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)
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and without defect before him in love, having predestined us for adoption as children through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his desire, to the praise of the glory of his grace, by which he freely gave us favor in the Beloved, in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he purposed in him to an administration of the fullness of the times, to sum up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth, in him. We were also assigned an inheritance in him, having been foreordained according to the purpose of him who does all things after the counsel of his will, to the end that we should be to the praise of his glory, we who had before hoped in Christ. In him you also, having heard the word of the truth, the Good News of your salvation - in whom, having also believed, you were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is a pledge of our inheritance, to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:3-14, WEB
I used to do the whole Black Friday shopping thing. I actually liked the excitement of it all. I never went with the intention of buying specific sale items like big screen TVs and the hot toy of the year, but there were always fun specials to fill our shopping lists. When my daughter was old enough, we would get up early, do a little shopping, take time for hot chocolate, and then go back for more shopping. We would get home late morning exhausted from the adventure.
I haven’t gone out early in the morning for years. It stopped being fun when the store started opening earlier and earlier, and especially when they started opening on Thanksgiving. It is also not as much fun as it was with my daughter. I usually manage to get out to the stores at some point on Black Friday, but well after the mad rush has ended. I thought about going out this morning, but did not get around to it. I looked at the clock this morning at 8:00 a.m. and thought, “I’m really late.” Of course, I’m not really late; the stores have had Black Friday sales happening for weeks already. I’ve done most of my shopping already. The things I need or want to buy are not typically items that disappear from the shelves early in the morning. And really, if I don’t find it, did I really need to buy it?
I have seen several memes on the Internet that say something like, “Only in America do we wait in lines to trample others for sale items one day after giving thanks for what we have.” Black Friday is considered an official beginning to the shopping season. I remember in the days of my youth when the malls did not open until normal time on Black Friday. The night before was spent decorating for the Christmas season. The mall where my mother worked had an event the hour before opening at which time Santa Claus arrived with much fanfare. One year, my sister and some other girls wore reindeer antlers and danced in front of the sleigh. It was adorable. Then the doors opened and the people went into the mall to take advantage of the sales. In recent years, they have opened the doors to stampede and chaos, although this year was apparently much calmer.
Black Friday is not the biggest shopping day of the year, however. The Saturday before Christmas is a higher grossing day because so many people wait until the last minute because they have not had the time to shop or because they are hoping to find a late sale with drastically reduced prices. Many of the people that do that late season shopping are also the ones who were out there early. I have often thought myself finished with my shopping, but as the day drew nearer I found more gifts that would be just perfect. My budget is shattered and my pile of gifts under the tree is bigger than I want it to be, again.
Giving gifts for Christmas has a long history, after all, the wise men brought Jesus gifts when He was a young child. However, gift giving has often become the sole focus of our Christmas celebration, and the gifts have been little more than packages bought out of a sense of duty or as a response to the expectation. I’ve seen too many web posts of people who are disappointed because they did not receive exactly what they wanted for Christmas. I do think two years of pandemic and recent supply chain problems have made many people rethink what they want to give to those they love, and even the recipients of those gifts. Do we really need to buy something for every aunt or cousin?
When my children were little, we got presents from everyone: grandparents, aunts and uncles, neighbors. One year we counted the presents and each child had more than two dozen. It was too much. One year we were moving from Washington state to Europe during the Christmas season. We asked our loved ones not to buy gifts because we would have to carry everything we received on the airplane. No one understood; they wanted to show how much they loved our kids through toys. One aunt in Kansas gave our son a huge police car with lots of bells and whistles. We still had a thousand miles to drive home. He was able to play with the toy the first day, and then it ended up hidden in the back of the car. Another aunt gave a huge book. We had to buy trunks to take all the new toys overseas.
I realized this year that I’ve been as guilty as all those relatives thirty years ago. I want to be the aunt that is remembered after Christmas because I’ve found the perfect gifts. The nieces and nephews are older now, but now their children get presents. I hate to give gift cards or money, but I think the cost of shipping and the reality of too many presents may lead me in that direction from now on. Then parents can supplement the gifts under the tree if there is something they can’t buy or save it for another time when the child really wants something special.
It might be tempting to simplify the holiday, to stop giving gifts altogether in an attempt to make Christmas more holy. Yet, gift giving is a part of Christmas, not only because of the gifts the wise men gave to Jesus, but because Jesus is the greatest gift we can receive. We just have to find a way to be generous while also honoring the reason for the season. When shopping this year, let’s ask ourselves an important question: “How is this glorifying God?” By keeping Christ in Christmas, by keeping our eyes on Him in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the holidays, we will not purchase things for the wrong reasons but will do that which will share the gospel of Jesus Christ and the love of God. Christmas is a time to look beyond ourselves, not only at others but most especially at the Lord, to share the gift that changed our lives by changing us into the people of God. We act as witnesses to His presence in this time and place. We do this as we walk in His grace and pass His gift on to all those who cross our path.
