GRACE CHURCH NWA

2828 NORTH CROSSOVER ROAD

FAYETTEVILLE, AR  72703

SUNDAY WORSHIP  10:15 AM

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of September 2nd, 2018

Discovering Grace and Us / John Ray

Based on Discovering Grace Introduction, Parts 5 and 6

Key Text / 1 Peter 2:5 (NET)

For a PDF of the Learning Guide, click here.

THE SET-UP

Living boldly in the Kingdom requires us to opt in and do the tough, grace-filled work of building community.

LIFE AT GRACE 

Choosing to rest in the fact of God’s love frees us to love others more fully and respond to community more naturally. Are there specific ways you love, live and serve differently because you know you’re extravagantly loved by God? If so, what are they? If not, what specifically is holding you back? Ask the Holy Spirit this week to help you see yourself the way God sees you, and to respond. If you’d like someone to pray with you, reach out to the folks in your Grace Group or your Grace Church family.

 

REFLECT

To be transformed by Jesus Christ is a lifelong process. Think about your relationship with Him over the past month: What are some specific things you’ve done/are doing that encourage this transformation? What are some specific things you’ve done/are doing that slow it down? Ask the Holy Spirit to prompt you, and write whatever comes to mind. How will you respond this week?

PRACTICE 

Instead of choosing the shortest check-out line, taking the closest parking space or being the one to choose the restaurant when you eat out with a group, do the opposite this week. Yep, go to the back of the longest line, park way out in the parking lot, let others choose where to eat (and don’t complain about their choice). I know this sounds crazy, but you might be surprised how these small choices help us recognize how often we expect — even demand — that we get the first and the best and the easiest, no matter how it affects others. Make some notes in your journal about what this exercise teaches you.

DISCUSS

  • In Discovering Grace, we state our belief as a church that, “Everything starts with God’s love for us.” What does that statement mean to you? Does it line up with your personal beliefs?

  • God’s love is a gift; there’s nothing we can do to earn it or to lose it. Does that make it easier or harder for you to accept? Why?

  • How do you choose where you’ll serve at Grace, as well as in the Kingdom outside our church? What’s your motivation?

  • Relationships deepen significantly when we make the choice to engage without an escape hatch; when we decide that we’re in, no matter what. Do you think the same is true of our relationship with our church? Why or why not

  • Conflict is inevitable in the church. So how should we handle it, both personally and corporately? Are there rules of engagement that honor Christ and make us stronger? If so, how do we figure out what they are?

RESOURCES

 

* If you add these books to your library, consider supporting Grace Church of Northwest Arkansas by making your purchases through Amazon Smile.

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

We all have scars, and our scars tell a story. So what’s the story they tell about community? Ashley Schulz has some important personal insight to share this week on the Grace Church blog; read her post here.

LOOKING AHEAD

We’ll pick up our study based on the Narrative Lectionary, starting with a look at God’s purpose and promise in the great flood. Read about it in Genesis 6:5-22; 8:6-12; and 9:8-17 (NET)

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of September 9th, 2018

Encountering Covenant: Flood Waters and Rainbows / John Ray

Key Text / Genesis 6:5-22, 8:6-12, 9:8-17 (NET)

For a PDF of the Learning Guide, click here.

 

 

THE SET-UP

Understanding covenant is essential to understanding Christianity. How do we understand covenant through floods and rainbows?

 

 

LIFE AT GRACE 

This is a busy season in the life of our church. Several of our families need tangible help with food and care. Others have less visible needs that require time and heart. As you make your fall schedule and make choices about how to spend your time, could you perhaps leave some margin for community care?

 

REFLECT

Genesis 6:11 gives us something pretty weighty to wrestle with: “The earth was ruined in the sight of God; the earth was filled with violence.” The text doesn’t tell us how Noah’s neighbors reacted to his building project; considering that God wasn’t moved to spare one single person outside Noah’s family, it’s safe to assume that no one was shaken to repent. The state of the human condition apparently wasn’t weighing very heavily on anyone, despite the fact that it caused God to regret ever creating mankind. Do you think it’s possible today for us to be oblivious to the things in our lives that break God’s heart that way? This week, ask the Holy Spirit to show you attitudes or actions you might have justified, or areas where you may have become a little bit numb to conviction. Write down what’s revealed to you. How, specifically, will you respond?

