devos from the hill


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Contemplating the Presence of God

Mars Hill Staff Devotional

To begin today’s devotional, we discuss the difference between the universal presence of God and the manifest presence of God.

“The Presence (of God) and the manifestation of the Presence are not the same. There can be the one without the other. God is here when we are wholly unaware of it. He is manifest only when and as we are aware of His Presence. On our part there must be surrender to the Spirit of God, for His work it is to show us the Father and the Son. If we co-operate with Him in loving obedience God will manifest Himself to us, and that manifestation will be the difference between a nominal Christian life and a life radiant with the light of His face” – A.W. Tozer

Read through the following collection of scriptures and quotes on the Presence of God. Reflect on the ones that jump out at you. Consider what attitudes and actions you might need to alter in order to be more aware of God’s Presence on a consistent basis.

“Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” – 1 Corinthians 3:16

“Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” – Psalm 16:11

“In Him we live and move and have our being” – Acts 17:28

His presence in the Christian is the guarantee that God will bring the believer into the fullness of the stature of Christ. He enlightens and empowers the believer and the church in worship, evangelism, and service. – Baptist Faith and Message

We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito. – C. S. Lewis

I want the presence of God Himself, or I don’t want anything at all to do with religion… I want all that God has or I don’t want any. – A. W. Tozer

Don’t equate the presence of God with a good mood or a pleasant temperament. God is near whether you are happy or not. – Max Lucado

You can have all of your doctrines right—yet still not have the presence of God. – Leonard Ravenhill

We cannot enter into the presence of God while we are rebelling against God. – A. W. Tozer

The most holy and necessary practice in our spiritual life is the presence of God. That means finding constant pleasure in His divine company, speaking humbly and lovingly with him in all seasons, at every moment, without limiting the conversation in any way. – Brother Lawrence

We (Christians) are always in the presence of God. There is never a non-sacred moment! His presence never diminishes. Our awareness of His presence may falter, but the reality of His presence never changes. – Max Lucado

The true meaning of existence is disclosed in moments of living in the presence of God. – Abraham Joshua Heschel

Joy is not necessarily the absence of suffering, it is the presence of God. – Sam Storms

What if all it took to bring us to our knees and to ignite our affections was the Word opened and the presence of God? What if that was enough for us? What if it didn’t take a great band to evoke that kind of response from us in worship? What if His presence – His Word opened – what if it was enough? – David Platt

Sometimes the very presence of God is barred by our presuppositions and our intense and constant desire for triumph. – Ravi Zacharias

If you find a reluctanc to go into the presence of God, there may be unconfessed, unrepented sin in your life. Part of your quiet time is to get your heart clean and pure. Each of us needs to take ourselves by the nape of our necks and confess and repent before we come into God’s holy presence to fellowship. – Adrian Rogers

Prayer is the window that God has placed in the walls of our world. Leave it shut and the world is a cold, dark house. But throw back the curtains and see His light. Open the window and hear His voice. Open the window of prayer and invoke the presence of God in your world. – Max Lucado

The real crisis of worship today is not that the preaching is paltry or that it’s too drafty in church. It is that people have no sense of the presence of God, and if they have no sense of His presence, how can they be moved to express the deepest feelings of their souls to honor, revere, worship, and glorify God? – R. C. Sproul

If the presence of God is in the church, the church will draw the world in. If the presence of God is not in the church, the world will draw the church out. – Charles Grandison Finney

A man who knows that he lives in sin against God will not be inclined to come daily into the presence of God. – Jonathan Edwards

The real issue relating to exclusiveness is whether or not the Christian actually has a relationship with God, a presence of God, which non-Christians do not have. Apart from Christian spiritual formation as described here, I believe there is little value in claiming exclusiveness for the Christian way. – Dallas Willard

The Christian life is to live all of your life in the presence of God. – R. C. Sproul

If we rely on anything else besides faith to maintain the practice of the presence of God, we will certainly fail, whether this is our feelings, or experiences, or sincerity, or good intentions, or reasonings, or plans. The reason these things will fail while faith will not fail is that all these things depend on us, while faith depends on God. It is a gift of God. – Peter Kreeft

When we are enjoying the conscious presence of God, we are fulfilling the tenets of our salvation. – A. W. Tozer

Only when we are captured by an overwhelming sense of awe and reverence in the presence of God, will we begin to worship God in spirit and in truth. – Alistair Begg

There is a strain of loneliness infecting many Christians, which only the presence of God can cure. – A. W. Tozer

Nothing in or of this world measures up to the simple pleasure of experiencing the presence of God. – A. W. Tozer

Peace comes not from the absence of trouble, but from the presence of God. – Alexander MacLaren

Most theists are deists most of the time, in practice if not in theory. They practice the absence of God instead of the presence of God. – Peter Kreeft

 


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Seven Ways to Pray for Your Heart

Article by Jon Bloom / Desiring God

Over the years, as I’ve prayed for my own heart, I’ve accumulated seven “D’s” that I have found helpful. Maybe you’ll find them helpful as well.

