devos from the hill


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Some Thoughts on Propitiation

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from Fred Carpenter

ROM 3:25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. {This was} to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;

HEB 2:17 Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

1JO 2:2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for {those of} the whole world.

1JO 4:10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son {to be} the propitiation for our sins.

1. Propitiation – What it means.

The following 3 statements are from John Piper.
That big word “propitiation” simply means Christ takes away God’s anger at us for our sins.

“Propitiation” means that the death of Christ takes away the anger of God – propitiates God’s wrath – from those who trust Jesus.

That great phrase, “make propitiation” means “make a sacrifice for our sins that brings God’s anger at us to an end” and makes us friends.

In other words, God’s wrath toward sinful man was completely poured out and satisfied in Christ’s work on the cross.

2. Propitiation – The extent of it.

One of the foundational truths of the Christian faith respecting the believer in relation to his sins is the fact that when he was saved all his trespasses (the past, present and future)—so far as condemnation may be concerned—were forgiven. If one buys into this truth (that God has forgiven our future sins), then it is no stretch to embrace the truth that neither is God angry about future sins. This is all the more true since propitiation is at the core of God’s forgiveness.

We might also think about it in terms of God’s omniscience and foreknowledge. If God knows about our future sins (which He does), and if He still gets angry when we sin, then would not our relationship with Him be marked with a perpetual displeasure (on His part). If God, not being bound by time and space, sees everything “from the helicopter view” as it were, then when exactly would He get angry? The doctrine of propitiation teaches us that God got angry for our future sins two thousand years ago.

Have I ever felt anger toward other? To some degree, I suppose I have, and perhaps will in the future. However, if I could see the future as clearly as God, then I would not be surprised at what is yet to come. And if I completely grasped the reality of God’s sanctifying work in the lives of other people, then I would be much more inclined to see how it was all working together for their good and His glory.

3. Propitiation – The significance of it.

An understanding of propitiation is vital to our assurance and peace with God.

In his book, “Knowing God,” J.I. Packer commits more than a chapter to propitiation. He claims that propitiation is “the heart of the Gospel”, and that it is key to understanding the Bible in general, and five specific truths in particular . . .

A further point must now be made. Not only does the truth of propitiation lead us to the heart of the New Testament gospel; it also leads us to a vantage-point from which we can see to the heart of many other things, too. When you stand of top of Snowdon (the highest mountain in Wales), you see the whole of Snowdonia spread out round you, and you have a wider view than you can get from any other point in the area. Similarly, when you are top of the truth of propitiation, you can see the entire Bible in perspective, and you are in a position to take the measure of vital matters which cannot be properly grasped on any other terms. In what follows, five of these will be touched on: the driving force in the life of Jesus; the destiny of those who reject God; God’s gift of peace; the dimensions of God’s love; and the meaning of God’s glory. That these matters are vital to Christianity will not be disputed. That they can only be understood in the light of the truth of propitiation cannot, we think, be denied.

In terms of practical application, think of this. As Christians do we not aspire to reflect God in our behavior? If we believe that God’s disposition toward us is predicated upon our behavior, rather than upon the cross, then would we not also tend to predicate our disposition toward others based upon their performance rather than grace. The cross of Christ should radically affect our disposition toward others.


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When Life Throws You a Curve Ball

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from Fred Carpenter

It’s a popular phrase. You’ve probably heard it, “When life throws you a curveball.”

Because the World Series is starting this week, I’m going to toss up the question, “What do you do when life throws you a curve ball?”

The curve ball is thrown by rotating the index and middle fingers down, resulting in spin on the ball that gives it the motion of a downward “curve”. It’s one of the hardest things in sports to execute well. It gives the opposition fits when thrown properly. Some pitchers have a curve ball that actually seems to skip or accelerate on the downward motion as it nears the plate.

