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

Matthew 24

Scripture

Matthew 24:42-44

“So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.”

‭‭Observation-What does it say?

Jesus is speaking with His disciples regarding the end times. Jesus tells His disciples all the signs to look out for during this time period. The rumors and threats of war, false prophets and false messiah’s, famines and earthquakes, the persecution of His disciples, the sun will be darkened, the moon will give no light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the total destruction and anguish that will surround them. But Jesus tells them not to worry. For all these things must come to pass in order for the Son of Man to return. So Jesus reminds them all to be on the lookout for these things, and most of all to be prepared.

Understanding-What does it mean?

Are we ready for Christ’s return?

I think that it’s the boy scouts that have the motto to “be prepared”. And as Christ Followers Jesus urges us to take on that same mindset. The future that Jesus describes to His disciples can be a very scary thought…for those who are unsaved. But for those of us who have that relationship with Jesus, it should give us a sense of urgency in our lives. A sense that our Master is coming back, and we have to get His house in order and have it ready for Him when He does return. Unfortunately, many of us are procrastinators. We tend to like to wait till the last minute. But the Bible tells us that tomorrow is not guaranteed. 

“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.” Proverbs‬ ‭27:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.” James‬ ‭4:13-14‬ ‭NLT‬‬

So we as Christ Followers need to go out in this world with a purpose…with a sense of urgency! Because the things that Daniel prophesied about and Jesus spoke of in this passage are coming. We need to do our part and help save those around us from the wrath and destruction that is heading their way.

Life Application

Be more purposeful with people I come into contact with in life. Continue to pray, invest, and invite these people into a relationship with Jesus.

Father God, help me to be more purposeful in building Your Kingdom. Help me to move with a sense of urgency. Open up my eyes, ears, and heart in the direction You want me to move today. Give me the passion and the words to speak into these people’s lives that will reveal Your love for them. In Your Holy name Jesus, Amen.

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


Matthew 23

Scripture

Matthew 23:13

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees…”

Observation

In the previous chapter, Jesus matches wits with the Pharisees and scribes who ask Him questions meant to entrap Him and invalidate His claims and ministry. In this chapter, Jesus is done entertaining their self-righteous and legalistic foolishness. He points out their arrogance and pride and challenges the people to do as they say but not as they do. Jesus then pronounces a series of seven woes upon the teachers of the law and the Pharisees, exposing their hypocrisy and legalism, their ignorant and burdensome teachings, their misguided priorities; their religion without mercy; then pronounces them guilty of the shed blood of the martyred prophets and pronounces theirs as a desolate house.

Understanding

Child of Hell! Blind guides! Hypocrites! Wicked! Whitewashed tombs! Snakes! Brood of vipers! Jesus saved His most vicious accusations and insults for the religious leaders of the day; this in vivid contrast to the patience, grace and mercy He had for the people whom the leaders had manipulated and exploited with their legalism and ritual. It is a weighty responsibility for any of us who assume the mantle of leadership and influence in the Body and one to which the Lord will hold us accountable. Jesus’ vitriol emphasizes His love for the sheep of His flock and the care and protection that He expects His shepherds to provide them. While He doesn’t expect perfection from teachers and leaders, He does demand integrity, honesty, accuracy, humility and mercy from those who “sit on Moses’ seat.” (v.2)

Life Application

As a teacher of God’s word, I am acutely aware of the higher level of accountability to which I (or any leader) am to be held. I need carefully guard my doctrine against any error and I need to be equally cautious against becoming self-righteous or legalistic. I strive to be honest enough to admit my personal faults and struggles even as I instruct others lest I fall into the same prideful trap as did the Pharisees and scribes. Yet, the warning against hypocrisy that Jesus gives to leaders and teachers applies to the life of every Christian. If our actions do not agree with our doctrine and, perhaps more importantly, the heart of God, then we are guilty of the same charges brought against the Pharisees and scribes.  
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here.
-Gary Parker 


Matthew 22

Scripture

Matthew 22:36-40

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Observation

Christ continues to teach in parables and the Pharisees continue to try to trip him up.  The first is the parable of the wedding feast – where He relates what’s available (heaven, eternal life), the rejection of Christ and the consequences (hell) and the chosen ones.  Then the Pharisees were trying to “trap him in his words.”  Jesus shuts ‘em down yet again (graciously of course) and amazes them with his response.  Then the Sadducees come at him with questions about marriage at the resurrection…and are left “astonished.”