With seven you can use them a number of ways. You might choose one “D” per day. Or you could choose one “D” as a theme for a week and pray through these every seven weeks. You’ll also note that I have a verse for each prayer. But over time as you pray more verses will come to mind and you might find it helpful to collect them so they are right at hand as the Spirit leads.

I begin each prayer with the phrase “whatever it takes, Lord” because the Bible teaches us to be bold and wholehearted in our praying, not reticent. I also use the phrase because it tests my heart. How much do I want God and all he promises to be for me in Jesus? Do I really want true joy enough to ask for my Father’s loving discipline to wean me from joy-stealing sin? And how much do I trust him? Do I really believe that he will only give me what is good when I ask in faith (Luke 11:11–13)? “Whatever it takes” prayers help me press toward and express childlike trust in the Father.

Delight: Whatever it takes, Lord, give me delight in you as the greatest treasure of my heart.

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)

Desires: Whatever it takes, Lord, align the desires of my heart with yours.

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9–10)

Dependence: Whatever it takes, Lord, increase my awareness of my dependence on you in everything so that I will live continually by faith.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Discernment: Whatever it takes, Lord, teach me to discern good from evil through the rigorous exercise of constant practice.

“But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:14)

Desperation: Whatever it takes, Lord, keep me desperate for you because I tend to wander when I stop feeling my need for you.

“Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.” (Psalm 119:67)

Discipline: Whatever it takes, Lord, discipline me for my good that I may share your holiness and bear the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

“He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:10–11)

Diligence: Whatever it takes, Lord, increase my resolve to do your will with all diligence.

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15–16)

These are just suggestions. The Lord may lead you to pray in other ways. But however he teaches us, whatever means we find helpful, may God cause us all to grow in faith until we pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and never lose heart (Luke 18:1).

See original post: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/seven-ways-to-pray-for-your-heart

 


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How’s Your One-on-One Time with God?

The need for a regular quiet time for personal prayer and feeding on His Word…

In a 2013 poll of its readers, Leadership Journal (a publication for vocational Christian workers) reported that 91% of the respondents admitted to some form of burnout in ministry, and 18% said they were “fried to a crisp right now.”

For today’s Mars Hill staff devotional, we read and discussed the following thoughts concerning our need to have a regular quiet time for personal prayer and feeding on God’s Word – a daily time to be refreshed and nourished by the Living Water and the Bread of Life.

“In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.” – Mark 1:35

“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” – Luke 5:16

In the book “Directions,” James Hamilton writes:

Before refrigerators, people used icehouses to preserve their food. Icehouses had thick walls, no windows, and a tightly fitted door. In winter, when streams and lakes were frozen into silver-gray pathways, large blocks of ice were cut, hauled to the icehouses, and covered with golden sawdust. Often the ice would last well into the summer. One man lost a valuable watch in this sawdust while working in an icehouse. He searched diligently for it carefully raking through the sawdust, but didn’t find it. His fellow workers also looked, but their efforts, too, proved futile.

A small boy who heard about the fruitless search slipped into the icehouse during the noon hour and soon emerged with the watch. Amazed, the men asked him how he found it. The boy replied, “I closed the door, laid down in the sawdust, and kept very still. Soon I heard the watch ticking.”

Beloved, often the question is not whether God is speaking but whether we are being still enough, and quiet enough, to hear what He has to say to us. Be still and get God’s direction for your life!

“Be still, and know that I am God.” – Psalm 46:10 (ESV)

“In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.” – Psalm 5:3  . . . ” Your ears will hear a word behind you, this is the way; walk in it.” – Isaiah 30:21. . . Let God order your morning prayer, and He will show you how to order your day.

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.’” – Matt.4:4 . . . Daily feeding from the Word of God is vital to prevent spiritual malnourishment.

“If we are weak in communion with God we are weak everywhere.” – C.H. Spurgeon Continue reading


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When Life Throws You a Curve Ball

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from Fred Carpenter

It’s a popular phrase. You’ve probably heard it, “When life throws you a curveball.”

Because the World Series is starting this week, I’m going to toss up the question, “What do you do when life throws you a curve ball?”

