{February 21, 2021}






Heartland Community Church


THE JOURNEY

 

LAST WORDS OF JESUS: Lasting Hope

By Lisa Zulke

This past year shed a different light on the importance of lasting hope. Hope that can’t be shaken by a global pandemic. By the loss of presence with the people we love most, but most want to keep safe. By the growing chasm between belief systems, political positions and our ability to hear one another. Lasting hope is not fleeting . . . but I confess that my confidence in lasting hope does get shaken.

Our lasting hope cannot be taken from us, if it is placed in the person of Jesus. I made that decision in my 20’s, and have made choices and changes throughout my life to have the choice to follow Jesus take root in me. There’s a difference, isn’t there, between knowing a thing in our head, even believing it in our heart, in our best intentions . . . AND being fully rooted and living from the reality of what it means to be a Jesus follower.

My crooked, winding path to following Jesus through my teens and twenties shook my early faith. Does he really forgive me? All the way? Even for that? Who forgives like that? As a twenty something, I struggled to wrap my head around that level of grace and forgiveness. It has taken years of learning the way and the heart of Jesus, and unlearning the ways and the heart of me . . . a messy human who longs to get it right, but often says the wrong thing. Does the wrong thing. Doesn’t say what needs to be said. Neglects an opportunity to impact someone else for the good of their life, and potentially their faith.

I am so very thankful for the last words of Jesus on the cross: “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” I looked up the meaning of assure, to see what it might teach me. Assure: tell someone something positively or confidently to dispel any doubts they may have. Jesus knew! He knew we would struggle with doubt. So he chose, in his last words, to leave a rock solid reference, a reminder to dispel any doubts they may have.

He longs for us to grow deep roots, to trust in his forgiveness, his provision. He assures us. He dispels our doubts. Any doubts. All doubts. I have asked Jesus where he is more times than I can count. Does he see us, doing battle with a global pandemic? Struggling to see and hear one another with eyes like his? Trying to put trust in the gap of our continued prayers, and his seeming silence?

This year, my roots have grown deep, and held strong. I still cry out and question where he is . . . but he has reminded me continually of his promises. He does see us. See me. He is on the move, in our midst, working on his plan for our souls and our world. And I treasure every moment I receive an assurance from him that dispels any doubt.

 

{sunday 2.21.21}

Read Luke 23:39-43

Observe, Reflect, Apply: What do you need lasting hope for? What assurance would Jesus give you today, if he were with you?

 

{prayer for the week}

Join us this week in a shared community-wide prayer.

Jesus, I am blown away by the depths of your love and concern for me. By your incredible sacrifice to restore me to life. By your unimaginable patience to teach me how to follow you. And thanks for your foresight . . . to see and understand that we would struggle, we would doubt. Thank you for speaking assurance to our minds, our hearts and our souls. Thank you for choosing intentional words that dispel all doubt. Help me live with an all in abandon as I grow in my confidence following you. Amen.

 

{bible reading plan: lent readings in john}

LENT 101

You’ve likely heard about Ash Wednesday and Lent, but may have never fully understood or engaged in this season of the church calendar in a more intentional way. Most of us celebrate Easter in some way…perhaps through a church celebration, or something involving baskets, eggs and rabbits. This guide is meant to shed light on the basics of Jesus-followers honoring Lent and Easter, and allow you to engage more intentionally along the way.

This year, Lent begins on February 17 with Ash Wednesday, which we’ll break down later, and ends Thursday, April 1 on Holy Thursday. The other big days all happen in the same week, appropriately named Holy Week. It marks the final week of Lent. These days include Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter.

Lent lasts for forty days because that’s how long Jesus wandered in the desert, fasting, while he resisted Satan’s temptations. We have an opportunity, during the forty days of Lent, to reflect on our lives and draw closer to Jesus. Perhaps to slow the pace of life.

During Lent, Jesus followers often “fast” in various ways to connect with and honor him, similar to his forty day fast in the desert. Note that “fasting” may not always involve food. It may simply be choosing something (a habit, a block of time) to set aside that frees up space you can spend learning about Jesus, or practicing prayer. The main goal is to choose a way to practice sacrifice and intentionality so we can become closer to Jesus.

 

By Lisa Zulke

{monday 2.22.21}

Read John 11:14-44

Read, Ponder, Pray: We begin today where we left off last week…at the grave of Lazarus, one of Jesus’ best friends. After a delay of two days in his arrival to help this family in need, Jesus enters the scene. It is a scene where mourners and towns people have gathered to support the family in their grief. A crowd formed over the two days that would allow Jesus to perform this miracle. "Lazarus is dead. And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him," Jesus said. The death and resurrection of Lazarus opened a door in the minds and hearts of many that would allow Jesus to re-create them and secure their trust in him. What has Jesus done that secured your trust in him?

{tuesday 2.23.21}

Read John 11:45-57

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Many believed. Many came to faith that day. But some . . . some were threatened by his power and his presence. Some were overwhelmed by the fear of losing their power over the people they led. Jesus’ public ministry ended in those last days, and he went to the wilderness with his people. To prepare himself? To have final moments with them? Ironically, he came to sacrifice himself, to die for all people, so that we would be united as children of God across the world. How are we doing with our ability to unite, one to another? What might Jesus say, ask or do if he were here today?

{wednesday 2.24.21}

Read John 12:1-11

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Have you ever offered a gift, a sacrificial gift, that was questioned by others? That had to be a discouraging moment for Jesus (one of his followers still didn’t get it), for Mary (being called into question publicly). But Jesus knew that Mary knew. She understood. She acted out of faith and dignity and honor toward him. Words matter, and I love that Jesus chose to speak words in this moment that affirmed the woman who offered a gift of sacrifice and that honored the value and importance of her gift in this moment. What is your takeaway from this exchange?

{thursday 2.25.21}

Read John 12:12-19

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Jesus enters Jerusalem, a week before he will be hung on a cross. Many showed up for a triumphant parade, hoping that Jesus would take control and assume his place as their king. Rather, he entered the city in humility, riding on a donkey. This was a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, yet his closest followers missed it, until after his death. I wonder often what I miss, what God winks, movements or nudges I am blind to. Join me in praying today for eyes that see, senses that notice and a spirit that responds in the moment, vs only in hindsight.

{friday 2.26.21}

Read John 12:20-36

Observe, Reflect, Apply: There is much to take in through these passages . . . I encourage us each to take extra time with the whole of them this weekend. Make them your lent reflection through to Sunday. In this moment, I am struck by the invitation to walk in Jesus’ light, to soak it in so that the darkness does not overcome us. How can we be light walkers, light bringers, light reflectors, so that as a friend, a family, a church and a community we can walk in and carry to all the light of Jesus?

{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.

 

Please visit us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and share what you are learning, questioning or experiencing. We love conversations!

 

© 2021 Heartland Community Church

12175 S Strang Line Road, Olathe, KS 66062

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