devos from the hill


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God’s Will for You is God’s Will for Your Children

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. 

Genesis 22:1-2 – Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt-offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.”

Situation #1 – Bob recently agreed to be an elder in his Church. The elders meet monthly for a 60-90 minute meeting. But 4 times a year, they meet for half a day on Saturday. The next Saturday meeting falls on the same day as one of his daughter’s softball games. Bob is one of 3 volunteer coaches. There is no Church “crisis” to be dealt with, but the Church is facing tremendous opportunity on several fronts. Typically in these half-day Saturday meetings, as the elders prayerfully discuss the course of the Church, God moves, bringing fresh insight and discernment that impacts the life of the Church. Should Bob go to the elders meeting or the softball game?

Situation #2 – When he was a teenager, God put it in Tony’s heart that he should become a missionary doctor as a way to help reach unreached people groups in Southeast Asia. In college, he met Alicia. They fell in love and married after college. While Tony was in med school they had their first child and became pregnant with a second. After med-school, Tony was offered a fellowship in a prestigious infectious disease program.  One thing led to another, and Tony’s plans to become a missionary doctor were delayed time and time again. The children were now 7 and 9. One night at Church, Tony’s heart was again stirred by a visiting speaker; a missionary from Southeast Asia. As Tony and Alicia discussed this, the main hurdle was the children. They were both exceptionally bright and were flourishing in one of the best private schools in the city. Tony and Alicia were concerned that the children could not reach their full potential on the mission field.  What should Tony and Alicia do?

Who wouldn’t want the best for their children, right? But many Christians in America today are obsessed with positioning their children for success (as the culture around them defines it) to the point that it is actually detrimental. Their motives may be good, but these parents may actually be buffering their children from the very life experience, and perhaps the adversity, that God would use to shape their soul and character, preparing them for their calling in life.

Consider Abraham, when God told him to take his son and offer him as a sacrifice to God. Can you imagine what Abraham was thinking and feeling? How could this be a good thing? Continue reading


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The Safest Place on Earth, Part 2

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.

In 2012, the Mars Hill Board of Directors went to Haiti to observe The Creole HOPE in action. At the time, there were still over 500,000 people living in tents as a result of the 2010 earthquake. The power grid was on only 4-6 hours a day. Unemployment was at 80%. What most North Americans would consider a desperate situation had become the “new norm” for Haitians.

Safest Place Pt 2

According to Proverbs 13:12, “Hope deferred makes the heart grow sick.” As frustration and hopelessness grow, civility decreases, human life is devalued, and lawlessness increases. In Port-au-Prince, we were constantly aware that we were in a dangerous place.

  • The director of the mission compound where we were staying warned us we should not be out at night. But knowing we had come to show The Creole HOPE, she said that if we must be out late, then we should not take the short route back to the compound. “Even the police do not patrol that road at night for fear of armed gangs.” Our driver told us that killing had become a game.
  • In one location where we showed The Creole HOPE, four missionaries had been shot only a few months earlier.
  • Haitian children were referred to as animals. Many parents gave away their children to anyone who could provide them with minimal food and covering, effectively giving them over to slavery.
  • One Port-au-Prince neighborhood, Cité Soleil, is generally regarded as one of the most dangerous places in the world.

And so it was, our last evening and we had just finished showing The Creole HOPE to several hundred young people and it was getting late. Five of us packed into the back of a Land Cruiser, with our two Haitian drivers in the front seat. Little did we know what we were in for.

That evening was the first night of pre-Carnival, which leads up to their version of Mardi Gras. The streets of Port-au-Prince were packed with people on foot, mingling, dancing, and shouting. Ours were the only white faces in a sea of black faces, and we were on display in our glass box, inching through the crowd. Now I know what it feels like to be a minority. Checking their watches frequently, the drivers knew that the later we got on the highway to the compound, the more potential there was for danger.

The drivers decided to take a detour through the neighborhood. They planned to find a street paralleling the congested main street, and then rejoin the main street further down the road after the pedestrian traffic had thinned out. It was not a good plan. We took a right turn into the neighborhood and drove . . . and drove. There was no left turn to a street paralleling the main street.
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Prayer – The Last Resort, or the First?!

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.

The Lung Surgery that Wasn’t Needed
by Fred Carpenter

You’ve no doubt heard this before. Someone facing a challenge or a crisis has done all they can do. And then it is said (often with some resign), “Well, it’s in God’s hands now; all we can do is pray.” But, what does the Bible teach us about prayer? Is prayer our last line of defense?

Late in 1998, I was experiencing some respiratory issues and my doctor said I should get a chest X-ray. The X-ray revealed a very small spot on one lung, but the doctor was not overly concerned at that point. He recommended we should check it again in a year, which is exactly what we did.

