{July 18, 2021}

Heartland Community Church


Ready For More Joy

By Lisa Zulke

Defiant Joy. That is what my faith story line is called. For me, it means that in the face of circumstances that contradict, I will defiantly choose joy. It is a vision statement. A declaration. I don’t always get there fast. I grouse and complain and lament what is not right in this world. And then this little voice in the back of my mind, in the tired corners of my heart, in the depth of my soul whispers, "Defiant joy."

I’ve always been slightly defiant. I’m blessed/cursed with this ability to sense what is not right with the world, what causes strife for others, what separates us from our shared humanity. And I want to stand up and change all the things! To remove all the pain. All the divisiveness. To fix all the broken things. To make us better humans. But I can’t. For a person who feels all those things, and sees a way through, "can’t" is painful.

So I choose defiance. Not on my watch. Let’s choose joy. Against all the things we can’t change, or can’t control. Defiant joy. Defiant means: full of or showing a disposition to challenge, resist, or fight. Seems contradictory to joy, doesn’t it? And yet, in this life, it is often defiant to choose joy. It takes resistance, the ability to challenge, to fight against the very things that would crush joy.

I love the contrast in defiant joy. Joy has been an elusive concept for me to grasp. Is it happiness? Not really. Might be, but I think it goes deeper than that. I know people who are full of joy in the hardest of times. Over the last two years, and many challenging situations in life, I’ve struggled with joy. I have not found it, in spite of, like these friends I see living joyfully in hard times. So I began praying about it. Inviting Jesus to teach me, to transform me, so that I might comprehend how to access that kind of joy. And as he does, when we tell him what we need and get out of the way, he gave me a passage:

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 TPT

I’ve been studying and praying about these verses. For two years. I’ve gained strength and patient endurance through this practice. And yes, that patient endurance has refined my character. It did so by giving me a question to ask when I am stuck. My question is, "What does this make possible?" Might seem silly, but it’s been a deeply profound practice. It shifts my thinking from what I lack. What at first blush I feel God hasn’t provided, to thinking on the magic of possibility. Jesus gave me a new lens to process hard times, disappointment, and failure through. And in so doing, he led me back to hope. I believe hope and joy go hand-in-hand. When I can find hope, possibility, white space to create, I can feel joy.

How about you? Where do you need Jesus to transform you? To "unstick" you? I’m praying for each of us this week, that we might find Jesus in our stuck places, and find a new perspective on joy.


{sunday 7.18.21}

Read Romans 5:3-5 TPT

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Do you find yourself in a stuck place? Where could you engage Jesus for transformation? Could be spiritual, social, emotional, intellectual, or physical. Where could you invite him to bring endurance, to redeem times of trouble, to refine you, to lead you back to hope?


{prayer for the week}

Join us this week in a shared community-wide prayer.

Jesus, we invite you to meet us in the places we are stuck. Meet us in the spaces of our lives that need your vision, your perspective, your transformation. Help us name where we have chosen a lesser joy, and help us be open to your hand renewing and transforming us. Bring us to an encounter of full joy, in the midst of our circumstances. Even in spite of them. Amen.


{bible reading plan}

By Marnie Vasquez

{monday 7.19.21}

Read Genesis 46:1-34

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Imagine getting direct messages from God. Telling you what you should do and what’s about to unfold in your life. What would that be like? Consider that as you read today’s passage. Consider what these direct messages would have meant to Jacob who had been separated from his son for years. Also think about all the different ways Jesus and the Holy Spirit communicate with you today, and how that’s different than it was in Jacob’s time.

{tuesday 7.20.21}

Read Genesis 47:1-31

Observe, Reflect, Apply: What if the United States experienced a famine for over a decade? And every household, every business, every single person went hungry with no food being able to be imported, bought, or grown? Seems implausible in our times, but what if that happened? Take a moment and image what that would be like. What would you do? What would you be willing to sell, give-up or do in exchange to be fed for you, your family, friends, coworkers? Keep that in mind as you read today’s scripture.

{wednesday 7.21.21}

Read Genesis 48:1-22

Observe, Reflect, Apply: What is a ‘blessing’? It’s used after someone sneezes, “God bless you.” Or you might hear it when a pastor baptizes a child. Can anyone give a blessing? Do they need to be authorized? What really is a blessing? In today’s scripture, Jacob’s blessings seem like promises from God about what is to come. And in the Old Testament, often it’s fathers who are about to die who give final blessings about how God’s work will continue through the family’s’ sons. This seems powerful. Yet, I haven’t seen blessings handled in that manner today, and am curious how blessings work today. How do you think they do?

{thursday 7.22.21}

Read Genesis 49:1-33

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Do you have siblings? If so, did you and they ever think your parents didn’t really know and see the real you? And are you a parent today? And if so, do you feel you have a good grasp on who your children are individually, their strengths and weaknesses? It’s an interesting dichotomy when the child becomes the parent. What’s impressive about today’s scriptures is the keen insight and understanding Jacob has over his twelve sons. I wonder if those sons ever thought, ‘but dad just doesn’t know how I am’, and if their thoughts changed based on Jacob’s last words to them.

{friday 7.23.21}

Read Genesis 50:1-26

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Siblings fight. A lot. And when there’s more than two, they gang up on each other and take sides. To help even the score or keep things fair, the kids will turn to their parents to referee. This has been happening since the beginning of humankind. We read about it again today in the last chapter of Genesis. But what happens when the parent is no longer around, or dies? Does the sibling feud continue? See what happens to Joseph (on one side) and his eleven brothers (on the other side) when Jacob, their father, dies.

{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 the free YouVersion Bible for your phone, tablet, or computer. Experience the Bible anywhere, with options to highlight, save notes, and share what you are reading with others.

The Bible App For Kids YouVersion partnered with OneHope to develop the Bible App for Kids, designing it specifically to engage children with Bible stories on an age-appropriate level. The Bible App for Kids is a free app for Android, Apple, and Kindle devices, available in over 60 languages.

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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12175 S Strang Line Road, Olathe, KS 66062

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