GRACE CHURCH NWA

2828 NORTH CROSSOVER ROAD

FAYETTEVILLE, AR  72703

SUNDAY WORSHIP  10:15 AM

Grace Church Teaching Guide / Week of September 25, 2016
Key Text: Genesis 37:3-8, 17b-22, 26-34; 50:15-21 (NET)

THE SET-UP

The ultimate Shalom sacrifice of the cross is echoed throughout our broken histories.

 

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

How do we see God working dead ends

in the Bible and in our own stories?

How, specifically, is forgiveness the key

to reconciliation and shalom?

 

How do we understand the

pattern of reconciliation in the Bible?

 

 

GRACE IN 3D

At the end of our text this week, Joseph tells his brothers that their evil acts against him were ultimately used by God for his good. What do you think about this passage? Do you think it has anything to do with real life? Has there ever been a time when you were in a pit of your own — angry or grieving or in pain because of circumstances outside your control — and God brought good that could not have come to you any other way? Have you ever been trapped in a pit that, so far, doesn’t appear to work for your good at all? What do you make of that? Could you forgive the way Joseph did? Be prepared to share your thoughts this week with your Grace Group; see how your experiences and beliefs are alike or different.

 

THE HEAD AND THE HEART

 

  • It is a difficult, even impossible, concept to embrace: God continually wants to bring resurrection. But for something to be divinely resurrected, it has to be dead. For something to be supernaturally healed, it has to be humanly irreparable. For forgiveness to really be forgiveness, the offence must truly have damaged. And yet that is what, in many ways, defines God. The one who forgives, resurrects and restores. If you really want to see God at work in the Bible, in our world and in your life, look here. Where you have seen God working in your life through forgiveness? What is it like when forgiveness is present and practiced? What is it like when it is absent? What factors encourage it or hinder it?

 

  • Forgiveness is not just about the restoration of personal relationships; it has much farther-reaching implications. How are we to understand the necessity of peace, shalom, in our personal relationships if peace is to exist in our communities, countries and world? Have you ever considered how the lack of forgiveness in the relationships closest to you negatively affects the greater community? How walking in forgiveness in those same relationships helps spread peace to those around you?

 

  • How do we understand the pattern of reconciliation in the Bible? Look in any hymnal and you will find a substantial number of songs about the Cross. Rightfully so. But it is important to understand that God did not start his reconciliation efforts on Calvary. Instead, they start in the Garden and are the continual focus of God’s interaction with humanity. Scripture is filled with instances of the overwhelming and relentless love of God seeking after us. Consider the stories in the Bible where you see this happening. Where do you see it happening in your own life? In the lives of those around you? In our communities, and our world?

 

 

THE OPPORTUNITY

 

In light of our teaching this week, will you respond differently to God’s great love and passionate pursuit of you? If so, how? What are some specific ways you will practice forgiveness differently as a result of what the Holy Spirit is teaching you through our text?

 

DEEP CUTS 

 

 

THE MASH-UP

 

 

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

In this week’s blog post on gracechurchnwa.org: At the communion table, we find a beautiful and poignant reminder of Christ’s love. Leave comments! Share it! Tweet it! Pin it! Post it!

LOOKING AHEAD

It was the month to begin all months — a watershed so monumental that it literally stopped and reset the clock for the entire Jewish nation. To get a look ahead at our study of the Passover, read about it in Exodus 12:1-13 and 13:1-8.

Grace Church Teaching Guide / Week of September 18, 2016
Key Text: Genesis 15:1-6 (NET)

THE SET-UP

For apprentices of Jesus, to “have faith” is a jumping-off point, not the endgame. God wants our faith to be robust, ever-deepening and authentic.

 

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

How do we acquire more faith?

How do we develop deeper faith?

 

What is authentic faith?

 

 

GRACE IN 3D

Have you ever found yourself in the depths of a struggle of some kind — physical, financial, emotional, spiritual — and been told by a well-meaning someone that everything would work out if you “just have more faith”? How did you feel? How did you respond? What does that mean to you: “just have more faith”? Why do you think believers say that to each other when things look grim? Would you be prepared to share your thoughts with your group this week?

