GRACE CHURCH NWA

2828 NORTH CROSSOVER ROAD

FAYETTEVILLE, AR  72703

SUNDAY WORSHIP  10:15 AM

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of November 5, 2017

Holy Work in Progress! / John Ray

Key Text: 1 Peter 4:1-19 (NET)

 

 

 

 

THE SET-UP

It is only and always the Church, but the Church is in need of constant reformation.

 

THE BASICS

What has it meant over time to gather as the Church? Look up these verses and write down some of the actions that believers have taken as they assembled and congregated.

 

MAP IT

Peter writes his first letter to believers in Asia Minor who were being persecuted for their faith. Click here to see the cities he was reaching out to.

 

GRACE IN 3D

Have someone read Romans 12:4-8 aloud. Prepare and cut out the body parts from this copy and lay them out on a table. Depending on the size of your group, you may need to make more than one copy. Ask everyone to ponder which part would best represent them and their role in the group, and then quickly go around the circle to share. Allow the option for participants to not be sure yet—make some cards that have a picture of a brain for folks who are still thinking.

 

 

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

 

  • The prevalent attitude of our society is that Church is secondary (at best) to what we believe about Jesus, that somehow we can totally separate what we think and how we act. While there is plenty of Biblical imperative for Christians being part of the Church, what would our world look like if the Church ceased to exist? What are the primary influences on a person’s faith development that are not, in some way, part of the Church? How would your own life look if the Church played no role? Bottom Line: Is it possible to truly live as an apprentice of Christ outside the Church?

  • Another predominant character of our culture is the love of “the bargain.” We all want the biggest ROI. But when we apply that kind of thinking to the Church, we often judge it as a bad investment. Giving ourselves to the work of the Church, entering into the suffering of others, investing in relationships with people who we would never choose to invest in otherwise can all be daunting, even exhausting. Couple this with the idea that if God is in it, things should be easy. How does being committed to the Church connect to being committed to your creator? In what ways does a commitment to Jesus impact your commitment to the Church? Have you evaluated your association with the Church by these criteria? What is the result? Bottom Line: If we have to work at being the Church, are we doing something wrong?

  • If we accept the centuries-old admonition Ecclesia semper reformanda est—the Church must be always reforming—it might be easy to see this as our work, to be done in our strength with our strategies. Where do you think such an attitude might lead us? Is there an alternative? How do we hold the imperative for consistent reform in a healthy tension together with our own inability to bring it about? Bottom Line: Can we accomplish reformation in the Church on our own?

 

REFLECTION

It’s usually easier to see the flaws in others, in institutions and groups than it is to deal with our own. But before any meaningful reformation can begin in the Church as a whole, it has to start with each of us. The two are tied together. Seriously reflect this week on your involvement and attitude toward the Church. Have they been productive or judgmental? Have you approached the Church as a consumer? Have you judged your investment based primarily on how it has paid off for you? Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see your heart toward the Church and to nurture within you a greater love for it.

 

JUST FOR KIDS

 

Kids’ Creation Connection: As we prepare for winter, we often trim back plants and add mulch to serve as a blanket for the cold. The funny thing is that for many plants, trimming back helps to increase growth the next spring. Have your kids help you outside and talk about the parallels between God’s work in our lives and the cycles of plants. What kinds of things enrich the soil around your plants? What kinds of things enrich our lives in Christ? What kind of pruning and protecting helps us grow?

Sunday Car Talk: Check out these cute toddlers singing “I Am the Church.” Ask everyone in your car what it means to be the Church.


 

DEEP TRACKS 

 

THE MASH-UP

 

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

 

In this week’s blog post on gracechurchnwa.org: Lesley Green reflects on how heart renovation can help us prepare for Kingdom work. Leave comments! Share it! Tweet it! Pin it! Post it!

 

 

 

LOOKING AHEAD

Next week: We return to the narrative lectionary where we meet a shepherd-turned-prophet who reminds us that God takes matters of justice very seriously. Very. Very. Seriously. Read about it in Amos 1:1-2; 5:14-15, 21-24 (NET).

