GRACE CHURCH NWA

2828 NORTH CROSSOVER ROAD

FAYETTEVILLE, AR  72703

SUNDAY WORSHIP  10:15 AM

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of August 4th, 2019

On Prayer, Faith, and Letting God be God /Bonnie Leonard

key text / Acts 12:1-25  (The Message)

For a PDF of the Learning Guide, Click Here.

THE BIG IDEA

Among persecution and amidst death and grief, faith is tried. The early Church responds in active prayer and the ministry of God’s word continues to grow.

WHERE WE ARE IN THE STORY

In the earliest parts of Acts, we saw Jesus leave life on Earth, but imparted to his disciples the assurance they would be empowered by the Holy Spirit and spread His message of locally and globally. They waited for this empowerment, and it happened while they celebrated an annual holiday, as they all began to speak different languages, languages they didn’t know but that were intelligible to witnesses that were in Jerusalem for this holiday. 

 

That began their witness in Jerusalem of the things they had heard and seen from Jesus. They began to meet often, praying and sharing resources, there were miracles of healing, and they used any opportunity to speak of salvation through Jesus. and scripture tells us they were unified. But they experienced hardships too, from dishonest people among them and generations old ethnic tensions that flared up. And they had threats from outside from a Jewish culture that felt threatened by the Jesus-centric movement. Some of the Jesus followers were threatened, beat, and imprisoned. 

 

All the while, they continued to their ways of meeting together and speaking the name and message of Jesus to those who had never heard. This persecution culminated in the murder of one of their leaders, which predicated their fleeing Jerusalem to evade these existential threats. But they took this message with them wherever they went. 

 

And then two major events happen in the life of these early believers that change world history. First, one of the main enemies of these people, Saul, has an experience with Jesus and comes to saving faith. And then Peter has a vision and experience that makes it clear that the message of Jesus is not just for those from a Jewish background, but it’s for everyone of all backgrounds, no one has a stronger stake to claim to the good news of Jesus than anyone else. And so in our text this week, Peter continues to bear witness to his experience with God, and has his own experience with the wrath of men, and the favor of God. 

MAP IT

See here for a map of Israel and the surrounding regions during this time. Make special note of Jerusalem, where Passover would have been centered, plus Herod’s vacation spot of Caesarea, and the neighboring coastal towns of Tyre and Sidon featured in our text this week.

US ASKING ACTS / ACTS ASKING US

Us Asking Acts: 

  • What was it like to persevere through the persecution and doubt, to hold onto your faith that this IS true? 

  • How did you deal with the grief? What has kept you motivated in a level of humility to be able to continue praying?

 

Acts Asking Us: 

  • Do you believe that there is power in praying together?

  • Do you pray earnestly, in expectation that an answer will be provided (whether expected or unexpected) or simply in hopes of an answer?

RESOURCES

LOOKING AHEAD

As the followers of Jesus continue to communicate the experience they’ve had with God, they begin to allow the Holy Spirit to guide them to cross cultural locales and spread the message of salvation through Jesus to both Jews and non-jews. Read about it in Acts 13:1-52.

 

 

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of August 11th, 2019

A Great New Old Commission /Ryan Jackson

key text / Acts 13:1-52  (The Message)

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a PDF of the Learning Guide, Click Here.

THE BIG IDEA

The early Christians catch a vision that their existence serves a purpose beyond themselves and their own needs, and their lives accordingly reflect that practice.

WHERE WE ARE IN THE STORY

As Acts begins, Jesus assures his disciples they will experience the Holy Spirit and spread his message to their nearest neighbors and to the ends of the earth. The Holy Spirit comes on them, and they begin in Jerusalem with their nearest neighbors. Together they eat, pray, share, perform healings, and are unified. Many respond to the message they preach and live. 

 

But they deal with issues from among themselves, in the form of deceit and ethnic issues, and they deal with persecution from the outside, as the Jewish powers that be feel threatened. They walk through these issues with poise, in testimony to the Jesus they serve. But the persecution comes to a head when one of their leaders is stoned to death. 

 

Most of the followers of Jesus, which now number in the thousands, leave Jerusalem to avoid being murdered. But as they go, they keep talking about Jesus. And then something monumental happens: one of the main persecutors of the Jesus followers becomes a Jesus follower himself, and he goes all in. From here, there is another hard shift, as the Holy Spirit leads them minister to non-jews. And not only that, the non-jews don’t have to be Jewish first before accepting the truth of Jesus, they can just accept Jesus. 

