devos from the hill


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Active and Passive

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
Read the Scripture: John 15:4-11

Do you ever struggle with the balance between “being” and “doing” – between God’s part and your part? If so, then you might find this short devotional helpful…

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me (John 15:4).

Notice that our Lord divides this passage into two sections. There is an activity that is to be done, and a passivity that is to be acknowledged. We are to remain in Him (that is active, something we do), and we are to let Him remain in us (that is passive, something we allow Him to do). Both these relationships are essential, not one as opposed to the other, but both together.

When our Lord says Remain in me, He is talking about the will, and the decisions we make. We must decide to do things that keep ourselves in contact with Him. The Holy Spirit has placed us into Christ. Now we must maintain that relationship by the decisions we make, such as exposing ourselves to His Word and having a prayer relationship with Him. We remain in Him when we bear one another’s burdens and confess our faults and share in fellowship with one another. All of this is designed to relate to Him: Remain in me. If we do that, we are fulfilling this active, necessary decision of the will to obey His Word.

This is what Bible study and prayer are all about. They are not mere mechanical practices that every Christian ought to do in order to get brownie points with God! No, they are means by which we know Him. If you open your Bible and begin to read it without the conscious expectation that it is going to tell you something about Him, you will read in vain. If you try to pray as though it were some exercise in which you chalk off fifteen minutes’ worth, mechanically going through a list, it is a valueless experience. But if you pray because you are talking with One whom you love and want to know more of, sharing with Him out of the fullness of your heart, then prayer becomes a beautiful experience. That is remaining in Him.

But that is only part of it. Jesus says, Remain in me, and I in you. There is also the other side–Let me remain in you. That has to do with empowerment, enablement. You can make choices, but you cannot fulfill them. And though you are responsible to make choices, you are not responsible for the power to carry them out. There you are to depend on Him, to let Him abide in you. You are to rest upon His ability to see you through. As you venture out on that basis, you expect Him to carry you through.

Both of these are absolutely essential. Making decisions and then trying to do the whole thing yourself is going to produce intense activity, but no results. On the other hand, letting Him take all the responsibility and making no choices at all will also produce a fruitless life. We must determine to expose ourselves to Him; we must seek His face in the Word, in prayer, and in fellowship with others. And then we must count on Him to see us through, to supply that enabling power that makes us able to love and forgive and rejoice and give thanks. When we do, we are remaining in Him and letting Him remain in us.

Father, teach me the proper balance between making hard choices to remain in You and resting in You to do in me what only You can do.

Life Application: What is the tremendous difference between our will power and our activity power – between our power to choose and our power to do?

http://www.raystedman.org/daily-devotions/john-13to17/active-and-passive
Copyright © 2007 by Elaine Stedman — This daily devotion is from the book The Power of His Presence: a year of devotions from the writings of Ray Stedman; compiled by Mark Mitchell. It may be copied for personal non-commercial use only in its entirety free of charge. All copies must contain this copyright notice and a hyperlink to http://www.RayStedman.org if the copy is posted on the Internet. Please direct any questions you may have to webmaster@RayStedman.org.


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He Is Our Peace

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
Read the Scripture: Ephesians 2:14-18

Key Take-aways: a) Jesus doesn’t just give us peace, He is our peace! – b) Peace is not the absence of conflict.
True peace is oneness and the secret of oneness is a Person!

For he himself is our peace… (Ephesians 2:14a).

This is not mere doctrine. If you are having a conflict with anybody, this is the way of peace: For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one. Paul starts with a definition of what true peace really is. True peace is oneness. It is not merely the cessation of hostility, the absence of conflict; it means being one. Anything else is superficial and temporary and highly unsatisfactory. You know this to be true. You have made peace on superficial terms and have found it only external. If you merely agree not to fight, it is not peace. And invariably it results in a new outbreak, with all the previous animosity surging to the surface once again. This is why what we call peace among nations never lasts–because it isn’t really peace. It isn’t oneness at all. It is only a weariness with warfare, an agreement to stop it for awhile until we can all recuperate and rearm. Then it breaks out all over again, because nothing is ever settled.

But here the apostle tells us the secret of peace. The secret of oneness is a Person: he himself is our peace. And when Christ Jesus makes peace–between individuals or between nations–that peace will be a satisfying, permanent, and genuine peace. ‘What Paul is saying is that in order to live at peace, you must have peace. The problem with most of us is that we want to start by clearing up only the results of conflict. God never starts there; He starts with the person. He says peace is a Person, and in order for you to live at peace with someone else, you must be at peace with the Person of Christ. If you have His peace, then you can start solving the conflict around you. But you never can do it on any other basis. So the place to start, the origin of peace, is the settling of any problems between you and Jesus Christ.

Many people come to me with various problems involving conflict. Usually they are upset, troubled, discouraged, or angry. They report all the terrible things the other person has done and all the reasons they are justified in being so angry. I listen to it all, and then I say to them, Yes, you’ve got a problem. But that isn’t your only problem. You really have two problems. And the one you haven’t mentioned at all is the one you must start with. Then I point out to them that their basic problem is that they don’t have any peace themselves. They are upset, angry, and emotionally distraught. And everything they do is colored by that emotional state. And it is impossible to solve the problem until they themselves acquire peace.

But this is the promise of God to Christians: He is our peace. And once their attitude is changed, once their heart is settled, once they have put the matter into the hands of the Lord and they see that He is active in it, that He has a solution, and their own heart is therefore at peace, then they can begin to understand what is happening and can apply some intelligent remedies to the situation that will work out the problem. There is profound psychological insight in the fact that the apostle begins with the declaration that Christ is our peace. He alone can accomplish it.

Father, thank You for the access I have to You. Help me to believe the message of peace and thus to enter into the joy and peace of life with You.

Life Application: Peace is the absence of war, but what is true peace? What is the inevitable result of peace made based on external conditions? Where do we find true peace & oneness?

See Ray Stedman’s devotional for more . . .http://www.raystedman.org/daily-devotions/ephesians/he-is-our-peace

Copyright © 2007 by Elaine Stedman — This daily devotion is from the book The Power of His Presence: a year of devotions from the writings of Ray Stedman; compiled by Mark Mitchell. It may be copied for personal non-commercial use only in its entirety free of charge. All copies must contain this copyright notice and a hyperlink to http://www.RayStedman.org if the copy is posted on the Internet. Please direct any questions you may have to webmaster@RayStedman.org.


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Listening to God

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
Are You Listening to God?

 

We began today’s staff devotional with Exodus 20:19, “They said to Moses, ’You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” Do you prefer to listen to God, or to someone who teaches you about God?

Before you answer, read this devotional from Oswald Chambers . . .http://utmost.org/are-you-listening-to-god/


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7 Realities of Experiencing God

Mars Hill Staff Devotional

We took an abbreviated look at the 7 Realities of Experiencing God from the “Experiencing God” study by Blackaby and King. Our relationship and fellowship with God grows by His initiation in our lives, and by our response to His initiation. How deep do you want your fellowship in Jesus to be? It is as deep as your response level to Him.

1. God is always at work around you.
2. God pursues a continuing love relationship with you that is real
and personal.
3. God invites you to become involved with Him in His work.
4. God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer,
circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes,
and His ways.
5. God’s invitation for you to work with Him always leads you to a
crisis of belief that requires faith and action.
6. You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in
what He is doing.
7. You come to know God by experience as you obey Him and He
accomplishes His work through you.

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To learn more about this great study, click here:  http://www.blackaby.net/expgod/