GRACE CHURCH NWA

2828 NORTH CROSSOVER ROAD

FAYETTEVILLE, AR  72703

SUNDAY WORSHIP  10:15 AM

Grace Church Teaching Guide / Week of October 30, 2016
Key Text: 1 Kings 17:1-16 (NET)

THE SET-UP

Obedience is often scary and difficult. But it forces us into deeper understanding of who God really is.

 

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

How do we obey God

even when it’s scary?

What do we do when

obedience is hard?

 

What does it mean to us

that God is the God of everyone?

 

 

GRACE IN 3D

Has God ever asked you to do something really scary, or hard? So hard, in fact, that you were pretty sure there was no way you could do it? What was it? How did you know you were hearing from God? How did you respond? Did you learn anything about God, or about yourself, that you would not have learned any other way? If so, what? Would you share your thoughts with your Grace Group this week?

 

THE HEAD AND THE HEART

 

  • For most of us the problem with obeying is not a lack of information, but a lack of imagination: We just can’t imagine it’s possible to do all the things God commands and become the person and people God wants us to be. I mean, really love God with our whole hearts AND love our neighbors as ourselves? Give to everyone who asks? Take up our cross and follow? Seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly? Who can do all that? Who wants to do all that? Even when we are convinced that God loves us and will take care of us, obedience is scary. What are the things you are most afraid of when you think about totally obeying God? Poverty? Physical pain? Being unhappy? Being rejected, or made fun of?

 

  • Doing what God tell us to do isn’t always easy, even when we have a Holy Spirit-inspired, active Gospel imagination that facilitates our obedience. At Grace, we often quote Scottish theologian John MacMurray who wrote, "The maxim of illusory religion runs: 'Fear not; trust in God, and He will see that none of the things you fear will happen to you'; that of real religion, on the contrary, is 'Fear not; the things that you are afraid of are quite likely to happen to you, but they are nothing to be afraid of.'" Overcoming fear is essential, but only part of obedience. There seem to be so many other challenges. What are the biggest ones you face? Time? Resources? Feeling overwhelmed, inadequate or ill-equipped? How do you find your way through these? How do you overcome them?

  • What does it mean that God is the God of everyone? One of the main things we see from our text this week is how our obedience affects everyone around us. Our disobedience can do severe damage  — look at the drought caused by the idolatry of Ahab and the people — or be life-giving. The obedience of Elijah and the widow from Zarephath led to blessing and provision. It is also important to note in this story how God included, even highlighted, His provision for and through a person “outside” of the people of Israel. What is the significance of this? When you think about how God works, how open are you to sharing with and receiving from people who are very different from you? Is it easy or difficult for you to see God working in and through all kinds of people?

 

 

THE OPPORTUNITY

 

Is God asking you to do something right now that scares you? As you reflect on our text for this week, pray for calm and courage to be obedient in spite of how you feel. If you make the decision to trust God’s promises and provision, what are three specific ways you’ll live differently this week as a result?

 

DEEP CUTS 

 

 

THE MASH-UP

 

 

LOOKING AHEAD

Jonah is famous for getting instructions from God and doing exactly the opposite, then spending three days and nights re-thinking his response from inside the belly of a whale. Read up on his story in Jonah 1:1-17 and 3:1-10.

Grace Church Teaching Guide / Week of October 23, 2016
Key Text: 2 Samuel 7:1-17 (NET)

THE SET-UP

There is a place of deep abiding and rest, a “house” that only God can give us.

 

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

What does it mean for us

that God builds us a house?

What does it mean to live in that house?

 

How do we fully experience

all that comes from living there?

 

 

GRACE IN 3D

Where and how do you experience God’s presence? Does God feel more accessible, more contained, within the walls of a church building? We’re promised that God is always with us. Based on your experience, does God keep that promise? Would you share your thoughts this week with your Grace Group?

 

THE HEAD AND THE HEART

 

  • Home. Families are torn apart trying to hold onto it. People fight wars over it, risk everything in search of one. A place that promises rest and security. A house to call our own. Understanding this deep desire within each of us is key to understanding something essential about God’s promise to us. It is a foundational element of God’s grace that God has created us with this longing — not to frustrate us, but to fulfill it through our relationship with Him. And this house that God promises is not something we can ever earn, trade for or, ultimately, lose. It is one of the essential gifts of God. Have you experienced this “house of God”? What do you think it means? Why do you think it is important to God to promise this to us?

 

  • This house God promises in the passage seems to be tied up pretty tightly with an ancient historical figure and people. So what does that mean for us? What does it mean for us to be part of the house of God, and find rest there? A huge part of this deals with our identity, the way we understand who we are and where our “roots” are. In ancient times, what “house” you belonged to defined everything about you, what you would be able to experience, what kind of job you would have, whom you could marry...everything. So how do we live into that reality today? Is being part of God’s house what defines you, or are you mostly defined by other things?

  • Considering the above ideas, how does it make you feel when you stop and contemplate what is promised to you, what is available to you as a member of the House of God? What keeps you from experiencing this in the deepest parts of your being?

