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{May 17, 2020}






Heartland Community Church


THE JOURNEY

 

Resilient

By Rhonda Stock

I grew up in an old-school Pentecostal church where we had “Revivals” several times a year. A Revival could go a week or longer, with services every night that might last well past 10 p.m. A Revival usually featured a single evangelist, someone who traveled the country teaching and preaching in different churches.

One of my favorite evangelists preached a Revival at our church once a year or so. He was the real deal, a man we said was “filled with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” When he preached, you knew he was speaking Truth. He might be uneducated and a bit rough around the edges, but you did not doubt he had a passion for God that came from his own personal encounter with Jesus Christ.

This man made no secret of his past. He had been a drinker and a gambler and a hustler. He hobnobbed with folks like Minnesota Fats (you youngsters can look him up on Google). But somehow, God found him. Like Saul in Acts chapter 9, he had a complete conversion. He gladly gave up his ungodly lifestyle and started preaching the Good News.

He did not often share the story of his conversion because he did not want the focus on himself. He wanted people to meet Jesus, the One Who had totally transformed his life. He wanted no one to compare themselves with him, to think, “I’m not as bad as he was; do I really need Jesus?” He wanted everyone to know and love the Savior, no matter how wicked they might or might not have been.

You can’t find anyone in the Bible much more wicked than Saul. He was responsible for the deaths of untold numbers of believers. When Stephen was stoned to death—a gruesome, bloody form of execution—Saul looked on and even held the coats of the people throwing the rocks. If you had asked him, Saul would have said he was doing God’s work; he was eliminating Jews who, in his eyes, were living outside the laws of Moses. They were the wicked ones, not he.

Yet somehow, God reached out and marked Saul as his own. Saul became Paul, one of the first century’s greatest evangelists and the writer of much of the New Testament. He could have stayed hidden away, living in shame at what he was before his conversion. He could have been crushed by feelings of guilt at the number of men, women, and children he had arrested and sent to their deaths. But he didn’t.

Paul never denied his past—he often reminded others of what God had saved him from. But he didn’t wallow in it or allow shame to consume him. He said, “This is what I was. Now this is who I am. Let me tell you about the One Who changed me.”

Are you ready to change? Your past doesn’t matter. YOU matter. Allow Jesus to transform you into the person you were meant to be. Then let the past stay in the past. Perhaps you will have to make amends for pain you have caused others. Maybe you will need to right some wrongs financially. Take care of what needs to be done but do it in a spirit of joy and not shame. Make things right because you want others to see Him through your actions. Choose joy. Always.

Do you know what they call the medical student who graduates at the bottom of their class? Doctor. Same as if they graduated as valedictorian. You don’t go into their office, look at the degree hanging on the wall, and ask, “So, Doctor, what was your class ranking?” They’re still a doctor, and they still have a license to practice medicine.

In the same way, it doesn’t matter what your past was. Like Paul, you might have been “the chiefest of sinners.” You might have a dramatic story of being saved from drugs and prostitution and demonic possession. Praise God for your deliverance! Or you might have accepted Christ as your Savior when you were barely old enough to talk. Praise God for the grace that brought you to Him at so young an age!

God delivered you from sin. You are His child, called by His name. Your past doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you are His, now and forevermore. Praise God!

 

{sunday 5.17.20}

Read Psalm 103:12

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Do you struggle with shame from your past? Letting go of the past and accepting God’s forgiveness can be hard. We might know that we are forgiven and free, that God does not hold our past sins against us, but it’s hard for our stubborn hearts to truly believe we are forgiven. It’s hard for us to forgive ourselves.

A very old country song talks about a believer going to God about sins from their past. In the song, God responds, “What sins are you talking about? I don’t remember them anymore. In the Book of Life, they’ve all been torn out. I don’t remember them anymore.”

Psalm 103:12 tells us, “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.”

Pray that God will give you strength to let go of your past. If you struggle with shame and guilt, Heartland has programs available to help you…you can email for info at care@heartlandchurch.org. You don’t have to struggle alone.

 

{bible reading plan: acts of the apostles}

By Rhonda Stock

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. 

{monday 5.18.20}

Read Acts 8:26-40

Observe, Reflect, Apply: “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.”
Sometimes I wonder if Christians truly believe this sweet children’s song. Do we really think Jesus loves allpeople? And, if so, do we live as though we believe it?

In this passage, God makes it clear that the Gospel is for everyone. God supernaturally brings together Philip, a Jew from Roman-occupied Palestine, and an Ethiopian. This Ethiopian was a powerful official in his country and a representative of Ethiopia’s queen. He apparently believed in the Hebrew God because he was returning from worshipping in Jerusalem and was studying the Hebrew book of Isaiah. Once Philip shared with him the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Ethiopian immediately believed and was baptized. He returned to his nation to share the Gospel.