With the Sadducees silenced, the Pharisees decide to test him again; and this is where we learn that “the greatest commandment in the Law” is to LOVE!  To love God with all our hearts, minds and souls…and to love our neighbors as ourselves. 

Understanding

Imagine if this was lived out fully…to make love our first priority.  To love God fully, wholly, with every bit of ourselves…and to reflect His heart for us as we pour out our love on others – our neighbors, friends, strangers, coworkers…

We’ve all heard the saying “love conquers all.”  I may be naïve to believe that is true; but I DO.  Although, I do think it requires a qualification –

God’s love

conquers all.  However, we can be a vessel for the outpouring of that love.    

It’s nice to imagine what that would or at least could look like, right?  But how do we move from a nice thought and into action?  How do we walk that out?  A few things come to mind…

  • I believe it requires discipline – discipline in putting God first in a world that would entice us to put pretty much anything else first…our favorite shows, material possessions, social media likes, work, our children/spouse, our dreams/desires. But all that other stuff falls into place when God is first.  Even if doesn’t look like what we envisioned, it somehow works and brings fulfillment in a way that no human orchestration of the same ever could. 
  • I believe it takes forgiveness – both embracing the forgiveness that has been so lavishly poured out on us and the freedom that comes with that AND forgiving others. [If you missed out on yesterday’s sermon on this topic, I recommend checking it out online!]
  • I believe it takes accountability and community – getting filled up, rested up and called out so that we can go into spiritual battle.
  • I believe it requires a reflection of God’s heart and the biblical description of love…

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

  • I believe it requires trust and obedience. How else can we put God first unless we trust His heart for us, unless we are willing to obey even when we don’t understand. 

So…will you join me today in living out the greatest commandment?  Go love on somebody! <3

Life Application

God, I consider this to be my life statement, my mantra, my purpose.  I pray that it never becomes a cliché phrase but is always centered in YOU.  In my human capacity I may never be able to fully grasp the oh-so-perfect love you’ve given to me but, God, I pray my heart would be a reflection of your heart, my life a vessel for your use.  Lord, that as I intentionally love on people, that they catch a glimpse of you, feel your pull on their heart and, Lord, that they would turn to you.  Show me the ways that I can love you and love your people more today.

In your name, I pray.  Amen.

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

– Rei



Matthew 21

Scripture

Matthew 21:14

The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them.

Observation – What does it say?

Jesus came to the temple and found it defiled. People praying was replaced by people paying. Worship was replaced with work, as people had shifted the temple from being a place devoted to God into a market devoted to making money.

Jesus cleansed the temple and drove out those buying and selling. And, once he did, the most amazing things began to take place! People who were blind were led to the temple and Jesus gave them 20/20 vision so they no longer needed someone to guide them. People who were unable to walk were brought to Jesus he healed them on the spot. And, as a result, the children filled the temple courts with the sound of his praises.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Purity leads to power!

When we allow Jesus to cleanse us of impurity, we find ourselves prepared to experience more of his power! When we shift our focus from the pursuits of this world to worship and prayer, the door swings open to make way for God to do miracles through us.

Joshua 3:5 Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.”

The people responded to Joshua’s command and the next day the Jordan River was stopped up by the hand of God, so the people were able to cross over into the Promised Land.

Life Application

Ask God to purify us and cleanse us, so we can experience more of him!

Many of us are holding onto the promises of God and wondering when we are going to see their fulfillment. Maybe we think we’re waiting on God’s timing, but is it possible he is actually waiting on us to set ourselves apart?

God, please send your Holy Spirit to bring conviction to our hearts of sin. May we truly set ourselves apart in preparation for what you want to do in and through us. We believe the best is yet to come! We willingly lay down our sin and our obsession with wealth, possessions, reputation, etc. and we choose to seek you in prayer and worship instead, because we know that it will clear the way for us to experience more of your power! Amen.
 
