Journal Entry by Jared Lawson

S – Scripture:  Leviticus 1:2-3a (ESV)
Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, when any one of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of livestock from the herd or from the flock. If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish.

O - Observation
God was setting up his expectations with the people of Israel regarding their sacrifices. He was letting them know what was required of them, what they needed to give up. What I struck me about this scripture is the phrase ‘without blemish.’ In chapter 2 when God talks about grain offerings they are expected to bring ‘fine flour.’ God expects our best, he doesn’t expect our leftovers. They were required to bring their best to the Priests. As I reflected on this scripture I started to think about what holds me back from giving my best to God – the best of my time? the best of my money? the best of my resources? 

A - Application
Jesus tells us that if we seek his kingdom first he will take care of the rest (Matthew 6:33). I find that I can hold my best back from God because of a fear being left short: short of time, energy and resource. This verse reminds me that God requires my best and he will take care of the rest. 

P - Prayer
Heavenly Father, I thank you that you are a God who wants more for me than from me. You deserve my best because you gave your best. May I always remember the fact that you only ask for my obedience and when I give you that, you take care of the rest. I love you and trust you. In Jesus Name Amen. 


Journal Entry by Warren Mortomore

S – Scripture: Exodus 4:2  (NLT)
“The Lord said to Moses, “What do you have there in your hand?”

O - Observation
Moses was making excuses on why he couldn’t go on God’s mission to Pharaoh. I have nothing, I am not good enough, they won’t believe me, send someone else. The Lord said to him, what is that in your hand? Moses replied, “A shepherd’s staff.”

A - Application
What’s a Shepherd’s staff compared to Pharaoh and his vast army? What Moses was missing was that God takes the ordinary, such as a Shepherd’s staff/rod and uses it to perform extraordinary miracles through his power.

We can look and say as Moses did, I have nothing – but in every one of us, God has placed, gifts, abilities, talents, resources, helps, unique gifting’s,  that if we will just give them to Him, He is able through His power to do extraordinary miracles.

P - Prayer
God, forgive me for making excuses when it comes to following and obeying you. Thank you for the things you have given to me, planted in me that you want to use to see your Kingdom extended here on earth. None of us can make excuses for not using what you have given to us. You take the ordinary, and use it for your extraordinary purposes.


Journal Entry by Esther Lawson

S – Scripture: Exodus 8:9-11 (NLT)
“You set the time!” Moses replied. “Tell me when you want me to pray for you, your officials, and your people. Then you and your houses will be rid of the frogs. They will remain only in the Nile River.” “Do it tomorrow,” Pharaoh said. “All right,” Moses replied, “it will be as you have said. Then you will know that there is no one like the LORD our God. The frogs will leave you and your houses, your officials, and your people. They will remain only in the Nile River.”

O - Observation
Only 5 chapters ago we read Moses arguing with God over his worthiness to talk to Pharaoh. He claims he cannot speak to them, asks what to do if they don’t believe him and wonders aloud how he will explain who God is to the Egyptians. God shows him the staff with which He will do wonders and he still refuses to go (could you blames him though?). Then Moses flat out asks God to simply send someone else. God doesn’t agree to send someone else – this is still Moses’ job. He does, however, offer to send someone with him, promise to fill his mouth and let him have the staff.

A - Application
It could have been the miracle staff or the promise of God’s words that empowers Moses. It could also have been promise of company that got Moses over the line. We were not created to do hard things alone. Life is better in the presence of people who care. The company of others eases the way. We were not made to do life alone. Seek out company if you need it. Trust God to send people along your path, trust Him to give you what you need.

P - Prayer
God, thank you that you put us in community. Thank you for the people you have brought alongside us. Thank you that even when we feel alone we are not. We have the company of those with us on Earth and you in the Heavens. Help us to look out for each other as we all strive to accomplish hard things. Amen.


Journal Entry by Geoff Allen

S – Scripture: Psalm 16:8 (NLT)
I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.

O - Observation
The Passion Translation says “Because you are close to me and always available, my confidence will never be shaken, for I experience your wrap around presence every moment.” I love both of these translations the NLT speaks strength and ability to stand in the face of circumstances because of the recognition of God’s presence with him and the TPT talks about experiencing Gods wrap around presence every moment - like a Dad’s hug or snuggling with mum or even under a blanket, but so much more. A feeling of security something that can only come from the king of kings and the lord of lords.

A - Application
I know I have a constant and growing need to have a relationship with Jesus where I can stand, not because of my own ability (because the longer I live I realise not matter how strong a feel I am – I am not) I need the ongoing experience of God’s wrap around presence every day of my life. It doesn’t just happen - I have to seek it even though its freely available all the time, and I guess the more trials I walk through the more I recognise the need for His presence in my life.

