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 2

Scripture

John 2: 5-10
His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

Observation

Jesus is celebrating a wedding at Cana when His mother informs Him that the supply of wine has run out. After reminding His mother that His displays of power and providence are determined not by circumstances but by the will and timing of God the Father, Jesus turns some water (contained in 20-30 vessels) into wine that not only saves the bride and groom from an embarrassing faux pas, but wine that is recognized by the banquet steward as being of fine, even the best, quality.

Understanding

This story reminds me of the various accounts of Jesus feeding the multitudes during the course of His ministry. In those accounts, as with this first of His miracles, the power of God to provide for those who look to Jesus to meet their needs has already taken place. At the point of Jesus turning the water into wine or multiplying the fish and the loaves, the provision is already sufficient and manifest; what is necessary is for those whom Jesus summons to be obedient to His instructions and deliver the miraculous provision to those who need it and to whom it was intended. Even though the miracle had already taken place, no one would be aware of it or benefit from it unless those whom Jesus had commanded to deliver the blessing walked in obedience and by faith.
Life Application

Unbeknownst to a lost and hurting world, the miracle that is needed for their salvation has occurred in my life and God now commands me to be obedient to the Great Commission and share the miracle of salvation with those who hunger and thirst for the hope, peace, freedom, deliverance and eternal life that Jesus miraculously provided through His death and resurrection. The miracle has already occurred and Jesus summons me to draw from the well of His grace and mercy and share it with others so that they may experience the joy of His salvation and provision. As God ordains divine appointments in my life, my obedience is required in order that the miracle of His redemption and salvation may be delivered to those for whom it is intended.
 
Romans 10:14-16
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here
-Gary Parker 
 


John 1

Scripture

John 1:4-5

 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.

Observation

John 1 begins with discussing the divinity of Christ – essentially reviewing His existence since the beginning of time, His relationship/coexistence with the Father, His role as the creator.  As Matthew Henry points out, “Without him was not any thing made that was made, from the highest angel to the meanest worm. This shows how well qualified he was for the work of our redemption and salvation.”

Understanding

Light is often used to symbolize life and/or re-birth in literature.  Jesus brought both.  Without Jesus – and His death and resurrection – there is no eternal life, there is no ability to be “born again.” 

 One of my favorite things about this time of year is Christmas lights! <3  I’m often reminded that we are called to be a light to the world. 
 
No matter how dark a space is, if there is light present, you will see it.  And the light shines/reaches much further than its immediate source…so the “power” of light is big and far reaching, much like the power of salvation (although I’d argue that salvation is MUCH bigger and reaches MUCH further).  And just like darkness cannot overcome light, salvation cannot be taken away.     

Life Application

God, I thank you for providing the light of life through your Son, Jesus Christ.  And I thank you that this life cannot be taken back, it cannot be removed.  May we seek to make you known.  May we burn so bright for you that others are drawn to you, that they may experience your salvation…and that once saved that THEY would burn so bright that it brings even more into your life-giving saving grace…and so on and so on until all have come to know you and/or until the day you return.

God, may I count it a blessing to be a light for you – sharing it in in big ways and small, in every encounter I make throughout this week.  May I live to know you and make you known.

In your name, I pray.  Amen.

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

– Rei



Nehemiah 13

Scripture

Nehemiah 13:7b-8

Here I learned about the evil thing Eliashib had done in providing Tobiah a room in the courts of the house of God. I was greatly displeased and threw all Tobiah’s household goods out of the room.

Observation – What does it say?

If you hate confrontation, this chapter is enough to make your stomach uneasy. Nehemiah discovers several areas his people had been disobeying God and, rather than beating around the bush or timidly suggesting they should consider change, he goes for the jugular. In one of Nehemiah’s confrontations, he discovers Tobiah the Ammonite was being provided a room in the temple of God for personal use (Ammonites were forbidden to even enter the temple).

So Nehemiah, in a passion to make things right before God, throws all Tobiah’s belongings out of the room. It reminds me of Jesus passionately cleansing the temple in a moment of righteous anger… and also of a girl throwing her boyfriend’s stuff out on the driveway after an argument, ha. I imagine Tobiah coming home to discover the door locked and all his stuff strewn across the ground outside; most likely overcome with anger and frustration.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Nehemiah’s motive in all these confrontations is revealed in verse 14, ”Remember me for this, my God, and do not blot out what I have so faithfully done for the house of my God and its services.”

