GRACE CHURCH NWA

2828 NORTH CROSSOVER ROAD

FAYETTEVILLE, AR  72703

SUNDAY WORSHIP  10:15 AM

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of May 7, 2017
Key Text: Acts 8:26-39 (NET)

THE SET-UP

How do we understand what we are reading?

 

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

 

Everyone needs the Teacher.

Everyone needs the Story.

Everyone needs the Spirit.

 

 

 

THE BASICS

 

  • What is an “angel of the Lord,” and what kinds of things has it done, according to other references in the Bible? Look up Genesis 16:7, Exodus 3:2-4, Matthew 1:20 and Luke 1:11-13.  ________________________________________________________________________

 

        ________________________________________________________________________

 

  • What does it mean in 8:29 when “the Spirit said?” Ask some wise believers whom you trust how they’ve felt the Spirit giving them a message or guidance.  Some have said it was a hand on their back, an “aha moment,” or clear discernment.   

       _______________________________________________________________________

 

       _______________________________________________________________________

 

  • Am I supposed to believe that Philip was really transported? Look up Genesis 5:21-24  and Hebrews 11:5, and summarize what happened:  

           _______________________________________________________________________

 

 

THE HEAD AND THE HEART

 

  • Our culture has a particular fascination with self-taught people. They are held up as iconic, while the “good student” is often characterized as a suck up, or as needy. But here is the truth: All of us have teachers. None of us is ever completely “self taught.” The question is not whether we will be taught, but who will teach us and how we will respond. Think about the people you have learned the most from. At the time you received instruction from them, did you recognize your need for a teacher? Were you confident in your ability to learn? How do you think these factors shaped your experiences with these teachers? What about when you approach God’s word: Do you recognize your need to be taught by the Holy Spirit? Are you confident that you can hear and understand what the Spirit says to you?

 

  • Just as we tend to idolize the self-taught, we also think it’s a big deal for everyone to live their own epic story. Whether our stories are romantic or adventurous or demonstrate our ability to overcome huge obstacles, we all want to see ourselves as the “hero.” But friends, there is only one hero of the Christian epic, and it’s not any of us. Our stories are important and unique, but until we learn to find them in the bigger story of Jesus, they will be distorted. Much of the Christian life is a sustained effort to view everything that happens to us through the story of Jesus. How does this make you feel? Does it come naturally to you, or do you constantly have to remind yourself to see your life through this lens?

 

  • Nothing that’s of ultimate value in the Kingdom is accomplished by sheer effort or strength of will on our part. That includes tuning in and having a teachable spirit, as well as learning to find our stories in the story of Jesus. Without the indwelling and working of the Holy Spirit, we are hopeless. What evidence do you find in your life that this is true? How do you think about and practice yielding to the Spirit? What specific practices and environments help this? Which ones hinder it?

THE OPPORTUNITY

 

  • This week, before you meditate on our text, check your spirit: Do you expect to learn something new? Are you open to being taught? If not, be honest about that and pray for fresh understanding.

  • If you tend to see your life as a stand-alone story, be on purpose in practical ways about changing your point of view. When you make choices about how you speak, spend your money, prioritize your time and treat others, think about how your actions reflect Christ, or not. Are there things you’d like to do differently?

  • Be aware this week of specific things in your life that make it easier for you to be yielded to the Holy Spirit. Also, watch for things that work against you. Are there any changes you’d like to make?

JUST FOR KIDS

Watch this video together. Talk about how the Ethiopian man commented that he couldn’t understand without some help. At mealtime, have each person at your table go around and tell one thing they’d like some help understanding.  Then, let each person name two things they could help someone else understand. Don’t keep your results to yourself! Share them with us on our Grace Facebook page or email them to Felley Lawson.  


 

 

DEEP CUTS 

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THE MASH-UP

 

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

In this week’s blog post on gracechurchnwa.org: Melissa Blair considers the difficult, messy, wonderful community that is the Church. Leave comments! Share it! Tweet it! Pin it! Post it!

 

LOOKING AHEAD

As they begin to grow the Church, the first apostles and elders meet to decide who’s in and who’s out. Read about it in Acts 15:1-18.

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of May 14, 2017
Key Text: Acts 15:1-18 (NET)

THE SET-UP

 

As they begin to grow the Church, the first apostles and elders meet to decide who’s in and who’s out. Two thousand years later, we’re still figuring it out.

