GRACE CHURCH NWA

2828 NORTH CROSSOVER ROAD

FAYETTEVILLE, AR  72703

SUNDAY WORSHIP  10:15 AM

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of May 6th, 2018

Dwelling in the Light / John Ray

Key Text: 1 John 2 (The Message)

For a PDF of the learning guide, click here.

THE SET-UP

To follow Jesus is to dwell in the light and is evidenced our allegiance to Him alone and our love for others. 

THE BOTTOM LINE

One of my favorite magazines is Dwell - not that I will ever actually live in any of the immaculately curated spaces - but when used properly it helps me reimagine what I could do with what I already have. In the same way, I think the text this week helps “put us” in a place where God has designed, arranged and created; the Light. It helps us see things with new eyes and sparks our imagination for what is real, true, and beautiful. What are the practices that help you dwell in the light? What keeps you from them? The Bottom Line is God calls us to dwell in the Light.

 

“Antichrist” is a scary word for many. The term has been used and abused in much popular (and totally off-base) fiction and movies. Perhaps even worse is the way it has been abused by preachers and so called “end time experts” (what does that even mean?). However, John is clear here - there are antichrist among us and they are to be recognized and shunned. So, how do we do this? How do we avoid the cartoon images and boogie men and deal with the real thing? What makes an antichrist anyway?  The Bottom Line is we are to shun the Antichrist(s).

 

C.S. Lewis writes in The Weight of Glory, “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” That image is very instructive for our text this week. We so often 'settle' for where we are because we can’t imagine a different destination, end, or “telos”. The text is clear, God is calling us for and to and specific destination, and God will be there at the end. To what end are you living? Where is it you imagine you are going to end up? The Bottom Line is to imagine the Destination.  

REFLECTION 

“Living Deeply” may be one of the single most difficult things to do in our superficial, instant gratification society. We google for answers and swipe to make choices. What does it even mean to “live deeply” here and now?

 

Take time this week to consider what practices help you live more deeply and what practices keep you skittering around on the surface.  

 

CHECK IT OUT

 

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

Check out the latest blog post here. Please email Teresa at tcornett@gracechurchnwa.org if you’d be interested in writing a future post.  
 

LOOKING AHEAD

How do we know if we are really loving? 1 John 3 gives us answers.

JOURNAL

This week, write this verse out each day in your devotions as a way of doing exactly what the text asks us to do, letting it “sink in.”

 

“Let it sink into your life. If what you heard from the beginning lives deeply in you, you will live deeply in both Son and Father. This is exactly what Christ promised: eternal life, real life!”

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of May 13th, 2018

We are the Children of God / John Ray

Key Text: 1 John 3 (The Message)

For a PDF of the learning guide, click here.

THE SET-UP

What do you think we would look like if we really lived into our identity as Children of God? What would the Church look like? What would the world look like?
 

THE BOTTOM LINE

Living as a Child of God involves a threefold allegiance - Having faith in God is not an impersonal ascent to a set of theological or philosophical truths, it rather involves an intentional choice of allegiance. We say “yes” to Jesus and “no” to every other “god/savior”. What does this look like in your own life? What things do you have to practice saying “no” to in order to say “yes” to Jesus? Bottom line: Being a Child of God means allegiance to revelation of God in the person of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

“Is it a boy or girl?” The “classification” of who we are by various standards starts even before the leave the womb. Many such classification are necessary for our daily functions, but none of them:  our nationality, race, IQ, abilities, politics, income - none of them - should be more important than how the love of God defines us. Think about the various ways you are “defined.”  Which ways help you live into your God-loved deepest identity? Which ones keep you from it?  Bottom Line: Being a Child of God means allegiance to our true selves as defined by the love of God practiced towards us.


“I love humanity. It’s people I hate,” is a quote I first read in the Peanuts comic strip and later found out was attributed to the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay. I appreciate the way it reveals our propensity to love in theory, but when it comes to practice… maybe not so much. It’s also interesting to note that in our text our loving is to start with (but never end with) our brothers and sisters/fellow believers. Why do think John emphasizes loving those closest to us? What is important about having to love those we don’t necessarily get to choose to love?  Bottom Line: Being a Child of God means allegiance to our brothers and sisters as defined by our practiced love towards them.

REFLECTION 

What does it mean for you to hold the various elements of being a child of God together? Where do you feel the most tension? Where does it feel easy? What practices do you need to develop to hold them together better? What keeps you from it?  

 

CHECK IT OUT

 

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

Check out the latest blog post here. Linda Murphy reflects on the parenting style she encountered growing up - relevant subject matter for this week leading up to Sunday's holiday. She also shares encouraging words about God the Father's 'parenting' as well. Please email Teresa at tcornett@gracechurchnwa.org if you’d be interested in writing a future post.  
 

LOOKING AHEAD

Time to par-tay y’all! Next week is Pentecost Sunday! Andrew Brewer will lead us through 1 John 4 as part of our celebration. 

JOURNAL

This week, read this portion of our text each day and then meditate on the following questions. While the answers may seem easy or obvious from the text, let the process of asking and answering sink deep into your heart and mind.

“This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear. My dear Children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down Debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.”

Monday: How do we come to understand and know Christ’s love for us?

Tuesday: Why should we practice sacrificial love for others?

Wednesday: What happens to love when we ignore the needs of others?

Thursday: How do we come to know we are truly living in God’s reality?

Friday: How do we shut down debilitating self-criticism in our lives?

Saturday: Who is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us then we know about ourselves?

