"We exist to share life with students in a way that helps students develop a lifelong relationship with Jesus."

The Christian and Snobbery

We've going through James chapter 2. And in verses 1-11, we see that James gives us three descriptions of snobbery. Read verses 1-11.

Notice the word “evil” in verse four. The act of snobbery is an evil act. In verse 5 we see that snobbery is erroneous. It goes against the very character of God. And in verses 8-11 we see that snobbery is disobedient. It directly violates the royal law of love.

Snobbery is even worse for the Christian. Not only is it evil. Not only is it error. Not only is it blatantly disobedient. Snobbery is also disastrous. In verses 12 and 13, James shows us that snobbery is disastrous because it may reveal that you are not who you say you are. It may reveal that you’re actually not a Christian. 

Finish these verses with me:

1 John 4:7-8 says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is…love.”

Galatians 5:22 says, “The fruit of the Spirit is…love

In John15:35 Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have…love for one another.”

The Son, the Spirit, and the Father are love. The one who says that they are a Christian, that they are ambassadors of God, must be loving. 

That’s why James says in verse 12, “So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.” You and I will be judged. Christians, God will call us, not to be judged by our sins, but to be judged on our life given to Him. All unbelievers will judged according to their works and God will not listen to their pleas. He will call them next to His standard of the perfect law of liberty. His absolute standard of perfection. We will all be judged.

What kind of person should fear the judgement? Look at verse 13.

“For judgement is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy.” Now this is interesting because James just did the opposite of what Jesus did in the Beatitudes. So Jesus in the Beatitudes said, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy,” but James flips it. James is saying that God will judge all of us, and if you don’t show mercy, God won’t show you mercy. So there was, where there is mercy you’ll receive mercy. Now he’s saying where there’s no mercy you can’t expect to have mercy. So James flips it and makes it more painful. 

What kind of person should fear the judgment? Someone who has shown no mercy. If you’re saying, “I have faith. I trust in Jesus. I trust in his forgiveness. I trust in his mercy,” and yet you refuse to extend that to anyone else, that reveals something is broken in your heart and you don’t understand the gospel.

Look at what he says next. I love this sentence. “Mercy triumphs over judgement.” What exactly does that mean? The Christian who has shown mercy will not know God’s judgement. His mercy and love towards others will authenticate that he is one of God’s. Faith without mercy towards others is not genuine faith.

So here’s the command: Remember the mercy that was shown to you. Remember where you were when Christ found you. Remember he rescued you, remember he ransomed you, and in your remembrance of God’s forgiving grace and mercy, extend it to others.

A life of mercy validates that you are His. Ephesians 5:1-2 says, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.” How do you know if you’re a Christian? 

Let me give you three questions to ask yourself:

First, do you believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God and trust Him as your Lord and Savior? To be a Christian means you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. That you believe His death paid for your sins and that He rose from the grave conquering sin and death forever. 

Second, do you love God and seek to obey Him? To be a Christian means you love God and seek to obey His commands. We don’t perfectly obey them, but we strive to be perfect in our obedience. And when we fall short, we feel bad about it and ask for God’s forgiveness.

Lastly, do you love others? To be a Christian means you love people, especially your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Now if you’re a baby Christian and you’re stumbling right now, I’m not trying to put a hundred-pound dumbbell on you. If you’ve got some conviction and you’re feeling like you’re falling short, but you’re pushing into Jesus, that’s evidence that you are a Christian. If you answered yes to those questions, then praise God you’re a Christian. Rest in that glorious truth.

But if you’re in here today and you don’t care about anything I’m saying, you don’t care what this text says, you have no intention of applying any of this to your life, I’m trying to love you. You’re not a Christian. You are living under a false wrapper if there’s no lordship of Christ, if there’s no demand for obedience on your life, if there’s no evidence of having a new heart. You have deceived yourself, and you’re here today by the grace of God for me to lovingly tell you, “Define yourself correctly.” If you answered those questions with anything but yes, talk with someone. Talk with me, your youth leader, your parents, or your Christian friends. Figure out where you stand and respond accordingly. 

So how does God see partiality, favoritism, discrimination, or snobbery? He sees it as evil, erroneous, disobedient, and disastrous because it reveals you may not match up with who you really are. Snobbery has no place in the life of a Christian.

I asked this last time we were here. How do people see you? Do they see you as loving or do they see you as a snob? The world has enough fake, snobby Christians. The world needs Jesus. The world needs true, radical, loving, merciful Christians who care less about the wrapper and more about people’s hearts. The world needs Christians of genuine faith practically living out what they believe.

Lock screen Wallpaper for this week!

