devos from the hill


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Remain in His Presence

God has blessed Mars Hill with an incredible team of men and women who love Jesus – the risen, reigning, and returning King. Together, we passionately pursue Him as we work to see the Great Commission fulfilled. Together, we study the Scriptures. We embrace and celebrate the mystery of faith and the magnificence of our AWESOME God. And we long for our Savior’s return, when we will know fully as we are fully known.

The Holy Spirit has breathed unique wisdom, discernment and gifts for service into each member of our staff. That said, we are delighted to commence a new series of devotionals, in which each member of our staff will be sharing insights from their inimitable journey with our Father.

We hope that God’s redemptive work in our lives will resonate with what He’s doing in yours.


Today’s Devotional is from team member, Jean Ngo.
Jean is serving Mars Hill as Ministry Partnering Director.

The following is insight I gained from the Smashing False Idols Evangelism Conference 2007 with Tim Keller.

Perhaps it’s something none of us want to admit but do you remember a moment when you got really angry with another person?   What should you do in that moment?  Should you cry out to God for help?  Plot revenge?  Run and never look back?  Let’s explore this issue in the book of Jonah.

In Chapter 1, we find the prophet fleeing from what God commanded him to do:

“Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come before Me.”  But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. 

One reason proposed for why Jonah flees is because of fear for his own safety.  All of us have encountered moments when we hold back sharing what we would like to share for fear of that person hurting or rejecting us.  In Jonah’s case, going to Nineveh and sharing what God said held the potential of offending an entire city of 120,000 people.  It seems reasonable to think Jonah feared for his safety.  However, there may be another reason…

Upon deeper reflection (and with the help of a great fish), Jonah prayed (2:8-9):

Those who regard vain idols Forsake their faithfulness, But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving.  That which I have vowed I will pay.  Salvation is from the Lord. 

In Chapter 3, Jonah went back and did what the Lord told him (vs. 4-5):

Then Jonah began to go through the city one day’s walk; and he cried out and said, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.”  Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them.

God showed great mercy to the people of Nineveh humbling themselves (3:10):

When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them.  And He did not do it. 

That should be the end of the story, right?  The protagonist did his job…the people of the city repented…and God saved the people.  The End!  No.

It might surprise us that Jonah actually gets angry with what happened.  In Chapter 4, vs.3, he asks the Lord to take his life from him, for death is better to me than life.  Jonah is deeply disturbed God spared the city from destruction.  Why? Continue reading


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The Wrath of God Poured Out on Jesus for You

The incredible meaning of propitiation.
Lesson 55 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

…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.

– Romans 3:25

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.

– Hebrews 2:17

…and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.

– 1 John 2:2

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 John 4:10

At the cross Jesus took our sin upon Himself. He paid the penalty for our sin. He became our substitute. At the cross God’s justice was satisfied, and His love fulfilled. Then Jesus said, “It is accomplished.” And He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit.

– The HOPE, Chapter 10

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

In the previous lesson we considered that Jesus’ work on the cross resolved a dilemma of divine proportions: it fulfilled God’s love for man and, at the same time, satisfied His righteous justice in regard to sin. There is something more that was satisfied by Jesus on the cross – God’s anger at sin and its destructive effect on this world.

Have you ever heard or read of something so evil that it turns your stomach? Many people respond to these kinds of stories by saying, “If God is so good, then how can He allow such a thing to take place?” When people say this, it is an indication that there are some truths of which they are not aware.

Regarding sin and its effect in the world, God has more anger than we can understand. But there is a reason that God doesn’t just pour out His anger and judge this sinful world immediately. We can know this reason from 2 Peter 3:9-10 , “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.”

From this verse we see what will someday happen to this world and all of its works–it will all be burnt up. Ultimately, God isn’t trying to preserve or rescue this sin infected world; He is creating a new one (Revelation 21:1). But as much as God is angered by sin in this world, this verse also tells us Jesus is not slow about His promise (to return and to judge the world), but He is patient because He wishes that none should perish. In other words, as intense as His anger is over sin, His love for people is even more intense.

Though His judgment of this world may not be immediate, it is imminent and inevitable.1 And it will be terrible. This brings us back to the point of today’s lesson. Continue reading


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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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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.