The curve ball is thrown by rotating the index and middle fingers down, resulting in spin on the ball that gives it the motion of a downward “curve”. It’s one of the hardest things in sports to execute well. It gives the opposition fits when thrown properly. Some pitchers have a curve ball that actually seems to skip or accelerate on the downward motion as it nears the plate.

What are the options for a batter when he is thrown a curve ball? Well, the first challenge is just to recognize if it is a curveball. It takes a lot of practice and physical gifting to be able to visually pick up on the spin of a baseball. Assuming a batter has some capacity to recognize a curveball, his first option, particularly if he’s low in the count, might be to “take it”; just watch it go by. Many batters know what it’s like to see that pitch coming right down the middle of the plate, thinking they can do whatever they want with the pitch. They can almost taste it. So they let loose with a swing, only to find at the last split second that the pitch is “dropping off the table.” There’s no way to adjust in time to connect with the ball. The best they can do is to try not to look like too much of a clown as their knees buckle and they thrash the air. Why do that if you don’t have to, if you can take it? If it’s early in the count you can give up a strike, and there is the possibility it will drop out of the strike zone and be called for a ball. Continue reading


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Free from the Fog of Fear

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from Fred Carpenter

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” 1 John 4:18 NASB

Today we are talking about fear. Not the kind of fear that suddenly grips you with terror, but the kind that lurks below the surface of your conscious mind. The fear we equate with terror comes on us in an instant, like a life-threatening wound from a gunshot. The kind of fear we are talking about today is more like a slow moving disease. It’s the kind of fear you may not even be aware of, or have forgotten was there, until you’re faced with a challenge (or an opportunity) that reminds you of its power.

This is the kind of fear every one of us inherited as a son of Adam. This kind of fear can rob you of peace and joy, and keep you from running unencumbered toward your destiny. This kind of fear can bring the flow of your life to a standstill, just as a dense fog can bring the vibrant flow of traffic in a busy city to a dead halt.

But consider this, according to the Bureau of Standards in Washington, a dense fog, covering seven city blocks to a depth of 100 feet is composed of less than one glass of water. That amount of water is divided into about 60 billion tiny droplets. Yet when those minute particles settle over a city or the countryside, they can almost blot out everything from sight. Continue reading


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Tested and Tempted . . . What’s the Difference?

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
From Fred Carpenter
Tested and Tempted Part 1 of 2

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” – Matthew 4:1 NASB

After Jesus was baptized, He was led by the Spirit (of God) into the wilderness to be tempted.This temptation is described in Matthew 4:1–11, Mark 1:12–13, and Luke 4:1–2. Notice that the Matthew 4:1 passage says the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted, but it does not say that the Spirit tempted Jesus. That is an important distinction because the Bible also says in James 1:13 that, “God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” Satan (who is called the tempter in Matthew 4:3 and 1 Thessalonians 3:5) is the one who does the tempting.

Based upon the James 1:13 passage, notice that it was futile for Satan to tempt Jesus, for “God cannot be tempted.” In the end, the temptation of Jesus served only to further the purposes of God. It was all part of His plan. This will become even more evident as we consider the word “tempt.”

“Tempt” (or tempted) comes from the Greek word “peirazo,” which is actually a legal term meaning “to make proof of.” In light of this root definition, we could say that Satan was tempting Jesus in order to prove that He was no different than any other man that had ever lived; that He was just like Adam and that He would fold under pressure. Ultimately, the same way that a prosecuting attorney seeks to disqualify the testimony of a defendant, Satan wanted to disqualify Jesus as the Deliverer who would free mankind from Satan, sin, and death. Continue reading


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Time for a Declaration of Dependence

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
Thoughts about Freedom and Independence
from Fred Carpenter

July 4th is the day when the U.S.A. celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress in 1776. Considering the current spiritual condition of our nation, perhaps it is time for America to rethink the meaning of freedom and to adopt a Declaration of Dependence.

Independence

The world values independence, the freedom from having someone tell you how to run your life. The Bible on the other hand, speaks about a dependence that leads to freedom and fulfillment. “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” – Matt.16:25

The mark of a mature Christian is not how much he knows, but rather how much he depends on Christ to express His life in and through him on a moment by moment basis. Jesus said, “. . . apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5.

Dependence on Christ, not only results in our fulfillment, it results in the glorification of God. In fact, in a sermon preached on July 8, 1731, Jonathan Edwards made the case that when we do not depend on God, we rob him of glory. “Now whatever scheme is inconsistent with our entire dependence on God for all, and of having all of him, through him, and in him, it is repugnant to the design and tenor of the gospel, and robs it of that which God accounts its luster and glory.” Continue reading