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Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22

Read: James 1:19-27
Listen: James 1


James addresses what real religion is. He knows how easy it can be to just go through the motions of following Jesus. It’s more than just showing up and listening to Bible teaching or doing spiritual things. Real religion shapes the way people live. It’s belief in Jesus put into practice. James challenges the early church to not just listen to what God says in his Word but to actually follow through and do it. Their belief in Jesus should shape how they speak and care for one another, especially the most vulnerable among them. This is religion that isn’t “worthless” (James 1:26-27).

We can also go through the motions of showing up at church, listening to a great message and reading our Bibles. But we often walk away unchanged. This week, we will see how following Jesus makes our faith real. This isn’t about earning God’s approval. Rather, it’s about living differently because we know he loves us. Our deep gratitude for the forgiveness and new life we have in Jesus motivates us to put in the effort to grow. Real religion isn’t about earning God’s love and forgiveness, but it does result in life change.

TODAY: Review your religious habits. Ask God if you need to grow in discipline and to reveal what has become an empty routine. Ask for his help to do what his Word says out of gratitude. “God, help me live out your Word today in gratitude for what you’ve done for me in Jesus. Help me be a doer of your Word and not just a hearer. Amen.”


Read Luke 15. Highlight anything that refers to the Old Testament and how Jesus fulfills it. Note the three parables of “lost” things and consider any Old Testament images or references they point back to.

Download a printable PDF of the BTW week here.