The Better Way

Last time we met, we worked though the first part of James 2. In that text, James commanded us to not show partiality. Why? Because it dishonors God and it dishonors your brother or sister in Christ. Showing partiality, favoritism, or discrimination, goes directly against the character of God.

So how should a Christian respond to partiality? In our text tonight, James is going to give us the better way. He’s already told us what not to do—show partiality. Now he’s going to giving us what we are to do. He’s going to show us the better way.

Verse 8 says, “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well.

So here’s what he’s saying. If you want to please the heart of God, do the Word. Do the Word. Do you want to please the heart of God? Do the Word. If you really want to fulfill the royal law, to love your neighbor as yourself, love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul, don’t be conformed to the world. Be transformed. Do the royal law. The better way James gives us is to line yourself up with how God designed things to work and live accordingly.

Now upon saying this, James anticipated that some of his readers might defend their partiality to the rich as simply loving the rich man as their neighbor in obedience to the royal law. The problem isn’t that they are being nice to the rich person. The problem is that they are showing partiality to the rich, and are not nice to the poor man! They are blatantly discriminating against the poor. We can’t excuse our partiality by saying, “I’m just fulfilling the command to love my neighbor as myself.” In reality, you’re not being loving to anyone. You’re operating off your own evil intentions and openly discriminating against the poor because maybe they can’t offer you quite as much.

Look at what James says next in verses 9-11. He’s going to just crash right into how we justify our sins. “But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. For he who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’ If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.”

James here guards us against a selective obedience, the sort that will pick and choose which commands of God should be obeyed and which can be ignored. This is the way a lot of us try to self-justify our sins. We pick and choose which of God’s commands we feel apply to us. We hear about partiality, we hear about favoritism, and our heart says, “I didn’t kill anybody. I didn’t commit adultery. I haven’t broken any major law.” 

James’ point is, “So what if you don’t murder but commit adultery? If you’re showing partiality, you’ve broken the law. You discriminate? You’ve broken the law. You’re a racist accidentally or not? You’ve broken the law. You avoid the poor? You’ve violated the royal law of love. You have sinned against God.”

Think about this. The Royal Law is more than just another code of conduct. The law represents the very character of God. Finish these verses with me: 

1 John 4:7-8 says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is…love.”

Galatians 5:22 says, “The fruit of the Spirit is…love

In John15:35 Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have…love for one another.”

The Son, the Spirit, and the Father are love. When you violate the Royal Law, you are violating a person. You are violating God. 

Then from there James goes into verse 12. “So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.” Again, James takes us right back to where he started. “Be doers. Do the Word.” Be those who speak and act on what they’ve heard. There is a better way to live. If we are truly those of God, we will be loving. We will follow the Royal Law of love.

How do people see you? Do they see you as loving or do they see you as discriminate? Do they see someone who is unashamed of loving the least of these, or do they see someone so consumed with their own self-image that they won’t give the poor the time of day?

We are to be God’s ambassadors. We are to be salt and light. We are to be the people pointing everyone else to the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The world has enough fake Christians. The world needs true, radical, loving Christians who don’t care about being cool or about being popular. The world needs authentic Christians who genuinely love God and love people. The world needs Jesus. There’s a better way. Do the Word. Follow the Royal Law.
This Week's Lock Screen Wallpaper
Be sure to check out the latest pictures from our Wednesday nights! Click here to access the Fall 2017 album!

Nursing Home Visit Recap

Last night was such a blessing! Grace Students had a blast visiting with the residents of Texoma Healthcare Center. At one point, our students even broke out into a spontaneous worship session singing "O Come to the Altar". I love our students and their desire to serve God and others. It's awesome to be a part of such a gospel- centered, relational, and fun group. Be sure to click here to check out all the pictures from last night!

Nursing Home Visit November 8th!!!

This Wednesday, November 8th, Grace Students will be visiting with the residents of Texoma Healthcare Center in Sherman, Texas. The older generation should never be made to feel that they have been thrown away and forgotten. Nursing homes are filled with former doctors, nurses, and engineers and on and on. Our tendency is to look at the elderly as just an aging people group in a nursing home, instead of seeing them as people who have lived a life before us. They have made their mark on this life. They have performed well, and have confidence that their life was well spent. Leviticus 19:31 says, “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man.” Older people are to be respected. They have a wealth of practical wisdom to share and experiences to relate. They have earned our love and respect.

Students, be at GBF by 6:00pm ready to leave! We will return by 7:45pm!

Also, remember to bring the toiletry items to be donated for the upcoming NM Mission Trip! Bring a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, and soap!

Love Over Cool

In our text tonight, James is going to address a pretty serious issue that we still struggle with today. He’s going to be talking about the sin of partiality. In this text, we're going to see two things: the what and the why. James is going to tell us what to do, and then he’s going to tell us why to do it. Let’s get started. Read V1-7.

