{April 1, 2018}

Heartland Community Church


April 1-7, 2018


This Easter weekend we are releasing The Journey early to offer you Good Friday and Easter reflections, along with our study material for next week. May we each experience a deeper connection in our relationship with Jesus as we journey on!


Good Friday Reflection

By TJ Gonzales

Immediately I am faced with the reality of evil. Yes, it is truly easy for me to point out all of the evil in the world and become upset by it.  From news outlets to social media posts, evil can be spotted quickly. However, I would be dishonest if I point to all of the evil “out there” and neglect to admit that evil had reached my own heart. When I was 16 years old I realized how deep this evil had become in me. No matter my personal attempts to remove it, still it remained. I eventually learned that the solution was beyond me.

And this is where the cross and Jesus brought me hope. In Christ, we see God is not only aware of the problem of evil, but he has also taken action in fighting against it!  Jesus took the cup of God’s wrath as an expression of God’s love for all of humanity. This cup contained the punishment owed to all sinners–past, present and future. Death, torment and eternal separation from God was owed to every human. My sin had earned this judgement, and yet Jesus took this punishment on himself. Due to his overwhelming love, my life has never been the same. The evil within was conquered.

When I consider the suffering and death of Jesus I am amazed by his commitment to restore humanity to God. He endured tremendous pain. Indeed, taking this cup was anything but easy. He was betrayed by a close friend (Judas). Abandoned by his disciples. Falsely accused at his trial. Whipped and beaten at the hands of Roman soldiers. Nailed through his hands and feet to the cross, then lifted up for all to see. All the while, being mocked, hit, spit on and ridiculed. Hanging on the cross his blood was shed, and through excruciating pain…..he died. Yes, he drank this cup willingly and declared, “it is finished”.

But, this is not the end of the story. It gets even better, just 3 days later . . .

“It was not nails that held Jesus to that wretched cross; it was his unqualified resolution, out of love for his Father, to do his Father’s will—and it was his love for sinners like me.” ― D.A. Carson

Read Romans 5:8

Observe, Reflect, Apply: How did God express his love for us in this verse? What does Jesus’ suffering and the cross say about the depth of God’s love for us? At times in our busyness we can lose touch with the reality of God’s love for us. Take some time this weekend to reflect on how you experience God’s love (past and present). How can you reconnect with God more often?


Easter Weekend Reflection: Before/After

By Adam Pontier

I can look back at my life and remember what things where like “before” certain events or stages. Before and after events in my life include . . . my parents divorce, getting arrested at 14 years old, high school, kids, starting my own business.

The two most profound before and after events in my life revolve around Jesus. I initially decided to follow Jesus at 17 years old after spending most of my life unaware or not caring about Jesus. This definitely had a huge impact on my life. Things changed in the most radical way possible. However, as I graduated high school that relationship I had started with Jesus went dormant.

The second time was in 2008 when my wife and I started to attend Heartland. My dormant relationship came back to life. This time I was more mature and worked through some of the bigger issues and uncomfortable aspects of following Jesus.

Some of these were big topics, like creation vs evolution, and gay marriage. I settled those in my mind and heart. Even though I may not always agree with where our church lands on these issues, I came to a point of feeling strong in my faith and being OK in the tension.

There were some other things I had to become comfortable with. Some of them silly, but still I wrestled with them. Things like . . . is it OK to cuss? What cuss words are OK, and in what scenarios? I’ve come to conclusions on a lot of things and some of them are ever-changing in my mind. The point is that there is a distinct difference in how I approach my life.

I know there will be continual growth and change throughout life, but the big overall (macro) changes are what stand out to me. I can honestly say I am more comfortable with who I am now than I have ever been in my life. I feel more confident. Not because of my own success or changes that I made, but because I know who I am because I know where my identity comes from (Jesus).

I play a constant game in my mind of “what if scenarios”. What if I fall off a roof and can no longer be a home inspector? What if one of my children become ill or die? What if . . . it doesn’t really matter, I think of the scenario. Before my relationship with Jesus these what if scenarios left me anxious. They made me worry and try to prepare for the worst.

Now, I constantly come back to Jesus. I don’t worry. It’s almost fun because I can think of the worst case scenario (which I know will be terrible and don’t want to go through) and know I will still be intact with Jesus. I used to think Jesus would never put anything on me I couldn’t handle. I was wrong. He constantly puts scenarios in my life I can’t handle. He puts events in my life to show me I can’t handle them, but he can. And he does!


Read Ephesians 1:20-22

Observe, Reflect, Apply: As you reflect on your life, where have you experienced before/after moments? Where have they happened in your pursuit of Jesus and your faith? Take time each day this week to say thanks to him for the sacrifice, love, and power he provides for you.


{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.

This week we wrap up our study of Matthew and begin to explore the book of Mark. CLICK HERE to check out a great overview of Mark from our friends at The Bible Project.

CLICK HERE or on the video below for their summary of Mark.

{monday 4.2.18}

Read Matthew 27:32-44

Observe, Reflect, Apply: In your own words, jot down what is happening in this scene. If you had been present at the time, what would you have thought? Which person in the scene do you relate to and why?

{tuesday 4.3.18}

Read Matthew 27:45-56

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Again, describe the scene in your own words. Place yourself on the hill, and consider what has happened. How would you react? What do you think about the soldiers change of mind? Have you ever experienced something so powerful, it changed your opinion or belief?

{wednesday 4.4.18}

Read Matthew 27:57-66

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Interesting, how the religious leaders who didn’t believe in Jesus, were worried about his bold prediction of resurrection. As you have explored the story of Jesus life, death and resurrection, what has been easy to embrace? What has been more challenging, or caused more doubt for you? Consider praying about your doubts when you talk to Jesus. Keep notes on what you experience as you do this.

{thursday 4.5.18}

Read Matthew 28:1-20

Observe, Reflect, Apply: What powerful moments these verses cover! Take a moment to jot a thank you note to Jesus. Consider the closing verses, where he issues a command to all of us. How can you share your faith with one other person in the coming month? Where do you need Jesus to be "with you always"?

{friday 4.6.18}

Read Mark 1:1-8

Observe, Reflect, Apply: John is an interesting character in the Bible. As you read this description of him and his role, what do you think? If you were an eye witness, what would you have thought? Jumping to our lives today, how can we "prepare the way in the wilderness" for Jesus?

{saturday 4.7.18}

Read Mark 1:9-20

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Consider the scenes described…what is happening in each? What do we learn about Jesus in these verses? As you close in on the final scenes of Jesus walking by the sea of Galilee, consider his invitaiton. Have you accepted the invitation to follow Jesus? If so, how has that impacted your life? If you have not, what holds you back from accepting the invite to follow Jesus? Find someone to share both the impact, and the potential doubts you have around following Jesus.


{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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