{December 6, 2020}

Heartland Community Church



LOOKING BACK: The Grinch and the Wisemen

By Bill McMurtrey

The Grinch who stole Christmas. Wow what a way to start the day. I smiled so big it didn’t feel real. I am a big Dr. Seuss fan . . . even have one wall in my living room dedicated to Dr. Seuss. Placards with sayings, a couple of paintings, and a framed picture of me with the 2nd grade class I am a reading tutor for, all wearing Dr. Seuss hats for National Reading Day last year.

Last year . . . it just dawned on me that I had to say that. 2020 has not been kind to anyone. Volunteering twice a week as the reading tutor is something I do to help my community. It was a constant . . . show up every Tuesday and Thursday from 11:30 until 12:30. Second graders are typically about 8 years old. At that age they are starting to form their own opinions, and yet they are still little sponges taking in every single word you say and everything that you do. With the changes that COVID brought, that is on hold for now. 

We all have had to make changes this year, no one is impervious. I’ve always taught my own kids there are 3 things that I never want them to forget:  

1st: God will never forsake them.

2nd: Regardless of what transpires, I will always have their backs.

3rd: Life is 10% what happens to us, 90% how we react to it.

2020 is testing the "90% how we react" in all of us. For me, one of my greatest concerns is not the fear of contracting COVID, but rather people (self included) not growing closer to God during this time. We know fewer people are attending church (in-person or online) not only here in Kansas City but across the globe. On one hand, social distancing prevents us, or limits our time in crowds. Very valid. However, gyms, restaurants, malls are back to pretty full most of the time. 

Our church has taken every imaginable step possible to make gathering in person as safe as possible. Seats are distanced apart at 30% capacity, everyone is masked, sanitizer is everywhere. The "food room" where we would all break bread, literally, is closed. They livestream both services, and have a team of folks engaging in connection, prayer and worship through live chat and in our Virtual Hub after service. If you are at high risk you need to take every precaution necessary. My prayer for us all is that we would not withdraw from God, from community, from church, but would take extra steps to make sure we stay connected and growing in Jesus. Is it harder . . . absolutely. But nothing is too big for God . . . not even 2020. He will not forsake us. He has our backs . . . how are we handling our reaction?

“I am the Lord, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me?" Jeremiah 32:27

Christmas time is here. That time of the year we say, "Jesus is the reason for the season."  When we go searching for God, and we become bringers of gifts to others. We seek and offer joy. God doesn’t just want us to go to him this time of year. Good, bad, high or low. God wants us to come to him all the time. 

Seeking God is giving him our love, our hopes, our fears, our tears, our time, our treasures, our talents and all that we battle. And when we do, we become gift bringers to God himself. Let’s up our "90%" reaction to all the hard of 2020, and find time to connect online, in-person, over coffee or text or phone. Just as God is for us, let’s be for Him and for one another.


{sunday 12.6.20}

Read Matthew 2:10-11

Observe, Reflect, Apply: How can you, like the wise men, follow or notice joy in the moment? How might you be a seeker of God this Christmas? And how (be sure to think beyond the presents and bows) can you be a bringer of gifts this year?


{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 Brooke Hodnefield

{monday 12.7.20}

Read Matthew 2:13-21

Read, Ponder, Pray: ‘Get up,’ he said. How direct is that? An angel of the Lord instructed Joseph in a dream, exactly what he was to do, where he was to go, and with whom. I don’t know about you, but I love specificity. I love to know what is required of me and what the path ahead of me looks like – and I especially love a plan. God may not be pointing you towards your next assignment as specifically as He did in this scenario with Joseph, but we can still glean a next step. He simply said, ‘Get up.’ There was movement required, an action. It’s not often that the path before us is utterly clear, so what might be the small step to starting for you? What is required of you today, that it is an act of faith to get up, and take one step closer to where God might be leading?

{tuesday 12.8.20}

Read Hosea 11:1-11

Observe, Reflect, Apply: God’s love for us is infinite. Regardless how unruly, defiant and disobedient we are, He pursues us, relentlessly. Do you ever feel you’ve fallen too far, done something to sever that direct connection to your Heavenly Father? That sounds about right. Israel has also been there, as God shares in verse seven of this passage, ‘My people are determined to turn from me.’ We are birthed from systematic sin that continues to plague our humanness. ‘For I am God, and not man – the Holy One among you.’ BUT, we can rest in God’s love because He can be trusted as our redeemer, our restorer, our rock and our refuge. We can continue to return to Him, despite how fallen we feel we are. Shed light on the darkness you are holding within – He already knows it’s there and is ready to relinquish it’s stronghold over you.

{wednesday 12.9.20}

Read Revelation 12:1-17

Observe, Reflect, Apply: This story depicts a woman on the run, ‘clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head.’ ‘An enormous red dragon with seven heads and seven crowns on his head’ was after her. Though you might be envisioning a scene from Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings in this final book of the Bible, a theme is emerging. ‘The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God…’ (verse 6) and not only had God prepared a place for her, but he equipped her for the journey, ‘The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her..’ (verse 14) Stop for a moment to look back. Often we can’t see God’s faithfulness while IN the storm, but it’s not until after we’ve been through it. What storm have you weathered, where you can now see God’s preparation and equipping you for the seemingly treacherous situation you would be experiencing? Remember, and give thanks that He was right there with you.

{thursday 12.10.20}

Read Jeremiah 31:1-25

Observe, Reflect, Apply: ‘Just as I watched over them to uproot and tear down, and to overthrow, destroy and bring disaster, so I will watch over them to build and to plant.’ (verse 28) This year has been one of hardship. Much more tearing down, uprooting and destroying has taken place than building and planting. But what I’m reminded of in this passage about our past descendants of Israel, is that this is not new to our Lord. This scene that is described is not surprising, nor is it too much for Him to recover from. And He demonstrates this over and over again through the ages. He is with us in the pain and confusion of this season just as present as He will be as we transition out of this and rebuild. He watched over them then, and He will watch over us now. In a world of instability, He is stable. When we don’t know who to trust, we can trust Him. Be reminded this day that He is on the throne and reigns over all.

{friday 12.11.20}

Read Zechariah 9:9-17

Observe, Reflect, Apply: ‘It is important to stop and celebrate.’ These were the words spoken to me by a wise mentor of mine, when I was in my early 20’s serving as a missions director at a local church. I had bountiful energy and capacity to take on the world. I was naive, and I was plowing ahead, forging ground. I was far too busy to stop and take note of the people, the faces, the quiet gifts along the way. I eventually learned that one simply can’t operate at that pace, nor would God call us to. We must stop and rejoice, shout with joy, for the Lord’s goodness is real. We are offered the opportunity to not only celebrate, but to share that good news, to encourage and inspire joy in others, as we are blessed along the journey. Who needs to be encouraged today? How can you offer hope today to someone who might need to hear good news?


{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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