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.
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“Yahweh visited Sarah as he had said, and Yahweh did to Sarah as he had spoken. Sarah conceived, and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. Abraham called his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac. Abraham circumcised his son, Isaac, when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. Abraham was one hundred years old when his son, Isaac, was born to him. Sarah said, ‘God has made me laugh. Everyone who hears will laugh with me.’ She said, ‘Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? For I have borne him a son in his old age.’” Genesis 21:1-7, WEB
I don’t have any grandchildren yet, but I have a little friend who comes to visit me. He was here yesterday for a little while. The last time he came over, Bruce told me to let him play with some of his childhood trucks, and he had a great time with them. This time Bruce was home and let him play with a few different ones. I also have a cube filled with toys that I kept from my own children for the day when I will have grandchildren. We got that out last time and my little friend remembered it this time. He also remembered some of the toys from last time, and he wanted Bruce to get them out. He loves farm stuff. All his antics made us laugh.
My little friend is just at the point of being fully potty trained. We noticed the dance a couple times and his mom took him to the potty, although it was a tough task. He did not want to stop playing. He was having such a good time with the toys that he was willing to wait until it was too late. Thankfully, his mom knew better and took him in time. He is stubborn, like most children his age, and he did not want to go home. He found all sorts of ways to put off the inevitable. He knew where the toys belonged, and he wanted to take them to the room. We let him drive one of the trucks into the room, and then told him that we wanted the toys to stay in the living room for Bruce. Even though his games were a bit disobedient, we still laughed. After all, a “grandma” is meant to be a little indulgent, right?
It is good to be happy. Laughter is not always looked upon as a good thing in the scriptures. Even in this scripture, the laughter is almost out of disbelief. Sarah had laughed when she heard the promise that at ninety years old she’d have a child. Then, when her son was born she laughed again. This time, she wanted the world to laugh with her because she was finally going to know the joy have having a child in the house. God made her laugh with happiness, along with the amazement of experiencing the impossible. Children might be hard to deal with, but they also make us happy. They bring us joy because we see life and innocence and excitement in all they do. They are happy even when the surprises seem small and insignificant, and see love in the simplest gestures.
Sarah’s gift was great: she gave Abraham a son. But she knew the gift came from God and she rejoiced over His grace in her life so she could give him that son. I know part of my happiness last night and when the children were small was because I was thankful I could do those simple things for my kids. We might feel it is impossible to do what we want to do with others. We won’t be having children at an old age, and we can’t afford to purchase everything our kids want. However, sometimes the greatest joy comes from the smallest things. Happiness doesn’t come from wealth, but from generosity. The special moments give us the greatest laughter. The little things sometimes bring the greatest joy, especially given in thankfulness for all God has done for us.
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“‘For I, Yahweh, don’t change; therefore you, sons of Jacob, are not consumed. From the days of your fathers you have turned away from my ordinances, and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,’ says Yahweh of Armies. ‘But you say, “How shall we return?” Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me! But you say, “How have we robbed you?” In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with the curse; for you rob me, even this whole nation. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house, and test me now in this,’ says Yahweh of Armies, ‘if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there will not be room enough for. I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast its fruit before its time in the field,’ says Yahweh of Armies. ‘All nations shall call you blessed, for you will be a delightful land,’ says Yahweh of Armies. ‘Your words have been stout against me,’ says Yahweh. ‘Yet you say, “What have we spoken against you?” You have said, “It is vain to serve God;” and “What profit is it that we have followed his instructions, and that we have walked mournfully before Yahweh of Armies? Now we call the proud happy; yes, those who work wickedness are built up; yes, they tempt God, and escape.” Then those who feared Yahweh spoke one with another; and Yahweh listened, and heard, and a book of memory was written before him, for those who feared Yahweh, and who honored his name. They shall be mine,’ says Yahweh of Armies, ‘my own possession in the day that I make, and I will spare them, as a man spares his own son who serves him. Then you shall return and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him who serves God and him who doesn’t serve him.’” Malachi 3:6-18, WEB
Today’s question comes from the prophet Malachi. Through him God asks, “Will a man rob God?” We are encouraged to think about our own response to God’s grace. Where do we get our joy? Do we get it from taking care of ourselves or by being obedient to God’s Word?
