devos from the hill


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Why Jesus Has Not Returned

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.

If had to name five passages of scripture that have most influenced the ministry of Mars Hill, 2 Peter 3:9-13 would be one of them.

In the final scene of the Old Testament section of our movie, The HOPE, the storyteller says, “In the Garden of Eden, God promised to send a Deliverer. Through Hebrew prophets, God gave hundreds of promises concerning this Deliverer, who would one day conquer Satan, sin, and death forever.  In the temple, the smoke from sacrifices ascended day after day, year after year, generation after generation, giving the Hebrew people a constant reminder of humankind’s need for the Deliverer. But when would He come?   How would He come? By now, some must have wondered if He would come at all.” At that moment, a Hebrew man runs to the center of the village, falls to his knees and cries out, “How Long!!!”

More and more, when I see what is happening in the world around me, I feel just like that man. “How Long, Lord, before you return and right all that is wrong?”

Prophecy buffs look at things like the increasing rate of natural disasters, an unprecedented number of wars and rumors of wars, phenomena in the heavens, and the events in and around Israel to assess where we are on God’s prophetic timetable. And rightly so, these are all that the Bible calls, “signs of the times” (Matt.16:3, Matt.24:3). But these are only signs. None of them give us reasons for the delay of Christ’s return.

There is, however, a place in God’s Word where we can go to understand why Jesus has not yet returned. In 2 Peter 3:9 we read, “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.” This verse is telling us that, as bad as things are, and as much as God hates sin and evil, He loves those who have yet to turn to Him even more. He is “not slow about His promise” (to return); He is waiting for those whom He knows are yet to come to Him.

And because we know that is the reason for His delay, what should we be about? Very simply, we should be about sharing and living out the Gospel with those who have not yet heard it or received it. When I get another dose of bad news in the world, it doesn’t defeat me. It actually empowers me to renew my commitment to engage in the Global Great Commission. How about you?

Moving on down to verse 12 in 2 Peter, we are told that we should be “looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God…” There are three things we need to know about this verse.

1) First, we cannot, in the absolute sense, hasten (or “speed”, as some translations read) the coming of that day. It is fixed in the mind of God, and only the Father knows it (Matt.24:36). We should apply this verse as if to say we should “participate” in the hastening of that day. And how do we participate? By reaching those who have not yet been reached. The day will not be moved. If you don’t participate in hastening it, God will raise up someone else who will.

2) Secondly, we should know that the “day of God” in this verse is not the same as the “day of the Lord”, which appears several times in the Bible. The day of the Lord is a terrible time when God judges this world. The day of God is that time when God ushers in “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter3:13).

3)  And finally, “the coming” of that day is not just an event on the calendar. That little phrase “the coming,” actually comes from the Greek word “Parousia,” which literally means “the presence.” It is a technical term which was used in reference to the coming of a king. It was a royal visit, and the presence of the king changed everything! It is not just a new day in which things are different, it is a new day because His glorious presence fills the day!

Do look for that day? Do you long for His presence? Then be about His business. Reach those whom He died for!

 


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The Highest Use of Media in Ministry

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.

Televangelism in America is a multibillion-dollar industry. Many claim that televangelism is an effective way to reach the lost. The facts do not support that claim. According to studies cited in the book, “Televangelism and American Culture”, by Quentin J. Schultze, less than .01% of the people in America who attend church do so because of the influence of mass evangelism, including radio and television. According to Schultze, and those he cites, televangelism is primarily a confirmatory medium. In other words, the audience is mostly Christian, viewing content they already agree with.

On the other hand, Schultze also cites research revealing that friends and relatives count for 75%-90% of all the conversions in America. Plain and simple, relationship is key to evangelism! Believing this to be true, I’ve had to ask myself, as the co-founder and president of a media ministry, “How does this affect my view of what I do in creating and using media?”

To answer this question, I must first acknowledge this fundamental truth. Our God is a relational God, and He is all about relationship. The Triune nature of God defines for us, the ultimate and perfect model of relationship. As members of the Body of Christ, we are joined together in such a way that we cannot understand our true identity, or truth itself, apart from our relationship with each other. Consider Paul’s words in Romans 1:11 “For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established . . .” Paul wanted to be there in person. What he wanted to give them was more than information, more than objective truth. It was something that could not be sent in a letter. Continue reading


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Introducing Broken People to the Great Healer

3 Circles Evangelism – A Devotional from Mars Hill staffer, Ryan Renfrow, on how he connects with people right where they are and helps them see the one true source that can address their hurts and their brokenness.

