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)
Scriptures for Sunday, August 2, 2015, Tenth Sunday of Pentecost: Exodus 16:2-15; Psalm 145:10-21; Ephesians 4:1-16; John 6:22-35
"My mouth shall speak the praise of Jehovah; And let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever." Psalm 145:21, ASV
Have you ever gone on a road trip with children? I have a million stories I could tell you about trips from when I was a child to the recent trip with Bruce. Something interesting always happens along the way, sometimes those occurrences are not pleasant. When I was about thirteen, my mom and I took a road trip half-way across the country to visit my aunt. The car died late at night and we were stranded on the side of the highway. A very nice trucker stopped, picked us up and dropped us at the next truck stop. We found a tow truck driver, got the car fixed and went on our way again. The lesson we learned from that experience is never, ever put a sign "Kansas or Bust" in your back window; we broke down just hours after I did so.
We have interesting travels stories that include pets, too. I was driving from New Jersey to California with my mom and my cat. I was moving there to marry Bruce and begin a new life with him. We briefly stopped at a rest area in the middle of nowhere Midwestern states and then hurried back on the road. A few miles after we were back on the road I began to wonder about my cat. We called her. Mom looked as I drove. I pulled over to the side of the road and we searched in all the little hiding places. No cat.
We were certain she must have escaped when we stopped at the rest area. The next exit was miles away, but we turned around, drove to the previous exit, turned around and returned to the rest area, adding at least an hour onto our trip. I knew it was an impossible hope, but we had to try. We stopped the car and began looking around, hoping beyond hope that she was just scared and hiding in a bush. That's when she crawled out from under my car seat. I looked under my seat, of course, but she had crawled up into the seat, curled up and fell asleep. I was too relieved to be upset about the lost time and miles. She had this way of finding exactly the wrong place at exactly the wrong time. She climbed into the box spring at one hotel; the box spring was bolted and unmovable, so I had to jump on the bed to scare her out.
Traveling is fun enough with adults and animals, but children add a whole other dimension to the experience. We drove from California to Pennsylvania with a side trip to North Carolina when Zack was just a few months old. It was summer and we were visiting family. Zack had not discovered the joy of standing yet when we left home, but it came to him while we were in Pennsylvania. He never wanted to get into his car seat again, which made for an interesting trip home.
The trouble with children is that they can verbally make their needs and annoyances known. "Mom, I have to go to the bathroom," always came a mile after the rest stop. "Mom, he's touching me!" "Mom, I'm hungry." "Mom, are we there yet?" That last one usually starts just a few miles from home, making the last three thousand miles exciting.
I have to admit that it was not until recently that I understood the timing of the Exodus events. I suppose I just didn't really think about it or I've based my understanding on the movies I've seen, but I never put the story into a timeline. It took them about twenty five days to get to the Red Sea. Pharaoh did not start chasing them until about a week before then. It was immediately after they crossed the sea and were safe that they began to grumble. Moses healed the bitter water a few days later. Four days after that, the people complained about having no meat. The quail fell that night and the manna was on the ground in the morning. They arrived at Mt. Sinai two weeks later, just forty eight days after the Passover. The people turned to golden calf before the 100th day.
It seems to me that it should have taken much longer for them to turn from the God who saved them from slavery, but in today's passage we see that they had already forgotten the bitterness of their oppression. "Would that we had died by the hand of Jehovah in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh-pots, when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger." It took thirty-three days for them to desire their old lives because at least their stomachs were full.
Our stomachs get a lot of attention, don't they? I spend a large portion of my day in the kitchen, cooking, cleaning up after meals, putting away groceries. I spend as much time planning those meals and shopping for the ingredients. Have you noticed how many recipes you see as you scroll through your Facebook timeline? Most news programs have segments that have to do with healthy eating or with restaurant reviews. I think most of us have experienced that moment when our tummies are grumbling and we can't decide what we want to eat. "There's nothing to eat in this house," is another favorite quote from my children.
In last week's Midweek Oasis, we talked about the feeding of the five thousand. The lectionary I use, which is the LSB version of the Revised Common Lectionary, mostly follows the RCL, with a few differences. Most churches heard John's version of the story last week. We heard Mark's. The stories end up at the same place, with the crowds demanding that Jesus take care of their physical needs. In John, Jesus recognizes the look in their eyes: they want a king that will fill their bellies.