 

 

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

 

Who got in?

How did they decide?

What about us?

 

 

 

THE BASICS

 

 

 

 

THE HEAD AND THE HEART

 

  • It’s hard for us to imagine what a serious matter it was to those first followers of Jesus to decide who could call themselves “Christian.” They only knew God from a Jewish context, and the Messiah they followed was clearly a Jew (albeit an “unorthodox” one). It was revolutionary for them to consider people not steeped in Jewish cultural practices to be “righteous” members following Jesus as Messiah. Their decision was literally cosmos-changing; it’s the reason we as a Church of “Gentiles” even exist today. But their decision didn’t forever solve the question: The Church has in one way or another been asking the same question ever since. Who’s in? In what ways do you think this has played out? In what areas are we seeing this question asked today?

 

  • We all have processes for making decisions, whether we’re conscious of them or not. The members of the council at Jerusalem came to their decision using a specific set of criteria for deciding whether or not they should include Gentile believers into the Church without requiring them to be circumcised and to fully follow the Mosaic laws. Can you identify what those criteria were? Did they miss anything? How would you compare the way they made their decision with the way we make most of ours as a Church? How about you personally?

 

  • What about us? A basic and necessary approach to understanding Scripture is to determine whether the text we are reading is primarily “descriptive” (describing an event simply for us to know what happened) or “prescriptive” (describing an event so we know what we are to do or not do). Sometimes it’s almost 50/50, which requires extra careful reading. And Acts takes much careful reading. If you were to examine this week’s text with a “prescriptive” lens, what do you think it is trying to tell us? In light of this text, how willing are you to reconsider the way you make decisions on controversial issues?

 

 

 

THE OPPORTUNITY

 

Think about a controversial issue or idea you’ve encountered. Do you have a strong opinion about it? How would you change your approach to it based on the decision-making criteria set forth by the early church?

 

 

 

JUST FOR KIDS

This week, our preschool kids are learning about Daniel and what happened when he wound up in a lion’s den. Your family might enjoy watching this animated movie about Daniel’s story. Be sure to follow it up with a sing-along, courtesy of VeggieTales.  


 

 

DEEP CUTS 

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THE MASH-UP

 

 

 

LOOKING AHEAD

Paul levels the playing field for Jews and Gentiles, asserting that all of us are justified only by the grace of Jesus Christ. Read about it in Galatians 1:13-17 and 2:11-21.

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of May 21, 2017
Key Text: Galatians 1:11-17 and 2:11-21 (ESV)

THE SET-UP

 

Paul would turn over in his grave if he could see what passes for Christianity today. But it’s not a new thing. Legalism was alive and well in the New Testament church. It didn’t work then, and it won’t work now. That’s a lesson we need to learn, and who better to teach us than Paul?

 

 

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

 

Paul was commissioned directly by God

to teach that salvation comes to us

through God’s grace alone.

The Galatian churches wrestled with

whether it’s possible for non-Jews

to become Christians.

The Church becomes fractured when

we define Christianity on our own terms,

and impose those terms on others.

 

 

 

THE BASICS

 

What do these verses teach you about God as judge and about justification by faith?  

 

Isaiah 33:21-22  ______________________________________________________________

 

Psalm 50:6-8 _________________________________________________________________

 

Romans 4:23-25 _____________________________________________________________


Romans 5:1 _________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

THE HEAD AND THE HEART

 

  • Few people in Paul’s day can claim to have a more personal understanding of grace than he does. (Find his backstory here or here.) His conversion is dramatic, but by his own admission he isn’t the most likely candidate to be used by God to grow the Church. So why do you think God chooses him? Why do you think Paul is so passionate and relentless in preaching the Gospel? Do you think it matters whether Paul received his Gospel from his teachers or directly from God? Why or why not?

 

  • While the Jewish converts contemplate who’s in, who’s out and how to be sure that believers are all Jewish enough, Paul steps into the conversation with this provocative idea that grace is available to everyone through faith in Jesus Christ. Based on our text, what specifically is happening in the Galatian Church that prompts Paul to write them? How would you sum up his message in your own words? Do you think that without Paul’s intervention, the Church would have grown differently? If so, what do you think the Church would look like today?

