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)
“Wherefore let him that speaketh in a tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. Else if thou bless with the spirit, how shall he that filleth the place of the unlearned say the Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he knoweth not what thou sayest? For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified. I thank God, I speak with tongues more than you all: howbeit in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that I might instruct others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.” 1 Corinthians 14:13-19, ASV
I have to admit that I often take advantage of the thesaurus program on my word processor. I often know what I want to say, but I can’t come up with exactly the right word. I will type something that is close and then check the thesaurus, hoping that what I want will be there. Sometimes it takes clicking into several different options to really find the one that fits, and in extreme cases I try a completely different word. Perhaps I should know them all, and while the use of the thesaurus helps me come up with a variety of words, I know I could and should know more.
Reader’s Digest has a page with an activity called “Word Power” which quizzes the reader on words that they might know. The word is listed along with a pronunciation guide and then several possible definitions. Some of them can be fairly easy, especially if the topic is something with which the reader is familiar. Others can be very tricky; there is not always an obvious answer. I do fairly well each month usually scoring at least thirteen out of sixteen, but sometimes my score is embarrassing.
It is very important to know and understand the words we use. I’ll confess that I laugh when litigants on the daytime judge shows try to use ‘fifty-cent’ words while making their cases but they tend to use them improperly. So, they think they sound extremely smart, but the reality is that the judge and many of the viewers know that they are ‘putting on airs.’ It usually doesn’t help their case; the judge is looking for the simple, honest story. He or she never rules according to a person’s façade, but judges each case by the law.
I decided to go build up my vocabulary a bit today, so I found a word for the day website on the Internet. Now, these sites often post words that have no real communication value for me. After all, I can’t see the need to ever know the word that means “to pass or spend summer in a certain activity (like some animals) in a dormant state.” The word is “estivate.” Isn’t it funny, though, that I’d pick that word when I can’t imagine that there are many people reading this that don’t know the opposite, “hibernate.” And yet, even my spell check has no idea that the word is something real. For some reason we like to know what happens in the winter, but we don’t even realize that some animals go dormant during the summer.
The words for this week are interesting, if not completely impractical for use in my writing. The theme at the website is “word illusions: words that look like they are spelled wrong.” That’s helpful, right? Here are the five words listed for this week: ‘vizard,’ ‘grogram,’ ‘secretory,’ ‘factitious,’ and ‘proem.’ If I used any of those words you would probably chalk them off to another typo (I’m sure there’s at least one mistake in every post!) And yet, if I used them in the context of the meaning, the sentence probably wouldn’t make sense when you changed it mentally to the word you think I meant.
There are more than a million words in the English language, so not matter how many I do know, I know that I will never know them all. That’s ok, sometimes the simple, honest story is better than anything we can create using the best thesaurus. In today’s passage Paul is specifically speaking about the gift of tongues, which is a supernatural gift of speaking in an unknown language. I believe it is a language so old that it has long been forgotten, a true language that only the Spirit of God could speak through the mouth of men.
We can understand that there is another gift of tongues, and that is the people who are able to learn and speak fluently in modern languages so that people can hear the Word in words they understand. This is certainly what happened at Pentecost, as the uneducated followers of Jesus spoke the Gospel in a way that people from all over the known world could understand. I think, too, this idea can be applied to the way we use our own languages, after all, we often find it difficult to talk to one another because we use words so differently. Word meanings often change but it takes time for everyone to use those words in a new way. We hear words differently, some being offended by words that others find normal and informative. I think we can hear Paul’s conclusion no matter what type of tongues we are discussing: if I use a word to share the Gospel that is misheard or misunderstood, then I won’t accomplish the task I was sent into the world to do. Simple and honest, that’s what our neighbors need to hear. The Gospel doesn’t need fifty-cent words or complicated language to change lives. It isn’t our words that save, anyway; it is the mercy of God, the grace of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit that brings life and transformation to those who hear His word unto belief.
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“Let not your heart be troubled: believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I come again, and will receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go, ye know the way. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; how know we the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye would have known my Father also: from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.” John 14:1-7, ASV
A friend posted a status on Facebook yesterday about how he was waiting for an answer to a question he didn’t even know he had. It was a cryptic status, we never learned the question or the answer or how it would impact his life. We simply know that there was a question and an answer and it was important enough for him to make a comment on Facebook.
