GRACE CHURCH NWA

2828 NORTH CROSSOVER ROAD

FAYETTEVILLE, AR  72703

SUNDAY WORSHIP  10:15 AM

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of August 5th, 2018

The Meaning of Judgement / John Ray

Key Text: Revelation 15-20(MSG)

For a PDF of the Learning Guide, click here.

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THE SET-UP

How we understand God’s judgement determines much of what we think about God and about how we live our life.
 

THE BOTTOM LINE

Just about any of the “ologies” (Theology chief among them) is concerned with asking the question “ What’s the meaning of life?” Following close on it’s heels is “If there is any meaning, that is”. Our answer to this, whether we deal with it consciously or not, determines a very great deal about how we go about living our actual lives. We are theologians every one. How would you answer the question “Is there any meaning in life?” Would your answer include any mention of “judgement”? Why or why not? How has your answer been influenced by our study of Revelation? The Bottom Line is if there is no judgement, then nothing matters.  

There’s little doubt that our view of “judgement” is influenced by our experiences in this world. Judgement by our family, friends, and legal system all play a role in forming our imagination around it. But it’s also formed by our idea of God, God’s power and God’s character. Has there ever been a time in your life you have felt God let you down? That God didn’t judge properly or quickly enough? How do those experiences influence the way you follow God today? The Bottom Line is Jesus is the one who judges. And He is fully qualified to do so.  

As we have been working our way through Revelation, it’s been interesting to note the various responses. To some it’s a radically scary notion (and that fear, more than good theology, is what drives much of the fascination around being “raptured”). To others, as noted in our teaching meeting this week, the response is “About time!” It makes sense that for those of us at home, comfortable, in power or content with the way things are to be frightened by the words and images. On the other hand, if you have gotten “the short end of the stick” in life, Revelation can come as a comfort. Maybe that’s what Jesus was getting at with the Sermon on the Mount? Take a minute and read Matthew 5:1-20. In light of what we are reading in Revelation, how does this influence the way you read this text? The Bottom Line is our perspective determines how we will emotionally respond to the idea of judgement.

REFLECTION

Take some time to pay attention to your emotions as you progress through our study this week. Where are the places and passages that fill you with hope? Where are the ones that cause you to fear? What about places that make you feel someone is treated unjustly? What do your responses tell you about where you see yourself in the passages?
 

CHECK IT OUT

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

Our most recent blog post can be found here. Please email Teresa at tcornett@gracechurchnwa.org if you’d be interested in writing a future post.  

LOOKING AHEAD

Next week Norma Farthing leads us through the wrap up of Revelation and helps us wrap our heads and hearts around the reality of heaven.
 

JOURNAL 

This week offers us a time for deep reflection. But deep reflection takes courage, grace and intention. Through the words of Revelation, Jesus is offering us all the chance to really consider where our affection, allegiances and associations are, and what the consequences of those choices are. Each day, take a chapter and read through it. Read slowly, really let the words sink in and try not so much to figure it out as to “feel it”. Then ask, where are your own affections, allegiances and associations reflected? What are the consequences for those who share our affections, allegiances and associations?


 

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of August 12th, 2018

New and Improved / Norma Farthing

Key Text: Revelation 21-22 (MSG)

For a PDF of the Learning Guide, click here.

THE SET-UP

God’s desire from the beginning of time was to be with his people.  That drives the whole story that comes to a climax in Revelation.  We think of “going to heaven when we die” as flying somewhere far off to live with God.  But Revelation tells a different story: Heaven comes to earth, and God comes to stay.  For all eternity.  Now that’s good news!

THE BOTTOM LINE

  • In Reversed Thunder, author Eugene Peterson writes, “God’s gracious purpose in giving us his word in written form is not to turn us into Bible students, but to provide a means by which we can hear him speak and be turned into Christians—awed worshipers, sacrificing sufferers, devout followers.” As we wrap up our look at Revelation, reflect on how you’ve engaged with the text. Have you heard God speak? Does he seem nearer to you? Can you name some specific ways you’re changed in terms of your worship and your prayer life? Do you respond differently to evil? God’s judgment? His gift of salvation? Bottom Line: How are you different because you’ve encountered Revelation? 

