devos from the hill


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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 22

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 Twenty-Two

As a young shepherd boy, David did a lot of watching and waiting. He would certainly lead his flock to water or to grassy areas, but once arrived, there was much waiting. Waiting for the sheep to drink and eat.  Watching out for predators. Thinking about where to graze next. It is easy to see how this job lent itself to learning about God through observing nature and pouring out his own heart back to God.

David certainly knew that there were animals in his realm that would love to feast on one of his charges. But he did not have to go looking for these enemies, instead, he used his alone time to prepare himself for when they would eventually attack.

Chapter 22 of our book finds King David and Joab discussing what to do about the growing rebellion of his son, Absalom. As the general of the king’s armies, Joab was used to being a man of action. Thus, he queried the king what should be done about Absalom. King David says that he has no plan and will do as he always has; he will do nothing.

In our discussion of this situation, we concluded that David was not timid or without a plan because of fear. We know that he was a capable warrior and that he certainly had the position as king to thwart a rebellion. However, we believe that David also had an understanding of Psalm 46:10 which says, “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

David had the realization that God was in control and if he were to step in and try to do something without clear direction from God, he might interfere with God’s plan.

Things to consider:

  • Are you able to “be still” and seek God in the face of opposition or trials?
  • Can you discern between the feelings of your soul or spiritual conviction? See Hebrews 11:1

In closing, read Psalm 5, which is a psalm of David. You will notice that in the presence of his enemies, David’s action is to take refuge in the Lord, his righteous defender!


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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 8

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 Eight

We are now in our eighth week of A Tale of Three Kings. The Hebrew people who worship Yahweh had asked to be ruled by a king. Yahweh granted their request and through the prophet, Samuel, Saul was anointed – chosen to be the first king of Israel. Saul was a successful king in that he was a powerful and accomplished military man; in a short time, he managed to free the people from most of their enemies, giving them a great sense of security.

But, Saul relied on his own strength and human abilities so that he became insecure and envious when someone else showed equal or greater ability. That someone was young David. David had come to fight for the king and to serve the king. David’s victories on the battlefield were exceeding Saul’s and his favor off the battlefield was gaining him quite a following, too. This was making Saul quite mad with jealousy towards David.

Our chapter begins with the following, “MY KING IS MAD. At least, I so perceive him. What can I do?”  But if we are going to apply some basic principles of this story to our own lives, this is not the only question we found ourselves faced with. The people under Saul’s rule knew that he had been chosen by God to be king. A few were aware that David had also been anointed. But David was still under Saul’s authority as God had not said when Saul’s rule was to end and David’s to begin.

Today we do not have such specific directives from God through prophets like Samuel, but we do have people in authority over us on many levels. How do we know who is the Lord’s anointed? Are they after the order of King Saul or King David? If it turns out they are quite mad, how should we respond? Consider the statements and scriptures below.

God alone knows the heart of each and every one of us. Heart is very important to God!

  • All a person’s ways seem right in his own opinion, but the LORD evaluates the motives. – Proverbs 16:2 NET
  • …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.) – I Kings 8:39 NET
  • After removing him, God raised up David their king. He testified about him: ‘I have found David the son of Jesse to be a man after my heart, who will accomplish everything I want him to do.’ – Acts 13:22 NET

God may reveal to us His anointed if we ask Him; it is His wisdom on which we rely, not our own.

  • Then they prayed, “Lord, you know the hearts of all. Show us which one of these two you have chosen…” – Acts 1:24
  • The unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them because they are spiritually discerned. – 1 Corinthians 2:14 NET

We are not called to respect leaders because they are infallible, but because God has placed them over us. We follow God; therefore we follow those whom God puts in authority.

  • Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except by God’s appointment, and the authorities that exist have been instituted by God. – Romans 13:1 NET

There is a purpose for the king’s role in your life – even if he is subject to madness. It may be a lesson to prepare you to be the next king. Like David, you may try to appease the king or you may need to avoid the king, but you can definitely trust that the King of Kings, the Lord, will deliver you from the circumstance at His appointed time.

 In the same way, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. And all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humbleAnd God will exalt you in due time, if you humble yourselves under his mighty hand by casting all your cares on him because he cares for you. Be sober and alert. Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking for someone to devour. Resist him, strong in your faith, because you know that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are enduring the same kinds of suffering. 10 And, after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. – 1 Peter 5:5-10 NET


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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 7

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 Seven

Unlike anyone else in spear-throwing history, David did not know what to do when a spear was thrown at him. He did not throw Saul’s spears back at him. Nor did he make any spears of his own and throw them. Something was different about David. All he did was dodge the spears.

David could have retaliated. But he didn’t. He could have defended himself or questioned or complained. But there was something in David that produced a much different response. It was as if David was unoffended by what was happening around him.