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“Give thanks to Yahweh, for he is good… Give thanks to the God of gods… thanks to the Lord of lords… to him who alone does great wonders… to him who by understanding made the heavens… to him who spread out the earth above the waters… to him who made the great lights… the sun to rule by day… the moon and stars to rule by night… to him who struck down the Egyptian firstborn… and brought out Israel from among them… with a strong hand, and with an outstretched arm… to him who divided the Red Sea apart… and made Israel to pass through the middle of it… but overthrew Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea… to him who led his people through the wilderness… to him who struck great kings… and killed mighty kings… Sihon king of the Amorites… Og king of Bashan… and gave their land as an inheritance… even a heritage to Israel his servant… who remembered us in our low estate… and has delivered us from our adversaries… who gives food to every creature… Oh give thanks to the God of heaven; for his loving kindness endures forever.” Psalm 136, WEB
On this day in America, families will stuff their faces with turkey, spend all day in front of the TV watching parades and football, and enjoy the company of those they love. I pray that in the midst of the fun and fellowship we will enjoy, that each of us will take time to give thanks to God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ for the great and many blessings of this life.
“THANK GOD” begins our thinking at the right place, with thankfulness for what God has done. The text today from Psalm 136 recounts the wonderful things God did with and for the Israelites as they wandered in their wilderness. The list of good things in our lives might be similar, but different. No matter what, we can praise God because He has done good things for us. You might note that I’ve included ellipses in between the lines of the psalm. Those ellipses replace a refrain that is repeated throughout the psalm that says, “for his loving kindness endures forever.”
“For His loving kindness endures forever.” This is the most important thing, and even if we can’t come up with a million ways God has been good and gracious to us, we can begin all our moments with thanksgiving that His living kindness endures forever.
Psalm 136 is called “The Great Hallel”. Hallel is related to the word hallelujah, so this is a psalm of thanksgiving and eternal (forever) praise. It is a psalm that tells the redemptive history of Israel. Martin Luther said that we should sing and preach of God and His wonderful works. He is gracious and merciful. This psalm is nothing but grace, not human works or doctrines, they are not deserving of this worship.
There is a word in this passage that is very hard to translate into English, so there is a long list of similar though different words that are used. The Hebrew word is “chesed” or “hesed” which is often translated “steadfast love” or “lovingkindness” or “mercy”. The word can also mean love, kindness, unfailing love, great love, loving, kindnesses, unfailing kindness, acts of devotion, devotion, favor, approval, devout, faithful, faithfully, glory, good favor, grace, kind, kindly, loyal, merciful, well. These all give us a sense of the word, but it leaves out something important. It is a word that would probably be best kept in its Hebrew form, like we do with the word “Amen.” It actually refers to a loving loyalty based on a covenantal relationship. God’s hesed comes to us because He established a bond between Himself and His people.
God’s hesed endures forever. This is a message we need to know. It needs to be written on our hearts. We hear it over and over again as we read today’s psalm. The passage talks about God’s goodness, His good works, the goodness of the world He has created. He did all this because His hesed endures forever. He is God of gods and Lord of lords because His hesed endures forever. He gives us rest when we need it because His hesed endures forever. Hesed is a word that is filled with promise. God promised to be faithful to the covenants He made with His people forever, even while it is impossible for us to be faithful to Him.
Another word that needs understanding is the one translated “endures.” There is no word in the Hebrew for this; the word is added so that we will understand that this is about the ongoingness of God’s lovingkindness. The Hebrew would be better translated “never fails.” A bible scholar has retranslated the refrain, “Because forever is His loyalty.” God will do what He has said He will do because He has established us as His people in a covenantal relationship. This is about God’s faithfulness to His promises. He is the God of gods, the Lord of lords. He has done good things for His people. He created the heavens and the earth, the sun and the moon. He kept His promise to Abraham by saving His people from Egypt. He delivered them into the Promised Land, just as He promised. He remembers His people, saves us from our adversaries, and provides for us. He is good and He deserves our thanks and praise. This is a matter of trust; we can trust God because forever is His loyalty. God’s hesed endures forever.
This psalm reminds us (repeatedly!) of God’s covenant loyalty. God is committed to honoring His covenant with His people. All we have and all we do is centered on the endless love of God. God was and is forever reliable, kind, trustworthy, faithful and loving to His people. The psalm moves from creation in our verses in this week’s lectionary to the redemption of God’s people. The psalm recounts the creation and acts in history through which God demonstrated His enduring love and covenant loyalty. There is an order to world God created. It is not random.
Take time today to reread the psalm and replace each ellipsis with the refrain, “for his loving kindness endures forever.” Then add your own verses of thanksgiving. How many ways can you recount the goodness of God in your life?
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