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)
"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, who, if his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone; or if he shall ask for a fish, will give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? All things therefore whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, even so do ye also unto them: for this is the law and the prophets." Matthew 7:7-12, ASV
As I was reading through one of my daily Lenten devotions, I came across a different understanding of today's text. This text has always been, to me, a comfort in knowing that God listens and answers prayer. It is an encouragement to the Christian to seek God's grace, to look to Him for everything we need. We know this in our hearts and we trust in it with our whole beings. Yet, I imagine that I'm not the only one who daily thinks, "My problems are not that big compared to my neighbor. I won't bother to ask God to deal with this today because I can deal with it myself."
This attitude has manifested itself in the way I ask for help, or don't ask, from my neighbors. I want to be independent. I want to do it myself. I want to prove that I can do it. Sometimes, I suppose, I don't ask because I don't want to be in debt to anyone.
I remember a time when we lived in England. My mom wanted me to visit and she was willing to buy the plane ticket to get me there. I wanted to go home because both Mom and Dad were dealing with physical issues. I didn't know it at the time, but it would be the last time I saw her; she died just months later. I wanted to go, but I didn't know how I could do it. My husband was in the military, and it was difficult for him to guarantee that he'd be able to deal with the children. We had good friend who had children the same age as ours, but I hated to ask for help. I didn't want to inconvenience our friends just so I could go on vacation. I hesitated, but in the end everyone convinced me that I needed to go. "Go. We don't need you."
That's hard to hear, and it sounds so harsh, but it wasn't meant to be. It was said so that I would realize that I did not have to be superwoman. I didn't have to sacrifice myself and my needs for the sake of others. "We are here to help." I learned that I didn't have to do it alone. I didn't have to prove that I was the perfect mom, willing to give up everything for the sake of my kids. I didn't have to be independent because I had people around me who were more than willing to help. In the end, they survived just fine without me. Oh, they missed me, but I wasn't needed. Hard lesson? Of course, but it was also one of the most freeing lesson I've ever learned.
Ask and it shall be given to you. If our neighbors are more than willing to help, why wouldn't God? And why do we ever think that our problems don't matter to God? We think they are too small for God; after all He's got big things to deal with around the world. However God is big enough to handle even our little problems. And in this text He commands us to ask.
Yes, He commands us to ask. This is not just an encouragement or suggestion, it is a command. That's what I learned in the Lenten devotion. God says, "Ask, knock, seek. Do this." These commands come with an incredible promise: "Do this and I will answer. I will provide. I will open the door. I will be there for you." I think we want to wait to ask, knock and seek until there's something worth seeking help, but God commands us to ask, knock and seek Him for everything. "Don't wait because I am ready NOW to bless you." He knows what we need, and while we can deal with the little things ourselves, He knows that if we turn to Him for the little things we will find that He has already prepared us by His grace to deal with the harder things.
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"Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men, to be seen of them: else ye have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. When therefore thou doest alms, sound not a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have received their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: that thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret shall recompense thee." Matthew 6:1-4, ASV
Author Elizabeth Gilbert is quoted as saying, "Of course money changes everything, but so does sunlight and so does food. These are powerful but neutral energy sources, neither inherently good nor evil but shaped only by the way we use them."
I found this quote while I was surfing the internet and I like what it says. It certainly makes sense in the light of the biblical understanding of money from Paul's first letter to Timothy, " For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil: which some reaching after have been led astray from the faith, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows." (1 Timothy 6:10) It is not the money that is evil, or even the people using the money that is evil, but the way the money is used can cause hurt and harm in the world.
I enjoy reading quotes from famous persons, but I wanted to know more about where Elizabeth was going with this one, so I searched for it on another site. I found it in an article about a hard life lesson she learned after coming into her wealth with the sale of her book "Eat, Pray, Love." See, Elizabeth was always a very generous person. She lived by an understanding, " If it belongs to me, don't worry: You can have it!" She was generous with everything, not just money, but everything from stuff, time and opinions, to even her body. She was not just generous, she was an over-giver, something she once thought was virtuous. She expected nothing in return, except perhaps a little praise and unconditional love forever.
She was able to control her over-giving spirit when she had little of her own, but when she made it big she was excited because she had so much more to give. She not only gave to charities, thinking that writing a check wasn't enough, she gave to people. She gave cars, paid off bills, sent kids to college. She even bought a couple houses. Sounds generous, doesn't it? This kind of generosity was so much more satisfying to her than popping off a check to a charity because it involved the people with whom she had real relationships. Her generosity also made her feel like she was balancing the unfairness of her success. She didn't understand why she had come into such wealth when so many more talented and deserving people had so much less. It made her feel good to share the wealth.
She said, "I could see (and feel!) the gratitude so personally; it was a drug-like pleasure... Finally, it was joyful and empowering: I was a dream-facilitator, an obstacle-banisher, a life-transformer! In short: Giving away money to my friends was so much goddarn fun!"
Sadly, she started losing friends. She didn't understand why at first, but she eventually realized that her generosity, her over-givingness, was actually the problem. She thought she was helping, but by jumping in and taking over the bills of her friends she actually stole from them things that money can't buy. She stole their dignity; she took away the opportunities for her friends to learn important, vital life lessons. She made her friends feel shame. Sometimes the problems her friends faced had nothing to do with money, but were rooted in feelings of inadequacy or lack of motivation. Taking away the financial problem only opened the door to deeper problems that her friends were not ready to face. She made life too easy in one sense, but extremely difficult in another.
She writes, "All I know is, those friendships withered under a cloud of mutual discomfort, and now we cross the street to avoid running into each other. Years ago, in India, a monk warned me, 'Never give anyone more than they are emotionally capable of receiving, or they will have no choice but to hate you for it.'" She thought it was ridiculous, after all she lived by the Christian ideal of charity, such as we learned from Mother Theresa, "Give until it hurts." What she realized is that she was giving until it hurt the ones she meant to help.
She realized through this experience that her over-givingness had more to do with the way it made her feel, the adrenaline rush, and less to do with what her friends really needed. She is still generous, but in a different way. She writes those big checks to charities and she helps her friends by keeping her generosity to scale and she's found ways of helping people that aren't necessarily financial. It is, perhaps, easier to pay for the house than to help a friend learn how to save and budget and choose wisely, but the real generosity is in helping the friend become the best they can be. She says that she no longer gives until it hurts; instead, she gives until it helps.
Perhaps today's scripture lesson is a little harsh when juxtaposed to this story, but I think it speaks to at least part of the lesson Elizabeth learned. She learned that her generosity, or over-givingness, was motivated by her own feelings and desires. She felt good when she did those good things for her friends and she desired a cosmic balance of wealth that she thought was out of whack. She didn't think she deserved to have such wealth and she was determined to get rid of it without regard to the real needs of others.
We are called to be generous, but we must also be careful at how we share that which God has given. What is motivating our gifts? What will they accomplish? Will this help the one to whom it is being given? How might it harm them? Is this what they really need? We should also ask the hard questions. Who am I trying to impress? What am I trying to accomplish? Am I doing this because God has called me to it, or do I have a hidden agenda in my mind? We don't want to admit that our good works are harmful, but they can be, not only to those who receive our goodness but also to ourselves. See, sometimes our quest for goodness gives us the earthly reward of praise and unconditional love, which makes us lose sight of the God who has blessed us to be a blessing. We aren't called to be an overflowing bank, but to be the people through whom He can do His work in the world, to glorify Him with our lives.
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