We don't think about much when our bellies are grumbling. We don't think about our soul when we are hungry. We fight for the tangible things, but ignore the things that really matter. That's what Jesus saw in the crowds on the banks of the Sea of Galilee. After feeding a crowd of more than five thousand, the people were seeking Him for all the wrong reasons; they still did not understand. They recognized that He was the Messiah, but they wanted an earthly king. They wanted someone who would lead them out of occupation into a golden age of prosperity as a sovereign nation. They did not know that they had a deeper need, the need for forgiveness and the hope of eternal life. It didn't take long for them to turn away from Jesus because the message was too hard for them to accept. We'll see that in the weeks to come.
Today's passage from John juxtaposes the manna in the desert to the Bread from heaven which is Jesus. These things come from God. They are gifts from the One who cares for our every need, even the grumbling of our tummies. But as with the Israelites in the desert and the people by the Sea of Galilee, we are reminded that there is something much more important to understand here: these lessons are about trusting that God will provide us what we truly need.
Jesus didn't come to feed the hungry or heal the sick. He did those things to prove to the people that He is who He is. He did it, just like God proved Himself in the desert, to prove Himself to us. And all He wants in return is that we believe, and trust that He will do what is good and right and true. He will provide what we need. And while we do need food for our bellies, the true bread is Jesus. In Him is life; in Him is eternal life.
The final words of the Gospel passage are difficult to comprehend and believe. Jesus says, "...he that cometh to me shall not hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." I have believed and I have been hungry. What of those third world countries where faith in Christ is growing and moving and doing amazing things, yet also suffer great poverty, hunger and thirst even among those Christians who are living lives worthy of their calling. If you ask them, however, they will tell you that they have far more than we because they have learned to trust in God.
We live in our fancy homes with our cushy jobs and worry the minute there is a threat to our security. We grumble when we are hungry at four o'clock because we missed lunch. We look to false gods for our salvation, for our deliverance. We give credit to the wrong sources for our many blessings. We work hard for the perishable, giving far too little attention to the imperishable. Yet, active faith will naturally work the work that pleases God: to believe in the One whom He sent. That's the advantage those Christians have in this world. They have nothing on which to rely except God.
Paul was in prison when he wrote the letter to the Ephesians. Today's passage is so full of powerful words, words filled with God's grace for our lives. It begins with a difficult request. Paul asks the reader to "walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called." Here, once again, we see encouragement to work. Yet, what is the calling to which we are called? Jesus told us: to believe. This is not a passive faith; it is an active faith that naturally works the work that pleases God. It is the faith that leads to maturity, and that maturity leads to love. In love we live in unity and in peace in the body of Christ.
Paul begs us to live a life worthy of the calling to which we have been called. What is that life? He goes on to say that we should live, "with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
We don't do this very well. We find it much easier to grumble when we feel our needs are not being met; we demand physical satisfaction when we really need Christ. The bonds of peace are too easily broken in our church over disagreements about things that simply do not matter. We are like children, whining for our own way about whether the carpet should be cardinal or brick colored, ignoring the true needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Does it matter to God the color of our carpet? Or is that the bread that perishes?
Paul tells us to grow up. We need to stop falling for every idea that comes our way, trusting as God builds His body the Church by the power of the Holy Spirit. He has created the perfect machine, but we spend so much time chasing after that which satisfies our flesh that we forget to do the work that will bring glory and honor to our God. It did not take the Israelites very long to turn to the golden calf; we are as easily swayed by the ways of the world.
We will continue to study the Bread of Life over the next few weeks, and the lessons will get incredibly difficult for us to understand and accept. It will be so shocking to Jesus' audience that many will stop following Him. Jesus began this lesson with the feeding of the five thousand because He knows that we need to have our flesh satisfied before we can truly learn about our spirits. We can't stay there, however. We have to take the next step to truly believe in Jesus. He did not come to be an earthly king; He came to save the world.
