devos from the hill


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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 16

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 Sixteen

So, you find yourself questioning the decisions and behaviors coming down from the one who is in charge; how can you tell if the one you have to answer to is a King Saul or a David? If you could figure that out, would it change the way you respond to them? And….what if you got it wrong?

Most of us know at least one man in the lineage of David who was damned and crucified by other men. By men who were absolutely positive that the one they were crucifying was not a David! It happens all too often that men go after the Sauls but mistakenly end up crucifying the Davids among us.

“Are you so certain your king is a Saul and not a David that you are willing to take the position of God and go to war against your Saul?”

What, then, should you do? Perhaps you should follow David’s lead and wait for God to move.

By waiting on God, a lot may be revealed over time by the behavior of your leader.  More importantly, the passing of time and the way you react to that leader – be he David or Saul – reveals a great deal about you!

A few scriptures to consider:

…then listen from your heavenly dwelling place, forgive their sin, and act favorably toward each one based on your evaluation of his motives. (Indeed you are the only one who can correctly evaluate the motives of all people.) – 1 Kings 8:39 NET

For who among men knows the things of a man except the man’s spirit within him? So too, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. – 1 Corinthians 2:11 NET

make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you,  so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need. – I Thessalonians 4:11-12 NET

Final Thoughts:

Instead of spending time trying to discern the Sauls from the Davids, (which were both anointed by God), we would do better to turn our attentions to the development of our own hearts and minds.

We don’t always see everything as clearly or fully as we think we do.

Often God keeps knowledge veiled so that His purposes will be accomplished.


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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 15

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 Fifteen

“We desperately need God, but we don’t necessarily need Him for what we think we need Him for. We need Him to show us what we need Him for!”

What kind of man was Saul? Who was this one who made himself David’s enemy?

He was a farm boy, a country kid who made good. He was tall, good-looking, and well-liked. He came from a good family. Abraham, Jacob, and Moses were his ancestors. He was anointed of God.

It was Saul who took the Israelites and welded them into a united kingdom. He created an army out of thin air. He won battles in the power of God, defeating the enemy again and again. He was a prophet. The Spirit of God came on him in power and authority. He did and said unprecedented things. A leader, chosen by God with power from God.

Saul was also eaten with jealousy, filled with self-importance, and willing to live in spiritual darkness. He “needed” power to maintain his position and authority as king.

Is there a moral in these contradictions? What made Saul’s failures different from David’s? To quote Gene Edwards, “There is a vast difference between the outward clothing of the Spirit’s power and the inward filling of the Spirit’s life.”

All people begin life with the same problem…a heart that is self-centered.  As Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” In those who are merely clothed with the Spirit’s power, the hidden man of the heart may remain unchanged. But for those filled with the Spirit, the deceitful heart is dealt with.

When God gave Saul power, it revealed Saul’s heart to elevate himself. When God gave David power, it revealed a heart that desired to know more of God in His glory and excellence.

God gives people power…even unworthy people – not because He wants us to be powerful, but because there is a greater agenda He wants to accomplish. For some like Saul, it will be their undoing. For others like David, it will be a part of the ongoing process of revealing and transforming the heart.

Application:

Are you asking God for the power to do what you think you need to do or are you asking Him first to reveal to you what you actually need?

2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. – 2 Peter 1:2-3


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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)


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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


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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


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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 6

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 Six

Today’s devotional study delves into some of the issues at play behind the scenes in I Samuel 18. Saul becomes jealous and angry with David and throws a spear at him; David responds by ducking and running.

Our author suggests that David might have instead chosen to pull the spear out of the wall and return the favor. Didn’t David have the right to defend himself? Wouldn’t people have thought him justified, bold, even courageous to fight back? Especially since the motives of the King were unfounded. David had done nothing wrong!

The King was acting out of jealousy and of fear that his own reputation was waning among the people. But the issue here is that however irrational his motive, Saul was still the God-appointed King and David knew that. David knew that even though the prophet, Samuel had anointed him to be king someday, that day had not yet come. King Saul was still the sovereign ruler under God. And there was no directive in place for David to take the kingship from Saul, so the best course of action was just to do his job and stay out of the line of fire.

Chapter 6 deals largely with God’s divine establishment of authority. Read (as we did) Romans 13 and consider your reaction to this passage of scripture. What do you find hard to swallow? Do you think there are any exceptions to “the rule”?

You might also consider reading more about David’s actions throughout I Samuel 16, 17, 18. He showed courage time and again when carrying out the orders given him, both in taking care of his father’s business and in his battle assignments from the king. He also had no fear when standing up for the Lord’s reputation on the battlefield with Goliath. But, he showed great restraint and humility when dealing with the king himself. David knew his place and did not try to elevate or promote himself. He knew who was in charge of them all!

