devos from the hill


Leave a comment

Are You Really Ready to Glorify God?

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Mars Hill Productions! In this devotional series, president, Fred Carpenter is reflecting on the important lessons of God that have guided us in ministry and led us into a deeper understanding of His ways.

“Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. “Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came out of heaven: “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” – John 12:27-28

Most Christians would say they want to glorify God. But what does that really mean, and how do we do it? To glorify God literally means to magnify Him. To magnify Him doesn’t mean that we make Him bigger in an absolute sense. God is already infinite, and you can’t get any bigger than that. We can’t really add to God’s immeasurable glory.

To glorify or magnify God actually means to make Him bigger and greater in the eyes of others. It’s like driving on a road toward a mountain. In the distance, the mountain may look small. But as we draw nearer, the true size of the mountain becomes more evident. The actual size of the mountain has not changed, our view of it has changed as our proximity to it has changed.

I believe there is more to glorifying God than singing praise songs. I believe God is glorified most when others see Him do things that can only be explained in terms of God, things for which no man can take credit. God is glorified when we see compelling visible evidence of His mighty invisible hand moving in us, through us and around us. The only problem with this is that, in order to glorify God in this manner, we must be willing to follow Him into challenging situations that are way beyond our ability to control . . . situations in which only He can do what needs to be done to see us through.

The passage above takes place after Jesus (Whom John the Baptist called the Lamb of God – John 1:29), entered Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, and to meet His own death as foretold by the prophets (i.e. – Isa 53:7).  Speaking of the excruciating death, the cross, that awaited Him, Jesus said, “for this purpose, I came to this hour.” Jesus was willing to follow the Father into a situation that He, the eternal God-man, had never experienced. Continue reading


Leave a comment

A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 20

The Mars Hill staff is in a series of devotionals drawn from the book, A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards. We share highlights from the book each week, but we invite you to get a copy and read along with us. The drama is a multi-act play telling the stories of three kings. It is a portrait of submission and authority within the Kingdom of God; offering hope and healing to the spiritually wounded.

Chapter Twenty

27 “How long must I bear with this evil congregation that murmurs against me? I have heard the complaints of the Israelites that they murmured against me. 28 Say to them, ‘As I live, says the Lord, I will surely do to you just what you have spoken in my hearing. 29 Your dead bodies will fall in this wilderness—all those of you who were numbered, according to your full number, from twenty years old and upward, who have murmured against me.  – Numbers 14:27-29 NET

And let us not put Christ to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by snakes. 10 And do not complain, as some of them did, and were killed by the destroying angel. 11 These things happened to them as examples and were written for our instruction, on whom the ends of the ages have come. – 1 Corinthians 10:9-11 NET

Murmuring, grumbling, and complaining. We all do it. We express our discontent with our world, sometimes under our breaths where few can hear it and sometimes a bit more audibly for the benefit of others. It may seem innocuous enough…like we are just venting or letting off steam. But, there is actually great harm at the root of it and as the Scripture passages above reveal, these expressions of discontent are an affront to God.

The story of Absalom, 3rd son of King David, is an excellent example of how even a private, inward discontent can fester and grow into an all-out rebellion and life of destruction. (For background on Absalom, you may want to read 2 Samuel 13 – 18.)

Absalom was angered when his half-brother raped his sister. We can only imagine the frustration and bitterness that Absalom felt when their father, King David did nothing about the situation! No discipline, no confrontation, no acknowledgment, no rectification.

David failed to deal with the issue, and that sin brought much grief to the family and kingdom. But, his failure does not let Absalom off the hook for his own failure to deal with the situation in a just and open manner.

Instead of bringing the matter to the King and more importantly to THE King, God Himself, Absalom let his discontent simmer under the surface. He let it affect his every thought and action. It drove him to find his own solution…take over and become the new king! Over years, he methodically charmed his way into the peoples’ hearts by tapping into their own discontent, with promises that he could and would fix their problems. Eventually, it led him to full rebellion against his father, the King and ultimately to his own death.

Some Things to Ponder:

Murmuring, Grumbling and Complaining

  • provides no benefits.
  • dulls our spiritual senses, causing us to forget about what He has done and missing out on what He is doing
  • becomes a stage for Satan to get a foothold in our lives
  • gives a poor testimony of God to others
  • is an affront to the God who ordains our lives

As noted in Lesson 13, God uses discontent to accomplish His purposes in us. The question is how will we respond to our discontent? Saul’s response was to go mad and throw spears. Absalom chose instead to let his discontent fester over a long period and turn into a full on outright rebellion. Yet David, for all his sins and faults, stayed faithful in recognizing that God was sovereign over all and the source for all wisdom, instruction, and direction for life.


1 Comment

A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 12

The Mars Hill staff is in a series of devotionals drawn from the book, A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards. We share highlights from the book each week, but we invite you to get a copy and read along with us. The drama is a multi-act play telling the stories of three kings. It is a portrait of submission and authority within the Kingdom of God; offering hope and healing to the spiritually wounded.

