{December 5, 2021}

Heartland Community Church



By Allison Antrim

I don’t know about you, but I can hardly believe it’s December and that Christmas will be here in just a few short weeks. I always try to let Thanksgiving have its moment, so I just started listening to my Christmas playlist last Wednesday. I have several favorite Christmas songs that I love to listen to year after year (and I must say, like Kristin, that I also have a perpetual distaste for Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” – you will never find it on my Spotify!).

However, in addition to my perennial favorites, every year I find a song or two that settles on me and pulls at me with its lyrics. As I began incorporating gentle Christmas songs into the bedtime routine for my baby girl last week, I suddenly found myself singing “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” to help her fall asleep. One verse in particular has been circling in my head over the past few days: 

And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,

Whose forms are bending low,

Who toil along the climbing way

With painful steps and slow,

Look now! for glad and golden hours

come swiftly on the wing.

O rest beside the weary road,

And hear the angels sing!

It’s interesting that this is the song that has settled on me this year, when things are going well in my world and I’m not finding it particularly difficult to make room for joy. But I know there will be hard times ahead where I will feel “life’s crushing load” taking up too much space. Even then, like James says, I can “consider it pure joy…whenever [I] face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2). Why is that? Because I can look back on what God did on that very first Christmas, when He sent His only Son to be born and die for our sins. And I can look ahead to the promise of His return, when He will make all things right. This is the joy Kristin was talking about, the kind that stays in the heart no matter the circumstances. As Christmas draws near, let us make room for joy and have the eyes to see what good things God is up to.


{sunday 12.5.21}

Read James 1:2-4

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Faith and endurance go hand-in-hand with troubles and . . . joy? In these verses we are encouraged to find joy in the hard patches and rough roads we may find ourselves traveling. Joy in pain? Joy in loss? Joy in struggle? Getting there takes practice, as we learn to look for and invite Jesus into our circumstances. The practice of looking for him in all things helps build our faith muscles, which increases our endurance, which will lead us toward joy. Where have you found joy in hardship? If you are traveling through a hard season now, we would love to pray for you/with you. You can send a prayer request to us on Instagram or Facebook as a DM (@hccks). Or you can send via our prayer form HERE.


{bible reading plan}

By Allison Antrim

{monday 12.6.21}

Read Luke 1:26-38

Observe, Reflect, Apply: How overwhelming it must have been for Mary, an ordinary girl going about her ordinary day, to have a sudden encounter with one of God’s angels and hear him say, “…you have found favor with God” (v. 30). No clear details are given to indicate what Mary had done for God to esteem her so highly. However, her conversation with the angel Gabriel may hold a clue. She asks one question of the angel after he tells her that she will give birth to a baby boy that she is to name Jesus: “How will this be…since I am a virgin?” (v. 34). After Gabriel gives Mary the briefest of explanations, she responds by saying, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be done to me according to your word” (v. 38). Confronted with a life changing and outrageous situation, Mary’s response implies humble obedience and total trust in the God she serves. Put yourself in Mary’s shoes. How would you have responded? This week, how can you emulate Mary’s obedience and trust in God?

{tuesday 12.7.21}

Read Luke 1:39-45

Observe, Reflect, Apply: As soon as she can, Mary’s off to visit Elizabeth, the only person in her life who could possibly understand what just happened in yesterday’s verses. The baby in Elizabeth’s womb recognizes the future mother of the Son of God and leaps for joy, causing Elizabeth to be filled with the Holy Spirit and proclaim, “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” (v. 45). It seems that Elizabeth, through the Holy Spirit, is confirming what the angel Gabriel said, that Mary had found favor with God because she believed that He would do what He said he would do. Which of God’s promises in the Bible are you waiting to see come true in your own life? What would it look like for you to believe that He will fulfill those promises?

{wednesday 12.8.21}

Read Luke 1:46-55

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Mary’s song proclaims the amazing deeds God has performed in the past and the constancy of His character. In verses 48, 50, and 55, Mary references “generations,” “descendents,” and “ancestors” in order to show how far into the past – and the future – God’s goodness extends. She contrasts what God has done for the humble and the proud; not only has God “been mindful of the humble state of His servant [Mary]” (v. 48) in the present, but He has a long history of lifting up the humble and taking down the proud (v. 51-52). He has shown mercy to those who put their faith in Him (v. 50-55). Why do you think Mary was moved to sing this song? Look back on your own life.How does your soul “glorify the Lord” for what He has done for you?

{thursday 12.9.21}

Read Luke 2:1-7

Observe, Reflect, Apply: The NIV describes the incredible moment that the God of heaven stepped into time, arriving on earth as a little baby boy, in just seven straightforward sentences. Three pieces of evidence appear that show Jesus is the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament:

  • He was born of a virgin (Is. 7:14)

  • He was a descendent of King David (2 Sam. 7:12–13)

  • He was born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)

However, as exciting as the fulfillment of these prophecies are, what stands out is the final verse. Mary and Joseph seemingly find themselves welcoming the son of God alongside livestock, as the text says “she wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, as there was no guest room available for them” (v. 7). An animal feed trough was the crib for the Savior of the world. Why do you think Jesus arrived in such a way as this? What does it tell you about Him?

{friday 12.10.21}

Read Luke 2:8-20

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Does anyone else read this passage and hear Linus from A Charlie Brown Christmas, quoting the verses as evidence of what Christmas is really about? It’s a familiar part of the Christmas story, where the first guests to visit the baby Jesus are lowly shepherds startled by angels. Here the importance of how Mary handled Jesus after his birth is made clear, as a “baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger” (v. 16) is the sign for the shepherds. They come to see Him and spread the word as far as they can, glorifying God as they do so. When was the last time something happened to you that was so exciting you just had to tell everyone about it? What might happen if you talked about Jesus with that same level of excitement?

{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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© 2021 Heartland Community Church

12175 S Strang Line Road, Olathe, KS 66062

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