GRACE CHURCH NWA

2828 NORTH CROSSOVER ROAD

FAYETTEVILLE, AR  72703

SUNDAY WORSHIP  10:15 AM

Grace Church Teaching Guide / Week of August 28, 2016
Key Text: Psalm 125 (MSG)

THE SET-UP

The Psalms of Ascent inspire us to draw close to God by speaking and praying the Word, singing praises and serving others.

 

 

GRACE IN 3D

Remember when we set the stage for our study of the Psalms of Ascent by thinking about our go-to songs along our spiritual journey? Those that encourage us? The ones we sing when we need calm, comfort or direction? Now, see if you can come up with “Psalms of Ascent” for your whole Grace Group. Think together about songs that are meaningful to each of you: If you were to create a list of those that best reflect your entire group, which songs would you choose? Why?

 

THE HEAD AND THE HEART

 

Let’s review some key questions from our study of the Psalms of Ascent.

  • From Psalm 120: Do you think it’s possible to be satisfied in Christ and satisfied with the world?

  • From Psalm 121: What happens when it appears that God is not the guardian that we desperately want God to be?

  • From Psalm 122: What does it mean to live as God’s people?

  • From Psalm 123: How does God’s mercy change us and those we serve?

  • From Psalm 124: How are our faith and practices informed by our understanding of history, our place in community and the future?

  • From Psalm 125: What’s the difference between trusting God and trusting our thoughts or feelings about God, or trusting what we believe about our relationship with God?

  • Now read our final song, Psalm 126What does it mean to you to be released by Christ from captivity?

 

 

THE OPPORTUNITY

If our study of the Psalms of Ascent has drawn you closer to God, what are some specific ways you’ll live differently as a result?

 

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

In this week’s blog post on gracechurchnwa.org: John Ray finds encouragement and direction in the words of Psalm 122. Leave comments! Share it! Tweet it! Pin it! Post it!

LOOKING AHEAD

Next week, we’re headed back to the beginning. Get a jump on the teaching by reading Genesis 1.

Grace Church Teaching Guide / Week of August 21, 2016
Key Text: Psalm 125 (MSG)

THE SET-UP

Only God deserves our trust, because only God can secure our future. Placing our trust in anything else is a futile endeavor.

 

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

What’s the difference between trusting God and trusting our thoughts or feelings about God, or trusting what we believe about our relationship with God?

To get our heads around God’s character, do we need something to hold onto that represents it?

 

If we can trust that God exacts ultimate justice, how would we live differently as a result?

 

 

GRACE IN 3D

Has there ever been a time when you believed you were trusting God a million percent, but God let you down? Did the experience change the way you think about God? If so, how? Because of your experience, do you have questions about God that still haven’t been resolved? Did you learn things about God you probably would not have learned otherwise? If so, would you be willing to share them with your Grace Group?

 

THE HEAD AND THE HEART

 

  • What’s the difference between trusting God and trusting our thoughts or feelings about God, or trusting what we believe about our relationship with God? Does the object of our trust really matter? Why or why not? What’s the difference between faith and trust? What does that distinction mean to our relationship with God? Based on this psalm, what do you think it means to have a heart that is “right”? (You might find a little help here.)

 

  • Does God ever feel too far removed for you to be able to connect with God? To put your trust in God? Do you ever feel like you need something to hold onto that represents God’s character in order for you to understand it? Is it a bad thing to have something tangible, something you can understand as a symbol of God’s character?  How do we know when we’re trusting that “something” instead of fully trusting God? What might some of the consequences be? What are some specific ways we can guard against misplacing our trust?

 

  • What is it that makes us so quick to judge, so inclined to try to seek retribution? Do you find it easy or hard to trust that God will exact ultimate justice? To respect God’s timing? What about the Church: Do you think present-day Christians generally trust God to judge as God sees fit? Why or why not? Do you see evidence in our world that informs your opinion? Could you give some specific examples? If we could always trust God to be the ultimate judge, no matter the circumstances, how would we live differently as a result? How would our world be different?

 

 

THE OPPORTUNITY

 

As you meditate on this psalm, ask the Holy Spirit to encourage you by affirming the ways you’re placing full trust in God — not your thoughts or feelings or assumptions about God. Also ask for some guidance about how to redirect, if your trust is at all misplaced. What are some specific ways you can respond to the Holy Spirit’s teaching?

 

DEEP CUTS 

 

 

THE MASH-UP

 

 

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

In this week’s blog post on gracechurchnwa.org: Teri Naylor shares a once-in-a-lifetime journey to the Holy Land. Leave comments! Share it! Tweet it! Pin it! Post it!

LOOKING AHEAD

Lighten up, and thank God for the gift of joy! This isn’t a command; it’s the natural consequence of a close walk with God. And next week, we’ll see what Psalm 126 has to say about it.

