devos from the hill

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Are You Poor in Spirit?

I have heard it said by scoffers that Christianity (or any religion for that matter) is just a crutch for those who are too weak to live life on their own. The world admires a strong independent spirit and looks down upon weakness and dependence.

Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:3

According to, Greek scholar, Kenneth Wuest, to be blessed is to be spiritually prosperous. At first pass, this might seem to contradict what Jesus said in Matthew 5; how can the ‘blessed’ be both ‘poor’ and ‘prosperous’ at the same time? But as someone has pointed out, in order to get your cup filled (of Him), it must first be empty (of us)!

James Smith was a reformed Baptist preacher and predecessor of Charles Spurgeon at New Park Street Chapel in London from 1841 until 1850. From his notes we read . . .

I. “Poverty of spirit” is not something put on, but that which concerns the inner character (spirit). The characteristics of those who are “poor in spirit” are –

A. BROKENNESS OF HEART (Psa. 51:4-7). A deep sense of personal unworthiness.

B. SELF-DISTRUST. “No confidence in the flesh” (Phil. 3:3). “In me dwelleth no good thing” (Rom. 7:18).

C. ENTIRE DEPENDENCE. Living by faith. “Apart from Me, nothing” (John15:5).

II. The nature of this blessedness. This is the kingdom. They come under the reign of grace. A present possession.

A. CHOSEN BY GOD (1 Cor. 1:28, 29). The poor in spirit are the chosen of Heaven.

B. INDWELT BY GOD (Isa. 57:15). The humble heart is the abode of God.

C. RICH IN FAITH (Jas. 2:5). Faith will buy anything from God. It is the current coin of the kingdom.

D. DIVINELY CARED FOR (Isa. 66:2). “To this man will I look that is poor, and of a contrite spirit” (Isa. 66:2). This is the look of continual favour, which is the blessedness of the poor in spirit.

How do we become “poor in spirit?” Throughout the ages, there have been those who have believed that an external life of poverty produces an internal life of poverty. However, we cannot, through human effort, manufacture the condition of being poor in spirit. Such a spiritual disposition is not a goal. Rather, it is the result of making God our goal.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones – The way to become poor in spirit is to look at God. Look at Him; and the more we look at Him, the more hopeless shall we feel by our­selves, and in and of ourselves, and the more shall we become ‘poor in spirit’. Look at Him, keep looking at Him. Look at the saints, look at the men who have been most filled with the Spirit and used. But above all, look again at Him, and then you will have nothing to do to yourself. It will be done. You cannot truly look at Him without feeling your absolute poverty, and emptiness.

FB Meyer – To be poor in spirit is to be vacant of self and waiting for God. To have no confidence in the flesh; to be emptied of self-reliance to be conscious of absolute insufficiency; to be thankfully dependent on the life-energy of the living God, that is poverty of spirit; and it has been characteristic of some of the noblest, richest, most glorious natures, that have ever trodden the shores of Time. Happy are they who are conscious of a poverty which only the Divine indwelling can change into wealth, and who are willing to confess that they would rather be in hell and have God, than in heaven and not have Him.

Yes, there are those who say that Christianity (or more specifically Christ) is just a crutch for those who are too weak to live life on their own. They are right, and I am so glad they are, for I would much rather live under the reign of grace than under the law of vain and perishable works.



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Why Would the World Ask About Your Hope?

Today’s devotional is from John Piper.

Peter tells us, “Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). He doesn’t say that they will ask about our faith. Or about our doctrine. Or even about our good conduct. They might ask those things. We want them to. But Peter is expecting that they will ask about our hope. Why?

Why in 1 Peter 3:15 does the unbelieving world ask Christians about their hope?

This was a compelling question for us. We invite you to read and consider as we did in our staff meeting today, how we can understand, experience, and share our hope more fully.

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Seeking the Blessing, but not the Blesser

Even today people seek the blessing over the Blesser.
Lesson 48 from The HOPE Study Guide


Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb will shout for joy.

– Isaiah 35:5–6

And Jesus withdrew to the sea with His disciples; and a great multitude from Galilee followed; and also from Judea, and from Jerusalem, and from Idumea, and beyond the Jordan, and the vicinity of Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude heard of all that He was doing and came to Him. And He told His disciples that a boat should stand ready for Him because of the multitude, in order that they might not crowd Him; for He had healed many, with the result that all those who had afflictions pressed about Him in order to touch Him.