 

THE HEAD AND THE HEART

 

  • “Just have more faith.” This is often given as a “prescription” to people who are struggling, or afflicted, or questioning. Rarely does it do more than add to the hurt, isolation or doubt the person is feeling. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it is wrong. If we learn anything from the Bible, it’s that God is calling us to have more faith. How do you see that reflected in the text this week? How do you see that same calling at work in your own life? How do you respond? What keeps you from responding?

 

  • The more deeply rooted a plant is, the healthier it is. Faith works much the same way: It’s a matter of depth, as well as quantity. But how does this “deepening” happen? When we’re tested? Facing adversity? When we say “yes” to challenging, demanding situations and opportunities that “activate” our roots to seek deeper soil and more nourishing layers? Conversely, have you ever really experienced a time of going deep when everything was easy, life was smooth and challenges minimal? Where are you being invited to go deeper in your faith? Does this change the way you consider challenges and “messy” situations you encounter?

 

  • There is another part of faith that is extremely, essentially personal. God is crafting in each of us a faith that is “authentic” to our situation, personality, understanding and context. Grasping this truth frees us to ask the questions that are essential to us; it allows us the freedom to feel, experience, and explore who we are, why we are and how all this ultimately relates to us. It’s not private, but it is intensely personal. And it takes a lifetime, probably an eternity. What are the experiences, questions and emotions that God is using to craft an authentic faith in your life? Do you have a model, or idea of what authentic faith even looks like? Why is it important?

 

 

THE OPPORTUNITY

 

How will you live differently as a result of what the Holy Spirit teaches you through our text and worship this week? What’s one specific opportunity, challenge or situation that you need to lean into for the purpose of developing more, deeper and authentic faith? Share with someone in your family or your Grace Group what you’ve committed to do.

 

DEEP CUTS 

 

 

THE MASH-UP

 

 

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

In this week’s blog post on gracechurchnwa.org: Out on the 401 Trail, the score was J.Ray -1, Anxiety - 0. Leave comments! Share it! Tweet it! Pin it! Post it!

LOOKING AHEAD

Meet Joseph’s brothers, who set a very low bar for family loyalty and harmony. In God’s hands, even their vile and heartless betrayal worked for Joseph’s good. Read up on their story in Genesis 37:3-8, 17-22, 26-34; and 50:15-21.

Grace Church Teaching Guide / Week of September 11, 2016
Key Text: Genesis 2:4-9, 15-17; 3:1-13 (NET)

THE SET-UP

Sin and shame can drive us to hide from God. But God created us, breathed life into us. And nothing we do will ever cause God to hide from us.

 

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

What’s special about

the way God created us?

What does it mean that

God breathed life into us?

When we sin, what can we do

to redeem ourselves?

 

 

GRACE IN 3D

Our text this week tells us some tremendously important things about God’s heart and character. And the way we hear and process this story shapes our thoughts and assumptions about Him. Imagine that everything you know about God is based only on this passage. What would you think about Him? Does He seem compassionate? Angry? Loving? Vengeful? Close? Distant? Write down your thoughts, and when you get together with your Grace Group, compare notes. How are your answers alike? How are they different? Then, see what kind of composite you come up with. What does that picture of God look like? Is it consistent with our text? How?

 

THE HEAD AND THE HEART

 

  • Take a second to review Genesis 1: God’s M.O. is to “speak” things into being through Day Seven. Then something interesting happens in verse 26. Who’s the “us”? (If you want to explore this question, Isaiah 40:13-14 might be a good place to start.) What’s different about the way God set out to create man? (Find some clues in verses 26-29.) Now read Genesis 2:7. When it tells us that God “formed” man, the word picture is of a potter forming something purposefully from clay. It’s not used to describe the way God created any other creature. What does all of this tell you about God’s heart for man?

 

  • We’re not told of any other creation that began breathing because God first breathed into its nostrils. So why Adam? What, exactly, is the “breath of life”? As a result, what does Adam have that other creations don’t? Read John 20:19-25. Some Biblical scholars draw a parallel between our text and this one; the words used for “breath” suggest the same meaning in Hebrew and Greek. What do you make of that?

