Psalms 127

Read:
Psalms 127:1

As many of you know, construction recently began on Heritage’s exterior. The new siding will not only enhance and update the look of our building, but will also provide greater protection against weather and deterioration. Thanks to the generosity of our church family, we are able to complete this project using cash. The faithfulness of those fulfilling FIXIT! pledges is amazing….we have nearly received all pledged funds! 

I think about the first part of today’s verse as the church building is being prepared and sided with more durable and longer lasting materials. “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” If you’ve been around Heritage any length of time, you know how God has shown himself many, many times throughout our church history. This current project is no different. Just like each of us, our exterior can be shiny, new, and stunning in our eyes and others, but if our heart and soul isn’t of God, our labor is in vain. Following Jesus requires our heart, mind, soul, and spirit to be “all in.” What’s exposed on the outside doesn’t matter all that much, Jesus is all about our interior.

While we are called to care for and treasure ALL that God has so generously given to us, we are commanded to continually work on our own interior, not just what others see on the outside. God sees our heart and longs for our entire being to love him and love others.

Question:
What can you do today to bring Jesus into the daily construction project of building your “house,” not just a physical structure, but including your heart, mind, soul, and spirit?

Miriam Angerer
Finance Director

Romans 8

Read:
Romans 8:26-27

It feels like the list of tragic events keeps piling up this year. Fires, floods and earthquakes around the world causing people to lose their homes and loved ones. Locust swarms affecting the food security of 25 million people. Overt and covert racism still rampant in our country, whether it makes the news or not. All the while we are affected daily by the virus we aren’t sure how to fight. 

I long for God’s provision and righteous hand to fix the mess 2020 feels like. I want to cry out to him in prayer, but I can’t find the words. 

“…The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” (Romans 8:26-27 NIV)

Wordless groans… sometimes that’s all there is. But God hears the Holy Spirit groaning, crying out for reconciliation and love, wisdom and strength. God and the spirit are so tight, so close-knit, that eloquent words aren’t necessary for intercession. Because we have the spirit inside of us, he intercedes for us in the perfect manner for the father to understand.

Question:
Have you sensed the Holy Spirit interceding for you in this season when you haven’t had the words to pray?  

Amber Scheidler
Coordinator – Women’s, Journey 50+, Children’s, 20 Somethings

Acts 2

Read:
Acts 2: 14-41

We as humans long to live a life of significance. We want our lives to count. We desire favor and blessing, for ourselves and for those who come after us. I believe that is one reason why so many people identify with the song “The Blessing” that recently swept the Christian world by storm. Powerful, anointed words that align with our deepest desires:

May his favor be upon you
And a thousand generations
And your family and your children
And their children, and their children

Great favor fell upon the early church. We read about its beginnings in Acts chapter 2 when Peter addresses the crowd after the Holy Spirit came. He recounted Israel’s history, how the prophets foretold the significance of that day, how Christ died on their behalf. His anointed words stirred the hearts of 3,000 souls that day to repentance and baptism.

The spirit of God still stirs hearts and brings his favor today. Peter’s words, “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off,” are for you and me and those we love. When we stay connected to Christ, our words and actions will impact those around us. Our prayers will be powerful and effective. Our impact will be significant, not only today, but for the generations to come.

May his favor be upon you!

Question:
Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of a time you made a difference in someone’s life. Allow that memory to spur you on to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24).

Linda Buchan
Coordinator – Volunteers, Marriage & Family, THG

Psalm 56

Read:
Psalm 56:8

Do you have a collection? Lots of people do. Some collections are valuable by anyone’s standards. Some, like mine hold no value, except to the collector. People collect all kinds of things: coins, cars, books, shoes, baby teeth, albums, etc. Me, I’m fascinated with such varieties of sand, dirt, rocks and shells. I’m amazed with our awesome creator whose imagination is limitless and makes fun, interesting, wonderful things full of color and texture because he can. My bottles filled with earth are reminders of meaningful events, places and special people I could tell you all about.