That salvation is enough. We might not think so when we are two miles into a thousand mile journey or when we are standing in front of a refrigerator with nothing that we want to eat. But if we begin with thankfulness for God's salvation and praise for God's graciousness, then we will find that He generously helps us deal with the rest. We can join with the psalmist in singing the hymn of praise to the LORD who is the Great King of a kingdom that reaches far beyond this world. He has done great things; He saved His people and fed them as much quail and manna that they needed to be satisfied. He taught them to trust in Him, and while they failed over and over and over again, He continued to love them with His faithfulness to His promises.
We will fail. We focus too much on our stomachs and too little on our spirits. We forget the great things that God has done and turn again to the gods who promise to fill our bellies and satisfy our physical desires. We turn from God by demanding that He serve as our earthly King and ignore the greater Kingdom that He rules from heaven. We turn from Him when He demands more from us than we are willing to give or that we can understand. We forget to praise Him for our daily bread because we can't find anything that will satisfy our desires on the shelves of our pantries.
Why do we continue to put our trust in earthly things, human beings and man-made institutions that cannot do what God can do? The Israelites trusted in Moses, but He was not their savior. They didn't learn the lesson that God taught them in the desert. The Jews trusted that Jesus could be king, but they missed what Jesus was really teaching them when He fed them. There will be grumbling of bellies and mouths, but God hears and He is faithful to all His promises. He has called us to do the work that really matters, to believe in His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. From there He will work in and through us for the sake of the world.
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"But ye, beloved, remember ye the words which have been spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; That they said to you, In the last time there shall be mockers, walking after their own ungodly lusts. These are they who make separations, sensual, having not the Spirit. But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And on some have mercy, who are in doubt; and some save, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh." Jude 21:17-23, ASV
I went shopping at the outlet center yesterday. I've never been quite sure if I save any money when I make that shopping trip. The outlet center is an hour and a half away, so I used a quarter tank of gas. I was disappointed that I did not find some of the items I was there to buy, especially since I discovered several of my favorite stores are no longer there. I did have a pile of excellent coupons, so I knew that if I could find some good deals, I'd get even better deals. By the end of the day, I had done well on my shopping list and my wallet.
Now, I have to laugh a little about one stop during the day. I went into a sock store because Bruce needed some more socks for work. I found a clearance rack that had reduced socks that included a buy one get one special. Each pair of pairs cost me half of what one pair would cost me in a regular store. Then I found a clearance table that socks even cheaper. The regular priced socks were affordable, but the sales were unbelievable. Plus, I had a coupon! Unfortunately, as she rang up the order, we realized I was a few dollars short to benefit from the coupon. So, I got one more pair of pairs, which cost just enough to put me over the top.
Here's the funny thing: I spent six dollars to save five dollars. In the end, that was probably true of much of my day. The trip cost me several dollars in gasoline and lunch while I was out. I bought a pair of pants that were well priced for the brand, but I could have found a similar pair for less in a different one. I bought a few knives that I probably didn't need right now, but that I have a difficult time finding in other stores when I need a replacement. I stopped at one of our favorite places on the way home to get kolaches and cinnamon rolls to eat. We always think we are getting a great deal when we go to the outlet center, but in the end it probably didn't save us any money, and it may have even cost me more to go.
I had a good day. I found some things that were worth buying. I made my family happy with their new socks and pants. And don't tell anyone, but I got started on my Christmas shopping. I might have spent more than necessary, but it was a worthwhile trip. Good stewardship means keeping ourselves from being wasteful with our resources. That probably means I shouldn't drive an hour and a half to buy things I don't need. Perhaps I should have used those funds in a better way. That was the argument that Judas made when Mary anointed Jesus' feet. I don't mean to compare my shopping trip to a selfless, sacrificial act of love and devotion, but sometimes we just need to do things without counting the cost.
Imagine if God had counted the cost of sending His Son to die for us? We are just not worth the life of our Lord Jesus Christ; it was an incredible waste! We were once sinners and we continue to sin even after He has paid this great price to redeem an unworthy world. He went out of His way to save us even though it wasn't very cost effective. He didn't count the cost, and we are the beneficiaries of His generosity. Now we who have been saved are called to live a similarly selfless and sacrificial life, not counting the cost we might pay to share God's grace with others. Yes, it might appear as though we are being bad stewards of our resources, especially when our neighbors seem unworthy. Yet, Jesus Christ died for them, too, and every soul that is saved is worth a fortune to our Father.
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