  • Barely halfway into the first chapter of Revelation, God reminds us that he is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end of all things. References to Old Testament prophecy are woven throughout, and it wraps up with a vision of how God reconciles us to himself—a pursuit that predates the Garden of Eden. Can you recall a few of the OT connections in Revelation that especially caught your attention? (This one, which references Zechariah 4:6? Or maybe this one, from Isaiah 1:18?) Why did they stand out to you? How do they shape your thinking about God’s story, and your place in it? How are you responding? Bottom Line: What’s significant about Revelation’s connection to the OT, and what does it mean for us? 

  • When you hear the word “heaven,” what comes to mind? Do you think of a destination? A present reality? Does it stir something in you? Consider what you believe about heaven: Where do your convictions mostly come from? What do we know about heaven, based only on Scripture? (For points of reference, you could start by looking here, here and here.) How does that line up with what you believe? Does what we believe about heaven truly matter? What happens when your beliefs or ideas about heaven are challenged? Bottom Line: How do we know what’s true about heaven?

REFLECTION

Revelation is filled with cryptic imagery and high drama that can make it seem off-putting and inaccessible. But we’ve seen that the opposite is true: Revelation is an intimate letter that bears a personal, challenging message to the Church that God loves so profoundly. Read it (or listen to it) straight through, from beginning to end. What does it say to you? You might grab some colored pens, pencils, markers or crayons and some paper, and sketch what comes to mind as you engage with the text. What do you think it says to Grace Church in this moment? How does it shape your thinking about the Kingdom of God? What are some specific ways you’ll live differently in response?

CHECK IT OUT

The Bible Project offers some great resources to supplement a deep dive into the book of Revelation, including:

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

Our most recent blog post can be found here. Please email Teresa at tcornett@gracechurchnwa.org if you’d be interested in writing a future post.  

LOOKING AHEAD

As we begin a 3-week study based on our Discovering Grace curriculum, we’ll cover first things first: the supremacy of Christ and the primacy of Scripture.
 

JOURNAL

Revelation is distinct for a lot of reasons. Among the things that set it apart is a list of seven blessings promised to the reader, including a blessing on those who ingest John’s prophecy and take it seriously. John uses the same word for “blessed” in Revelation that we find in the beatitudes: It describes someone who’s “happy” or “to be envied” because they’ve received God’s grace and provision. Meditate each day this week on one of these blessings; ask the Holy Spirit to make all of them personal for you, and write down whatever comes to mind as you reflect on them:

  • Revelation 1:3

  • Revelation 14:13

  • Revelation 16:15

  • Revelation 19:9

  • Revelation 20:6

  • Revelation 22:7

  • Revelation 22:14

 

 

 

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of August 19, 2018

Discovering Jesus and His Word / John Ray

Based on Discovering Grace Introduction, Parts 1 and 2

Key Text / Colossians 1:15-20, Hebrews 4:12 (NET)

For a PDF of the Learning Guide, click here.

 

 

THE SET-UP

To begin a 3-week study based on our Discovering Grace curriculum, we’ll cover first things first: the supremacy of Christ and the primacy of Scripture.

 

 

LIFE AT GRACE 

Back-to-school time is a great opportunity for inviting others to join us at Grace Church! Lots of families are considering their fall activities and have a desire to get back into worship, as well as to find community and service opportunities. Specifically, these next three weeks would be a great time for new visitors as we go through Discovering Grace. Don’t forget the opportunity to stock our Little Free Pantry if you’re able.

 

REFLECT

To be transformed by Jesus Christ is a lifelong process. Think about your relationship with Him over the past month: What are some specific things you’ve done/are doing that encourage this transformation? What are some specific things you’ve done/are doing that slow it down? Ask the Holy Spirit to prompt you, and write whatever comes to mind. How will you respond this week?