– Levi Thompson
 
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Matthew 20

Scripture

Matthew‬ ‭20:14-15‬ ‭NIV

‬‬”Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’”

‭‭Observation-What does it say? 

Jesus tells a parable about a master and his hired servants to describe what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. The master hired servants to work in his vineyard, who he saw standing at the marketplace doing nothing at different hours of the day.  He went out to look for workers at 9a, 12p, 3p, and 5p. He agreed to pay them each a denarius for the day.Those who were hired at 9 in the morning became upset that those who were hired at 5 in the afternoon only had to work for an hour, yet got paid the same amount that they did. They weren’t grateful that the master had hired them and given them purpose. Instead, they played the comparison game and felt that they deserved more.

Understanding-What does it mean?

Our gracious master shows no favoritism when He calls people to Himself. The same compassion and grace that saved you and gave you purpose in life is the same compassion and grace that saved me.

The Master in this parable represents Jesus and his mercy and grace towards sinners. The servants standing in the marketplace had no purpose in life and no job, as they were just standing around doing nothing. Yet the Master (Jesus) got a hold of them and gave them purpose. We are those servants. We are called by Jesus at different times in life. Some were called when they were 5 years old and gave their lives to Jesus, walking with Him their whole lives without rebellion. Some were called in high school (like me). Others in their adult life, while others on their death bed. Yet, Jesus’ promise to them/us is the same–eternal life. No one gets more or less as a servant of Christ. The envy of the servants who worked since 9a reminds me of the parable of the prodigal son, where the older son was jealous that the younger son got a party when he returned, yet he never got a party for being obedient to His father that whole time. What his father told him though was true…that the older son was with Him that whole time and everything He had was his, but they had to rejoice because his brother who was once lost is now found. (See Luke 15:11-32)

Also, I noticed that it’s not about how we start, but how we finish. Finishing the work at the end of the day is what got those servants paid. Persevering until the end and waiting on Jesus is what will get us the prize. As the Apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:13-14, “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Life Application

Let’s love sinners, pray for them, and rejoice when they come to/come back to the faith. Also, let’s persevere to finish the work that Christ has called us to, as we await His return.

Those of us who are already part of the family of Christ have all the benefits of being his son/daughter. However, there are many in the world who do not because of rebellion or not even knowing the Truth. Let’s not give up in our mission of multiplying Christ followers everywhere together!

Dear Jesus, thank You for Your love, compassion and grace. Without it, I wouldn’t be here today. I pray that Your heart for sinners and the lost would become my heart and that I would persevere in the purpose You have called me to. Please forgive me and Spirit protect me from falling into the trap of feeling tired and wanting to give up. May I (we) press forward toward the goal to win the prize and love others enough to bring them into that faith and purpose as well. Amen.

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


Matthew 19

Scripture

Matthew 19:21-23

21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 

Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

Observation

Jesus leaves Galilee and heads to Judea.  As he travels, people follow.  Among those are the disciples, people that desire healing (as well as soul nourishment, I suspect), children and, of course, the lovely Pharisees – still looking for ways to test him. 

First the Pharisees test him on the matter of divorce.  There’s actually a great discourse on this, found here http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/matthew/19.html, verses 3-12; but what most stood out to me was this…

“So patiently did he endure the contradiction of sinners, that he turned it into instructions to his own disciples!” [Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible, Matthew 19]

Perhaps a lesson to be learned from how Jesus responded to those who attempted to tempt him, test him and taunt him. 

Next come the little children – brought to Jesus for prayer – and the disciples rebuke.  But Jesus responds “let the little children come,” placed his hands on them and prayed.

Then a rich young man comes, asking what “good thing” he must do to get eternal life and Jesus speaks, instead, to the thing that has a hold on his heart.

Understanding

I love Jesus, the teacher.  He’s forever keeping things simple, living by example and shaking up the way people see things (the religious rhetoric) wherever he goes. 

Crowds of people have been following him for months!  To me that alone sounds awful.  I LOVE people, but I also crave solo time.  By this time I’d likely get very testy with the Pharisees and their attempts to test me…I don’t know that I’d be so gracious and purposeful in my response.  But Jesus never loses his cool with them; instead, he remains patient and uses his response to teach his disciples too. 

