GRACE CHURCH NWA

2828 NORTH CROSSOVER ROAD

FAYETTEVILLE, AR  72703

SUNDAY WORSHIP  10:15 AM

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of July 2, 2017
Key Text: Psalm 129 (MSG)

THE SET-UP

We cultivate the gift of faith by practicing it—by recognizing God’s presence in our deliverance and offering an appropriate response.

 

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

 

  • Can you name some practices that build faith in God? What are some specific ways we can cultivate them? Progress can sometimes come slowly, so how do we also cultivate perseverance? And how do we deal with discouragement?

  • This Psalm paints a vivid picture of God as our deliverer. Do you recognize God that way? When you consider God as your deliverer, what does that mean to you personally?

  • Who do you more closely identify with in this Psalm: the persecutor, or the persecuted? When we feel that we’re persecuted because of our faith—whether by friends, family, co-workers, the media or the government—how does that shape the way we respond to oppression and evil? Is this an appropriate response? Why or why not?

 

 

REFLECTION

 

As you read through this Psalm, think about your response to God’s protection, provision and deliverance. After the message on Sunday morning, we’ll have the opportunity to write out our responses to the truth of this passage. Get a jump on this exercise by putting your thoughts on paper between now and then. You might start by remembering a specific instance when you experienced God’s deliverance: How did you respond, and how did it affect the course of your life?

 

 

 

KIDS' CREATION CONNECTION 

This week, our kids will learn about how some smart food choices made a huge difference for Daniel and his friends. So take a family trip to one of our local berry farms. While you pick berries, talk together about where our food comes from and how to choose wisely what we eat.


 

THE LINKS 

 

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

In this week’s blog post on gracechurchnwa.org: Teresa Cornett reflects on how God uses us to bless others when we have compassion for outsiders and newcomers. Leave comments! Share it! Tweet it! Pin it! Post it!

 

 

 

LOOKING AHEAD

Only God has the power to bring hope to us when the bottom falls out of our lives. Read about it in Psalm 130.

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of July 9, 2017
Key Text: Psalm 130 (MSG)

THE SET-UP

It’s easy for us to think of ourselves as serial offenders, but how often do we think of God as a serial forgiver?

 

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

 

  • It is so easy for us to focus on our chronic sins, failures, struggles. Often we feel that is what God wants us to do, as a way of keeping us from sinning even more. This rarely, if ever, works. And it keeps us from responding to, accepting and valuing something far more significant: the “serial” forgiveness of God. Which do you think is more significant and worthy of your attention—your chronic struggle with certain thoughts and behaviors, or God’s ceaseless willingness to forgive? Where should your focus be?

  • Getting our focus right is essential if we are to patiently “wait and watch” for God’s presence and deliverance. We’re not very good at the waiting-and-watching thing, though, unless we’re talking about waiting and watching Netflix. Having a proper focus can actually make the waiting worse (at least for a bit). We have to deal seriously with our situation, history and hopes. Are there deeper things going on in our waiting? Are God’s delays motivated by factors besides negligence, dissatisfaction or anger? How do waiting and watching help us grow, and draw closer to God and others?

  • It’s easy to think, from a Psalm like this, that if God isn’t reminded—even begged—that God just might not provide the forgiveness and deliverance we so yearn for. But look more closely: Who is the Psalmist trying to persuade to listen, pay attention, remember? Why is it necessary for us to remember what God has done in the past? How do waiting and watching affect our experience of God’s deliverance?

 

 

REFLECTION

 

Take some time this week to stop, be quiet and “wait and watch.” Whether you can only grab 20 minutes or you can carve out a couple hours, get rid of distractions; start by slowly praying the Lord’s Prayer once, twice, maybe even three times. Then ask God to help you identify what you truly yearn for. Are there things God has already given you the desire to know or experience? If so, ask God for those things. Then wait. Patiently. And end the time by giving thanks. Afterward, write down your impressions. Make it a habit to keep asking, waiting and watching for an answer.