 

Where we find ourselves in the text today, the Christians, as they are now called, find a vision for mission that is bigger than themselves.

MAP IT

Examine the route of Paul’s first missionary journey here. Trace each step of the way, and determine where Paul and Barnabas are at the end of Acts 13. Answer the following questions:

  • How long did Paul’s first missionary journey last?

  • Why are there two (or more) Antiochs?

US ASKING ACTS / ACTS ASKING US

Us to Acts:

  • What was it like to be the first in history, of tens of thousands that would come after, to speak the name of Jesus across cultural lines to those who previously had no access? 

  • What motivated you, in the face of false prophets, threats, and rejection, to continue spreading the message of Jesus?

 

Acts to Us:

  • What has motivated you to carry on this legacy of living for a mission beyond yourself and your immediate community? 

  • What keeps you poised and confident in your practice of faith, when there are so many things that can shake faith?

RESOURCES

LOOKING AHEAD

This week marks our last in our study of Acts for this Summer. Next Sunday, we will fittingly begin a 3 week series called Discovering Grace, as we explore who we are as a church, what we believe, and what we desire to exist for. If you’d like to get a primer, check out the Discovering Grace guide here.

 

 

 

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of August 18th, 2019

Discovering Grace Re:boot, Ethos /John Ray

key text / Grace Church Discovering Grace Guide, Colossians 1:15-20

 

 

 

 

 

For a PDF of the Learning Guide, Click Here.

THE BIG IDEA

The ethos of Grace is experienced in our Christocentric, scripture soaked, theologically disciplined, Spirit infused life together.

GROUP DISCUSSION

Take time to remember and share how you came to Grace Church and why you are here. What significant things have happened since joining with Grace? How do these experiences reflect our hopes and goals as expressed in the Discovering Grace materials?

PERSONAL REFLECTION

Meditate on Colossians 1:15-20, take time for this hymn of the first Church to fill your heart and imagination. Over the week, slowly read the introduction and sections 1, 2 & 4 for the Discovering Grace Guide in conjunction with this text. What thoughts and emotions does it bring to you? What questions and hopes? Write them down. Remember them and share them as appropriate. Incorporate them into your prayers.

RESOURCES

LOOKING AHEAD

Next week is part 2 of our 3 week dive into Discovering Grace. We’ll be talking about our practices as individuals and as a community.

 

GATHERING FEEDBACK

Please email your responses to these questions to administrator@gracechurchnwa.org before the Monday following your gathering.

  1. Who was in your group this week?

  2. How did the discussion time go? Any specific feedback on the material we need to know?

  3. Are there any prayer requests or situations we should be aware of?

  4. Anything else?

 

 

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of August 25th, 2019

Discovering Grace Re:boot, Practice /John Ray

key text / Grace Church Discovering Grace Guide, Ephesians 4:1-16 & Matthew 22: 25-28

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a PDF of the Learning Guide, Click Here.

THE BIG IDEA

While there is much we don’t get to choose about the Church, the things we do get to choose are vital. And this takes intentional choices, constant evaluation and hard work.

GROUP DISCUSSION

Using the text we are looking at this week (Ephesians 4:1-16, Matthew 22: 25-28) as well as Section 5 the Discovering Grace Guide, consider:

    Where do you see this being lived out at Grace? 

    Where is it not? 

    What is our response?

PERSONAL REFLECTION

Take time this week to consider, really consider how the Church is designed to work. Reflect on the text we are looking at this week (Ephesians 4:1-16, Matthew 22: 25-28) as well as Section 5 the Discovering Grace Guide. What personal responses is the Spirit leading you into? What steps of obedience do you need to take?

RESOURCES

LOOKING AHEAD

Next week we wrap up our Discovering Grace Re:boot.

 

GATHERING FEEDBACK

Please email your responses to these questions to administrator@gracechurchnwa.org before the Monday following your gathering.

  1. Who was in your group this week?

  2. How did the discussion time go? Any specific feedback on the material we need to know?

  3. Are there any prayer requests or situations we should be aware of?

  4. Anything else?