JOURNAL

During your time alone with God this week, meditate on 1 Peter 4:11. Each day, emphasize different words or phrases in the verse; write down what the Holy Spirit teaches you.

Day 1: Whoever speaks, let it be with God’s words. Whoever serves, do so with the strength that God supplies, so that in everything God will be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.

 

Day 2: Whoever speaks, let it be with God’s words. Whoever serves, do so with the strength that God supplies, so that in everything God will be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.

 

Day 3: Whoever speaks, let it be with God’s words. Whoever serves, do so with the strength that God supplies, so that in everything God will be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.

 

Day 4: Whoever speaks, let it be with God’s words. Whoever serves, do so with the strength that God supplies, so that in everything God will be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.


Day 5: Whoever speaks, let it be with God’s words. Whoever serves, do so with the strength that God supplies, so that in everything God will be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.

 

To print the learning guide, download a PDF here.  

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of November 12, 2017

GOD HATES ... WHAT? / Norma Farthing

Key Text: Amos 1:1-2; 5:14-15, 21-24 (NET)

 

 

 

THE SET-UP

We are so accustomed to thinking about God’s love that we can’t imagine God’s ever feeling hate. But there is something God really hates, and he’s not keeping it a secret. The truth might surprise us, but it’s imperative that we pay attention.

 

THE BASICS

How long has the one true God asked for us to do good instead of evil?

 

MAP IT

Amos delivered a message from God to the people of the northern kingdom of Israel. Click here to see the cities that comprised the kingdom.

 

GRACE IN 3D

At different stages in our lives, a lot of us have probably taken on the role of looking out for someone who was younger or weaker than us, whether it was our own siblings, our own children, or a friend on the playground. Ask everyone in your group to consider a time when they felt they had to step up to seek justice for someone else or something else. Ask folks to consider what made them so passionate and moved to take action, and have them share their story quickly with the person next to them. If time allows, share with the whole group some of the interesting or compelling stories.

 

 

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

 

  • Like the leaders of the Protestant Reformation, Amos pulled no punches when calling out God’s people on their faithlessness. He challenged the Israelites to be instruments of what is just and good; basically, to live a social gospel that Jesus would someday embody. So what “wrong” are we to hate and “right” are we to love in 2017? Reading through this passage, what do you imagine Amos would have to say about materialism, greed, religiosity, oppression, addiction, poverty, hunger, human trafficking? Bottom Line: What does Amos’ message mean, specifically, for us?

  • What do the words “justice” and “righteousness” mean to you? Based on what the Bible tells us, what do you think they mean to God? (Find some word-study here.) Are they necessarily connected? Can you name some acts of justice you’ve personally witnessed? Acts of righteousness? What does it take for us to act justly? Righteously? Bottom Line: Can we truly have either justice or righteousness without the other?

  • Amos 5:15 challenges us to “Hate what is wrong, love what is right!” and “Promote justice at the city gate!” How, specifically, do you think these commands translate today? What are the tools at our disposal or things about our culture that make it easy for us to obey? What are the roadblocks to obedience? If we subjectively define right, wrong and what it means to promote justice, that’s a problem; how are we to know how God defines these things? Would strict obedience likely put us in the majority or minority of the population? Bottom Line: How do we seek good and establish justice today, especially if it would mean living counter-culturally?

 

REFLECTION

Amos makes it clear that God sees our motives and our heart; we can’t distract Him with superficial religious tradition, ceremony or offerings. As you read through our text for this week and think about issues of righteousness and justice in our world, ask the Holy Spirit to affirm where your thoughts, actions and beliefs are pleasing to God. Also, pray to be convicted about the places where change is needed and for the strength and humility to let the Holy Spirit change you. How will you live differently as a result?

 

JUST FOR KIDS

 

Kids’ Creation Connection: Get a lemon, clementine, or apple for each person in your family. Ask each person to carefully observe their fruit. They should know it and be able to recognize it. Then put each piece of fruit in a bowl and mix them up. Can everyone identify theirs? Now peel the fruits and compare them.  What does this teach us about “justice for all?”

