{December 25, 2022}

Heartland Community Church


Longing and Peace

By Bill McMurtrey

How perfect is your life? Or, how perfect is your highligh reel? Like me, you probably have friends who you know in real life, but whose online presence shows only the most beautiful and perfectly fulfilled lives ever. For them every day is Christmas and every night is New Year’s Eve. Always the best of everything and never a thing out of place. That’s not me, that’s not my life. I’m guessing it’s not most of our lives.

My plan when I was younger was I would be married (I’m divorced), have lots of kids, and lots and lots of grandkids. Every Sunday would be filled with big family dinners, all working together on our family land, lots of love, laughter and life around the table. Kind of like "The Waltons" if you’re of age to remember that show. We’d be connected, cohesive. One for all and all for one. Family being the one.

Things didn’t work out for me that way. And that is okay. I’ve lived alone for many years now, it has some drawbacks now and then, but one perk is I’m never late for dinner! Things are a little different now. One of my grandsons lives with me in the summers and soon the other one will too.

Years ago I saw a need, I saw others that wanted connection, too. Not just casual relationships, but family connections with other believers. We as humans are built for that. God made us that way, to gather, live life’s trials and tribulations together, and give glory to him.

Ecclesiastes 4:9 says, "Two are better than one, because they have a reward for their toil…" After noticing and naming this need, I started having Heartland families to my home throughout the year for different cookouts, parties and events. Out of that has come some really great new family connections. It’s encouraging to hear from folks who have been over that this is how they met the Smiths or the Jones’ and now their kids go on playdates. Over the past three years, I’ve been honored to host 400+ of you to my home for paiting parties and a meal.

Life doesn’t always give us what we want, or dream of. But like that Christmas so long ago, when God came down as a baby (not what they were expecting or hoping for) and Jesus was born and walked among us, we get exactly what we need. I may not have the big giant family that I wanted when I was young, but what I do have is the big, giant family that God has gifted me. With God’s love and grace we have everything that we need.

Merry Christmas to all.


{Sunday, December 25}

Read Isaiah 9:6-7

Someday, a son of Eve will defeat the devil. Someday, a son of Judah will ascend the throne. Someday, a son of David will reign with justice. Someday, a son of Mary, a child of David, a child of Judah, a child of Eve, was born. Someday, the lion of Judah will triumph forever. This is the arc of Jesus’ story across the Bible. He arrived to fulfill God’s plan, and to meet all of our longings. As you read the verses, what longing can you connect to each name of Jesus/attribute mentioned here? How would you describe the longing in your life today? How would you voice your need to Jesus, to fulfill that longing?


{Monday, December 26}

Read Romans 13:1-7

I don’t know about yours, but in my family, there was a decision tree, a chain of command if you will. Whether we are referring to families, corporations, the government, or the kingdom of God, there is order. When we step outside that order, there are consequences. Have there been instances in your life when you departed from what you knew was right? When you operated outside the boundaries that were really set in place for your protection? When you did, what impact did that have on your relationship with your loved ones? How did that affect your relationship with God? What were the consequences and how long have they lasted?


{Tuesday, December 27}

Read Romans 13:8-14

I’m not too fond of debt. It sort of makes me nervous, big investments, big numbers, etc. I like the idea of not owing anything to anyone. But that’s not the complete message in this passage. The greatest commandment is this, that you love one another. Loving one another is the commission that takes a lifetime to live out. In what way are you fulfilling this command to love, in your home? In your workplace? In your church? Have you completed this commission that was given by Jesus? Or will it possibly take you a lifetime? 

{Wednesday, December 28}

Read Romans 14:1-23

If you and I go to ‘Jack Stack BBQ’ for lunch and your husband struggles with eating pork, is it ok for me to eat pork? Perhaps, but a better question would be, is that the best day for me to order a BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich? If we did sit down and break bread, the meal would be a great deal more beneficial if I met your husband where he is at. Instead of spending our time quarreling about who is right. This and many other points we’d like to wrestle out, could be identified as disputable matters. Have you ever witnessed an argument over a disputable matter? Did it cost a friendship? Did it separate a marriage? Did someone walk away from their faith? ‘Instead, make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification.’ Did Jesus spend his life on earth arguing his point of view, or did his life point us to God? How can you win those around you, whether in conversation or in action?


{Thursday, December 29}

Read Romans 15:1-13

In this chapter, Paul changes our concepts of strength, versus weakness. How can we shift our mindset from putting the needs of others before our own, especially in our homes? Do we practice servant leadership outside our family, in our church, or even in our workplace? This year, how can I do this more effectively?


{Friday, December 30}

Read Romans 15:14-33

I loved science as a child. I had a great teacher in the 8th grade and, while I didn’t always understand everything he said, I did understand everything he demonstrated. It’s fairly easy to read or hear the word of God. Demonstrating God’s teaching in daily life is much more challenging. Let’s take grace for example. Helping a loved one realize and accept God’s grace for the first time is one of the most amazing pivot points one can be part of. Exercising grace in our daily relationship with a co-worker, a child, or a spouse, now that’s a new way to look at full-time ministry. Is it possibly easier to help minister to people you don’t know, than to minister to your own family? Not just in word, but in ‘deed?’


{Saturday, December 31}

Read Romans 16:1-27

I once loved an Appaloosa (horse) named Sheryl. Even though she
was immensely stronger than I at the great age of 15, with the slightest tug on a reign, she’d go wherever I asked, whenever I asked. Obedience was not given because she feared my foot in her side if she didn’t follow my instructions. Obedience was given because she loved to please me. Because she enjoyed being in right relationship with me. This is righteousness – it’s not something we earn, it’s something we are given. To be in right standing with God isn’t just a verdict, it’s a daily walk or expression of faith. Daily asking for Jesus’ mercy when we miss the mark. Daily seeking his mercy when we speak harshly to our children or slight a co-worker. Is there an area of your life that is constantly strained? Where the reigns are so tight that it seems perhaps something might break? Is it possible that applying pressure isn’t working? Instead, try applying mercy. It’s outcome may pleasantly surprise you. 


{extra journey resources}

CLICK HERE to visit The Bible Project site and explore their super simple, super informative Bible videos (and other resources). You can also download The Bible Project App HERE.

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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© 2022 Heartland Community Church

12175 S Strang Line Road, Olathe, KS 66062

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