PRACTICE 

As you think and pray about the question above, make time to respond by confession, prayer and...wait for it...journaling. For some, journaling is as natural as breathing; neglecting to do it would be the same as having your air cut off. For others, it sounds a bit like a prison sentence. But there’s no escaping the fact that the regular practice of journaling produces results. It’s called a “discipline” for a reason; whether or not it comes easily to us, it can be transformative when we commit to it. So get a nice new journal or notebook, or create a new text file. However you do it, just get started.

DISCUSS

  • What first drew you to Grace Church? If you’ve been here for a while, what keeps you here? 

  • Hebrews 12 calls Jesus “the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.” Are you comfortable with this teaching, that the faith we practice begins and ends in Him? Why or why not? 

  • Based on the example Jesus set and the way He lived, do you think it’s possible to fully experience transformation—the process of being made like Him— outside of connection with a community of believers? Why or why not?

  • What’s the practical difference between being grounded in Scripture and holding to a literal interpretation of it?

  • As members of a faith community, what are we to do when we disagree about the meaning of a particular Scripture? How do we know who’s right?

RESOURCES

 

* If you add these books to your library, consider supporting Grace Church of Northwest Arkansas by making your purchases through Amazon Smile.

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

Teresa shares about connections and community on the Grace Church blog. Please email Teresa at  tcornett@gracechurchnwa.org if you’d be interested in writing a future post.  

LOOKING AHEAD

Next week, we’ll talk about the value of community and the relevance of worship, based on Discovering Grace, parts 3 and 4.

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of August 24, 2018

Discovering Community in Worship / John Ray

Based on Discovering Grace Introduction, Parts 3 and 4

Key Text / John 15:12-15 (NET)

For a PDF of the Learning Guide, click here.

 

THE SET-UP

Restored community is evidence of the Gospel at work; we live out our witness by the way we practice it. So where do we begin?

REFLECT

 

In her memoir Searching for Sunday, author Rachel Held Evans writes, “This is what God’s kingdom is like: a bunch of outcasts and oddballs gathered at a table, not because they are rich or worthy or good, but because they are hungry, because they said yes. And there’s always room for more.” On Sundays at Grace, do you approach worship and experience communion as someone who is invited into the Kingdom, or one who has to earn a place at the table? Why? And how does that perspective shape your thoughts about community? Pray for insight as you consider these questions, and write down your responses in your journal.

PRACTICE

Community doesn’t happen in a vacuum or without effort. Share a meal this week with someone you don’t regularly hang out with, maybe someone you’ve wanted to get to know but have never connected with. Whether you invite them over, make a meal and take it to them or agree to meet up and eat out together, be intentional. Few things foster community more than sharing meals.

DISCUSS

  • Although we sometimes catch glimpses of what God intends community to be, we don’t get to see it fully. So how are we supposed to figure out what it should look like?

  • The Gospel is most radically expressed in the form of community. If our witness is displayed in the way we live community out—both personally and as a church —what do you think our community says to the world in this moment about the Kingdom?

  • Do you think worship should come naturally to an apprentice of Jesus? Have you ever thought of worship as a learned behavior?

  • Can you name some practical ways that worship helps us to build community, to overcome things that can divide us?

  • Remember John’s letter to the church at Laodicea in Revelation 3? When we invite Jesus into our worship, He meets us at the communion table. What are some specific ways you’re changed by that encounter?

RESOURCES

 

 

* If you add these books to your library, consider supporting Grace Church of Northwest Arkansas by making your purchases through Amazon Smile.

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

Real connection in Kingdom community is sometimes messy, frustrating and a ton of work. But it’s always worth it. Read the latest post on the Grace Church blog here.

LOOKING AHEAD

We’ll finish exploring our Discovering Grace material with a look at parts 5 and 6: How do we participate together in the Kingdom of God and rest in the reality of grace?