Of all the things, in all creation, that God could “collect,” Psalm 56:8 NLT says, you (God) keep track of all my sorrows, you have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.

Poetic language, perhaps, but hear your heavenly father’s heart. Your tears are so precious to him because they are yours. You matter! What touches your heart, hurts your heart matters deeply to him.

In, and out, of this season of pandemic, haven’t we all shed painful tears, tears of loss, tears of injustice, tears of frustration, tears of turmoil because something felt too big and mattered so much they simply couldn’t be stopped? God is not annoyed, uncomfortable, or irritated with you or your tears. He’s the father who says, I’m with you, present and knowing, full of compassion that can never be stopped, ever.

Question:
Are you heavy hearted? Cry out to him.

Zoe Hafner

Zoom

Will we ever think of “zoom” in the same way again? 

The word is described as “moving or traveling quickly.” In my broadcast days, we also used it to describe “a camera going from a long shot view to a closeup view,” or vice versa. Both perspectives are also true of Zoom, the web-based conferencing tool (I prefer “connection rock star technology”), which allows us to travel beyond our current human perspective and see into a whole new reality.

As impressed as we may be with Zoom, scripture would say it can also be “a type of shadow” (Colossians 2:17) illustrating a deeper spiritual truth, like Jesus said to observe the “birds of the air” (Matthew 6:26) to learn something greater.

The early church leaders modeled the practice of continually “zooming in and out” in order to help keep a balanced, heavenly perspective that will help us not be discouraged, distracted, or calloused to the events and people around us.  Zoom in: “Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God” (Romans 12:2).  Zoom out: “Our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed” (Romans 8:18).  Zoom in: “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season, correct, rebuke, and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2). Zoom out: “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord will award to me on that day” (2 Timothy 4:8).

Question:
How has the spirit of God and the word of God helped you to zoom in and out to keep a healthy, biblical perspective in these turbulent times?

John Buckles

Psalm 46

Read:
Psalm 46

Many, many years ago in a small town in Germany, a young thirty-something priest and college professor was facing some very uncertain times. He previously enjoyed the quiet life serving the Lord, teaching his classes, and writing his papers. Recently disgruntled with the church’s policy of allowing congregants to pay for sins with cash, he listed almost one hundred reasons why it was wrong and tacked his list to the bulletin board on the door of his church next to other assignments and upcoming events.

Soon branded a heretic, then an outlaw, he awaited imminent ex-communication and possible death. Hidden away by friends, he took solace in Psalm 46:1-3, God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

Inspired, he penned these unforgettable words:

A mighty fortress is our God,
A bulwark never failing:
Our helper he, amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe 
Doth seek to work his woe;
His craft and power are great,
And armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Question:
In these uncertain times, where are you trusting God as your refuge and strength? Where has he been your mighty fortress? We can hold tight to him and weather whatever storms await us.

Matt Liston

Isaiah 40

Read:
Isaiah 40:28-31

Pause for a moment and read the familiar verses from Isaiah 40:28-31.

This passage is a declaration of his power and strength. It also reminds us that strength is discovered through our hope in him…not our ministry activity…not our doctrinal purity…not even our accomplishments. Our strength is a byproduct of being connected to our hope. What is that hope? I have the right answer teed up for you, but I have a hard time remaining in that space amidst the “noisy” demands and distractions of life. I’m also flooded by the secular messages of strength that require MY achievement, MY self-reliance, and MY control.

Predictably, this results in feeling tired and weary…prone to stumbling and falling. Isaiah’s words may be 3,000 years old but they are just as appropriate in our cultural context today.

I’m encouraged! The implications of Isaiah’s words are significant! I’m no longer burdened by the weight of accomplishment. I get to renew my strength today by simply acknowledging that he is my hope in this moment.

Question:
So, what burdens your heart today and weighs you down? May I offer you the hands of Jesus? He will renew your strength.

