GRACE CHURCH NWA

2828 NORTH CROSSOVER ROAD

FAYETTEVILLE, AR  72703

SUNDAY WORSHIP  10:15 AM

Grace Church Teaching Guide / Week of January 1, 2017
Key Text: Luke 2:21-40 (NET)

THE SET-UP

The grace and truth that Jesus offer us should be the center from which we walk out our faith in 2017.

 

 

THE HEAD AND THE HEART

 

It’s quiet this early in our house. The dog’s been let out and fed and now lies quietly snoring at my feet. The break of the slow-rising sun is dim enough to allow the lights on the Christmas tree to still glow, a fitting metaphor for this place in time. If you’re like me, you’ve grown used to the routine of such a huge buildup to Christmas Day that the day itself is almost a letdown.

 

Maybe that’s part of the reason our culture is so quick to move on after it’s over. Its commercial usefulness is done; time to move on to the next thing. Time to take the tree down, pack away all the decorations and get ready to fix all those nagging problems (the extra ten pounds we’re packing, the debt we’ve accumulated, the projects we’ve postponed) with our New Year’s resolutions. Time to get back to “normal” (but this year we’ll get “normal” right).

 

I think there’s another reason, as well. Will Willimon, in his magnificent short piece titled “The God We Hardly Knew,” quotes John Wesley as writing, “Nothing is more repugnant to capable, reasonable people as grace.”  I have found few things to be more true. None of us likes to feel (at least for very long) as though we are in need of saving; of constant, sacrificial help. And help in ways we don’t get to choose or control. If Christmas teaches us anything, it’s the way God loves us by “giving us gifts we thought we didn’t need to transform us into people we don’t necessarily want to be.”

 

So this week, stop. Please, stop.


Christmas — the celebration of the birth of our Savior, the One who has come into history in such an utterly cosmos-shattering way — isn’t over yet. Traditionally, the Church has celebrated Christmas for twelve days. I don’t know if that’s exactly the right length of time, but I do know we need much more than one day. We need time after the high-fructose present-giving and emotional roller coaster of sentimentality to reflect, to really let it sink in, to deal on a much deeper level with all that this means. We need time not to make New Year’s resolutions but to reflect on a year’s worth of grace. To really, really let the grace and truth that come through Jesus Christ be the center from which we begin to walk out our faith in 2017.

 

THE OPPORTUNITY

 

  • Slow down. Leave the tree up. Find a new Christmas album, or make a new Christmas playlist. You could start here if you need some inspiration.

  • Reread the Christmas story in Luke in the quiet of the post-holiday season, and reflect on what it means now.

  • Commit to spending some daily quiet time alone with God this year. If you’d like to find a devotional book to use, here’s a suggestion to get you started.

 

DEEP CUTS 

 

 

THE MASH-UP

 

 

 

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

In this week’s blog post on gracechurchnwa.org: John Ray reflects on how God is at work all around us. Sometimes we just have to slow down to notice. Leave comments! Share it! Tweet it! Pin it! Post it!

 

 

 

LOOKING AHEAD

John the Baptist devotes his life to preparing the way for Jesus. Read part of his story, including his baptism of Jesus, in Luke 3:1-22.

Grace Church Teaching Guide / Week of January 8, 2017
Key Text: Luke 3:1-22 (NET)

THE SET-UP

What is Epiphany about?

 

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

 

Epiphany transforms the landscape.

Epiphany is always linked to repentance.

Epiphany makes a way.

 

 

 

THE BASICS

 

  • Look up Leviticus 15:13. In this book of laws, how did God instruct man to clean himself up after an illness?  

  • After slavery, exile and years of marginalization, Jerusalem was waiting for the promised Messiah. Read Isaiah 40:1-11. What good news does God share in these verses for His people?

  • Why did Jesus come, anyway? Look up 1 Timothy 1:15, Mark 2:17, John 18:37, John 6:38, John 12:46, Mark 1:38, John 20:21 and Matthew 5:17. In your own words, what do these verses tell you?

  • How are Isaiah 40:9, “Here is your God,” and Luke 3:22, “You are my one dear Son,” alike?

  •  In Luke 3:10-11, different groups of people in the audience ask, “What then should we do?” How would you briefly summarize John’s response?

 

 

 

GRACE IN 3D

 

Get two participants in your Grace Group to read this funny script aloud to kick off your discussion. Then ask, "In all seriousness, how teachable are we today? Are we ready to hear some tough challenges from the text?"

