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{May 31, 2020}






Heartland Community Church


THE JOURNEY

 

Resilient: Outsiders In

By Grant Houske

I must admit that after watching today’s message from Seth I felt some “writers block” on how to approach this reflection. Seth did a wonderful job of applying real perspective to the message. I thought about trying to incorporate many different current event topics. Still, blank. But I kept thinking back to the question that Seth asked at the very beginning, which was: when was the last time you felt like an outsider, and how did it make you feel? My wife, Ginger, and I were kicking around some thoughts and ideas for this, all of which were good. Nonetheless, I still had a hard time trying to think of a conclusive topic and felt stuck!

As I powered up my computer, the internet opened up and literally the first headline on my browser was an Associated Press article written by two journalists: Michael Balsamo and Kathleen Hennessey that read: Officials blame differing groups of ‘outsiders’ for violence. I thought to myself, “well, this might help me get started!” My point is not to concentrate on the merits of the article, assess the facts, or take a position, but rather simply focus on the title. I think it helps illustrate such a significant point of today’s message. If we break it down, we see the various components: Officials, the insiders, blame, the ‘outsiders’ for the violence. If that headline is not a powerful metaphor for human nature, I do not know what is! In a time of crisis, big or small, think how quickly do we blame, label, condemn, or reject and abandon. We all have been in this position in some way or another. Or have been on the receiving end.

Let’s turn our focus on Jesus. How would Jesus react? Or, as the old saying goes, "What would Jesus do?" Yes, I wore one of those WWJD plastic bracelets for a short time, too! Would Jesus blame, reject, condemn, abandon? Think of all the outsiders who encountered Jesus’ life during his time on earth and beyond: Mary Magdalene, Zacchaeus, Matthew, the tax collector, the criminal on the cross, and Saul. All these people can be considered the epitome of being an outsider. How did Jesus respond to them? With love. Compassion. Acceptance. Understanding. Inclusion. If Jesus reacted and responded to them with human tendencies, how would their stories be different? How we react to others creates a story, too. We cannot be Jesus, but we can be imitators of Him just as Paul commanded us to do. 

Jesus came for everyone! If you doubt or have questions, simply start there–that Jesus came for you and loves you. I know that can sound cliché and recycled. But, if you find yourself feeling that, look to how Jesus impacted the lives of so many people who have also, at some point in their lives, felt like outsiders, too. 

When we inevitably resort to human tendencies like resentment, doubt, and bitterness,may it not interfere with our commission to help and serve others in any way we can. Particularly those who may feel like outsiders in our world. Think of the Kingdom impact such actions can have to help shape our future! It will be difficult, but we have a great model to imitate in Jesus.

 

{sunday 5.31.20}

Read James 1:19

Observe, Reflect, Apply: This passage instructs us to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. Is this task difficult for you? I know I fail and will continue to fail miserably with this. But, do not forget that we all have been outsiders at some point in our lives. Let us not forget how that felt; let us use that to care for and be compassionate towards all people in all circumstances, just as Jesus has done. Who might Jesus be asking you to reach out and connect with? To offer compassion to? Or to invite in, to your circle, your family, your neighborhood?

 

{bible reading plan: acts of the apostles}

By Grant Houske

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 6.1.20}

Read Acts 11:25-12:5

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul.  Barnabas brought Saul in to help in the work. So, for a year they assembled with the Church and taught many people. Disciples were first called Christians in Antioch (11:25-26). This was the first time Christ followers were referred to by a new name, “Christian”. Ironically, the word, Christian, is only used in two other places in the Bible, Acts 26:28 and 1 Peter 4:16. It is simply another term for those who adhere to follow Christ and so are Christ-like. This, however, was not a denominational label for the early Church. There were no denominations back then, only one true Church that Jesus built and bought with his blood. We should try to adhere and resolve ourselves to the same standards and practices that the early Christians followed. Given this time of uncertainty and unrest, can we set aside our subtle “denominational” differences and practice this? That can seem like a daunting task!  Meanwhile, as Barnabas and Saul are out doing their thing, James and Peter find themselves in a precarious situation. Herod has James, brother of John, put to death and Peter is arrested. Peter was imprisoned, guarded by four squads of soldiers, and bound with chains. (12:4). Interestingly, even when they were being arrested and tourtered for the cause of Christ, Christians never used any force or violence in their own defense. They fled if necessary and prayed for God’s help. But they never sought to harm those who persecuted them. Imagine the resiliency and fortitude it took to adhere to that? How would you react if someone were to persecute you because of your belief in Jesus?

