devos from the hill


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Why Jesus Has Not Returned

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.

If had to name five passages of scripture that have most influenced the ministry of Mars Hill, 2 Peter 3:9-13 would be one of them.

In the final scene of the Old Testament section of our movie, The HOPE, the storyteller says, “In the Garden of Eden, God promised to send a Deliverer. Through Hebrew prophets, God gave hundreds of promises concerning this Deliverer, who would one day conquer Satan, sin, and death forever.  In the temple, the smoke from sacrifices ascended day after day, year after year, generation after generation, giving the Hebrew people a constant reminder of humankind’s need for the Deliverer. But when would He come?   How would He come? By now, some must have wondered if He would come at all.” At that moment, a Hebrew man runs to the center of the village, falls to his knees and cries out, “How Long!!!”

More and more, when I see what is happening in the world around me, I feel just like that man. “How Long, Lord, before you return and right all that is wrong?”

Prophecy buffs look at things like the increasing rate of natural disasters, an unprecedented number of wars and rumors of wars, phenomena in the heavens, and the events in and around Israel to assess where we are on God’s prophetic timetable. And rightly so, these are all that the Bible calls, “signs of the times” (Matt.16:3, Matt.24:3). But these are only signs. None of them give us reasons for the delay of Christ’s return.

There is, however, a place in God’s Word where we can go to understand why Jesus has not yet returned. In 2 Peter 3:9 we read, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” This verse is telling us that, as bad as things are, and as much as God hates sin and evil, He loves those who have yet to turn to Him even more. He is “not slow about His promise” (to return); He is waiting for those whom He knows are yet to come to Him.

And because we know that is the reason for His delay, what should we be about? Very simply, we should be about sharing and living out the Gospel with those who have not yet heard it or received it. When I get another dose of bad news in the world, it doesn’t defeat me. It actually empowers me to renew my commitment to engage in the Global Great Commission. How about you?

Moving on down to verse 12 in 2 Peter, we are told that we should be “looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God…” There are three things we need to know about this verse.

1) First, we cannot, in the absolute sense, hasten (or “speed”, as some translations read) the coming of that day. It is fixed in the mind of God, and only the Father knows it (Matt.24:36). We should apply this verse as if to say we should “participate” in the hastening of that day. And how do we participate? By reaching those who have not yet been reached. The day will not be moved. If you don’t participate in hastening it, God will raise up someone else who will.

2) Secondly, we should know that the “day of God” in this verse is not the same as the “day of the Lord”, which appears several times in the Bible. The day of the Lord is a terrible time when God judges this world. The day of God is that time when God ushers in “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter3:13).

3)  And finally, “the coming” of that day is not just an event on the calendar. That little phrase “the coming,” actually comes from the Greek word “Parousia,” which literally means “the presence.” It is a technical term which was used in reference to the coming of a king. It was a royal visit, and the presence of the king changed everything! It is not just a new day in which things are different, it is a new day because His glorious presence fills the day!

Do look for that day? Do you long for His presence? Then be about His business. Reach those whom He died for!

 


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The Model Prayer – Pt 2/6

The Teaching of Jesus on Prayer – Part 2 of 6
Expanded and Adapted From The HOPE Study Guide

If you wanted to learn how to pray, who would you choose for a teacher? In Matthew 6:9-13, you can find a model prayer given to you by Jesus Himself. It was not given simply to recite, but to teach you how to pray. It has been called “the true pattern for all prayer.” Each verse in this prayer identifies an important aspect of prayer. This is part 2 of 6 in our study of the model prayer. Our focus here is verse 10.

“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” – Matthew 6:10

Because He is God, your heavenly Father knows what is in your heart. He knows what you are going to say before you say it. So why pray? The ultimate purpose of prayer (and of every created thing) is to glorify God. Through prayer, you have the incredible privilege of participating in God’s awesome eternal plan. Prayer is not about getting God to do something He does not want to do. Prayer is a means by which we appropriate (take possession of, lay hold of) God’s will. Prayer is a means by which God ushers His will into this world.

Jesus said that apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). If you take Jesus at His word, then apart from Him we cannot even pray – at least not effectively. Recall that by His word, God spoke the world into existence (Psalm 33:6, Psalm 9). As you become intimate with God, study His Word, walk in obedience, and listen in prayer, the Holy Spirit will use you in prayer to speak His will into this world. “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Realize that God’s will is perfect and good (Romans 12:2), and that He is able to do exceedingly more than you could ever ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).

