Grow Deep - Faith Works Edition Vol 2 - Week 2

Week two: October 13-20

Faith Works: The Cause of Conflict

Memory Verse: “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God, and He will come near to you …” James 4:7-8

Have you ever seen toddlers in action when they want something they don’t have? Make no mistake, toddlers can be very strong-willed! They want what they want, and they think they should have it just because they want it. If they don’t get what they want, they fight … with tears, screaming or even kicking or slapping. OR, they simply “snatch” what they want from the person who does have it.

It’s easy for us to rationalize that a toddler does not have the maturity to regulate his emotions or to understand that he can’t always have everything he wants. But, what about us? James seems to be saying that our human nature doesn’t really change that much as we age. We are no different from our strong-willed toddlers when quarrels and fights among us arise out of our desire for things we don’t have. We want … we want …. we want. And when we don’t get what we want, we feel cheated or deprived or envious. Instead of humbly asking God what He wants for us, we expect God to answer our often selfish prayers immediately. Instead of waiting patiently for Him to act on our behalf, we strive to get what we want for ourselves. James calls that friendship with the world. And being a friend of the world is the same as committing spiritual adultery against God. And that, says James, makes us an enemy of God!

Toddlers need to be taught how to respond appropriately when they see something they want but can’t have; parents need to have strategies in place to be effective teachers. God has strategies in place for teaching us, too. He says, “Submit yourselves to God … Resist the devil …Come near to God … Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.”

Taking Jesus to the Streets:
In this chapter, James goes right to the “heart” of the matter of conflict and battles in the church. Don’t forget that James is not writing to unbelievers; he is writing to his brothers and sisters in Christ. He says the church should be a “sanctuary” of spiritual unity. But sometimes it is a battleground instead. Why? Because we have allowed our hearts to be ruled by the world instead of by the Holy Spirit. This week, take a courageous step. Call a friend or couple in your church or other relationships. Resist the devil and come near to God by praying together with them for pastors and leaders and for spiritual unity in the church.

Sunday, October 14

Read: James 4:1-12
James counsels his Christian brothers and sisters concerning the condition of their hearts that causes conflict among them. It is the heart that reveals our true motives. What is the question that James asks at the start of this reading? How would you answer that question? How do conflicts “rage” and “battle” within you?

For the Family: Have you ever played the card game “War?” If you have, you know that the goal is to make your “enemy” defenseless by getting all of his cards. James speaks about a “war” in these verses. Who is the enemy? How does James say we need to prepare to win?

Monday, October 15

Read: Proverbs 4:23-27
In these verses, Solomon encourages us to guard our hearts because everything we say or think or do flows from the heart. He tells us that we should keep our eyes and our feet directed toward God. Do you agree that your thoughts and actions are driven by what is in your heart? Why or why not? What do your thoughts and actions reveal about your relationship with God? Ask God to cleanse your heart where it needs to be cleansed.

For the Family: If you play soccer, you probably wear shin guards. What is the job of a shin guard? In these verses, Solomon tells us to guard our hearts. What does that mean? How can we do that?

Tuesday, October 16

Read: 2 Timothy 3:2-4
God considers someone who claims to be a Christian, but seems to be interested only in worldly pleasures and things, to be guilty of committing spiritual adultery. In his letter to Timothy, Paul explains what it means to live by the flesh. In what ways is living for the flesh an act of spiritual adultery against God? Are you guilty of spiritual adultery in any area of your life? Do you know someone who is? How can you be an encourager?

For the Family: What does it mean for people to be lovers of themselves? When people are lovers of themselves, do they try to please God? If not, who is it that they try to please? How can we keep from being lovers of ourselves?

Wednesday, October 17

Read: 1 Timothy 6:11-16
Paul instructs Timothy by telling him that the first step in growing in godliness is to flee from sinful thoughts and things. The next step is to pursue those things that are pleasing to God. What are the differences between the characteristics outlined in the verses from 2 Timothy in our reflection yesterday and the verses in 1 Timothy today? What thing or activity is more important to you than your relationship with God? What would the Apostle Paul counsel you to do?

For the Family: What does it mean to flee? Why should you flee when you are tempted to do something wrong? What does it mean to pursue? Who should always be the One you pursue? Why?

Thursday, October 18

Read: Exodus 20:1-6
Clearly, God lays out the relationship between Him and His people in these verses. He created us for His purposes, to revere and honor Him, putting Him first above all else. James tells us in verses of this chapter that when we pray, we sometimes pray with selfish motives. Take some quiet time right now to think about your motives when you pray. Is there any prayer of yours that God has not answered? Have you prayed with motives that are not in line with God’s plan for you or His will? What needs to change?

For the Family: Can we pray to God for anything? What does it mean to “have no other gods” before our Triune God when we pray?

Friday, October 19

Read: Psalm 10:1-6
David writes about people who are wicked and whose hearts are filled with pride. Their pride has separated them from God. How has pride affected your relationship with God? How has it affected your relationship with other people? In verses 7-10, James tells us how to keep from becoming filled with pride. What does he say we must do?

For the Family: Sometimes when we brag or boast about ourselves, we can become prideful. Have you ever felt prideful? God tells us to be humble. Think about some ways that pride and humility are opposites. Think of some ways that we can be humble before God.

Saturday, October 20

Read: Matthew 7:1-6
Jesus shares strong words about judging others. He cautions that when we judge others, we will be judged by God in the same way. How is gossip a by-product of judging others? In His Word, God has given us much teaching on the way we are to respond to and treat others. Can you find some of those verses? Read them aloud within your family or with a friend.

For the Family: How can it hurt someone when we say or think something bad about them? How does it hurt us?