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
Climb a Hill, Look at a Rock Day
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)
“The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:7-11, WEB
Road trips mean that you eat in a lot of restaurants. We were purposeful in our choices, wishing to experience the historic or themed diners along the way rather than running in for a quick bite at fast food places. We found a burger place in Abilene that named all their food after Humphrey Bogart movies. We ate at a steakhouse in Shamrock because north Texas is cattle country. We wanted to eat at a café in Adrian because it is situated at the Midpoint of Route 66. Unfortunately, it was closed the day we were driving by, so we chose a café in another town. We ate at the Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo because it was not just a meal, it was an experience watching someone try their 72 oz. challenge, seeing their unique décor, and visiting their extensive gift shop.
The nature of our food choices meant that in most places we had waiters or waitresses taking care of us. The places were often busy, but they all handled it well. I’m sure that those historic and themed restaurants so close to the highway and on Route 66 are used to crowds. We were generous with our tips at the end of our meal, which they always appreciate. I did something else, however, which seemed to have an even greater affect on the people who served us throughout the week.
I had some leftover trinkets, little red hearts that I had given away to the local children around Valentine’s Day. I left one of those hearts with the tip on the table as just a little extra something to show that their hard work was appreciated. I left some in our rooms for the maids and even gave some to the staff who served breakfast at our hotels. It was nothing, really, just a little extra reminder that they are loved. I did not always see the reaction, but when I did I was amazed at how much it meant to the servers. We could hear one girl showing it off to the kitchen staff. Another was speechless, with a huge smile on her face.
I say it was nothing, but it was obviously something to those who received one of those hearts. The lesson I learned is that even the smallest acts of kindness can change a person’s day. It can bring them joy. I’m sure they all appreciated the tips, after all that cash helps them pay their bills, but the trinket was something that they could keep and remember that they are loved.
What little act of kindness have you done for someone recently? I have a friend who purposely says, “God bless you” to everyone she meets. That is her gift. I’m not so very good with the words, although I try to be polite and say please and thank you. I sometimes even bless those who cross my path. Words are good and we should use kind words more often. But sometimes I think that people “hear” our deeds more clearly than we realize. A smile brings a smile. Taking a shopping cart from a harried mother helps her as she struggles with little ones. Opening a door for a person with a cane or grabbing an item from the top shelf for a person in a scooter helps them and guards them from accidents. These things seem like nothing, but to the person who receives that smile, who doesn’t have to find the cart corral, who can’t open the door or reach an item, it affects their day in a positive way.
We don’t all have the same gift. You may not have trinkets to give away. You may not feel comfortable saying the words, but God has gifted you to touch your neighbors in small ways that make a big difference. What little act of kindness will you do for someone today? When you do, whether you realize it or not, you are glorifying God in big ways and He will use your nothing to make something happen.
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“Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith - to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.” Romans 16:25-27, ESV
I imagine that most of my readers have read a lot of the Bible; you probably have followed reading or devotional plans. You have probably even read the Bible from cover to cover at some point in you life of faith. Those who attend churches that use a lectionary have heard about 15% of the Old Testament not including the Psalms and about 75% of the New Testament. The psalms are used extensively, and we probably hear most of them in the three years. Those who attend Bible study read or hear more.
Yet, I wonder how many of us actually read whole books of the Bible in one sitting. We are used to hearing bits and pieces, perhaps whole chapters, but we don’t have time to read whole books in one sitting in church or class. In my planning for our current study on Paul and his writings, I have been reading his letters as a whole. We like piecemeal readings because we can grasp the information in a few lines. However, the whole letters put those readings into context. It can be daunting to take the sixteen chapters of Romans but reading it as a whole helps us to understand the whole. The Old Testament books are harder to read in one sitting, but we can get so much out of reading the Gospels in one sitting. I know storytellers who have learned the entire book of Mark and they tell it in about two hours. This is they way the early Christians would have heard the story, and it touches us much differently than when we hear it a few verses at a time.
We usually hear the story in short bits at a time, and this is good because each story helps us see Jesus as He is, what He has done, where He was doing, and what He was calling us to do. These are the most basic ideas we get out of the text. It is important that everyone find the time to get to know Jesus through the scriptures, even if it is a bit at a time, but I highly recommend trying to read whole books, especially the Gospels, to hear all the stories in the context of the writer’s point of view.
It is amazing to read the whole books straight through. We do it with that hot summer novel as we sunbathe on the beach, why not do it with the scriptures? It helps us see the story as a whole. We begin to see that it is carefully put together. We get to see the style and focus of each of the writers. Matthew has in mind his Jewish heritage; Mark sees an immediate need for the disciples to be ready to go out into the world. Luke wants to give us an orderly account of Jesus’ life and ministry, while John focuses on the signs that prove Jesus is the Messiah. We can see these differences more clearly when we read each book in total rather than piece it together over the years. We also see that though there appears to be places where the Gospel writers differ, in the end each makes the same amazing claim: Jesus is the Messiah for whom God’s people waited for salvation. Each writer comes at this truth from a slightly different angle, but they all point to the same Christ.
When we think about the disciples, even the Gospel writers, we tend to think they are not the intellectual types. We do know that Luke was a doctor, so he must have had some smarts, but how much did he know about good literary practice? Mark’s Gospel on the surface sounds so much like a news report, with only facts and little depth. John’s original Greek was written in the simplest language; he used almost entirely what we would consider four letter words and could have been read and understood by children. Matthew must have been educated, after all he was a tax collector, but how much could he have possibly known about rabbinic teaching?
We know that the four were inspired by the Holy Spirit, so it isn’t surprising that we can see depths in the ideas and the promises that seem to come from beyond human understanding and ability. We all have experienced incredible “light in the attic” moments when we understand something in the text that is beyond the surface. Sometimes we see it when we read just a small passage and God speaks into our life and circumstances in a new way. Sometimes it happens when we see the story coming together as a whole. Sometimes we see it when we delve more deeply into study, when we try to see how the writers are using words or phrases, literary techniques, or references to the Old Testament texts.
When you delve more deeply into the text you can see that the Gospel writers were not unqualified goofs who were just trying to record what they saw and did with Jesus. They formed their stories. They wove hidden ideas into the words on the page. They used patterns that built layer upon layer to help us see more clearly how Jesus truly was the One. John’s use of Greek may have been simplistic, but as you see his references to the Temple of Jerusalem, how Jesus is the Temple, you come to know more fully that Jesus is indeed the fulfillment of all God’s promises. You realize that though the surface is simple, the underlying truth is so much more. The Holy Spirit guided the pen, inspired the thoughts, but in the end we see that these country bumpkins were brilliant theologians, pastors, storytellers, and witnesses.
We are in the year of Matthew in the lectionary, so if you are going to choose one Gospel to experience this summer, perhaps you should start with Matthew. Summer and early fall is the Pentecost season in the church, and for the next few months we will be hearing much of what Matthew wrote. It is interesting to see that Matthew was not simply a tax collector plucked off the street by Jesus Christ; Jesus trained him to be a master rabbi.
We don’t need to dig to the depths to know Jesus. We simply need to see Jesus as He is, what He has done, and what He is calling us to do. But we have been given the same Holy Spirit which guided and inspired these brilliant Gospel writers in their task. We can read the text with His mind and see how truly amazing our God really is. I hope over the summer you will read Matthew in a way that will draw you ever more deeply into the heart of God and into the life He is calling you to live. All we need is Jesus, but Jesus is calling each of us into a deeply personal and intimate relationship of trust and obedience through which we will glorify God.
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.
The Story of our Saviour's Passion
The Crucifixion, a fictional perspective
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