Journal Entries
Every weekday you will find a journal entry here from someone different in our church family. 
Click the scripture title and scroll down to see a comments section where you can ask questions, share insights and post your own SOUL Journal entry for the day!

Galatians 4



Galatians 4:6-7

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

Observation-What does it say?

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

Understanding-What does it mean? 

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

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

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

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

Life Application

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

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

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

Galatians 3



Galatians 3:3

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

‭‭Observation-What does it say?

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

Understanding-What does it mean?

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

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

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

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

Life Application

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

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

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

Galatians 2



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


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


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

Life Application

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

Galatians 1



Galatians 1:10

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


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


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

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

Life Application

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


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

– Rei




Malachi 1:8

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

Observation – What does it say?

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

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

Understanding – What does it mean?

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

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

Life Application

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




Joel‬ ‭2:12-14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

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

‭‭Observation-What does it say?

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

Understanding-What does it mean?

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

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

Life Application

God calls His church, His bride to repentance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Haggai 1:3-6

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

‭‭Observation-What does it say?

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

Understanding-What does it mean?

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

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

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

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

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Matthew‬ ‭6:19-21‬ ‭NLT

Life Application

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

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

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

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




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

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


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


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

Life Application

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

Habakkuk 1-3



Habakkuk 3:17-19

17 Though the fig tree does not bud
 and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
 and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
 and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
  I will be joyful in God my Savior.
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
  he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
 he enables me to tread on the heights.

Observation-What does it say? 

The entire book of Habakkuk is a conversation between God and man. The first 2 chapters detail Habakkuk’s complaint and God’s answer. But in chapter 3, Habakkuk’s complaints turn to prayer – from worry to worship. 

Understanding-What does it mean? 

Habakkuk lifts up complaints that I think all of us have at one time or another…
    •    Why is there injustice? 
    •    Why must there be strife and conflict and violence? 
    •    Why me?
    •    Why do you allow this? 
    •    Why do you stay silent? Why aren’t you listening?
    •    Why do the wicked prevail?
I believe most Christians have asked these questions…and I know many non-Christians that have used these questions as the basis for why they don’t believe. 

But just as God answers Habakkuk…
1: 5 Look at the nations and watch—
    and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
    that you would not believe,
    even if you were told.

2: 3 For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
  it speaks of the end
 and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
 it[f] will certainly come
 and will not delay.

We are reminded that God’s thoughts and plans are greater than ours…and that his timing is perfect. 

Life Application 

As human children of an all-knowing, all-present God, there is much we do not know or understand.
Help us to trust you in times of doubt. May we lift up our complaints and listen for your response. May we remember that you never fail, never leave us or forsake us…but, rather, that your plans are perfect, your love for us is greater and purer than even our best love, that you have a plan and purpose for each part of our lives and that we can experience peace and rest in trusting in you as our Father. Because of that, may we be like Habakkuk and turn our worries to worship. Amen.

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

Nahum 2-3



Nahum 3:19

Nothing can heal you;
    your wound is fatal.
All who hear the news about you
    clap their hands at your fall,
for who has not felt
    your endless cruelty?

Observation – What does it say?

The prophet Nahum declares the coming destruction of Nineveh, the great capitol of Assyria. It will be a complete destruction, and no one will pity them. Why? Because the world around them suffered at the hands of the Assyrians. The destruction of Nineveh, to the rest of the world, was the destruction of their oppressors – their enemies.

The Assyrians were notoriously barbaric, killing all in their path. They would pile the skulls at the entrance to the cities as a sign to any who came by that the Assyrians had been there. They would plundering all the city had that was valuable and burn the rest. They were ruthless and like the prophet said, “…who has not felt your endless cruelty?”

Understanding – What does it mean?

You reap what you sow!

King David found himself deeply troubled when he observed the prosperity of the wicked in his day. He wrote this (Psalm 73):

12 This is what the wicked are like—
    always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.

13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure
    and have washed my hands in innocence.
14 All day long I have been afflicted,
    and every morning brings new punishments.

He was deeply troubled. It had appeared that you don’t reap what you sow! Righteous are suffering and the wicked are without trouble. But then God gave him revelation…

19 How suddenly are they destroyed,
    completely swept away by terrors!

Although the wicked may prosper for a time, they will eventually reap the destruction they’ve sown. And, thought the righteous may suffer for a time, they will eventually reap eternal life if they don’t give up!

The Apostle Paul reminded the Christians of his day, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”  (Galatians 6:7)

Life Application

What are you sowing?

Am I sowing wickedness or righteousness? Am I sowing faith or doubt? Am I sowing for my own benefit or the benefit of others? Am I sowing in prayer or in gossip?

We are always sowing. And I’m reminded that if it doesn’t have to do with loving God or loving others, I’m not going to like the harvest.

God, may we learn from the Assyrians that we will never get away with evil. Purify us your people that we may shine bright like stars in the universe, showing the world what you’re like. May we be intentional to sow love and righteousness. We rejoice that although we may suffer for a time, we will receive a glory that far outweighs the suffering. Amen.
– Levi Thompson
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.