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
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)
“But Saul, still breathing threats and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked for letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he traveled, he got close to Damascus, and suddenly a light from the sky shone around him. He fell on the earth, and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ He said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ The Lord said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise up and enter into the city, then you will be told what you must do.’ The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the sound, but seeing no one. Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened, he saw no one. They led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. He was without sight for three days, and neither ate nor drank. Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, ‘Ananias!’ He said, ‘Behold, it’s me, Lord.’ The Lord said to him, ‘Arise, and go to the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judah for one named Saul, a man of Tarsus. For behold, he is praying, and in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and laying his hands on him, that he might receive his sight.’ But Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he did to your saints at Jerusalem. Here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.’ But the Lord said to him, ‘Go your way, for he is my chosen vessel to bear my name before the nations and kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for my name’s sake.’ Ananias departed and entered into the house. Laying his hands on him, he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord, who appeared to you on the road by which you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ Immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he received his sight. He arose and was baptized. He took food and was strengthened. Saul stayed several days with the disciples who were at Damascus. Immediately in the synagogues he proclaimed the Christ, that he is the Son of God. All who heard him were amazed, and said, ‘Isn’t this he who in Jerusalem made havoc of those who called on this name? And he had come here intending to bring them bound before the chief priests!’ But Saul increased more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived at Damascus, proving that this is the Christ.” Acts 9:1-22, WEB
There was a television show with a nanny that helped families get control of their lives. Their children were often difficult, but the nanny knew that the problems were more than just the behavior of the children. Of course, the parents usually thought they were fine and that they didn’t need to change to make things right. The father on one episode was particularly challenging. The nanny realized quickly that the boy was picking up his habits, treating his mother exactly the way his father treated her. The father considered his wife a servant, demanding she to get him everything he wanted. He ate dinner on the couch while the rest of the family sat at the table. He was physical rougher with his wife than was appropriate, even though he said he was “playing.” He insisted that he did work around the house but he constantly fell short on his duties while she picked up the pieces.
Throughout the show, the man kept saying, “We didn’t bring her in to change me, we brought her in to change the kids.” He could not understand why it was necessary for him treat his wife differently. “I’m allowed to say those things. He’s not.” And yet he never stepped in to help his wife or correct his son’s conduct. He did not realize that it would never change if the children saw his actions as acceptable behavior. The nanny told him that as the boy grew and became stronger, his actions would become dangerous. It was already hard for the wife to keep him in control. He hit her, knocked her to the ground as if she were a football player. He even pinned her to the floor during one scene. He was also verbally abusive, treating his mother just like his dad treated her. He was learning that it is ok to be assault a woman physically and verbally. If nothing changed, the child would become a violent and abusive man as an adult.
In the end the husband and father realized that he did have to change. He saw that his attitudes and actions were making life impossible for the woman he claimed to love, and he began talking to his son about appropriate behavior. He also began modeling a better way. He helped around the house, got his own drinks, and began eating with the rest of the family. She worked on the father’s aggression and the mother’s self-confidence, making them a stronger partnership for raising the children. Healing in that family involved a change in perspective; they needed to see the world from a new point of view.
Saul persecuted Christians. He was zealous for the traditions of his fathers, doing everything he could to put a stop to the Way. He was successful, advancing quickly through the hierarchy of the religion of the Jews. He had Steven stoned and then went toward Damascus. He had letters giving him the authority to destroy the Church and any who were following the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.
He was stopped on the road by a blinding light and the words of the Master, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” He heard the Word of God and was cut to the heart. “Who are you, Lord?” he asked, knowing any voice from heaven must be from God. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise up and enter into the city, then you will be told what you must do.” Saul did as he was told and fasted for three days until Ananias arrived to lay hands on him for healing and so that he would be filled with the Holy Spirit. Saul was baptized and immediately began preaching the truth about Jesus Christ. He became Paul, the apostle to the nations.
I wonder how we would react if we suddenly went blind while walking down the street. Paul believed and went where he was told to go; he fasted and prayed while he waited. Paul had been zealous for the teachings of men, but became a preacher of the Gospel given to him by God. At first he persecuted the believers, but eventually he suffered even greater persecution. He was chosen from birth for his role in God’s Kingdom, but despite his election to such an important role in the growth of the church, he was never promised an easy life. He was arrested, beaten, and imprisoned. Tradition holds that he was martyred for the sake of the Gospel.