PRACTICE 

Think of someone who has done something really terrible. It doesn’t necessarily have to be towards you, but don’t dismiss the thought if someone who has deeply hurt you comes to mind. Now try to imagine them being shown grace, the same kind of grace God shows in our text this week. Think of them being invited onto the ark. Take time throughout the week to think about them in this way, and start to pray for them. Be honest about your emotions with God as you pray.

DISCUSS

  • The God we encounter in the story of the flood is complicated, angry and vengeful. What do you make of that? Do you have trouble with this image of God? Why or why not?

 

  • The whole of the Christian faith is built on God’s making and fulfilling covenants; the first covenant He makes with mankind is His vow to never again destroy the earth with a flood. Why do you think God would make covenants with men? Why would He hold Himself to them?

 

  • Although we often cast Noah, his family, the animals and that spectacular ark as the stars of this story, ultimately — as is the case with every story in the Bible — it’s about God. What does it teach you about God’s heart? God’s character? God’s justice? God’s grace?

 

  • All we really know about pre-ark Noah is summed up in Genesis 6:8-9 and Hebrews 11:7. We learn later on that he was most definitely flawed and fallen. So what do you think made God choose to establish a covenant of this magnitude with Noah? Is the covenant about Noah, or about God? Why?

 

  • The story of the flood isn’t a sweet children’s tale, but a sobering declaration of God’s character and faithfulness that prepares us for the coming of His Son. What are some specific ways the details of this text foreshadow Jesus?

RESOURCES

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

Meet our Special Needs Ministry Advocates in this blog post here.

LOOKING AHEAD

Next week, we look at the covenant God makes with Abraham in Genesis 12:1-9.

 

 

 

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of September 23, 2018

Encountering Covenant: Joseph in Jail / John Ray

Key Text / Genesis 39:1-23 (NET)

For a PDF of the Learning Guide, click here.

 

 

 

THE SET-UP

God’s covenant is the promise of grace. And that can be messy. 

 

REFLECT

Consider the people, events, experiences and practices that have had a meaningful part in forming your faith. Be really honest. It’s not just the good stuff, is it? It’s not just the words of encouragement, the promotions and the recognition. So often, our faith is deepened through disappointments, rejections, loneliness. We define “blessing” as anything that God uses to draw us closer to God’s self; that definition could be extended to include the things that allow us to more fully share the Kingdom with others. How does this line up with your understanding of blessing? 

PRACTICE 

Based on what you find in your personal reflection, make a practice of giving thanks for those situations that have caused you to draw closer to God, as well as the people involved — even “if what they meant for harm, God has used for good.” This isn’t about being thankful for the thing that hurt you, but instead for the faith that grew through the pain and the redemptive blessing that grace has given.

THE BRIDGE

God gave Abram and his wife new names — Abraham and Sarah — and a son they named Isaac. Isaac had a son named Jacob, who fathered daughters and 12 sons. Of his enormous brood, Jacob loved his son Joseph the most; Jacob’s obvious inclination to play favorites landed Joseph at the bottom of a well and set him on a path to Potiphar’s house.

MAP IT

Sold into slavery, Joseph was moved from his father’s home in Canaan to Egypt; see his journey mapped out here.

 

DISCUSS

  • A close read of Joseph’s story tells us he had a few things in common with Jesus: betrayal, false accusations, imprisonment. What are some of the ways that you see Jesus foreshadowed in Joseph’s life?

  • Joseph was covered by the covenants God established with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But there were plenty of moments in Joseph’s life where nothing about his circumstances would have backed that up. Is covenant always clear? Always comfortable? Always good, by our standards?

  • How do you think the people around Joseph could see that he was favored? Based only on what Scripture tells us, what do you think motivated Joseph? And what does his example teach us? How can we internalize the truth of God’s blessing in ways that cause us to behave differently?