The people of God should be more concerned with pleasing God than people.

Or to put it terms for personal reflection, would you rather offend people or offend God? Bottom line, Nehemiah was shamelessly entering into confrontation because he was passionate about God being honored and obeyed, more than people being happy or un-offended.

Life Application

Seek to please God, even if it means offending people.

God, forgive us for the times we’ve tried to be politically correct and walked on eggshells around people when what was necessary was a bold challenge or presentation of the gospel. Also, I pray that if there is a room in the house of my soul that needs to be cleansed, please bring it to light. I don’t want to live a double life, honoring you in one part of the house while dishonoring you in another. In Jesus’ name, amen.

– Levi Thompson

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



Nehemiah 12

 
Happy Thanksgiving church family!

Our reading in Nehemiah 12 is very fitting for today. It’s cool how God put that in order.

Scripture

Nehemiah 12:43

“And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away.”

Observation-What does it say?

The people of Jerusalem were rejoicing as they were dedicating the wall of Jerusalem to the Lord. Their joy was founded upon the fact that they knew the Source responsible for their rebuilt city. 

In addition to the verse I chose (vs. 43), the words thanksgiving and praise could be found numerous times in this chapter.

-….songs of thanksgiving (vs. 8)”
– …to give praise and thanksgiving (vs. 24)”
-…to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps and lyres. (Vs. 27b-28)”
-“I also assigned two large choirs to give thanks. (Vs. 31b)”
– “The two choirs that gave thanks then took their places in the house of God; (vs. 40a)”
-…there had been directors for the singers and for the songs of praise and thanksgiving to God. (Vs. 46b)”

Understanding-What does it mean?

 
They didn’t keep their joy to themselves.
 
Because they knew their Source of victory in rebuilding the wall was God, they took every opportunity to praise Him and dedicated the wall to Him. Their rejoicing in the Lord could not be ignored and was heard publicly, or as vs. 43 says, “could be heard far away.”

Life Application

 
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
‭‭James‬ ‭1:17‬ ‭NIV‬‬
 
Let us take time today to thank Jesus for His blessings in our lives. Thank Him for His promises, His providence, His grace and salvation. Thank Him for being unchangeable and constant. Thank Him for being faithful and loving. Thank Him for always wanting the best for us. Thank Him for His loving discipline and even trials that have strengthened our character in Him (Hebrews 12). Thank Him in advance for the victory we have in Him! Just take time to praise and worship Him today!
 
Dear Jesus, we praise and worship You today! As we set aside this day called Thanksgiving and remember the physical things we are thankful for, may we remember You first and foremost. Our faith and lives would not be possible or even matter if it wasn’t for Your love and salvation. Every good and perfect gift comes from You alone. Thank You Jesus. Amen.
 
-To check out the discussion or to join in, click here.
 
-Michelle Gaddi


Nehemiah 11

Scripture

Nehemiah 11:1-2

“The leaders of the people were living in Jerusalem, the holy city. A tenth of the people from the other towns of Judah and Benjamin were chosen by sacred lots to live there, too, while the rest stayed where they were. And the people commended everyone who volunteered to resettle in Jerusalem.”

Observation-What does it say?

The city of Jerusalem needed to be re-established. The splendor of this once great city has now become a ghost town. After the walls were torn down from their enemies, the people scattered and began building their new lives just outside the city. The people found comfort out there. But now God has called His people to rebuild His city once again. The city walls have been rebuilt. Now the time has come to repopulate the city so it can have a governing body and a group of leaders to help establish God’s holy city once more. 

Understanding-What does it mean?

One of the best ways to lead people is to lead by example.

As I began reading this chapter I thought to myself, “why are the people casting sacred lots, (drawing straws), to see which tenth of them will be relocating to the city of Jerusalem?” I mean it seems to me that living within the city walls, God’s holy city, would be a prestigious place to live. Why the lack of volunteers then? I hate moving and relocating just like the next person, but we are talking about living in God’s holy city here! 

Then the further I researched why the lack of volunteers to move, I saw that the people were fearful of moving back into the city. You see, their enemies were infuriated that the walls were put back up. Now if they chose to live there, they would be pretty much living there with a big target on their back! They knew that their enemies were just waiting for the opportunity to invade and conquer them once again. 

