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 3

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Acts 3:6

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”

Observation – What does it say?

This is one of my favorite stories in scripture! Peter and John are strolling up to the temple to pray and as they pass by the gate leading to the temple they saw the same handicapped man who was always there, begging. Over 40 years old now, he had been born unable to use his legs (Acts 4:22). And day after day people would pass by, some feeling pity and giving money while others shamefully tried to avoid eye contact and having to help. But today his life would be forever changed. And it was all because of 2 ordinary men who had faith in Jesus. Here come Peter and John filled with faith. When they saw him, rather than offering money they offered him something better: complete healing in the name of Jesus Christ! Instantly his legs became strong and he stood to his feet. Then he followed Peter and John to the temple, walking and leaping for the first time in his life and praising God!

Understanding – What does it mean?

When you’re filled with faith you see problems differently than the rest of the world.

When Peter and John were confronted by all the onlookers who witnessed what happened, they explained the simple reason for the miracle:

Acts 3:16 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.

They simply acted on their faith in Jesus and the man was healed! A man once called his Pastor and said, “Pastor! The doctors just told my friend he has cancer and only has months to live. Isn’t that great?! I’m just so excited!” He wasn’t joking or going crazy. He had faith. He was excited at this opportunity for a miracle. He knew God was bigger and knew God loves bring glory to himself through healing people. And sure enough, after being prayed for, God healed the man’s friend completely of cancer!

Faith changes the way you see things. When ‘terrible’ news comes, rather than feeling dread you begin to get excited! “I can’t wait to see what God does in this situation!” All miracles start as problems. All testimonies begin as tests. What problems and tests are you facing? Are you seeing them through eyes of fear or of faith?

Life Application

View every problem as an opportunity for a miracle!

God, fill us with faith! When negative news comes from the doctor or our finances look really bad, when most people would respond with fear or stress, help us to see with eyes of faith. When everyone else responds with, “That’s too bad,” may we believe you for a miracle! Amen.

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

Acts 2

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Acts 2:12-13

12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” 13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”

Observation – What does it say?

On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit filled all the believers who were gathered together in the upper room in Jerusalem, enabling them to speak in languages unknown to them. Many people from all over the known world at the time were staying in Jerusalem and heard these men from Galilee declaring the wonders of God in their own languages and they gathered around to figure out what was going on. Some in the crowd were amazed at this move of God while others made fun of them.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Whenever God moves, there are those who will be amazed and those who make fun.

In Matthew 9 Jesus went to Jairus’ house, a synagogue leader, per his request to heal his daughter. On the way, Jairus’ daughter died.

Matthew 9:23-25 23 When Jesus entered the synagogue leader’s house and saw the noisy crowd and people playing pipes, 24 he said, “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. 25 After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up.

According to the parallel passage in Luke, the crowd was put outside but Jesus’ disciples and the girl’s parents stayed with Jesus in the house. Those who laughed are the ones who missed out. But those that believed witnessed a miracle. I don’t want to be put out of the house because of my lack of faith! Every time the gospel is preached you have these two different responses:

1 Corinthians 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Those who believe are those who experience the power of God while those who mock miss it. Those who believe please God, while those who don’t are unable to please him.

Life Application

Ask God for more faith!

God, I don’t want to be among those who judge and mock when you move because it’s outside the box I’ve put you in. Rather, I want to be one who believes and experiences your power! I want to have the kind of faith that leads to experiencing you do miracles! Faith is a gift from you, something we are powerless to produce within ourselves. So please gift all of us with more faith! Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.

