{December 31, 2017}


December 31, 2017 – January 6, 2018


Lifelong Learning

By Lisa Zulke

I know how to hustle. To work hard. To grind it out. I learned these skills early, and mastered them through my growing up years and into adulthood. They served me well. Great job opportunities. The ability to develop new skills quickly. Running 5 marathons…and countless half marathons. Resilience. Tenacity. Resourcefulness. A deep well of "I know I can" to draw from. I learned early that I can do hard things.

The weight of that lesson is…that I can do hard things. If I don’t pay attention, I can find myself in deep, treading water, doing hard things…all by myself. On one level there is nothing wrong with that. But on another, it can leave me experiencing life exhausted, frustrated, and alone. Not a lot of joy in experiencing that life. In the last few years I have been trying to figure out what joy really is. What it looks like, where it comes from, what it feels like.

In our focus verse for today, it says, "So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls." So, the hard things are real. And we need to tackle them. They will require endurance. But there appears in these verses a different approach to doing hard things. Tangled up together are trials, faith, endurance, Jesus, joy, trust and the very saving of my soul. Wow!

It is proving to be hard work to untangle my self reliance skills. To integrate the other storyline we see in 1 Peter about faith and trust and Jesus. In 2017 I chose a word to focus on: Intentional. It means to do things with awareness, deliberatley and on purpose. I spent the year working on being intentional about asking for help. Inviting partnership. Tackling hard things with friends and in teams. Praying before taking on things, or deciding how to approach them. I also found opportunities to encourage others to pursue hard things, to tackle stretch goals…and to do that with their friends. (I learn best by doing and experiencing the lesson. Or with a good 2 x 4.)

This untangling continues into 2018. Lessons often take time to take root, to become a way of life, don’t they? This I know…I want to experience each and every day being "truly glad" and learn to express "inexpressible joy." I think it might include being glad, even in trials. Enjoying the process of being refined, retooled, reoriented. It may include the testing of my faith; earning to hear the rustle of God in my experiences. I think it may come with a lightness in these experiences–even though they are hard–simply because God is with me. It is no longer sufficient to grind it out…I want to be a person who is confidently having fun and flinging joy around like there is an endless supply. Because, there is. This is the well I want to draw from in the coming year. How about you?


{sunday 12.31.17}

Read 1 Peter 1:6-9

Observe, Reflect, Apply: As you read these verses, take note of what you learn about Jesus. What is being offered to us here? What is being asked of us? What is God saying to you as you consider true gladness, inexpressible joy? What are you going to focus on in 2018?


{personal reflection and bible reading plan}

As you read the verses each day, make notes of questions you have about what you’re reading as well as answering the reflection questions below. Grab a friend or two to discuss what you are learning and what God is doing in your lives.

CLICK HERE or on image below to watch a great summary of Matthew: Part 1 from our friends at The Bible Project!

{monday 1.1.18}

Read Matthew 1:1-17

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Families and genealogy were extremely important in first century Judea. It held a much higher significance for them than it does for us culturally. What do you think holds this much importance in our modern culture today?

{tuesday 1.2.18}

Read Matthew 1:18-25

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Joseph was put in an uncomfortable position but through God was able to do what was needed. Joseph’s exact experience with Mary and Jesus is unique to him alone in the world but God can similarly ask us to do things that we may find uncomfortable too. Have you experienced this before? How did you react?

{wednesday 1.3.18}

Read Matthew 2:1-12

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Herod was a politician on a mission to protect himself and his rule. Self preservation seems to be universal from the most powerful person to the tiniest field mouse. This is in stark contrast to Jesus, he was living for the preservation of people by the sacrifice of himself. The desire to live is good but it can cross over from the desire to live to the desire to take and keep for yourself like Herod. How do you keep your self in check? How do you know when you are about to cross over from survival to self preservation for the sake of yourself? Do you know where that line is?

{thursday 1.4.18}

Read Matthew 2:13-23

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Mary and Joseph flee the country to protect Jesus from Herod and at the sometime fulfilling several prophesies about the messiah. Can you imagine being Mary and Joseph? How scary that must have been! This is not the type of thing we experience in Kansas City but there are still many places in the world today where people must flee their homes to save their lives. Pray for those living this kind of terror.

{friday 1.5.18}

Read Matthew 3

Observe, Reflect, Apply: I love John the Baptist. He’s this crazy, off grid, man of faith that I’m sure the town religious leaders just couldn’t stand the sight of. It’s amazing the people God chose to use around Jesus. If you could sit down with John the Baptist, what would you ask him? What kind of insight would you want him to share with you?

{saturday 1.6.18}

Read Matthew 4:1-11

Observe, Reflect, Apply: There are probably many reasons why Jesus was tempted by Satan. The first reason I can think of would be to show that Jesus was human like you and I while on earth. For God to live as a human, he too had to face temptation like we do. Temptation is a very real struggle we all face every day in some form. How do you know when you are facing temptation? What goes through your mind?  


{community discussion questions}

We weren’t meant to experience the life of Jesus alone, so we encourage you to rally a few others to discuss what you are hearing, reading, and reflecting on together. Whether you are meeting as a Journey Community group, talking with a few friends throughout the week, or bringing up spiritual conversations around your table at home, feel free to use some of these questions as conversation starters on your journey.

  • Can you name a takeaway or challenge from the Sunday message?
  • How has that been relevant, challenging, or meaningful to your life this week?
  • What have you observed about God, Jesus, yourself, others, or God’s plan for you from these readings?
  • Where do you need a breakthrough from God this week?
  • Who do you need to share what you’re learning about God with?


{extra journey resources}

CLICK HERE for more on how to use the observe-reflect-apply approach to getting the most out of your Bible reading.

The Bible App Get a free Bible for your phone, tablet, and computer. Experience the Bible anywhere, with options to highlight, save notes, and share what you are reading with others.

Bible Gateway Provides advanced Bible searching capabilities, which allow readers to find passages in scripture based on keywords, phrases, or scripture reference.


If you would like, please visit us and join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

© 2018 Heartland Community Church 12175 S. Strang Line Road, Olathe, KS 66062

Unsubscribe from The Journey.

to receive our future emails.

Comments are closed.