devos from the hill


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When God Communicates through His Peace (or Lack Thereof)

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.

And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. – 1 Kings 19:11-12 KJV

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. – Isa 30:21

It was the first weekend in September 1987 when a friend invited me to join him and his son on a fishing trip to Colorado. We would fly out of Houston in a private plane the next Saturday. I had been dealing with some difficult issues at Mars Hill, and my friend thought I needed a break. It was a very appealing invitation, but I didn’t have a peace about it, so I asked if I could let him know in a few days.

I prayed about what to do, and I weighed the pros and cons. But, aside from all the reasons for and against, I just could not get a peace about going. On Wednesday night, I still did not have an answer for my friend. I asked God to do something to make it clear to me why I should or shouldn’t go. I did not want to tell my friend that a lack of peace was really the only reason I couldn’t go.

That night, something strange was going on in my ears. It was the sort of thing that might happen if you had a sinus infection. But I felt good. I knew I wasn’t catching a cold. My only symptom was that my ear canals seemed to be blocked. I had never experienced anything quite like it before. The next morning I called my friend. I explained my concern that if I went up in a small private plane, then whatever was going on in my ears could get worse. He understood and told me his wife would take my place on the plane.

All day Thursday and Friday, my ears were clogged, but no pain. On Saturday morning, I went to the Mars Hill studio to work on a project. There was no change with my ears. About mid-morning, my wife, Nancy, called. I could hear it in her quivering voice; something was very wrong. She told me that another friend of ours, a Delta pilot, had just called her. He seemed to be very distressed and asked if she was OK. A strange question she thought.  “Sure, I’m good. What’s up?” He then asked, “Where’s Fred?” Nancy told him I had gone up to the Mars Hill studio. “Are you sure?”  “Of course, I’m sure. Why are you asking me this?” Continue reading


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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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He Is Our Peace

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from Fred Carpenter

The scene was Israel about 1160 years before Christ. The Midianites were causing great suffering among the Israelites. Gideon was threshing wheat when God called Gideon and told him that he would deliver his people. Like so many others called by God to accomplish a God sized mission, Gideon was feeling uneasy about the task before him. The Lord said to him, (Judges 6:23) “Peace to you, do not fear; you shall not die.” 24 Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and named it The Lord is Peace. To this day it is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrite.

The phrase “The Lord is Peace” is the focus of today’s devotional. To understand it, we must go back to the time when (in Exodus 3) God told Moses to return to Egypt to deliver his people. Moses responded “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” And God said to Moses, “I Am Who I Am.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, “I Am has sent me to you.” Exodus 3:13,14.

“I Am Who I Am” is the closest translation (or more exactly, transliteration) of a Hebrew word that cannot actually be pronounced. The closest Latin transliteration is actually YHWH. Notice, there are no vowels, only consonants. This name of God cannot be pronounced. Still in order to make this word accessible, scholars eventually added vowels and this word became Yahweh, or for some, Jehovah. Continue reading


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“Peace and Quiet” – Without His Presence There Is No Peace

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from Fred Carpenter

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” – John 14:27

An anechoic chamber is a room designed to completely absorb reflections of sound. Orfield Labs in South Minneapolis has an anechoic chamber that has held the Guinness World Record for the “World’s Quietest Room” since 2004. The room is built with fiberglass acoustic wedges 3.3-feet thick, and it has double walls of insulated steel and one-foot thick concrete. Measured at -9 decibels, the room is so quiet that you can hear your blood flowing. The silence is so maddening it can cause hallucinations. The longest anyone has been able to bear the room was 45 minutes.

Anechoic Chamber, DTU - Denmark, © Baarnaud-Dessein

Anechoic Chamber, DTU – Denmark, © Baarnaud-Dessein

When I first heard of this room, my thoughts went immediately to a missionary who shared with me what he thought hell would be like. The picture he painted was that of a person alone in total darkness forever. So often classic images of hell portray a large number of people writhing in agony in an inferno. Whether the image of fire is literal or metaphorical is one issue. But who is to say that hell is a communal experience, as opposed to an one of total isolation. A student of the Bible could go either way on this question. I recently read an article in which CS Lewis was reported to have said something like, “Hell is no one but yourself, forever and ever.” What a terrifying thought!

In today’s “rat race”, it is not unusual to hear someone say they’re longing for a little “peace and quiet.” But taken to the extreme of an anechoic chamber, that expression may deserve reconsideration. What makes this room so horrific, and why don’t deaf people go insane like those who are in an anechoic chamber too long? Well first off, being in an anechoic chamber is not like being deaf. A person who is totally deaf cannot hear anything with their ears, but they can still feel sound. Sound is a physical thing and we all feel it with our body. And while the sound we feel might not be an adequate basis for communication, if it is coming from outside our own bodies, then at least we know we are not alone in the universe. Continue reading


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He Is Our Peace

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
Read the Scripture: Ephesians 2:14-18

Key Take-aways: a) Jesus doesn’t just give us peace, He is our peace! – b) Peace is not the absence of conflict.
True peace is oneness and the secret of oneness is a Person!

For he himself is our peace… (Ephesians 2:14a).

