Grow Deep - Faith Works Edition - week 3

Week 3: September 23-29

Faith Works: No Favorites! 

Memory Verse: “My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory.” James 2:1 ESV

We all have favorites … a favorite color, a favorite movie, a favorite song, a favorite store, a favorite food, and on and on. We probably all even have special people in our lives who become “favorites” … a favorite aunt or grandparent, a favorite teacher, a best friend. And there is probably nothing wrong with having those special people in our lives, but James says there is something wrong with showing any kind of favoritism or partiality toward anyone. He is especially concerned in his writing with favoritism or expressions of partiality that are based on something external like skin color, political persuasion, economic status, education, hairstyle, etc. Again in this second chapter, he urges his readers to live a life that is consistent with and is an expression of their faith.

Sometimes I think we show favoritism or judge people by their appearance or actions without even realizing that is what we are doing. And when we do realize what we are doing, we may try to defend our actions, minimizing or justifying our sinful thoughts and words. James warns that trivializing our own sin does not work! No matter how small or insignificant we think our sin may be, we are all lawbreakers in the sight of God. Still, God loves us and extends His mercy to us, and He expects us to show His mercy toward others.

Showing favorites is inconsistent with God’s character and His heart. He shows no favoritism but offers His grace and salvation through faith in Jesus to all. Favoritism ignores the faith that we possess; it breaks God’s laws. So James tells us … NO FAVORITES!

Sunday, September 23
Read: James 2:1-13
James tells his readers not to show partiality to anyone. James calls us to see others through the lens of Jesus’ sacrifice made for all people! Can you think of ways that showing favoritism robs God of the glory due to Him and Him alone?

For the Family: Have you ever felt left out? Did it feel good or did it hurt? God tells us we should not show any kind of partiality, especially to people who look different from us or go to a different school, etc. Why do you think Jesus told us not to show favoritism?

Monday, September 24

Read: 1 Samuel 16:1-13
Samuel was sent by God to the home of Jesse for the purpose of finding a king to replace Saul from among Jesse’s sons. Samuel began to judge Jesse’s sons based on their physical characteristics. Re-read verses 6 and 7. What did Samuel think when he saw Jesse’s oldest son? How do thoughts impact behavior? What did Samuel learn about God in v. 7? What can we learn?

For the Family: When Samuel looked at Jesse’s oldest son, what did he see? Why did he think that son would be a good king? What did God teach him to see? Why is that important for us to remember?

Tuesday, September 25
Read: 2 Chronicles 19:4-9
King Jehoshaphat began his reign in the Kingdom of Judah when he was 35 years old. He was zealous to remove the practice of idol worship and teach his people worship of the true God. He sent out priests and Levites to teach them and judges to rule. He instructed the judges to rule without partiality as they were representing the true God. What is the difference between discernment and partiality? Why was it important for the judges to fix their minds on God when they ruled? Why is it important for us when we are tempted to judge others? How does pride show itself when we judge others?

For the Family: Do you know what a judge does? The King of Judah appointed judges to make decisions without showing favoritism. When they were judging, they were to keep their minds on Jesus. How could that help to make them better judges? How can it help us?

Wednesday, September 26
Read: Mark 11:15-19
Jesus cleanses the Temple which had become a marketplace where the rich exploited the poor as they purchased pigeons and doves to offer as sacrifices to God. What is the source of Jesus’ anger? In Chapter 2:6 of James’ epistle, what was the source of his concern? How does each of these verses apply specifically to each of us?

For the Family: Jesus became angry and overturned the money changers’ tables at the Temple. Why? Who was being cheated? How did that make Jesus feel? How does it make Jesus feel when you are unfair to someone? How does it make you feel? What can you do?

Thursday, September 27

Read: Romans 13:8-14
Paul summarizes the Commandments by saying love does no wrong to a neighbor; one who loves others has fulfilled all the other laws that instruct us on our behavior. When we humbly acknowledge God’s undeserved gift of grace and His gift of faith and salvation in Jesus, how does it impact our attitude toward others? How does that realization spur us on to good works for the benefit of others?

For the Family: Paul says we should love others and should not do anything that would hurt or harm them. Think about some ways you want to be treated by others. How can you treat other people in the same way you want to be treated? God loves us so much that He sent His only Son to die for us. Say a prayer of thanks to God for His Son.

Friday, September 28

Read: Acts 2:42-47
In this section of Scripture, Luke gives us a picture of a church that is radically different from the world. God calls the church to be “love in action” in our community of faith and in the larger community. How does true faith lead to “love in action” in the church? How does your faith drive you to be a “doer” of the Word in your verbal witness? How is our church like the early church? How is it different?

For the Family: In these verses, Luke is describing a picture of the church. Was he describing a building like we have? If not, what was he describing? What things about the early church remind you of our church? Why?

Saturday, September 29

Read: Micah 6:6-8, 7:18-20
God is merciful toward us; He calls us to be merciful toward others. If we put these verses into action in our own lives, specifically in showing mercy toward others, how will this impact how we live and think? How do these verses describe God’s character? In what ways has God shown His mercy and compassion to you? How does that impact your worship? How does that impact the way you love and serve others?

For the Family: What is mercy? How did God show us His mercy through His Son Jesus? How does He show us His mercy every day?