Think about it. David had no way of knowing Saul’s motivations for attack. But his reaction speaks to what he did know – that God’s justice doesn’t require our defense.  Or to say it another away, acting on our own defense is an interference to God’s justice.

Look at 1 Peter 2:21 and the example of Christ’s suffering,

“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting himself to Him who judges righteously

In the face of injustice Jesus didn’t retaliate but instead trusted in what His Father had prepared for him to do. Jesus understood that the mockers and guards and religious leaders with their barrage of insults and accusations were merely the instruments chosen by God, to accomplish a greater divine purpose. Knowing this, Jesus uttered no threats but pressed into trusting the Father.

David had the attitude that was Christ’s, one we should aim for today in our own hearts. When we trust in God as our defender and deliverer, we can rest knowing that in Him we are spear-proof. We will never control the spears that are thrown our way, but today we can establish our response.

It is with the mind of Christ, like David, we can live the unoffended life. A life dependent on God’s justice, not our own retribution.

 

 


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Kairos Moments

Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.  – Ephesians 5:15-17

Kairos (καιρός) is an ancient Greek word meaning “opportune time,” “appointed time” or “fitting time.”  The Bible uses the word kairos and its derivations 86 times in the New Testament.

Another Greek word for “time” is chronos (χρόνος). A sequence of moments is expressed as chronos, emphasizing the duration of time; an appointed time is expressed as kairos, with no regard for the length of the time. Thus, chronos is more linear and quantitative, and kairos is more nonlinear and qualitative.

In all of the following scriptures, the word translated as time is kairos. As you read through the verses, take the time to consider the fuller meaning of the word kairos each time it is used.

Matthew 13:30 – Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.

Luke 12:54 – And He was also saying to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘A shower is coming,’ and so it turns out. And when you see a south wind blowing, ‘It will be a hot day,’ and it turns out that way. “You hypocrites! You know how to analyze the appearance of the earth and the sky, but why do you not analyze this present time?”

From the verses we just read, we see that there are appointed times in nature for things to happen such as the turns of weather or the maturation of crops. And these moments are recognizable so that we may take action to either use them or avoid them.

Likewise, in the verses that follow, we observe moments of time that we should be on the lookout for with regard to our spiritual lives. These are moments of significance and action; moments that the Lord has expressly created for us to know and do His will. These moments matter.

Acts 17:24 – “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.

Galatians 6:9 – Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

Ephesians 5:15 – Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

One final thought, Ray Stedman wrote that “These are evil days, not only because of the widespread fears and tension and violence but also because of the materialism that creates such hollowness and emptiness within.”

 

 

 

 


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Are You Poor in Spirit?

I have heard it said by scoffers that Christianity (or any religion for that matter) is just a crutch for those who are too weak to live life on their own. The world admires a strong independent spirit and looks down upon weakness and dependence.

Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:3

According to, Greek scholar, Kenneth Wuest, to be blessed is to be spiritually prosperous. At first pass, this might seem to contradict what Jesus said in Matthew 5; how can the ‘blessed’ be both ‘poor’ and ‘prosperous’ at the same time? But as someone has pointed out, in order to get your cup filled (of Him), it must first be empty (of us)!

James Smith was a reformed Baptist preacher and predecessor of Charles Spurgeon at New Park Street Chapel in London from 1841 until 1850. From his notes we read . . .

I. “Poverty of spirit” is not something put on, but that which concerns the inner character (spirit). The characteristics of those who are “poor in spirit” are –

A. BROKENNESS OF HEART (Psa. 51:4-7). A deep sense of personal unworthiness.

B. SELF-DISTRUST. “No confidence in the flesh” (Phil. 3:3). “In me dwelleth no good thing” (Rom. 7:18).

C. ENTIRE DEPENDENCE. Living by faith. “Apart from Me, nothing” (John15:5).

II. The nature of this blessedness. This is the kingdom. They come under the reign of grace. A present possession.

A. CHOSEN BY GOD (1 Cor. 1:28, 29). The poor in spirit are the chosen of Heaven.

B. INDWELT BY GOD (Isa. 57:15). The humble heart is the abode of God.

C. RICH IN FAITH (Jas. 2:5). Faith will buy anything from God. It is the current coin of the kingdom.

D. DIVINELY CARED FOR (Isa. 66:2). “To this man will I look that is poor, and of a contrite spirit” (Isa. 66:2). This is the look of continual favour, which is the blessedness of the poor in spirit.