 

 

 

THE HEAD AND THE HEART

 

  • “Earth-shattering” and “utterly transforming” are descriptions easily thrown around and probably overused. But when something truly is earth-shattering and utterly transforming, it changes everything; it reorders how we understand things, changes our perceptions and priorities. And like strangers visiting a foreign place, we have to learn our way around. Delivering his basic message, John the Baptist exemplified the words of Isaiah as one who “prepar(ed) the way for the Lord,” making paths straight, filling valleys, leveling hills and smoothing over rough terrain. What, specifically, was he doing to accomplish this? In what ways did his life, actions and message exemplify this? Has it done it for us?

 

  • This revelation of who Jesus is and what He is about — the revelation that is summed up in what we call “The Gospel” — is always implicitly connected to a direct command to repent. Why do you think this is so? What is it about the Gospel that requires repentance? Is this a bad thing? Do you think it’s possible to understand the Gospel without the attending repentance? Why or why not?

 

  • The coming of Jesus and the impact of the Gospel message rearrange our landscape and dramatically change the direction of our lives. Directions we once thought closed are open, directions we once thought beneficial are exposed as dead ends. How have your encounter and ongoing apprenticeship with Jesus done this in your own life? Think beyond the obvious response: Ask yourself where you would be headed if you had never heard the Gospel. Where would you be aiming your life if you were not following Jesus?

 

THE OPPORTUNITY

 

 

DEEP CUTS 

 

 

THE MASH-UP

 

 

 

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

In this week’s blog post on gracechurchnwa.org: John Ray reflects on how God is at work all around us. Sometimes we just have to slow down to notice. Leave comments! Share it! Tweet it! Pin it! Post it!

 

 

 

LOOKING AHEAD

In Nazareth, Jesus preaches His first sermon and launches His ministry. Read about it in Luke 4:14-30 (NET).

Grace Church Teaching Guide / Week of January 15, 2017
Key Text: Luke 4:14-30 (ESV)

THE SET-UP

When we see Jesus for who He is, and we understand His message clearly, how will we respond?

 

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

 

To see Jesus clearly, we have to put aside

our wants and expectations.

Jesus wants us to understand His true message.

We respond to Jesus’ teaching

by joining Him in Kingdom work.

 

 

 

THE BASICS

 

  • Who was Luke? See this site for more background information on the author of this book of the Bible and fill in the blanks:  

     Luke was a _______________by birth,  __________________ in Greek culture, a

     ___________________ by profession, a ________________ of Paul and a

     ____________ friend.

  • Continue to read about the characteristics of Luke’s construction of Jesus under  the heading CHARACTERISTICS. In your own words, restate what was important to Luke as he wrote.

  • What does Luke 19:10 say to you about the Good News?

 

 

 

GRACE IN 3D

 

Think about an experience recently shared by your Grace Group: a Christmas gathering, the last time you met or the last time you had a meal together, for instance. Take turns describing exactly what happened, just as you remember it. Are there any details that you all describe exactly the same way? Maybe, but there won’t be many. Take turns sharing with the group some of the things that shape your memory of this event. Then think about the different things that shape your understanding of Scripture. Can you name a few, and share them with the group?

 

 

 

THE HEAD AND THE HEART

 

  • According to verse 16, Jesus is teaching a hometown crowd here. Nazareth is believed to have had a population of fewer than 500 when Jesus was growing up, so maybe some of these folks knew Him when He was a kid. According to verse 22, they’re quite impressed with Him at first. But when His message takes an unexpected turn, they become enraged and decide to throw Him off a cliff. As familiar as He might have been to them, clearly they don’t know Him. Can you relate at all? Consider who you believe and expect Jesus to be: What’s that image based on? Has it ever been challenged? If so, how? How did it make you feel? How are we supposed to get to the truth of Jesus’ identity?

 

  • If you were to sum up Jesus’ message in your own words based only on what you’ve read in Scripture, what would you say? Would you sum it up differently If you also drew from your own thoughts, impressions, memories and opinions? From what you’ve been told? Is there any part of Jesus’ teachings that makes you uncomfortable? Sad? Mad? Any part you disagree with? Anything you just don’t understand? Where do you go for help? What are some of the tools you use to dig into Scripture?