In a way, what is available to you through prayer is like a special expense account with unlimited funds. An expense account is defined as an arrangement by which all expenses are paid to fulfill a certain task, which in this case is Kingdom business. Many people hardly ever draw on that account; and when they do, the amount they withdraw is meager compared to the actual account balance. Many submit requests for funds, but are denied because the request is not in line with the purpose for which the account is intended. Discover how to appropriate all that God has for you through prayer! Continue reading


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The Final Goal of the Grand Story

Worshippers from every nation.
Lesson 64 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

Then He will also say to those on His left, “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels …”

– Matthew 25:41

But just as it is written, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him.”

– 1 Corinthians 2:9

But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.

– 2 Peter 3:13

And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”

– Revelation 5:9–10

“Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? For Thou alone art holy; For all the nations will come and worship before Thee, For Thy righteous acts have been revealed.”

– Revelation 15:4

And so it has been from that time to this very day. Whenever a person turns in faith to Jesus as the sacrificial Lamb of God and the risen Lord of all, their sins are forgiven, and the Spirit of God comes into them, bringing eternal life.

Those who have decided to follow Jesus have grown in number to include hundreds of millions of people. And according to God’s story, the time will come when His followers will include people from every tribe and nation under Heaven. Then, Jesus will return, just as He promised.

Those who have rejected Jesus throughout the ages will be forever separated from God in the place that was prepared for Satan and his followers. Those who have trusted Jesus will know life as it was meant to be, with God…forever.

– The HOPE, Chapter 12

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

There is not a subject more unpleasant to discuss than hell. But if hell is real, nothing is more unloving than to avoid speaking of the reality. Hundreds of passages in the Bible deal with the subject of hell. Jesus spoke more about hell than all the other writers of scripture. Hell is real, and Jesus clearly wanted to warn people so that people might avoid spending eternity there.

Concerning this subject we should be aware that: 1) Hell was created not for man, but for Satan and his angels (Matthew 25:41),  2) it is not so much that Jesus sends people to hell as that they choose to go there by rejecting God’s salvation through Jesus (John 12:48). Continue reading


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The Certain End of the Great War

God will one day vanquish Satan, sin and death forever!
Lesson 15 from The HOPE Study Guide

Introduction

Our adversary, Satan, seeks to usurp God’s power and thwart God’s purposes in our lives. But the Bible is clear, Satan will not win his war against God. The last word belongs to God, and God alone. The HOPE says it like this:

Satan cannot defeat God, for God is all–powerful. And the day will come when Satan and all the demons will be thrown into the place of eternal torment God has prepared for them, a place called the lake of fire. But until then, Satan will do all he can to hurt God by attempting to destroy that which God loves.

– The HOPE, Chapter 2

Observe & Consider

The final book of the Bible tells us of a day when Satan will be cast into a lake of fire forever.1 In that same book we learn that after Satan is vanquished, God will “wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

What a day that will be! Do you long for it? Does a world without suffering, sorrow or death even seem possible to you? According to God, not only is it possible, it is certain. From your current vantage point, particularly if the place you’re in is filled with pain, it may be hard to even imagine such a day. But God sees what we cannot see. He has a different vantage point.

Consider this illustration. Tapestry is a form of textile art, where many threads are interlaced or woven on a loom. If you look at a finished tapestry from front side, it may depict a beautiful design or scene. But if you turn the canvas over to the backside, the yarns will often look completely chaotic. It may appear to have no resemblance at all to the image on the front side. The backside can be ugly. Continue reading


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From Mars Hill to Times Square

Mars Hill Staff Devotional

The Sermon given was rooted in Acts 17.

In 1957 Rev. Billy Graham preached to a crowd of some 125,000 in the middle of Times Square, New York! Using the passage from Acts 17 where Paul delivered the gospel to the learned men of Athens gathered on Mars Hill, Rev Graham also spoke a simple and powerful message of Christ to those gathered. Do you think this kind of event could happen today? Why or why not? Click on the link below to watch an incredible vintage video!

http://espace.wheaton.edu/bgc/NYC57/cn54f149.html

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Light in the Darkness

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
Part 1

We studied this Rembrandt painting, “The Adoration of the Shepherds”. Notice the ladder forming a cross above Jesus, the rooster (a sign of betrayal) over him, and the source of light in the painting . . . Jesus Himself. He is the light in our darkness. Check back tomorrow for Part 2. (click on photo to enlarge)

Rembrandt


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The Second Coming

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
Loving the Second Coming and the Assurance of Salvation
by John Piper

Eagerly awaiting His return is an indication of authentic faith (Hebrews 9:28)

So the issue for us is: Do we eagerly long for the coming of Christ? Do we want to see his kingdom established and do we want to be reunited to him in closer personal fellowship? Or do we want him to wait while our love affair with the world runs its course? That is the question that tests the authenticity of faith.

Today’s staff devotional was from a vintage John Piper message (1997): By John Piper. ©2013 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org
http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/taste-see-articles/loving-the-second-coming-and-the-assurance-of-salvation