Acts 1

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Acts 1:11-““Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.””
Observation-What does it say?
Jesus’ disciples had just witnessed Jesus ascend into Heaven and continued looking up into the clouds where He had disappeared. Two men dressed in white came over and encouraged them of Jesus’ second coming as they continued to stand there.
Understanding-What does it mean?
Before Jesus ascended, Jesus had told His disciples that He wasn’t going to leave them alone, but was going to send a helper, His Holy Spirit, to help them continue to do the work of being His witnesses to the ends of the earth. In verses 6 and 7, the disciples questioned when He would return, but Jesus told them that it wasn’t for them to know the time or day. What the Lord wanted them to know was that the Holy Spirit was going to come upon them and they were to be His witnesses on this earth.
Life Application
While we wait for His return, we must keep serving Him on earth.
God never lies. He always keeps His promises and one of those promises is that Jesus is coming back! As Believers, we eagerly await the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. However, we are not to be concerned about the day or the hour of His return. We are also not to do our own thing or sit around after being saved while waiting to be raptured or to pass on to the next life (whatever comes first). Instead, with the help of His Holy Spirit living in us, we must work and serve Him until He returns. Paraphrasing what those 2 men in white said to the disciples, basically, “Be encouraged and stop looking into the sky for Jesus. He is coming back, but it’s time to get to work!” Dear Jesus, we look forward to the day when we get to see you face to face. We pray that we would not be idle in the works You have called us to do, but rather work and serve You on earth until You call us home to our eternal residence. Thank You that You have given us of Your Holy Spirit to help us fulfill those works. It is all about You and all for You Jesus! Amen.
To check out the discussion or join in, click here.

Exodus 40

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Exodus 40:38

So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels.

Observation – What does it say?

Once they completed the assembly of the tabernacle a cloud descended and covered it and the glory of the Lord filled it. Continually, from this moment on, the cloud remained on the tabernacle. The cloud was visible during the day and there were flames of fire in the cloud at night.

Understanding – What does it mean?

God dwells with his people.

The ‘glory cloud’ was a visible manifestation of God’s constant presence with his people. The tabernacle and cloud represented God with Israel. You see the tabernacle in Jesus, when John 1 says that he made his dwelling among us. And then at Pentecost the Holy Spirit was poured out and he now dwells within every believer. This is so amazing! This is the kind of God we serve. He draws near to his people and dwells among them continually, wherever they are.

When God first encountered me, he drained me of all my hopelessness, anger, sadness and pain and he replaced it with a love and joy so great I can’t explain it with words! In that moment, I realized that God isn’t ‘out there somewhere’ doing his own thing, but he is real, he loves me, and he wants to be intimately involved in my life! Since that day my life has never been the same. Life with the presence of God means I have assurance that he will provide, protect and guide me. It means I can have peace and joy even when the circumstances around me are crumbling. Why? Because I’m not alone!

The Psalmist recognized and declared, The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” (Psalm 145:18) And, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

Jesus promised his disciples, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:20)

Life Application

Be aware of God’s closeness to me today.

God, thank you that you are with us! You are closer to us than the glory cloud was to the people of Israel. Thank you for your constant presence with us, for dwelling with us, despite our imperfections and weaknesses. Thank you for your great love! Help us to grow in our awareness of your closeness to us today. Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.

Exodus 39

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Exodus 39:32

So all the work on the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, was completed.

Observation – What does it say?

Following all the detailed plans God had given them through Moses, they completed the project down to every last detail.

Understanding – What does it mean?

The Israelites set a great example by completing the work God had given them to do.

That had to be such an amazing feeling for the Israelites. They gave of themselves and their resources, whatever it took, to complete the mission God had given them. They not only started strong but they finished strong.

I long to complete the work God has given me, to not lose passion or heart but to be on fire for God and faithful to the end. It’s so easy to start well but lose steam over time. It’s so easy to be mid-project and to get tired or discouraged or feel like the finish line is so far away. But like a marathon runner feeling the exhaustion and discomfort at mile 15, we have to look up, remember the finish line and keep going! It’s important we finish this race and complete the work God has given us to do.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

When he looks at the works he prepared for me and how I lived my life, I long to hear the Master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21)

Life Application

Keep the finish line in mind!

God, I don’t want us to be a people that just begins the work you’ve given us but who finishes it! Remind us of the bigger picture and help us to work hard at the mission you’ve given us. I pray for those reading this who feel tired or discouraged. Refresh them today and renew their vision and passion. Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.

Exodus 38

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Exodus 38:24

The total amount of the gold from the wave offering used for all the work on the sanctuary was 29 talents and 730 shekels, according to the sanctuary shekel.

Observation – What does it say?

The Israelites freely offered from their own possessions all the valuable materials needed for building the sanctuary. Considering the gold alone, they offered the equivalent of about 2,200 lbs!