 

 

THE OPPORTUNITY

 

Even when we know we’re children of God’s House, actually living this reality is another matter. When you meditate on our text for this week, ask the Holy Spirit to let the truth of God’s provision sink into your soul. Pray for passion and energy to share it. You might find inspiration from Gregory Porter.

 

DEEP CUTS 

 

 

THE MASH-UP

 

 

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

In this week’s blog post on gracechurchnwa.org: What does it look like for us to be salt and light to immigrants? Grace Holt has some thoughts. Leave comments! Share it! Tweet it! Pin it! Post it!

LOOKING AHEAD

Elijah encouraged a poor widow to trust God. Next week, we’ll see that she divided a small amount of flour, and her blessings were multiplied. Read about it in 1 Kings 17:1-16.

Grace Church Teaching Guide / Week of October 16, 2016
Key Text: 1 Samuel 1:9-11, 19-20; 2:1-10  (NET)

THE SET-UP

Despite how we feel, even in our darkest moments there’s no question as to whether God always remembers us. But do we always remember God?

 

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

What does Hannah teach us

about prayer?

What do these passages teach us

about God?

 

Can we trust God to hear us

when we pray?

 

 

GRACE IN 3D

Hannah’s prayer praises God for the way He turns things upside down: “The bows of warriors are shattered, but those who stumble find their strength reinforced. Those who are well-fed hire themselves out to earn food, but the hungry no longer lack. Even the barren woman gives birth to seven, but the one with many children withers away.” Does that sound like the Jesus Christ you know? As you’ve apprenticed Him, have you ever seen Him act or answer prayers in a completely unexpected way? If so, would you share the story with your Grace Group?

 

THE HEAD AND THE HEART

 

  • Hannah lived in a world where her value and security were directly tied to her ability to birth children, especially boys. Because she was barren, people around her would have assumed she did something to bring infertility upon herself and was cursed as a result. That’s a heavy load to carry, and some of us would buckle under the weight of it; we would avoid fellowship with God because the intensity of that kind of shame is nearly impossible to overcome. Not Hannah, though. What does her example say to you? Does it challenge your beliefs about what we have to do to be acceptable to God? To be used by God? If so, how?

 

  • From our vantage point, we have the benefit of seeing that God had big plans for Samuel. What do you make of the fact that of all the women He could have selected to be Samuel’s mom, He chose a woman who was bullied, diminished and marginalized? A woman who quite literally had nothing to offer Him? What does this tell you about the heart of God? About how God accomplishes His purposes? Does it shape your thinking about how we have to present ourselves in order to be used by God? If so, how?

 

  • If we take the facts as they’re presented to us, it seems pretty obvious that Hannah could have been praying and trusting God for years before she finally became pregnant. Do you think God only started listening to her shortly before He granted her request for a baby? Do you ever wonder if, based on the response you get to your prayers, God is listening to you? How are we supposed to pray faithfully if it feels like God doesn’t remember us? On the other hand, consider Hannah’s prayer of praise: What are some specific ways we can let God know that we remember Him?

 

 

THE OPPORTUNITY

 

If you’re secure in Christ’s love for you and His protection and provision over you, how will you acknowledge it this week to Him as well as to others? If you’re not — if you feel like you’ve been forgotten or forsaken — pray for the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to the truth of your position as a child of God. How will you live differently as a result?

 

DEEP CUTS 

 

 

THE MASH-UP

 

 

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

In this week’s blog post on gracechurchnwa.org: What does it look like for us to be salt and light to immigrants? Grace Holt has some thoughts. Leave comments! Share it! Tweet it! Pin it! Post it!

LOOKING AHEAD

David figures that of course God would want a spectacular house of worship constructed in His honor — who wouldn’t? Well, God, apparently. At least not yet. The topic comes up when God establishes a covenant with David; next week, we’ll read about it in 2 Samuel 7:1-17 (NET).

Grace Church Teaching Guide / Week of October 9, 2016
Key Text: Exodus 32:1-14 (NET)

THE SET-UP

Humans seem hardwired to distort the image of God. Good thing God’s promises aren’t linked to our performance.

 

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

Why do we lie about who God is?

What do we gain when we

engage with the true God?

 

Does God’s faithfulness to us

depend on our faithfulness to God?

 

 

GRACE IN 3D

If we’re honest, we’d probably all admit to having created false idols from time to time — turning our attention completely away from God and giving our focus, resources and loyalty to things that have nothing at all to do with the Kingdom. But what about the idols that represent God: false images of the true God? The Geneva Study Bible says, “The root of Idolatry is when men think that God is not present, unless they see him physically.” Maybe God seems distant to us; maybe we want something tangible to make our relationship with God feel more real. Whatever the reason, do you think there are things we idolize in the Church? At Grace Church? What about you, personally? Would you be willing to share your thoughts with your Grace Group?