 

{tuesday 6.2.20}

Read Acts 12:6-19

Observe, Reflect, Apply: James has been executed by Herod and Peter is in prison bound by chains, and being guarded by soldiers. He is not going anywhere. This probably is not what Peter had in mind or would have chosen. I cannot imagine how dreadful that would have been to go through. As Peter is sleeping, an angel struck his chains, awoke him, and told him to get dressed and follow him. I find it interesting that while in prison on the very night of his impending execution, Peter slept so soundly that he had to be forcibly awakened by an angel. I do not think I would be able to sleep in that situation. Peter obeyed, following the angel. He thought it was a vision he was seeing. Imagine being in Peter’s position and having this all happen so fast. It is not surprising that one would have doubts about the reality of it all. Peter arrives at the house of Mary. At first, they did not believe it was him. It seems rather ironic that the were continuously praying for him, yet when he arrived, they doubted. Have you ever found yourself in a situation like this? Why is doubt such a natural reaction to things that are hard to believe?

 

{wednesday 6.3.20}

Read Acts 12:20-13:7

Observe, Reflect, Apply: As I read this portion of the text, I cannot help but think of any of the old episodes of South Park cartoon where Kenny gets killed. That imagery might seem strange and comical, but it is true. How odd would it be to see someone immediately struck down, eaten by worms and die, as described in these passages? I guess drastic times call for drastic measures. Events of this magnitude do not happen very often today. But we, as sinners, still have the potential and capacity to become like Herod. He allowed people to treat him as if he were a god, not a man. Man must never be elevated to a position only God deserves.  I think the death of Herod served another purpose. After the defeat of this persecutor, the gospel was spread successfully. We find that multitudes of people were converted. So, whether in peace or persecution, God cares for His people so they can accomplish His work. What occurred in your life that caused you to believe and follow Jesus? Share your story with a friend, and ask to hear theirs.

 

{thursday 6.4.20}

Read Acts 13:8-20

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Paul and Barnabas were chosen by the Holy Spirit for special work. They have sailed to Cyprus where they encounter a city leader. The proconsul in the city was named Sergius Paulus was associated with a sorcerer. A proconsul was an official in the Roman government who had legal and military authority in a region subject to Rome. Political leaders in those days often consulted sorcerers or magicians to make decisions. Yet, he was a man of understanding and wanted to hear what Paul and Barnabas had to say. Do you know anyone like a proconsul with a position of power or influence? What if he or she came to you and simply asked about Jesus? How would you respond? Sergius-Paulus appeared to be willing to learn about the Gospel and to seek Jesus. If you were in that situation, would you consider that an opportunity or an obstacle? Also, we find Paul firmly rebuked the sorcerer, who was determined that the proconsul not accept the Gospel.  So, Paul struck him blind. Wow, go Paul! When you rebuke, it is not usually pleasant, but it is commanded. Do you know anyone who openly opposes the gospel or tries to interfere with the sharing of the Gospel? Instead of striking them blind, how can you pray for that person?

 

{friday 6.5.20}

Read Acts 13:20-33

Observe, Reflect, Apply: This passage shows the cleverness of Paul. This is an opportunity, or an “ah-ha” moment for him. He is now addressing the Jewish people. Paul goes through most of the Jewish history to show how the Old Testament fulfilled the coming of Jesus. Paul continued addressing these descendants of Abraham by affirming that the message of the prophesied Christ, who would bring salvation, had been sent to the very people whom he was addressing! They were descendants of the very nation that Christ had been promised to come from, in the promise made to Abraham. I think Paul was smart with this strategy. He realized the implications this could have. The Jewish people knew the prophecies that were made and now the blessing promised had been made available to them. Paul gives another proof of Jesus’ claim: fulfilled prophecy! Have you ever stopped to think about the apostles in the early days of the church? They were real people with struggles yet, they found a way to reach out and connect with people in many ways.  They were clever, strong, adaptable, and smart. When I think about them, I appreciate their abilities and resiliency. This was all apart of God’s plan. How can we be more resilient in our faith and in sharing the impact Jesus has made on us?

 

{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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