What are the options for a batter when he is thrown a curve ball? Well, the first challenge is just to recognize if it is a curveball. It takes a lot of practice and physical gifting to be able to visually pick up on the spin of a baseball. Assuming a batter has some capacity to recognize a curveball, his first option, particularly if he’s low in the count, might be to “take it”; just watch it go by. Many batters know what it’s like to see that pitch coming right down the middle of the plate, thinking they can do whatever they want with the pitch. They can almost taste it. So they let loose with a swing, only to find at the last split second that the pitch is “dropping off the table.” There’s no way to adjust in time to connect with the ball. The best they can do is to try not to look like too much of a clown as their knees buckle and they thrash the air. Why do that if you don’t have to, if you can take it? If it’s early in the count you can give up a strike, and there is the possibility it will drop out of the strike zone and be called for a ball. Continue reading


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Finding Deep Truth in Small Verses

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from Fred Carpenter

“Commit your works to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” – Proverbs 16:3

I believe the Word of God is inspired by God Himself. This conviction sets the stage for me as I read a passage of scripture. Years ago, as I was reading Proverb 16:3, I asked God what He wanted me to see in this short verse. What He showed me has made this little verse one of my “life verses.”

The first thing that impressed me was God’s choice of the phrases “your work” and “’your plans”. I suppose at first glance this verse could look like a formula for self-determination; a means to an end to get what we want in life. But as the Spirit, my Teacher, directed the eyes of my heart to see these words through the lens of other scripture, I understood that “your” work and plans are not the work and plans we choose of our own initiative, rather, they are the ones He has chosen for us . . . from before the foundations of the world! I was reminded of John 8:28 where we read that Jesus did nothing of His own initiative, and of Jeremiah 29:11 which reads, “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD . . .”, and of Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” . . . and so on and so on. I love the way the Word of God resonates with itself! It is true that “Deep calls to deep . . .” – Psalm 42:7. Continue reading


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He Is Our Peace

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from Fred Carpenter

The scene was Israel about 1160 years before Christ. The Midianites were causing great suffering among the Israelites. Gideon was threshing wheat when God called Gideon and told him that he would deliver his people. Like so many others called by God to accomplish a God sized mission, Gideon was feeling uneasy about the task before him. The Lord said to him, (Judges 6:23) “Peace to you, do not fear; you shall not die.” 24 Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and named it The Lord is Peace. To this day it is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrite.

The phrase “The Lord is Peace” is the focus of today’s devotional. To understand it, we must go back to the time when (in Exodus 3) God told Moses to return to Egypt to deliver his people. Moses responded “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” And God said to Moses, “I Am Who I Am.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, “I Am has sent me to you.” Exodus 3:13,14.

“I Am Who I Am” is the closest translation (or more exactly, transliteration) of a Hebrew word that cannot actually be pronounced. The closest Latin transliteration is actually YHWH. Notice, there are no vowels, only consonants. This name of God cannot be pronounced. Still in order to make this word accessible, scholars eventually added vowels and this word became Yahweh, or for some, Jehovah. Continue reading


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“Peace and Quiet” – Without His Presence There Is No Peace

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from Fred Carpenter

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” – John 14:27

An anechoic chamber is a room designed to completely absorb reflections of sound. Orfield Labs in South Minneapolis has an anechoic chamber that has held the Guinness World Record for the “World’s Quietest Room” since 2004. The room is built with fiberglass acoustic wedges 3.3-feet thick, and it has double walls of insulated steel and one-foot thick concrete. Measured at -9 decibels, the room is so quiet that you can hear your blood flowing. The silence is so maddening it can cause hallucinations. The longest anyone has been able to bear the room was 45 minutes.

Anechoic Chamber, DTU - Denmark, © Baarnaud-Dessein

Anechoic Chamber, DTU – Denmark, © Baarnaud-Dessein

When I first heard of this room, my thoughts went immediately to a missionary who shared with me what he thought hell would be like. The picture he painted was that of a person alone in total darkness forever. So often classic images of hell portray a large number of people writhing in agony in an inferno. Whether the image of fire is literal or metaphorical is one issue. But who is to say that hell is a communal experience, as opposed to one of total isolation. A student of the Bible could go either way on this question. I recently read an article in which CS Lewis was reported to have said something like, “Hell is no one but yourself, forever and ever.” What a terrifying thought!

In today’s “rat race”, it is not unusual to hear someone say they’re longing for a little “peace and quiet.” But taken to the extreme of an anechoic chamber, that expression may deserve reconsideration. What makes this room so horrific, and why don’t deaf people go insane like those who are in an anechoic chamber too long? Well first off, being in an anechoic chamber is not like being deaf. A person who is totally deaf cannot hear anything with their ears, but they can still feel sound. Sound is a physical thing and we all feel it with our body. And while the sound we feel might not be an adequate basis for communication, if it is coming from outside our own bodies, then at least we know we are not alone in the universe. Continue reading