 

THE HEAD AND THE HEART

 

  • It’s been said that the most damnable lies are the ones that are mostly true. This is especially accurate when we apply it to our ideas about God. The people waiting on Moses at the base of Mount Sinai didn’t all of a sudden become atheist, or rise up in rebellion against God, or even give up in apathy and stop worshipping. They just “adjusted” who their god was. They still believed  in “god,” they still worshipped. What was driving them to do this? Why was it so easy for them, after seeing the Red Sea split, the fire by night and cloud by day, to do this? Do you think we are guilty of the same types of “adjustments”? If so, how?

 

  • Have you ever felt that God was unjust? Unfair? What about times you feel that God is absent,  isn’t listening or just doesn’t care? What is your response to these feelings? When what you want, what you really believe should happen, doesn’t? When Moses argues with God on the mountain about what should happen to the people who are dancing around the golden calf down below, we see a strange thing. Moses reminds God who God is, what God has promised and what the “right thing” to do is. Kinda crazy, right? But don’t miss the effect: In the process, something is happening to Moses’ heart. What do you think happens to ours when we engage in this kind of wrestling with God?

 

  • Remember this quote from Eugene Peterson? “The only serious mistake we can make when illness comes, when anxiety threatens, when conflicts disturb our relationships with others is to conclude that God has gotten bored looking after us and has shifted His attention to a more exciting Christian, or that God has become disgusted with our meandering obedience and decided to let us fend for ourselves for a while…” How often, and in how many ways, do you connect your experience of God’s presence and blessing to your performance? Do you connect His attention and affection to your earning?

 

 

THE OPPORTUNITY

 

Who do you say God is? Does the way you live your life, spend your resources, place your priorities tell the truth about who you know God to be? Are there people, places or practices that are the objects of your worship, rather than God? If you’re not sure, ask the Holy Spirit to show you. Pray for curiosity to know God deeply, and for awareness of the evidence of God’s love and provision in your life. As these prayers are answered, what are three or four specific ways you’ll live differently as a result?

 

DEEP CUTS 

 

 

THE MASH-UP

 

 

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

In this week’s blog post on gracechurchnwa.org: Wrestling with the inevitability of death leaves author Ike Peters with way more questions than answers. Leave comments! Share it! Tweet it! Pin it! Post it

LOOKING AHEAD

Hannah celebrates God’s faithfulness. Read about her circumstances and her prayer in 1 Samuel 1:9-11, 19-20 and 2:1-10.

Grace Church Teaching Guide / Week of October 2, 2016
Key Text: Exodus 12:1-13; 13:1-8 (NET)

THE SET-UP

 

Passover celebrates God’s rescue plan, which involves a lamb and offers a preview of the Lamb to come.

 

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

What’s the significance of Passover?

What does it tell us about

God’s love and protection?

 

What does it mean for

twenty-first century Christians?

 

 

GRACE IN 3D

Passover is the most significant event in the history of the nation of Israel; a profound, supernatural display of God’s power and protection. The Jews were commanded to always remember it, using a detailed set of rituals. Have there been times when God was at work in your life in a particularly powerful way? Are there special things you do to honor or remember them? If so, what are they? Would you be willing to share them with your Grace Group?

 

THE HEAD AND THE HEART

 

  • In Exodus 12:2, God basically tells Moses and Aaron that the Jews are to toss out their civil calendars and completely reorient their lives around Passover. Then in 13:1-8, God gives the Israelites some oddly specific instructions about how to memorialize their delivery from Egypt. What’s that about? Why is Passover so significant? (If you’d like some background, you could start here or here.) And why do you think the rituals God commands here are so precise? Do you think it matters much whether they’re strictly followed? Why or why not?

 

  • The Passover story is really pretty gruesome. Does God seem merciful to you in our text this week? Loving? Compassionate? Vengeful? Dangerous? Can the holy creator God be all of those things at once? The Israelites were told to put the blood of a spotless lamb on each side of their doorframe: Does it make a difference to you whether the purpose of that blood was to keep the death angel out or invite God in? Why or why not? Again we find a set of narrow instructions about how to choose and slaughter the lamb, what to do with it and how to apply the blood. What does that say to you about God’s love for and protection over His children?

 

  • When you read through this text, do you see the Cross show up as the narrative unfolds? If so, where? And what does that say to you about God’s plan to rescue and restore His children? From our synoptic study of the Gospels, think about how Jesus described the symbolism of the bread and wine during His last supper with the disciples. Do you see a connection there with Passover? If so, how might that inform your approach to communion?

 

 

THE OPPORTUNITY

 

Ask the Holy Spirit to bring to your mind specific instances when God has protected or provided for you. What tools will you use or habits will you adopt to honor them? Can you name at least three ways you’ll commit to living differently as a result?

 

DEEP CUTS 

 

 

THE MASH-UP

 

 

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

In this week’s blog post on gracechurchnwa.org: Forgiving is often difficult, but the payoff is huge. Josie Lawson writes about it on the Grace Church blog. Leave comments! Share it! Tweet it! Pin it! Post it

LOOKING AHEAD

Moses was barely out of their site before the Israelites were melting down their gold and making themselves a stand-in. And God wasn’t especially happy with their industriousness. Read about it in Exodus 32:1-14 to get a jump on our teaching next week.