{July 19, 2020}

Heartland Community Church





By Lisa Zulke

My word of the year for 2020, discovered through prayer and journaling in December 2019, is endurance. Nobody can tell me God doesn’t have a sense of humor, in hindsight. But also, an incredible desire to prepare us.

I found this process of asking God what he would have me focus on and grow in each year gives imagery and form to life. It has helped me grow deeper roots, and explore what his word says about each lesson. It has allowed me a framework to listen for and give access to his sharpening, refining, teaching and encouraging spirit in me.

This is the second time the word he has given has been one that I wasn’t really excited about, that I searched for synonyms and antonyms to go a slightly different direction on. Because, surely I am not hearing you correctly, God?

My first fear of endurance as a focus was that he might be preparing me to face a health challenge, or a loved ones health challenge. Really would rather not, please. My second was that he might be fast tracking my declaration to run “one more marathon” in this life to replace the suffer-fest of my 6th marathon and remind me that I can do hard things. Yes, but…I wasn’t necessarily thinking this year for that goal, God.

Have you ever tried to talk God out of something? Yep, he didn’t move. So, endurance is my focus. Then March arrived, and the beginning of our first shelter-at-home period. Work from home, quarantine if exposed, safe hours for shopping if your health is compromised, curbside carryout, local spirit distillers making gallon jugs of hand sanitizer, rubber gloves, 6, 8 or 10’ of social distance depending on what you are doing, limit time indoors with people who aren’t family, and face masks required. All things that I will gladly do to protect you from me, and to protect myself from further lung damage. Love my neighbor has taken on so many new meanings in this year.

Today in the second service, Nick shared the verse that God gave me as my focus with the word “Endurance”. God loves to remind us of what He has already told us, doesn’t he? It is a beautiful image of what faith lived following Jesus leads us to, and the incredible joy that is ours in knowing we are his followers, his children. It is also an incredibly challenging training ground for my heart, mind, body and soul.

“But that’s not all! Even in times of trouble we have a joyful confidence, knowing that our pressures will develop in us patient endurance. And patient endurance will refine our character, and proven character leads us back to hope. And this hope is not a disappointing fantasy, because we can now experience the endless love of God cascading into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who lives in us!” Romans 5:3-5

We start with HOPE, which is expressed by being joyfully confident despite our trials. We begin to develop patient endurance, which refines our character, and then leads us back to HOPE. HOPE provides the bookends, the mountains on either side of the valley. But oh, that valley. It is what requires the endurance. Our trials lie there, greeting us at every turn. I am refined in my inner world (thoughts, emotions, physical reactions that I hide) while also being refined outwardly (words I speak, emotions that overflow, physical reactions like fight or flight). Refining happens by fire. It involves both the melting, removal of the bad elements, and reforming into something new. Refining is a hot, noisy, messy, painful process. But on the other side, I am renewed. I have new strength, with the impurities taken out of my heart and mind. I have new purpose, as I’ve been shaped in preparation for something God will reveal.

Endurance means “the ability or strength to continue or last, especially despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions.” 2020 is proving itself to be all of that and more. WE get the opportunity, WITH God and his Spirit flowing through us, to BE all of that and more. Because of his endless love for me, I have the ability to endure…with his Spirit in me, I have the strength to push past fatigue, stress and adversity.

Whew…I feel stretched to breaking between holding tight to hope, and letting go. I am entirely “helpless, weak and powerless to save (myself)” as Romans 5:6 says. This endurance is one that is being refined and made within me. This endurance is one I didn’t know I needed in December 2019. And at least once a week, it is one I bang my fist on the table over, and demand a better way from God. Am I at the “do the next right thing” stage? Or am I at the “cut the anchors, and let go of the ship” stage? It would seem they require a different next step, a different posture, a something I cannot muster on my own.

Friends have described me as having this weird ability to see what is ahead…as if I’m in the crow’s nest of the ship, and can see what we are about to face. These friends often rely on my ZPS (Zulke positioning system) to navigate without a map, to find a way. I love way finding. It comes naturally, and I am comfortable in unknown places because I have this sense of where I am in space, and where I need to be next.

I don’t have that in 2020. God is firing, skimming off, pounding and reshaping. It is both encouraging and painful…and so I hope. And I endure, through the one my hope is in. May we fix our eyes on the God who formed us, may we hope in Jesus, who gave his life for us, and may we be filled with joy and courage through his Spirit as it fills and guides us.


{sunday 7.19.20}

Read Romans 5: 1-6 TPT

Observe, Reflect, Apply: How is God forming you in 2020? What are your strategies for pursuing hope and endurance? How can you increase your WIFI signal to hear his Spirit guiding and leading you specifically? Praying for each of us this week, as we are refined, grown, and given hope!


