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)
“So teach us to count our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Relent, Yahweh! How long? Have compassion on your servants! Satisfy us in the morning with your loving kindness, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen evil. Let your work appear to your servants, your glory to their children. Let the favor of the Lord our God be on us. Establish the work of our hands for us. Yes, establish the work of our hands.” Psalm 90:12-17, WEB
James writes to encourage us to consider our days with the question “For what is your life?” (James 4:14b) For many of us, the only memory of our life will the information found on our gravestones, particularly our birthdate and date of death. In the book “The Jesus Code,” O.S. Hawkins says that what matters most of our lives is hidden in the dash. He wrote, “Make sure the years represented by your dash are characterized by your preparation for the next life, by your focus on your relationship with Jesus.”
The Psalmist in today’s lesson asks God a simple question, “How long?” Tradition holds that this was a song of Moses. It was written, perhaps, during a time of trial brought on by the hard hearts of God’s people. The Hebrews wandered in the desert for forty years. This unfortunate detour of their travels was not because God wanted them to be hungry and thirsty, or that He could not find the way. They wandered for forty years because they rebelled against God at Mount Sinai. During those years of wandering, the Hebrews complained about everything; they even thought it would be better to go back into slavery in Egypt than to continue wandering in the desert and eating manna.
The question “How long?” makes sense to us. When we are in the midst of trying times, when we are facing trials and temptations, we wonder how long we will have to suffer. We cry out to God seeking some sense of the time. Will we hurt for a long time or for a brief moment? Our cry is for the time to be short, for God to have mercy. We ask God to relent, to repent of the course He has set before us. We seek His mercy and pray for His compassion. We seek His steadfast love.
Psalm 90 is a song of repentance. The first verses speak of God’s greatness and honor Him for being the everlasting Creator. Then the psalmist confesses his frailty and humbles himself before the Lord. He recognizes how unworthy we are to stand before the Lord, and how God’s light reveals everything about ourselves. Then the psalmist seeks forgiveness and asks the Lord’s presence in this life.
Christians have an advantage over this psalmist. We have seen the fulfillment of this prayer. The Lord had compassion on us; He sent His Son to take His wrath upon Himself. He has proven His unfailing love through the blood of Jesus Christ our Lord. He has favors us with His Holy Spirit through whom He establishes the work of our hands for His glory. Through faith our dash can be a time of sharing God’s grace with the world. We might not be remembered by future generations, but God will see what we have done to glorify Him, and He will remember. We are reminded, though, that it begins with understanding that our dash is little more than a blip in the story of God.
The answer to the question, “For what is your life?” is that our life is His. This is why we seek God. Only He can control the days, weeks and months, and only He knows the course our life is ordained to go. He gives life and He takes it. He guides and directs our footsteps. He even gives us all we need to live in this world and the next. He has mercy and grants forgiveness that we might truly have more than earthly time, promising us that after we spend our blip on this earth filling our time with work that glorifies God, we will spend eternity praising His holy name.
If you would like to contact me, please use the following address, replacing the bracketed words with the symbol. Thank you for your continued interest, prayers and messages of encouragement.
A WORD FOR TODAY is available daily through a mailing list at yahoo.groups. Visit the link below and you will receive the WORD in your box Monday through Friday.
“Put on therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, humility, and perseverance; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, if any man has a complaint against any; even as Christ forgave you, so you also do. Above all these things, walk in love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body, and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your heart to the Lord. Whatever you do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father, through him.” Colossians 3:12-17, WEB
Today’s question comes from the book of James. “What good is it, my brothers, if a man says he has faith, but has no works? Can faith save him?” (James 2:14) We cringe at this question because we know that Christianity is not a faith of works righteousness. We often pit Paul against James. Paul is the man who preaches grace, and it seems as though James preaches works. Many will suggest that this is a contradiction. Yet, James and Paul actually compliment each other. It is not that salvation is about faith and works, but faith that works.
I’m not an expert, but in the simplest terms the electricity from a battery is created by a chemical reaction. The chemical reaction is started by the movement of electrons from the positive to the negative terminal. When the appliance is turned on, the current is allowed to move in and through the battery causing the chemical reaction that creates more electrons. If you just take a wire and hold it to both ends of a battery, you will create electricity in the wire. An appliance (load) is placed along the wire to slow down and control the electrons, using the electricity for practical purposes. If there is no path along which the electricity can run, the battery does nothing. It just sits there, lifeless.
Faith is like a battery. It is a gift from God, who places it in our hearts to transform our lives. Faith moves us to action. When we are “turned on” we can make things happen. By faith we can be God’s hands, His feet, and His mouth; we are His presence in this world. What happens when a battery is not used? Though a battery has a long shelf life, they do not last forever. I just found a battery in my backpack that was corroded. Batteries have a shelf life of about five to ten years; eventually they become useless. It is even worse if they sit too long in an appliance without being used. The batteries corrode and then ruin the appliance. An appliance is lifeless without the battery and the battery is lifeless without the appliance.
We need faith to accomplish God’s will and God installs faith into our hearts so that we will be His hands, feet and mouth. James writes, “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead in itself.” Just like a battery. We are lifeless without faith and faith is lifeless when we do not use it.
In the verses before our question, James compares adultery and murder. We know that these things are wrong. Even in modern America where too many people are frivolous with their love, renaming adulterous behavior and justifying certain violence, we admit that adultery and murder are wrong. We have a little more trouble with some of the other commandments. Don’t we covet? Don’t we have idols? Don’t we steal and cheat and lie? Oh, we don’t rob banks or scam our neighbors, but a little white lie is still a lie. I once knew a woman who justified keeping an extra dollar a cashier gave her by saying, “It was her mistake and God knew I needed that dollar today.” She praised God for her sinful behavior instead of considering that He was watching her dishonesty. She accepted His grace without admitting her sinfulness. Where was her faith?
Faith does not justify sin. Faith admits our sinfulness and trusts in God’s mercy. Faith recognizes that we are sinners in need of a Savior and that Jesus Christ is the one who has saved us. We might be able to point to a good life, but there are truly none of us who are good. Our good works will never save us, but James asked whether we have faith if we do not live as God has called us to live. Do we have faith if we justify our sin? Do we have faith if we treat people according to what we see on the outside? Do we have faith if we seek what is best for ourselves rather than doing that which God expects of us?
When James asked, “Can faith save you?” he wasn’t suggesting that good works will save a person. He was saying that those who live in the faith that comes from grace will have the same mercy on those that need to be saved. When we see someone who is hungry or naked, we’ll offer them what they need. It is not enough to wish them well in their hunger and nakedness. James wrote, “And if a brother or sister is naked and in lack of daily food, and one of you tells them, ‘Go in peace. Be warmed and filled;’ yet you didn’t give them the things the body needs, what good is it?”
Faith without works is a dead faith, not a living faith. Just as the God who comes to save us does so in an active and powerful way, so too we are sent into the world to be God’s hands and share His grace with others. Isaiah talks about the work God is going to do in the world. The eyes of the blind will be open, the ears of the deaf unstopped, the lame shall leap like a dear and the tongue of the speechless will sing for joy. God will take those who can't do things and make them people who can. Faith leads to action. It is about seeing, hearing, leaping and singing! And then it is about going out in the world to help others see, hear, leap and sing. God saves us with a faith that works.
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