 

  • The crowd at the synagogue turns on Jesus when He gets to the heart of His teaching in verses 23-27. He touches a very sensitive nerve here that challenges their identity, their expectations, their worldview and their ideas about the coming Messiah. And their reaction clearly shows it. No matter how closely we apprentice Jesus, there’ll be times we aren’t happy about what He says to us. So, how should we respond to Jesus’ message? What’s the key to being obedient regardless of what we’re commanded to do or how we’re told to live? What’s the payoff?

 

THE OPPORTUNITY

 

 

DEEP CUTS 

 

 

THE MASH-UP

 

 

 

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

In this week’s blog post on gracechurchnwa.org: Winter is a season of endings, but not the end of the Story. Norma Farthing reminds us that spring is coming. Leave comments! Share it! Tweet it! Pin it! Post it!

 

 

 

LOOKING AHEAD

Jesus teaches from a fishing boat and recruits fishers of men. Read about it in Luke 5:1-11 (NET).

Grace Church Teaching Guide / Week of January 22, 2017
Key Text: Luke 5:1-11 (NET)

THE SET-UP

From the start of his ministry, Jesus was calling and commissioning His disciples — individually and collectively as His Church — to follow Him and to do the work He was doing.

 

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

 

To hear Jesus’ call,

we have to listen for His voice.

Obeying Jesus’ call transforms us.

The Church is called to share His Gospel.

 

 

 

THE BASICS

 

  • Go to this site to get a little background on Simon Peter, then fill in the blanks:  Simon Peter, also known as ______________, was one of the first _______________ of Jesus Christ.  He was an _________________ and _________________ disciple, one of Jesus’ closest friends, an _________________ and a _________________ of the church.

  • Read John 1:41-42. How did Simon get a new name?

  • Look up Isaiah 6:5 and Luke 5:8-9.  How are these two men’s reactions to an encounter with the Lord the same?

 

 

 

GRACE IN 3D

 

This could be a fun activity in which to include kids or teens who are in your Grace Group. You might even be able to do this while you’re eating together. Put each group member’s name in a bowl. Each member of the group chooses an imaginary gift to give to their assigned person. Each gift is drawn or described on a piece of paper to be given to the recipient. The gifts should be thought out so they represent the individuals who receive the gifts.

 

 

The gifts may be deep and thoughtful such as "courage to face life's difficulties," for someone who has shared many deep problems with the group. Or the gifts may simply be something the receiver would enjoy, such as "a season ski pass to go skiing any time you want," for someone who enjoys skiing.

 

 

Once everyone has completed their gifts, let one person at a time give out his/her gifts to the others. When giving the gifts, the giver should explain what the gift is and why she or he chose to give that particular gift to the individual.

 

 

Quick Discussion Topics

  • How did you decide what gift to give?

  • What did you think about the gift you got?

  • Do you think there was a good match between the people and the gifts they received?

 

 

 

THE HEAD AND THE HEART

 

  • Last week James Covington did an incredible job of describing how easy it is for us to hear what we want to hear Jesus say instead of hearing what He is actually saying. (If you missed the message, catch up on the podcast here). In our text this week, we find another prime example of a story we can easily misread. So we are going to have to be extra diligent in our study to really hear what Jesus is saying. Read the text, starting with Luke 4:31 for context, and put yourself in the story. What is it about Jesus that the crowds find so compelling? What is it, specifically, that He seems to be about? Where do you see yourself in the story? Our text ends with a very specific call to a very specific group of individuals. Does it have anything to do with us?

 

  • We talk a lot at Grace about the way we come to really understand things. Our culture tells us to “listen, understand, and obey (maybe)” while the Hebrew/Biblical model is “listen, obey, and understand (maybe).” How do you see that reflected in this story? If we were to apply the Hebrew/Biblical model of responding to Jesus, how would our responses change?

 

  • For centuries, Christians understood this story to be a metaphor for the call of the Church. This was even reflected in the way Church buildings were designed and built. As you reflect on the story, can you see why this was the predominant understanding for so many years? Do you think it is still, or ever was, accurate?

 

THE OPPORTUNITY

 

  • Do you ever wonder how to know when God is calling you? You might find some guidance here.

  • Scripture is clear on the fact that Jesus calls all of us to feed His sheep. Commit to do something specific this week in obedience to that call. You could start by bringing cans of chicken noodle soup to 2828 on Sunday; we’re rounding up a donation for the Salvation Army Community Center’s canteen truck. Or give your time and energy to an organization that feed the needy in Northwest Arkansas, like Northwest Arkansas Hunger Relief or LifeSource.

