top of page

Living Grace

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of September 17, 2017

TESTED / John Ray

Key Text: Genesis 21:1-3; 22:1-14 (NET)



Faithfulness leads us into uncharted waters where we learn otherwise unlearnable truth about God, ourselves and the world.




  • Read Genesis 12:1. What did Abram give up or change to follow God’s call?  


  • What caused the writer of James 2:20-24 to remember Abraham’s story?  






For a conversation starter, ask everyone to think of the worst test they’ve ever had to take. Share quickly and tell why it was so bad!






  • Our text this week offers a disturbing story. How does it support or contradict what you believe to be true about God? About what God might ask of you? Has there ever been a time when God asked you to do something you didn’t understand? Something you didn’t think you could do? Something you couldn’t see the purpose of? Bottom line: Does faith ever make difficult demands?

  • What are some of the things the Bible teaches you about faith? (For reference, you could start here, here or here.) Based only on what you read in Scripture, how would you define faith? Where does it come from?  What does it mean to God? How closely can you apprentice Christ without it? Bottom line: Is it possible to have a growing relationship with God if we don’t have faith?

  • How is your faith shaped by your beliefs about God? Is faith something that we grow by ourselves? Why or why not? Has there ever been a time when something happened that challenged your faith and caused you to feel impatient with God? To feel that God had disappointed you? Were you able to overcome it? Bottom line: Is the ultimate goodness of God essential to sustain our faith?





Consider a time when you read or studied a passage in the Bible that you really didn’t understand. Maybe it made you angry. Maybe it tempted you to give up, just walk away. Or maybe you decided on some level that you had to protect yourself from the God you found there, hold God at arm’s length because you couldn’t really trust the God it talked about. If we’re honest, I think all of us have done this to one degree or another at some point in our lives. During your quiet time with God this week, think about how you might approach these challenges differently, with a more “faith-full” approach like we will talk about on Sunday.






Kids’ Curriculum Connection: God promised Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. Head outside with your family this week, and go star gazing. There are multiple apps to help you find and identify constellations!

Sunday Car Talk: Who can you count on to provide and be faithful to do what they say they will do? How about the workers at the fire station? There are always people at the building, making sure there is gas in the fire truck and that all the tools they use to fight fires are ready to go. Go around your car and see if each person is able to name someone they can count on. Talk about how our Father God is faithful. He sees us. One name for God is El Roi, the One who sees us. He provides for us, sometimes in surprising ways. Get ready to listen in worship and class time about how God provides.










In this week’s blog post on When our vision and understanding are clouded, it can take time to see through the smoke. Leave comments! Share it! Tweet it! Pin it! Post it!


Jacob has a dream, and God makes a promise. Read about it in Genesis 28:10-17  (NET).

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of September 10, 2017


Key Text: Genesis 1:1-2:3; 5:1-28, 30-32; 6:10-22; 8:15-19; 9:1-17 (NET)



Understanding that we are part of God’s creation helps us understand who we are and what we are to be about.




Read Psalm 8.  

What reveals the Lord’s majesty?  _________________________________

How did He make the heavens?  __________________________________

The moon and the stars? ________________________________________


Read John 1.

In the beginning was _______________, and _________________ was with God, and the Word was ___________________.  The Word was with God ____________________________.  ___________________ were created by ______________ .






Play a little Created Things guessing game as you arrive, eat, and visit together. Make index cards and put one name of an animal or created things such as Mt. Everest, rhino, pelican, Rocky Mountains, Mojave Desert, The Great Lakes, salmon, rooster, etc. on each card. Without letting the wearer see it, tape a card to each person’s back, and they must ask yes/no questions from others to try to figure out what created thing they are. For example, they might ask, “Am I an animal?” “Am I a mammal?” “Am I located in the United States?” This could be fun for kids in your group, too!





  • Have you ever asked yourself the age-old questions, “Why are we here?” or “Where did we come from?” Based only on what you read in Scripture, how would you answer? What evidence do you see in nature that affirms what Scripture says? Bottom line: What was God’s purpose in creating the world?

  • Consider what you believe to be true about God, also about God’s creation and your place in it. Where do your beliefs come from? How do you respond when your beliefs are challenged? Do you think of God as being closely involved with His creation, or watching it all from a distance? Bottom line: How is your worldview shaped by your interpretation of the creation story, the Bible and your purpose and identity?

  • If God created the world by Himself, for Himself, what does that mean for us as apprentices of Jesus? Should we honor God with our stewardship of the earth and its resources? If so, how? Does it really matter how we regard or disregard the health of the environment? Can our stewardship be an act of worship? Bottom line: As we grow in our understanding of God and His creation, how should we think about our responsibilities? How should we respond?





Spend some time outside this week alone with God, meditating on what it means that He is the Creator of all things. Think about some of the things you’re grateful for about the world He’s placed you in (be specific), and thank Him for them. As a steward of His creation, what are some ways you can honor Him?






Kids’ Curriculum Connection: This Sunday our Grace Kids Groups will begin studying the same scripture as the adults using our homegrown curriculum! We’ll kick off with a look at how God made everything (you can celebrate God’s creativity by singing along to this video). Join in our purposeful plan to facilitate opportunities for reinforcement and discussion, and share your pics and reflections on our social media pages.

