Tag Archives: Christmas


“I got religion” was the folksy expression I sometimes heard growing up in the deep South when someone accepted Jesus.  As for me, I spent most of those years running awayfrom religion.  And from God. But the Lord was relentless in His pursuit.  In time, I surrendered to His free gift of Grace.  I came to understand that following Christ was about a relationship—not a religion.  Salvation was made possible only through the costly blood of God’s Son. No wonder they call it “Amazing Grace.”

James prods us to practice true religion.  He’s not talking here about religion as a ticket to heaven.  Rather, religion in this context, refers to the practical expression of our devotion to the Lord:

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you(James 1:27 NLT).

The Greek word translated “religion” is threskosseldom used in the New Testament.  Threskos describes outward service rather than our inward piety of heart. It’s all about our actions. True religion, according to James must involve acts of mercy, love, and holiness.

Let’s look at this same versein the Amplified Bible:

External religious worship [religion as it is expressed in outward acts] that is pure and unblemished in the sight of God the Father is this: to visit and help and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need, and to keep oneself unspotted and uncontaminated from the world (James 1:27 AMP).

We are saved only by grace through faith. Our faith is the foundation for all of our good works. Good works cannot earn our salvation. But If we truly want to please the Lord, we’ll be intentional to pour our life out in service to the hurting ones around us. Especially the widows and orphans.

James reminds us we must also not forget the purity of our own life. We are called to holiness. That’s the kind of religion, he challenges, that pleases the Lord.

So I’m asking God to show me who is on His heart.  I want to be sensitive to His Spirit. Alert to practical ways I can serve those in need.  Especially during this Christmas season as we celebrate the birth of His son.  I’ve also prayed for the Holy Spirit to correct me in areas I need to clean up—it’s so easy to slide into the self-centered ways of the world.

Today, as we step out into our world, let’s dare to pray the prayer God always answers:  Lord, break my heart for what breaks Yours.

30 Days of Hope: Day 23

My friend Sara has the special gift of looking at life through the lenses of God’s Word—and seeing magic.  So glad she took time to encourage us to have hope as we rest in the  Maker of all creation.  A timely reminder as we anticipate Christmas and the birth of our Savior.

GUEST BLOG: Sara Miller

I catch myself using the word hope a lot. But, I’m not always using it well.  I’m thinking, “I hope I can fit my jam-packed to-do list into today.” Or I’m saying, “I hope my son sleeps through the night.” According to the dictionary, I’ve got it just about right. Merriam-Webster.com says hope is “to want something to happen or be true and think that it could happen or be true.” (Yes to a good night of sleep!)

But isn’t there something more?

The Bible has a lot to say about hope. While enjoying this research on the word hope, I appreciated the reminder that “in the Old Testament hope is linked with ‘putting confidence in’ or ‘taking refuge in.’” It certainly is wanting something to happen and believing it can be true, but it’s also believing in the power of the One who created it all. I love this – “Hope is the proper response to the promises of God.” Continue reading