His response to the children in a reminder to me to be present, pray continuously and just love on the children in my life – not only mine, but all the kids I come in contact with. 

And, finally, the way Jesus responds to the rich young man…I think it’s got little to do with his wealth and everything to do with the young man’s heart.  He wanted to know what “good thing” he could do – what checkbox he could check – to gain eternal life.  The first response was to “obey the commandments.”   Check.  The young man responds that he’s done this.  But then Jesus grabs hold of the heart issue, “Sell all your possessions and follow me.”  To this, the young man turned and left, sad.

I don’t believe this has anything to do with being rich or even having stuff.  I know Christians who are wealthy and who have stuff.  And I believe when we are good stewards with little, we are often given more.  However, what God has called us to and what Jesus speaks to here is “what holds your heart?”  Do you have the wealth and the stuff or does it have you?  We sang yesterday “Be my heart’s obsession, first and only in my life.  In your love alone, my soul is satisfied.”   They say you can tell where a person’s heart is (or priorities are) by how they spend their time, money and resources.  When we look at our lives in that way, is God showing up as our “heart’s obsession, first and only” or has that space been filled by something else?   

Life Application

God, I thank you for your presence.  I think Jesus’s time spent here on earth gave us a glimpse of intentional, purposeful and present you are.  Thank you for being present in the big and little details of our lives, for being patient with us, for teaching us.  May our hearts and mind remain open to that teaching.

Thank you for your love for children.  May I remember that as I go throughout the day – taking time to be present with children (and all people, really)…to pray over them, love on them and see them through your eyes.

And, finally, God, show me the areas of my life where you are not my heart’s obsession, not my first and only…where I’m finding (or attempting to find) soul satisfaction in something less than you.  Help me to release whatever those things may be, so that I may honor you with my WHOLE life, my WHOLE heart. 

I love you and thank you for your love for me.  Amen.  

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

– Rei



Matthew 18

Scripture

Matthew 18:32-35
“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to.
 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

 

Observation

Within this chapter where Jesus exalts childlike faith and humility as the traits of those who will be considered the greatest in Heaven; where He warns anyone who would be stumbling blocks to those who exhibit such faith and cause them to sin; and as he tells the Parable of the Wandering Sheep, Jesus uses strong hyperbole, strict instruction and a chilling parable of an unmerciful servant to point out The Father’s heart for forgiveness and reconciliation as well as His anger toward those who do not give as they have received.

Understanding

With the vivid imagery of cut off limbs and gouged out eyes, Jesus points out the seriousness of sin by comparing the loss of these members as being more preferable to a life of sin and demands that we hate sin even more than we would love our own flesh. With His instruction of how to deal with sin in the Church, Jesus implores us to expose and confront sin; confess and repent; and be reconciled to one another. With the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant, Jesus reveals The Father’s hatred of the sin of hypocrisy and unforgiveness.

Life Application

The Church (as individuals and as a corporate body) needs to recapture the heart of God for sin. We no longer mourn sin; on the contrary, we tolerate it and rationalize it. Additionally, We need to love the church as much as God loves her as His Bride, and do all that we can to maintain the loving bonds of brotherhood and protect Her from the divisive forces of unforgiveness, which will destroy her from within; and we must also guard against hypocrisy which will corrupt Her beauty in the eyes of those observing her from without.   
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here
-Gary Parker


Matthew 17

Scripture

Matthew 17:17-20

17 “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” 18 Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.

19 Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” [21] [a

Observation

Jesus takes Peter, James and John to the mountain top and they have a literal mountaintop God experience – Jesus is transfigured before their eyes and Moses and Elijah show up and are talking to Jesus too.  Jesus clears up some misunderstandings about Elijah and John the Baptist and asks the chosen disciples to keep the experience quiet until AFTER he dies and is raised from the dead. 

As they return to the crowd, a man comes to Jesus on behalf of his demon-possessed son – asking for healing.  It is noted that the boy was brought to the disciples and they could not heal him. Jesus calls out the lack of faith in the disciples.

