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)
“Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not covet,’ and whatever other commandments there are, are all summed up in this saying, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love doesn’t harm a neighbor. Love therefore is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 13:8-10, WEB
It is amazing how many people on the small claims court television shows are there because of an outstanding debt. As the judge questions the participants, the plaintiff usually admits that they “trusted that my friend would pay me back” so they didn’t put anything in writing, and the defendant claims it was a gift. The judge must discern who is telling the truth and make a judgment on the testimonies. The stories are sad because they usually involve family members who are estranged over these loans or best friends that will never talk to one another because it has ruined their relationship.
We might shake our head at these cases, but who among us has not borrowed money at one point or another? My husband and I are blessed to be at a point in our life when our finances are strong, and we have little debt, just a car payment and mortgage, both of which I’m paying more than the minimum payment. We pay off other bills quickly. I am glad we are in good shape, but I understand those who are can barely make it from paycheck to paycheck because I’ve been there. A couple decades ago we were struggling so much that I borrowed the money from our children’s savings accounts. I was able to pay it back with interest and they were young enough that they didn’t even know the money was missing.
The problem with so many of those who end up on the small claims court shows is that they do not good financial skills. They don’t realize how quickly debt can grow, and they get into such trouble that they need help. They make promises to pay back loans, then can’t do it because they haven’t fixed anything else. They use their cards to their limits and then only pay the required payment. Unfortunately, the minimum payments don’t do much for getting rid of the debt. It is barely more than the interest that is charged each month. The debt on a credit card, if tackled with only the minimum payment, will last forever. I’ve always tried to pay at least double the minimum, because then I actually see the principle dwindle.
The financial experts encourage people to pay off their debts. For every month that the debt continues, the item purchased costs more. Take, for instance, that dinner at the steak house last weekend. It may have seemed like a good deal when you used the coupon to get half off the appetizer, but if you put that bill on a credit card, and pay only the minimum payment, you’ll end up paying interest on food long after it is gone. At least with a mortgage there is a chance to build some equity and with a car payment you get to use the car for a long time. But that steak is barely even a memory by the time the bill arrives in the mail.
Sadly, sometimes we treat our relationships like our credit cards. If a neighbor invites us to dinner, we feel like we need to reciprocate. If a friend buys us a present, we rush out to buy something for them. If we take advantage of their hospitality, we insist that there must be something we can do for them. It is as if we are constantly trying to pay off debts between people. But are these debts and can they really be paid off?
Paul writes, “Owe no one anything, except to love one another.” The Zondervan NIV Study Bible has this in the notes, “To love is the one debt that is never paid off. No matter how much people have loved, they are under obligation to keep on loving one another.” Unfortunately, we tend to pay off the debt of love like we pay off those high credit card bills: just enough. We don’t go above and beyond expectations. If our neighbor gives us a loaf of bread, we give back a loaf of bread. We should really be inviting them to a grand feast. We don’t do this, however, because we doubt that they can reciprocate. So, we give just enough. It is a vicious circle. We eventually learn that our inability to pay our debts like credit card bills can have a negative effect on our lives.
My favorite judge often councils those litigants in her court that they should never loan any money to people they love, or if they do, they should do so without expectations. “Don’t lend more than you can lose,” she says. We are called to love our neighbors as ourselves, and sometimes the best thing we can do is to let go of the debt for the sake of the relationship. As Christians on the other hand, if we are the borrower then we should do everything we can to make things right. That money we have borrowed may be making life harder on our loved one. Love demands we do what’s best for the other, whichever side of a debt we are on.
We may not receive in return the kind of love we give, but we are loved with an even greater love: God’s. There is nothing we can do for our neighbor that is as great as the gift God has given us. There is no feast as grand as the one we receive in faith. There is no human love that can stand up to all that God has already done for us. So, we live in that love, letting it flow to our neighbors whether or not it flows back our way. The debt we owe is because God has first loved us. As we live in that love, we will not hold back on the payment, giving freely and fully to those whom God has sent our way.
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“He spoke this parable. ‘A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it, and found none. He said to the vine dresser, “Behold, these three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and found none. Cut it down. Why does it waste the soil?” He answered, “Lord, leave it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit, fine; but if not, after that, you can cut it down.”’” Luke 13:6-9, WEB
Children learn best when they have hands on experience. Math teachers use manipulatives to help children see how one plus one really makes two. Science labs give the children a chance to explore how things work. Field trips to historic sights give the children a firsthand look at the way things used to be. It is not enough to hear the lessons taught with words or read in a book. There are many ways to learn, but we all benefit from hands-on experiences; children and adults learn by using all our senses. We might like to think that as we grow older we can learn things more intellectually, using only our brains, but we really need the whole experience to be connected to the things we are learning.
I recently bought a new camera. I have some knowledge, but I’m still learning, and now I’ve added the complexity of a new-fangled camera. It has the advantage of having a cheater setting called Intelligent Auto that lets the camera do all the hard work. Of course, there are bells and whistles that will make even the easy setting take better photos, but those will come with time. I have a digital copy of the owner’s manual and when I have a question I access it occasionally to learn what I need to know. However, I’ve learned that the best way to figure out how to use my camera is to use it. Sometimes I push the wrong buttons and the photos are terrible, but sometimes I discover something fun that I can do with it. I tested it last night with the lunar eclipse and took my first ever detailed pictures of the moon. I wouldn’t have learned that by just reading the manual.
Christianity is not a purely intellectual endeavor. We read the Bible and we pray, and these are wonderful activities that God uses to draw us into His heart, but it is not enough to engage just our minds to grow spiritually mature. There are other more active things we do, like fellowship with other believers and join in worship that use other senses like our ears and our mouths. We need to experience God in worship and know His presence with our entire beings. Some churches go so far as to include other senses, like incense for the sense of smell. Of course, we share the Lord’s Supper to experience the sense of taste. We touch each other when we hug hello or pass the peace. The type of worship and fellowship that takes advantage of every sense draws us fully into the presence of God. The grace we experience with one another equips and strengthens us to become even more active with our faith.
The lesson from Luke teaches us that our Christian life is meant to bear fruit. We are God’s hands and feet in this world. William Barclay wrote in his book “The Parables of Jesus” wrote, “When God wants something done and someone helped He has to find a hand to supply that help.” I’m not sure I agree entirely on Barclay’s language here; God can do anything, even the impossible. I’d rather say that God invites us to be His hands in this world, we just need to look for the opportunities to help our neighbors in big and small ways.
The fully lived Christian life is not passive or merely intellectual. We have to become part of it with our minds, hearts and bodies, sharing in the life of Jesus in every way. We don’t need to know how to do it intellectually; God teaches us by showing us ways to practice His grace with our neighbors. The more we do for our neighbors, the more we find our connection to Jesus is greater because He is working in and through us. We cannot do this without Him, for we are sinners by nature unable to do good works on our own. But in Him we are forgiven and reconciled to God and by His power and love we can bear good fruit.
We only know God through the revelation of His Son our Lord Jesus Christ. We could never participate again in fellowship, worship or growth of a Christian life and still by faith be saved. Yet, it will not bring us the joy and peace we can know when we have that deep connection that comes from the experiences of learning about Him with our whole selves. God has made it possible to enjoy Him in every way and gives us the opportunities to participate in His kingdom so that we will fully know Him and live our whole lives in His service, bearing fruit that glorifies Him.
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