Grace Church Teaching Guide / Week of August 14, 2016
Key Text: Psalm 124 (MSG)

THE SET-UP

Our anthems help form our imagination for history, community and the future.

 

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

 

How are our faith and practices informed by

our understanding of history?

Of our place in community?

 

Of the future?

 

 

GRACE IN 3D

Before your Grace Group meets this week, write down what you know to be true about God based on your individual experiences, and also on your experiences as part of a faith community. If you wanted to relate these things in a song, what would you say? Share your notes with your Grace Group: How are your experiences alike? How are they different? See if together you all can combine your thoughts into one poem or song that tells the story of your collective understanding of God.

 

THE HEAD AND THE HEART

 

  • Generally, we think of history as somewhat interesting but mostly unimportant; pretty much irrelevant to our everyday lives. We treat it as a subject to be studied (or ignored), a setting for certain movies and books, but not something that is part of us, something we inhabit. Not so the people of Israel and those who are singing this song. They had a much different concept of and relationship to their history: They regarded it as alive, very much a part of their present. How does this sit with us? What happens when we start to think of ourselves as part of a bigger story that we didn’t create and we can’t really control? How does this inform our faith and practices?

 

  • Likewise, we’re inclined to view life and everything in it from our individual orientation, our unique perspective. Again, Israel’s primary orientation was communal. Things were judged and evaluated based on how they affected the whole of the group. The good of any single person was always subservient to that of the community. Success and failure were not individual accomplishments, but owned by the community as a whole. How does our understanding of our place in community inform our faith?

 

  • Israel’s imagination was constantly occupied with the generations to come. Current circumstances were inseparable from what happened in the past and what it meant for the future. This is increasingly difficult for us to imagine in our all-that-matters-is-right-now, YOLO society. How does our understanding of the future inform our faith?

 

 

THE OPPORTUNITY

 

Ask the Holy Spirit this week to grow your imagination about your place in the bigger salvation story, your place in community (both at Grace Church, and in the Church), and your future. Based on what you read in Psalm 124, name some specific ways you’ll commit to love, live and serve differently as your understanding grows.

 

DEEP CUTS 

 

 

THE MASH-UP

 

 

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

In this week’s blog post on gracechurchnwa.org: Let’s play Jeopardy! Grace Holt will take “Realizations” for 200 … Leave comments! Share it! Tweet it! Pin it! Post it!

LOOKING AHEAD

We look to many things for security. But God’s word is clear: There’s only one Source we can stake our lives on. We’ll talk about it next week when we take a look at Psalm 125.

Grace Church Teaching Guide / Week of August 7, 2016
Key Text: Psalm 123 (MSG)

THE SET-UP

God is the ultimate source of all mercy. But posturing ourselves to look to and wait on God isn’t easy. There’s a reason we need mercy.

 

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

What does it mean to “wait on God”?

What is the meaning and experience of mercy?

 

How does God’s mercy change us and the we serve?

 

 

GRACE IN 3D

What’s the difference between grace and mercy? Do some research before your Grace Group meets (you could start here). When you get together this week, compare notes. Draw a line down the middle of a big sheet of paper. Write definitions for grace on one side, and mercy on the other. Where do these definitions intersect? How are they different?

 

THE HEAD AND THE HEART

 

  • Ever wonder why the description of love in 1 Corinthians 13 kicks off with “love is patient”? I think it might have to do with the fact that being patient is so difficult. Really, really, really difficult. And in this Psalm we have people who are trying so hard, but also feeling like they might not make it. Have you ever felt that way? Totally overwhelmed, abandoned, forgotten? What encouragement can you take from this psalm?

 

  • It has been said that most people are not looking for transformation, just relief. And while mercy certainly contains elements of “relief,” it is so much more. Do a quick look-up in the dictionary. What does it say? The Hebrew word used here carries ideas of being gracious; showing favour, or pity. How do you think this differs from grace? How would you describe your experiences of giving and receiving mercy?

 

  • Do you think of yourself as a merciful person? If so, what evidence would you give? Can you think about how you learned to be merciful? What effect do you think it would have on you and on others if you cultivated more merciful practices?

 

 

THE OPPORTUNITY

 

So here is the challenge for this week: Forgive a debt you are owed. It might be financial, or something that someone borrowed from you, or an emotional grudge. And do it without coming off as condescending, or with a sermon, or grudgingly. Just let it go. Pray for yourself and the person. Let them know with as little fanfare as possible. Then see what happens.

 

DEEP CUTS 

 

 

THE MASH-UP

 

 

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

In this week’s blog post on gracechurchnwa.org: John Ray describes the weight of heart-wearines. Leave comments! Share it! Tweet it! Pin it! Post it!

LOOKING AHEAD

In A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, Eugene Peterson calls Psalm 124 “a song of hazard — and of help.” We’ll take a look next week; read ahead to get a preview.