Sunday Car Talk: Watch this video/listen to the song about small acts that make the world a better place.


 

DEEP TRACKS 

 

THE MASH-UP

 

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

 

In this week’s blog post on gracechurchnwa.org: Teresa Cornett shares how families — at home and at church — pull together to make things happen. Leave comments! Share it! Tweet it! Pin it! Post it!

 

 

 

LOOKING AHEAD

Jeremiah gives the Israelite captives a practical word about how to bloom where they’re planted. Read about it in Jeremiah 29:1 and 4-14 (NET).

JOURNAL

During your time alone with God this week, meditate on Amos 5:24. Each day, emphasize different words or phrases in the verse. This passage might be familiar to you, but as you approach it this way, the Holy Spirit will teach you new things. Write down the fresh insights you gain, along with specific ways you can apply them in your life today.

Day 1: Justice must flow like torrents of water, righteous actions like a stream that never dries up.

 

Day 2: Justice must flow like torrents of water, righteous actions like a stream that never dries up.

 

Day 3: Justice must flow like torrents of water, righteous actions like a stream that never dries up.

 

Day 4: Justice must flow like torrents of water, righteous actions like a stream that never dries up.


Day 5: Justice must flow like torrents of water, righteous actions like a stream that never dries up.

 

To print the learning guide, download a PDF here.  

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of November 19, 2017

MUGS, MERCH AND BEYOND / Felley Lawson

Key Text: Jeremiah 29:1, 4-14 (NET)

 

 

 

 

THE SET-UP

What does the Bible tell us that we can’t glean from a message on a bracelet, keychain, mousepad or plaque? A lot.

 

THE BASICS

The Bible tells us that the Jews are God’s chosen people. So why would he punish them by allowing them to be exiled? See if you find answers in the following verses, and write them down:

 

MAP IT

After the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem, God’s people were deported to Babylonia—a region located today in southern Iraq that stretches from near Baghdad to the Persian Gulf. Learn about the region as Jeremiah knew it and find an interactive map here.

 

GRACE IN 3D

Did you ever move away from your hometown and then return, only to find that it had changed, and that possibly, you had changed? Think about where the place you’d call home is. What attributes of this place make you think of it as home? Throw those descriptors out in your group.

 

 

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

 

  • Have you ever felt like you’re living in exile? Maybe you’ve not been hauled off to another country and held captive, but in some way or another, you probably know what it’s like to be alone and without hope. In seasons of loneliness, suffering, separation or hopelessness, do you experience God’s presence? If so, how? If not, what does that feel like? If the “exile” is of your own making, have you ever wondered if what you’ve done is unforgivable, even by God? Is it possible for an apprentice of Jesus to drive God away? Bottom Line: Is God really with us when we’re in exile?

  • Which of God’s promises are most important to you? How many of them have you seen come to fruition? Are there promises that God has made to you personally? Have they come to pass? Are there some you’re still waiting for? Do you ever doubt whether God will keep them? Do you ever grow impatient waiting on Him? What happens when nothing in your circumstances backs up what God says? What happens when God speaks, but you don’t like what He says? Bottom Line: Can we trust God’s promises?

  • Jeremiah had a very specific message to one group of people at a particular time in history. Is it relevant to us at all? Read through our text again: Is there anything that speaks to you right now? What does it say about obedience? Perspective? Restoration? Refugees? False teaching? Bottom Line: What does Jeremiah’s word to the Israelites mean for the Church today?

 

REFLECTION

God’s Word is living and breathing, which means that verses you think you know inside and out will continue to speak fresh truth, conviction, guidance and comfort to you. As you pray this week and meditate on our Scripture, ask the Holy Spirit to give you fresh understanding. If you’re experiencing a season of exile, pray specifically for comfort, discernment and encouragement. Then write down what you hear.