The next time they did a CT chest scan, and the results took a more serious turn. The spot had grown. The doctor told me wanted to remove the affected area and get the appropriate tests run to see if it was malignant. He even talked about the possibility of needing to remove an entire lobe of my right lung.

Being faced with such sobering results, I now saw this as a situation that needed serious prayer. In James 5:15, the Bible cites two prayers of the prophet Elijah as examples of effective prayer. In the first of these (1 Kings 17:1), Elijah prays that it would not rain in Israel until he prayed for rain. And then, 3 ½ years later, when Elijah prayed for rain (1Kings 18:42-46), it rained. The interesting thing about these prayers is that they don’t sound like prayer. When he utters them, he is not asking God, he is simply proclaiming what is going to happen. Upon closer examination of 1 Kings 17-18, we understand that Elijah is simply speaking what God told him to speak (see 18:1).  Continue reading


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Specific Answer to Specific Prayer Glorifies 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.

Lessons in Praying Specific Prayer
By Fred Carpenter

The year was 1985. My work in media ministry was growing as was my young family. My wife, Nancy, and I had 2 small children and a third one was on the way.

One day I got a phone call from my distressed wife. She reported that she had been driving on the freeway with our two young children in the backseat, in their car seats, when suddenly our boisterous son, Wes, tried to open the back door of the car…from his car seat! Needless to say, Nancy was unnerved.

At that time, I was leading a men’s Bible Study. We always closed the study time with prayer, and on this day I shared what had happened with Nancy and Wes, and I requested prayer for their safety. Nothing more was said about the matter at that time.

God, of course, was continuing to move in my heart and mind to pray for my family as they traveled about town in our old Honda. It had been a great car, but it seemed that my family was about to outgrow it. I started asking God, “Do we really need another car or do I just want a new car? Show me, Father. I want to pray according to your will.” Continue reading


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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 23

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.

“This book (A Tale of Three Kings) reflects my concern for this multitude of confused, brokenhearted, and often bitter Christians who now find their spiritual lives in shambles and who are groping about for even the slightest word of hope and comfort.” – Gene Edwards, Author’s Preface

Chapter Twenty-Three

For today’s devotional consideration, we read from our book what could have been an exchange between King David and Abishai, his nephew. He alone accompanied David when he entered the camp of Saul while he slept and took his spear and water jug. He commanded a third of David’s army. He slew a Philistine giant who threatened David’s life, and on one occasion withstood 300 men, and slew them with his own spear.

This man, Abishai, was obviously an invaluable right-hand man to the king, but even such a trusted companion does not always grasp the deep heart motivations of the one they serve. This becomes apparent as Abishai presses King David for what he will do regarding the growing rebellion to take the throne led by David’s own son, Absalom.

Abishai remembers well the madness of King Saul. He knows the irrational thoughts and actions that Saul directed towards David, fearing that David would take the throne from him. He had witnessed with his own eyes David’s restraint and mercy towards Saul when he could have brought him down and taken what he knew was destined to be his.

No man would have faulted David for standing up to Saul’s unwarranted attacks and fighting back. In this chapter, Abishai repeatedly reminds David that he would have been humanly justified in defending himself against the mad king, but now that he IS the king, he has, even more, rights to defend his throne.

King David responds to Abashai’s urgings for action; he was not an Absalom towards Saul and he does not want to be a Saul towards Absalom! The following reveals what his heart knows to be true:

“I did not lift a finger to be made king. Nor shall I do so to preserve a kingdom. Even the kingdom of God! God put me here. It is not my responsibility to take or keep authority. Do you not realize, it may be His will for these things to take place? If He chooses, God can protect and keep the kingdom even now. After all, it is His kingdom.”

Abishai presses him once more. “You know that Absalom should not be king!” And David responds, “Do I? No man knows. Only God knows, and He has not spoken. I did not fight to become king, and I will not fight to remain king.”

David was prepared to let it all go if that is what God wanted. Finally, Abishai got it. And his admiration for his king grew even deeper.

Things to consider:

O LORD, You have searched me and known me! A Psalm of David. Psalm 139:1 ESV   (David’s relationship with God is evident throughout this entire Psalm; he understands how well God knows him and he freely expresses his thoughts and desires back to God.)

And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. – Romans 8:27 ESV

…but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we declare it, not to please people but God, who examines our hearts. I Thessalonians 2:4 NET

Final Thought:

If God knows us so well, and He is sovereign over all, what keeps us from resting in the hope and comfort that He will guide our lives in the ways and the times that they should go?


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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