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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 10

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 Ten

“How does a person know when it is okay to separate oneself from the Lord’s anointed – especially if the Lord’s anointed is after the order of King Saul?

David never made that decision. The Lord’s anointed made it for him. The king’s own decree settled the matter!

‘Hunt him down; kill him like a dog!’

Only then did David leave. No, he fled. Even then, he never spoke a word or lifted a hand against Saul. And please note this: David did not split the kingdom when he made his departure. He did not take part of the population with him. He left alone.”

And so begins the next chapter of our book. Saul’s jealousy and madness have finally progressed to the point that he is demanding David’s death. David, knowing that he has been anointed by God to be the next king at some future time which has yet to be revealed, chooses wisely to flee and hide. David could have fought back. He had garnered enough fame and support that he likely could have persuaded many in King Saul’s court and army to turn their allegiance to him instead. But David knew that it is God who makes kings and appoints times, and God had not yet given the go-ahead for him to be king. The only thing left to do then was to get out of Saul’s way.

This sets the stage for our discussion using the following questions:  Sometimes God leads us into a situation which turns sour; how do we know when it is okay to leave that situation? And, what should our exit strategy be?

The kinds of situations we talked about included those such as jobs, churches, volunteer commitments, and the like. Things usually look pretty good when you commit to a church, but after some time the leadership may start to take you in a direction you don’t want to go. Perhaps the worship style changes or the leaders demand that you take a more active role in engaging the community.

We should not leave a situation because we have become uncomfortable or unhappy. Like David, we leave when we are no longer capable of fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives in that situation. And, like David, it may take a while to come to that realization …and we may go through a season of having spears chucked at us before the full intentions of the king are made known.

This is not to say that we should stick it out in situations of actual abuse! But there are times when our situation may actually be one of being tested like Job rather than hunted by King Saul. The point is to seek God’s leading rather than cater to our own discomfort. God may be using discomfort to draw out or build up something in us.

Lastly, when you see that it is time to depart, don’t try to take an entourage with you! Don’t gossip about it. Don’t work others up into a frenzy. Just be obedient to your call and go. We are each responsible to follow God’s leading and we should not want to lead others away from what God may be doing in their lives.

Below are two excerpts from Psalm 18, written by David, in response to his tough situation. Think about the heart of David and the mindset that he had in trusting God so completely that his relationship with Saul did not undo him.

I will love You, O LORD, my strength.
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised;
So shall I be saved from my enemies.  – Psalm 18:1-3

For You will light my lamp;
The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.
For by You I can run against a troop,
By my God I can leap over a wall.
As for God, His way is perfect;
The word of the Lord is proven;
He is a shield to all who trust in Him.  – Psalm 18:28-30


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His Grace is Sufficient

In 2 Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul writes that he was given a “thorn in the flesh” by God to prevent him from becoming arrogant. He asked the Lord three times to remove it and the Lord would not. The following verse was the Lord’s answer to Paul:

And He has said to me, “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.  – 2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

Grace! It cannot be touched or held in your hand. It is not an object to be observed or measured. A common definition is the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God. But this statement from the Lord to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you,” what does this mean? When we are hurting or tormented or placed in some undesirable circumstance for which there is no way out, how do we lay hold of this grace?

In my life, there have been four areas where I have encountered this grace.

Through the Body

By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.  – John 13:35  Through fellowship groups, Bible study groups, and accountability partners, I have received encouragement, I have been specifically upheld in prayer, and I have had tangible needs met. God’s sufficient grace has been bestowed on me through others within the body of Christ.

His Truth – the Quickening of His Word in which is Hidden in our Heart 

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. – Romans 8:28  By filling my mind with His Word, I have a solid foundation for my life so that even if the framework breaks down, I am securely anchored. 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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What If It Doesn’t Get Easier?

Faith is a gift from God (Rom 12:3 – “… God has allotted to each a measure of faith.”).  There are times when God may give us the faith to move mountains (Matt 17:20, 20:21). But there are also times when God intends us to climb the mountain and to trust Him for the faith to do so.  Whether it’s moving mountains, or climbing them, God has a purpose for both.

What if our greatest challenge in life does not get easier? Consider these verses.

We Will Rejoice all the More at His Coming

1PE 4:12-1312  “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13  but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation.”

  • Question – Are you ready for His coming?

We Will Know (Have an Intimate Understanding) of His Grace & Power

2CO 12:9-109 “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

  • Thought – You won’t really know His grace & power if you don’t need His grace & power.

We Will Know Him, the Power of His Resurrection and the Fellowship of His Sufferings

PHI 3:7-117 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, 9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, 10 that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

  • Question – How well do you know Him? Is that well enough?

