GRACE CHURCH NWA

2828 NORTH CROSSOVER ROAD

FAYETTEVILLE, AR  72703

SUNDAY WORSHIP  10:15 AM

Grace Church Teaching Guide / Week of March 5, 2017
Key Text: Luke 10:25-42 (NET)

THE SET-UP

We learn who our neighbor is by apprenticing to Jesus.

 

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

 

What does it mean to obey

the Great Commandment?

How do we understand

who our neighbor is?

How do we practice sitting

at Jesus’ feet?

 

 

 

THE BASICS

 

Where did the expert in the law get his answer to Jesus’ question as cited in Luke 10:27?  Look up Deuteronomy 6:1-9 and fill in the blanks:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love ____________________________ with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be ______________________.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk _______________________________when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them _________________________ and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

 

What did the Israelites know about how to treat a neighbor? Read Leviticus 19 to find out more about the “various laws” which an expert on law would have known.

 

 

 

GRACE IN 3D

 

For your Lenten practice this week, count your blessings. It may seem counterintuitive, here at the start of a season associated with giving things up, to think of all we have. But we gain perspective and motivation when we realize that anything we can give up was first a gift to us. So this week, make a list of all the things you are grateful for; keep it with you and add to it whenever something comes to mind. Bring your list to your Grace Group, and along with the other members of your group, write on a group list the things you’re thankful for. Be prepared to share with your group why you chose the things on your list.

 

 

THE HEAD AND THE HEART

 

  • In our day of social media, “liking” something has taken on a new meaning. Instead of just noting a general affinity or preference, what we “like” has become tied to our identity. Liking a post has come to mean endorsement of it (and by extension, the person who posted it). We joked this week about what would happen if we posted the Great Commandment on Facebook. How many “likes” would we get and what, exactly, would that mean? One thing we could be sure of is that Jesus didn’t affirm this commandment to get “likes.” Instead, He expected obedience. And not the self-justifying kind. How have you related to this command in your own life? Do you “like” it, or do you obey it? If so, what does that look like?

 

  • Jesus can be frustrating at times, especially when we’re trying to land on solid, once-and-for-all definitions of things. When asked a simple question — “Who is my neighbor?” — Jesus responds by telling the story that’s recorded in our text. Probably because he knew the motivation of the person asking the question, but also because He knows our temptation to try and get a one-size-fits-all answer. This story forces us to be constantly considering the question, to let our answer define us rather than vice-versa. How does Jesus’ answer make you feel? Why do you think Jesus answered the way He did?

 

  • Often we hear a story like the Good Samaritan, immediately feel guilty and then set off in an immediate frenzy of “neighboring.” It never lasts long. Reading the stories of the Good Samaritan and of Mary and Martha together, however, gives us some perspective. Of all the characters in these two stories, there are only two “heroes,” the Samaritan and Mary. One is shown taking immediate sacrificial action, the other sitting attentively paying attention to Jesus while activity swirls around her. So which one are we supposed to emulate? Or are there things to learn from both of them? How do we understand these two characters together? How do they inform each other?

 

THE OPPORTUNITY

 

Grace Group leaders usually meet on the second Saturday of the month to talk, plan and pray together. This month, though, second Saturday offers all of us a chance to meet and serve as a body. On March 11 at 9 a.m., come to 2828 and help with spring cleaning. There are lots of tasks to take care of; maybe your Grace Group could form a team and own a few of them. Several groups and local ministries use our building during the week, free of charge. So maintaining it well is an important way we serve our neighbors. If you’ve got questions, John Green can tell you more.

JUST FOR KIDS

From the Department of Some-Of-Us-Have-Too-Much-Time-On-Our-Hands: Lego Good Samaritan! There’s no dialogue in this video — only instrumental music — so watch it with your kids, and see if they can supply the script. Then ask what they learn from the story. Like, who is our neighbor? And what are some specific ways we can we help people in need this week? If you’re in the mood for a dance party, follow up with this video.

 

 

 

DEEP CUTS 

 

      BONUS TRACK: “The Parable of the Good Samaritan” from the final speech delivered    by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., YouTube

 

 

 

THE MASH-UP

 

 

 

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

In this week’s blog post on gracechurchnwa.org: John Ray shares how the religion of self-sufficiency is poison to the apprentice of Christ. Leave comments! Share it! Tweet it! Pin it! Post it!

 

 

 

LOOKING AHEAD

Jesus preaches the necessity of repentance and fruit-bearing, and offers an interesting picture of God as mother hen. Read about it in Luke 13:1-9 and 31-35.

Grace Church Teaching Guide / Week of March 12, 2017
Key Text: Luke 13:1-9, 31-35 (NET)

THE SET-UP

Jesus is serious about repentance.

 

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

 

Love and rebuke

are not mutually exclusive.

