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{January 5, 2020}

Heartland Community Church



First Things First: Hope Is Here

By Bill McMurtrey

According to Mr. Webster’s "Big Book of Words" (the dictionary) HOPEtranslates as this: 

1: To cherish a desire with anticipation; To want something to happen or be true

2: To expect with confidence; Trust

Trust is the superlative adjective to remember here, friends. 

Today when Jay spoke about goals I smiled inside. I am a goal setter, I actually write them out by hand, with pen and paper. One would be hard pressed to find someone that accomplishes much or achieves what they set out to without clear, written goals. This is not something I do only on January 1st every year, but something I do weekly, all year long.

I could also relate to the struggles shared of wanting to be in better shape. For me it was (or is) more than just getting into better shape, but better overall health. I have had my fair share of bumps and bruises over the years, and it’s those aches and pains that I wrongly faulted for my weight gain. Now I have to admit it’s hard to go out walking when you have a torn meniscus in your knee, like I had in 2018. I then denied getting surgery. I rehabbed it on my own, read every single thing I could get my hands on about therapy, exercise, nutrition, supplements, collagen and stem cell growth. My weight ballooned to the highest that it had ever been. Physically, I was miserable.

During that same period I learned through a heart episode that I had A-Fib. Atrial fibrillation. It is high blood pressure on steroids with a quadruple shot of espresso. Before that I had never even ever heard of A-Fib. You don’t want it, trust me, you don’t. I went to the ER, then was hospitalized, (which I tried to fight) and got the wake up call I never wanted to hear . . . that I had been on the verge of a stroke. Not a heart attack, but a stroke. Things just got real.

The extra weight I was carrying certainly did nothing to help. Actually, extra weight hurts us more through inflammation. The cardiologist suggetsted twice that I have surgery for my A-Fib. Meaning burning a valve to my heart to keep the valve open. Not a stint, but burn the end of a heart valve. I asked, "Ummmmm whatttttttt??????? I’m conversationally fluent in multiple forms of communication, you wanna say that one again please?" My other option was to drop a minimum of 10% of my body weight, and a make a few other changes with it. Lower blood pressure primarily. Then revisit the issue. 

2019 came. The knee was starting to heal, but my heart was still sometimes beating off of the charts. Something needed to change, and it was me. I set out on my own (no programs or drugs, just learning how to be healthier) to drop over 10% of my body weight. And I did. I dropped 32 lbs in 2019. And I’m working on some more. I started by focusing on what I ate. With the weight loss, my blood pressure automatically dropped. That happens whether it’s due to family history or not. It’s called "science"! My A-Fib is now under control and on the verge of being gone. And my once "needed-surgery-knee" is able to go out hiking regularly. 

All of that didn’t happen just by me. Yes, I had to do the work. Yes, I had to be diligent, and I do mean diligent. But I also had to have trust. And pray. I had to have trust that Jesus would see me through each and every day. That he wasn’t ready to let me die as I laid in my bed at night with my heart pounding so hard I could see my chest rise and fall. Trust, that Jesus had a plan for me and, if I was willing to help myself, he would help me through. Part of practicing diligence was going to Jesus in prayer every day, and multiple times each day. Prayer increases my faith and my hope . . . I’ve always been a pray-er, and hopefully always will be. 

To get to where I am now in 2020, I needed more than just hope, I needed prayer. But most of all, I need to trust in Jesus.


{sunday 1.5.20}

Read Romans 8:22-28

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Pain causes me to groan. A racing heart, as well. A huge or unexpected challenge in a relationship or in business, too. Prayer helps me release the pain, helps me invite Jesus into it with me. It is in that place and posture that I feel my hope and trust grow, and get stretched and get stronger. Do you have groans that need to be turned into prayer? Would you consider this year . . . even when you don’t have the words . . . allowing Jesus into those groans and challenges? What is one thing you can do this week that would stretch and strengthen your faith and hope?


