GRACE CHURCH NWA

2828 NORTH CROSSOVER ROAD

FAYETTEVILLE, AR  72703

SUNDAY WORSHIP  10:15 AM

Grace Church Learning Guide

Week of September 8, 2019

Discovering Grace - John Ray

Genesis 2:4-25

 

 

 

For a PDF of the Learning Guide, Click Here.

 

THE BIG IDEA

We understand, express and experience love only in connection to our relationship with others.

GROUP DISCUSSION

It’s easy to speak of love in the abstract, or as an emotional experience, but love is understood, expressed and experienced in the relational connections people form. Take some time to talk about how that might change your understanding of love, what it means to give and receive it. Discuss how this understanding might inform your decisions and plans, your affections, your affiliation and allegiances. Discuss how it might even affect what you say you “love”.

PERSONAL REFLECTION

NT Wright is quoted as saying “Love is not our duty, it is our destiny.” As you study and meditate on our Scriptures this week (John 15:12-15, Psalm 133:1-3, 1 Corinthians 12:12) how does that square with your understanding? How does it line up with your experience of love? Does this change the way you might understand, experience and express love?

RESOURCES

ODDS AND ENDS

 

LOOKING AHEAD

Next week, we dive back into the Narrative Lectionary. For those unfamiliar, it’s a four year cycle of reading that roots us in the overarching story of the Bible. We’ll begin almost where the Bible begins--in Genesis chapter 2, which is a focus on God creating man from Genesis 1. Read about it in Genesis 2:4b-25.

 

Grace Church Learning Guide

Week of September 8th, 2019

In the Beginning

John Ray

key text / Genesis 2:4b - 25

 

 

 

 

THE BIG IDEA

Our understanding of our origin forms our present understanding and our imagination for the future.

 

GROUP DISCUSSION

Take time to read Genesis 2:4-25 as a group, then consider the following: 

  • The Genesis 2 account of creation was originally set against the creation stories of other peoples and religions. How does this account compare with the popular creation stories of our culture?

  • What question(s) is the text seeking to answer? 

  • How do the answers provided in the text influence how you understand God’s relationship to creation, to us as people, and to our relationships with each other? 

  • This text can be interpreted to speak directly to some key issues being discussed in our culture and in our Church body. What is the best way to practice respectful, meaningful discussions that embody hospitality and shalom?

 

PERSONAL REFLECTION

This is a great week to take stock of your current devotional reading and Scripture study practice.  Take time to examine how you are currently studying the Scriptures each week as part of our communal practice at Grace. What things are working well? Where do you need help? Don’t feel like you have to figure this all our on your own either. Commit to ask someone for help, to research and find a rhythm and practice that leads you into deeper obedience and practice.

RESOURCES

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LOOKING AHEAD

A lot happens in the story between this text and the text we study next week. After God creates all things, man and woman are in the garden and are deceived by a snake to disobey the one boundary God has given them. From there, death and destruction reign on earth in the lives of humans. It gets bad enough that God is grieved to the point where he chooses to flood the Earth and start over with one good man, Noah, and his family. His family populates the Earth, and from the people of Earth God chooses Abram to begin a lineage of people that will point people to God for their own reconciliation with all things--which was a promise God gave in the immediate aftermath of the disobedience with the snake. There’s only one problem: Abram and his wife are pretty old, and they don’t have any kids. Will God deliver on his promise for this lineage to start with Abram? Can he? Read about it in Genesis 18:1-15; 21:1-7.

 

ODDS AND ENDS

Grace Church Learning Guide

Week of September 15, 2019

And God had it all along - Jane Ray

Genesis 18:1-15, 21:1-7

 

 

For a PDF of the Learning Guide, Click Here.

 

THE BIG IDEA

We discover grace in God’s promises.

GROUP DISCUSSION

Take time to read Genesis 18:1-15 and Genesis 21:1-7 as a group, then consider the following: 

  • Ask: Who do you believe God is in this passage? Ex: Is He a God who maliciously makes us wait? A God who wants to teach a lesson on patience? A God who fulfills His promises knowing our hopes, our dreams and our doubts?

  • Individually, what are the "things" in your life you feel God has promised and you just don't see Him anywhere? 

