word was getting around.  So as he traveled, a crowd followed.  He tested his disciples – asking where they could buy food for them.  Immediately, the disciples spoke of the impossibility of what Jesus was suggesting.  But Jesus knew better and asked what was available, gave thanks for what they had, multiplied it and once everyone had had their fill, collected up the baskets – a full twelve baskets left over.

Understanding

Nothing is impossible with God!

Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Often times when God calls us to something and even just in our everyday lives, things can seem impossible.  But with God all things are possible.  And I think God sometimes allows the perception of impossibility so that we can be reminded of where the glory belongs!

Jesus started with what He had.

When we are faced with the “impossible,” it’s easy to get caught up in all the things we DON’T have that we feel are necessary – whether it be resources or gifts or time or whatever.  But with God, all that is necessary is that we move forward in faith, starting with what we have.

He gave thanks first.

Jesus didn’t wait until the miracle was over and they’d collected the baskets to give thanks or glory.  He gave thanks FIRST.  Before anything had even been done.  When He still only had the 2 fish and 5 loaves and was looking at five thousand mouths to feed.  When it still looked impossible.  He spoke with thanks and in faith, knowing that what was needed would be provided.   

God doesn’t skimp on His provision.

It doesn’t say they each had their measly portion then passed the basket along.  It doesn’t say many went without.  No, it says they all had enough to eat.  I take that to mean they got full.  AND there were leftovers.  TWELVE BASKETS FULL!  When God provides, He provides in full; He provides with abundance. 

Life Application

Dear God, what a powerful and generous God you are.  Powerful beyond impossibilities.  Generous beyond our needs.  Thank you for being you…our Father, our provider, our Savior…that we can trust, count on, depend on.  Thank you that where you call us, you also equip us.  Thank you that following you though not always easy, IS simple…to simply walk towards you in faith, faith that you will provide for me, lead me, grow me to accomplish what you’ve called me to do.  May I be faithful, obedient and continuously and consciously grateful. 

In your name, I pray.  Amen.

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

– Rei



John 5

Scripture

John 5:19

Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.

Observation – What does it say?

After healing an invalid on the Sabbath, Jesus was persecuted by the Jewish leaders for ‘working’ on the Sabbath. In his response, he said that like his Father, he is working. And he pointed to the fact that he could do nothing on his own. He could only do what he saw his Father doing. I have been struck reading the last two chapters about all that points to Jesus’ humanity. After the long journey he was “tired” (4:7), he was thirsty so asked for a drink (4:8), and here mentions that he couldn’t do anything apart from the Father.

Understanding – What does it mean?

If Jesus did all he did as a man, we are responsible to pursue his lifestyle.

Reading this, I was reminded of what Bill Johnson said in his book, When Heaven Invades Earth (P.29-30):

[Jesus] had no supernatural capabilities whatsoever! While he is 100 percent God, He chose to live with the same limitations that a man would face once he was redeemed. He made that point over and over again. Jesus became the model for all who would embrace the invitation to invade the impossible in His name. He performed miracles, wonders, and signs, as a man in right relationship with God… not as God. If He performed miracles because He was God, then they would be unattainable for us. But if He did them in as a man, I am responsible to pursue His lifestyle.

What were the distinctions of His humanity?

  1. He had no sin to separate Him from the Father.
  2. He was completely dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit working through Him.

What are the distinctions of our humanity?

  1. We are sinners cleansed by the blood of Jesus. Through his sacrifice He has successfully dealt with the power and effect of sin for all who believe. Nothing now separates us from the Father. There remains only one unsettled issue –
  2. How dependent on the Holy Spirit are we willing to live?”

Romans 8:29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

This is God’s intention for every one of his children, that they would be like his Son, thinking like Jesus, having the character of Jesus, and doing the things Jesus did.

Life Application

Pursue Christ-likeness and live in complete dependence on the Holy Spirit!

God, thank you for your intention to conform all of us into the image of your Son. Please transform our character, thinking and actions so that we will look more like Jesus. May we also experience the miracles, signs and wonders that take place when your kingdom comes. I don’t want to rely on my own strength, wisdom or understanding, but completely upon the Holy Spirit in all I do! Amen.
 
– Levi Thompson
 
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


John 4

 
Scripture
 
John 4:42
 
“They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
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Observation-What does it say?
 

The woman at the well, a Samaritan woman, shared her encounter with Jesus with her people. First of all, Jesus came to her even though Jews and Samaritans do not associate with one another. Second, He knew the intimate details of her life….details that would be impossible for any stranger to know. Third, He knew she was thirsty for something more than what this world had to offer her, as He said that He can give her water that would cause her to never thirst again. The woman was amazed and Jesus eventually revealed to her that he was the Messiah that she was expecting (vs.25). The Samaritan woman could not keep this information to herself, so she told the other Samaritans in her town about Jesus. As a result of her testimony, many Samaritans believed in Him and chose to seek Him out for themselves. 

Understanding-What does it mean?

 
Our faith in Jesus Christ is not meant to be hidden. 
 
Keeping our faith to ourselves only benefits us, but we must share it with those around us too. As the Samaritan woman shared her encounter with Jesus (her testimony), it caused the other Samaritans to believe in Jesus and seek Him out for themselves. They had faith that became their own and it was no longer her faith alone (vs. 42)
 
Life Application
 
Freely share Jesus’ testimony and our testimony of faith.
 
Jesus’ testimony is His death and resurrection that enabled us to be saved from hell and not have to live a life apart from a Holy God. (John 3:16). Our testimony is our personal experiences/encounters with Jesus. Some of us have an initial testimony that led to us accepting His invitation for our salvation. But, we are given testimonies all the time as we are with Jesus everyday.  It is meant to be shared with those who don’t know His goodness so that they can taste and see for themselves that He is good. 
 
Psalm 34:8- “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”

The water He gives is truly living water and is the only thing that can satisfy our thirst for eternity.
I am grateful for my parents who laid this foundation for me. Although it was their faith that I followed in the first half of my life, because of their example and testimony and the way they raised me, it became my faith as well in the later part of my life.
 
Dear Lord, thank You for the people You placed in my life to plant the seeds of faith in my life. Now that I have been adopted into Your family, I pray that my testimonies with You would not be hidden, but rather shared with joy in order to draw others to Yourself so they can taste and see that You are good too. Thank You Jesus that it doesn’t matter what we’ve done or who we once were, but that we are now seen through the eyes of Christ.  Thank you that I will never thirst or hunger again. May more people be drawn to that truth as I am obedient to share it with them. Amen.
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here.
 
-Michelle Gaddi