P - Prayer
Help me Lord let me know your presence in my life more and more each day.


Journal Entry by Sara Gebran

S – Scripture: Jeremiah 33: 3 (NLT)
“Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.’’

O - Observation
Reading this verse tells me that the Lord wants to talk with me and tell me secrets I don’t know about, it almost sounds like God is challenging me to ask!
Life is so busy and time goes by so fast before I realise I haven’t given time to seek the Lord and see what He thinks or says about the situation or problem.

A - Application
I need to remind myself that the Lord is asking me to come sit by his side and lean into Him and listen to the secrets He wants to share with me and show me!. I admit this may be difficult at times but with His help and my willingness He will make a way. He is more than willing to share with me not for my benefit but for His Glory. 

P - Prayer
Dear Lord I pray you help me to lean in and listen to what you want to share with me, help to be sensitive to your call and your voice, help me to bold and ask you, in Jesus name I pray. Amen.


Journal Entry by Paul Davila

S – Scripture: Proverbs 30:7-9  (NIV)
“Two things I ask of you, LORD; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.

O - Observation
The writer makes a great couple of comments in these few verses about provision.
He is echoing some of the things Jesus would say hundreds and hundreds of years later about where our provision comes from and trusting in God for all that we need.
Jesus said it in the Lord’s prayer, “give us this day our daily bread…”
Agur discovered this principle way back then. 

Q: Why did he have this attitude towards God’s provision?
A: Because he realised something very important:
1.    Having too much may cause him to disown God.
2.    Having too little may cause him to dishonour God.

A - Application
 The lesson here is to trust God for what we need for everyday living. There is a balanced and wise approach to money, resources and provision that Agur is teaching us.
We need money to survive, yet as believers, we need to find a happy medium between knowing how much is enough versus struggling financially. 
There is no numerical figure involved here. The key is making sure that what we do have, that we don’t disown God or dishonour Him.

P - Prayer
Thank you for this beautiful insight today Lord. Help me to take this same attitude so that my reliance is on your provision for my life and my family’s. Help me to be content and have a healthy and balanced approach to money and wealth. I ask this in Jesus name. 


Journal Entry by Warren Mortomore

S – Scripture: Genesis 1:1 (NKJV)
‘In the beginning God.’

O - Observation
Everything commences with God, by God and for God.

A - Application
This one short line determines my destiny.  Does God have 1st place in my heart, my life, my family, my decisions, my finances, my plans?  By placing God in 1st place at the beginning of this year, I am saying that I cannot make it without you, I need you, I submit to you, and I ask for your wisdom in everything I am called to do as a husband, father, man, leader.

P - Prayer
Lord Jesus, I honour You, and at the start of this new year, I surrender to you and ask you to be the Lord of my life. Have 1st place in my heart.  I declare that I cannot make it through today, let alone this year without You.  I begin this year with You at the center of my life. I ask for your blessing and favour on my life, my family, my finances, my future and my church.


Journal Entry by John and Jann Rice

S – Scripture: Psalm 149 : 1-4 ( TPT )
Hallelujah ! Praise the Lord !

It's time to sing to God a brand new song, so that all His holy people will hear how wonderful He is! May Israel be entrusted with joy because of Him, and may the sons of Zion pour out their joyful praises to their King.

Break forth with dancing! Make music and sing God's praises with the rhythm of drums! For He enjoys His faithful lovers He adorns the humble with His beauty and He loves to give them victory.

O - Observation
God loves us to be creative in our worship and to sing fresh expressions of love and joy to extol our wonderful King. David loved to dance before the Lord and make music, to be adorned with His beauty, living in victory.

A - Application
Don't be hesitant to be expressive in our Praise and Worship, we have a Wonderful Saviour, King, Deliverer who delights in His faithful lovers, to adorn us with His beauty and gives us victory in life's challenges.

P - Prayer
Dear Heavenly Father I thank you for the joy you put in my heart and the song upon my lips as I think of how awesome you are, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, and it is with great joy and thankfulness that I am able to come before you with praise in my heart, as a Church Family united in purpose we push back the powers of darkness from our city with Songs of Praise to our God. Amen.


Journal Entry by Chris Watling

S – Scripture: Psalm 145:18  (NIV)
The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. 

O - Observation
I would like God by my side in all areas of my life, relationships, finances, work, health etc.. but is He? As this verse says, the Key to have Him by your side is to call on Him. Most of my life I rely on my own strength and can get easily caught in just going through life rather than looking to God. I often have God as my emergency/backup plan.

