devos from the hill


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Broken but Redeemed

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, Randy Templeton.
Randy is a Marketing Executive who is currently doing some
volunteer research and consulting on our internet ministry.

It was the week before Christmas and I was over visiting with several of my life-long single friends, including a new person I had never met, my future wife.  Sandy had with her a 6-month old baby boy, my future son, Michael.  For some reason, I was drawn to him, especially odd for a single guy, who was the baby of his family, and someone who rarely held a baby in his life. Michael as a baby had a great gift for crying, so I held him for awhile and then a while longer and eventually until he fell asleep. Sandy, I know was sure by now I was unusual.Randy1

I knew of Sandy and her story from my friends, but this was my first encounter.  It had only been a little more than a year since she lost her first husband and soul mate Mike in a tragic car accident.  Not knowing then, she was only weeks pregnant with Michael. So I met her a few more times in the following months and then asked her if she would go on a date. Not my best judgment call.  I now moved from “unusual single guy” to something three steps below.  Sandy and I did not talk or see each other for the next five and a half years.

It’s now summer 2001, one of our mutual friends Lori is leaving the country for mission work in Asia. Nancy, the host of the Christmas party where I first met Sandy, and I have put together a going away week in Estes Park, Colorado.  Unknown to me Sandy and Michael are headed back to Houston where Sandy has taken a new job and they have been added to the short list of Estes Park attendees.

Michael is nRandy2ow six years old and as history goes he does not like new people and has a notorious reputation for growling at them.  After two days, Michael and I were best friends. He who likes no one likes the unusual single guy. Once everyone got back to Houston I asked Sandy if I could spend time with Michael, closely supervised by spend time with Michael, closely supervised by mom of course.  Motives are always mixed in my human experience; I really liked Michael and had come to the conclusion at that point in my life I would never have a son and enjoyed being a father figure, but I also still had a thing for Sandy as well.

I hung out for the next couple of months, Michael and I played… Sandy and I talked. Michael and I bonded instantly, Sandy took a little longer. Michael looked like my son, he was an introvert who thought and had feelings like my son would have. Interestingly enough, Michael’s birthday is 6-20-95, mine is 6-02-59.

As school started that year Michael quickly became best friends (as they are to this day) with one of his classmates Trey. As weeks passed we met Trey’s parents and not long into our life stories Trey’s mother shared that she had heard through a friend of a woman in California who had found out she was pregnant just weeks after losing her husband in a tragic car accident. Terry was also pregnant at that time with Trey, and she was deeply moved by the circumstances and continually prayed for the unknown mother and child a world away. It was just another affirmation of God’s work in Sandy and Michael’s life.

Sandy and I went to lunch together once, had dinner once, and then we were engaged.  I will forever deny that I proposed to her at McDonalds, she might argue differently, but if so she will have to admit that she accepted the proposal of marriage to a guy who did.  We set the wedding for three weeks away, she was to find a dress and show up, I took care of the reRandy3st, which after two days I outsourced to a good friend who was starting an event planning business. It was a perfect wedding, except for the pictures. Never hire a photographer who is available on two week’s notice.

Then we had to tell Michael the news, not really knowing what his real reaction would be. He had real issues with the kissing thing.  It was after church one day when we were going to let Michael know. We were driving to lunch and asked Michael what he learned at church that day, (which at age six most every day would be “I don’t remember”).  This day he remembered the Old Testament story of Ruth who had lost her husband and how a distant cousin Boaz offered to marry her and redeem her family.  Our seemingly difficult task was done.

Sandy later in the week asked Michael what he was going to call me and he said what every son does, “Dad”, but not until after the wedding.  He stuck by his principle and called be Mr. Templeton for the next three weeks.  It was a story we could never have imagined, that has progressed to see the further addition of sons Blake and Carter to our and Michael’s life. Continue reading


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Moses – Never Too Late for God

When he thought he was finished, he was finally ready.
Lesson 33 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father–in–law … And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed …God called to him from the midst of the bush, and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” …Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said also, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. And the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey…”

– Exodus 3:1–8

Moses fled to the desert, and he lived there as a shepherd for forty years. Then one day, God appeared to Moses in a fire in the midst of a bush, yet the bush was not consumed. And God spoke to Moses from the bush. God told Moses to return to his people and lead them out of Egypt. God promised to be with him.

– The HOPE, Chapter 6

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

In the first lesson of Chapter 6, we learned of the very specific vision that God gave to Abraham. God told Abraham that:

  • His descendants will be strangers in a land that is not their own.
  • They would be enslaved and oppressed for four hundred years.

Then, in Lesson 32, we saw how God used Joseph to save his family (Abraham’s descendants) from the famine in their own land by allowing them to live in Egypt (a land that was not their own). In Egypt, Joseph’s family increased in number and was eventually enslaved and treated harshly by the ruler of Egypt. During this time they became known as the Hebrew people. At one point, the ruler of Egypt ordered the death of every son born into a Hebrew family. One Hebrew child was spared, however, when his mother placed him in a basket in the river that ran by the palace of the princess. The princess found the boy, took him in as her own and named him Moses.1 He was raised as a prince of Egypt…but he had been born a Hebrew, and he never forgot it.