Evangelism isn’t a spiritual gift for a few, but a commandment that Jesus has given to all believers everywhere. The expectation of the global great commission is, as you are going around the world in whatever shape your life takes, you are telling all the people about all that Jesus has commanded and taught you. 

As you are going around the world you’ll notice we live in a place of brokenness. Hurt and heartache are a reality for all people, from all places. Broken lives, broken relationships, and broken systems are cross-cultural problems. Brokenness is universal and we all have the feeling deep in our heart that things in this world aren’t as they ought to be. Everyone would agree there should be a place with no cancer, where children’s hospitals don’t exists and natural disasters don’t happen.

When we see the brokenness around us, we search for a way to make sense of it.  In ourselves, we can’t do anything about the brokenness because an honest look shows we too are broken – we aren’t what we ought to be. This brokenness isn’t just outside and around us – we feel it in us! This brokenness isn’t just a feeling it’s a reality we see and know. And still, something tells us things shouldn’t be this way.

Often when those around us are experiencing this brokenness, our first response is “Here’s what you should do”. But this isn’t helpful and doesn’t give the answer. The answer to brokenness doesn’t lie in what a person can do, it’s found only in what Jesus has already done.

This video demonstrates a simple visual way to show a person how we became broken and how Christ can restore us to fellowship with God…


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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.

Click here:  http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/why-would-the-world-ask-about-your-hope

 


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NO RESERVES – NO RETREATS – NO REGRETS

William Whiting BordenIn Cairo, Egypt, at the end of a garbage-lined alley, in a poorly kept grave yard, there is a grave stone with this inscription . . .

  Apart from faith in Christ there is no explanation for such a life.
“Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.”
 – St. Mark XVI 15

This is the grave of William Whiting Borden (1887-1913).

An heir to the Borden Milk Co., William was born into affluence in Chicago, Illinois on November 1, 1887. In 1894, William’s mother became a Christ follower and she began taking him to Chicago Avenue Church (now Moody Church). William soon responded to the gospel preaching of Dr. R. A. Torrey, turned to Christ and was baptized.

When William graduated from high school in 1906, his parents offered whatever he wanted as a graduation present. He chose a trip around the world. For three months, he traveled by boat, train and on foot. He came home convinced that he wanted to be a missionary. His father saw this as a youthful aspiration, and assuming he would grow out of it, sent William off to Yale to earn a business degree.

Athletic, handsome and one of the most popular students at Yale, William started a morning prayer group that soon spread across the campus. By the end of the first year, 150 freshmen were meeting weekly for Bible study and prayer. By the time William was a senior, 1,000 of Yale’s 1,300 students were meeting in such groups. Continue reading


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Your Part in the Grand Story

A challenge to complete the Great Commission.
Lesson 65 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit…

– Matthew 28:19

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”

– Mark 16:15

…repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

– Luke 24:47

And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come.

– Matthew 24:14

And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations.

– Mark 13:10

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.

– 2 Peter 3:9

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

In the previous lesson we considered the final goal of God’s grand story as it has been revealed to man: “That God might be worshipped with white–hot affection by a redeemed company of countless persons from every tribe and tongue and people and nation”1 (Revelation 5:9, Revelation 7:9). From 1 Corinthians 2:9, we saw that what God has prepared for those who love Him is too wonderful for us to even comprehend. We also saw that those who love God will dwell in a new heaven and a new earth where they will reign with Him and glorify Him forever! (Revelation 22:5, Psalm 86:12).

But when will these things take place? If you recall from Lesson 60, we read that just before Jesus ascended to heaven, He gave his followers some final instructions. These instructions are commonly known as the Great Commission and may be found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. (They are listed at the beginning of this lesson.) Notice from Matthew 24:14 that “the end” (the final goal of God’s grand story) will not come until the gospel is “preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations.”

Recall from Lesson 25 that a nation, in the Biblical sense of the word, is not simply a geographic country, but rather a people group that is distinct from other people groups by virtue of language, culture, tribal affiliation, etc. Immediately after God’s judgment at Babel, 70 nations were born. In our world today there are thousands of nations. Many of them have yet to be reached with the Gospel. And until they are reached, the end (or the beginning depending on how you see it) will not come. Continue reading


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Willing to Be Made Willing

Man’s role and God’s role.
Lesson 12 from The HOPE Study Guide

Introduction

Adam was given the freedom to choose, a freedom central to God’s purpose. For man was created to love God and to be loved by God. And love is not truly love without the freedom to choose love. So Adam had a choice, to taste the fruit, or not; a choice with a consequence, life or death.

