devos from the hill


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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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Someone Worth Losing Everything For

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from David Platt

Bigger is better, right?

How many disciples did Jesus have? How many followers? This morning we looked at an excerpt from David Platt’s book, Radical, Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream.

Check it out right here: http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/someone-worth-losing-everything-for-11632224.html


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Christ Our Model

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from D.L. Moody

…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith… Hebrews 12:2a

Is it really possible to be like Christ? The trouble with most people is that their lives are not formed according to any plan. They are not striving to resemble any model. They have no definite aim and purpose.

Check out this brief message from evangelist, D.L. Moody for more insight… http://www.wholesomewords.org/etexts/moody/ourmodel.html


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7 Realities of Experiencing God

Mars Hill Staff Devotional

We took an abbreviated look at the 7 Realities of Experiencing God from the “Experiencing God” study by Blackaby and King. Our relationship and fellowship with God grows by His initiation in our lives, and by our response to His initiation. How deep do you want your fellowship in Jesus to be? It is as deep as your response level to Him.

1. God is always at work around you.
2. God pursues a continuing love relationship with you that is real
and personal.
3. God invites you to become involved with Him in His work.
4. God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer,
circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes,
and His ways.
5. God’s invitation for you to work with Him always leads you to a
crisis of belief that requires faith and action.
6. You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in
what He is doing.
7. You come to know God by experience as you obey Him and He
accomplishes His work through you.

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To learn more about this great study, click here:  http://www.blackaby.net/expgod/


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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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Thanksgiving

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
The Sacrifice of Thanksgiving
by Ray Stedman

Our time was filled with great questions and comments about cultivating a thankful heart and maintaining an attitude of gratitude.

Key take-away: “Thanksgiving should be the proper expression of Christianity, because Christianity is really about receiving something from God constantly! (i.e. – life, the fruit of the spirit, the love of God, spiritual blessings in heavenly places, etc.).”

Read the Scripture: Psalm 50

Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High. (Psalm 50:14).

What does God want from us? He does not want mere hymn singing, although that is fine. Nor does He want only prayer, although that too is fine. He does not simply want our attendance, although that is fine. What He wants, first, is a thankful heart. That is what He seeks, a thankful heart. Each one of us is to offer to Him the sacrifice of thanksgiving. A sacrifice is something into which we put effort; it costs us. Have you ever asked yourself why the Scriptures stress thanksgiving so much? Both the Old and New Testaments emphasize that above everything else, God wants thankfulness. Give thanks in all circumstances, says the apostle Paul, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Why is this? It is because thanksgiving only comes as a result of having received something. You do not give thanks until you have received something that comes from someone else. Therefore thanksgiving is the proper expression of Christianity, because Christianity is receiving something constantly from God.

Of course if you have not received anything from God, then you have nothing to thank Him for. Though you come to the service, you really have nothing to say. God is a realist. He does not want fake thanksgiving. I know there are certain people (and they are awfully hard to live with) who think that Christianity consists of pretending to be thankful. They think it means screwing a smile on your face and going around pretending that troubles do not bother you. That is a most painful form of Christianity. God does not want you to go around shouting, Hallelujah! I’ve got cancer! But there is something about having cancer to be thankful for. That is what He wants you to see. There are aspects of it that no one can possibly enjoy, but there are other aspects that reveal purpose, meaning, and reason. God wants you to see this–what He can do with that situation and how you can be thankful. Thanksgiving is the first thing He wants in worship.

The second thing is an obedient will. Fulfill your vows to the Most High. Notice the kind of obedience it is. It is not something forced upon you; it is something you have chosen for yourself. A vow is something you decide to give, a promise you make because of truth you have seen. You say, I never saw it like that before. I really ought to do something about it. God helping me, I’m going to do such and such. That is a vow. God says, I’m not asking you to do things you have not yet learned are important. But when you have vowed something, then do it. Act on it. Obey it.

Lord, I offer to You right now the sacrifice of thanksgiving. Thank You that You are at work for good both in me and through me. Grant that I might obey your truth out of a heart of gratitude.

Life Application: We can expend much energy complaining, blessing no one. How can we re-focus our thoughts so that we have an attitude of gratitude no matter our circumstances?

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/psalms/the-sacrifice-of-thanksgiving


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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 Greater Work

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
The Key of The Greater Work
by Oswald Chambers

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. John 14:12-13 (NASB)

Have you ever had the thought, “I am of no use where I am?” This devotional takes us to task on the truth of where our real responsibility and power comes from.

Prayer does not equip us for greater works – prayer is the greater work.

For more, read this from Oswald Chambers: http://utmost.org/the-key-of-the-greater-work/


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Building on the Atonement

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
by Oswald Chambers

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. Romans 6:12-14 (NASB)

We discussed Romans 6:12-14 and decided that really believing we are “not under law, but under grace” is radical … and so very liberating!

Key take-away from Chambers:
“The greatest need we have is not to do things, but to believe things.”

Read the Oswald Chambers devotional here: http://utmost.org/building-on-the-atonement/


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Missionary Weapons

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from My Utmost for His Highest
by Oswald Chambers

Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and *said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!”  Nathanael *said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” John 1:47-48 NASB

Key Take-aways:

– Worshiping in everyday occasions readies us for whatever comes our way.

– A crisis does not build something within us – it simply reveals what we are made of already. A private relationship of worshiping God is the greatest essential element of spiritual fitness.

– John 1:51 Nathanael needed to see that, while his private time with God under the fig tree made him spiritually fit, the time had come to worship openly. In the words of John Piper, “there are no holy geographic places any more designated by God as his meeting place with man. Jesus is now that meeting place.”

– John 1:51 calls to mind Gen 28:12-16. Jacob found himself in a holy place. Jacob saw angels ascending and descending on a ladder. In this passage, Jesus communicates that He is the ladder. Also from Piper, “When we move heavenward, we move on the Son of Man. When God moves earthward, he moves on the Son of Man.”

Click here for the full devotional: http://utmost.org/missionary-weapons-1/