{December 23, 2018}

Heartland Community Church


December 23 – 29, 2018


What Is Happening?

By Brooke Hodnefield

"Dear God, thank you for Christmas and I hope you have a great birthday!" My 8 year old, Noah, prayed this short prayer enthusiastically at bedtime. As I left his room it got me pondering the concept of an ominous and powerful Lord and Savior floating in the Heavenly realms being an itty bitty squishy newborn lying in a lowly bed of hay, surrounded by farm animals & humble folks at his very first birthday party.

We all know the story…Christian and non-Christian alike, but have you actually thought about the ludicracy of this? This is the sort of mystery we see interwoven throughout the Bible, in our world and all around us. It can evoke a sense of awe…if we stop long enough to acknowledge it’s divine presence. The definition of awe, as stated in the trusty Merriam-Webster:

noun 1 : an emotion variously combining dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime; transitive verb: to inspire

Stop for a moment and consider…have you experienced a type of emotion that inspires you, evokes wonder in such a deep way that you know that you are on holy ground…the sacred is swirling and at play in a very distinct way. You have found yourself breathless witnessing something majestic, yet possibly even unfathomable.

Noah has a very severe peanut allergy. Epi-pen carrying, anaphylactic-reaction type of allergy. However, he eats 8 peanuts a day. Over the course of 6 months he would eat the teeniest amount of peanut protein daily, incrementally increasing to a whopping 12 peanuts to ensure his body adjusted. He is still allergic, but his body is now immune. The mystery of the how, inherent risk, and God’s protection all swirl for me when I consider the journey we took. And I’m in AWE!

Back to Noah’s birthday prayer. Mary is a key player in an unfolding mystery. She is the conduit for with which God will bring his only son into the world. She experiences awe in a way that is telling of how we might consider experiencing those moments that capture our breath. But the shepherds also demonstrate a different perspective…

Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!
Luke 2:19 – Message

I see Mary in adoration and wonder. She embraces the emotion she experiences at her deepest core and she won’t be the same. What she has witnessed will change her forever. And she ponders this and allows it to sink in. The shepherds, however, relish this experience in a way that they are overflowing so much so that they can’t keep the excitement to themselves. They have witnessed something so awe-inspiring that they must share!

We can learn from both Mary and the shepherds. One, they didn’t pass this by. They experienced the fullness of the moment in ways that were obedient to God’s agenda and not their own. How many times have we missed something God has to show us, a moment of awe, simply because we are too consumed by our own stuff. Secondly, they not only kept the holy moment for themselves but they also turned around and shared. We are filled to overflow…from ourselves on to another. Consider, is your awe meant to be shared?

I’m prayerfully hoping this year we can offer Jesus a birthday party worthy of the love he has shown us. May we not pass by the awe-filled moments laid out for us along our paths.


{sunday 12.23.18}

Read Luke 2:1-20

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Describe a moment of ‘awe’ for you? If you aren’t sure you’ve had one, what would you envision it might feel like? Would your default be Mary’s (pondering deeply) or the shepherds (sharing the excitement)? What is your biggest obstacle to being aware to the awe along your own path?


{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.

{monday 12.24.18}

Read Acts 7:4-16

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Stephen tells the story Abraham to a group of people that already knew it well. Why would Stephen do this? Is it helpful to you to be reminded of stories you already know?  

{tuesday 12.25.18}

Read Acts 7:17-29

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Again we find Stephen telling another story very familiar to the people he was speaking to. Stephen is telling them the story of Moses. As someone who follows Jesus I have to admit that I know more about the New Testament and Jesus than the Old Testament scriptures. However, we should fully understand them ourselves. That is the basis of our faith and without them we are left wondering and confused. Share with a trusted friend or group the areas of the Old Testament that you know the least about. Make a plan to study that area and allow the trusted friend or group to hold you accountable. 

{wednesday 12.26.18}

Read Acts 7:30-43

Observe, Reflect, Apply: We don’t carve out golden statues of calves today and worship them, but our culture worships idols all the same. An idol is simply anything that we put above God. What idols have or do capture your attention? What kind of power does this idol have over your life? Confess to yourself and God what these idols are and what they do. Ask God for his help to overcome them. 

{thursday 12.27.18}

Read Acts 7:44-60

Observe, Reflect, Apply: “You always resist the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors did before you!” This was a true statement before, during and after Jesus’ life. How do we go from resisting the Holy Spirit to accepting the Holy Spirit? What does that look like in your life?  

{friday 12.28.18}

Read Acts 8:1-8

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Stephen is stoned to death for talking about Jesus. The other followers of Jesus did not flee and hide. I look at this in two parts. First, wow those people were brave! Second, is there really a need to be brave if you truly believe what they are saying. They really just don’t have any fear of death because they know that their is a God that loves them and that same God has called them to go find others who will accept his love too. Have you ever felt a lack of fear because of God? Share this experience with a trusted group or friend. 

{saturday 12.29.18}

Read Acts 8:9-25

Observe, Reflect, Apply: God cannot be bought. That seems like something we know, but I’m pretty sure most people have tried to at least bargain with God once in their life. For example, “Please God, will you…" "and in return I will….” God doesn’t need anything we can offer. God wants us to love him, not for his sake, but our own. Have you ever bargained with God? Is there a different way to pray when we are asking God for something rather than trying to make a bargain? 


{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.


Please visit us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and share what you are learning, questioning or experiencing. We love conversations!


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

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