{December 20, 2020}

Heartland Community Church



LOOKING BACK: Faithful or Foolish?

By Meghan Hemenway

Wouldn’t it be easier to be faithful if we could see the result of that commitment right now? If we knew that our faithfulness would lead to the desired conclusion, the self-doubt and the questions from others wouldn’t hold the same weight as they do when we only have unknowns. But, if we did know the end, if the path was clear, we wouldn’t need to be faithful. We wouldn’t need to be loyal and steadfast. It is the faithfulness, the challenge of remaining steadfast in the unknowns, that strengthens us to endure the journey and softens us to recognize the joy breadcrumbs along the path.

In Matthew 1:18-25 we see Joseph take the remarkable step of faith to believe and follow what the angel told him to do in his sleep. He decided to remain married to Mary and raise a child that was not his. He decides to be loyal to God and Mary even when he surely would be ridiculed or at least whispered about for perhaps the rest of his life. He was steadfast in his trust of a prophecy he received in a dream even when explaining this to friends and family would most likely make them question his sanity. But with such mercy, God did not require Joseph to be faithful without reward. As Joe pointed out this morning, we can imagine that Joseph was rewarded with years and years of intimate, one-on-one time with his son, the father of the universe. No one else had this relationship with Jesus – to be the father, protector, counselor to the one who would become this for all nations. Joseph’s faithfulness made him strong to withstand criticism and doubt and soften him to relish the small daily joys of raising this child.

I have been in a place of what I hope is faithfulness and not foolishness, but I too won’t know until I have the privilege of making it through this and looking back. My joy breadcrumbs have been seeing how God unfolds his plans through relationships. The sweet moments I have had with friends and family this year have encouraged me to stay steadfast. God has a plan. Knowing the end of that plan is not my part. Learning to be faithful and steadfast is my part, and God, in his mercy, doesn’t really make me wait until the end to see the fruit. He leaves breadcrumbs of joy all along the way.


{sunday 12.20.20}

Read Lamentations 3:16-24

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Lamentations 3 shows a person who has endured great suffering. So much so that they begin to lose hope and doubt their ability to remain faithful, but the knowledge of God’s faithfulness renews their hope. God asks us to be steadfast, but he does not ask us to do what he hasn’t already done himself. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.” How does God’s endurance and faithfulness bolster your faithfulness in time of doubt? How have you seen his faithfulness in your life or in the lives of those around you?


{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 Meghan Hemenway

{monday 12.21.20}

Read Isaiah 9:1-7

Read, Ponder, Pray: In these verses we see the people’s deep desire for rescue and the answer that will come. The promise of a savior – a wise counselor, Mighty God, a protector, and a ruler who would bring peace – who would come as a newborn child. I am not sure how the first people to receive this information could comprehend this. The answer to their strife and struggles was an infant? Believing this promise takes trust. It takes faith. What promise from God do you wrestle with or struggle to believe?

{tuesday 12.22.20}

Read Luke 1:57-80

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Much like Mary in the previous verses, Luke 1:46-56, when Zechariah is finally able to speak after the birth of his son, John the Baptist, his first words are to bless the Lord. These people, Elizabeth, Mary, and Zechariah, were at the center of God’s promise to save the world through an infant. The women felt the life growing inside them and Zechariah, who had questioned how he and his wife could have a baby at their age, was granted nine months of silence to grow in his trust and understanding of God’s ability to fulfill a promise. They saw that they were just a part of God’s plan to bring mercy, light, and peace to the world, but were overwhelmed with awe and gratitude to be part of the plan. What in your life gives you a sense of awe and wonder?

{wednesday 12.23.20}

Read Luke 2:1-20

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Here we see the birth of Jesus and the shepherds visited by an angel. This is a story most of us know well. Mary and Joseph returning to Bethlehem, Jesus being laid in a manger, and the shepherds coming in from the fields to witness what the angels had told them. Two things stand out to me: The symbolism and the familiarity of the stable for the shepherds, and the reaction of Mary. Having the heavens open and angels singing in the middle of a dark field had to be terrifying for the shepherds. But then the prophesy that they went to see was simple, humble, and familiar. The baby Jesus was among farm animals in a setting the shepherds would have been comfortable. They would become messengers of the good news, so in his mercy God gives them something familiar and honoring – this child would be a shepherd, too, like them. God gave them an incomprehensible idea in a way that they could understand. Then there is Mary’s reaction. She treasured these things and pondered them in her heart. I can only imagine that she was sitting back and realizing that she was going to see God’s plan unfold in thousands of creative and unexpected steps. I imagine she didn’t want to forget a single moment. How do you see God’s plan unfolding both unexpectedly and familiarly in your life? How can you treasure and ponder these moments?

{thursday 12.24.20}

Read John 1:1-18

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Light is a such a beautiful gift. So simple and yet something we all long to have. In the cold, dark winter months, we wait for the sun to rise and anxiously await the turning point when the daylight hours start to increase again. In seasons of unknown, we pray for light to shine so we can see what lies ahead. John grew up knowing that he would be a mirror of light. He would bring light to people, but only a fraction of what Jesus would bring. John seemed to be very clear about his mission and comfortable with it. He was not the main event, but humbled and privileged to be the opening act. We are all called to shine a light into a dark world. Where and to who are you called to shine that light?

{friday 12.25.20}

Read Luke 2:21-40

Observe, Reflect, Apply: The Holy Spirit’s presence is clear all throughout the chapters of Luke. Luke points us to its presence in his retelling of these events. Elizabeth and Zechariah feel it through the prophecy and birth of their son John the Baptist; Mary and Joseph feel it with the prophecy of their son Jesus; it is present when the two babies in their mother’s wombs come near to each other. In these verses we read that the Holy Spirit is upon a man named Simeon. He was waiting to see the promise that God would rescue his people, the Israelites. When he saw the baby Jesus with his parents he knew that this was what he had been waiting for. He would not see the end of the plan, the rescue of his people, but because of the Holy Spirit in him, he knew his part in the plan had been fulfilled. He blessed Mary, Joseph, and their son and encouraged them that their son was the savior God had promised. The Holy Spirit moved in each of these people, maybe as a way to encourage them to keep following and trusting God. How have you felt the Holy Spirit move in your life? What signs do you have that he is speaking to you?


{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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