Understanding – What does it mean?

God deserves the best of what his people have.

What amazes me is the sheer amount that was freely given by the Israelites. They received no donation receipt or other goods in exchange for their offering. As a matter of fact, they received something way better in return, God’s presence with them! Often times we learn from reading Israel’s history what not to do. But here they set an incredible example for us giving not only what was most valuable, but lots of it!

Consider what they gave. The price of gold this morning is $1250.90/oz. That means the Israelites gave the modern day equivalent of $44,031,680 in gold! That doesn’t include the silver, bronze, fabric, wood, precious stones and countless hours of labor offered by the most skilled workers in Israel.

Today, our God given mission isn’t to build a temple but to build disciples. I can only imagine how much more ministry would be possible, how much quicker we would be multiplying disciples, if all God’s people including me offered the best of what they had! (God gave his best for us!) What if we all offered the best of our time and not just what’s left over, the best of our talent and skill and the best of our resources to reaching lost people with the gospel and discipling them?

Life Application

Where have I been failing to give God my best?

Where have I been giving God less than he deserves?

God, I want to give you my first and my best. You are worthy of it all! We are going to spend our time and talent and resources somewhere and I can’t think of any better place than on the mission you’ve given us. Forgive us for the times we put other things before you. Move upon our hearts to put your kingdom first and to trust you to take care of our needs as we do. Fill us with love for you and others. Fill us with faith. Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.

Exodus 37

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Exodus 37:5

And he inserted the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry it.

Observation – What does it say?

Bezalel and all the skilled workers built the tabernacle and all it’s contents according to God’s specific plans he had given Moses. Following those plans as he built the ark of the covenant, Bezalel fastened two rings to each side of the ark that he slid poles into. These poles were for the purpose of carrying the ark when they would move camp.

Understanding – What does it mean?

The ark was always meant to be portable. God had answered Moses’ prayer in chapter 34 for God’s presence to go with them wherever they went. And so, when God gave them the plans he had this decision in mind. The rings and poles were a continual reminder that wherever God would command them to go, he had made a way for his presence to go with them.

God has made a way to be with his people wherever they go.

Under the new covenant, when we believe in Jesus, God’s Spirit dwells within us. Rather than carrying God’s presence in an incredibly beautiful box overlaid with God, we have the incredible privilege of carrying him within our own bodies. The new covenant is better than the old, the new temple better than the old, and the new relationship with God better than the old.

Matthew 28:20b “surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Ephesians 1:13 When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit…

Life Application

Enjoy God’s presence with me today!

God, whether or not we ‘feel’ your presence with us we know that according to your word you are with us. We can walk in confidence, free from anxiety and fear, full of joy and faith, because you are with us and you are for us. Thank you for blessing us with your continual presence with us! Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.

Exodus 36

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Exodus 36:1 
“So Bezalel, Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord has given skill and ability to know how to carry out all the work of constructing the sanctuary are to do the work just as the Lord has commanded.”
Observation – What does it say?
God used skillful workers to accomplish His plans to construct the sanctuary. The words skill, skilled person, skilled worker, and ability are used 8 times in this chapter.
Understanding – What does it mean?
Although it was ultimately God who empowered His people to accomplish His plans and purposes, He also created people with a unique set of skills, passions, desires, gifts and talents. These skills and abilities helped them to accomplish the work that He had called them to.
Life Application
Use your gifts, talents, and skills in order to further the Kingdom of God!
Although it is ultimately God who empowers us through His Spirit to accomplish His mission, He has also created us with a unique set of skills, passions, desires, gifts and talents that help us do the work that He has called us to do.
We all have something to offer when it comes to furthering the Kingdom of Christ.  Whether it is a heart for teaching, leading, children, families, music, creative arts, marriage, multimedia, organizing, building and maintenance, there is always an area of service that we have been uniquely created for. One of the classes that we will be offering during our Spring quarter of DSU  is called “Finding My Place” designed to help you discover who God has created you to be and how that fits with his plan for your life.  I encourage you to sign up for that class if you’re curious as to what skills, gifts, and talents you have to offer to further the Kingdom of Christ.
Dear Jesus, thank you for the way you have created us all uniquely for service.  Thank you for the differing gifts, talents, and skills that are present within our family at DSC.  I pray that we would live our lives purposely for You as we discover how You have shaped us for our individual callings to further Your Kingdom.  In your name we pray, Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.