 

 

 

JUST FOR KIDS

 

Kids' Creation Connection: This week, our text discusses waiting and watching. Try making these binoculars, then take them outside and watch God's creation!

Car Talk: While you have everyone together in the car on the way to church, play this song for your kids. Tell them they’ll hear it again during the service, but it might sound just a little bit different. Challenge them to listen for it and to let you know if they recognize it.


 

THE LINKS 

 

 

 

LOOKING AHEAD

In A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, Eugene Peterson calls our next passage a “maintenance psalm”: It prunes a couple of destructive qualities— “unruly ambition” and “infantile dependency”— from the life of a Christ-follower. Read about it in Psalm 131.

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of July 16, 2017
Key Text: Psalm 131 (MSG)

THE SET-UP

The unexpected happens. Things don’t pan out like we envisioned. Life gets hard. It’s in these moments where we learn to watch and wait on God.

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

 

  • How do we respond to God when life doesn’t align with our expectations? Along those lines, what are you expecting from life? Have you spent time praying over those expectations? If you feel like things haven’t worked out like you want, have you talked with God about it?

  • What does it mean to cultivate a quiet heart? Keep in mind that quiet and distracted are two very different things. Have you taken time to recognize what is going on in your heart lately? When your heart is anxious, sad, depressed, angry, or in any other kind of distress, what must you do to bring it back to a quiet state?

  • Where do we find hope when all hope seems lost? Have you ever felt like you’re alone in your hopelessness? From where does your hope come?

 

 

REFLECTION

 

Cultivating a quiet heart takes practice. Start this week by carving out some time every day to spend alone with God. Begin by meditating on some verses that tell you who God is and how He cares for you. (You could start here, here or here.) Ask Him to bring to your mind things He’s done to protect and provide for you, and write them down. Name specifically the things that are distracting you and causing you to be anxious right now, then leave those things with Him. Ask Him to give you calm in place of distraction and anxiety.

 

 

 

JUST FOR KIDS

 

Kids' Creation Connection: We live in a chaotic world where we’re bombarded by sounds everywhere. It’s hard to hear God when we’re distracted and can’t cultivate a quiet heart. To learn about how God’s creation listens, try this activity with your family: Tell them about one of the deer’s special adaptations—its ears are shaped to pick up even the slightest noise from the area around it. Deer are especially sensitive to lower-frequency noises such as running water, wind in the treetops or even traffic on a road. Spend a few minutes outside with your family; ask each person to cup their hands behind their ears, then listen together for naturally-occurring noises. See how much you can hear when you listen like a deer!

Car Talk:  While you have everyone together in the car on the way to church, have another listen to this song with your kids; it’ll be our gathering song again on Sunday. See if you can be ready to sing along when worship begins!


 

THE LINKS 

 

 

 

LOOKING AHEAD

God makes it clear throughout Scripture that He wants to dwell with us. Now we have to decide whether we want to dwell with Him. Read about it in Psalm 132.

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of July 23, 2017

Key Text: Psalm 132 (MSG)

 

 

 

THE SET-UP

Scripture sometimes leaves us with more questions than answers. One thing is always certain: God clearly wants to dwell with us. We have to decide how closely we’ll dwell with God.

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

 

  • What does worship mean to you? Do you get excited about meeting God when you worship? Why or why not? What are some things that draw you into worship? What are some things that inhibit you? How do we keep it personal without making it about us?

  • 1 Peter 2:4-5 tells us we’re living stones that God uses to build a spiritual temple. What does that look like, practically? And what does it have to do with corporate worship? Is it possible to truly worship regularly with people you’re not connected to? Why or why not? At Grace, does our worship encourage community? How could we do it better?

  • What are some specific ways you worship in your everyday life? How does your week inform your worship? How does worship inform your week? How is your life different because you’ve participated in worship on a given Sunday? What are you willing to sacrifice this week as an act of worship?