This is not mere doctrine. If you are having a conflict with anybody, this is the way of peace: For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one. Paul starts with a definition of what true peace really is. True peace is oneness. It is not merely the cessation of hostility, the absence of conflict; it means being one. Anything else is superficial and temporary and highly unsatisfactory. You know this to be true. You have made peace on superficial terms and have found it only external. If you merely agree not to fight, it is not peace. And invariably it results in a new outbreak, with all the previous animosity surging to the surface once again. This is why what we call peace among nations never lasts–because it isn’t really peace. It isn’t oneness at all. It is only a weariness with warfare, an agreement to stop it for awhile until we can all recuperate and rearm. Then it breaks out all over again, because nothing is ever settled.

But here the apostle tells us the secret of peace. The secret of oneness is a Person: he himself is our peace. And when Christ Jesus makes peace–between individuals or between nations–that peace will be a satisfying, permanent, and genuine peace. ‘What Paul is saying is that in order to live at peace, you must have peace. The problem with most of us is that we want to start by clearing up only the results of conflict. God never starts there; He starts with the person. He says peace is a Person, and in order for you to live at peace with someone else, you must be at peace with the Person of Christ. If you have His peace, then you can start solving the conflict around you. But you never can do it on any other basis. So the place to start, the origin of peace, is the settling of any problems between you and Jesus Christ.

Many people come to me with various problems involving conflict. Usually they are upset, troubled, discouraged, or angry. They report all the terrible things the other person has done and all the reasons they are justified in being so angry. I listen to it all, and then I say to them, Yes, you’ve got a problem. But that isn’t your only problem. You really have two problems. And the one you haven’t mentioned at all is the one you must start with. Then I point out to them that their basic problem is that they don’t have any peace themselves. They are upset, angry, and emotionally distraught. And everything they do is colored by that emotional state. And it is impossible to solve the problem until they themselves acquire peace.

But this is the promise of God to Christians: He is our peace. And once their attitude is changed, once their heart is settled, once they have put the matter into the hands of the Lord and they see that He is active in it, that He has a solution, and their own heart is therefore at peace, then they can begin to understand what is happening and can apply some intelligent remedies to the situation that will work out the problem. There is profound psychological insight in the fact that the apostle begins with the declaration that Christ is our peace. He alone can accomplish it.

Father, thank You for the access I have to You. Help me to believe the message of peace and thus to enter into the joy and peace of life with You.

Life Application: Peace is the absence of war, but what is true peace? What is the inevitable result of peace made based on external conditions? Where do we find true peace & oneness?

See Ray Stedman’s devotional for more . . .http://www.raystedman.org/daily-devotions/ephesians/he-is-our-peace

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.


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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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True Sabbath Rest

Mars Hill Staff Devotional – July 24, 2012

Key take aways from today:

– What do you do to find rest? Have you found it?

– The secret of life is to cease from dependence on one’s own activity and to rest in dependence upon the activity of HIM who dwells within. There is no true rest apart from this.

“True Sabbath Rest” from Ray Stedman.
Read the Scripture: Genesis 2:1-3

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work (Genesis 2:2).

We must recognize that the weekly Sabbath is not the real Sabbath. It is a picture or a reminder of the real Sabbath. The true Sabbath is a rest; the Jewish Sabbath is a shadow, a picture of that rest. All the Old Testament shadows pointed to Christ. When the work of Jesus Christ was finished, the shadows were no longer needed.

Some years ago when I was serving in the military in Hawaii, I found myself engaged to a lovely girl who lived in Montana and whom I hadn’t seen for three or four years. We were writing back and forth in those lonely days, and she sent me her picture. It was all I had to remind me of her, and it served moderately well for that purpose. But one wonderful day she arrived in Hawaii, and I saw her face to face. When the real thing came, there was no longer any need for the picture.

This is what happened with these Old Testament shadows, including the Sabbath. When the Lord came and His work was ended, the picture was no longer needed. The weekly Sabbath ended at the cross. In the letter to the Colossians, Paul confirms it to us. He says, Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ (Colossians 2:16-17).

The shadow-Sabbath ended at the cross. The next day was the day of resurrection, the day when the Lord Jesus came from the tomb. That was the beginning of a new day–the Lord’s Day. Christians immediately began to observe the Lord’s Day on the first day of the week. They ceased observing the Sabbath because it was ended by the fulfillment of its reality in the cross, and they began to observe the first day of the week.

Though this shadow-Sabbath ended at the cross, the true Sabbath, the rest of God, continues today. That Sabbath is defined for us in Hebrews 4, There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God [it is available to us now]; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. (Hebrews 4:9-10)

That is what the true Sabbath is: to cease from your own efforts and your own works. Well, you say, if I did that I would be nothing but a blob. But the implication is that you cease from your own efforts and depend on the work of Another. This is why Paul cries, I no longer live, but Christ lives in me (Galatians 2:20). This was also the secret of the life of Jesus, as we have seen. He Himself said, It is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work (John 14:10). This is the secret of the Christian who learns it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose (Philippians 2:13). So the secret of true Christian life is to cease from dependence on one’s own activity and to rest in dependence upon the activity of another who dwells within. That is fulfilling the Sabbath.

Lord, teach me to enter into Your true Sabbath rest by ceasing my efforts to please You and serve You in my own strength.

Life Application: Jesus can do much more through us than we can ever do for Him. How do we cease from our own efforts and our own works? Have we found true Sabbath rest in Christ?

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/genesis-1to11/true-sabbath-rest