Chapter Twelve

“He (David) ran – through soggy fields and down slimy riverbeds. Sometimes the dogs came close; sometimes they even found him. But swift feet, rivers, and watery pits hid him. He took his food from the fields, dug roots from the roadside, slept in trees, hid in ditches, crawled through briars and mud.”

The author of our book once again uses poetic license to spark our imagination so that we might gain a greater understanding and appreciation for David’s experiences in running from King Saul. Often when we read the accounts of the ancient scriptures, we check off the sequence of events without giving adequate thought to the physical actions that played out or the amount of time it took.

In A Tale of Three Kings, Gene Edwards is helping us relate to David by painting a plausible picture of the kinds of details we would be subject to if we were on the lam with David. There are also a few details the author didn’t include which may give you even greater sympathy for this young anointed one.

First of all, do you know how long David had to hideout from the wrath of Saul? Try eight years! That is a long time to be hunted….a long time to be looking over your shoulder….wondering who, if anyone, you could trust.

As a result, David was constantly on the move; often to foreign places. One of those cities where he sought shelter and rest was Gath. Our book says, “Here, too, he was feared, hated, lied about, and plotted against.” Why would this be? Does it surprise you to know that Gath was a Philistine city and the hometown of Goliath, the very imposing man that David had killed in battle some years before!

King Saul’s relentless pursuit of David caused him to seek refuge even among his enemies. These were David’s darkest hours. David was surely a beaten and battered man. But, whenever he came to the end of himself and had nowhere else to turn, he turned to his God, who had proved Himself trustworthy to David, time after time.

Being beaten and battered by life is something that is common to us all. For some, these experiences yield brokenness resulting in the pursuit of God’s will and God’s way. For others, the tests and trials of life produce just the opposite; a rebellion against God, and a rejection of His way.

Consider the trials that you have gone through. Was your response to seek God’s help and follow His lead? Or, did you look for solutions and escapes routes of your own?

Consider these words written by David while in pursuit from Saul:

O taste and see that the Lord is good:
blessed is the man that trusts in Him. – Psalm 34: 8 (David)

The Lord is near the brokenhearted;
he delivers those who are discouraged. – Psalm 34:18 (David)

The Lord redeems the soul of His servants,
And none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned. – Psalm 34:22 (David)


Leave a comment

A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 10

The Mars Hill staff is in a series of devotionals drawn from the book, A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards. We share highlights from the book each week, but we invite you to get a copy and read along with us. The drama is a multi-act play telling the stories of three kings. It is a portrait of submission and authority within the Kingdom of God; offering hope and healing to the spiritually wounded.

Chapter Ten

“How does a person know when it is okay to separate oneself from the Lord’s anointed – especially if the Lord’s anointed is after the order of King Saul?

David never made that decision. The Lord’s anointed made it for him. The king’s own decree settled the matter!

‘Hunt him down; kill him like a dog!’

Only then did David leave. No, he fled. Even then, he never spoke a word or lifted a hand against Saul. And please note this: David did not split the kingdom when he made his departure. He did not take part of the population with him. He left alone.”

And so begins the next chapter of our book. Saul’s jealousy and madness have finally progressed to the point that he is demanding David’s death. David, knowing that he has been anointed by God to be the next king at some future time which has yet to be revealed, chooses wisely to flee and hide. David could have fought back. He had garnered enough fame and support that he likely could have persuaded many in King Saul’s court and army to turn their allegiance to him instead. But David knew that it is God who makes kings and appoints times, and God had not yet given the go-ahead for him to be king. The only thing left to do then was to get out of Saul’s way.

This sets the stage for our discussion using the following questions:  Sometimes God leads us into a situation which turns sour; how do we know when it is okay to leave that situation? And, what should our exit strategy be?

The kinds of situations we talked about included those such as jobs, churches, volunteer commitments, and the like. Things usually look pretty good when you commit to a church, but after some time the leadership may start to take you in a direction you don’t want to go. Perhaps the worship style changes or the leaders demand that you take a more active role in engaging the community.

We should not leave a situation because we have become uncomfortable or unhappy. Like David, we leave when we are no longer capable of fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives in that situation. And, like David, it may take a while to come to that realization …and we may go through a season of having spears chucked at us before the full intentions of the king are made known.

This is not to say that we should stick it out in situations of actual abuse! But there are times when our situation may actually be one of being tested like Job rather than hunted by King Saul. The point is to seek God’s leading rather than cater to our own discomfort. God may be using discomfort to draw out or build up something in us.

Lastly, when you see that it is time to depart, don’t try to take an entourage with you! Don’t gossip about it. Don’t work others up into a frenzy. Just be obedient to your call and go. We are each responsible to follow God’s leading and we should not want to lead others away from what God may be doing in their lives.

Below are two excerpts from Psalm 18, written by David, in response to his tough situation. Think about the heart of David and the mindset that he had in trusting God so completely that his relationship with Saul did not undo him.