One day when Moses was about 40 years old, he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, so he killed the Egyptian. Fearing for his life, Moses fled into the wilderness. There he married a shepherd’s daughter and lived in that place for another 40 years. It is at this point that our current lesson opens. The descendents of Abraham have been enslaved in a foreign land, just as God had said. And at 80 years of age Moses is about to encounter the covenant–making–God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Think about it, as a prince of Egypt Moses received everything that wealth and power could provide. Still he recognized the plight of his people (Exodus 2:11). With his influence, he might have helped his people like Joseph did. But when Moses killed the Egyptian, everyone turned against him, even his own people. With all of his potential seemingly squandered, Moses went into hiding in the wilderness. Continue reading


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Getting Rid of a Stiff Neck

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from Fred Carpenter

 

One of the MHP staff recently woke up with a stiff neck. The symptoms? Constant pain, limited vision, inability to rest, diminished capacity to enjoy life. This made him think about the parallels to being spiritually stiff-necked like the spiritual leaders Stephen was addressing in Acts 7:51-53 (NASB).

“You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it.”

What is the outcome of remaining spiritually stiff-necked?

A man who hardens his neck after much reproof Will suddenly be broken beyond remedy. Prov 29:1 (NASB)

Is a stiff-neck curable?

Looking at them, Jesus *said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:27 (NASB)

stiff-necked


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Our Infinite Worth in Christ

Mars Hill Staff Devotional

 

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. Colossians 2:9-10

No matter how insignificant he may have been before, a man becomes significant the moment he has had an encounter with the Son of God.
Reading an AW Tozer devotional and studying Colossians 2:9-12, we were overwhelmed by what God has done for us and in us through Christ.

Continue reading here: http://www.cmalliance.org/devotions/tozer?id=794


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Let God Be God

Mars Hill Staff Devotional

 

Most of the struggle of life comes from our wanting to play God ourselves – wanting to be in charge of what happens to us. Today we looked at the words of the Searcher from Ecclesiastes 3:12-22.

I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him (Ecclesiastes 3:14).

How different this picture of life under the sovereign lordship of a living God is from what most people think God is like! A popular book for Christians on the topic of sex explains the truth that God has designed sex for pleasure. But it is not merely sex that is designed for pleasure; all things are designed for human pleasure. If you think a certain thing in and of itself is going to produce lasting pleasure, however, you will miss it. The secret is that it is the knowledge of God in that relationship that produces enjoyment. We are not in the grasp of the Great Cosmic Joy Killer, as many people seem to view God. God delights in human enjoyment.

The Searcher says that all enjoyment must be discovered by realizing that God is in charge, and He will not bend His plan for anyone. God has sovereignly, independently, set up the plan of life in a way with which we cannot interfere. He has done so in order that people should revere Him.

All through the Bible we read, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). Until a person recognizes and trusts the superior wisdom of God, he or she has not begun to fear God. This fear is not abject terror of God; it is respect and honor for Him. If you attempt to live your life without the recognition of God, ultimately you will find yourself, as the Searcher found himself; empty, dissatisfied, and restless, feeling that life is miserable and meaningless. The secret of life is the presence of God Himself.

Most of the struggle of life comes from our wanting to play God ourselves, wanting to be in charge of what happens to us. That is true even of Christians. When God refuses to go along, we sulk and pout and get angry with Him. We throw away our faith and say, What’s the use? I tried it, but it doesn’t work. What a foolish statement! God will not surrender His prerogatives. Nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it—God has made it so in order that men should revere him.

Lord, forgive me for thinking I know what is best for those I love and me. Teach me to trust in Your work, because I know that nothing can be added to it.

Life Application: God has sovereignly, independently, set up the plan of life in a way with which we cannot interfere. Why has He done this and what is the secret of life?

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 www.RayStedman.org if the copy is posted on the Internet. Please direct any questions you may have to webmaster@RayStedman.org.

http://www.raystedman.org/daily-devotions/ecclesiastes/let-god-be-god


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Your God is Too Small

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
Your God is Too Small
by Ray Stedman

In the wake of hurricane Sandy, we discussed “storms” . . . how they affect us, God’s role in them, finding God in them, etc. What do you think? How should we view storms from a Biblical perspective? We concluded by reading Ray Stedman’s devotional on this subject.

Read the Scripture: Job 36-37

God is exalted in his power. Who is a teacher like him? (Job 36:22)

Elihu’s final word to Job is a great and beautiful passage in which he sets forth in marvelous language the glory of God. It runs from chapter 35:22 through chapter 37. First, God is beyond human instruction. Notice how he begins: God is exalted in his power. Who is a teacher like him? Then, he reveals another important fact in chapter 36:26: God is beyond human understanding: How great is God beyond our understanding! Finally, Elihu reveals in 36:30-31 that God acts beyond the rigid categories and reasons of humans: See how he scatters his lightning about him, bathing the depths of the sea. This is the way he governs the nations and provides food in abundance. God uses His natural powers for both blessing and judgment alike.

