{May 13, 2018}

Heartland Community Church


May 13 – 19, 2018


Before/After: Purpose

By Andrea Ennis

I was a miracle baby….at least that is how my mom refers to me. Before I was born my dad was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The doctor said the treatment plan would result in him becoming sterile and he would be unable to have children. My parents were in their very early 20s and hadn’t been married long. Having children so soon wasn’t the plan, but if they were going to be parents they had a feeling it was now or never. The odds were against them as there was an extremely small window to conceive, so my parents prayed for a child and God’s response was . . . me! (Fun fact:  I recently learned that my middle name means “wish for a child” but my parents did not know this.)

As I reflect on this story of how I came to be, it occurs to me that God did not go to all this trouble to make sure I made it into this world without there being a purpose. I have always had a sense that I have a purpose but it’s been difficult to understand what it is or how to act on it. Many times in my life I have just wandered around without meaning and no destination in sight. Recently, my 3 year old granddaughter shared with me that she had learned about Jonah and the whale. I was nudged to revisit this biblical story at a deeper level. I was reading (Jonah 1 & 2), about how God instructed Jonah to go to Nineveh to preach to the people there and how Jonah decided to not listen to God and instead ran away. Next thing he knows he is swallowed by a whale and sits in its belly for 3 days (gross!). But then it hit me…I am sitting in the belly of the whale! God has practically mapped out my instructions, but I have chosen not to listen and now I’m stuck in a metaphorical mess of this morning’s breakfast of krill along with a bunch of marine mammal stomach acid. (Okay maybe that is a bit dramatic but it isn’t far off from reality.) The beauty of all of this is that, while the “belly of the whale” has not been pleasant, it has been a refuge; a place to keep me safe and give me time to realize that it’s time to turn to God and listen.

The truth is that we are all miracle babies. We were all created with purposeful intention. And the gift of Jesus is God’s sincere promise that our lives have meaning. Every single part of our story (good and bad news) is relevant to our journey and our destination. We just need to listen to God, even when (no especially when) it is through the mouth of a precious three year old.

{sunday 5.13.18}

Read Genesis 45:4-8; Jonah 2:1-10;Ephesians 2:10

Observe, Reflect, Apply: What bad news in your life is a part of who you are? What are ways that God has been working in your life to reveal your purpose? What is something that you can do this week to step closer to living out your purpose?


{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.

To dive deeper into Mark 11-12, CLICK HERE or on the video below to check out a short teaching from our own Seth Davidson.


{monday 5.14.18}

Read Mark 10:46-52

Observe, Reflect, Apply: I noticed that when the blind beggar shouts for Jesus to help him, the crowd tells him to be quiet. A lot of people shouting for help are told to be quiet, or to ask in a “more appropriate” manner. What is Jesus’ reaction? How does this differ from the crowd?

{tuesday 5.15.18}

Read Mark 11:1-11

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Jesus never seems to do things exactly how people expect him to. Showing up on a donkey versus some big horse or fancy caravan was not what was expected of someone with his notoriety. What is something that you can do that is unexpected for you?

{wednesday 5.16.18}

Read Mark 11:12-26

Observe, Reflect, Apply: This is the “not nice Jesus” chapter. He’s angry at the fig tree for having no fruit and then he enters the temple and things get a little wild. The words nice and good seem to be synonymous. They are not though. Jesus was good but that does not mean he was always “nice”. Despite what the children’s Bible and Precious Moments dolls portray Jesus as, he was not always nice. Discuss with a trusted group or friend the difference between nice and good. Can being nice be bad?

{thursday 5.17.18}

Read Mark 11:27-12:12

Observe, Reflect, Apply: I wouldn’t want to be in an argument with Jesus. He never answers the questions asked of him directly, and usually replies with a question in return, leaving the people stumped. Jesus didn’t feel the need to argue or debate. What can we learn from Jesus in this manner? How can we approach those that want to argue with us?

{friday 5.18.18}

Read Mark 12:13-17

Observe, Reflect, Apply: I love this passage. I’ve studied it a few times over the years and just recently learned something new about it. The Pharisees produce a coin with Ceasars face on it when Jesus request to see it. What I just learned was that the Pharisees should not have even had one of those coins on them in the first place. On so many levels Jesus is able to point out their hypocrisy. Of course, most believers are taking Jesus’ side in the argument and like to hear how Jesus outsmarts the Pharisees at every turn. Instead of looking at the Pharisees as some sort of enemy, we should realize we are more like them than like Jesus. Pray for Jesus to reveal to you where your hypocrisy lies in your heart and life.

{saturday 5.19.18}

Read Mark 12:18-34

Observe, Reflect, Apply: This reminds me of how kids challenge their parents with questions. You will know this conversation is happening when a kid starts saying, “But what if….” repeatedly in response to what their parents tell them. Sometimes we have to step back at that point and look at the questions as a whole and find out what they are really struggling with. This was not a case of a child and Jesus points out quickly that they’ve gone off track in the start because they don’t know their scriptures. This is interesting because the people asking would have spent their entire lives studying scripture. Like a child asking a whole bunch of, “But what if…..” questions, you have to return to the beginning to guide them on the right path. Where do you, "But, what if…" with God?


{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 to visit The Bible Project site and explore their super simple, super informative Bible videos (and other resources).

CLICK HERE to get the Read Scripture App, from our friends at The Bible Project.

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.


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