Of course, many people make many comments that aren’t very important. The other day, in fact, I posted as my status on my personal Facebook page: “I should go to the grocery store.” Now, I usually try to be witty or inspiring. I usually try to post a status that says something that will make my friends think or laugh or invite me out to lunch. I like to post statuses that will bring a little hope or joy to my friends who are struggling. The grocery store status was so out of character and so totally mundane that one friend answered with a simple “Ok.”
I love Facebook because it has reconnected me with people who I have not seen for decades. I’m friends with relatives I never get to see. I’ve reconnected with people I knew in High school and it is fun to see how their lives have turned out. I’m friends with people locally, and Facebook helps me see what’s going on in their everyday lives when I don’t get to see them very often due to busy schedules. Sometimes the posts are interesting. Sometimes they are upsetting. We love to hear that our friends are celebrating the birth of another grandchild, but not so much that their mother is in hospice care. I like knowing the good and bad things that are going on in people’s lives so that I can pray for them. I started keeping a notebook near the computer which I often fill with prayers for my friends online. It is good to have this connection.
It isn’t always good, however. Studies have shown that Facebook can have a negative impact. One article from the New Yorker last fall reported about a study that shows that Facebook makes people unhappy. There are multiple reasons for this. One thing is the lack of interaction. After all, it seems like if you have four hundred friends, then at least one of them should like and/or comment on your witty or insightful posts, right? Then you have the problem of the friends who post negatively about something you’ve said. Add to that the envy caused by reading everyone’s good news. How hard must it be for the childless widow to keep hearing how her friends are bouncing brand new grandbabies on their knees? The guy who can’t find a job must go crazy every time a friend complains about a boss or a co-worker. A lonely person can’t help but be jealous every time a friend posts a picture of another night out with friends.
The funny part of this article is that there was another study that came to the conclusion that Facebook actually makes us happier. That study found that we are ‘wired’ to connect to people, and online social networking helps us to do that. We are happy when we share thoughts and ideas that help others. There is a psychological and physiological rush that comes when we post something that has an impact on the lives of others. We are happy when someone likes an article we repost or a photo we’ve shared. We are happy when someone thanks us because our thoughts made a difference in their day.
I suppose it is a matter of how we use the tool. Facebook is extremely addicting. I know. I check my timeline first thing in the morning and multiple times during the day. I usually do it only at home; I don’t have access on my phone. However, I don’t go out all that much and it is so easy to just pop on the computer in between chores or while I’m waiting for the paint on a canvas to dry. One of the studies referenced in the New Yorker article reported that it was better to be actively engaged in Facebook rather than just scrolling through the timeline. It is the engagement that makes us feel good and the passivity, which leads to boredom, which makes us unhappy.
That brings me back to my friend’s answer to the unknown question yesterday. I posted a response to my friend’s status: “The answer is always Jesus.” Everyone who works with youth and children in the church knows that the answer to every question is “Jesus,” but the joke is completely lost on most people who aren’t actively involved in church work. My answer didn’t quite bring the lighthearted laughter that I expected. The responses were thankfully not anti-Christian, but the joke was completely lost on those readers.
The experience could have been upsetting; I have to admit that I’ve made unashamedly Christian comments on posts and have been brutally (virtually) attacked for my faith. I wasn’t so happy on those days. I have to admit that sometimes I wonder why I even bother to continue to post on Facebook, to engage with others who might not receive the Word with the grace with which I posted my comments. I’ve considered giving up Facebook altogether.
Then I think about all the times I’ve been able to share Jesus with people who really need to meet Him. I think about the comments that uplift my friends who are feeling down. I think about the prayers that I’ve been able to pray. I think about the ministry God has guided me to do in this strange and wonderful and addicting medium. I couldn’t give it up because I know that the moments of happiness far outweigh those moments that make me sad. I continue to pop onto my computer between chores or while I’m waiting for the paint on a canvas to dry because I trust that God can use even the virtual world of Facebook to share the only answer that really matters: Jesus.
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