  • Ask the Holy Spirit to show you some specific ways you can share the Gospel with someone you see everyday. Be obedient, and creative!

 

DEEP CUTS 

 

 

THE MASH-UP

 

 

 

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

In this week’s blog post on gracechurchnwa.org: Alex Cornett identifies our lead worshiper. Leave comments! Share it! Tweet it! Pin it! Post it!

 

 

 

LOOKING AHEAD

Jesus demonstrates how He fulfills the law, then chooses His first twelve apprentices. Read about it in Luke 6:1-16.

Grace Church Teaching Guide / Week of January 29, 2017
Disorienting Dilemmas - Darrell Harvey
00:00 / 00:00
Key Text: Luke 6:1-16 (NET)

THE SET-UP

Jesus begins training His disciples, demonstrating His relationship to the Sabbath and His authority to shake up the law.

 

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

 

What was the original purpose of the Sabbath?

What is Jesus’ relationship to the Sabbath?

How does our understanding of the Sabbath

inform our lives?

 

 

 

THE BASICS

 

  • What is the history of the Sabbath? Look up Exodus 20:1-2; 8-11 (NET version) and fill in the blanks:  ___________ spoke all these words:  I, ______________, am your God, who brought you from the land of Egypt, from the house of __________________.  Remember the __________________________ to set it apart as holy.  For six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a ________________________________________; on it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, or your male servant, or your female servant, or your cattle, or the resident foreigner who is in your gates. For in six days the _________________ made the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that is in them, and he ________________________on the seventh day; therefore the Lord __________________________ and __________________________ as holy.

  • Even after the Hebrews were led out of slavery, they seemed centuries later to be enslaved by other things. Read Galatians 4:4-10. What did Paul say to the new Galatian believers regarding their life after belief in Jesus?

  • We all get weary from the demands of life and work. What does Jesus say in Matthew 11:28-30 about rest?

 

 

 

GRACE IN 3D

 

Are you a rule-follower? Do you like to see others following the rules? In your table group or in groups of 3-4, list five rules that you hate to see other people breaking, such as running red lights, not returning shopping carts to the carrel or leaving their phone on at the theater during a movie.

 

 

THE HEAD AND THE HEART

 

  • In American culture we often think of “Sabbath” as “Sunday,” and the thing we do on Sunday is go to church. Yet Biblically and historically, it has meant so much more. Imagine, for a moment, a world of endless work where you’re basically “on” 24/7/365. While work itself is not a curse, this kind of relentless work always is. Sabbath was designed for many things; one of the most important was to break the oppression of endless work. It’s also meant to bring us freedom to something, as well as freedom from something. What do you think that something is? What other roles do you think Sabbath is designed to play? Why does it seem so difficult to practice true Sabbath?

 

  • Almost to the extreme opposite of our culture, the Jewish culture of Jesus’ day took Sabbath very seriously — in some cases to an intense degree. All through the Gospels, we see Jesus sparring with certain groups over the understanding and role of Sabbath. In our text this week, consider the response of the Pharisees to Jesus’ apparent challenge to their understanding of proper Sabbath-keeping. What does this teach us about them? What does it teach us about Jesus? What are we to take away from it in our culture?

 

  • How does our understanding of the Sabbath inform our lives? Is there a trust issue here? Do we trust God enough to quit trying to control every minute we’re given and, instead, live in God’s rest? If not, why?

 

THE OPPORTUNITY

 

Establishing a Biblical, healthy and sustained Sabbath practice is no doubt extremely difficult, but we cannot ignore it. We must not. Please do two three things to respond to our text for this week.

  • Take about seven minutes and watch this video from Work of the People.

  • Sit quietly with your journal, or take out a pad and pen, and dream about what your practice of Sabbath should and can look like.

  • Share with someone you trust what your intentions are, and start implementing your new practice of Sabbath.

JUST FOR KIDS

Would you like to include discussion of today’s message with your children? Watch this video and have a chat.

 

 

 

DEEP CUTS 

 

 

THE MASH-UP

 

 

 

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

In this week’s blog post on gracechurchnwa.org: Jesus says, “You’re on!” and you say … what? John Ray has some thoughts. Leave comments! Share it! Tweet it! Pin it! Post it!

 

 

 

LOOKING AHEAD

What would it take for Jesus to be amazed at our faith? Luke 7:1-17 (NET) gives us a hint.