Week Six – Day 4
TODAY’S FAST – Disciple’s or Jewish Fast (Consume only liquid or broth between 8 am – 6 pm)
The word “religion” can spark many different thoughts for different people. Some think back to being dragged to church as a kid, where long, boring, meaningless services meant nothing to their everyday lives. Some think of mandatory rituals and traditions, a spiritual to-do list, always trying to catch the attention (while avoiding the wrath) of Almighty God. Some think of endless striving to get somewhere—anywhere—with God. Others conjure up visions of stained glass windows, fancy choir robes, or prayers with mysterious “thees” and “thous.” James had a different idea when he used the Greek word for religion. His word is not just a ceremonial, sterile list of do’s and don’ts; it’s an invitation. It has an element of worship attached to it. Religion keeps us at arm’s length, but worship draws us in. Religion keeps us striving, but worship acknowledges that we can’t achieve it on our own. God wants to move us from a place of religion to a place of relationship. His plan is first, relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ and second, relationship with others.
In this passage in James, God is calling us to put action to our faith. To live out Christ-likeness. To love God by loving others. Isaiah 58:6-9 gives a similar commission, along with a promise.
Take a moment and read Isaiah 58:1-12 and ask God to speak to you through this passage.
God, give me your heart. Help me not to be focused on impressing man through religious activities rather than pleasing You. May my life be used to make a difference in others. May I be instrumental in seeing the chains of injustice loosened and the cords of the oppressed set free.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27 NIV