devos from the hill


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The Importance of Knowing Divine Love

From the desk of Fred Carpenter

Tears in the city
But nobody’s really surprised, you know
My heart’s taking a beating
Existence is bleeding me dry, you know

But way down in my heart of hearts
Way down in my soul of souls
Way down I know that I am a fortunate man
To have known divine love.

It is one thing to know about God, it is quite another to know Him personally and experientially. The Bible says that not only does God love us, but He actually IS love. To know God is to grasp the meaning or meanings of what love is, and to engage with Him so as to encounter love in all the ways He intended from the very beginning of time.

The English language uses the word, love, to describe many things. But the writers of the New Testament have 4 words for love.

Eros – sexual love
Phileo – brotherly “platonic” love
Storge – natural, innate love, such as the love of a mother for a child
Agape – unconditional, divine, love

All of the scripture below deals with divine (agape) love. When the writer of 1 John met the challenge of defining the infinitely complex, all powerful, all knowing, majestic, glorious Creator of the universe, he wrote only 3 words, “. . . God is love” – 1 John 4:8.

Over the next few weeks, we will contemplate together, the human experience of knowing divine love. To start down this path, let’s consider the importance of knowing divine love. Continue reading


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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


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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- A Study in Brokenness

The Prologue

Today we begin a series of devotionals drawn from the book, A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards. We will be sharing highlights from the book in the weeks ahead, but we invite you to get a copy and read along with us; the story offers hope and healing to the spiritually wounded.

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.

The Prologue sets the stage as God assigns certain divine giftings to two men who will become earthly kings.  The first man is given a gift of external power. However, the messenger of God shares with the man that when his earthly pilgrimage is done, his true character will be known; it will be revealed by means of this power.

“Outer power will always unveil the inner resources or the lack thereof.”

The second man is given an internal inheritance, an inward seed planted deep in his heart. This promise will grow to a glorious thing, but not without pain, sorrow, and crushing.

The introduction to our story begs the question, “Does our time on earth shape our identity or reveal our identity?” As followers of Christ, we know that God is in control and that He has a plan, set in motion from before the foundations of the world. Would you agree that the way we respond to everyday circumstances reveals what we think about the Sovereign Lord in our hearts?

Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (NASB)

How are you seeing this play out in your life?


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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?

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