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{November 24, 2019}






Heartland Community Church


November 24 – 29, 2019

 

Threshold: Celebrations

By Christina Marie Mitchell

Being grateful. Being thankful. This is obviously the time of year when I am supposed to be thankful, I’m supposed to express my immense gratitude for all that I’ve received, been blessed with, etc. And yes, I have many things to be thankful for. But, if I’m to be honest, there have been many years that I just couldn’t bring myself to say ‘thank you’. To be grateful. Not necessarily because I had a miserable life. It was difficult for me to be grateful for anything — because I always worked during the holiday season. My reason to celebrate didn’t really exist. At least, I didn’t think so.

For me, this time of year never really meant much — having been in retail for the past 5-6 years. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, etc… all of those days had become incredibly transactional. I became used to building store budgets, coordinating seasonal hirings & trainings, draining 6-day workweeks, intense 12-hour work days, and the deep desire for solitude that burdened my being, but I could never fulfill. This time of year irritated me — because it was when I got disrespected the most, mistreated the most, yelled at the most, intruded upon the most. For not being available sooner, for not having the hottest and latest product in stock, for not emptying trashcans quick enough, for not having enough workers scheduled during peak hours. I grew to despise the holiday season.

But this year is different. This is the first time since 2013 that I get to experience the absence of all of it. To not be responsible for budgets, hirings and trainings. To actually not have to work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. And I couldn’t be more excited, more ready … more lost.

This year, I get to actually remember what it means to truly experience Jesus during this season. To experience and express gratitude. For the things that I tend to ignore or forget because I’m usually exhausted or spread so thin to the point of screaming. This year, as I reflect on gratitude, I can truly say that I am grateful. Because despite having left God behind in the chaos and the frenzy, He never once left me. Which boggles my mind! But that is the faithfulness of our God.

These past several years, I was in a season of drought. A season of waning trust, seldom prayer, and opaque spiritual identity. Not all of the time, because God was never too far; but when the moments of coming together with fellow Heartlanders or even my friends and their families presented themselves, I just didn’t feel thankful. I was depleted. All I wanted to do was sleep, and be by myself. I later came to learn that I was experiencing high-functioning depression and anxiety. It was definitely something I started to normalize. But this year is different. I have been delivered from that season of drought. And I am definitely in a season of celebration. Of deep gratitude.

Today, I got to take Communion. For the first time in who knows how long, with my beautiful sister, Michele. I got to remember and be reminded — of the things that I’d forgotten during that painful and draining season. I got to stand with my sister, who has loved me through it all. Today, I got to worship with one of the very first mentors I ever had at HCC; singing loudly in gratitude for having claimed sweet victory over my long and painful battle. I got to hug on and be tackled by some of my favorite kiddos who I’ve had the pleasure of singing and dancing with and watching grow over the past several years. These were all timely reminders of His faithfulness. Of His promise to me and for me.

So, in this season, I get to learn all over again — what it feels like to truly celebrate during the holidays, what it feels like to have authentic community to celebrate with, what it feels like to not have to rush out of church on Sunday to go to work for the next 6-8 hours. I’ve experienced several years of God’s faithfulness, even during the hardest of times. But now, having come out on the other side of it — my celebration has finally begun. This has definitely been a threshold moment — MY threshold moment of 2019. And I am so excited to experience this season in a whole new and blessed way.

{sunday 11.24.19}

Read Psalm 118

Observe, Reflect, Apply: How has God shown His faithfulness to you? What has God done in your life to prompt a new wave of gratitude? If you’re in a season of drought, what has God done to help you remember, to remind you of His faithfulness and love?

CLICK HERE to listen to the 11.24.19 message, Threshold: Celebrations. Due to technical difficulties we were unable to video record the service. Apologies for the inconvenience.

 

{advent bible reading plan: making space}

By Marnie Vasquez

This week your daily Journey readings begin our reflections on advent. In this series, we will focus on verses that draw us to make space for Jesus in our lives.

Our Journey writers are working on daily mini-reflections and questions to help us process this week and throughout December as we make space together.

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.

During this season, Seth Davidson’s Vlog, The Journey Online, will be offline, making space for what is coming in 2020! We offer these daily reflections in that space.

