{November 29, 2020}






Heartland Community Church


THE JOURNEY

 

Love Always Hopes

By Meghan Hemenway

When my oldest son was little I would ask him what he talked about in kid’s church. Every Sunday he would say, “Jesus. Always Jesus.” He wasn’t wrong. This year as almost everything constant, secure, and seemingly unchangeable proved to be the opposite of that, I started to tell my kids that the message of every story we read in the Bible could be summarized in one word: Love. If the ground was going to shake and crumble everywhere we stepped, I would give them a firm and secure truth – everything God does is from love. Today Dylan Mortimer added another layer to that simple message: Love always hopes. Where Jesus is involved, hope is always invited in.

Hearing an update on life and hope from Dylan was a gift and getting to see him in his studio surrounded by his art was another gift. If you didn’t get a chance to watch his sermon, do it sometime this week. (CLICK HERE to view.) One of Dylan’s pieces of art is an image of himself laid on the operating table during a lung transplant. It is titled, Like the Ceiling Can’t Hold Us, and draws to mind the story of the man being lowered through the roof to see Jesus. This is my seven-year-old’s favorite Bible story. He can picture the action of the story – the breaking down of the roof, the struggle to lift and lower the man, and the shouts of people all around. When I asked him what else makes the story so good he said, “Those friends were so nice that they would do that for their friend. They knew what he needed and they knew Jesus could give it to him.” Isn’t that just a story of love? A story of love that is so big it hopes for a friend even when he can’t hope for himself?

Whatever our story is, we know what it is like to hope and to stop hoping. May we all be inspired today to keep hoping beyond reason because we know that God is always with us, and hope is always with him.

{sunday 11.29.20}

Read Romans 6:8-9

Observe, Reflect, Apply: We know that God sent Jesus to die for our sins. We know that our sins have been forgiven. We know that Jesus died and came back to life, defeating death. When you think of all that, what is there that can take away your hope? What feelings, challenges, or tragedies are blocking your view of God and hope? How can you hand these to God so you can hope again?

 

{bible reading plan: advent}

Advent is the four weeks leading up to Christmas, where Jesus followers for centuries have celebrated the arrival of Jesus in our world, fully human. We celebrate the themes of his life and God’s incredible gift to us…hope, peace, joy and love. As Dylan offered today, we each need a donor to provide what we cannot in our own lives. That donor, for all mankind, is Jesus. Join us in anticipation of his birth, in celebration of all he has done for us, and in the hope of the future he offers to those who follow him.

CLICK HERE to learn more about Advent from our friends at The Bible Project.

By Lisa Zulke

{monday 11.30.20}

Read Matthew 1:1-17

Read, Ponder, Pray: I’ll be honest . . . for years as I speed read through these verses each Christmas, they have inspired little. Little awareness, little understanding, little hope. A biblical scholar, I am not. I learned long ago that I resonate with a visual God, as I encounter signs and wonders from him in every human, in every bit of nature, in every wide open space I’ve had the joy to experience. This year the meaning seems to leap off the page . . . perhaps because I’ve needed so much in 2020 to see the thread of connection and purpose between all things, through all of time . . . in order to hold on to hope. Matthew intentionally begins here with Jesus’ family lineage so that we might see the story of Jesus anchored in the story of all things, from the beginning, in Genesis, to the arrival of Jesus, and on to our lives today. As you read, invite God to show you the link, from beginning to end, from his creation of the world, to his creation of you. Now THAT is a story full of hope!

{tuesday 12.1.20}

Read Isaiah 7:1-17

Observe, Reflect, Apply: In these passages, Isaiah is sent to assuage the fear of the king. Even though nations are plotting together against him, God wants Isaiah to deliver a clear message: their plot will not succeed, and even better, God himself will send a sign, a baby named Immanuel . . . God with us. Their nations will crumble but, through Immanuel, yours will be sustained. Hope is about to arrive on the scene! This same prophecy, handed down over the years, is shared by an angel to Joseph as he explains Mary’s pregnancy. Consider what it means for you, for me, today that this is true. That God prepared and planned the birth of Jesus, to rescue us and give us hope and a future, all these years ago? Take some time today to consider all the ways God has woven his plan into your life’s story.

{wednesday 12.2.20}

Read Matthew 1:18-25

Observe, Reflect, Apply: This story is surreal as we read it today…imagine what Joseph thought in real time. What was his level of understanding of the Holy Spirit? Was it common to hear angels speak to you? I have so many questions. As I read these passages I am reminded of something Dylan Mortimer heard from God in a dream, "I want you to trust me more than you trust your own breath." This was THAT moment for Joesph. Nothing was as he expected. He was pondering a way out, one that would do as little harm as possible to his future wife. And God sent a message, "Trust me. I know this isn’t how you envisioned your marriage, your life. But I need you to trust me, even more than you trust your own plans." Just. Wow. There is a much bigger story at play here, and Joseph awakens and chooses to take part in it, to trust God. Joseph turned toward hope. Have you had a "trust me" moment with God? What was that like? Or, do you need a "trust me" moment with God? Invite him in, he will give you opportunity to stretch and meet him.

{thursday 12.3.20}

Read Micah 5:1-4

Observe, Reflect, Apply: I am struck with the image of this scene:

"And he will stand to lead his flock with the Lord’s strength,
    in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
Then his people will live there undisturbed,
    for he will be highly honored around the world."

Micah is speaking to a world much like ours, overcome with division, working to outdo one another, every human for him- or herself. He lets them know that Jesus is coming . . . the one who will stand and lead. Not his army, but his flock. A shepherd with the strength of God, the majesty of his name, and the love of his followers. They will live with Jesus in unity, love and peadce (undisturbed). My prayer is that, even in some small way, we Jesus followers can experience that unity, love and peace even now, in our time, through our relationships with one another and with a hurting world. Might you join me in that prayer of hope?

{friday 12.4.20}

Read Matthew 2:1-12

Observe, Reflect, Apply: The story begins with an ominous turn. King Herod is concerned for his power and control. The arrival of the prophesied king or ruler was happening, and you can almost hear the gears in his mind turning. The wise men who followed the star to worship this child, prophecy fulfilled, want only to follow that call and offer their gifts to the Messiah. An so they do. I love how, following a potentially disconcerting ask by Herod, they arrive in Bethlehem and are awestruck by the star resting over the manger. They respond with joy! They offer gifts of honor and thanks. Then they returned home on a safer route, responding to a nudge they received in a dream. Consider the last time you were awestruck. Filled with joy, to the point that you could only give thanks, for there were no other words. When was the last time you were filled with joy over an encounter with Jesus? I’ll admit that my walls are often high enough . . . I don’t always see it when it’s happening. Let’s pray this weekend for a softer posture, for eyes that look up, and around. For hearts that respond when he enters the scene in our lives. May we be filled with joy and awe this weekend.

 

{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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