The Gospel vs. Favoritism

The Gospel Vs. Favoritism
--from October 1st  --
This week’s devotions written by Connie Staley.

Day 1

Read - James 2: 1-4 and John 4– Samaritan Woman (verses 1-41)
There is no mistake that James is talking to believers in verse 1 of James chapter 2.   He is talking about assembling together.  He is talking to those that come together under the name of Jesus Christ; he is talking to The CHURCH.  What is he communicating here? What is favoritism? Is it like showing prejudice? Is it being racist? Wasn’t racism something that came about after slavery was abolished in this country?  Could racism / prejudice have existed when James penned this writing?  Let’s look at an example in the gospel of John.  In chapter 4 we read about the “woman at the well”.  Read verse 9.
This woman at the well was not supposed to even talk to a Jewish man, yet Jesus found and chose her.  Do we believe he just “happened” to come by this woman?  Do we believe that when people enter our church or our presence, when we “encounter people” in public, that it’s just happenstance or is God perhaps even calling us to a divine conversation? A Kingdom mission? 
 As a follower of Jesus, surrendered to His purpose and His will, do we walk about our day listening for his leading? His assignments?  IF we have a prejudice or are prone to show partiality towards a certain type of people or people group will God lead us to have encounters that have Kingdom purpose? A divine conversation, one like Jesus had with the woman at the well that launched her into her community as the very first evangelist? 
Are you limiting God with your mindset that came from a world view?  Sometimes we just don’t realize where our thoughts even come from.  I grew up not liking Lucille Ball, I NEVER watched The Lucy Show.  Then as a young adult someone asked me why I didn’t like it / her.  My response was enlightening to myself, I said, “Because my mother didn’t like her.” Wow, how many of our thoughts are even our own?
Ask yourself are there any people groups that “offend you.”  IF God were to provide an encounter, would you be able to love them the same as any other neighbor?  Is this something God may be calling you to repent in order to not limit YOUR ability to walk out your faith because He knows who will be sitting beside you on a long flight or who may be coming to work next to you next month.  
Do you think your heart is prepared for an encounter that will allow you to share your faith with ANYONE?

What is keeping you from having a heart like this?

How does this become your prayer today?

Day 2

 Growing up as a female in an independent Baptist church we were taught that only men were to be preachers, pastors, and teachers.  But in my mid-twenties when I really started reading the word and came under other teachers I became aware that I have been “disqualified” in my childhood.  As I read at the end of the Gospels of both Matthew and Mark that Jesus tells His apostles for ALL of them to GO and save, heal, deliver and disciple.  Not just the men but ALL followers of Jesus are given this Great Commission.  I questioned how it was the commission of Christ to go and preach the gospel, heal the sick, cast out demons, etc. was only for the males and if that was the case, what is the purpose of being a Christ follower? 
 Was I NOT to go and make disciples.  But here we see the woman at the well, NOT someone that would be likely to be chosen to spread the gospel.  Not ONLY was she female but her purity and her reputation was one that would disqualify her. But what was God’s plan? Look carefully at verses 39-41,
Are you yielded enough in your heart to love “anyone God brings to your path?  Anyone could include someone of a different race, or what about a felon, a drug addict, someone who is deceived into witchcraft, an impure woman (like the Samaritan), what about someone who lives on the street, what about someone who clearly suffers from a mental affliction?    
James 2:9-11 states a sin is stumbling over just one point.  
9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.  Are YOU disqualified?  Have YOU disqualified others? 
Read Colossians 3:15-16
Search your heart and ask God if there is any bitterness or resentment toward any particular group of people.  Ask God to use you to bring about salvation to those “others find unworthy” of their time.  Like the woman Samaritans YOUR actions may be saving “many”.

Why not share some of the thoughts from today’s devotion on the Keystone App Devotions messaging thread for others to read?

Day 3

Read James 2: 8 / Mark 2:13-17
Let’s focus on just one verse from James chapter 2.  Verse #8.   “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing well.” 
From yesterday’s devotion we read about the woman at the well, the Samaritan woman.  Although in verse 27 it says the Disciples were “surprised”.

Why do you suppose they didn’t question him?  Is it because he was above reproach?  Is it because they knew Jesus did everything through the direction of the Father (John 5:19 – “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.)
In the gospel of Mark we learn about Jesus calling Levi to follow him and Jesus is questioned not by His followers but by “the teachers of the law” – (You know the ONES that really “KNOW” the scriptures…….)