{bible reading plan: the story of jesus from luke}

By Meghan Hemenway

FIRST TIMEJUMPING IN? If you are just joining us for the first time, our journey through Luke began on December 30. CLICK HERE for the verse links and reflections for Luke chapter 1.

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.

THE JOURNEY VIDEOS: CLICK HERE to subscribe to our Youtube channel, The Journey Online, for a Monday-Friday video post from Seth Davidson that takes us a layer deeper in the scripture reflections. New posts will appear each day.

THE STORY OF JESUS COURSE: In addition, this semester we are offering a course, The Story of Jesus, that will pair with our Sunday services and The Journey readings. CLICK HERE to catch a video about it, or CLICK HERE to register. The Story of Jesus begins on January 21, 6:30-8 PM.


{monday 1.6.20}

Read Luke 1:67-80

Observe, Reflect, Apply: There have been many times in my life that I have wished the Holy Spirit would come upon me and speak the right words instead of the words I have in mind. I can’t imagine all the thoughts, possible offenses, and feelings Zechariah had saved up after months and months of not being able to communicate with his wife or anyone else. And yet his first words are those of praise, rejoicing, and pointing back to the promises that God had made and was fulfilling. It was like he had been on a verbal fast which had made room for the Holy Spirit to clear out doubt and strengthen faith. Do you ever feel that voice telling you to hold that thought you are about to speak out loud? What would it be like to have a verbal fast with the goal of making space for the Holy Spirit?


{tuesday 1.7.20}

Read Luke 2:1-20

Observe, Reflect, Apply: I hope the memories of my sons’ births never fade. Birth is a miracle, a closeness with God. Through all the pain, mess and confusion comes this tiny, beautiful human and each time I knew that this baby was a sign of God’s love for us all. In those first moments with each new son I got to sit in God’s deep love uncluttered yet with the difficulties of raising a child. How much more closeness with God must Mary have felt? These things the angel had told her about were happening. I wonder if she  felt a deep security in knowing God was someone she could trust. Looking at her baby did she feel surrounded by God’s love and peace? His love is always for us but isn’t it sometimes hard to see past our troubles to connect with it? Those moments of closeness are a treasured gift.


{wednesday 1.8.20}

Read Luke 2:21-32

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Have you met people who seem to exude joy? People who are a joy to be around and have something that just draws you in. Like God’s love, peace, and joy are pouring right out of them where ever they go. I imagine that Jesus must have been like that. Even as a young child could people recognize that something in him? When Simeon sees Jesus he instantly knows and praises God. What an amazing feeling that must have been for him. Can you think back through your life to people who poured out God’s light?


{thursday 1.9.20}

Read Luke 2:33-40

Observe, Reflect, Apply: I wonder if Mary and Joseph quickly forgot they were raising the savior of the whole world. They knew who he was and what his fate would be, but in the interim they still had to feed him, clothe him, and go about all the other responsibilities of a young couple. The day to day tasks of life can seem very far from God’s plan. I think God is dropping reminders to us throughout our day, but we have to be listening. The Holy Spirit continued to speak through people about Jesus in their time and he continues to talk to us. How can you tune in to God’s communications with you?


{friday 1.10.20}

Read Luke 2:41-52

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Have you ever felt like a really amazing parent? Like you are doing such a great job and it is obvious to everyone who witnesses your well-behaved kid? Well, I haven’t. My son entered the worship service last week with a somersault so pretty much everywhere we go I am humbled as a parent. I wonder if Mary and Joseph felt like great parents. They were devoted and faithful, following all the religious laws for themselves and their son. We know that Jesus lived a sinless life and was developing into a wise and thoughtful man. Did they again forget the end game and think, wow we are really good at the parenting thing? What would it be like to raise the son of man?


{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!


© 2020 Heartland Community Church

12175 S Strang Line Road, Olathe, KS 66062

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