– Mark 3:7–10

News of Jesus spread quickly throughout the land. Hundreds of years earlier, a Hebrew prophet wrote that with the coming of God’s promised Deliverer, the blind would see, the deaf would hear, the lame would leap like a deer, those who could not speak would shout for joy, and good news would be proclaimed! Some, whose hope was set on God’s promised Deliverer, were asking, “Is Jesus the One?” Many were not as concerned with who He was as with what He could do for them.

– The HOPE, Chapter 9


As Jesus traveled about the land teaching and doing miracles, the word about Him quickly spread. From Mark 3:7-10 we read that a great multitude from many different regions had heard what Jesus was doing and came to Him. But after further consideration of this verse, notice what is revealed about their motives.

They wanted something from Him. They came for healing, but Jesus wanted to teach them who He was. He did heal many, as the verse reads, but Jesus was not primarily interested in healing physical ailments. According to Bible teacher Ray Stedman, “He had a greater mission – to teach and preach the Word to them so as to heal the hurt of the heart and the spirit.”1 The crowd was making this very difficult because of their focus upon the physical. This is still happening today, as crowds clamor for the power, but not the person of Jesus. Anticipating this would happen, Jesus instructed His disciples to prepare for Him a way of escape. When the people pressed in to touch Him, making it impossible for Him to continue teaching, He would withdraw by boat. In Matthew 13:1-5, Mark 4:1 and Luke 5:3, we read that Jesus actually taught from a boat.

Notice what is actually taking place in this story. The people wanted something from Jesus: their physical healing. It wasn’t wrong for them to seek physical healing, but they made it such a priority, pressing in on Jesus, that they ultimately failed to get what they were after. They sought after the blessing more than the Blesser. Continue reading

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From Blessing to Bondage

Where are you in the cycle?
Lesson 39 from The HOPE Study Guide


For over a thousand years, the Hebrew people attempted to live as God had commanded them. But many times they drifted away from God, sometimes even following false gods. When they did not turn back to God, He would discipline them, often by sending a foreign nation to invade their land and rule over them. The Hebrew people would then acknowledge their unfaithfulness, and call to God for deliverance. God would then raise up a leader to free the people from their oppressors. And the people would renew their commitment to live according to the ways of God. From blessing to bondage to blessing to bondage, over and over, again and again, the Hebrew people had been called to show the world what God was like. But because of the sin that infected the world, they could not walk in the ways of God without falling.

– The HOPE, Chapter 7


As we delve into this lesson, it is important to keep in mind that The HOPE is a summary overview of the Bible. An 80 minute video could not possibly cover the entire Bible. The HOPE excerpt above describes what happened over a period of more than a thousand years. During this time numerous kings and prophets made their mark on Hebrew history. Their stories are recorded in many books of the Bible. However, if you had to describe this period of time in one paragraph, the excerpt above would be an accurate one.

This excerpt describes a cycle that was repeated often in the history of the Hebrew people. One writer has described this cycle as follows:

from faith to obedience
from obedience to blessing
from blessing to abundance
from abundance to selfishness
from selfishness to judgment
from judgment to bondage
from bondage to brokenness
from brokenness to faith …1

After the Hebrew people saw the miracles of God in their Exodus from Egypt, they had the faith to obey God. They were quick to commit to whatever God asked of them. God promised to bless them when they obeyed, which He did. In fact they were blessed to abundance. And so the cycle began, and continued for centuries.

This cause and effect progression is not only descriptive of the Hebrew people; it can apply to any nation or individual in relationship with God. Notice that there is a differentiation between blessing and abundance. Abundance usually means having more than we need. From God’s perspective, having more than we need brings the responsibility to use our surplus to glorify God by blessing others. To do anything less is selfishness. In the case of the Hebrew people, judgment followed selfishness. There is a verse in the New Testament (Hebrews 12:6) which tells us that God disciplines those whom He loves. God’s judgment of the Hebrew people was motivated by His love for them. His judgment often resulted in bondage to another nation, which brought them to a place of brokenness and an awareness of their need for God! Continue reading

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Abraham – A Man Who Walked by Faith

Step by step, God initiated – Abraham responded.
Lesson 26 from The HOPE Study Guide


Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

– Genesis 12:1–3

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.

– Hebrews 11:8

From among the nations of the earth God called out a man, who is known to us as Abraham. God told Abraham to leave his home and go to a land He would show him. Abraham did as God said, taking all his people and possessions. God promised that Abraham would possess this land, and become the father a great nation. And through him, all the nations of the earth would be blessed. It was a peculiar promise, for Abraham and his wife, Sarah, had no children of their own. But Abraham obeyed God just the same, and led his people to the land of Canaan.

