devos from the hill


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The Need for a Reference Point

Lesson 2
What is a reference point and why do we need one?

Observe & Consider

In Lesson 1 we considered the question of life’s meaning and purpose. We also recalled this line from The HOPE: “For those who seek answers, for those who are listening, there is a voice.” (The HOPE video, Introduction). And finally, we concluded with the question, “Am I listening?”

Perhaps you are listening for answers to questions about life and meaning. The problem is there are so many competing voices. Beyond the major world religions (i.e. Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Christianity), there are hundreds of religions and world views. All of these advocate a particular approach to life. In many cases, each of them claims to be the way to find God. However, none of them fully agree (and most radically disagree) on the nature of God and how He may be found. With so many conflicting teachings, how can a person know which way is the right way? It would help to have a reference point.

Every traveler needs help to find his way through a strange land. Some might rely on a trusted guide – one who has successfully completed the journey and is able to help others do the same. Some might use a map or instructions from one who knows the way. Others have depended upon a landmark or a star as a fixed reference point by which they can know their position and measure their progress. Continue reading


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The Universal Question

Is there a purpose…for the world and for me?

Note: The following is from Lesson 1 of The HOPE video Study Guide – At the end of this lesson, please join in the conversation by sharing your comments.

Introduction

The HOPE video begins with these words…

Throughout time people have considered the world in which we live; the complexity and beauty of nature, the mystery of life and death, the depth of human joy and pain …and they have wondered, ‘How did it all come to be? Is this world the result of chance…or design? Is there something, or someone, behind it all? And if there is such a being, then what is He like? Does He have a purpose for this world? Does He have a purpose for me in this world? Does He have a purpose for me beyond this world?

– The HOPE video, Introduction

Observe & Consider

These questions from the beginning of The HOPE are not new. People have long pondered the meaning and purpose of their lives, and they have questioned the existence of a divine creator. For many, questions about purpose and the existence of God are inseparable. Even the prominent 20th century atheist Bertrand Russell once said, “Unless you assume a God, the question of life’s purpose is meaningless.” 1

Why would an avowed atheist make such a statement? Because purpose implies intent, and intent implies design. And if there is a design to this world, then there must be a designer. Perhaps then, there are questions even more basic than that of life’s purpose.

Is there a Designer…and is this Designer knowable? Please understand that it is not the intent of The HOPE to prove God…but rather to reveal Him. As the narrator says at the outset of the video, “for those who seek answers, for those who are listening, there is a voice.”

What about you? Are you listening? Maybe you’ve already made up your mind that God does not exist, or maybe you believe there is a God, but you’re unsure about what He is like. For the purpose of our study, perhaps you should ask yourself before you go further, “Am I really listening? Is it possible that there is something about God I’ve not yet heard or understood?” Continue reading


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Working Out Your Salvation – Your Role and God’s Role

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from Fred Carpenter

“. . . work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” – Philippians 2:12b-13

Most religions of the world teach that by following their tenants you will over time be changed into a different, better person. The Bible, on the other hand, teaches that the moment you are born again (Eph. 2:4-7, John 3:1-6, Tit. 3:5), God changes you into a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17). He plants a new nature in you (makes you a partaker of His divine nature 2 Peter 1:4), and the rest of your life on earth becomes a process of cooperating with Him to grow and mature that new nature as an expression of His life in and through you. This process is what the Bible calls sanctification.

Perhaps nowhere else in the Bible is this truth so powerfully and succinctly stated than in Philippians 2:12-13. Here we apprehend a truth that may require a lifetime or more to comprehend. Jonathan Edwards expressed the importance of understanding this verse, writing that, “from St. Paul a sentence hit me when I was about twenty-two that has shaped my theology ever since, ‘Work out your salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who works in you to will and to do His good pleasure.’”

In two sentences, this passage sums up the responsibility of man and the sovereignty of God. Here, we have come upon a new math. The natural mind can calculate x%(God’s role) + x%(man’s role)=100%. But the equation in this verse is only completed with 100% God and 100% man. In the realm of theology, “quietists” stress God’s role in sanctification, to the virtual exclusion of any human effort. “Pietists”, on the other hand, emphasize self-effort at the expense of reliance on God’s power. Here, Paul makes no attempt to reconcile divine sovereignty and human responsibility, but boldly proclaims both. Continue reading


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The Other Purpose for Planning

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from Fred Carpenter

“This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do.” – John 6:6

Planning is a wise thing to do, right? The Bible warns us what can happen when we fail to plan (Luke 14:28). We plan so that we can arrive at our goal, on time and within our budget. But there is another purpose for planning, one we might not expect.

It had been one of those kinds of days when the falleness of this world affects you to the core of your being. Jesus’s disciples had just returned from burying John the Baptist, who had been beheaded by Herod. After hearing their report, Jesus led them to the other side of the Galilee to find some quiet and rest. But the people learned of it and followed them.

It was getting late in the day and thousands of people had gathered round them. Many of them had come a great distance to see Jesus. Being responsible, anticipating the situation, the disciples approached Jesus, and offered their counsel. How foolish to counsel the Son of God. They urged Him to send the crowd away, so they might find food and shelter while it was still daylight. They were thinking ahead. Formulating a plan to avoid an undesirable outcome. That’s a wise thing to do, right? Continue reading