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)
“A glad heart makes a cheerful face; but an aching heart breaks the spirit.” Proverbs 15:13, WEB
There is a commercial, and I honestly don’t even know what it is selling, that begins, “Teach your kids to smile...” I don’t hear the rest of the commercial because this statement makes me wonder. Can you teach someone to smile? I looked it up on the Internet and there are plenty of web pages that claim to be able to teach people to smile. They show you how to make your children smile for photos. They show you how to smile for business. They give you tips on how to have the perfect smile. A few pages warn about not teaching daughters to smile because it supposedly perpetuates the societal expectation that girls need to be beautiful (and hence smile) to get along in the world. One article talked about the unfair demand of women to smile in the workplace. The author said, “Ugh! I don’t have to smile; I’m at work. I have a lot of stuff to do!”
As I read the article, I thought about all the times I have suggested to you, my readers, to smile at a neighbor. “It is amazing what a difference a smile can make.” Yet, we also know it is sometimes very difficult to make those muscles in our mouths work in the upturned direction. We are too busy. We are too focused. We are too frustrated or hurt or angry to smile. Even if we aren’t frustrated or hurt or angry with the person crossing our path at that moment, our hearts and minds are focused on anything but that person at that moment. Smiles are not always natural; they take work. But the aches of pain in our hearts make it even harder to do that simple small thing for our neighbor.
There is an old saying that it takes more muscles to frown than to smile. The truth of this statement is not really determined; the real answer depends on the person smiling. An article states, “Scientists have studied the muscles needed for both facial expressions, and to do a small smile generally uses 10 muscles; a small frown uses 6. On average, a smile uses 12 and a frown 11. However, since humans tend to smile a lot, these muscles are stronger. A frown may be slightly more effort to produce. just because we aren’t as used to using these muscles.” I suppose that answers my question: you can teach someone to smile. It takes practice.
I’m not sure that the article is right about humans tending to smile a lot; walk down a busy street and you are likely to see a whole lot more frowns than smiles. Perhaps they are not frowns, but those strangers on the street are definitely not smiling. It is almost as if our natural state is indifference. A smile makes a connection, and quite frankly few of us have the time or inclination to make that kind of connection on the busy street. We save our smiles for those who deserve them. If the scientists are right, we should be consciously smiling all the time so that those muscles will develop and a smile will become the tendency rather than a frown.
The Bible gives us another point of view on this subject. The proverb says, “A glad heart makes a cheerful face.” Humans, at least Christian humans, should smile a lot. Our heart is filled with the greatest promise. We have been forgiven. We have been adopted by God our Father. We have been made inheritors of an eternal kingdom. We have reason to have a glad heart. Our neighbors may think we have gone crazy if we smile constantly, but despite the reality of evil and suffering in this world, our hearts are so filled with God’s grace that our faces should be cheerful. We, too often, forget because we are so busy or focused. We forget because we are frustrated, hurt and angry at someone or something. Our aching hearts break our spirits and our face shows it.
It will take practice, but instead of trying to force a smile when we don’t feel like it, let’s work on remembering the promises of God. Let’s build on the hope that God has given. Let’s constantly remember the faith that makes our lives new. It won’t stop the things that make our hearts ache, but we’ll have something greater upon which to cling: God. We will be busy and focused. We will be frustrated, hurt and angry at things of this world. But with God’s grace in our hearts our faces will naturally become cheerful. We’ll smile without even thinking about it and we’ll make a difference in the world.
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“I saw, in the right hand of him who sat on the throne, a book written inside and outside, sealed shut with seven seals. I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the book, and to break its seals?’ No one in heaven above, or on the earth, or under the earth, was able to open the book, or to look in it. And I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open the book, or to look in it. One of the elders said to me, ‘Don’t weep. Behold, the Lion who is of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome; he who opens the book and its seven seals.’ I saw in the middle of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the middle of the elders, a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, having seven horns, and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth.” Revelation 5:1-6, WEB
The legend of King Arthur is simply that: a legend. Legends often have some basis in fact, but the stories attributed to the great king are so varied that we can’t know for certain the entire truth of it all. There are some who believe that Arthur was a genuine historical figure, perhaps Roman, although many of the stories are fictional. Some claim that Arthur was a compilation of many different local rulers, or kings, whose characteristics were gathered together into one great king. Arthur is reputed to be buried in several places around England, each town or castle wishing to have the legend connected to their locality. The castle at Tintagel has a cave that was believed to be where Merlin dwelt. Glastonbury has been linked to Arthur. There are stories from Wales, too. Modern historians have discounted many of the theories for lack of evidence. We may never really know if he was real or not.
The legend of Arthur as we know it seems to have begun in the twelfth century with the writings of Geoffrey of Monmount’s “History of the British Kings.” Some of the stories come from an earlier date, perhaps having been handed down by bards. Geoffrey collected these and put them together in one story. The legend expanded over the years, as others added their own take on the great king of Camelot. Authors added other characters like Lancelot and the Knights of the Round Table. They added quests in search of great treasure like the Holy Grail. There may have been some truth to some of the adventures, but it has grown to such that it is now considered legend rather than history.
One of the stories tells of Arthur’s birth and his subsequent removal by Merlin to be raised by an ally of the king. No one knew the true identity of the boy, including the ruler of that castle, Sir Ector. He was considered nothing but a bastard, under his guardianship. Sir Ector’s son Kay made fun of Arthur, and Arthur was given tasks, much like Cinderella, to earn his keep around the castle.
Arthur’s father suddenly died soon after, leaving the country in chaos. Who would be king? The nobles of the land sought Merlin’s advice about how to bring peace again. Merlin set up a stone with an anvil in London. A sword of great power was firmly embedded into that anvil. One it was written these words, “Whoso pulleth out this sword from this stone, is right wise King born of all England.” Only the one worthy would succeed. Many tried, almost all failed; the strongest could not do it, so the sword was forgotten for a time and the nation grew even more chaotic. Merlin befriended the boy Arthur and taught him everything he knew. He grew in wisdom and honor, having learned that justice and compassion was greater than brute strength. One day Merlin took Arthur, the true son of the king, to the sword in the stone. The crowd gathered and Sir Ector’s son Kay tried to remove the stone. Arthur, though a small, scrawny lad scarcely capable of lifting a sword from its sheath, proved to be the worthy one by pulling the sword from the stone. He was crowned king.
We see a similar story in today’s passage from Revelation. Almighty God is on His throne in heaven holding a sealed scroll. John is a witness to this scene in spirit. He knows that the scroll reveals the works of God, and that nothing can move forward until those seals are opened. “Who can open the scroll?” an angel asks, but no one is worthy. John weeps. One of the elders worshipping God comforts him, “Don’t worry, the Lion of Judah is worthy.” We expect, like those people in England so long ago, that the Lion of Judah will be a great and powerful ruler. A lion! But what we seen before us is not a symbol of power and strength, but a slaughtered Lamb. Though the lamb seems to be little more than a scrawny lad, scarcely able to accomplish anything, He is the Christ, the willing sacrificial Lamb of God who overcame sin, death and the grave. He is worthy to open those scrolls.
These stories, the legends of yesterday and the revelation of God, remind us that God does not accomplish things as the world expects. We want strong powerful men to be our rulers, but God shows us that it is the willing servant, the man of justice and compassion, that will truly rule His Kingdom. Jesus Christ is the victor, not as a Lion, but as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
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