 

  • The Church at Galatia was hyper-focused on the question of identity: Who do you have to be in order to be accepted, to belong? There’s a time-honored Latin maxim embraced by the Church that’s translated, “In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” Are there “nonessentials” that we Christians impose on others today? We at Grace Church? You, personally? If so, what are they? And why do you think we do that to each other? What can we learn from Paul that would shape the way we receive and extend grace?

 

 

 

THE OPPORTUNITY

 

Think about how Paul’s teaching is relevant to your life right now, and to the life of our church. What are some specific things you do, and we do as a church, to honor it? Can you name some specific ways we should do things differently, based on Paul’s letter in Galatians?

 

 

 

JUST FOR KIDS

The concept of grace is sometimes hard for adults to wrap our minds around, so explaining it to our kids can be especially challenging. If you’re interested in a conversation-starter, this video might help. And if there are games, crafts or object lessons that have been useful in teaching your children about grace, share them by posting to our question on the Facebook page.  


 

 

DEEP CUTS 

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THE MASH-UP

 

 

 

LOOKING AHEAD

Paul keeps on keeping on, driving home the truth that we’re justified only through faith in Jesus Christ. Read about it in Galatians 3:1-9 and 23-29.

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of May 28, 2017
Key Text: Galatians 3:1-9 and 23-29 (NET)

THE SET-UP

 

The Gospel of Christ is not at all about behavior. It’s about believing.

 

 

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

 

Obedience to the law doesn’t redeem us.

Obsession with the law defeats and divides us.

Believing and resting in the truth of Christ’s Gospel

is the only thing that saves us.

 

 

 

THE BASICS

 

When Paul writes about Abraham’s belief, what did he mean?  

 

  • Genesis 12:1-8 ________________________________________________________

  • Genesis 15 _____________________________________________________________

  • Genesis 17 _____________________________________________________________
     

  • Romans 4:1-25 _________________________________________________________

 

THE HEAD AND THE HEART

 

  • Paul is super wound up when he begins writing this part of his letter. By slipping back into a works-based religion, the Galatians (whether they realize it or not) are basically trying to undo what Jesus’ death and resurrection had accomplished. Why, specifically, do you think Paul is so exercised about this? Sounds like he thinks they’ve let themselves be confused by false teaching; what are some ways that happens in the Church today, and what are the consequences? How do we guard against it?

 

  • Having rules to follow gives us a way to know how we measure up to a standard and how those around us measure up, too. But grace is the great equalizer; none of us can work hard enough to earn it, or mess up badly enough to lose it. What is it about human nature that makes it so hard for us to relax in the truth of the Gospel? To receive grace? To relinquish control? Cards on the table: Is there something comforting about the idea that just following a set of rules could land you in God’s good favor? Why or why not?

 

  • In verses 6 and 7, Paul references an exchange between Abram and God that’s recorded in Genesis 15:6. What do you think Paul’s point is here? Do you see a difference between believing God and believing in God? If you do, how would you describe it in your own words? Why is it significant? What does it tell you about your identity in Christ?

 

 

 

THE OPPORTUNITY

 

Pastor Tim Keller writes in his study Galatians for You, “(The gospel) says: You are in such a hopeless position that you need a rescue that has nothing to do with you at all. And then it says: God in Jesus provides a rescue which gives you far more than any false salvation your heart may love to chase.” Consider what you believe to be true about grace: Are there any areas in your relationship with Christ where you think you have to follow rules or meet expectations in order to be accepted and loved by Him? What are some specific ways our text this week challenges you? Encourages you?

 

 

 

KIDS' CREATION CONNECTION

On Sunday in GKG, we’ll talk about how God protected Daniel in a lion’s den, and how God protects us, too. While you’re playing outside with your kids this week, talk with them about the things we wear that protect us from the rain, the sun, the mosquitoes, or from getting hurt when we skate or ride bikes. You could also play dress-up with protective gear like a construction helmet or fire hat. Ask them to think of some of the ways God protects us, and see how many you can come up with together.  


 

 

DEEP CUTS 

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THE MASH-UP

 

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

In this week’s blog post on gracechurchnwa.org: Teri Naylor reflects on the connection between grace and works. Leave comments! Share it! Tweet it! Pin it! Post it!

 

 

 

LOOKING AHEAD

On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit makes a dramatic appearance and changes everything. Read about it in Acts 2:1-4 and Galatians 4:1-7.