  • Looking at the "laugh" heard around the world for centuries, as a group, talk about what this could mean. The word “redemption” came up at the teaching team. Hmmm…..

  • Explore the meaning of God's names in relation to His character and this passage:

     El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty)

     El Elyon (The Most High God)

     Adonai (Lord, Master)

     Yahweh (Lord, Jehovah)

     Jehovah Nissi (The Lord My Banner)

     Jehovah-Raah (The Lord My Shepherd)

     Jehovah Rapha (The Lord That Heals)

     Jehovah Shammah (The Lord Is There)

     Jehovah Tsidkenu (The Lord Our Righteousness)

     Jehovah Mekoddishkem (The Lord Who Sanctifies You)

     El Olam (The Everlasting God)

     Elohim (God)

     Qanna (Jealous)

     Jehovah Jireh (The Lord Will Provide)

     Jehovah Shalom (The Lord Is Peace)

     Jehovah Sabaoth (The Lord of Hosts)

PERSONAL REFLECTION

As we discussed, in length, this weeks passage, and (FYI) we had a lot of fun doing it, be encouraged to explore God's personality in this remarkable story and ask yourself, "where is God's grace (if any) in it." Oh and make a list. Really.

RESOURCES

 

LOOKING AHEAD

September 22, 2019 Jacob wrestles with God  Genesis 32:9-13 and Genesis 32:22-30

 

Confronting our failures, our weaknesses, our sins and facing God with them...even wrestling with God could it actually lead to the peace we seek? Frederick Buechner, one the most read authors by Christian audiences, characterizes Jacob’s divine encounter at the Jabbok River as the “magnificent defeat of the human soul at the hands of God.” It’s in Jacob’s story we can easily recognize our own elements of struggle: fears, darkness, loneliness, vulnerabilities, empty feelings of powerlessness, exhaustion, and relentless pain. And then what does God do? He blesses Jacob.

 

All for the love of grace.

ODDS AND ENDS

  • When sin is grievous and grace is stunning

  • Grace Offered: “All the persons of faith I know are sinners, doubters, uneven performers. We are secure not because we are sure of ourselves but because we trust that God is sure of us.” ― Eugene Peterson

Grace Church Learning Guide

Week of September 22, 2019

And God had it all along - Jane Ray

Genesis 18:1-15, 21:1-7

 

 

 

For a PDF of the Learning Guide, Click Here.

 

THE BIG IDEA

Understanding, and giving words to our understanding, comes in the wrestling. 

GROUP DISCUSSION

Start by reading the text out loud. What are the things that stand out to you? What are the questions the text raises? How does the way we think about God, the words and ways we describe God, ourselves and our experiences, affect how we live? Have you ever personally felt wounded by God? How did it change the way you think about God and about yourself?

PERSONAL REFLECTION

Last week our learning guide gave a list of some of the names of God. Here it is again for you to consider and meditate on in your personal devotions. As you do this, try personalizing the names, relating them to you. Examples: God, you are the Jehovah Nissi, my banner, you are Adoni, my master, you are Jehovah Shammah and you are here for me… 

  • El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty)

  • El Elyon (The Most High God)

  • Adonai (Lord, Master)

  • Yahweh (Lord, Jehovah)

  • Jehovah Nissi (The Lord My Banner)

  • Jehovah-Raah (The Lord My Shepherd)

  • Jehovah Rapha (The Lord That Heals)

  • Jehovah Shammah (The Lord Is There)

  • Jehovah Tsidkenu (The Lord Our Righteousness)

  • Jehovah Mekoddishkem (The Lord Who Sanctifies You)

  • El Olam (The Everlasting God)

  • Elohim (God)

  • Qanna (Jealous)

  • Jehovah Jireh (The Lord Will Provide)

  • Jehovah Shalom (The Lord Is Peace)

  • Jehovah Sabaoth (The Lord of Hosts)

RESOURCES

 

LOOKING AHEAD

Next week, we move into Exodus, the story of the sons of Jacob, the Israelites, as they are forced into slavery in Egypt.  Kelsey Haeger shares from Exodus 1:8-14 [1:15--2:10]; 3:1-15 and from her own story.