I will love You, O LORD, my strength.
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised;
So shall I be saved from my enemies.  – Psalm 18:1-3

For You will light my lamp;
The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.
For by You I can run against a troop,
By my God I can leap over a wall.
As for God, His way is perfect;
The word of the Lord is proven;
He is a shield to all who trust in Him.  – Psalm 18:28-30


1 Comment

A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 9

Chapter Nine

From last week’s devotional, we know that God is the one who appoints authorities in our lives. And we know that we are expected to follow those authorities even when they don’t really make sense. We also know that God’s greater concern is for the motives of the heart and He will use the authorities and circumstances in our lives to shape and mold our hearts to be like His.

Today’s devotional digs a little deeper into this process of making us more like our heavenly Father. The author of our book declares, “I’m in David’s situation, and I am in agony. What do I do when the kingdom I’m in is ruled by a spear-wielding king? Should I leave? If so, how?”

Further, he says, “You have your eyes on the wrong King Saul. As long as you look at your king, you will blame him and him alone, for your present hell. But be careful, for God has his eyes fastened sharply on another King Saul. Not the visible one standing up there throwing spears at you. No, God is looking at another King Saul….God is looking at the ‘King Saul’ in you.”

The author of our book so skillfully points out that, like David, we all have King Saul within us. Saul is representative of three enemies of God; worldly thoughts and desires of the soul, power of sin in our flesh, and Satan and his powers of darkness. Even though we, like David, may have a heart turned to God, we are still in this world and connected to our earthly flesh.  In accepting Christ as savior, our spirit is regenerated at once but our outer man has to go through a longer and, most often, unpleasant sanctifying process. Sanctification is all about bringing the rest of our being under the will and the reign of God.

“King Saul sought to destroy David, but his only success was that he became the instrument of God to put to death the ‘Saul’ who roamed about in the caverns of David’s own soul.”

Some closing thoughts from Scripture about embracing the circumstances and authorities in our lives that God may be using to sanctify us…

My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything. – James 1:2-4 NET

Not only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. – Romans 5:3-5 NET

1Therefore I exhort you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice—alive, holy, and pleasing to God—which is your reasonable service. Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God—what is good and well-pleasing and perfect.  – Romans 12:1-2 NET


Leave a comment

A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 7

The Mars Hill staff is in a series of devotionals drawn from the book, A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards. We share highlights from the book each week, but we invite you to get a copy and read along with us. The drama is a multi-act play telling the stories of three kings. It is a portrait of submission and authority within the Kingdom of God; offering hope and healing to the spiritually wounded.

Chapter Seven

Unlike anyone else in spear-throwing history, David did not know what to do when a spear was thrown at him. He did not throw Saul’s spears back at him. Nor did he make any spears of his own and throw them. Something was different about David. All he did was dodge the spears.

David could have retaliated. But he didn’t. He could have defended himself or questioned or complained. But there was something in David that produced a much different response. It was as if David was unoffended by what was happening around him.

Think about it. David had no way of knowing Saul’s motivations for attack. But his reaction speaks to what he did know – that God’s justice doesn’t require our defense.  Or to say it another away, acting on our own defense is an interference to God’s justice.

Look at 1 Peter 2:21 and the example of Christ’s suffering,

“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting himself to Him who judges righteously

In the face of injustice Jesus didn’t retaliate but instead trusted in what His Father had prepared for him to do. Jesus understood that the mockers and guards and religious leaders with their barrage of insults and accusations were merely the instruments chosen by God, to accomplish a greater divine purpose. Knowing this, Jesus uttered no threats but pressed into trusting the Father.

David had the attitude that was Christ’s, one we should aim for today in our own hearts. When we trust in God as our defender and deliverer, we can rest knowing that in Him we are spear-proof. We will never control the spears that are thrown our way, but today we can establish our response.

It is with the mind of Christ, like David, we can live the unoffended life. A life dependent on God’s justice, not our own retribution.

 

 


1 Comment

A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 3

The Mars Hill staff is in a series of devotionals drawn from the book, A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards. We share highlights from the book each week, but we invite you to get a copy and read along with us. The drama is a multi-act play telling the stories of three kings. It is a portrait of submission and authority within the Kingdom of God; offering hope and healing to the spiritually wounded.

Chapter Three

Before he became the king, David served a king… King Saul. During this time, Saul often felt torment and David, being the experienced musician, would play his harp and sing many of the songs that he had penned while tending sheep and meditating on things of God.

David’s beautiful music soothed Saul’s spirit for a while, but at the same time, it was one more reason for Saul to be jealous of David. As Gene Edwards says in his book, “Saul felt threatened by David, as kings often do when there is a popular, promising young man beneath them. The king also knew, as did David, that this boy just might have his job some day.”

David was caught in an uncomfortable position! He had come to serve in the palace at the king’s request, yet he was increasingly aware of the king’s angst against him. Focusing on David’s part of this drama, we considered David’s obedience to serve in whatever situation God put him in, whether it was as a sheepherder, an errand boy or now, as a palace musician.

In Gene Edwards’ book, the author believes that David understood what God wanted. He wanted broken vessels – people who understand that brokenness comes with pain. People who will not run from it but instead, trust God to be their strength through the adversity. Continue reading