  • God used Joseph’s obedience, in the midst and in spite of his circumstances, to accomplish Kingdom purposes. What are some practical, specific ways you can follow Joseph’s example to be available to God and faithful with what you know and what you have, right where you are?

  • Read Genesis 50:20 and Romans 8:28. If you have a relationship with Jesus, how does the Holy Spirit alive in you shape your perspective when you experience suffering? Disloyalty? Loss? Can you name some times when God brought glory to Himself and to the Kingdom through your adversity?

RESOURCES

LOOKING AHEAD

God is faithful to keep His covenant with Moses; read about it in Exodus 14:5-7; 10-14; and 21-29 (NET). Then on September 30, during an interactive morning worship experience that will include our kids from kindergarten through 4th grade, hear personal stories about God’s faithfulness among the Grace Church family.

Grace Church Learning Guide / Week of September 30, 2018

Encountering Covenant: Promise of Deliverance

led by Alex Cornett

Key Text / Exodus 14:5-7, 10-14, 21-29 (NET)

For a PDF of the Learning Guide, click here.

THE SET-UP

When God makes a promise, we can trust that nothing will stop Him from following through.

REFLECT

If you can’t fully identify with what the Israelites experienced living enslaved by Pharaoh, you probably understand what it’s like to live enslaved by sin. How has God delivered you from bondage to a habit, attitude or addiction you couldn’t overcome on your own? How do you live differently since He set you free? Write down the things that come to mind; as you do, thank God for the specific ways you’ve experienced His deliverance.  

PRACTICE 

Joseph’s story shows us how God keeps covenant with His children individually; the rescue of the Israelites helps us understand how God’s promises cover a community. As part of the Grace Church community, you have a role to play in helping us all lean into God’s covenant as we walk out the Kingdom together. So what is it? This week, ask the Holy Spirit to show you specific ways you can get outside of your own head and be an encouraging voice, and make up your mind ahead of time to be obedient: Maybe you have a testimony to share with everyone; maybe you have a challenge for your Grace Group, a word of welcome to offer at the front door on Sunday mornings or a quiet word of support for someone who’s struggling. Whatever it is, watch for ways that God can use you to grow a stronger community of believers who stand firmly on His promises.

THE BRIDGE

Even while Joseph was in prison, God continued to elevate him. You can read the details here, but long story short: God used Joseph’s faithfulness and obedience to save Egypt from famine. Reunited with his family, Joseph lived out the rest of his life in peace with them. Genesis ends with Joseph reminding his brothers, right before he died, of God’s promise to give their people a new home; he asked them to take his bones with them when the time came for God to lead them there.

MAP IT

 

See this map to trace the route traveled by Moses and the Israelites as they followed God out of Egypt.

DISCUSS

  • Based only on what you read in Scripture, what do God’s actions on behalf of the Israelites teach you about God’s power? What do they teach you about the power of covenant?

  • The Israelites left Egypt believing God had removed them from Pharaoh’s reach, only to find themselves blindsided at the edge of the Red Sea with the full weight of Pharaoh’s army bearing down on them. Have you ever felt blindsided by God? If you have, what did you learn about God in that circumstance that you might not have learned any other way?

  • Put yourself on the dry, sandy path God created when He pushed back the waters of the Red Sea: Can you connect with the faith it would have taken to trust God to hold back two giant walls of water as you made your way to safety? How has God sustained you during times when you were praying and waiting for deliverance?

  • Why does it matter today that God made covenant with us? If we know God’s promises and lean into them, what difference should that make in the way we live?

  • As apprentices of Jesus, we have something in common with Noah, Abraham, Moses and the Israelites: God’s covenant came before us and extends beyond us. We’re only part of God’s story. Consider where you are in your life, and where we are in the life of our church. What do you think our part of the story is meant to tell?

 

RESOURCES

LOOKING AHEAD

God repeats one covenant and issues ten commandments. Read about it in Exodus 19:3-7 and 20:1-17 (NET).