Sunday Car Talk: How does your family travel to church? Are you peppy and lively, or more of the I just got pulled out of bed and need a quiet moment type? Give the peppy a run this morning as you work together on your rapping skills. Someone start off, creating a rhythm with the words, “God made everything, and God made me!” Then, take turns around the car, with each person adding something they see that God made. For example, the next person might say, “God made everything, and God made that vulture on the tree.”










In this week’s blog post on How do we engage as caretakers of our Father’s world? Teresa Cornett has some thoughts. Leave comments! Share it! Tweet it! Pin it! Post it!


God asks Abraham for a costly sacrifice. Read about it in Genesis 21:1-3 and 22:1-14 (NET).

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of September 3, 2017


Key Text: 2 Peter 1:1-12 (NET)





How we understand “calling” goes a long way in determining where and how we end up.




  • Where does a “calling” come from? How are we supposed to know if we’ve been called to something? Can anyone be called? Is everyone? Or is a “calling” an exclusive thing? Bottom line: What does it means to be “called”?

  • Are we called to particular jobs, or choices? Or is a “calling” bigger and deeper than that? Is it necessarily about doing something? Is a calling really even about us? Bottom line: To what, specifically, are we being called, and for what reason?

  • Has God called you to something particular? If so, what? How did you respond? Were you changed by it? What did it teach you about God that you would not have known any other way? How did it shape you as an apprentice of Jesus? What did it cost you? Bottom line: If we’re to live a life defined by a healthy understanding of “calling,” what would that look like?





Our understanding of calling can have a strong influence on how we think of ourselves and our place in the world. As you listen this week, study and discuss calling to examine the influence it has played in your life and how you want to understand and engage with it in the future.






Kids’ Creation Connection: Just as God has a purpose for all of us, there’s a purpose for the things we find in nature. Take your kids on a nature scavenger hunt, and see how many of these things you can find. What’s their purpose? What makes them special?


Two types of leaves

Two kinds of seeds

An interesting pine cone

A beautiful rock

Something fuzzy

Something straight

Something round

Something smooth

Something rough

Something green

Something that makes noise

Something you think is beautiful

Sunday Car Talk: What is your purpose? Ask your kids how we can use our hands on purpose. Can we use our mouths in a purposeful way to glorify God? Listen to this song together for a little inspiration.





In this week’s blog post on Norma Farthing shares some more thoughts about the power of a Gospel-fueled imagination. Leave comments! Share it! Tweet it! Pin it! Post it!


Next week, the narrative lectionary takes us back to the beginning. Read about it in Genesis 1:1—2:4a (NET).

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of September 24, 2017


Key Text: Genesis 11:1-9; 28:10-22 (MSG)



There are two fundamental ways of bridging the gap between heaven and earth, two basic ways of trying to make contact with God. Our way: the way of the Tower, from the bottom up. And God’s way: the way of the Ladder, from the top down—it’s about what God wants to do for us that we could never do for ourselves.




Read Genesis 25 and answer the following questions:

  • Who were Jacob’s parents? 

  • Who was Jacob’s brother? 

  • What did God say to Jacob’s mother about her sons? 

  • How were Jacob and his brother different? 

  • What did Jacob take from his brother?

Read Genesis 27. Why was Jacob on the run?





Where in the world would we find Bethel? Have a look here.



Have you ever had an experience where you felt the closeness of God? Quickly go around the circle and tell about a time you experienced God’s presence. Allow a pass for folks who may need more time to consider (offer them an option of saying, “thinking,”), then go to the next person until everyone who wants to has had a chance to share.






  • Based only on what you read in Scripture, how would you define grace? (You could start here, here or here.) Does Scripture challenge or affirm what you really believe? Do you struggle with the fact that grace is a gift? Bottom line: Is God’s grace alone really sufficient?

  • If someone were to ask you how you came to have a relationship with Jesus Christ, what would you say? Can you name some of the things you’ve done to earn God’s grace? Do you think it’s possible to know God if God didn’t first seek to know you? Bottom line: Is the truth of the Gospel centered in God, or in ourselves?

  • How does the message of grace contradict the principles of our pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps culture? If life demands that we carry our own backpack in order to succeed, is it possible to easily shift gears when it comes to our apprenticeship of Jesus? Bottom line: How do we prevent self-help theology from polluting our relationship with Christ?





In your time alone with God this week, ask the Holy Spirit to show you places in your life where you’re working—whether you realize it or not–to earn redemption, and God’s love. Ask for forgiveness, then pray to have a deeply-healing and lasting understanding of grace. How do you think you might live differently as a result?




Kids’ Creation Connection: On Sunday, we’ll hear about how Jacob slept outside on the ground with a rock for a pillow! Have a backyard family campout this week, and talk about Jacob’s encounter with God. (But when it’s time to go to sleep, please use a pillow!)

Sunday Car Talk: What has God done that you could never do? Go around the car and have each person name something that God has done. Ask if anyone can think of a song that incorporates this idea, like “My God is So Big.”










In this week’s blog post on John Ray finds that when our vision and understanding are clouded, it can take time to see through the smoke. Leave comments! Share it! Tweet it! Pin it! Post it!


When Martin Luther absorbed the truth of God’s grace, he took a provocative stand that forever changed the practice of Christianity. Next week, we begin our study of the Reformation with a look at Ephesians 1:3-2:8 (MSG).

bottom of page