– The HOPE, Chapter 2

Observe & Consider

From the moment God told Adam not to taste of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Adam was confronted with a choice. Much has been written on the seemingly great tension between the ideas of God’s sovereignty (or control) over this world and man’s responsibility (or freedom) to make choices.1

Some say that God determines the destiny of every person; others say that man is a free moral agent who by his own choices determines his destiny. The fact is that both ideas seem to be taught in the Bible. For example, in Joshua 24:15 Joshua exhorts the Hebrew people: “…choose for yourselves today whom you will serve …as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
And, in John 15:16, Jesus says to His closest friends and followers, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should remain…”

This study guide is not meant to exhaustively examine and resolve the tension between God’s control and man’s choice. That theological argument lies beyond our scope. However, it may be helpful for you to reflect upon the following thought from those who have prepared this material. Continue reading


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Our Blessed Hope

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
(Part 3 of 3-part series)
from Fred Carpenter

“. . . looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,” – Titus 2:13

I’ve witnessed this scene several times in my life. I’m in a room of people. It could be a classroom, a dining room or a conference room. An important person enters the room. The mood in the room immediately changes and the people begin to act different than only a moment before.

What if you knew that Jesus was going to walk into your world right now? That before you finish whatever you’re doing, whatever activity you’re engaged in, you would see Him face to face? Would it make a difference?

The apostle John was dealing with a similar thought when he wrote, “Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.” – 1 John 2:28. What a terrible thought, to shrink away from Him in shame!

For those who love Him, His return should be something entirely different than what John is describing. In fact, in Titus 2:3, Paul calls it our “blessed hope.” And why does he use this descriptive?

It is blessed because of all that the Savior’s return will mean to us as believers in Christ. Hampton Keathley reminds us that His coming for us means . . .

  • transformation or glorification (glorified resurrection bodies),
  • reunion (meeting loved one and friends who have died in the Lord),
  • remuneration (evaluation for and the giving of rewards for faithful service), and
  • reigning with Christ in the glorious future that follows

According to Ray Stedman, “One of the great reasons the church is so confused in this day, one of the reasons the church says so little of true significance to the world, is that it has neglected and abandoned, by and large, the hope of the coming of the Lord. There are very few sermons preached on it. There is very little said about it. There is no time given to a consideration of what this hope means and why it is set forth so frequently and so clearly in the Scriptures. Great sections of the Scriptures that deal with the hope of our Lord’s return are simply ignored by Christians.”

The Bible teaches us that the return of Christ is imminent (James 5:8). If we really believe that, it will change the way we live. The great preacher F. B. Meyer once asked D. L. Moody, “What is the secret of your success?” Moody replied, “For many years I have never given an address without the consciousness that the Lord may come before I have finished.”

Speaking of our blessed hope, Spiros Zodhiates said, “Our hearts will be propped up if we live in the constant expectation of His coming.” Did you know that 1 in every 20 NT passages refers to the Second Coming either directly or indirectly! God intends that our blessed hope, the promise of His return would motivate us to Godly living, encourage us to persevere and reorient our priorities.

“You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.” – James 5:8 NASB

Additional Reading Continue reading


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Let’s Hasten the Coming of That Day!

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from Fred Carpenter

In 2 Peter 3:9-13 we read, “(v.9) 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. (v.10) 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. (v.11) Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, (v.12) looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! (v.13) But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.”

The “promise” in verse 9 refers to the promised return of Christ. While the Bible does not reveal the exact time of His return, this portion of scripture does tell us why He has not yet returned.

Have you ever been so repulsed by some story or event in the news that you have thought, “God, how can You allow this?” Though God’s judgment of evil is not always immediate, it is certain. This passage tells us that God is delaying His final judgment of this world because He desires that “none should perish.” He hates evil, but His love for those who have yet to turn to Him is so great that He is willing to wait for them. Many have not yet turned to Him because they have not yet heard of Him. He is waiting, not only on those who will receive the Gospel, but also on those who will share it! Continue reading


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Can God Trust You to Share in the Fellowship of His Sufferings?

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from Fred Carpenter

“that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings…” – Philippians 3:10 NASB

What can we learn from an 87 year old missionary doctor who in 1964, while single and serving God in the Congo, was captured by rebels, beaten and raped? We realize that this is the second consecutive devotional we’ve done on the topic of suffering, but we think you’ll really benefit from getting to know Helen Roseveare. This video (8 min. 21 sec., part 2 of 5) will give a glimpse into how Helen experienced God in the middle of that night;

The Question – Can you thank God for trusting you with suffering, even if He never explains why?

Continue reading