Exodus 35

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Exodus 35:5

From what you have, take an offering for the Lord.

Observation – What does it say?

After receiving all the instructions, Moses assembled all the Israelites. It was time to get to work! They had the plans and the next step was gathering the materials and workers needed. So, God spoke through Moses that day commanding all the Israelites who were willing to offer what they had to help complete the project, whether material or skills. No one was demanded to offer something he didn’t have, but rather to offer to God “from what you have.”

Understanding – What does it mean?

God had blessed his people with materials and skills to fulfill the great task he had given them. Exodus 12:35-36 tells us that God moved on the hearts of the Egyptians to give them all kinds of articles of gold, silver and clothing as they were leaving Egypt. Then God supernaturally gave them skills in all kinds of areas, particularly Bezalel and Oholiab who would teach others these skills. I’m sure the light bulb went on for many of them as Moses spoke that God had given them these things for this very project.

What struck me is that God specified for the people to offer from what they had. He had given them resources and skills, and now they learn the reason why: those resources and skills were needed to accomplish God’s work.

I’m reminded of the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30. The man entrusted different amounts to each of his servants while he was gone. When he came back, regardless of how many talents each had, he judged them based on what they did with them. Did they produce something with what they were given? What we learn is that it doesn’t matter how much you have, but what you do with what you have.

God gives his people skills and resources with the desire that they would offer them back to God and use them to accomplish his plans.

Life Application

Today, I feel moved to offer back to God what he has given me!

What skills has God given me? What resources has God given me?

How can I offer those things back to God to accomplish his plans?

God, thank you for all that you’ve blessed us with! We recognize that all the skills you’ve given us, the resources you’ve given us, the passions and desires you’ve given us, all point to your plans for our lives. May we not be selfish, but willingly offer back to you all these things to help build up your church and fulfill the mission you’ve given us. Amen.
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.

Exodus 34

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Exodus 34:29

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.

Observation – What does it say?

Talk about a fast! Moses spent 40 days alone on the mountain with God without eating or drinking anything… not even water! An unbroken hour alone with God seems like a long time to many, but Moses spent an unbroken 40 days alone with God! And after more than a month alone with God, Moses came down from the mountain and when the people saw him they were shocked. Not because he had been gone so long and finally returned, but because his face was glowing! According to verse 29 his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.

Understanding – What does it mean?

God’s presence is transforming!

Moses went up the mountain appearing normal and came down glowing. When someone chooses to spend time with God, not just for 2 minutes here and there, but to linger a while, they are changed. I’m reminded of “the vine and the branches” talk Jesus gave in John 15. The more a branch is connected, the more fruit it’s going to bear and the more it’s going to look different than the branches that aren’t connected.

For Moses, it was his glowing face that caused people to notice he had been with God. And, for Peter and John it was their courage that caused people to make the same connection.

Acts 4:13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

When ordinary people spend time with Jesus it becomes obvious to the world around them because they look different, they have a different attitude, they love more, they rejoice more and they have more courage.

As I read this passage I couldn’t help but think of the people on our PII cards and really all the people in the world who are looking to see if Christianity is the real deal. They are looking to see if Christians are different. And the only way they are going to see any difference in us is if we spend enough time with Jesus to be transformed!

Life Application

Spend a little more time with God.

Think about the time you spend with God now. What does it look like for you to take the next step in spending a little more time with him?

Start where you are. Don’t try to spend 40 days straight if you’ve never spent 40 minutes straight 🙂 For you, maybe you haven’t been spending any regular time with God and so you decide to start with setting aside 5 minutes a day to pray and then read a chapter in the Bible. What does the next step look like for you?

God, I pray that we would be a church that spends time with you and lingers in your presence long enough to be changed! May our lives reflect you to the rest of the world! Transform us in your presence as you transformed Moses and Peter and John. We want to know you more and in turn make you known to the world around us. Amen.

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