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

November 4: Esther 9, Revelation 17, Psalm 73

November 5: Esther 10, Revelation 18, Psalm 74

November 6: Job 1, Revelation 19, Psalm 75

November 7: Job 2, Revelation 20, Psalm 76

 
 
 
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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!
 

Acts 22

Scripture

Acts 22:1

 “Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense.”

Observation – What does it say?

The Apostle Paul got up to address the crowd of Jews. And from the start, he lets them know that he is one of them. He respectfully calls them “brothers and fathers” and speaks in their language, the Hebrew dialect of Aramaic. As a result he gained their complete attention, at least for a while. Unfortunately, once he mentioned God’s plan to not only save the Jews but the whole world, the crowd turned on him.

Understanding – What does it mean?

When sharing our testimony and the good news of Jesus with people, speak from common ground.

We aren’t looking down our noses at those who don’t yet know Christ, but we are sharing with them as people who at one point were in their shoes! The Apostle Paul gives us an inside look at his strategy for winning the lost in his letter to the believers at Corinth.

1 Corinthians 9:20-23

20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews.To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

Life Application

Become all things to all people, in order to win them to Christ!

God, help us to become more effective fishers of men. Give us the wisdom to find common ground with those who are lost and the favor to see them come into saving relationship with you. Use us! Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Acts 21

Scripture

Acts‬ ‭21:13‬ ‭

Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”

Observation-What does it say?

Paul was being warned by friends of the danger of going into Jerusalem to preach the Gospel. However, the above verse shows that Paul was ready and willing to die for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Understanding-What does it mean?

Paul was ready to surrender everything, even his own life, for the mission at hand.

Paul understood his mission on this earth and he was determined to follow through on it. A man who used to be part of martyring Christians was now willing to be martyred for the same cause. That 180 degree turn was only possible because of the grace of Jesus Christ that gave Paul new life and the Holy Spirit working in and through him.

Life Application

What better cause to give your life for than the cause of Jesus Christ!

During our daring faith series, we’ve been talking about stepping out of the boat in faith and surrendering our will, wants and lives for the cause of furthering the Kingdom of Christ. When Dave Arellano shared a couple of Sundays ago about what it means to be a soldier, a soldier is willing to die for the cause they believe in. A soldier is willing to sacrifice and surrender the comforts of sleep, recreation, and time to accomplish the mission that their commanding officer had assigned them to. With Christ as our commanding officer, are we willing to die completely to ourselves so that He would be glorified? Are we willing to put aside our comforts and what the world defines as success in order to further His Kingdom and fulfill His call over our lives? There is no greater purpose in life than living for His glory.

Dear Jesus, thank you for Paul’s story of redemption and for his determination to follow through on his call to glorify You, no matter the cost. We pray that his example would continue to inspire us to die to ourselves in order to fulfill our call to multiply Christ followers everywhere. Thank You for Your Holy Spirit that continues to help us in fulfilling that call. Amen. To check out the discussion or to join in click here.

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Acts 20

Scripture

Acts 20:24

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.

Observation – What does it say?

On his way to Jerusalem, Paul stopped to meet with the elders of the church in Ephesus. Not expecting to ever see them again, Paul gives the elders his final words. And in this discourse he tells the elders that his single purpose in life had been, and still was, to accomplish the task God gave him. He wasn’t living or working for any personal gain whatsoever. Rather, he had devoted every moment of every day to completing the task God had given him. One of his smaller sacrifices earlier in the chapter was giving up an entire night’s sleep to teach people until sunrise, pausing only to raise someone from the dead!

Understanding – What does it mean?

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:11, “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.”

It is wise for us to follow Paul’s example in laying aside all pursuits and goals that are selfish and don’t have to do with the task God has given us. Last Sunday we talked about giving God our best and highlighted the scripture in Paul’s letter to Timothy likening us to soldiers. As soldiers of Jesus Christ, we have to:
  • Define what we’re willing to die for.
  • Sacrifice our comforts.
  • Remove distractions.

All these things speak to what Paul had done. He attached himself to the task God had given him and he put aside all comforts and distractions to fulfill it.

Life Application

What am I aiming at? What are the goals I’m pursuing? Do they have to do with completing the task God has given me or are they unrelated?

Let go of the things that aren’t going to matter in eternity!

God, please give each of us clarity as to what you’ve called us to. Show us the specific tasks you’ve given each of us that will help us accomplish our mission of multiplying Christ-followers everywhere. We long to be used by you and to be great in your eyes! We long to fulfill the plans and purposes you have for us! Please help us to lay down our comforts and put aside our distractions and make our it our only aim to complete the task you’ve given us. Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Acts 19

Scripture

Acts 19:15

One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?”