Continue reading


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Safe Even Through Judgment

God’s means of salvation is the only means of salvation.
Lesson 23 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

Behold, I, even I am bringing the flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life, from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall perish. But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall enter the ark – you and your sons and your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female.

– Gen 6:17-19

But there was a man named Noah who followed God. And God gave Noah detailed instructions to build a huge boat, called an ark. Then, God sent a male and female of every kind of animal to enter the ark. And after Noah and his family were inside the ark, God closed the door. Then God made it rain for forty days and nights, flooding the whole earth and destroying everything that lived on the earth. For one hundred and fifty days water covered the earth. But Noah and his family, and the animals, were safe in the ark. When the water finally subsided, the ark came to rest on a mountain, and the animals went their own way. And so it was that Noah and his family escaped God’s judgment of evil in the world; not because they were without sin, but because they believed God.

– The HOPE, Chapter 4

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

The story of Noah is nothing short of amazing. Skeptics call it a fable. Yet in ancient civilizations from every region of the world, stories of a global flood abound. H.S. Bellamy in Moons, Myths and Men estimates that there are over 500 flood legends worldwide.1

In the Bible this story is found in Genesis, Chapters 6–9. Volumes have been written on these chapters, but for the sake of our study today we will focus on three subjects.

    1. The judgment of God – the result of His holy character

 
In the previous lesson, we saw from Genesis 6:6 that God was deeply grieved over the sin of mankind. In Genesis 6:7 we read of God’s intent to “blot out” man from the face of the earth. At first, one might think that God’s intention to blot out man in verse 7 was motivated by His grief in verse 6. It might appear that God, becoming disappointed with man, somehow lost His patience. But is that really true?

We humans are often disappointed when our expectations are unmet. But God, who is not limited by the dimensions of time and space, knows the future (see verses in Lesson 6). What He expects is what happens. What happens is what He expected. So how could God be disappointed? Continue reading


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Hope – Four Things You Need to Know About It

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from Fred Carpenter

1) You can’t live without It

  • “(Hope) is something as important to us as water is to a fish, as vital as electricity is to a light bulb, as essential as air is to a jumbo jet. Hope is basic to life….without that needed spark of hope, we are doomed to a dark, grim existence. How often the word “hopeless” appears in suicide notes. And even if it isn’t actually written, we can read it between the lines. Take away our hope, and our world is reduced to something between depression and despair.” – Chuck Swindoll
  • “If a person has given up hope, he has entered the gates of hell, whether he knows it or not, and has left behind him his own humanity.” – Eric Fromm
  • “The last thing that dies in a person is hope.” – Diogenes
  • “The absence of hope is the essence of despair.” – Anon.

Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl has written extensively on hope. He observed in the camps, without exception, that when a person lost hope, he/she gave up, and their end was imminent.

2) There is a difference between the world’s definition of hope and God’s definition of hope

The world – Hope is a wishful thinking, an optimistic desire that a thing will come to pass, all the while, living under a cloud of uncertainty that it might not. “All too often, hope is pessimistically defined as the little boy did when he said: “Hope is wishing for something you know ain’t gonna happen.”

The Bible – Hope is a confident expectation, based on the promises of God. (Vine’s dictionary) Vines. It comes from the Greek word, elpis (el-pece’) which means to anticipate, usually with pleasure; expectation or confidence.

  • “’Hope’ is biblical shorthand for unconditional certainty.” – John Blanchard
  • “Hope is not, ‘I have not got it, but I hope I may,’ but ‘I have not yet got it, but I know I shall.’” – Guy King
  • “Hope is faith in the future tense.” – Peter Anderson

3) There is a difference between hope and faith

“. . . faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
– Heb 11:1 (NASB)

Hope is an expectation of future blessing based on the promises of God.

Faith is the present spiritual condition that gives us the assurance and conviction regarding that future blessing.

4) There is a way to get more hope.

a) Perseverance – Rom 5:4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;

b) God’s Word – “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” – Rom 15:4 (NASB)

Your HOPE will increase as your heart and mind become saturated with the plan and purposes of God as revealed in His word. The title for our video, The HOPE, was inspired by Romans 15:4. In concert with the soon-to-be released updated version of our HOPE website, we’re launching a study through The HOPE Study Guide which will be available on this new website in several languages. Every week, in our staff devotional, we’ll dive into a new lesson. We plan to start the study on October 1. It will take us about a year to complete. We’d love to have you, and everyone you know, join us. Spread the word, and the HOPE that comes through His Word!