 

JUST FOR KIDS

 

Kids’ Creation Connection: Do you have hope for the future? Take two dry beans (lima or pinto work well) for each person in your family, and look at them carefully. What do you think is inside those beans? Ask your kids what you could do with those beans. Would they believe you could make them grow into plants? Dampen a paper towel for each bean, and wrap the bean very loosely in the towel, placing each in a Ziplock-type bag. Tape one on a sunny window, and put the other in a dark closet. Ask everyone to predict what will happen. What’s your hypothesis? Check every day or so, and talk about the results. What do plants need to grow? What do we need to grow and have trust in the future?

Sunday Car Talk: Pull up this video on your phone or tablet, and talk about what it means to have our “hope in the Lord.”


 

DEEP TRACKS 

   BONUS TRACK:​ “Spring & Fall: To a Young Child” by Gerard Manley Hopkins, All Poetry

 

THE MASH-UP

 

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

 

In this week’s blog post on gracechurchnwa.org: Rachel Kiser shares a story of freedom, joy and overcoming—the story of how she came to know Jesus. Leave comments! Share it! Tweet it! Pin it! Post it!

 

 

 

LOOKING AHEAD

#bestnewsever. Read about it in Isaiah 9:1-7 (NET).

JOURNAL

During your time alone with God this week, meditate on Jeremiah 29:12 and the first part of verse 13. Each day, emphasize different words or phrases in the verse. Write down what the Holy Spirit teaches you, along with specific ways you can apply it in your life today.

Day 1: When you call out to me and come to me in prayer, I will hear your prayers. When you seek me in prayer and worship, you will find me available to you.

 

Day 2: When you call out to me and come to me in prayer, I will hear your prayers. When you seek me in prayer and worship, you will find me available to you.

 

Day 3: When you call out to me and come to me in prayer, I will hear your prayers. When you seek me in prayer and worship, you will find me available to you.

 

Day 4: When you call out to me and come to me in prayer, I will hear your prayers. When you seek me in prayer and worship, you will find me available to you.


Day 5: When you call out to me and come to me in prayer, I will hear your prayers. When you seek me in prayer and worship, you will find me available to you.

 

To print the learning guide, download a PDF here.  

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of November 26, 2017

SUBVERSIVE TRUST / John Ray

Key Text: Isaiah 9:1-7 (NET)

 

 

 

THE SET-UP

What we can never do for ourselves, God does for us—often in a subversive, miraculous fashion.

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

 

During this season, we are reminded to “count our blessings” and give thanks. While those are always good practices, it’s pretty difficult—impossible, in fact—if you feel you are constantly being let down, disappointed or forgotten. While those are natural, healthy feelings to experience in difficult or demanding circumstances, often they come as a result of misplaced hope and trust: We trust in the wrong things for the wrong reasons in the wrong way. When you give thanks this week, reflect on the areas where that is really difficult to do. Is it because you have misplaced your trust? Given it to things, ideas, groups or cultural expectations instead of properly placing it in God?


THE LINKS 

 

LOOKING AHEAD

The season of Advent begins with a look at the story of three refugees and their steadfast faith in God. Read about it in Daniel 3:1 and 8-30 (NET).

JOURNAL

During your time alone with God this week, meditate on Isaiah 9:6. Each day, emphasize different phrases in the verse. Write down what the Holy Spirit teaches you, along with specific ways you can apply it in your life today.

Day 1: For a child has been born to us, a son has been given to us. He shoulders responsibility and is called: Extraordinary Strategist, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

 

Day 2: For a child has been born to us, a son has been given to us. He shoulders responsibility and is called: Extraordinary Strategist, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

 

Day 3: For a child has been born to us, a son has been given to us. He shoulders responsibility and is called: Extraordinary Strategist, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

 

Day 4: For a child has been born to us, a son has been given to us. He shoulders responsibility and is called: Extraordinary Strategist, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.


Day 5: For a child has been born to us, a son has been given to us. He shoulders responsibility and is called: Extraordinary Strategist, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

 

To print the learning guide, download a PDF here.