You are welcome to use the writings on these pages or pass them on to others who might find a touch from God in the words. Our purpose is always to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the world. Please remember to give credit to the Author who has given you everything, and keep in remembrance the vessel which He used to bring these words to you. We pray that this site may be a blessing to you and anyone with whom its been shared. All rights reserved. Peggy Hoppes
Christian Bible Study Pages
Travel PagesSalisbury Plain
Our Lord is so good, He grants us many blessings. We can see Him in the daily course of events, in our homes, our jobs, our lives. I pray that these words help you to grow in your faith and recognize His hand in even the most mundane circumstances.
The picture to the right is of a Celtic Chapel located in Cornwall England. This building is approximately 1700 years old, and contains a holy well known for its healing powers.
(Click for enlarged)
“‘For I, Yahweh, don’t change; therefore you, sons of Jacob, are not consumed. From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my ordinances, and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,’ says Yahweh of Armies. ‘But you say, “How shall we return?” Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me! But you say, “How have we robbed you?” In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with the curse; for you rob me, even this whole nation. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house, and test me now in this,’ says Yahweh of Armies, ‘if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there will not be room enough for. I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast its fruit before its time in the field,’ says Yahweh of Armies. ‘All nations shall call you blessed, for you will be a delightful land,’ says Yahweh of Armies. ‘Your words have been stout against me,’ says Yahweh. ‘Yet you say, “What have we spoken against you?” You have said, “It is vain to serve God;” and “What profit is it that we have followed his instructions, and that we have walked mournfully before Yahweh of Armies? Now we call the proud happy; yes, those who work wickedness are built up; yes, they tempt God, and escape.” Then those who feared Yahweh spoke one with another; and Yahweh listened, and heard, and a book of memory was written before him, for those who feared Yahweh, and who honored his name. They shall be mine,’ says Yahweh of Armies, ‘my own possession in the day that I make, and I will spare them, as a man spares his own son who serves him. Then you shall return and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him who serves God and him who doesn’t serve him.” Malachi 3:6-18, WEB
Helen Keller once said, “Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes real happiness. It is not obtained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.”
Eric Hoffer said, “The search for happiness is one of the chief sources of unhappiness.”
Kim Hubbard said, “It is pretty hard to tell what does bring happiness: poverty and wealth have both failed.”
Bertrand Russell said, “To be without some of the things you want is an indispensible part of happiness.” George Burns said, “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.”
Ok, that last one was a bit of humor in the midst of an important subject. What is happiness? What does it mean to be happy? Verse 14 of today’s reading is a sad statement, but one I think many of us can identify with: we call the proud happy. The NIV translation says, “We call the arrogant blessed.” The Message says, “Those who take their life into their own hands are the lucky ones.”
I once read an article about happiness in Reader’s Digest. An interesting sidebar gave a history of happiness. When I first saw that, I wondered how they could put happiness into a time line, but then I read the list. They began with a quote from Aristotle in 350 BC that said, “Happiness is the best, most noble, and most pleasant thing in the world.” In 1776, the writers of our Declaration of Independence included that all men have the right to “the pursuit of happiness.” Laughing gas was invented in 1799. Books about parenting in the early 1900s focused on children’s happiness. The term “Happy Hour” came into use by sailors in the 1920s. The song “Happy Birthday to you” was copyrighted in 1935. The laugh track for radio and television was invented in the 1950s. The term ‘happy pill’ for tranquillizers was coined in the 1950s. The idea of national happiness and happiness in international relations came into style in recent years.
In 2010, Matt Salzberg said, “My vision of success is based on the impact I can have, much more than the pursuit of money or prestige.” Perhaps Matt was the first one in that timeline to get it right.
The article gave several steps to finding happiness. First, they recommend valuing your relationships. In a University of Illinois study, researchers discovered, “The highest levels of happiness are found with the most stable, longest, and most contented relationships.” Second, those who are happy express themselves. According to a Wake Forest University study, participants were tracked over a two week period and they found that they were happier when they were more outgoing and less happy when reserved or withdrawn.
A study done by the editors of forbes.com discovered that people were happier when they used their money to buy things for others. They gave cash to strangers, from $5 to $20. Half the group was told to spend the money on themselves and the other half to spend it on someone else. Those who bought something for someone else were much happier. The fourth step is to focus on the positive. They recommend keeping a journey and writing down three good things that happen each day. Those who did this found themselves to be much happier. Finally, the article suggested drinking water. Apparently, dehydration can cause mood swings.