Paul saw the joy of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ. He willingly suffered for the sake of all those who came to know Christ through his preaching. The experience on the road to Damascus could have made Paul feel sorry for himself, after all it changed everything. He could not see, and he was being called to go against everything he knew to be right and true. Like the father on the television show, Paul saw the light of his own failure and was transformed by the grace of God.
Today is also the day we remember the Conversion of St. Paul. The world was turned upside down for Paul the man who was named Saul. He learned that the work he was doing against Jesus was not the work God wanted him to do. He learned that Jesus is real and that He has something even greater planned for Paul. We know that Paul accepted his calling and changed the world.
But we also see another man in this story, Ananias. His change was not so dramatic, and his impact seems much less than Paul’s. However, Ananias had to face his fear, approach a man who could order his death, and be a vessel for the miraculous healing of God. Without Ananias, Paul may have never set out on his journeys, may have never preached the Gospel in all those cities. The message of Christ may have never gone beyond the Jewish people.
The father didn’t know he needed the nanny or how much she would change their world with her lessons and encouragement for him and his family. We might not be who we are today if Ananias had not trusted God.
Jesus turned our world upside down. He has called us to live within this great and wonderful world while being different. Faith means that we are called to take God into our neighborhoods, to share a word of hope that comes from the reality of God’s grace. It means trusting God, letting Him bring about the change that will truly make a difference. It means looking at those parts of our life that matter to us, like our marriages and families, from a new point of view. Faith means being called to do a whole new thing in the world.
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“Yes, and for this very cause adding on your part all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence; and in moral excellence, knowledge; and in knowledge, self-control; and in self-control perseverance; and in perseverance godliness; and in godliness brotherly affection; and in brotherly affection, love. For if these things are yours and abound, they make you to not be idle or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:5-8, WEB
Murphy’s Law says that if anything can go wrong, it will go wrong. We’ve probably all had that type of experience. Once, a few years ago, I offered to present a lesson to my daughter’s class on the Roman Empire. We had many adventures during our time in England and we repeatedly ran into Roman history. We visited Roman villas, forts, Hadrian’s Wall, and Roman baths. We saw mosaics, statues, and the ruins of temples. Over the years we collected photographs of these places as well as informational booklets that gave the history and other information.
I worked hard for several weeks preparing a Power Point presentation with pictures and maps. I gathered as many facts as possible to go with the pictures so that I could fill an hour or so of class time. I planned on talking about the history, military life, environment, and technology. I gathered all my pictures, coins and postcards into an album and organized my guidebooks. I was ready.
I arrived at the school the day of the presentation an hour early so that I could make sure everything was ready. The machine to project the Power Point presentation was nowhere to be found. We called around and found one at another school. The technology specialist from that school brought it over and tried to hook it up. Meanwhile, I began the lesson. The specialist never did get it to work, so I handed the album pages around class so they could still see the items. If my lecture had been dependent on the slides, it would have been an absolute failure. However, I had enough knowledge of the material that I could speak without the pictures. The students listened and perhaps they learned a thing or two.
Peter wrote that we should add knowledge to our faith and goodness. We are reminded by these words that the world will see God’s light through our actions, but we also need to be able to speak intelligently about what we believe. He also wrote that we should always be prepared to give an answer about our hope (1 Peter 3:15). It takes commitment to Bible reading and study, as well as prayer, to gain the knowledge of scriptures necessary to be able to share our faith with the world.
I was nervous to stand in front of a bunch of teenagers to tell them about our adventures around Roman England, but I was prepared, and they seemed to enjoy the presentation. As for our faith and evangelism, we are reminded that the more we gain knowledge about God and His Son Jesus Christ, the more ready we will be to give an answer. We don’t need to have a power point presentation to share the Good News with our neighbors, but we do need to have God’s Word written on our hearts. The more we know in our hearts the love and mercy of God, the more natural it will be to share that grace with others in word and deed and love.
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