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)
"And he said, Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parables. And he said unto them, Unto you is given the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all things are done in parables: that seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest haply they should turn again, and it should be forgiven them. And he saith unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how shall ye know all the parables?" Mark 4:9-13 (ASV)
The kids are both grown and I don't have grandchildren yet, so holidays like Christmas and Easter are hard to plan. It is silly to do what I used to do for them, filling stockings or baskets full of candy and toys, but the 'toys' they want are too expensive to buy enough to fill a stocking or basket. Since Victoria lives so far away, I send her care packages on a regular basis, boxes filled with her favorite things from Texas and other silly things to make her smile. Her latest box arrived today, but she won't be able to access it until tomorrow. She's excited to see what I might have sent her in anticipation of Easter, to see what little surprises might be there.
Of course there are treats. I don't care how old they get; I will give them treats until there are grandchildren to spoil. It is a little harder for Zachary since he's still living at home. I asked him the other day if he needed Easter surprises. He said "No," but when I asked if he wanted Easter surprises, he looked at me with puppy dog eyes and said, "Yes?" I laughed and knew that there'd be something here for Easter morning. I know it is silly, but it is all in good fun. I'm sure Victoria will be surprised, although she probably has an idea about at least a few things in the box. I know what she likes and I buy what she likes. She is hoping for one thing in particular and it is there. She probably already knows. While there are surprises, she'll pull at least those few things out with a knowing smile.
Sometimes it is hard to keep surprises. When children are very little, Mom and Dad can easily discuss presents while the child is in the room. As they get a little older, it sometimes takes some creative coding to discuss these things in a way they will not understand. Soon, however, surprises must be discussed when and where they will not hear because they begin listening for clues. They know and understand the meaning of key words and phrases, and pay attention so that they might figure out the surprise. It takes a sort of faith to know that Mom and Dad might be discussing as important as presents for some special event.
The message that Jesus had to give the world was a surprise. In this passage, the word 'mystery' is used. In other versions it is translated 'secret.' We normally think of secret in negative terms, as a bad thing. We teach our children they should not keep secrets. Yet, sometimes secrets can be fun, like digging through that basket on Easter morning to discover a treat that they did not expect. The mystery of Jesus is not a bad secret, but is more like an insight which is given only to those who will hear it, those who have faith. Too many listened to Jesus and did not see that He was speaking about things beyond this world: the kingdom of God. They only heard stories about farmers that really made little sense in their world. It is even harder for us today since most of us have no real experience with many of the examples that Jesus used. Yet, in faith we hear these stories and we understand that Jesus is talking about our relationship with God and with one another. Only those with ears that hear will recognize the truth found in the stories. We have ears because God gives us the faith to hear His Word.
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"Now there went with him great multitudes: and he turned, and said unto them, If any man cometh unto me, and hateth not his own father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. Whosoever doth not bear his own cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, doth not first sit down and count the cost, whether he have wherewith to complete it? Lest haply, when he hath laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all that behold begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, as he goeth to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and asketh conditions of peace. So therefore whosoever he be of you that renounceth not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:25-33, ASV
We moved into our current house nearly three years ago. A short way from our house is a development of duplexes that has been under construction since before that time. We watched as several buildings were started and finished on the property. It seemed as though the development was finished when another building was begun. Construction was very slow on this one, and though it seemed to have a similar shell as the others, I wondered if perhaps it was a special building for the development. It was right near the pool and other amenities, so I thought it might be a small community center. The construction was odd, and then it stopped completely. The building sat for nearly two years without any change; they weather barriers began to flop in the wind and it started falling apart in other ways. I noticed a few weeks ago that work crews are back; the building is now being repaired and completed. It appears to be another duplex, not a special building.
There are plenty of reasons why a builder might have to put a project on hold; although I am sure there isn't a good enough excuse for the homeowners who lived right next door. They had to look at the eyesore for nearly two years. An unfinished construction site is not safe and even in a gated neighborhood provides a place for misbehavior. It certainly did not enhance property values or trust in the builder. If the company can't finish one building, will it be willing and able to deal with problems in the other buildings? We don't know what happened. We can't be certain that the construction stopped because the builder ran out of money, but it is certainly the most likely possibility. It is difficult to believe that a company that had already build a bunch of other buildings could not finish one.
How many of us, however, get started on a project and we think we are prepared for every contingency only to discover unexpected problems along the way. "The Money Pit" was a movie starring Tom Hanks and Shelley Long about a couple who bought their dream home from a man who turned out to be a con artist. They paid very little for the house but it didn't take long before they realized that the problems were much worse and went far deeper than they expected. All homeowners, even those who buy new houses, know that there is work to do to make it a home, and they were prepared to do some work, but the house began to fall apart the minute the papers were signed. Hilarity ensues, but in the end you see what happens when you begin a project without counting all the costs. I have to admit that we've discovered a similar reality in our house, and while it is not falling into the ground, we have put a lot of money into upgrading and repairing. We knew it when we bought it and while we have accomplished much, there is a great deal more to do and too much money to spend.
We like to think that Christian faith is easy: all we have to do is trust in God and He will take care of us. While there is truth to that understanding, we are reminded by today's text that it isn't that easy. There is a cost to following Jesus. The cost to our salvation comes at the hands and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Beyond that, however, the cost that we forget to count is that following Jesus means making priorities that are outside our nature. Our instinct is to do whatever is necessary to survive, but God calls us to trust that He will be faithful to His promises. The martyrs understood; they knew that it was not necessary to fight those who will hate and kill them because they follow Jesus. They knew that if they died, they would live because God was waiting for them. The cost of following Jesus was giving everything over to God, including flesh, blood and life.
Are we willing to do that? Are we willing to put Jesus as our priority and trust that God will take care of us even in death? Are we willing to set aside our selfishness to do what He is calling us to do? Are we even willing to set aside everyone we love and put Him first? That is the cost of following Jesus. It is a hard price to pay, but we discover that when we are obedient and willing to put God first, He makes room in our lives for everything else. When we put God first, even our relationships are better because they are founded on the love and grace of God. The cost might be great, but the benefits are more than we can imagine. Best of all, they are eternal.
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.
Scripture on this page taken from the American Standard Version of the Holy Bible which belongs to the public domain. Some scripture on this site taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
As you may be aware, I also write a weekly devotional on Wednesday called "MIDWEEK OASIS." For those of you who are familiar with lectionary scripture sources, MIDWEEK OASIS is based on the 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. We are now using the lectionary for our A WORD FOR TODAY texts. This devotional is posted on Wednesday, at both A WORD FOR TODAY and 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