Everyone goes through a season of brokenness.  If you’re not feeling broken then perhaps it is YOUR season to minister to others that are weak or hurting.  Perhaps it is your season to be the Church and to be like Jesus who came NOT to call the righteous.  If we look down our noses at those that aren’t able to do what is “right” or to live according to “our standards” because of brokenness, who is going to lift them up?  If not you, then who?
There is a Matthew West song released a few years ago that include these lyrics:

There's a sign on the door, says, "Come as you are" but I doubt it
'Cause if we lived like it was true, every Sunday morning pew would be crowded
But didn't you say the church should look more like a hospital
A safe place for the sick, the sinner and the scarred and the prodigals
Like me
Well truth be told
The truth is rarely told
Oh am I the only one who says
I'm fine, yeah I'm fine oh I'm fine, hey I'm fine but I'm not
I'm broken
And when it's out of control I say it's under control but it's not
And you know it
I don't know why it's so hard to admit it
When being honest is the only way to fix it
There's no failure, no fall
There's no sin you don't already know
So let the truth be told

Are you afraid to show YOUR brokenness?  Or are we well like vs 8 says?
How have you been a “safe place for the sick, the sinner, the scarred”, a church of people following after Jesus that allows others to show their brokenness?  How do you see this? 
After all, Jesus says,” it is NOT the healthy that need a doctor.”
How does this become part of your prayer today?

Day 4

Read James 2:9 / Galatians 3:26-29
Vs 9 – if you show favoritism – If you show partiality James is telling us we have sinned.  Why?  Because bigotry, hatred, racism were abolished at the cross.  

By “putting on / clothing yourselves with Christ” we can look through His eyes, and from his view on the cross looking down, ALL men have the same value.   To show partiality is to say one has more value over the other.  But Christ died for all.  Galatians says to put on Christ and through His eyes, there are neither Jew or Greek, neither slave or free, not even gender, male or female should dictate how we love.  In Christ distinctions are removed.  

Impartiality is an attribute of God. He is absolutely and totally impartial in dealing with people. Here are some scriptures that allow us to see his character and why James warns so strongly against showing partiality.  

Read Deuteronomy 10:17, Romans 2:11, and Acts 10:34-35
Have you been taught certain people have more “value” in this world than others? If so, might God be calling you to repent of this way of thinking? How do you do that?

Are you totally impartial when dealing with people?
James says it is a sin. In order to “put on Christ” we need to take faith steps that “repent” and turn away from our old way of thinking.

Day 5

Read James 2:13 /  Luke 6:37-38 / Luke 10:29-37
Vs. 13 – judgment without mercy WILL be shown to anyone who has NOT been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment. When has God shown you mercy in your life?  Let’s be reminded of what is first and foremost regarding mercy : It is forgiveness or withholding punishment.

God the Father showed mercy on us when he sacrificed his son, Christ Jesus, on the Cross to pay the price for our sins.  That is the greatest act of mercy.  How can we be like Christ and allow Him to live through us by showing mercy to others?
God doesn’t expect us to sacrifice ourselves on an altar.  He has already done that but what are some ways judgment can rob you from being a conduit of Christ’s mercy to others?

Read Luke 6:37-38
Can unforgiveness and having an unrenewed mind cause us to miss the opportunities God desires to give us through our acts of mercy?

  Paul writes to the church at Corinth that we have the “mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16).  If we look through the lens of the world and at others lack of maturity or shortcomings in walking in righteousness are we able to “give with the measure we are called to give? And as such are we missing out on “receiving back” what it is God wants to measure back to us?
Are we spiritually showing mercy by extending forgiveness?  Unforgiveness can be the greatest stumbling block for our own personal emotional and physical healing as well as limiting our spiritual growth.  If we are unwilling to forgive we must first remember what Jesus himself was quoted by Matthew as saying:

Matthew 6:14–15, 'If you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

The proverbs speak to other ways in which we can show mercy with a pure heart. We are able to  “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed” Proverbs 31:8.says “Helping others brings about a refreshing from the Lord, as stated in Proverbs 11:25 “The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”
The devil wants to rob you of giving and receiving that is the currency of the Kingdom of God. 
The best example to share is the parable Jesus himself gave in the Good Samaritan.

Read Luke 10:29-37

Why do you think there was only one man that stopped?  
Do you see the partiality or favoritism demonstrated here?
When can you pinpoint God’s mercy demonstrated in your life?
Can you remember a time when someone showed you mercy? Have you remembered to thank God for that mercy and practiced it on others?
How does this become your prayer today?

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