Now, Philip was from the Middle East. The Ethiopian was from North Africa. Neither man was what we would consider “white” in today’s vernacular. But God used these men, and others like them, to spread the Gospel across three continents.

Knowing this, how should we then live? How should we treat our brothers and sisters in Christ? How should we treat non-believers who do not look like us? If we truly believe that Jesus came for everyone, then our everyday lives must reflect that. We cannot walk in hatred against anyone and claim to be a believer in Christ.

In your life, this week, how can you live so that your life makes it clear you believe that Jesus really does love all the children of the world?

 

{tuesday 5.19.20}

Read Acts 9:1-9

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Have you ever had to wait on God? You know God has something for you, but you don’t know what the next step should be. You don’t want to turn back, but you can’t move forward without some clear direction from Him.

Saul finds himself in that position in today’s passage. He thought he was doing God’s work as he arrested men and women who believed the Good News of Jesus Christ. He thought they were sinners who were breaking God’s laws. God must surely be pleased with his service.

Then bam! He finds himself in the dirt as Jesus Himself appears and demands to know, “Why are you persecuting me?” When the Light leaves, Saul is blind. The men with him take him to Damascus, where Saul sits in darkness for three days, waiting for God to tell him the next step. God sends Ananias.

Do you feel you are at a standstill? Do you wonder which direction to take? Ask God to send you your Ananias. Your Ananias might be a Scripture that comes to your mind or stands out to you as you read. It might be the counsel of a friend or leader. Or it might be a “knowing” in your soul, a sense that this is your next step, this is the direction God is leading you.

Wait for your Ananias.

 

{wednesday 5.20.20}

Read Acts 9:10-22

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Can you imagine Ananias’ terror when God says, “Ananias, I’m sending you to talk to Saul”? Ananias is like, “Umm…you do know that Saul is not a fan of people like me?” God further surprises Ananias by saying, “Yep. Saul is the guy I’m sending to share the Good News with the Gentiles.” Share the Good News with people who are not Jews? That’s even crazier.

But Ananias obeys God. He finds Saul exactly where God said he would. And when he sees Saul, he calls him “Brother.” The man who was responsible for the arrest and persecutions of huge numbers of believers—Ananias calls him brother before Saul even says a word. Ananias lays hands on Saul, and Saul’s sight is restored. Saul becomes Paul, one of the first century’s greatest evangelists.  

Is God calling you to some seemingly impossible task? Something that seems too crazy to be real? If God is telling you to do it, then it is possible—but only in His strength. Surrender your fear to Him and find your courage in Him. Then go do the impossible.

 

{thursday 5.21.20}

Read Acts 9:23-35

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Saul is in trouble. He used to be an important part of the Jewish community. He was admired for his passionate persecution of those who preached and believed in the Good News of Jesus Christ. Now he is a believer himself. And his former colleagues don’t like it. They want him shut down. Permanently. Saul is forced to escape the city by climbing into a basket (that must have been a really big basket, or Saul was a really small man), and allowing other believers to lower him through an opening in the city wall.

In this passage, God helps Saul escape. Later in Acts, we will read how, instead of helping Saul escape persecution, God gives him grace to endure.

Are you facing persecution right now? Or maybe you’re not being persecuted, but you’re struggling with difficult circumstances? Pray. Ask God to give you a means of escape or the grace to endure. Pray that no matter what, He will be glorified through you and that others will see the light of Christ in you. He is there. He cares. Turn to Him.

 

{friday 5.22.20}

Read Acts 9:36-10:8

Observe, Reflect, Apply: In today’s passage, we meet two very different characters.

Tabitha is a believer, probably Jewish. She is probably unmarried, because when she dies there is no mention of a husband or children. Or perhaps she is married but her husband cast her out when she became a believer. Scripture doesn’t tell us. We do know that she is kind and giving and loved by everyone.

Cornelius is a powerful Roman soldier and probably very wealthy. Unlike most Romans, however, he worships the one true God, the God of Israel. He is a devout man and, like Tabitha, generous to the poor.

Each of these individuals has a supernatural experience with God. One is raised from the dead. The other has an angelic vision that terrifies him. Eventually, Cornelius also becomes a believer.

God didn’t care that Tabitha was “just” a woman. He didn’t care that Cornelius was a Gentile. God saw their hearts. He knew they both loved God and tried to serve Him.

God sees you today. It doesn’t matter if you are female or male, Jew or Gentile, black or white. God sees YOU. He loves YOU. He sent His Son to die for YOU, to rise from the dead so that YOU could have eternal life.

If you don’t know Him as your Savior, accept Him into your heart today. Pray to Him: Jesus, I am sorry I have sinned; I ask you to save me so that I may live the rest of my life for and with You. Then go share the the incredible news of what has happened with a trusted friend!

If you do know Him, revel in the fact that God sees you and loves you. Rejoice that you are His child. Praise Him for loving you and saving you and keeping you. Then go share the Good News!

 

{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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