Then there is also the comfort issue. The people grew comfortable living outside the city. The people were able to re-establish themselves and build their new homes outside the city. Now they would have to get up, move, and start new again?! That sounds like a big hassle! The particular skills that the people had best suited them to live out in the country parts of the region. Most of them were farmers and shepherds. So the way that they were able to provide financially for their families best suited them living in the country rather than the city. But they failed to see the “big picture” in all of this. This is God’s calling for them. God is in control of their situation. He is ultimately the One who will bring them protection and provision through this. 

Nehemiah and the leaders knew this. They chose to lead by example. They were the first to inhabit the city.  When the others let fear and doubt creep in, they chose to trust God. They led the way, and encouraged the others to follow. They were not going to lead the people to do something that they weren’t willing to do themselves. And to me, I will always respect and follow a leader who does that! 

“Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith.”-‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭13:7‬ ‭NLT

Life Application

 I will choose to honor and respect the leaders that God has anointed over me in life.

“Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.”-Hebrews‬ ‭13:17‬ ‭NLT‬‬

With it being the eve of Thanksgiving, I want to give thanks to all the spiritual leaders involved in my life. Thank you for showing me the way, and leading by example. Like I told my wife, my parents laid the foundation for me spiritually, but it was the leadership here at DSC that helped nurture and feed it to where it is today. Thank you Pastor Gary, Pastor Parker, Pastor Warren, and Pastor Levi for all you do! Like this chapter reminds me, you all could have done other things in life, maybe made more money with it, lived more comfortably, but you chose to answer God’s calling. You have led DSC not only by your teachings, but by living it out and being a great example to all of us here. So thank you all, and may God bless you all!

Thank You Jesus for bringing me here to DSC. Thank You for surrounding me with these great leaders. Thank You Jesus for being our leader. You came out of the comforts of heaven to serve and not to be served. You died a sinner’s death, so that I may live. For that, I am eternally grateful. That is why I choose to follow You. I love You Lord. May You grant me the strength and courage to step out of my comfort zone and trust You when You call me. I know when I choose to follow You, I will be provided for, and there is no other place that is safer for me and my family to be. In Your name Jesus I pray these things, Amen.

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


Nehemiah 10

Scripture

Nehemiah 10:29
All these now join their fellow Israelites the nobles, and bind themselves with a curse and an oath to follow the Law of God given through Moses the servant of God and to obey carefully all the commands, regulations and decrees of the Lord our Lord.

Observation

After reading the Law of God, the Israelites respond with confession, repentance and acknowledgement of the goodness and mercy of God in spite of their unfaithfulness. Here, they finalize their re-commitment to God by renewing their vows to obey the Law of God in the areas of consecration, intermarriage, the Sabbath, tithing and priestly service.

Understanding

The Israelites find themselves on the cusp of renewal and restored right relationship with God; the only remaining act being to keep their vows and walk in obedience to the Law of God with reverence. Sadly, the history of Israel will show that they will break every covenant and renewal that they make with God and revert back to their idolatry and spiritual adultery. However, God’s history will show that, despite their continued rebellion and disobedience, God always remains faithful to keep His covenant with Israel, no matter how many times she breaks covenant with God.

Life Application

As much as I would like to point the finger at Israel for their faithlessness toward God despite His miraculous and constant provision and deliverance, I am confronted with three fingers pointing back at me; correctly accusing me of the same sin. I have made as many vows of re-consecration after sin and disobedience as had Israel, only to soon after find myself involved anew in the very same disobedience and rebellion. I am reminded that transformation does not come only from reading God’s word or reacting to its truth with conviction and pie-crust vows (easily made/easily broken). Transformation will only occur in my life when I match spiritual knowledge with practical application – lest I be like the one whom James says is deceived because I am merely a hearer of the word and not a doer of what it says.
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here
-Gary Parker


Nehemiah 9

Scripture

Nehemiah 9:31-33

 31 But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.

32 “Now therefore, our God, the great God, mighty and awesome, who keeps his covenant of love, do not let all this hardship seem trifling in your eyes—the hardship that has come on us, on our kings and leaders, on our priests and prophets, on our ancestors and all your people, from the days of the kings of Assyria until today. 33 In all that has happened to us, you have remained righteous; you have acted faithfully, while we acted wickedly. 

Observation

Israel is currently a province of the Empire of Persia, living under heavy Persian taxes and obligations and they desire to be freed from this oppression.

They come before the Lord in repentance and fasting.  They take time to give praise and thanks, confess their sins – acknowledging that they are where they are due to their failure to submit (or stay submitted) to God – and they conclude this chapter with resolving to a life of new obedience.