A - Application
To have God by my side, I need to remember to put Him first, to call on him in prayer in all areas and times not just when I think I need some emergency help.

P - Prayer
Jesus I pray that I would put you first in all areas of my life, I need you by my side as I walk through life and I pray that I would be reminded to call on You not just in times of need but in all areas of my life.


Journal Entry by Jared Lawson

S – Scripture: Psalm 140:7 ESV
O Lord, my Lord, the strength of my salvation, you have covered my head in the day of battle.

O - Observation
This psalm begins as a cry for help; the exact wording is “Deliver me O lord from evil men.” The Psalmist spends the next five verses asking God for help. Then there is a shift - a turn from request to remembrance. The Psalmist stops and remembers who God is and what he’s done in the past. In battle, according to Benjamin Weiss, Kings and Princes had a soldier next to them who would protect their head from arrows. It was their task. I love that the Psalmist knows that God will do the same for him.

A - Application
Remembrance is the first step. The Psalmist was not out of the battle during the time this Psalm was written. Most of the verse is written in present tense, but in the verse above we can see that the Psalmist is talking about past events. The Psalmist requests God for help but doesn’t stop there, he rehearses what he has done for him in the past.

P - Prayer
Heavenly Father, I thank you for your kindness and love. When I am in the middle of a battle, feeling anxious or concerned, help me to remember who you are and what you’ve done. May that fill me with confidence not in myself but in you and your ability to pull me through. I love you and trust you. In Jesus name Amen.


Journal Entry by Gary and Christine Skinner

S – Scripture: Psalm 139:17-18 (The Passion Translation)
“Every single moment You Are thinking of me! How precious and wonderful to consider that You cherish me constantly in Your every thought! O God, Your desires toward me are more than the grains of sand on every shore! When I awake each morning, You’re still with me.”

O - Observation
In our last devotional [When Life Gets Too Much] we wrote of when “the busyness of life overloads our earthly minds and we allow thoughts, ideas, facts and figures to chase themselves in circles inside our heads”. How then can we believe that God would think of “me” when the earth’s population is 7.6677724….. Billion people? It’s inconceivable! Yet, He can, and He does because His word says so, and He can’t tell a lie.

A - Application
The question is, do I believe God is thinking of me right now, in the cacophony of noise that is banging around in my head with the circumstances of life that I am facing today? Or, is it “what is God thinking, letting me face this situation?” It is in these desperate times I “choose” to believe God “You’re still with me.” 

P - Prayer
Lord God Almighty, You calmed the storm when Jesus spoke “Peace, be still!” [Mark 4:39] Calm the storm in my life today. Thank You for being with me each morning as I awake, in Jesus name.


Journal Entry by Jenni James

S – Scripture: 1 Peter 4:11  (NKJV)
If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

O - Observation
Today as I have sat in the office at church I have mentioned how tired I am, how exhausting my last 12 months has been, how I am ready for a holiday (bring it on!!). And then I read this passage “if anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” and it reminds me that I have let my eyes slip down from Jesus onto my own issues (again!). It reminds me that when I am weak God is strong, it reminds me that God can supply what we need and that I am to stop trying to do it all on my own. It is so easy to slip back into doing it all in my strength and not in God’s strength and in the abilities He has given to me.

A - Application
As I (we) begin the big run into Christmas, I need to stop, daily take time to be revived by sitting in the presence of the Lord, ask for His strength and remember that everything we are doing is to glorify the name of JESUS!

P - Prayer
Lord Jesus, please, fill me daily with your Holy Spirit, fill me with your love and with your strength. Please remind me that you have given me the ability to do what you have called me to do. I ask that everything I do, especially over this coming Christmas time, I do to glorify your name Jesus that more people will come to know you and accept you as their Saviour. Amen


Journal Entry by Warren Mortomore

S – Scripture: 1 Peter 3:18 (NLT)
‘Christ also suffered when He died for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but He died for sinners that He might bring us safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but He was raised to life in the Spirit.’

O - Observation
The one who never sinned died for all sinners, to bring us all back home to our Father

A - Application
Jesus came to bring me back home to my Father, and he has given me, given us, the same ministry.  He died and rose again for all peoples, making a way possible to come home to God, therefore; my role, my ministry, my assignment is to bring Jesus to people in my world and to bring them back home to THEIR Father.

P - Prayer
Jesus, thank you for bringing me back home to My Father, help me to see the people in my world as people who are waiting for someone to bring them back home to their Father, even if they don’t even realize it.