Together we hope!

Joel Wharton

Philippians 1

Read:
Philippians 1:12-14 (NASB)

Paul had every reason to be afraid and feel discouraged. As a prisoner of Rome, he could have assumed that his ministry had come to an end. But he soon discovered that, even in prison, his life could have an enormous impact.

Though a prisoner, Paul had an opportunity to pray for others, write letters (such as his letter to the Philippians) and help churches throughout the Roman world. He also had a powerful influence on people around him that led to “the greater progress of the gospel.” His testimony became well known throughout the Roman government. Through his life, the gospel was being spread to new places.

Paul also was an encouragement to other Christians. Seeing his example, they gained courage, became bolder and willing to stand up for their faith.

Paul knew that God had given him spiritual gifts, talents, and a message to take to the nations. He never stopped being faithful to seize opportunities and invest in God’s kingdom. No matter what his circumstances were, he continually looked for ways to bless others with his insights and resources.

God is looking for men and women like Paul, who continually trust in him…who keep investing their time, talent, and treasure in his kingdom…who are bold witnesses…even when life gets tough. Think about how you can follow Paul’s example of continually looking for divinely inspired opportunities.

Question:
How are you reacting to the circumstances you face?

Bob Buchan

Colossians 3:1

Read:
Colossians 3:1, Matthew 7:24-27 & Philippians 4:6-7

April showers bring May…

Polaris vortex

Rain, hail and snow

Thunder and lightning

Freeze warnings

More COVID-19 worries

 

A few years ago, on a rainy, cold, nasty day, my wife, daughter, and I were preparing for a trip we had been planning for a while. Our flight took off in a few hours, and though we were really looking forward to the trip, the dismal weather we were currently experiencing wasn’t helping our attitudes nor our countenance. We finished packing our bags, loaded the car, and left for the airport. We checked in, went through security and got to our flight waiting area, still watching through the large windows as the dark clouds kept moving in, threateningly. We boarded our plane, found our seats, and buckled in, me by the window seat. The plane took off and it didn’t take long to fly up through the dark grey clouds, which changed quickly as we burst through white, puffy cumulus clouds, to bright sunlight and a beautiful blue sky.

Had the weather changed? No, just the location from which we experienced it; from below the clouds, to above them. A matter of perspective.

In Colossians 3:1, Paul tells us to keep our eyes focused on things above, not on earthly things.

Question:
What can you do today to keep your eyes focused on God, not your surroundings, and circumstances?

Matt Liston

Psalms 22

Read
Psalms 22:1

The constant questions are starting to make me lose it.

 

Yes, they’re little. 

Yes, they’re learning. 

Yes, I love them.

 

But I can only answer so many questions about nothing.

 

If you know what I’m talking about, chances are you’ve had a 2 year old in quarantine before.

 

They can’t help it. They HAVE to ask.

 

Have you ever had a question you just HAD to ask?

 

Not like an information question that you could Google, but like a question about the depth of real life? 

 

What is my purpose?

 

Why do good people have to die?

 

Why would a good God let this bad happen?

 

You can’t google those, and chances are your mom and dad don’t know either.

 

Where do you go with these questions? Are you scared to find the answers?

 

For me, when these questions come up in my own mind, I often feel like I’m letting God down by even asking them. How could I doubt the God that has carried me through rough times? 

 

Here’s the amazing thing, that’s not how God feels. He isn’t scared or annoyed or surprised by our questions. In fact, he welcomes them – all of them. 

 

That’s why in Psalm 22:1 David (and Jesus on the cross) was able to say:

 

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

    Why are you so far from saving me,

    so far from my cries of anguish?”

 

Through the Psalms, David had a myriad of questions for God. David wanted to know the true heart of God, so he asked.

 

Question:
What question(s) have you been too scared to ask God? 

P.S. It’s ok he can take it.

 

Dustyn Vanzant