This past year, studying together in our small group has helped me read the Bible with more clarity and understanding than ever before; it's been invaluable to me. The fellowship and the unity have been wonderful, but the learning has been especially amazing. There were things I thought were truths from God’s word that I now know I did not see clearly. As you know, the Bible tells us to rightly divide the word of truth, but sometimes we need to clean our old spectacles and take a new look. It's not that the Bible changes, rather, we finally lay down our pre-conceived ideas and read what's plain and clear. Let me give you an example. James 1:26-27 says, "If any man among you seems to be religious (fearing or worshiping God) and does not bridle his tongue, he deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is in vain (worthless). Pure religion and undefiled (pure) before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted (polluted) from the world." In the past I might have thought... no, I did think that Jesus was saying that these two specific needs were greater than others. That they had a higher priority than other good deeds. But that's not the point at all. If we go back and read the context a little closer we start to see. "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholds himself, and goes his way, and straightway forgets what manner of man he was. But whoever looks into the perfect law of liberty, and continues therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed." James was talking about being "doers of the word" and that if this is true, we can be "blessed in our deeds" if we remain or continue in the law of liberty, keeping ourselves unspotted from the world. As I see it, one way to keep yourself unspotted is to look at the motive of your heart when you are serving and doing good. The reason serving orphans and widows is labeled “pure religion” is because these two types of people cannot repay you for your service. So when you give, you are not looking to receive any kind of reward or repayment. This is a truly pure motive. Now, I love orphans and widows and I will continue to serve them both, but now I have a new understanding of why this is the kind of religion God expects! Prayer: Father, we pray for your Holy Spirit to continue to guide us and teach us how to rightly divide the word. How to see more clearly the truth of Your word. We ask for understanding and we pray that you will continue to renew a right spirit within us and that we will be motivated to do good works because of your great love that has been shed abroad in our hearts. Amen!