Understanding

This – lack of faith – continues to be an area of conviction for me. 

There’s the knowledge side of me that believes it’s possible but I often feel my prayers lack the conviction.  I remember in recent weeks Pastor Levi giving an example of a big bold request, with a sheepish “if it be your will.”  I laughed because it’s so often EXACTLY how I pray. 

Life Application

God, I don’t want to be part of the “unbelieving and perverse generation.”  Please help build my faith.  Help the head knowledge become heart knowledge.  May I believe with power and conviction in just how powerful and mighty you are.  You are forever responsive and trustworthy…may I continue to lean more and more onto you, developing my faith to a level of deep, unshakeable roots.  And may I pass this on to my children as well. 

In your name, I pray.  Amen.

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

– Rei



Matthew 16

 

Scripture

Matthew 16:9

Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered?

Observation – What does it say?

On their boat ride to the other side of the lake, Jesus warns his disciples about the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees. When they hear the word “yeast,” they completely miss the point and think Jesus is pointing out the fact that they forgot to bring bread.

Seemingly frustrated, Jesus turns to them and exclaims, “Do you still not understand?” I don’t believe Jesus was frustrated that they missed the point, but because they thought he was really concerned with having enough bread.

Understanding – What does it mean?

With Jesus, there will always be enough.

Jesus pointed to the times he multiplied the little resources available to feed the 5,000 and 4,000 and that there was plenty left over each time. He wasn’t merely doing a miracle, but trying to teach his disciples something through it. Jesus is trying to get the point across that his provision weren’t merely one time events, but a revelation of his nature as provider. 

I’m sure all of us have experienced a financial problem – it didn’t appear we had enough to meet the need or pay the bill. So naturally, we freaked out. But, God came through and provided just in time. I’m also sure that all of us experienced another financial problem after that, and unfortunately we got just as freaked out as the first time! We fell into the same faithless trap as the disciples did.
 
Every time we worry, I believe Jesus would respond to us the same: “Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember all those times I’ve taken care of you in the past?”

Life Application

Trust God.

God, thank you that you’ve never given us reason to doubt you. Rather, you’ve always come through. Despite the many times I’ve been worried about finances, I’m still here today, with a roof over my head, bills paid and food in the kitchen. You’re so good, so faithful. We choose to put our trust in you! Amen.

– Levi Thompson

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



Matthew 15

 

Scripture

Matthew‬ ‭15:32-33‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.” His disciples answered, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?””

Observation-What does it say?

Jesus had just retreated again to take a break and sat down on a mountainside along the Sea of Galilee. However, a large crowd that needed healing came to Him and Jesus healed them. As a result they praised God. However, they were with Him for 3 days and had nothing to eat. This concerned Jesus, because he was worried that they would collapse on their journey home if they weren’t fed.

Understanding-What does it mean?

Jesus cared not only for their present journey, but their future one as well.

These people had fasted for 3 days while they were with Jesus and probably traveled a long distance just to see Him. He did not just heal their present physical and spiritual needs, give a blessing and send them away. He took the time to think about their journey back home and wanted to take care of that too.

Life Application

Jesus is concerned with not only our present, but our future as well. But, there’s a part that we must play in that too.

With all the graduations and promotions this year, Jeremiah 29:11 is a popular verse to quote. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

However, the following verses after that one are just as important. “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”” Jeremiah‬ ‭29:12-14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

In context, it was written to the nation of Israel, who God brought back from exile and restored for a time. 

Just as the crowds sought Jesus out for healing, (He didn’t seek them out), we are also to call on Him, pray to Him, seek Him out with all our hearts, for when we do, we will find Him. We will be protected, cared for, nourished by Him and we will find our purpose not just for the present, but the future as well.  (Jeremiah 29:12-13). 

Dear Jesus, just as You healed and restored the physical and spiritual needs of that crowd who sought You out, followed You and fasted for 3 days along the Sea of Galilee, I pray that Your Spirit would give us as a church the desire to also fast, seek You out and follow You so that our present and future needs would be protected and cared for by You. Thank You that all Your thoughts and present and future plans for us are good.  May You reveal more of Yourself to us as we stay in pure and constant relationship with You. Amen.

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