Bible Reading Plan

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

How To Soul Journal
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 19


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


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


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


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.

Acts 15


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


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


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.

Acts 12


Acts 12:5, 17

So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him… 17 Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison.

Observation – What does it say?

The believers had been praying earnestly to God for Peter, who had been thrown in prison. God answered their prayers by sending an angel for an epic prison break. And once he found himself outside the prison, Peter went straight to the house where the believers were praying. When they finally opened the door he shared the amazing testimony with them.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Miracles DO happen when God’s people pray!

The believers praying for Peter weren’t special by any means. They were ordinary believers who decided to pray earnestly for God to act in a seemingly impossible situation. And he did!

James 5:16b-17 16bThe prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. 17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.

James stresses that Elijah was a human being just like us! There is something amazing that happens when ordinary people pray earnestly! Even the believers who were praying were ‘astonished’ when the saw that Peter was freed from the prison.

Life Application

Pray with expectation!

God, thank you for giving us such amazing favor that we can come to you in prayer and you will move on our behalf! When impossible situations arise, instead of feeling fearful, may we feel excited because we know that all we need to do is pray. You are amazing! Teach us more about this! Amen.
To check out the discussion or join in click here.

Acts 11


Acts‬ ‭11:23-24‬

“When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.”

Observation-What does it say?

Those who preached the Gospel to Antioch were from Jerusalem. They were ministers who had to leave Jerusalem due to persecution.
Barnabus was sent to Antioch and was very pleased with what he saw.  Because the hand of the Lord was on that city, it resulted in people believing and turning their lives over to Jesus Christ. He encouraged them further to remain in the faith.

Understanding-What does it mean?

Barnabus was a disciple and a discipler for Christ. He was described as “a good man, full of faith and the Holy Spirit.” Because he loved Jesus, he lived his life as a disciple of Christ and discipled others by sharing the Gospel, teaching them and encouraging them in their walk of faith.

Life Application

Be a Barnabus to someone!

As a result of loving Jesus, we are all called to disciple by sharing the Gospel, teaching and encouraging others to remain faithful to the Lord.

Every Christ follower has the responsibility and privilege of ministering the Gospel to the lost and disciple others who come into the faith. We are all ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Dear Lord, I pray that we would be a Barnabus to others. I also thank you for all the Barnabus type people in my life who minister to my heart and invest in my life. Please continue to bless them. Amen. To check out the discussion or join in, click here.

Acts 10

“I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism…”
God loves people regardless of race, social standing, country of origin, or any other prejudicial boundary we can think of.  He loves them all and wants to see all of them come into relationship with Him.  Yet one of the biggest problems we face as Christ-followers is the problem of prejudice.  We are quick to dismiss people as less than deserving of the love of God for some of the craziest things.  We despise people because of their weight, or the kind of car they drive, or what kinds of clothes they wear, and that prevents us from sharing the good news with them.  This Peter problem continues to plague us and we need to remember that God does not show favoritism and we should not either.
So where does the prejudice show up in your life and what will you do to change it?