 

 

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of May 20th, 2018

Empowered / Andrew Brewer

Key Text: 1 John 4 (The Message)

 

For a pdf of the learning guide, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE SET-UP

When we confess Jesus Christ to be the Son of God and choose to follow him, the universe-creating, almighty, infinitely-loving God literally comes to dwell within us. In what ways can and should this impact us?

THE BOTTOM LINE

Snopes is a useful tool for fact-checking things we read on the internet, but how do we determine what’s true from a spiritual standpoint? Thankfully, we have scripture to stand upon, but sometimes things arise that aren’t directly discussed in the Bible. What do we do then? Bottom Line: We grow in our understanding of God’s Truth through both His written word and an active relationship with the Holy Spirit.

God is love, and God abides in us. So loving Him and loving people should be pretty straightforward, right? I mean, if we literally have Love living within us, it should be a no-brainer. Yet we can all can testify that it’s not always that easy. Bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, and sometimes plain old dislike of a person for petty reasons gets in the way. Bottom Line: Love of God and people is an empowered act, made possible and perfected only as we abide in God and He abides in us.


Thunderstorms are scary events around my house. Between Micah fearing that a tornado is coming and my dog nearly having a heart attack every time lightning strikes, there’s a lot of trembling and anxiety. So what makes those fears dissipate? Typically, a calm reassurance and simply being present is enough for both Micah and our dog to relax. In other words, being loving. When you are fearful, what makes you less afraid? What do you need in those moments? Do you ever turn to God with those fears? Bottom Line: When love and fear collide, love prevails. Fear does not exist in God’s perfect love.

REFLECTION 

How do you think about and interact with the Holy Spirit? Does He seem strange to you, or familiar? What makes the think and act that way? What practices can you develop to cultivate a deeper relationship with the Spirit?

 

CHECK IT OUT

 

  • A Fear of Falling Pianos

  • Commentary on 1 John 4:7-21

 

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

 

Check out the latest blog post here.  Please email Teresa at tcornett@gracechurchnwa.org if you’d be interested in writing a future post.  

 

LOOKING AHEAD

 

Next week, John Ray will be walking us through 1 John 5, the last chapter of the book. It’s gonna be good, y’all!

 

JOURNAL

 

This week, read this portion of our text each day and then meditate on the following questions. While the answers may seem easy or obvious from the text, let the process of asking and answering sink deep into your heart and mind.

“God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.”

 

Monday: What does it mean when it says “God is love”?

Tuesday: Why does it matter that we live in God and God lives in us?

Wednesday: What happens to us when we let love have “run of the house”?

Thursday: How do we live fearlessly, unafraid of judgement, death, or any other fear?

Friday: What is the relationship between love and fear?

Saturday: Why does it matter that our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s?

 

 

 

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of May 27th, 2018

What a Gift! / John Ray

Key Text: 1 John 5 (The Message)

For a pdf of the learning guide, click here.

 

​​

THE SET-UP

Knowing we have eternal life is the ultimate gift of the Father for us in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.
 

THE BOTTOM LINE

John is crystal clear in our text as to why he’s writing; that we would know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we have the eternal life given to us in Jesus. But what does this really mean? Is eternal life something we get after we physically die? Is something that starts here and now? If so, how? These are important questions, but the only satisfactory answers will come by starting with the foundational belief, that whatever it is, and however we experience it, we have it through faith in Jesus. The Bottom line: You are held in safety and given eternal life by the faithfulness of God.
 

We all long to know we are seen and heard by God. And not just heard, but that what we say matters, that it makes a difference. This can be really tough at times, no doubt. We will be tested. But if we lose sight of this, if we start to believe God doesn’t hear us or that what we say doesn’t matter, think how that would affect our relationship. Can you see how believing we are heard and regarded by God is crucial to believing? Where are you in believing that God hears you?

The Bottom Line:  You are heard by God.
 

If we took a snapshot of our lives at any given moment, the picture could look really great or really horrible, but would the picture be “true?” Are the perfectly-filtered and posed Instagram posts any truer than the awful image that catches us off guard and gives us redeye? What is much more important than any given moment is the overall direction and testimony over time. What is much more true about us is our track record and practice. As you look back over the past few years of your life, what direction are you headed? How have you dealt with failures and challenges? Where have you invested the majority of your affections and efforts? Can you discern where God has invested in you?  

The Bottom Line:  You are heading towards God.
 

REFLECTION & JOURNAL 

Each day this week we will read a portion of the text and turn it into a confession and prayer. Monday is done as an example, but feel free to write your own:

 

Monday:  “Whoever believes in the Son of God inwardly confirms God’s testimony. Whoever refuses to believe in effect calls God a liar, refusing to believe God’s own testimony regarding his Son.” Abba, thank you for the gift of faith in your Son Jesus. Thank you for the testimony of your Spirit in me. Please increase in me the power of your faithfulness and depth of my faith. Amen.  

 

Tuesday: “This is the testimony in essence: God gave us eternal life; the life is in his Son. So, whoever has the Son, has life; whoever rejects the Son, rejects life.”  

 

Wednesday: “My purpose in writing is simply this: that you who believe in God’s Son will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have eternal life, the reality and not the illusion.”

 

Thursday: “And how bold and free we then become in his presence, freely asking according to his will, sure that he’s listening.”

 

Friday: “And if we’re confident that he’s listening, we know that what we’ve asked for is as good as ours.”

 

Saturday: “And we know that the Son of God came so we could recognize and understand the truth of God—what a gift!—and we are living in the Truth itself, in God’s Son, Jesus Christ.”


 

CHECK IT OUT

 

 

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

Check out the latest blog post by Grace Holt here. Please email Teresa at tcornett@gracechurchnwa.org if you’d be interested in writing a future post.


 

LOOKING AHEAD

We will keep engaging with John in the book of 2 John.