Helen Keller once said, “Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes real happiness. It is not obtained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.”
Eric Hoffer said, “The search for happiness is one of the chief sources of unhappiness.”
Kim Hubbard said, “It is pretty hard to tell what does bring happiness: poverty and wealth have both failed.”
Bertrand Russell said, “To be without some of the things you want is an indispensible part of happiness.”
George Burns said, “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.”
Ok, that last one was a bit of humor in the midst of an important subject. What is happiness? What does it meant to be happy? Verse 15 of today’s reading is a sad statement, but one I think many of us can identify with: we call the proud happy. The NIV translation says, “We call the arrogant blessed.” The Message says, “Those who take their life into their own hands are the lucky ones.”
I once read an article about the history of happiness. The list began with a quote from Aristotle in 350 BC that said, “Happiness is the best, most noble, and most pleasant thing in the world.” In 1776, the writers of our Declaration of Independence included that all men have the right to “the pursuit of happiness.” Laughing gas was invented in 1799. Books about parenting in the early 1900s focused on children’s happiness. The term “Happy Hour” came into use by sailors in the 1920s. The song “Happy Birthday to you” was copyrighted in 1935. The laugh track for radio and television was invented in the 1950s. The term ‘happy pill’ for tranquillizers was coined in the 1950s. The idea of national happiness and happiness in international relations came into style in recent years. In 2010, Matt Salzberg said, “My vision of success is based on the impact I can have, much more than the pursuit of money or prestige.” Perhaps Matt was the first one to get it right.
The article gave several steps to finding happiness. First, they recommended valuing your relationships. In a University of Illinois study, researchers discovered, “The highest levels of happiness are found with the most stable, longest, and most contented relationships.” Second, those who are happy express themselves. According to a Wake Forest University study, participants were tracked over a two week period and they found that they were happier when they were more outgoing and less happy when reserved or withdrawn.
I think it is true that happiness comes when we do not put the focus on ourselves, but turn our actions and thoughts to others. Those who take their lives into their own hands are not the lucky ones. God says, “Return to me, and I will return to you.” They didn’t understand. “How have we turned away?” “How have we robbed you?” God told them that they were focused on the wrong things. They were more interested in themselves and their own happiness. Instead of sharing their blessings with others, they were keeping it for themselves.
Instead of serving God, they served self. Malachi wrote, “You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God;’ and ‘What profit is it that we have followed his instructions, and that we have walked mournfully before Yahweh of Armies?” They thought it was a waste of their time and resources to serve God. We might think that a new car or party dress will make us happy, but true happiness comes when we love God and live for Him in this world. This doesn’t necessarily mean we can’t have the new car or pretty dress, but let’s remember what matters most. Our happiness comes from living the life God is calling us to live, with Him in the forefront, doing His work in this world.
Stewardship is a word that evokes fear in the hearts of many when it is brought up at church. “Oh, no. Not again. They are going to ask me for more money. I already give more than I can spare. I have bills to pay and children to feed. I just can’t give any more than I already do.” Wait! What is the motive here? Where are the hearts for God? Where is the obedience to His will?
Abel gave the best of his flock out of his love for God, but Cain merely gave some of his fruits out of duty. Everything we have comes from God. How do we repay Him for His many blessings in our lives? By grumbling? With excuses? We need to return to the LORD what was first His, not only our material blessings but also our whole lives. Do you just go to church on Sunday and drop a twenty-dollar bill in the plate? We need to be giving our first fruits, the best of all we have, to our Lord God. It is in giving our best selves for God’s kingdom that we will know real happiness, that we will experience the joy of belonging to the Lord fully in heart and spirit.
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