Observation – What does it say?

Some men who weren’t believers in Jesus but Jews, attempted to drive out evil spirits by invoking the name of Jesus. Rather than submitting to them the spirit claimed to not know them, attacked them and beat all 7 of them sending them away naked and bleeding.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Authority over the enemy is only given to those who believe in and follow Jesus.

This passage shows us the lack of authority for those who aren’t Christians. But the rest of scripture is clear that complete authority over the enemy belongs to every single believer.

Jesus said to his disciples in  Luke 10:19, “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” He also said in Mark 16:17, “And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons…”

Those who believe in Jesus never need to fear the enemy or any evil spirit. We can be confident that because we have relationship with Jesus we won’t have to experience what the sons of Sceva did. Whew! Instead we will successfully drive out demons in Jesus’ name.

Life Application

When encountering the enemy or those with evil spirits, don’t ever be afraid but boldly drive them out in Jesus’ name!

God, thank you that you are for us! Thank you for the power in the name of Jesus! And thank you that you have given all of us, your followers, authority to overcome all the power of the enemy. Help us to walk in this truth and not in fear. And, use us to bring freedom to those being oppressed by the enemy in your name, Jesus. Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Acts 18

Scripture

Acts 18:5

When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. 

Observation – What does it say?

In the city of Corinth, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching. All day, every day, he shared the gospel with people who hadn’t yet heard it.

Understanding – What does it mean?

As I read this, it was amazing to me to imagine someone’s 9-5 job consisting of one task all day every day: finding people who haven’t heard the gospel and sharing it with them. It doesn’t say he devoted himself to praying for the lost or developing relationships with them or serving them. He didn’t have a long process or plan to reach those separated from God. He. Just. Preached.

Part of what is amazing about this to me is that it seems so far outside of my comfort zone to imagine doing this. I’m not sure if it was door to door, or in the marketplace, or in the synagogues, or all of the above. But Paul spent every day looking for people who didn’t know Christ and sharing with them.
This, in part, is what made Paul so effective! He shared the gospel with so many people everywhere he went that he left new congregations of people in his wake. If we at Desert Streams want to start new locations, I think each of us needs to grow in becoming more like Paul.

Life Application

While it may not be realistic to spend all day every day devoting myself to preaching the gospel to those who haven’t yet received Christ, I feel challenged to be more intentional about creating at least some regular time to step out of my comfort zone and share with people.

God, I ask that you would fill us with a passion to reach lost people. Fill us with love for you and for them and give us boldness to share. Whether it’s with friends, family members or strangers, may it be more a part of our daily lives that we are sharing the gospel with people. Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Acts 17

Scripture

Acts 17:11

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

Observation – What does it say?

In the city of Berea, Paul preached the gospel to the local people. Scripture says they had noble character because they did 2 things in response to Paul’s preaching.

  1. They received the message with great eagerness. They were not listening to critique the message but to receive.
  2. They examined the Scriptures daily to see if what Paul said was true. They didn’t just take Paul’s word for it. They understood that the scriptures were the final authority of our faith and measured everything preached against them.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Noble character is expressed by receiving what is preached and studying scripture to see if it’s true.

When someone is preaching, it can be easy to listen through a critical lens or think, “I’ve heard this before.” But those with noble character will listen with humble and open hearts, and will receive it with great eagerness.

However, that reception isn’t ignorant. It’s important that as we follow Christ, we study the scriptures daily for ourselves and measure every teaching against the word of God.

Life Application

Be a Berean!

God, forgive me for my pride and for the times I don’t listen with a humble and open heart. Help us to be better at receiving the message with eagerness. I also pray you fill us with a greater love for your word; a passion to study it, memorize it, and to discover the truth for ourselves. Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Acts 16

Scripture

Acts‬ ‭16:34‬ ‭

The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.”

Observation-What does it say?

The jailer in this story had just been ordered to “guard Paul and Silas carefully” (vs.23). However, due to a big earthquake that opened all of the prison doors, the jailer became discouraged and was about to take his life. They assured him that none of the inmates had escaped and as a result they saved his physical life. This also gave Paul and Silas an opportunity to share the Gospel with him and he and and all his household were saved and baptized.

UnderstandingWhat does it mean?

Paul and Silas glorified Jesus through a wrongful imprisonment. They also cared enough for the jailer to encourage him in his discouraged state. The care that Paul and Silas had for this jailer (as they noticed he was about to take his life) resulted in the jailer not going through with the suicide and giving his life to Christ.