Understanding

God is unchanging.

As they recount their history, it is notable that, in each of the Israelites cycles, the motions get deeper and deeper – as if they fall a little further with each one…but God remains the same throughout.  Each time they find themselves at the bottom of this cycle, in slavery, they cry out to God and return to Him; and EVERY. SINGLE. TIME, He hears them, has compassion on them and returns them to freedom from their oppressors.  He remains gracious and merciful, righteous and faithful.

God desires relationship built on trust and obedience.

 

God desires relationship with us, His children; but He also desires/requires obedience.  You’ll note, though, it’s not obedience for the pure sake of obedience…obedience to God comes with the trust and understanding that He desires what’s best for us.  As we see here, each time the Israelites turned away, they found themselves living in slavery and oppression (not God’s best); and when they repented and returned to God, they find themselves provided for, cared for, overflowing with blessings.

God never turns away the repentant heart.

As many times as the Israelites turned away, when they returned with truly repentant hearts, God would restore them.  His forgiving heart and willingness to redeem as a result of repentance is seen throughout the Bible (78 times in the NIV!).  Though we sometimes come to a place where we feel God must be so tired of us asking forgiveness over and over for the same thing, He never grows weary of us and never turns away the repentant heart. 

Life Application

God, you are so good.  Help me to trust and obey – remembering that you love me, see the big picture and want what is best for me.  And, when I fail, God, thank you for being willing to forgive me.  Help me to always return to you quickly, to maintain a humble and repentant heart and to turn away from the things that draw me away from you.  God, show me the areas of my heart, the areas of my life that are not yet fully submitted to you; may I lay them down today and come running into my Father’s arms.  I love you, thank you and praise you for all that you are!

In your name we pray, Amen.

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

– Rei



Nehemiah 8

Scripture

Nehemiah 8:12,16

12 Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.

16 So the people went out and brought back branches and built themselves temporary shelters on their own roofs, in their courtyards, in the courts of the house of God and in the square by the Water Gate and the one by the Gate of Ephraim.

Observation – What does it say?

The wall and gates around Jerusalem had finally been rebuilt, men were appointed in various roles of leadership, and the people were adjusting to their new life back in Jerusalem. When everyone had settled, they re-gathered in Jerusalem for the reading of the Book of the Law by Ezra the teacher. As he read, the people discovered in the seventh month of each year (which they were currently in) God required them to hold a feast of celebration to himself. As part of this celebration they were to build temporary shelters to live in for that month.

The people were filled with joy as they heard Ezra teach because they now understood the words that had been made known to them. But, they didn’t stop content with new knowledge. They put it into practice by building temporary shelters and living in them. And the result was that they were filled with joy!

Understanding – What does it mean?

God intends for us to not merely be entertained by Bible teachers, but to put their teachings into practice!

I have to admit I’ve played the fool. I have had many times where I’ve listened to a sermon and got excited about the new understanding I gained, but then didn’t do a thing with that new information. I failed to be intentional in putting it into practice. Lord, have mercy!

James, the brother of Jesus, warns us in his letter:

James 1:22-25           

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

It’s those who don’t forget what they’ve heard, but do it that are blessed. The Israelites took the time to build temporary shelters and sacrificed the comforts of home by living in them. You would think they would be bummed about having to do that. But they weren’t. In fact, the opposite happened! Scripture says that they hadn’t had that great of a celebration since the days of Joshua and that “their joy was very great”  (Neh. 8:17). This is the result of putting God’s word into practice in our lives!

Life Application

Don’t merely listen to the word, do what it says!

God, forgive me for the times I’ve listened and then walked away and forgot about it. Forgive us for coming to church to be entertained with no real intention of allowing you to transform us. May we be a people who don’t just listen but are passionate and intentional about obeying you. Thank you that you bless us and fill us with joy as we put your word into practice! Amen.
 
– Levi Thompson
 
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Nehemiah 7

Scripture
 
Nehemiah‬ ‭7:2‬ ‭NIV‬‬
 
“I put in charge of Jerusalem my brother Hanani, along with Hananiah the commander of the citadel, because he was a man of integrity and feared God more than most people do.”
‭‭
Observation-What does it say?
 
The wall of Jerusalem was finally complete. Nehemiah had to stay true to his promise to the King to return to Persia after his mission to rebuild Jerusalem was completed (see Nehemiah 2:6). He appointed 2 men, Hanani and Hananiah to take charge of Jerusalem in his absence. 

