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Grace Church Learning Guide

Week of December 1, 2019

The Bad News Before the Good News

John Ray

Jeremiah 33:14-18

 

 

 

For a PDF of the Learning Guide, Click Here.

THE BIG IDEA

God will raise up. Not us, God. Not one who will “do justice and rule” like us, but like God. To really recognize the Good News for what it is, we first have to recognize the bad news. 

GROUP DISCUSSION

  • What are you hoping for this Advent season?

  • Where are you experiencing a need for justice, safety and security? 

  • Is there anything about the Gospel that scares you?

  • What promises of God are you having trouble waiting patiently for? 

PERSONAL REFLECTION

Take some time this week to consider how you are going to participate in Advent. Make specific goals and commitments where you are going to spend your time, energy and money. But before you so all that, first take stock of the need in your life, specifically the needs beyond your own ability or the ability of others to fix or provide for. Make room for God to come into those places. 

RESOURCES

LOOKING AHEAD 

We meditate on the promises of a coming Savior with Isaiah from Isaiah 40:1-11

 

 

Grace Church Learning Guide

Week of December 8, 2019

Peace, Not Quiet

Tim Foster

Isaiah 40:1-11 

 

 

 

 

For a PDF of the Learning Guide, Click Here.

THE BIG IDEA

We all crave peace and seek peace in many different ways. There are cheap, short-lived ways to get peace out there, but true, lasting peace can only be found in God, through his son Jesus. 

GROUP DISCUSSION

  • Talk about a time when your life was most stable 

  • Read Isaiah 40:12-31. This has strong parallels with Job 38-39 (and other places) - what is the connection between the greatness, supremacy, awesomeness, glory of God and peace? 

  • What are some other passages that describe the greatness or character of God? How do you feel when you read those?

  • Why would recognizing that we are ‘like grass’ in verses 6-8 juxtaposed with the description of God in the following verses bring us encouragement and peace? Does it bother you?

  • Bonus question: what is the relationship between having peace between ourselves and God, peace within ourselves, and peace with others?

PERSONAL REFLECTION

Take some time this week to explore verses 10 and 11 in our text. Note the description of a mighty warrior and a tender loving shepherd placed next to each other. Ponder why the Holy Spirit is invoking this imagery here? Is it easy or hard to trust God as our good shepherd? Consider Proverbs 3:5-8.

RESOURCES

  • The Narrative Lectionary commentary and podcast explain important context behind the whole of Isaiah and this text, and present the passage as a “double commission”.

  • The Bible Project’s Isaiah videos, especially part 2, help set up the text this week and provide significant clarity around what can be one of the more confusing books of scripture. 

  • 19th Century pastor Charles Spurgeon wrote a sermon on this text and it’s quoting in 1 Peter, noting that it’s more than just about the mortality of man. 

  • Like last year, Biola University’s Center for Christianty, Culture, and the Arts has put out a great Advent Devotional.

LOOKING AHEAD 

Next week, we enter the book of Luke. Luke is one of the 4 gospel books that tells the stories of the life of Jesus. Read about it in Luke 1:1-4.

 

ODDS AND ENDS

Oxford Scholar Alistair McGrath shares his thoughts on science, scripture, and God’s glory.

 

 

 

 

Grace Church Learning Guide

Week of December 15, 2019

A Little Less Temple, A Lot More Jesus

John Ray

Ezra 1:1-4, 3:1-4, 3:10-13

 

 

 

For a PDF of the Learning Guide, Click Here.

THE BIG IDEA

God continues to lead the people of Israel into a deeper experience of God’s presence away from the Temple. 

GROUP DISCUSSION

The revelation that we’ve wanted the wrong thing, or the thing we wished for failed to really do what we had imagined. Look at the responses of the two groups in our text. One, those who’ve only known exile and a pile of rubble where the Temple was rejoice. The others who’d seen the former Temple wail with lament. What does this teach us? What do you think God’s reasons were in restoring a form of Temple worship that really wasn’t near what it was before? What some of the things for which we should accept no substitutes?

PERSONAL REFLECTION

Our expectations play an outsized role in our perceived happiness. This week, take time to consider what it is you want, what it is you expect, and what it is that you really need for happiness, wholeness and health. Are you hoping for the right things? Are you praying for the things that are really the best for you? 

RESOURCES

  • Commentary from the Narrative Lectionary here and here 

  • Cyrus the Great possibly gives a glimpse of what it means to be a Messiah who frees the captives and gives them the right to worship as they choose.  

  • Overview Ezra-Nehemiah from the Bible Project

  • Reminder that like last year, Biola University’s Center for Christianty, Culture, and the Arts has put out a great Advent Devotional

  • The Gospel in Ezra blog post by Crossway

LOOKING AHEAD 

This week as we’ve looked at some of the absolute last events of the Old Testament. And for over 400 years, scripture is silent, it does not speak to the people of Israel or the inhabitants of earth. But much happened and God was working in that time period. And in an entirely different world than where scripture leaves off in the Old Testament, after 430 years, a prophet is born. And as he grows up, he preaches the coming of the one who has been talked of since the beginning. His name is John, and he preaches Jesus. Read about it in Luke 1:5-13, [14-25], 57-80.

Grace Church Learning Guide

Week of December 22, 2019

Love > Fear

John Ray

Luke 1:5-13, 14-25, 57-80 (NET)

 

For a PDF of the Learning Guide, Click Here.

THE BIG IDEA

Faith leads us into fearful places. Love leads us through to the other side. 

GROUP DISCUSSION

In the event that you are meeting this week. Celebrate! 

PERSONAL REFLECTION

Advent is marked by waiting for God to do what only God can do. Where in your life are you waiting for God? Take time this week both to recognize and give thanks for where God has shown up and recognize and lean into the places you are still waiting.

RESOURCES

LOOKING AHEAD 

Christmas Eve Candlelight service is coming up at 6:00pm Tuesday at 2828. Christmas cookies, Hot chocolate and carols! Bring the neighbors!

ODDS AND ENDS 

 

Will you watch with someone? 

Need some simplicity this Christmas?

Grace Church Learning Guide

Week of December 29, 2019

The Messengers and the Message

Bryan Riley

Mark 1: 1-20 (NET)

 

 

 

 

 

For a PDF of the Learning Guide, Click Here.

THE BIG IDEA

Today is the day of salvation, today you are being saved and are called to saving. Therefore let us live a lifestyle of repentance and generosity/good news of faith, generosity, and hope.

GROUP DISCUSSION

  1. There is a sense of urgency throughout the Gospel of Mark, and it can be seen in these first 20 verses. Discuss how this is displayed in the passage and how this impacts our mission as followers of Jesus.

  2. In verse 12 you see the Holy Spirit compelling Jesus to go into the wilderness, where he was tempted. How does this impact your view of God’s role in the many seasons of our lives, whether of abundance or of need, whether of order or of chaos. Consider Philippians and especially chapter 4. 

  3. What does it mean to fish for people?

PERSONAL REFLECTION

The book of Mark is the shortest of the four Gospel accounts.  It takes about an hour to read in one sitting at a leisurely pace. Find that hour and sit with it, reading from start to finish. Let the whole sweep of the story sink in. Use this time to set your intention to follow Jesus wherever He may lead, to seek to understand whatever He may teach, to obey whatever He may instruct, to let Him heal whatever He may choose to heal. 

RESOURCES

LOOKING AHEAD 

Next week is the first week of 2020! We continue our study of Mark and see Jesus healing a number of people in Mark 1:21-45. What will it mean for us? 

ODDS AND ENDS 

What are you going to incarnate?