In closing, you may want to read Psalm 40, penned by David. Here is an excerpt:

I relied completely on the Lord,
and he turned toward me
and heard my cry for help.
 He lifted me out of the watery pit,
out of the slimy mud.
He placed my feet on a rock
and gave me secure footing.
 He gave me reason to sing a new song,
praising our God.
May many see what God has done,
so that they might swear allegiance to him and trust in the Lord!
 How blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord
and does not seek help from the proud or from liars!

Psalm 40:1-4 NET


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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 5

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 Five

From the time we are born, our most basic goal is to grow, learn, and mature. This happens on a physical level, an emotional level, a mental and intellectual level, and a spiritual level. While much of our learning is concrete and can be easily acquired through parents and education, there are other aspects of becoming the people God means for us to be that require a different kind of schooling.

In our devotional today, the author suggests that God has a sacred school of submission and brokenness. It is not a school that many sign up for willingly because being broken can be a painful process. What does it mean to be broken? The kind of brokenness we are talking about here is similar to the breaking of a horse. As a wild animal, a horse has much potential and power, but no discipline or true direction. And if you think about it, a wild horse has the “appearance” of freedom, but it is only the freedom to be wild and live for self. Continue reading


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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


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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 1

A devotional from Gene Edwards book, A Tale of Three Kings

Chapter One

Our lesson today begins with the young boy, David. He is the youngest of 8 boys and at the bottom of the pecking order, he is relegated to the most menial duties of taking care of the family’s flock of sheep.

As the story in the book unfolds, we see that young David spends a lot of time on his own with his charges. He fills some of his time playing his harp and singing. He has much time to ponder the world and think about the God of his ancestors.

Additionally, he takes up the art of slinging stones with increasing accuracy. This proves to be a most excellent skill when he sees, one day, a bear about to attack one of the sheep. He is able to take down the bear with the precision acquired from so much practice! In another incident, David also killed a lion who threatened his flock.

Is it any wonder that when faced with the challenge to come up against the giant Philistine, Goliath, David feels physically, mentally and spiritually prepared?

All of that time spent alone, tending sheep, left to his own thoughts and devices, David could have become bitter and angry or filled with self-pity and fear. He could have rebelled against his lot in life and run off on his own. He might have developed a victim mentality and given himself over to slothfulness. Instead, he embraced his circumstances and found ways to develop useful skills that would give him aid at many times throughout his life. Even his musical ability was used to soothe Saul’s troubled spirit seen in I Samuel 16.

By working in and through David’s circumstances, God could be seen preparing him for some very great accomplishments, ultimately ruling a nation. Likewise, God is preparing in us, what he has prepared for us! It may not be by the means we think it is and it may not be for the reason we think it is; the important truth is to keep our hearts tuned to praising God and our minds fixed on learning what He has for us to do in each and every moment. When our time comes for action we will be ready.


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Refugees – A Biblical Perspective

The world is witnessing the largest refugee crisis since the horrors of World War II. Today, there are close to 60 million refugees worldwide, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

In one sense, all men are refugees; we have all been forcibly displaced. Adam and Eve were banished from the garden and we, as their descendants, continue to search for a safe place where our souls can rest. Ephesians 2:19 eludes to the fact that those outside of God’s household are strangers and aliens.

The Bible recounts the stories of men and women, groups and nations who were displaced by natural disaster, famine, persecution, war, human trafficking and more.  We can become so familiar with these old stories that we miss seeing them in terms of today’s social injustices.

Noah and his family were displaced by the flood. Abraham and Sarah were driven to another land by famine. Jacob fled to another land because his brother threatened to kill him. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers. Mary, Joseph, and Jesus had to flee to Egypt due to political persecution. *

During his 3-year ministry, Jesus was a homeless refugee. In Matthew 8:20, Jesus said to the Scribe, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” As his followers, we must consider what holds our heart’s affections. Am I willing to give up my home and side with the homeless to follow him?

Syria has over twenty million citizens made up of eighteen different people groups. Around 4.8 million of these people have become refugees and another 6.5 million have become displaced within Syria and are seeking refuge. Christian missionaries have spent years praying, strategizing, and risking everything to go to these people with the gospel. After raising tens of thousands of dollars, undergoing extensive training, leaving everything familiar, and going through the long process of learning a foreign language – only then, could missionaries reach these people. The paradigm has shifted!

We serve a God who scatters. Through scattering, God places His people where they need to be to have an impact on communities, peoples, and nations. When we see that people are being scattered, the believers response needs to be “What is God doing?” and “How can I serve?”

*Click Here to read a fuller list of Refugees in the Bible by the International Association for Refugees

sharing the gospel with refugees