And then, beginning with chapter 37, we have such a marvelous description of a great electric storm that many of the commentators feel that this was an actual occurrence, that a storm began to break out at this moment, and Elihu used it as a vivid example of what he had been saying about God. If any of you have ever been out on the prairies and seen an electric storm break out, you will know what a terrifying and awe-inspiring experience it is–with the lightning crackling and splitting the sky and the roaring of the thunder. It is a magnificent experience, and this is what Elihu begins to describe in verses 2-4: Listen! Listen to the roar of his voice, to the rumbling that comes from his mouth. He unleashes his lightning beneath the whole heaven and sends it to the ends of the earth. After that comes the sound of his roar; he thunders with his majestic voice. When his voice resounds, he holds nothing back.

Then he speaks of how God sends the snow and the rain; he sends tornadoes, the whirlwinds, and the frost; he controls the cycles of the weather. Next time you are watching a weather report on television, and the broadcast shows a satellite picture, notice how it appears in spirals. This is what Elihu refers to in verse 12: At his direction they swirl around over the face of the whole earth to do whatever he commands them.

Then he tells us why: He brings the clouds to punish men, or to water his earth and show his love(Job 37:13). God has many reasons for doing things; we are not always certain what they are. God’s wisdom is inscrutable. He goes on, Can you join him in spreading out the skies, hard as a mirror of cast bronze? (Job 37:18) Job can do none of these things.

All the way through the Bible, from beginning to end, the only man or woman who ever receives anything from God is the one who comes with a humble and contrite heart. If you think you have something to offer Him or that you have achievements that nobody else can equal, you cut yourself off from the wisdom and knowledge of God. But those who come humbly, contrite, waiting upon God, asking Him to teach them, will find that God will pick them up in grace and power and glory and restore them.

Lord, thank You that in Your majesty and power You are also a God of grace and mercy.

Life Application: Do we try to reduce God to manageable size, and compete with him for control? Or do we humbly receive him as our Father-provider and our Savior and Lord in Jesus?

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.

http://www.raystedman.org/daily-devotions/job/your-god-is-too-small


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The Place to Start

Mars Hill Staff Devotional – August 14, 2012

This is part 2 of 2 from last weeks lesson. First Steps to Restore Broken Lives:
Key take away: Very practical, very powerful. We’re all in need of God’s restoration.

“The Place to Start” by Ray Stedman
Read the Scripture: Nehemiah 1:4-11

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven (Nehemiah 1:4).

Nehemiah clearly has a deep sense of personal concern. He is willing to face the facts, to weep over them and tell God about them. That is always the place to begin. There is nothing superficial about this. A famous song says, Don’t worry, Be happy. But that is mere salve over a deep cancer. What is needed is honestly facing the ruin, whatever it may be, and, without blaming or attempting to involve somebody else, telling it all to God. God always welcomes a broken spirit and a contrite heart.

Follow the pattern of Nehemiah’s prayer. First, he recognized the character of God. The ruin you are concerned with may not always be yours personally. You feel like Nehemiah, and you want to weep and mourn and tell God about it. That is always the place to start, for God is a responsive God. He gives attention to the prayers of His people.

The second thing Nehemiah did was to repent of all personal and corporate sins. This was honestly facing his own guilt. Notice the absence of self-righteousness. He did not say, Lord, I am thinking of those terrible sinners back there in Jerusalem. Be gracious to them because they have fallen into wrong actions. No, he put himself into this picture, saying, I confess before you, Lord, the sins of myself and my father’s house. There was no attempt to blame others for this. It was a simple acknowledgment of wrong.

Then, third, Nehemiah reminded God of His gracious promises. In the book of Deuteronomy 28-30 Moses prophetically outlines the entire history of Israel. He said they would disobey God; they would be scattered among the nations; they would go into exile. But if they would turn and acknowledge their evil, God would bring them back to the land. Nehemiah reminded God of that gracious promise.

The fourth thing Nehemiah did was request specific help to begin this process. It was not going to be easy, but he knew what he had to do. It was going to take the authority of the top power in the whole empire. That was not easy to arrange. But Nehemiah believed that God would help him. And so he started to pray and asked for grace and strength to carry out the steps that were necessary to begin recovery.

Thank You, Father, for this wonderfully practical book that sets out a safe guideline to recovery and usefulness. Help me to begin where Nehemiah began: to tell the whole story in Your ear and thus begin the process of recovery.

Life Application: Are we experiencing the healing power of contrite repentance? Do we acknowledge the effects of our sins on others’ lives?

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.

http://www.raystedman.org/daily-devotions/nehemiah/the-place-to-start