Life Application

Continue to worship Jesus, live lives of faith and love others through the dark times! God has a way of turning bad situations into good.

Paul and Silas were severely flogged and thrown into prison for driving out an evil spirit and doing God’s will. The way they responded to their unjustified and wrongful imprisonment eventually led to the jailer and his whole family being saved.

Thank You Lord that You have everything under control. Through the dark times in life, it is easy to throw in the towel and want to give up. Thank You for Paul and Silas’ vision and commitment to their mission. Thank You for their response to their less than ideal situation. I pray that we would have the faith they had to keep our eyes on You. May we continue to pray and worship You even through the rough times. I pray that we would not stop loving people either, regardless of our situation. May our faith be contagious and lead others to you as it did for the jailer. Amen. To check out the discussion or join in click here.
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Acts 15

Scripture

Acts 15:8-9

God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.

Observation – What does it say?

The Jewish Christians were attempting to teach the new Gentile (non-Jewish) Christians that in addition to their faith in Christ they needed to also be circumcised in order to be saved. In other words, they were attempting to make them become Jews before they could become Christians. Paul and Silas came into dispute with them and went to the leaders of the church in Jerusalem to seek their decision on the matter. In their meeting, Peter spoke up and pointed out that God didn’t accept and give the Holy Spirit to only those who were circumcised. All were purified and accepted by God because of their faith in Jesus alone!

Understanding – What does it mean?

We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

When feeling the pressure to ‘do’ certain things like spend time with God or share my faith, it’s easy to think that after doing those things God will be more pleased with me, accept me more, love me more. However, Peter points to the moment of salvation, proving that God loved and accepted and purified our hearts at the moment we professed faith in him.

It wasn’t our efforts or good deeds that caused God to accept us or love us. Rather, while we were still running from God, still his enemies, he demonstrated the greatest love for us by dying on the cross for us!

To take it another step further, if your works couldn’t save you what makes you think they could sustain you?

We love God and others not so we can be saved but because we already are! Our lives of love and obedience to God are just responses to receiving God’s amazing love and salvation.

Life Application

Rest in God’s love for me and acceptance of me, not because of what I have done but simply because of my faith in Jesus.

God, thank you so much for loving us! Thank you for saving us! Thank you that you purified us and accepted us simply because we put our faith in you. May we rest in your love that is truly unconditional. Worship you! Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Acts 14

Scripture

Acts 14:21

They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. 

Observation – What does it say?

This chapter recounts the remainder of Paul and Barnabas’ first missionary journey. And in these 28 verses there are 7 references to them “preaching the gospel,” “speaking boldly for the Lord,” “continuing to preach the gospel,” etc. And as a result many were saved!

Understanding – What does it mean?

People can’t believe and be saved if no one tells them about salvation through Jesus!

Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.

Our mission is to multiply Christ-followers everywhere. If we are going to even add Christ-followers then we have to share the good news of Jesus with people. It’s not going to happen any other way! The large number of disciples won by 2 men was the result of them simply sharing about Jesus with the people in that city.

When was the last time you shared about Jesus with someone?

Life Application

Find opportunities to share the gospel!

God, fill us with boldness to preach the gospel! Please give us eyes to recognize the opportunities you give us daily to share about you with others. We long for others to experience the amazing love and grace of God as we have! Use us! Make us a church characterized by sharing Jesus with those who don’t yet know him. Amen!
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Acts 13

Scripture

Acts 13:2

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 

Observation – What does it say?

While 5 prophets and teachers were worshiping and fasting together, including Paul and Barnabas, the Holy Spirit spoke to them. He gave direction to Paul and Barnabas, asking them to be set apart for a special job God was giving them.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Worship and fasting is a great way to position yourself to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit!

When desiring direction from God, when craving the sound of his voice, when longing to discover what he has called you to do, you must seek him. Assuming a posture of worship and fasting is what led to Paul and Barnabas hearing God, which is what led to them going on a missionary journey together. That Holy Spirit directed journey resulted in the establishment of several communities of believers in different cities throughout the known world. And it all started because they took time to get together with a few other believers to worship and fast together!

Life Application

Need to hear from God? Worship and fast!

Our time of prayer and fasting every January is always so impactful and a time where we hear God’s voice and gain direction for the year. Lately however, increasing in my heart has been the desire to not wait until January to fast again. After reading this today, I will plan a time within the next month or two to do another extended fast.

God, I long to hear your voice more. I long for wisdom and direction and to keep in step with the Holy Spirit. May our desire to hear your voice be so great that we would be moved to set aside time to fast and worship together. We love you! We worship you! Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.