Bargains made with the devil

always end in the devil’s favor.

What Jesus says and does tells us

a lot more about Jesus than about ourselves.

 

 

 

THE BASICS

 

Who was Pilate? Read here to fill in the blanks:

 

As a Roman prefect, Pontius Pilate was granted the power of a ________________, which meant that he had the sole authority to order a criminal’s execution. His duties as a prefect included such mundane tasks as tax collection and managing construction projects. But, perhaps his most crucial responsibility was that of _______________________________. Pontius Pilate attempted to do so by any means necessary. What he couldn’t negotiate he is said to have accomplished through brute force.


When Jesus says, O Jerusalem, Jerusalem in verse 34, what is the significance? Read more here and imagine Him using your name, or our church’s name, or our country’s name.

 

 

 

GRACE IN 3D

 

In this week’s text, Jesus refers to several animals: hens, chicks, and a fox. Before your Grace Group meets, you might find it interesting to take a quick personality test based on the work of the Smalley Institute. It breaks down our traits and tendencies into four animal types: lion, otter, golden retriever, and beaver. Quickly share each person’s results and marvel in how God can use “a whole barnyard” cast of characters in His kingdom.

 

 

THE HEAD AND THE HEART

 

  • What Jesus says and does tells us a lot more about Jesus than about ourselves. Jesus is the hero of the story, and the God we follow looks a lot like Him. We often read the Bible like a yearbook; we pick it up and immediately start looking for photos of ourselves and pages where we’re mentioned. Be disciplined this week. Instead of thinking how this text applies to you (don’t worry – it does), simply consider what these words tell us about Jesus. What kind of person would say these things? What is His motivation? What is He passionate about?

 

  • Here’s a proverb that doesn’t make it onto too many coffee mugs: “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” (Proverbs 27:6) If we are not extremely careful, we can come to imagine God as either an anything-goes, Santa Claus-type figure or a harsh and punishing disciplinarian. It takes effort, humility and grace to truly embrace God as both loving and disciplining — indeed, that God’s discipline, rebukes and warnings are necessary expressions of God’s love. How does this sit with you? Do you have a difficult time accepting God’s discipline? God’s rebukes? Do you really think it would be love if there were not these warnings and consequences?

 

  • Make no mistake: We live in a culture that cuts deals every day. Even in a climate that seems full of contention and “standing up for what is right,” we are awash in a sea of compromises for the sake of power, control, the perception of safety, and getting ahead. And the price is horrific. Ultimately, it is never worth it. Why do we find this so difficult to see? Why is it just so much easier, even encouraged and applauded, to make such compromises? Can you imagine what the alternative could look like?

 

THE OPPORTUNITY

 

Lent practice of the week: Letting go. Last week we practiced counting our blessings. It is imperative to understand our lives and everything in them as gifts. Only then can we truly practice “letting go.” This discipline is useful for a number of reasons. It helps us discern how tightly we are holding onto things, how dependent we are on them. It helps us demonstrate in practical ways our dependence on God. It can assist in creating more gratefulness for things we might be taking for granted. What other ways can this practice help you grow as you follow Jesus?

JUST FOR KIDS

Make a share-song playlist for your family, and start with this one by Raffi. Share your playlist with us on our Grace Facebook page!

 

 

 

DEEP CUTS 

 

BONUS TRACK: “Lament for Jerusalem” from composer and conductor John Rutter and the Aurora Orchestra, featuring violinist Kerson Leong, YouTube

 

 

 

THE MASH-UP

 

 

 

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

In this week’s blog post on gracechurchnwa.org: Teresa Cornett shares some thoughts about the unpredictable nature of blessings. Leave comments! Share it! Tweet it! Pin it! Post it!

 

 

 

LOOKING AHEAD

Jesus uses familiar stories to show us a picture of God as a loving and compassionate father. Read about it in Luke 15:1-32.

 

 

Key Text: Luke 15:1-32 (NIV)

 

 

THE SET-UP

Alienation hurts. That’s true for us. It’s true for God. So the Father takes the initiative to secure reconciliation and celebrate when what is lost is found at last.

 

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

 

The Father grieves over alienation

and works for reconciliation.

The Father takes the initiative

in reaching out to the helpless.

There is more than one way to be lost.

 

 

 

THE BASICS

 

At the beginning of chapter 15, the Pharisees and teachers of religious law are complaining about Jesus associating with “sinful people,” and “even eating with them!” What was so wrong about dining with unbelievers? See this link for more background, and fill in the blanks:

 

Regardless of their origins, however, these age-old laws continue to have a significant impact on the way many observant Jews go about their daily lives. One of the more well-known restrictions is the injunction against mixing ____________________________.  Not only do most Jews who observe kashrut avoid eating any meat and milk products together, many also wait a certain amount of time—30 minutes to a few hours—between eating meat and dairy. Everything the foods touch must be kept _______________________. A fully kosher household, for example, might have two or more different sets of flatware, tableware and cooking ware for making and serving meat dishes separate from dairy-based dishes. Some families even use two different dishwashers in order to maintain the separation.

