{January 28, 2018}

Heartland Community Church


January 28 – February 3, 2018


Whatever It Takes: Shrink

By Adam Pontier

Justin McRoberts hit the nail on the head today when it comes to making change. We can’t do it all at once.

We’ve all heard little sayings like, “Take it one day at a time,” “The first step is the most important step,” “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” etc…. There’s some universal truth to all of them. Every self-help, diet, business plan or money saving book talks about taking on the small challenges that eventually build up to completing the big task.

This makes sense, we as individuals are not equipped to do the work of 100 all at once. It’s in the details and the minutia where things get done. Our relationship with God isn’t any different.

I spend almost every week reading the bible and, out of that, trying to develop questions for my fellow Journey readers to ask yourself while you read the scriptures. I’ve been volunteering in this capacity for almost two years now. If two years ago someone had asked me to read all of the New Testament and write questions for personal reflection and study based on what I read, it would have been an overwhelming thought. Thank goodness no one asked me that question.

It wasn’t until this last December that it was brought to my attention we had almost accomplished this task. I didn’t even know this was a goal. I don’t believe it was a goal anyone set out to do. It just happened one week at a time.

I did not grow up in church and I have not attended seminary. I consider myself unchurched, yet God called me to do something I feel unqualified to do. I feel like the apostle with the two loaves of bread and a few fish who is looking back at the crowd of 5,000 people who I just got done feeding saying, “Whoa! That just happened! How did that happen? I know it wasn’t me or my plan that got this done.”

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
–Martin Luther King Jr.

{sunday 1.28.18}

Read Joshua 1:9

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Is there somewhere or some task that you feel God may be leading you to? Is there a tiny first step you can take? Pray about this particular idea or step. Don’t worry or stress about it. God promises to be with you through each step.


{personal reflection and bible reading plan}

As you read the verses each day, make notes of questions you have about what you’re reading as well as answering the reflection questions below. Grab a friend or two to discuss what you are learning and what God is doing in your lives.

CLICK HERE or on image below to enjoy Seth Davidson’s overview of Matthew 9-10.

{monday 1.29.18}

Read Matthew 11:1-10

Observe, Reflect, Apply: John the Baptist was the prophet foretelling about Jesus’ coming and what Jesus would do. John had a moment of doubt and surprise at what Jesus was doing when he began asking questions from prison. He needed to be sure and Jesus’ response was reassuring to John. What questions do you have for Jesus about who he is and what his plans are? Ask these questions of Jesus and ask him to answer.

{tuesday 1.30.18}

Read Matthew 11:11-24

Observe, Reflect, Apply: The cities that Jesus mentions here are his home and neighboring towns. He knows them well. He knows their vision of God’s kingdom, and it is not adding up. He is warning them, and in response to what Jesus is telling them about the kingdom they start saying he is possessed by a demon, saying he is a drunk and he’s hanging out with all the wrong people. Essentially, they start a negative ad campaign to discredit him. What are the reasons people use today to avoid the issue of Jesus? How can we live in a world that feels this way?

{wednesday 1.31.18}

Read Matthew 11:25-12:8

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Think of one of your parents or someone who was a parent like figure to you growing up. Do you know a story about them that no one else knows? Your experience may be a positive or negative experience, but there is some experience you have that no one else does. My children experience my love and anger different than anyone else in the world. It’s unique because I am their father. They have access to me at my best and worst. Jesus has this access with God. He knows God in an intimate way that no one else has ever experienced. If you feel comfortable, share your unique experience with your parent or parent-like figure with a trusted friend or group.

{thursday 2.1.18}

Read Matthew 12:9-21

Observe, Reflect, Apply: I’ve had days where everything seems to be going wrong. Nothing but negative news back to back all day long. Its days like this that make we want to pack it all up and live like a hermit up in the mountains, or hit the road in a camper and live like a nomad. Jesus is having one of those days where everything is going wrong, but he doesn’t seem to mind. He knows that this is a part of his story. How do you deal with days like these? What are your initial thoughts? How do you work through them over time? How can you approach days like this more like Jesus?

{friday 2.2.18}

Read Matthew 12:22-32

Observe, Reflect, Apply: The winter Olympics are about to begin, which means very ordinary people all over the world will sit around their TV’s in awe of amazing athletic abilities. Phrases like, “Whoa! How did they do that?” and “They make it look so easy!” will be said. The cynical observer will say, “What they should have done is…”, “If I were them I would have…” and “They got lucky!” The Pharisees watching Jesus took the stance of the cynical viewer. Their explanations for his abilities were that he was working with Satan. Cynicism can be a comedic approach to life, but when it infiltrates into everything and becomes a reality in which we live by, it can ruin life itself. In regards to blasphemy of the Holy Spirit that Jesus speaks about, NT Wright has great metaphor to explain: “Once you declare that the only remaining bottle of water is poisoned, you condemn yourself to dying of thirst.” What are you cynical about? How does constant cynicism affect your mood? Where do you find hope in life? What makes you happy on a personal level?

{saturday 2.3.18}

Read Matthew 12:33-45

Observe, Reflect, Apply: The sign of Jonah that Jesus is speaking about is his own death and resurrection. He’s using the story of Jonah to tie together what is going to happen to him. It’s his death and resurrection that will be the sign and that many people will miss. There’s also a warning he gives the Pharisees about what they say. This is not only meant for the readers to understand what Jesus says to the Pharisees, but for us to understand about ourselves. What we say casually reflects our hearts. This ties back to our cynicism in life. My own cynicism about Jesus and what he did before I started following Jesus left me in a very lonely place. Pray for those who, like me, could only see the mistakes of those who claim to follow Jesus and let that turn to cynicism about Jesus. If you are reading this and feel cynical about Jesus and about the resurrection of Jesus, take a moment and give the idea a chance. You don’t have to commit to anything or tell anyone. Put aside the cynicism for a bit and just kick around the idea for a moment.


{community discussion questions}

We weren’t meant to experience the life of Jesus alone, so we encourage you to rally a few others to discuss what you are hearing, reading, and reflecting on together. Whether you are meeting as a Journey Community group, talking with a few friends throughout the week, or bringing up spiritual conversations around your table at home, feel free to use some of these questions as conversation starters on your journey.

  • Can you name a takeaway or challenge from the Sunday message?
  • How has that been relevant, challenging, or meaningful to your life this week?
  • What have you observed about God, Jesus, yourself, others, or God’s plan for you from these readings?
  • Where do you need a breakthrough from God this week?
  • Who do you need to share what you’re learning about God with?


{extra journey resources}

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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