How do we become “poor in spirit?” Throughout the ages, there have been those who have believed that an external life of poverty produces an internal life of poverty. However, we cannot, through human effort, manufacture the condition of being poor in spirit. Such a spiritual disposition is not a goal. Rather, it is the result of making God our goal.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones – The way to become poor in spirit is to look at God. Look at Him; and the more we look at Him, the more hopeless shall we feel by our­selves, and in and of ourselves, and the more shall we become ‘poor in spirit’. Look at Him, keep looking at Him. Look at the saints, look at the men who have been most filled with the Spirit and used. But above all, look again at Him, and then you will have nothing to do to yourself. It will be done. You cannot truly look at Him without feeling your absolute poverty, and emptiness.

FB Meyer – To be poor in spirit is to be vacant of self and waiting for God. To have no confidence in the flesh; to be emptied of self-reliance to be conscious of absolute insufficiency; to be thankfully dependent on the life-energy of the living God, that is poverty of spirit; and it has been characteristic of some of the noblest, richest, most glorious natures, that have ever trodden the shores of Time. Happy are they who are conscious of a poverty which only the Divine indwelling can change into wealth, and who are willing to confess that they would rather be in hell and have God, than in heaven and not have Him.

Yes, there are those who say that Christianity (or more specifically Christ) is just a crutch for those who are too weak to live life on their own. They are right, and I am so glad they are, for I would much rather live under the reign of grace than under the law of vain and perishable works.

 

 


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Man’s Thoughts – God’s Thoughts

The following is a list of thoughts and attitudes, common to us all. But, each and every discouraging statement is countered by a glorious truth from God and His Word. If you are struggling or downhearted, read His words; let His declarations wash over you and renew your perspective.

 

“It’s impossible”
All things are possible with Me.
“The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.” – Luke 18:27

“I’m too tired”
 I will give you rest.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

“I feel unloved”
I love you.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

“I can’t go on”
My grace is sufficient.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, So that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” –2Corinthians 12:9

“I can’t figure this out”
 I will direct your steps.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5,6
“Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left.” – Isaiah 30:21

“I can’t do it”
You can do all things.
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13

“I’m not able”
I am able.
“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed” – 2Corinthians 9:8

“It’s not worth it”
It will be worth it.
“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” – Galatians 6:9

“I can’t forgive myself”
I forgive you.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” –1John 1:9
“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” – Romans 8:1

“I can’t resist this temptation”
I have provided a way.
“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” – 1Corinthians 10:13
“Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” – James 4:7

“I don’t have enough to make it”
 I will supply all your needs.
“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19

“I’m afraid”
 You do not have to be afraid. I am here and I’ve got this.
“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. – 2Timothy 1:7
“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10

“I am anxious and stressed”
You can cast all your cares on Me.
“. . . humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. – 1Peter 5:7

“I don’t have enough faith”
I have given you all the faith you need.
“God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” – Romans 12:3

“I’m not smart enough”
 I give you wisdom and the mind of Christ.
“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” – James – 1:5
“Who can know the LORD’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?” But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 2:16

“I feel alone”
I am with you.
“I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:20
“I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU” – Hebrews 13:5

“I feel inadequate”
You are complete.
“. . . in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority” – Colossians 2:10


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What is a “strong Christian”?

Have you ever heard this phrase used to describe someone? “Oh, he (or she) is a strong Christian.” When I hear that I can’t help but wonder, what is really being communicated? Is this describing someone who has been a Christian for many years, or perhaps a person with a lot of Bible knowledge, or maybe a teacher or a leader in the Church?

If these are the marks that define a strong Christian, then I’ve got to take what I am hearing with a grain of salt. Why? Well, for one thing, the Bible never uses that term to describe a Christ-follower. Secondly, in my 41 years of following Jesus, I have seen many people who could be described by those characteristics and yet they have faltered and fallen in their walk. In fact, I would count myself in that number.

Consider these verses . . .

Eph. 6:10 (NASB) – “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.”

2 Cor. 12:9 (ESV) – “for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

2 Cor. 12:10 (NASB) – “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Psa. 27:1 (KJV) – “the LORD is the strength of my life.”

John 15:5 (NASB) – “apart from Me you can do nothing.”

These verses make it clear that when it comes to the Christian life, our strength is not in and of ourselves. Our strength is in Jesus!  I love the observation that I picked up years ago from Bill Gillham. “The Christian life is not difficult. It is impossible. Jesus is the only one who had ever really lived the Christian life, and that is what He wants to do today, through you!”

The measure of a “strong Christian” is not how much he or she knows about God and His word, but rather how much he or she is depending on Jesus today. And please note that “today” is italicized for emphasis. The degree to which you depended on Jesus in the past will not make you strong today. Our dependency on Jesus must be present tense.

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” – Galatians 2:20.

Who are you depending on right now? Are you drawing on your own resources to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called” (Eph. 4:1) or are you drawing upon His resource? If you are depending on His life in you (Gal.2:20), then you are a strong Christian.