Understanding-What does it mean?

It wasn’t the strongest, fastest, smartest, bravest, richest, most handsome or beautiful who were chosen to protect Jerusalem. It was the person who feared God and had integrity.

 
Nehemiah showed integrity after the wall was built, by planning to return to the king in Persia as he had promised. He handed off the baton to other men who had integrity and feared God too.  Fearing God means having respect for God. The definition of integrity is honesty and having strong moral principles. 
The responsibility of taking charge of Jerusalem had to be given over to someone trustworthy and faithful. Essentially, these men were there to protect Jerusalem from sinful influences. They were chosen not because of what they had to offer on the surface, but because the motivations in their heart were pure. A big job like that could not be given to someone that could not be trusted. 
 
“All a personʼs ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭16:2‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭16:10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Trouble pursues the sinner, but the righteous are rewarded with good things.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭13:21‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Life Application

The more faithful we are with the little, he entrusts to us even more. But, it is impossible to fear God and remain faithful without the help of His Holy Spirit. 

Working hard to be a person of integrity is very draining because no one is perfect and it was not meant to come out of independence from Him, but rather interdependence, with Him carrying a bulk of the weight. Jesus is the only One who is perfect and as we continue to pursue Him daily, God will continue using us more and more. 

Dear Jesus, I pray for Your Spirit to do His work in my life to help me remain faithful to the tasks You’ve entrusted to me. I also pray for continual healthy fear of You as Lord and authority over my life. Take my heart and seal it for You alone. Amen.

To check out the discussion or to join in, click here.
 
-Michelle Gaddi
 
References: John Gill exposition, Oxford dictionary and Matthew Henry commentary 


Nehemiah 6

Scripture

Nehemiah 6:9

“They were just trying to intimidate us, imagining that they could discourage us and stop the work. So I continued the work with even greater determination.”

‭‭Observation-What does it say?

Nehemiah was given a great task by God. He was to rebuild the wall that once protected Jerusalem from it’s enemies. Now right as Nehemiah was just about to finish, Sanballat and Geshem, would send out an invitation to Nehemiah. They wanted to meet with him. But Nehemiah knew they were just trying to pull him away from completing God’s work, and that they wanted to do him harm. So he refused to meet with them, telling them that he was doing a great work, and the work would cease if he were to meet with them (vs. 3). This back and forth went on four more times, ending with the same result. Then the fifth time Sanballat and Geshem tried to spread rumors  about Nehemiah. The rumors stated that Nehemiah and the Israelites were planning to rebel, and Nehemiah was only rebuilding the wall to become their king. But Nehemiah knew these rumors to be false. He stood his ground, followed his higher calling from God, trusted that God would decimate such rumors for him in order for this task to be completed. Then when the wall was rebuilt, all of the Israelites’ enemies were disheartened, because they knew this work was done by God (vs. 15).

Understanding-What does it mean?

God’s people are often tempted or distracted to leave God’s work unfinished. But we must stay the course, trust God, and see what He can do. When it is all said and done, God will be glorified.

Nehemiah was a man on a mission…a mission from God. He did not let the constant nagging of “peers” to stray him from his calling. He did not even let nasty rumors that were spread about him sway him from completing the task at hand. He could have easily fell down the path and off track by using his time and energy to “put out the fire” of meeting with Sanballat and Geshem regarding these false rumors about him. Instead, Nehemiah trusted God. He followed through on God’s agenda above his own. In the end, his enemies were disheartened and were handed defeat. God’s will was accomplished and His name was glorified because of it. 

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”-‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ 

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”-Hebrews‬ ‭12:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Life Application

Nothing in this world can give us a better sense of accomplishment and peace than fulfilling God’s calling for our lives..

When I finally get to meet God face to face, and He holds me accountable for all the things He has called me to do while I was still on Earth, I would hate for my report card to read like it did for me when I was in junior college- (Lots of Incompletes and Withdrawals). Instead, how awesome would it be to be able to please my God, my Lord and Savior, and my Master. Imagine if God would reply, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”-(‭Matthew‬ ‭25:23‬a ‭NLT). How satisfying would that be? 

All I know is when I leave this earth, I only hope and pray that I was able to do my best with what God has given me.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.” 2 Timothy‬ ‭4:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬
 
 To check out the discussion or to join in, click here.
 
-Moses Gaddi