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Our Blessed Hope

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
(Part 3 of 3-part series)
from Fred Carpenter

“. . . looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,” – Titus 2:13

I’ve witnessed this scene several times in my life. I’m in a room of people. It could be a classroom, a dining room or a conference room. An important person enters the room. The mood in the room immediately changes and the people begin to act different than only a moment before.

What if you knew that Jesus was going to walk into your world right now? That before you finish whatever you’re doing, whatever activity you’re engaged in, you would see Him face to face? Would it make a difference?

The apostle John was dealing with a similar thought when he wrote, “Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.” – 1 John 2:28. What a terrible thought, to shrink away from Him in shame!

For those who love Him, His return should be something entirely different than what John is describing. In fact, in Titus 2:3, Paul calls it our “blessed hope.” And why does he use this descriptive?

It is blessed because of all that the Savior’s return will mean to us as believers in Christ. Hampton Keathley reminds us that His coming for us means . . .

  • transformation or glorification (glorified resurrection bodies),
  • reunion (meeting loved one and friends who have died in the Lord),
  • remuneration (evaluation for and the giving of rewards for faithful service), and
  • reigning with Christ in the glorious future that follows

According to Ray Stedman, “One of the great reasons the church is so confused in this day, one of the reasons the church says so little of true significance to the world, is that it has neglected and abandoned, by and large, the hope of the coming of the Lord. There are very few sermons preached on it. There is very little said about it. There is no time given to a consideration of what this hope means and why it is set forth so frequently and so clearly in the Scriptures. Great sections of the Scriptures that deal with the hope of our Lord’s return are simply ignored by Christians.”

The Bible teaches us that the return of Christ is imminent (James 5:8). If we really believe that, it will change the way we live. The great preacher F. B. Meyer once asked D. L. Moody, “What is the secret of your success?” Moody replied, “For many years I have never given an address without the consciousness that the Lord may come before I have finished.”

Speaking of our blessed hope, Spiros Zodhiates said, “Our hearts will be propped up if we live in the constant expectation of His coming.” Did you know that 1 in every 20 NT passages refers to the Second Coming either directly or indirectly! God intends that our blessed hope, the promise of His return would motivate us to Godly living, encourage us to persevere and reorient our priorities.

“You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.” – James 5:8 NASB

Additional Reading Continue reading


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Do You Have Living Hope?

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from Fred Carpenter
Part 2 of a 3-part series on Hope

Yesterday morning I watched a video, taken on a mobile phone, of a young pastor in a country dominated by militant Muslims. He was being martyred for sharing his faith. The frenzied screaming of masked men holding a knife to his neck, yelling at him to recant, was more than I could bear. Knowing what was about to take place, I was grateful that the man showing the video turned it off just before they took the pastor’s life. I was, and still am, deeply affected by what I viewed. It is sobering to know that this kind of thing is taking place in many parts of the world today. (And the pastor’s example was a sharp contrast to the touchy, feely, whiny cultural Christianity that pervades America.)

It is no mistake that the subject of today’s devotional (Part 2 of a 3 part series on “hope”) was planned last week. Our focal verse is 1 Peter 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead . . .” That young pastor stood firm for Christ, his “living hope” was stronger and more real than anything possessed by (or that possessed) his captors.

In context of this verse and those that follow, it is clear that our living hope is based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ; not only on the fact that it actually happened, but also on what He accomplished in our behalf as a result. Because of the resurrection we have an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for us (v.4)!

Consider the following. Each thought lays a foundation for the next. Continue reading


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Hope – Four Things You Need to Know About It

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from Fred Carpenter

1) You can’t live without It

  • “(Hope) is something as important to us as water is to a fish, as vital as electricity is to a light bulb, as essential as air is to a jumbo jet. Hope is basic to life….without that needed spark of hope, we are doomed to a dark, grim existence. How often the word “hopeless” appears in suicide notes. And even if it isn’t actually written, we can read it between the lines. Take away our hope, and our world is reduced to something between depression and despair.” – Chuck Swindoll
  • “If a person has given up hope, he has entered the gates of hell, whether he knows it or not, and has left behind him his own humanity.” – Eric Fromm
  • “The last thing that dies in a person is hope.” – Diogenes
  • “The absence of hope is the essence of despair.” – Anon.

Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl has written extensively on hope. He observed in the camps, without exception, that when a person lost hope, he/she gave up, and their end was imminent.

2) There is a difference between the world’s definition of hope and God’s definition of hope

The world – Hope is a wishful thinking, an optimistic desire that a thing will come to pass, all the while, living under a cloud of uncertainty that it might not. “All too often, hope is pessimistically defined as the little boy did when he said: “Hope is wishing for something you know ain’t gonna happen.”

The Bible – Hope is a confident expectation, based on the promises of God. (Vine’s dictionary) Vines. It comes from the Greek word, elpis (el-pece’) which means to anticipate, usually with pleasure; expectation or confidence.

  • “’Hope’ is biblical shorthand for unconditional certainty.” – John Blanchard
  • “Hope is not, ‘I have not got it, but I hope I may,’ but ‘I have not yet got it, but I know I shall.’” – Guy King
  • “Hope is faith in the future tense.” – Peter Anderson

3) There is a difference between hope and faith

“. . . faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
– Heb 11:1 (NASB)

Hope is an expectation of future blessing based on the promises of God.

Faith is the present spiritual condition that gives us the assurance and conviction regarding that future blessing.

4) There is a way to get more hope.

a) Perseverance – Rom 5:4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;

b) God’s Word – “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” – Rom 15:4 (NASB)

Your HOPE will increase as your heart and mind become saturated with the plan and purposes of God as revealed in His word. The title for our video, The HOPE, was inspired by Romans 15:4. In concert with the soon-to-be released updated version of our HOPE website, we’re launching a study through The HOPE Study Guide which will be available on this new website in several languages. Every week, in our staff devotional, we’ll dive into a new lesson. We plan to start the study on October 1. It will take us about a year to complete. We’d love to have you, and everyone you know, join us. Spread the word, and the HOPE that comes through His Word!


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Are You Ready for Another Day of Labor?

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from Fred Carpenter

Emile_Claus-the_Harvest

Does the title to this devotional cause a happy feeling to rise up within you? Probably not. Many of our feelings about work are no doubt shaped by the curse that came after the fall (Gen.2:17-19.) But God, who redeems fallen things, is able to change our perspective on work.

On June 24, 1894 Congress passed a law making the first Monday in September a legal holiday, Labor Day. Yesterday was that day. How did it work out for you? On the morning after, were you ready for another day of labor, or would you rather have another day off?

Paul closes the 15th chapter of 1 Corinthians with a strong statement that speaks directly to our attitude about labor. “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (v.58). Reading this verse, two questions jump out, “What is the work of the Lord?”, and “Why should we have this attitude about it?” Continue reading