Grow Deep - Faith Works Edition - week 4

Week 4: September 30-October 6

Faith Works: Dead Faith

Memory Verse: “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2:17 ESV

The song, “Love and Marriage,” first recorded by Frank Sinatra in 1955, became the well-known theme song for a popular television sitcom in the late ‘80s and ‘90s. Some of the lyrics were changed for the TV version, but the message in both recordings was the same … love and marriage go together; you can’t have one without the other! If you try to separate them, you have only an illusion of what is real.

If he had been a songwriter, James may have written snappy lyrics to make a similar point about the relationship between faith and good deeds. But he wasn’t a songwriter; he was the spiritual leader of the church in Jerusalem, so he wrote a sermon instead.

One of the questions he wanted his listeners to think about was this: What is real faith? Is it a true, saving faith that responds with deeds that are pleasing to God? James says that faith without deeds is a dead faith … it doesn’t have any life. Faith without deeds is a useless faith … it doesn’t affect how you live. James emphasizes that we are called by God to serve others. Scripture is clear on that point, and James cites examples from the Old Testament of deeds that flowed from faith that was alive and working in the lives of Abraham and Rahab.

Faith works! It is not idle; it is not passive. It is demonstrated in what we do every day! If we try to separate faith and good deeds from one another, the result is only an illusion … a substitute for a true, real faith.

Sunday, September 30

Read: James 2:14-26
James calls us to see other believers as those served and saved by Christ. And, Christ calls us to serve Him by serving others … both believers and unbelievers. One mark of true faith is that we pair faith and works together, gladly sharing with others what Christ has first shared with us. What does the term “dead faith” mean to you? The term “useless faith?” Can you think of an example from our current culture of someone who has faith but no works? How about those who call themselves believers and who have works but do not believe Jesus is the only way to salvation?

For the Family: In these verses, James refers to faith that can be useless. What does the term useless mean? How can faith be useless? What does James say we need to do to keep our faith from becoming useless?

Monday, October 1

Read: Proverbs 3:27-28, 19:17, 21:13 22:9
To please God, we must give to those who are in need; we are to show mercy at the time of the need, and mercy will be shown to us. Who is your neighbor in the context of these verses? How does God call you to respond to their need? When? What keeps you from giving to those in need? Selfishness? Busyness? Fear? Ask God to show you someone He wants you to serve. Then, serve that someone now, today!

For the Family: Have any of your friends or your parents asked you to do something for them, and you said you would do it later. And then you forgot! What does God say about that in these verses? How can you keep from forgetting in the future?

Tuesday, October 2
Read: Matthew 25:35-40
In these verses recorded by Matthew, Jesus tells us that when we serve others, we are serving Him. How would you view someone’s need if you really saw every person as if he/she were Jesus? How might you respond differently?

For the Family: When someone gives you something or does something for you, does it make you want to do something nice for them? Jesus has done so much for us. Does that make you want to do something for Him? Well, He tells us we can. When we do something to help someone who needs help, He says we are doing something for Him. Can you think of something to do today that will let Jesus know you are thankful for what He has done for you?

Wednesday, October 3

Read: Matthew 25:14-30
The Parable of the Talents is a story about investing what has been entrusted to us. There is a reward for the two servants who invested what was entrusted to them. What is their reward? What is the reward for the property owner? God calls us to invest ourselves in
others. What, if any, is the “reward” for us? What is the “reward” for God?

For the Family: God has given us many things, and He wants us to share what He has given us with others. What kinds of things has He given us? What does He want us to share? Talk with your family about one way you can share some of what God has given to you with others this week.

Thursday, October 4

Read: Genesis 22:1-12
Abraham responds obediently to God’s instruction and offers up his son Isaac as the sacrifice God commands. His act of obedience is counted as righteousness; his act of obedience is evidence of his faith. Abraham immediately responds to God’s call by saying, “Here I am!” How does that response demonstrate his faith and spiritual maturity? How do you respond to God when He calls you? How does Abraham’s act of obedience compare to your acts of obedience when God calls you to make a sacrifice for the benefit of others?

For the Family: In this story, God tells Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. What did Abraham do when God told him to sacrifice his son? What did God supply for the sacrifice instead? How does this story remind you of what Jesus did for us on the cross? Thank Jesus for His sacrifice.

Friday, October 5

Read: Ephesians 2:5-9
Paul articulates salvation by grace in these verses. God acts! His grace is what saves us … we cannot earn it, nor do we deserve it. It is given to us freely through faith in Jesus. Even our faith is a gift of His grace! Is the faith that we receive through God’s grace … the faith that saves us different from the faith that produces good deeds we find in James 2? Explain your answer. If God’s grace is the basis of faith, then what is the role of good works?

For the Family: Do you get an allowance? Do you have to do chores to earn that allowance? Most adults have to go to work to earn a salary. But Paul tells us we cannot earn our salvation. Jesus paid the price for us when He died on the cross and rose again. Sing “Praise Him, Praise Him, all ye little children ...” together with your family. Be sure to include the verse, “Thank Him, Thank Him …”

Saturday, October 6

Read: Joshua 2:1-21
Rahab was a Gentile, a prostitute, and yet God used her. She hid the two spies Joshua had sent in exchange for the safety of her family. She acknowledged faith in God in her speech and by her actions. What verse(s) are Rahab’s verbal confession of faith? Why do you believe James used Rahab as an example of faith alongside Abraham? What implication does Rahab’s story have for you when you share your faith verbally and in expressions of good works?

For the Family: Rahab hid the spies and told the soldiers who wanted to kill them that they were gone. Why did she do that? When the spies came to her home, Rahab did not believe in God. But after talking with them, she did. How do we know that from these verses? Who can you tell about Jesus today?