 

Scroll down to the bullet that says and eats with them in this article by Bob Utley:

 

Often wealthy Jews fed the poor of their community by ___________________________. However, they never ate with them. To eat with someone in this culture showed ________________________________________. Jesus loved/loves sinners and tried/tries to reach them for God, which changes them from being sinners to guests and friends. In a sense these eating events foreshadow the Messianic banquet.

 

 

 

GRACE IN 3D

 

Ask everyone to call out the first word they think of when the word "sin" is mentioned. It's likely they'll come up with a list of actions, such as stealing, adultery or murder. Write the answers on a whiteboard. Then ask someone to look up and read aloud Mark 7:21-23. What does the Bible have to say about the cause of these actions that lie deep within the nature of everyone?

 

 

THE HEAD AND THE HEART

 

  • There’s imagery in the Bible—here, here and here, for instance—that might make us think God the Father mostly loves being scary and mean. But Jesus uses the parables in our text this week to tell us something critically important about God’s nature: God the Father grieves over alienation and works for reconciliation. Is that the Father you know? What do you really believe about God’s love for you? Can you picture God’s mighty heart actually grieving when there’s distance between you? What are some specific things these parables say to you about God’s love?

 

  • Name some things the sheep, the coin and the prodigal son have in common. What could they have done to rescue themselves? What about the shepherd, the woman and the father: How are they alike? What motivates each of them to go after what they’d lost? Focus for a minute on the father we meet in verse 11. His story is full of vivid symbolism; this article gives some rich context for what his grace toward his lost son costs him. Why do you think he’s willing to make those sacrifices? What do these stories teach you about God? About God’s desire to take the initiative in reaching out to you?

 

  • When the “Parable of the Prodigal Son” is told, the lost runaway typically gets top billing. But there’s more than one way to be lost. Remember, Jesus is telling these stories to a group of Pharisees — self-righteous, judgmental Jewish leaders known generations later to have been obsessed with rule-following and finger-pointing. And the older son’s rant about his younger brother is not-so-loosely based on what the Pharisees were saying at the time about Jesus. Which of the sons is more likely to recognize his own “lostness”? Why? Is either one less lost than the other? Why or why not? Do you relate to one more than the other? If so, which one, and why?

 

THE OPPORTUNITY

 

Following the Lenten practices of counting our blessings and of letting go, our third is the practice of fasting. (We’re following a sequence in which each week builds on the ones before; if you haven’t engaged in either of the previous two practices, making time to review them will give you a richer Lenten experience.) Fasting is a practice clearly demonstrated and encouraged in both the Old and New Testaments. It offers a number of benefits apart from the spiritual aspect, but that’s the one we’ll focus on this week. After Lent, hopefully you can cultivate fasting as a regular discipline. If you are not familiar with fasting and would like more information, you might start here. A few quick suggestions for your practice:

  • Be very specific and intentional. Fasting “on the spur of the moment” rarely is effective.

  • Tell someone you trust, and ask them to join you or help you achieve your fast.

  • Use the time you are fasting for prayer, study or worship.

JUST FOR KIDS

Our preschool and elementary kids are learning a lot about showing love and forgiveness this month in Grace Kids Groups. If you haven’t downloaded the Parent Cue app, you are missing out on easy access to supportive music, videos, and family time activities that reinforce what your children are learning on Sunday mornings!  In addition to the fun things for kids, the app also provides access to blogs written for parents, like this one that recommends good stories about forgiveness for young readers.  


Watch this video to discuss the teaching about the prodigal son and the good father this week.

 

 

 

DEEP CUTS 

 

BONUS READ: “Setting the Record Straight on Jesus, ‘The Friend of Sinners,’” Religion News Service

 

 

 

THE MASH-UP

 

 

 

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

In this week’s blog post on gracechurchnwa.org: Andrew Brewer shares that there’s something powerful to be gained in the spiritual discipline of letting go. Leave comments! Share it! Tweet it! Pin it! Post it!

 

 

 

LOOKING AHEAD

Jesus shakes up misconceptions about morality, blessings and the least of these. Read about it in Luke 16:19-31 (ESV).

Grace Church Teaching Guide / Week of March 19, 2017
Grace Church Teaching Guide / Week of March 26, 2017
Key Text: Luke 16:19-31 (ESV)

THE SET-UP

There are no islands in the Kingdom of God. True Kingdom living is about community, connection and recognizing that we need each other.

 

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

 

Jesus calls us to focus on others,

not ourselves.

We’re all in need of comfort and help.

Jesus is our only true provision.