Journal Entry by Lester Salanoa

S – Scripture: Acts 20:24 NIV
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 of the Lord”

O - Observation
Luke writes about the hardships facing the Apostle Paul, who continues to persist through the unrelenting pressures from the religious leaders of the time. Yet Paul (major contributor in spreading the gospel throughout Asia, death threats and imprisonment), resolves to continue in carrying out the mission in spreading the good news of God’s grace with unwavering faith.

A - Application
What a great encouragement we have through the life of the Apostle Paul, that if we would make ourselves available for God to convict our hearts just as he did Paul, who knows what can happen!? 

Paul lived his Christian life with utter conviction of the power of Jesus and literally committed his entire life to God's cause, and he could not have stayed on the course through all his hardships unless he was completely consumed and compelled by the love of God that he gave all he had to tell the world of Jesus.

2 Corinthians 12:9 Jesus say’s “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”.

Jesus is the perfecter of our faith!

P - Prayer
Jesus, may you continue to compel our hearts with your overwhelming love to the point where we have no choice but to tell everyone about you, because if you are for us then who can be against us.

As we get to know you more and more, may we be bold enough to strike up conversations about your love because if the “worst case scenario” is that people would tell us to go away, then I am willing because you did not die on a cross, half naked and beaten beyond recognition so that I may be fearful that my feelings get hurt. Jesus you are everything.


Journal Entry by Bec Tobar

S – Scripture: Psalm 122:1-2 (AMP)
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord”

O - Observation
You get the feeling as you read this psalm that you couldn’t wipe the smile off his face when they told him it was time to go to God’s house.
He was glad.
Make no mistake…
It was a habit for him. 
It was a tradition for him. 
But he hadn’t lost the joy and wonder he felt when he came to God’s house.
So much so, that he sang joyfully on his “ascent” to the house.

A - Application
What do I feel or say when my family or friends say, “Let’s go to the house of the Lord”?
I don’t want to get so familiar with the gathering of God’s people that I miss the wonder.
The wonder that God chooses to meet us.
The wonder that people from all different walks and stages of life CHOOSE to be together.
That amongst our gathering can be found great hope for the broken, celebration for the joyous and a home for all.
So I have great expectation that BECAUSE the King is among us, you just never know what God will do.
His power is unmatched, and He loves to meet His people.
And I never want to miss that.
Get excited, Sunday is coming!

P - Prayer
Father, thank you that we can come to your house. 
We will rejoice and be glad in You. 
Meet us tomorrow as we gather together to lift your name.


Journal Entry by Paul Davila

S – Scripture: Titus 3:14  (NIV)
“Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives.”

O - Observation
As I read through the three short chapters of the book of Titus, the word “good” appeared many times. Below are the other places it appears in this short letter:

1:8 one who loves what is good 

1:16 disobedient and unfit for doing anything good. 

2:3 teach what is good 

2:7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good. 

2:14 eager to do what is good. 

3:1 to be ready to do whatever is good 

3:8 those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good

Paul is making it clear to Titus as he teaches the churches he is overseeing, the importance for a believer to be actively doing good. It should be part and parcel with the lifestyle of those who profess faith. 

Paul also explains that salvation is not based on good works as he says in Titus 3:4-5  “But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.”

A - Application
We don’t do good to gain salvation of rewards points with God – we are called to do good to demonstrate to one another and the world who it is we are serving and living for. 
In the Alpha commentary, they make the comment that in today’s society, the word “do-gooder” is used in a derogatory manner. This is so true. They put a negative spin and connotation to the term, yet doing good is something we are called to do. As Paul encourages, it’s learned behaviour that we need to devote ourselves to. Jesus went about doing good – so should we.  

P - Prayer
Lord thank you firstly that it is by grace that we are saved. Thank you for your mercies which are new every morning. Would you help me to be proactive in doing good to others as you instructed us to do. Open my eyes to see opportunities to do good today, I pray in Jesus name. 


Journal Entry by Melissa Semeri

S – Scripture: Genesis 41: 41-57 (NIV) 
41 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” 42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. 43 He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command,[a] and people shouted before him, “Make way[b]!” Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt.

44 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt.” 45 Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah and gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On,[c] to be his wife. And Joseph went throughout the land of Egypt.

46 Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from Pharaoh’s presence and traveled throughout Egypt. 47 During the seven years of abundance the land produced plentifully. 48 Joseph collected all the food produced in those seven years of abundance in Egypt and stored it in the cities. In each city he put the food grown in the fields surrounding it. 49 Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea; it was so much that he stopped keeping records because it was beyond measure.