ODDS AND ENDS

The Divine Dilemma: Wrestling with God pts 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 from Clarion Journal

 

Grace Church Learning Guide

Week of September 29, 2019

The Bible is Our Burning Bush - Kelsey Haegar

Exodus 1:8-14, 1:15-2:10, 3:1-15

 

 

 

 

 

For a PDF of the Learning Guide, Click Here.

 

THE BIG IDEA

In Exodus, we see God speaking to Moses through a bush that was on fire but did not burn up. God also speaks to us in the same way through the Bible, our everyday burning bush. So what is this burning bush, the Bible, telling us to do?

GROUP DISCUSSION

  • Who do you say God is?  If you had to testify to God’s presence in your life, what attributes of God’s glory come to your mind? Consider starting your community group or personal prayer time with a time of praise, acknowledging God as omnipresent, the Alpha and Omega, King of Kings, the Good Shepherd, etc.  If you’re praying in a group, try this praising in a free-form style; not going around in a circle, or having the leader only express the praise, but allowing everyone to just speak out their praises as they come to mind.  

  • Read the text out loud. Moses seems to have this “divine” story that prepares him in such a different way than we are prepared. But is it really different? How might we look at God’s call to us in the Bible, our own backstory, and the events in our own lives as if they have prepared us to be used by God?

  • Think about the ways Moses responds to God. What sticks out to you? Is this similar or different to how you respond to God? Why do you think this is?

  • As you examine the Bible, our burning bush, to what task do you hear God’s call? 

  • What parallels do you see between this scripture and Matthew 28:19-20, aka The Great Commission?  

 

Is God calling you to a task that compels you to ask, “Are you sure it’s me, Lord?!”  “But how?!”  
How can knowing God is with you change your perspective?

PERSONAL REFLECTION

 

There are many ways to find out your purpose in this world:   career counseling, aptitude tests, personality tests like the Myers Briggs or Enneagram, just to name a few. But what happens when we turn our eyes from the work of this world to our true purpose, our eternal purpose?  Where do we turn to for guidance? In Jeremiah 29:11, God tells Jeremiah, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Who told Jeremiah his plans and purpose? Where can we turn to get our true plans and purpose from God?

RESOURCES

  • What’s in a Name?  On a piece of paper or your favorite digital device, make three columns headed with the titles, Me, Moses, God.  Read through this passage, noting the attributes of Moses and God.  Then, consider the roles you play in life,  and the attributes you see in yourself.  How does the way you know God, observe Moses in his calling, and see yourself affect the way you worship, pray, read the Word,  interact with others, and respond to God’s callings and commands?  

  • “The way toward righteousness and reconciliation is not forgetting the blood stains and what caused them, but remembering them, lamenting the cause, repenting for our lot, and crying out for mercy,” Brian Key writes in his article, Bleeding Steel.  

  • Reread the scripture of the week, noting the names and roles of each person mentioned.  In this commentary on the scripture, Bob Deffinbaugh recognizes the point that we know the names of the midwives, but the enemy is old “what’s-his-name?!”  Whose names are important for you to know?  

  • “Whether you’re a teacher or a scientist, a business professional or stay-at-home parent, a student or retiree, God has created your life to count in a world of urgent need,” Ann Voskamp writes in her review of David Platt’s book, Something Needs to Change-A Call to Make Your Life Count in a World of Urgent Need. 

 

LOOKING AHEAD

If you’re curious about the trajectory of this year’s Narrative Lectionary, have a look at this brochure for an overview.  It seems to be focused on names, callings, and listening as we venture into Deuteronomy 5:1-21; 6:4-9 next week.

ODDS AND ENDS

  • When it comes to names and semantics, do we see our role in our church families as a volunteer, or a vital part of the body of Christ?  Read this compelling article for more insight!  

  • The same God of the Oppressed is living and alive today.  How can we better understand this God and the oppressed among us today?  The person at Grace who recommends this article notes, “It’s a tough read, but please don’t look away.”  

  • In this passage, Pharaoh was worried about the increasing Israelite population and a threat to his power.  Read this article regarding research about projected demographic changes and responses to that data.