 

 

 

THE BASICS

 

What is a parable? Read this article, then fill in the blanks:

  

A parable is a ___________________that refers to something outside the parable itself. Jesus’ parables refer to the ____________________________. ...Jesus’ parables are short stories that refer to God’s ______________________________, God’s kingdom.


In Luke’s Gospel, as well as in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, Jesus’ parables generally have a very ____________________________, but these little stories also usually have some surprising element that turns that familiar world _________________________________.

 

 

 

GRACE IN 3D

 

In our text this week, Jesus creates a powerless character who is invisible to the people around him. What’s it like to experience that kind of exclusion and domination? This activity, done in a safe environment, might give us an idea. It can also encourage empathy and help us learn how to stand in solidarity with others who are oppressed. Adapt it to accommodate your group’s specific needs. Also, consider involving the kids in your group.

 

  • To begin, you’ll need sheets of sticky dots in three different colors. Divide your whole group into three smaller ones; each group gets its own color stickers — red for one group, green for another and blue for the third, for instance — and everyone in all three groups puts a sticker of their assigned color on their forehead.

 

  • Now for some role-playing: For the purposes of this activity, the members of Group One are all in their 30s and 40s, and they have all the power. Give them candy, as well as chairs to sit in. Those in Group Two are all older than 65; they stand together with their noses touching a wall, and they’re not to look around or talk. Members of Group Three are younger than 18, and they have to do exactly what Group One tells them to do. (Offer Group One some commands they could use: hop on one leg; make animal noises; pat their heads and rub their stomachs at the same time.

 

  • After a minute or so, rotate the roles: This time, members of Group Three are in their 30s and 40s; Group One, older than 65; Group Two, younger than 18. Repeat the game. After another minute or so, rotate and repeat one more time so that each group gets to experience each dynamic.

 

  • Finally, bring the group together in a circle. Ask everyone to remove the dots from their foreheads, shake out their arms and legs, and take deep breaths. This activity can stir up some strong emotions, so it’s important to be sure all participants get to shake out any anger built up while they play and to discuss how the game made them feel. To kick off the conversation, ask each person to share how they felt at every stage of the game. Based on this experience, how are young people treated? How are seniors treated? Think about other groups in our community: Which do you think experience exclusion? How do people experience exclusion and oppression around the world?

 

 

THE HEAD AND THE HEART

 

  • What is your impression of the rich man in this parable? He’s callous? Sadistic? Sure. What kind of heartless, inhumane sociopath, as he goes about his day, regularly steps over a dying man right outside his front door? We can all distance ourselves from that monster. If that’s the picture in your head, take a closer look: Actually, we’re never told that the rich man was mean to Lazarus on purpose. Instead, we’re meant to understand that Lazarus was basically invisible to him. This hits a bit closer to home. In a world that rewards us for being self-sufficient, self-indulgent and also insanely busy, do we miss Kingdom opportunities right outside our front door? When we’re hyper-focused on ourselves, what are some specific things our disconnection costs the Kingdom?

 

  • Between a healthy, wealthy, successful businessman and a poverty-stricken beggar eaten up with disease, who do you think more clearly sees his own need? If all of our gifts come from Christ, what is it about abundance that insulates us from recognizing our need for Him? For community? From recognizing the needs of others? What are some specific things we can do to keep our focus outward?

 

  • Can you name a few of the ways you’ve personally seen God revealed? What happened? How did you know God was being revealed to you? What are some specific things God has done to get your attention? Do you think there have been times in your life when God was being revealed to you and pursuing relationship with you, but you didn’t see it? If so, what was distracting you?

 

THE OPPORTUNITY

 

Our Lenten practice for week four is hospitality. Regardless what Martha Stewart might have us believe, true hospitality has nothing at all to do with flawless manners, hors d'oeuvres wizardry or mind-blowing tablescapes. It’s about being available to others, inviting them in and making them feel welcome in the family of Christ. If you’re curious how it works, you’ll find some insight here and here. And if you need a little inspiration, click here to learn the legacy of the woman behind Euna Mae’s in Springdale. Then, make a plan: In observance of Lent, what will you do this week to practice Biblical hospitality?

JUST FOR KIDS

As Easter Sunday approaches, you might enjoy reading this blog post from a mom who’s lived through Easter baskets, egg hunts, and dressy outfits.  


 

 

 

DEEP CUTS 

 

BONUS READ: “Dives and Lazarus,” The King’s English

 

 

 

THE MASH-UP

 

 

 

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

In this week’s blog post on gracechurchnwa.org: Lenten practice number three — fasting. John Farthing reflects on how it can draw us closer to Christ. Leave comments! Share it! Tweet it! Pin it! Post it!

 

 

 

LOOKING AHEAD

Jesus predicts His death and resurrection, then heals a blind beggar’s sight and a wee little man’s soul. Read about it in Luke 18:31-19:10.