50 Before the years of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. 51 Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh[d] and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” 52 The second son he named Ephraim[e] and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”

53 The seven years of abundance in Egypt came to an end, 54 and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in all the other lands, but in the whole land of Egypt there was food. 55 When all Egypt began to feel the famine, the people cried to Pharaoh for food. Then Pharaoh told all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph and do what he tells you.”

56 When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout Egypt. 57 And all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere

O - Observation
Joseph experienced a lot of trauma early in his life - brothers selling him into slavery, spending time in prison. He trusted God with the parts of his life he couldn't control and just did what he could do to the best of his ability - worked hard for his master, Potiphar; managed the prison for the warden; interpreted dreams for his fellow prisoners. He didn't try to escape slavery or prison; give up his identity and integrity; resent and hate the ungrateful cupbearer; or develop a victim mentality.

A - Application
Trust God with the parts of your life that are out of your control and just do the best that you can with a good attitude knowing He's in control.

P - Prayer
Father you direct our path, you know what's ahead and are with us, every step. Help us not to manipulate what we can't control but focus on what we can, leaving the rest to you. 


Journal Entry by Geoff Allen

S – Scripture: 1 Timothy 6:11 (The Message)
But you, Timothy, man of God: Run for your life from all this.  Pursue a righteous life—a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, courtesy.  Run hard and fast in the faith. Seize the eternal life, the life you were called to, the life you so fervently embraced in the presence of so many witnesses.

O - Observation
What wonderful encouragement Paul was giving to Timothy?  Telling him to run from the traps of life and encouraging him in his faith.  There is nothing of complacency here.  He is telling him to run from things and to run hard and fast pursuing his faith, to seize eternal life.  He was already a leader in the faith, a pastor but Paul obviously felt he needed this encouragement.

A - Application
How much more do we need to be active in our faith pursuit whether it is in the avoidance of those things which deflect us or are intended to trap us; or actively pursuing our faith and encouraging others in their walk.  What a great self-check-up? Do you need to break free and run after Jesus? be inspired.

P - Prayer
Father God help me to run from those things set to distract me and to pursue you more and more.  Help me be an encourager of others and be active in my faith.


Journal Entry by Grant Schofield

S – Scripture: Psalm 119:25 - Passion Translation
Lord, I’m fading away. I’m discouraged and lying in the dust; revive me by your word, just like you promised you would.

O - Observation
We all face low points in our lives. Some seasons are harder to traverse than others, yet this scripture highlights a choice that we have to make. Do we allow the trials to overwhelm us, do we give up hope? No, we revive our mind, spirit and heart by the word. All throughout scripture we have the promises of God. Promises that he will renew our strength (Isaiah 40:31), that he will fight for you (Exodus 14:4), and he takes us by the hand so we don’t have to fear (Isaiah 41:13).

A - Application
This is the hard part. My initial response when I face trials is not to reflect on the word of God. His promises aren’t the first things to come flooding into my thoughts at the onset of discouragement. But what I know is even when it’s not my first response, I know He’s there. Calling me, reminding me of scriptures I’ve planted in my heart, bringing back to remembrance the times He’s proven Himself faithful in the past. He’s a God who never leaves us nor forsakes us. He’s a God who loves us and is for us and He’s a God that will continually be your strength, strong tower and comforter.

P - Prayer
Father, allow me to train my thoughts to seek you first in times of discouragement. Quicken my patterns to be guided by you and allow my focus to be fixed on you when trials come, knowing you will help me through every situation that comes my way. Amen.


Journal Entry by Sara Gebran

S – Scripture: PSALMS 111:7-8 (NLT)
“All he does is just and good, and all his commandments are trustworthy. They are forever true, to be obeyed faithfully and with integrity.”

O - Observation
This verse reminds me that everything the Lord does is just and good, no matter what the situation or circumstance, he is VERY trustworthy and would never disappoint regardless!!

A - Application
When I find myself questioning Gods plans and actions regarding things or circumstances I need to remind myself that he is Just and good! And he can be trusted, he is forever faithful and true!! I have no reason to doubt him. Even when I find myself doubting or questioning I should not feel as though I have failed, but go back to what is true  and redirect my thoughts to the word. I need to faithfully obey him with integrity and  humility, after all he paid the ultimate price for me by giving up his life so that I can have life in him.

P - Prayer
Dear heavenly father I thank you for giving your up life for me so that I might live, help me to obey your commandments faithfully and  with integrity, remind me Lord that when I am weak you are my strength and without you I can do nothing!! Help me to hear your voice and follow you I pray in your name. Amen.