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)
“He showed me a river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On this side of the river and on that was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruits, yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There will be no curse any more. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no night, and they need no lamp light or sun light; for the Lord God will illuminate them. They will reign forever and ever.” Revelation 22:1-5, WEB
I like chocolate. I really like chocolate. I think most of us would agree that chocolate is good. Chocolate tastes good. Chocolate makes us feel good. Some will even tell you that there are health benefits to chocolate. I have been in the mood for chocolate. As if I’m not always in the mood for chocolate! I usually keep a cup full of M&Ms on my desk within easy reach. As I wandered the aisles at the grocery store, I looked at a lot of options. I picked up packages and read the labels and put them down. Candy. Cake. Ice Cream. Fresh made. Frozen. Make at home. On my way home I considered stopping at a fast food place to buy a milkshake. I didn’t buy anything, not even M&Ms to put in my empty cup.
Chocolate is good, but we also know that chocolate is bad, especially the kind of chocolate that I really like. The chocolate that we like to eat has other ingredients, especially sugar. Those extra ingredients are what makes chocolate taste good and what makes us feel good. The chocolate cake has flour, oil, sugar. The icing has butter and sugar. Without those ingredients, the chocolate cake would not be quite so good. When I read those labels on the candy, cake, and ice cream, I see that I should not buy it because it just isn’t good for me. Oh, I do indulge, probably too often, but I’m trying to remember that while chocolate is good, it is also bad. Those days of indulgence are when I recall that even though chocolate is bad, it is also good.
Doesn’t that describe human beings? We are good, but we are bad. We are bad, but we are also good. One of the great mottos of the Reformation is “simul justus et peccator,” which means “simultaneously saint and sinner.” We are constantly reminded that though we have been saved by the grace of Jesus Christ, we are still sinners. We need Jesus every day. Sadly, I think we sometimes forget that we are also saints. We are good, even as we are bad.
I read an article recently that reminded me that the Bible begins at Genesis chapter One, even though we sometimes look only back to Genesis chapter Three. We begin so much of our understanding of our relationship with God with the fall in the Garden of Eden. But we should also remember that when God created everything else, He called it all good. After He created humankind, however, the Bible says, “God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” We were created good. We fell which is not good, but we are made in the image of God, and God does not lie. Everything He had made is very good.
It is because of this goodness that God did all that was necessary to bring us back from the darkness, to find us when we were lost. He sent Jesus to begin the work necessary so that one day we would dwell with Him for eternity once again in the garden He made for our home way back in the beginning. He sent Jesus to make things right, as they were meant to be. He sent Jesus to make us good, very good, again. It will take a lifetime, but the day will come when we will walk in the Garden once again with our Father, reigning with Him forever. He created us good, and by His grace we will be good again.
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“He stood before Yahweh’s altar in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands (for Solomon had made a bronze platform, five cubits long, and five cubits wide, and three cubits high, and had set it in the middle of the court; and he stood on it, and knelt down on his knees before all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands toward heaven) and he said, ‘Yahweh, the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven or on earth; you who keep covenant and loving kindness with your servants who walk before you with all their heart; who have kept with your servant David my father that which you promised him. Yes, you spoke with your mouth, and have fulfilled it with your hand, as it is today. Now therefore, Yahweh, the God of Israel, keep with your servant David my father that which you have promised him, saying, “There shall not fail you a man in my sight to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your children take heed to their way, to walk in my law as you have walked before me.” Now therefore, Yahweh, the God of Israel, let your word be verified, which you spoke to your servant David. But will God indeed dwell with men on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens can’t contain you; how much less this house which I have built! Yet have respect for the prayer of your servant, and to his supplication, Yahweh my God, to listen to the cry and to the prayer which your servant prays before you; that your eyes may be open toward this house day and night, even toward the place where you have said that you would put your name; to listen to the prayer which your servant will pray toward this place. Listen to the petitions of your servant, and of your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. Yes, hear from your dwelling place, even from heaven; and when you hear, forgive.’” 2 Chronicles 6:12-21, WEB
You can’t go to Europe and not notice the churches. One town seemed to have a church on every corner; a steeple was visible down every alley or street. The cathedrals often tower over every other building. As a matter of fact, in England there was once a law that no building could be taller than the church. This made the cross at the top of the steeple always in people’s sight, a reminder that God dwelled among them. One friend is currently on a river cruise through Europe, and she posted a photo of a small town along the way. Her caption was “There is always a church.” I noticed that, too, on our river cruises. And the church always stands out.
Even today we design our churches to stand out. There are many who struggle with the amount of money spent on the buildings, claiming that the church is not a building but the people. This is true, but churches give us a place to gather as the body of Christ, a place to join together in worship and prayer. Churches are meant to stand out, to be a place where people can look for the presence of God in the world. Sadly, sometimes we Christians do not do a very good job at standing out so that people can look to us, but they have a place to go when they see the buildings we build. The thing is, God has chosen to dwell among His people, and though He is not confined to any building, He uses our buildings as a place to encourage faith and teach discipleship to His people.
God dwelt among us in a more personal way. He came in flesh in the body of our Lord Jesus through Mary. He dwelt in Mary’s womb, and then dwelt among the people of Israel. He dwelt with His disciples and friends. He now dwells in our hearts.
Our scripture for today comes from the dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem by King Solomon. King David wanted to give God a house, a place to dwell among His people, but it was his son Solomon who completed the building. It might seem odd that David would want to confine God to one place, but the reality is that even if God does dwell in that sacred space, He is never confined to it, just as He isn’t confined to our church buildings today.
Yet, we build these places to honor God, to give God’s people a place to gather and to have a holy place where we can enter into the presence of our God. He is not just found in that place. We can find Him on the highest mountain and in the deepest sea. He is wherever His people meet to share His grace and mercy and forgiveness. He is in the faces of those who need our help, and He is in the hands of those willing to give themselves for the sake of others. He is everywhere; the places we build can’t contain God.
Solomon prays, “But will God indeed dwell with men on the earth?” Today is the Feast of St. Mary, the mother of our Lord, one of several celebrations that honor and remember Mary throughout the year. Why do we pay so much attention to Mary? Some, of course, have raised her to near goddess status, but we are reminded that Mary needed Jesus as much as the rest of us. Dr. James Lee said of Martin Luther’s attitude about Mary, “I think Luther hit the nail on the head. He neither needs to improperly elevate Mary as co-redemptrix or the object of our intercession. But neither does he denigrate her. He honors her as the Mother of God. He sees her as an example for all in her humility, in her chastity, and most importantly in her faith.”
As we think of Mary today, we realize that even though God cannot be confined to the buildings we create to honor Him, He has found it pleasant to be in our presence, so much so that He sent His Son in flesh to dwell among us. Mary was just a lowly maid, but her body was a temple that held the living God. Our buildings might not be grand like the Temple of Solomon, but God does choose to dwell among His people, both in our buildings and in 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.
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