I think it is true that happiness comes when we do not put the focus on ourselves, but turn our actions and thoughts to others. Those who take their lives into their own hands are not the lucky ones. God says, “Return to me, and I will return to you.” They didn’t understand. “How have we turned away?” “How have we robbed you?” God told them that they were focused on the wrong things. They were more interested in themselves and their own happiness. Instead of sharing their blessings with others, they were keeping it for themselves.
Instead of serving God, they served self. “It is vain to serve God. What profit is it that we have followed his instructions, and that we have walked mournfully before Yahweh of Armies?” They thought it was a waste of their time and resources to serve God. We might think that a new car or party dress will make us happy, but true happiness comes when we love God and live for Him in this world. This doesn’t necessarily mean we can’t have the new car or pretty dress, but let’s remember what matters most. Our happiness comes from living the life God is calling us to live, with Him in the forefront, doing His work in this world.
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“Besides, they also learn to be idle, going about from house to house. Not only idle, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not.” 1 Timothy 5:13, WEB
A couple weeks ago we talked about the process of bringing a brother or sister in Christ to repentance. If they sin against you, talk to them alone. If they don’t listen, take one other. If they still don’t listen, take it to the Church.” The reason for this process is to assure that we do not sully the reputation of our brothers and sisters. See, we may think we have been hurt by that person, but we may not always know the whole story. By having that one on one conversation, we might just learn of our own sinfulness in the situation. We might learn that it was not intentional. We might even learn that the person has not really done anything to hurt us. If we take our hurt to others, then the person will always have the accusation hanging over their heads, even if it is proven wrong.
Reporters often make mistakes. It is not unusual for a newspaper to have a place where they will print retractions. Sometimes they rush to publication before all the information has been gathered. Sometimes there is a typographical error. A newspaper once published a story about a musician. In the article they claimed, “His band mate was on drugs.” The sentence should have read, “His band mate was on drums.” There is a huge difference between those two sentences. Can you imagine being the drummer’s mother and read that your son is on drugs? Of course, she would probably understand it was a typo, but would others? Would they see the apology the next day? Too often we see the mistake and we never see that it was wrong. That typographical error could lead to people around the water cooler saying, “Did you hear the drummer is on drugs?” The rumor, despite being a mistake, could ruin the reputation of that man.
It is even more difficult today than it has ever been thanks to social media. How many times have we seen a post on twitter or facebook, shared it and later realized that it wasn’t true? It is impossible to take back the post and most people who read it will never follow up with the truth. It doesn’t take very long for a viral post to reach millions of people.
We are all guilty of passing on information that turns out to be untrue. Most of these mistakes are insignificant, but we have all seen how a viral post can ruin someone’s life. Someone once said, “Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?” Someone added, “Does it improve the silence?” it is bad enough when something is said that can hurt a person, but it is the gossip that truly impacts their life. It is the second, third and fourth layers of people who never learn the truth or apologize for the mistake. Gossip can hurt people, but if we remember the three gates, we might stop the spread and spare someone the harm it can cause.
Notice that the quote starts with whether or not it is true. Sometimes those things we pass on turn out to be true, but we are to then ask if it is necessary. What good will it do to pass on the information? Finally we are to ask if it is kind. If we honestly ask this question, we’ll find that we aren’t passing on many stories because even if they are true, they are certainly not necessary or kind. Ultimately, the fourth question brings it all together, “Does it improve the silence?” Be careful of the words you speak because they can truly impact a life in ways we might never even see. Speak only good things, lift up others and make the world a better place.
The following links provide some specially chosen scripture that tell the stories of the Birth and Passion of our Lord as Saviour Jesus Christ, as well as a fictional perspective of the Crucifixion. Spend time in God's Word, read about His life and learn of the wonderful gifts He has for you. Know Jesus Christ and honour Him today. Thanks be to God.
When researching, I use several versions of the bible, including the New International Version and English Standard Version. Due to copyright restrictions, I have not included quotes for the scriptures on some of the archives, but highly encourage you to open your own bibles to read the scripture passages for yourselves. Where scripture is quoted, it is usually the American Standard Version or World English Bible which belong to the public domain. Any other versions used in quotes are identified.
The devotion posted on Wednesday is based on the Lectionary texts used by millions of Christians each Sunday. The Lectionary consists of four texts: an Old Testament passage, a Psalm, a passage from one of the Epistles and a Gospel text and follows the church calendar. Archives for these writings are found at Midweek Oasis.
You are welcome to use these words to share the Gospel of our Lord Jesus. Please remember to give credit to the Author who has given you these gifts, and keep in remembrance the vessel which He used to bring them to you. We pray that this site may be a blessing to you and anyone with whom you've shared it. Peggy Hoppes