 

 

REFLECTION

 

When we worship, it can be hard to temporarily set aside our thanksgiving and petition and only focus on praising God for who God is. Can you relate? Try this exercise during your reflection this week: Think of what you know to be true about God based on your personal experience and observation; begin with the letter “A” and work your way through the alphabet. You might start with worshipping God because He is Abba, your heavenly Father, or because He is Alpha and Omega; next, because He is a God of beauty and bounty; then because He is creative. Be specific: What has God taught you about His character? How do you know these things are true?

 

 

 

JUST FOR KIDS

 

Kids' Creation Connection: On Sunday, we’ll spend some time thinking about how community is vital to worship. To help encourage community at Grace, grab a family from church that you don't know well and invite them to join your family on a creek walk at Wilson or Gulley Park. Enjoy the fellowship in God’s Temple!

Car Talk: While you have everyone together in the car Sunday morning on the way to 2828, ask your kids to tell you why they think you go to church. See if you can engage them in a conversation about worship, and let them know that they might have a chance to share their thoughts during the service!


 

THE LINKS 

 

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

In this week’s blog post on gracechurchnwa.org: Josie Lawson shares reflections on an epic road trip and a house that love built. Leave comments! Share it! Tweet it! Pin it! Post it!

 

LOOKING AHEAD

Kingdom-focused community is a beautiful thing. Read about it in Psalm 133.

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of July 30, 2017

 

Key Text: Psalm 133 (MSG)

 

 

 

 

THE SET-UP

We live out the Kingdom as an extended family of believers. And family life can be tricky to navigate. But the Holy Spirit in and among us—if we’ll lean into it—creates supernatural unity that draws us together and glorifies God.

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

 

  • In A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, Eugene Peterson writes, “When we become Christians, we are among brothers and sisters in faith. No Christian is an only child.” Do you think of Grace Church the same way you think of family? Do you consider the faith community at Grace to be unified? Why or why not?

  • Look closely at the imagery in this passage: What do you think it means to be “anointed” by the Holy Spirit? (Find some context here, here and here.) What is the significance of dew flowing down a mountain? (Here are some ideas.) And what do these word picture tell us about the significance of unity among believers?

  • If you’ve always gotten along blissfully well with your siblings, congratulations. (Also, how?) Even in tightly-knit families, sibling harmony doesn’t always come naturally. Can you name some general things that cause tension among brothers and sisters? Are there specific ways you see those things affect brothers and sisters in the Church? The Holy Spirit in and among us brings unity, so it’s not our job to conjure it up. But how do we cooperate with the Holy Spirit to encourage unity at Grace? In the greater Church?

 

 

REFLECTION

 

On Sunday morning, our service will look a bit different than usual. While we won’t hear a teaching specifically around Psalm 133, we’re going to celebrate the theme of the passage: unity in the family of Christ. Find an opportunity this week to practice unity with some folks at Grace Church. Get together with your Grace Group, pair up your group with another one or invite some people you’d like to know better; ask them to join you in helping out at an organization that serves our community, such as LifeSource, the NWA Food Bank, the Northwest Arkansas Children’s Shelter or Faith In Action. You might even consider tackling a project at 2828, like cleaning the patio or weeding the flower beds. Consider what you learn about unity in the process. If you’d like to share, take some photos and post them along with your thoughts to the Grace Church Facebook page or on Instagram with #gracechurchnwa.

 

 

 

JUST FOR KIDS

 

Kids' Creation Connection: Since we’ll have All Family Worship on Sunday, your kids will get to stay in the service. They’ll hear about some great things that happen with our church when we get along and work together. To get a visual on the beauty of unity, spend some time making daisy crowns together.

Car Talk: In the car on the way to 2828 on Sunday, ask your children if they can tell you what “unity” is. Let them know that that word will pop up during worship; on the way home, you might ask them if they learned something new about it.


 

THE LINKS 

 

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

In this week’s blog post on gracechurchnwa.org: Josie Lawson shares reflections on an epic road trip and a house that love built. Leave comments! Share it! Tweet it! Pin it! Post it!

 

LOOKING AHEAD

Dynamite comes in small packages. In only three verses, the last of the Psalms of Ascent addresses a hugely important topic: the relationship between praise and blessing. Read about it in Psalm 134.