– The HOPE, Chapter 5


In the previous lesson we saw how God brought about the nations of the world. We also learned that God’s plan will ultimately bring unity and blessing to the nations and glory to God. In this lesson we will consider an event that marks a very significant step toward that end.

From among all the nations God called out one man named Abraham. We can only imagine how it went when Abraham told his wife, Sarah, what he heard from God.

Abraham: We’re going to pack up and leave our home.

Sarah: Why would we do that?

Abraham: Because God said so.

Sarah: Why would He do that?

Abraham: Because God is going to make me the father of a great nation, and He is going to bless all the nations through me.

Sarah: But we don’t even have children.

Abraham: I know.

Sarah: And neither of us is young.

Abraham: I know.

Sarah: So where are we going?

Abraham: I don’t know.

Abraham had nothing on which to base his actions…nothing but his faith in God. But he took the step that God told him to take. And today, Abraham is known as the father of three of the world’s major religions: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.1 He is without question one of the most significant figures in all of history. His name appears in the Bible over 260 times, often as an example of a man of great faith. Continue reading

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Be Fruitful and Multiply or Not

God’s way to blessing is the only way to blessing.
Lesson 24 from The HOPE Study Guide


And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.”

– Genesis 9:1

Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words. And it came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there…And they said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name; lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

– Genesis 11:1, 2&4

When the water finally subsided, the ark came to rest on a mountain, and the animals went their own way. And so it was that Noah and his family escaped God’s judgment of evil in the world, not because they were without sin, but because they believed God. And God blessed Noah and his sons and told them to be fruitful and multiply, and fill them earth. The number of Noah’s descendants increased greatly, but they remained as one people. They did not fill the earth as God commanded. Instead they built a city. Then they built a tower reaching to the heavens. God was not pleased.

– The HOPE, Chapter 4


Have you ever longed for a fresh start? Well after the flood, Noah and his family experienced one of the most remarkable fresh starts in human history. They had a blank slate on which to begin a completely new story for their lives. And furthermore, God spoke a blessing of prosperity over them (Genesis 9:1,  7). God then promised never to destroy the world with a flood again …and He sealed His promise with the first rainbow (Genesis 9:13-15)!

What an opportunity for renewal. Unfortunately, it was never realized!

God told Noah and his family to fill the earth. Instead, they gathered in one place and built a city. They wanted to be one people in one place. But that is not what God wanted. In the next lesson we’ll see God’s response to their disobedience, but for today let’s reflect on how they could possibly have missed such an incredible opportunity to walk in the way of blessing!

According to God’s story, Noah and his family entered the ark on the second week of the 2nd month of the year. They left the ark on the 27th day of the 2nd month of the following year (Genesis 8:14-15). Assuming a lunar calendar of 365 days, Noah and his family could have been on the ark an entire year!1 Linger on that thought before moving on.

When they finally stepped off the ark, what were they feeling? What on earth did they see after everything had been under water for nearly a year? Was it a strange, horrifying sight, perhaps even surreal?

Of all people, Noah and his family should have been prepared to follow God no matter what they saw.

  •  In the entire world they alone had been preserved by God through the flood.
  •  They personally heard God and saw Him do amazing things.
  •  God pronounced a blessing on them that they should have fruitful lives.

Still, after radically trusting God and having experienced His faithfulness as they did, Noah’s family failed to do what God told them to do. Either they didn’t listen carefully or they listened, but didn’t obey. You’ve probably heard the saying that there is safety in numbers. Perhaps they stayed together because they were afraid. Whatever their reason, they disobeyed God. They did not attempt to fill the earth.

From today’s lesson, consider that:

  •  God wanted Noah and his family to prosper and “fill” the earth (Genesis 9:1). That was the way to discover God’s blessing. But the way to blessing may not have looked to them like a blessing. The people feared being “scattered” across the earth (Genesis11:4). The difference between “filling” the earth (as God commanded) and being “scattered” across the earth is primarily one of perspective: one of choosing or being forced.
  •  They wanted to make a name for themselves (Genesis 11:4). That prideful motivation sounds a lot like the attitude that led to Satan’s downfall (Lesson 14).
  •  Even though they didn’t want to follow God, they still wanted to get to heaven. But they wanted to do it their way – by building a tower (Genesis 11:4).

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