devos from the hill

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The Most Annoying Word in the English Language

A devotional from Fred Carpenter…

It is the most annoying word in the English language,
but one of the most powerful in the Bible!

Every year, Marist College in New York conducts an opinion poll to determine what word or phrase Americans consider to be the most annoying*. For the past six years, “whatever” has topped the list.

Of course, inflection and context affect the meaning of “whatever”. But when this word is used as a holophrase (a single word sentence), the result is never edifying. It may be spoken in an argument to admit that you are wrong without admitting it, thus ending the argument. It may be said to convey and an attitude of indifference, apathy or disrespect. It is one sure way to kill a conversation, or perhaps escalate the tension in the room.

Use of the word, “whatever” can also be an indication of frustration. A person using this word may not see the value of being understood or understanding the other person. Or perhaps the path to achieve this goal just seems too difficult, if not impossible, or even painful. Communication is hard work!

In a culture where apathy, disrespect and the inability to communicate effectively and authentically is pervasive, it is easy to understand why the word “whatever” has become so commonplace. But what about a different context, one in which purpose, respect and meaningful communication are held as high values? Is there a higher purpose for this word? Continue reading

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The Beginning of the Nations

God works all things according to His grand plan.
Lesson 25 from The HOPE Study Guide


And they said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name; lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

– Genesis 11:4

Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.

– Genesis 11:9

The number of Noah’s descendants increased greatly, but they remained as one people. They did not fill the earth as God commanded. Instead they built a city. Then they built a tower reaching to the heavens. God was not pleased. So God confused their language. Immediately there were at least 70 groups of people who could not speak with each other. Then God scattered these groups around the earth. And this was the beginning of the languages and nations of our world.

– The HOPE, Chapter 4


Recall from the previous lesson that when Noah and his family left the ark, God blessed them and told them to fill the earth (Genesis 9:1,7). However, instead of filling the earth, Noah’s family gathered in one place and built a city. And then they proceeded to build a tower that would reach into heaven (Genesis 11:4). Their motive was to make a name for themselves and to keep from being scattered over the face of the earth.

In Genesis 11:5-9 we see God’s response to their disobedience. He confused their language so that they did not understand one another’s speech. Bible scholars do not agree on the exact amount of time between the flood and the building of the tower of Babel. But from the record we have in Genesis 10, we could conclude that there were 70 family units at the time of the tower of Babel.1 So when God confused their language, Bible scholars estimate that there were as many as 70 different languages being spoken. It must have been complete chaos!

Work on the tower came to an abrupt halt and the people were scattered across the earth. (Genesis 11:9)

Recall also from the previous lesson that we contrasted God’s mandate to fill the earth (Genesis 9:1) with the people’s fear of being scattered across the earth. As a result of disobeying God, the very thing they were trying to avoid in Genesis 11:4 (being scattered) is the very thing that happened in Genesis 11:9 (they were scattered).

Now, all of this may have seemed like a big confusing mess, but as we’ve already seen numerous times in God’s story, He has a plan! And what appears to be a step backward in that plan is often really a step forward, if we see it from God’s perspective. Continue reading