 

{monday 11.25.19}

Read Luke 1:11-17

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Stop. Have you ever seen an angel? Can you imagine what that experience would be like? It’d freak me out yet rock my world. In this case, Zechariah, a very old man who had never seen an angel in his lifetime – now sees one. Then, this angel says some incredible things. “Look, I know you’ve been praying for what seems like for-ever to have a kid. Well, God has been listening, and you’re getting one, even though you and your wife are like a kajillion years old.” Zechariah’s world must have been rocked. The angel goes on to give Zechariah a ‘parenting how-to” manual, and tells Zechariah, “This kid of yours has a super important role to play. He’ll help introduce people to the coming Christ.” Wow, imagine that.

Today’s passage makes me pause. Is Jesus listening and answering prayers today? Yes, He is. Jesus is listening. To every thought we have. Every spoken word. Every countless plea and cry. He will come through in what is best for us. While this may not happen via an angel, do pay attention to all those little, small nudges that happen ALL day long. Pay attention. He’s listening, answering your prayers.

{tuesday 11.26.19}

Read Luke 3:3-6

Observe, Reflect, Apply: John The Baptist is like a modern day marketer. He tries to get as many people as possible to make a positive change to improve their lives. In today’s world, John might post on Facebook, make a commercial, be interviewed on Ellen, make YouTube videos, do whatever he could to help people change their ways for their own good. What John has going for him that today’s modern marketer doesn’t is 1) he was sent by God. 2) The product he’s selling is Jesus: the ultimate benefit and life changing product. 3) The Old Testament said John was coming, so his ‘marketing messages’ could be viewed and believed as honorable.

I am a marketer. I’m in awe of John’s conviction, passion, resilience and uncompromising ways to sell the ultimate product. He inspires me to talk about Jesus. I know I can’t do it in the manner John does, but he pushes me to get out of my comfort zone to share my experiences. As you look at your day, thank Jesus for always being with you. Look for ways – even small ones – to bring Jesus up in conversations.

{wednesday 11.27.19}

Read Matthew 6:31-34

Observe, Reflect, Apply: I believe in Jesus. Yet I worry. Get anxious. Sick to my stomach. Bury myself in bed. Binge watch Netflix. I get overwhelmed. And then, somewhere in the midst of that, these small voices say, “Hey, Jesus has your back.” “Hey, let Jesus carry this for you, He’ll make this come out in His favor.” “Hey, just let this go, and stop getting tangled up in the world.” These small voices help me face the day, the situation. I’m always amazed that everything does turn out better. Maybe not in the short term, but in the long term it does. I have learned over time these worrisome times become easier. I’m learning and trusting Jesus way more than I ever have. It takes practice. Lots.

Please, consider this. When you start to worry, immediately start talking to Jesus – even if just in your mind: “Help me, Jesus. Help me through this. Help me give you this concern. I know you’re loving ways will handle this. Let me let you do your thing. Thank you, Jesus.”

{thursday 11.28.19}

Read Luke 1:35-38

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Do you have a favorite movie? One you can watch over and over? I have many. I watch repeatedly to understand how the movie makers weave together their movie from plot line, actors’ cadence, pace, music choices, camera angles, fashion ensembles and more. They use every aspect to wonderfully piece it together. I love uncovering their methods. I often remind myself these movie makers are made in the image of God who is the ultimate movie maker. God’s movie (our lives) stitches together things far more beautiful and complex than we can even fathom. I’m constantly trying to uncover God’s methods.

Every time I read the Bible, I feel it’s this huge movie being made… that I’m actually a character in. And I want to read it again and again so I don’t miss all those pieces of God’s ways. Today’s scripture, for me, is like watching part of God’s movie trailer. It’s got awe, tension, disbelief, possibility, adventure, and it makes me want to watch this movie immediately. Why? This is the story of our life. This passage is an incredible actual scene. I get shivers every time I read it.

{friday 11.29.19}

Read Titus 3:3-7

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Read today’s scripture, slowly. Let. Every. Word. Sink. In. And when you’re done, bow your head, and simply say, “Thank you. Thank you for loving me, Jesus.”

 

{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!

 

© 2019 Heartland Community Church

12175 S Strang Line Road, Olathe, KS 66062

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