Here’s the what. It’s right there in the first sentence. “My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ while you say to the poor man, ‘You stand over there,’ or, ‘Sit down at my feet…’” 

The what is this: Don’t show partiality. Now if you want to talk about partiality positively, partiality is favoritism. You play favorites. According to this text, those favorites are based on the outward appearance of a man or a woman. Now if we speak about it in the way this text is speaking about it, it’s not so much favoritism as it is discrimination. So the what is this. Do not withhold or give love, affection, hospitality, friendship, mercy, kindness, or service to people based on their external appearance. 

The way we as Christians treat others is not based on their economic class, age, clothing, weight, gender, skin color, or their attractiveness.  We don’t show partiality. We have to fight against the natural pull of our hearts to be around those just like us. If we’re honest, don’t we all drift towards a group of people that it’s just easier to do life with? If you play sports, then you tend to drift towards athletes. If you’re musical or artistic, you tend to drift towards other musicians and artists. This is the natural tendency we all have in us, and James is calling it out.

This leads us to the why. Let’s pick it up after the comma in verse 4. “…have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?” 

The what is don’t show partiality. Don’t show favoritism. Don’t discriminate based on outward appearance. Why? Because you dishonor God and you reveal you don’t understand the gospel when you do. 

When I was a kid growing up in that little white house two blocks from here, we use to always play backyard football in the lot beside my house. It was the best open lot in the neighborhood and every kid around would come and play football till it was time for dinner. We always had the two best players be the captains. And the goal of the captain was to pick a team that was going to be good enough to win. They would only pick the best possible team, and if that wasn’t you…sorry but you don’t get to play.

That may fly on the playground, but that’s totally anti-gospel. That is not how God has worked. In fact, if what God was after was the best, the smartest, most attractive, most talented, and wealthiest, then we wouldn’t meet His criteria. 

The apostle Paul would say it like this in 1 Corinthians 1, starting in verse 26, “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

When we show partiality, when we show favoritism, when we discriminate, we dishonor God because we step out from under his saving grace, and we become our own mini-god, judging others with evil intentions. We were not saved because of our awesomeness. So the demand that someone needs to meet our own criteria of awesomeness is completely anti-gospel. That’s not how God saves. That’s not how God works. This completely contradicts the mercy we’ve been shown. If we’re racist or don’t like to get around people who aren’t the same as us, we’re being hypocrites. We’re going against the very heart of God.

So we’re still on the why. The what is don’t show partiality. The why is because we offend God. Also, we don’t only dishonor God, we also dishonor our brother or sister. Look at what’s next, starting in verse 6. “But you have dishonored the poor man.” You’ve degraded your brother or sister in Christ.

James starts to ask some questions, and the questions cut right to the heart. “Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?

Here’s James’ accusation in the middle of this text against his audience. He says, “You so want to be loved by the world, you so want to be accepted by them, you so want to be applauded by them, you so want to be seen as normal that you dishonor your eternal brother and sister and cozy up and cuddle up next to those who run down the name of your God, who mock you, and who make life difficult on you.”

We so badly want to be seen as cool, we so badly want to be seen as in, we so badly want to be accepted that we sell out our eternal brother and sister. In doing that, we befriend the world who runs them down, who mocks them, who attacks them, and drags them into court. We all have this incessant need to be seen as cool and it must die. Cool is not who we are. Cool is not who we’re called to be.

Here's the truth about cool: Cool is fickle. Cool adjusts and changes with the times, people, and places. What is cool today will not be cool tomorrow. Cool is about being the same and not strange. Christians are called aliens and strangers of this world. But Cool and strange do not go together. Cool is very constrictive and is ready to cut you off if you stop playing by its rules. Cool is self-obsessed. When we’re overly concerned about being cool, we are no longer concerned with encouraging, loving, or building up our brothers and sisters. Cool dehumanizes others and makes them tools for us to build up our brand.

We are not called to be cool, but rather we are called to love. And the rejection that occurs because we love Christ and love other people should not be run from. We don’t live for this life alone. In fact, we are the counterculture to this culture. We’re the rebels of society pointing to something greater.

As Christians, we are to be people of faith, hope and love. We have faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and we have in Him as our Lord and Savior. We have hope in the second coming of Christ and that all the wrongs will be made right. And, we love God with all our body, mind, and soul and we love our neighbor, especially the most vulnerable, as ourselves. Christians are to be like Jesus. We don’t show partiality. We aren’t slaves to cool. We’re rebels and we love like Jesus.

This week's Lock Screen Wallpaper

Be sure to check out the latest additions to the Grace Students Fall photo album! Click here to access it!