 

  • After Adam and Eve disobey God and eat from the forbidden tree, it doesn’t take them long to realize that their world has changed on a dime. What evidence do you see here of their awareness of their sin? Of their shame? When you read verses 8-13, how do you picture God in your head? Aggressive? Angry? A concerned Father? Based on what you read here, do you think God’s manor or behavior gave them any reason to hide? Sounds like they were working hard to spin the situation so that they could justify themselves. What can they teach us about our ability to redeem ourselves when we sin?

 

 

THE OPPORTUNITY

 

It’s human nature to want to make our own way and fix our own messes. If that drive prevents you from resting in God’s gift of redemption and restoration, ask the Holy Spirit to show you how to let go and lean fully on God’s provision. When you do, what are some specific ways you’ll live differently?

 

DEEP CUTS 

 

 

THE MASH-UP

 

 

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

In this week’s blog post on gracechurchnwa.org: YWAM missionary Jamie Durham talks about the Fortress that’s greater than fear. Leave comments! Share it! Tweet it! Pin it! Post it!

LOOKING AHEAD

Father Abraham had many sons. To get a jump on next week’s message, you can read all about his descendants in Genesis 15:1-6.

Grace Church Teaching Guide / Week of September 4, 2016
Key Text: Genesis 1-2:3 (NET)

THE SET-UP

God’s first word is “YES!” In the beginning, it is good.

 

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

What does Genesis tell us about God?

As a creation narrative,

what makes Genesis special?

How does God define “rest”?

 

 

GRACE IN 3D

To some, the focus of our text is the creation. Actually, though, the spotlight is on the Creator. Read all the way through Genesis 1-2:3 a couple of times. If everything you knew about God came only from this passage, how would you describe God? Write down your thoughts; when you get together with your Grace Group, compare notes. How are you alike in the way you see the God of Genesis 1 and 2? How are you different? Are there words or phrases that come up more than once? Only once? Talk about how your thoughts compare as you begin a conversation about Sunday’s message.

 

THE HEAD AND THE HEART

 

  • It’s often said of the modern Western Evangelical Church that we ignore Genesis 1 and start our Bible with Genesis 2 and The Fall. As a result, the focus can become only our sin and its consequences; even when we allow for our salvation, we forget the beauty to which we have been restored. What do you think we are to learn about God and ourselves based only on Genesis 1? How do you think having a robust imagination around Genesis 1 affects the way we understand “the Big Picture”? How we understand our faith?

 

  • If you take a look at the various creation narratives, such as that of the Babylonians or Norsemen, you might quickly notice there are some similarities with the Biblical creation narrative, as well as some major differences. What are the differences you see? What difference do the differences make?

 

  • Genesis 2:2-3 tells us that God “rested” when creation was finished. This is not the rest that comes from exhaustion, but a cessation that comes from completion. In Hebrew, the word is shabbat. (Guess what word we get from that?) How does this affect the way you think about the world we live in? What does it reveal about God’s assessment of creation?

 

 

THE OPPORTUNITY

 

This is a perfect time of year to get outside. Take an hour or two and find a park or streamside or hammock, then settle in and read Genesis 1-2:3 again. Let the words sink in; offer them back to God in conversation. You could start like this: “In the beginning You, Abba, created  the heavens and the earth. Now  the earth was without shape and empty, and darkness was over the surface of the watery deep,  but Your Spirit was moving over the surface of the water…” See what happens. This is a great activity to include your kids in, as well.

 

DEEP CUTS 

For a further look at Genesis 1:

 

 

THE MASH-UP

 

 

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

In this week’s blog post on gracechurchnwa.org: YWAM missionary Jamie Durham talks about the Fortress that’s greater than fear. Leave comments! Share it! Tweet it! Pin it! Post it!

LOOKING AHEAD

Everything was perfect in the Garden. Until … Read Genesis 2:4-9 and 15-17, followed by 3:1-13, to find out how it all changed.