{bible reading plan: acts of the apostles}

By Brooke Hodnefield

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 7.20.20}

Read Acts 24:17-27

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Seed planting. This was what Paul was doing. He was imprisoned, yet spared no time in continuing to share about a life lived believing in God. Felix was so intrigued by this that he included his wife in the conversation. Once it got real, and Paul spoke of self-control and judgement, Felix became frightened. He didn’t like what he heard at that point, so he sent him away. What I love about this story is that it reminds me that we are seed planting. Every interaction we have is an opportunity to place a seed in the life of another. We don’t know how many seeds have already been planted, or how few, but we can pray that whatever encouragement, hope or light we have to bring might sprout within the heart of someone who needs it. That they might experience a brush with Jesus in whatever seed you have left behind. Think of someone in your life who does this well. Someone who leaves you better. Then tell them! Intentionally be aware as you move through your day, how you might leave a seed of hope with someone who needs it.  


{tuesday 7.21.20}

Read Acts 25:1-15

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Festus has a new job. He succeeds Felix as governor, and Paul’s undetermined case is one of his first big projects. He hadn’t even been to his new home yet when the Jewish leadership meets Festus in Jerusalem and asks that he bring Paul from Caesarea—their purpose being to ambush Paul and kill him on the way. As stated in a piece about Festus’s role in this particular passage, ‘Festus could see the charges against the apostle were specious but, wanting to have a good relationship with his new people, asks Paul to go to Jerusalem and stand trial. This would benefit Festus in two ways: he would get on the good side of the Jewish leadership, and he could move the venue of the trial so he wouldn’t have to deal with it. Paul politely tells Festus that, as Caesar’s representative, Festus needs to either make a fair decision or let him make his case before Caesar.’  In what way can you relate to Festus, walking into a situation as the ‘new guy/gal’ and having to immediately speak to your allegiance or offer wisdom? Where do you draw your source of strength?


{wednesday 7.22.20}

Read Acts 25:16-26:1

Observe, Reflect, Apply: How often do we build up a case in our head, adding details, color and our own perspective, without truly investigating it and sorting through the facts. It’s easy to embellish or manipulate what is in our head to fit what we want it to look like. We all have a lens from which we view things. It is informed by our past, our story, experiences we have had, the home we grew up in, the injustices and grief we’ve experienced and situations that have allowed us to test our lens. My lens often lends itself to expectations that I harbor and build in my mind, yet don’t share. I can have a bar set in my mind for someone else, yet I don’t articulate this, nor is it even a realistic expectation!  My family often becomes the receivers of this, as I think they should ‘know’ what I mean or just naturally ‘get’ the expectations I’ve set. I’ve learned that just because we are who we are, doesn’t mean we get to rest comfortably in that place. God desires for us to grow, to learn, to be open and pliable. What clouds your lens most frequently? Do you have a recurring pattern that might need attention? 


{thursday 7.23.20}

Read Acts 26:2-27

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Paul finally has the floor to state his journey, to share the facts to an audience who is willing to listen. What I love about his bold proclamation is that it demonstrates the freedom we can experience through Christ. He doesn’t sugar coat any part of his life. The part in which he, personally, persecuted people in opposition to Jesus. He spoke of the hate he harbored in his heart. But what he shared was a redemption story, one in which God interceded in a broken and angry life to completely turn Paul’s life in a different direction. God offered a miracle intervention in Paul’s life that left him changed and on a very different path. As Paul states in verse 25, ‘What I am saying is the sober truth.’ His journey wasn’t without conflict, pain, anger and brokenness, but he can freely rest in his new identity in Christ. Our own lives may or may not be as conflicted as Paul’s, but we can all relate to times in which we weren’t our best selves, but it is never too late. God is always aching for us to turn away and turn towards Him, despite the shame and guilt we might feel. Do you have a Saul to Paul conversion story? A time in which God’s hand was clearly evident? Think over this today and be reminded of his faithfulness. If you are needing a road to Damascus change, ask for God to be ever-present today in the places you are most hurt. 


{friday 7.24.20}

Read Acts 26:28-27:8

Observe, Reflect, Apply: ‘Paul replied, “Whether quickly or not, I pray to God that both you and everyone here in this audience might become the same as I am, except for these chains.”’ Whether quickly or not…this brief phrase is a great reminder of the timeline that we live through and on, but is not our own. Endurance is needed while being patience, persistence is required when the drive peeters out. Some days it is easier to wait, other days it is unbearable. When we are in the thick of uncertainty we crave a path that is concrete and clear AND, one that is in our desired time-frame. But God reminds us in Passion Translation of Proverbs 16:9, ‘Within your heart you can make plans for your future, but the Lord chooses the steps you take to get there.’ What are you waiting on? What is heavy on your heart, left unresolved in a timely way? Share those and ask God to give you peace where you need it most.


{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.


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© 2020 Heartland Community Church

12175 S Strang Line Road, Olathe, KS 66062

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