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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God’s Will for You is God’s Will for Your Children

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. 

Genesis 22:1-2 – Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt-offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.”

Situation #1 – Bob recently agreed to be an elder in his Church. The elders meet monthly for a 60-90 minute meeting. But 4 times a year, they meet for half a day on Saturday. The next Saturday meeting falls on the same day as one of his daughter’s softball games. Bob is one of 3 volunteer coaches. There is no Church “crisis” to be dealt with, but the Church is facing tremendous opportunity on several fronts. Typically in these half-day Saturday meetings, as the elders prayerfully discuss the course of the Church, God moves, bringing fresh insight and discernment that impacts the life of the Church. Should Bob go to the elders meeting or the softball game?

Situation #2 – When he was a teenager, God put it in Tony’s heart that he should become a missionary doctor as a way to help reach unreached people groups in Southeast Asia. In college, he met Alicia. They fell in love and married after college. While Tony was in med school they had their first child and became pregnant with a second. After med-school, Tony was offered a fellowship in a prestigious infectious disease program.  One thing led to another, and Tony’s plans to become a missionary doctor were delayed time and time again. The children were now 7 and 9. One night at Church, Tony’s heart was again stirred by a visiting speaker; a missionary from Southeast Asia. As Tony and Alicia discussed this, the main hurdle was the children. They were both exceptionally bright and were flourishing in one of the best private schools in the city. Tony and Alicia were concerned that the children could not reach their full potential on the mission field.  What should Tony and Alicia do?

Who wouldn’t want the best for their children, right? But many Christians in America today are obsessed with positioning their children for success (as the culture around them defines it) to the point that it is actually detrimental. Their motives may be good, but these parents may actually be buffering their children from the very life experience, and perhaps the adversity, that God would use to shape their soul and character, preparing them for their calling in life.

Consider Abraham, when God told him to take his son and offer him as a sacrifice to God. Can you imagine what Abraham was thinking and feeling? How could this be a good thing? Continue reading


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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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Why Would the World Ask About Your Hope?

Today’s devotional is from John Piper.

Peter tells us, “Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). He doesn’t say that they will ask about our faith. Or about our doctrine. Or even about our good conduct. They might ask those things. We want them to. But Peter is expecting that they will ask about our hope. Why?

Why in 1 Peter 3:15 does the unbelieving world ask Christians about their hope?

This was a compelling question for us. We invite you to read and consider as we did in our staff meeting today, how we can understand, experience, and share our hope more fully.

Click here:  http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/why-would-the-world-ask-about-your-hope

 


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“You follow Me.”

A devotional from Fred Carpenter, inspired by John 21…

“What is that to you? You follow Me.”

Can you imagine, walking on the beach with Jesus after His resurrection. That was the scene of an intimate encounter between Jesus and Peter (Find the full account of this story in John 21). Prior to Jesus’ crucifixion, Peter 3 times denied he even knew Jesus. Yes, Jesus already knew what was in Peter’s heart. He was giving Peter the opportunity to walk out the healing he desperately needed after his failure. Jesus then went on to explain to Peter that he would eventually die a martyr’s death. John, who would live out his natural life on the island of Patmos, was following behind. Looking at John, Peter asked, “Lord, and what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!” (John 21:22).

“What is that to you? You follow Me!” For those of us who tend to compare ourselves to others, or who think we know what we need to have, to be or to do in order to be fulfilled, these words can be extremely hard . . . or incredibly comforting.

One morning, years ago, I was having a quiet time with God. Well actually, I was “belly-aching” to God. The English version of The HOPE (a dramatic video presentation of Creation to Christ) had been out for quite some time, and we had completed a handful of translations. All of our work was now related to creating and disseminating even more translations. Most of our production staff who helped create The HOPE had moved on to other things. Production people enjoy exciting new challenges, and cranking out translations of The HOPE was certainly not as creatively challenging as producing it the first time around. As I compared myself to others on my team who had moved on to new challenges, I felt like I was, in a sense, left holding the bag.

Everywhere I went, well-meaning people asked me, “So, are you working on a new project?” “No, we’re still working on The HOPE.” I would reply. Then I would feel the need to explain that each language version of The HOPE was like a new project, or that writing a 65-lesson study guide was a huge challenge in and of itself. I suppose I was trying to somehow say we were still a creative and productive ministry, even though we weren’t working on “a new project.” I understood that my significance is not in what I do, but rather in who (and Whose) I am. But still, I felt like my significance was under attack. Continue reading


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Guiding Principles of Mars Hill

For over 35 years, Mars Hill films and videos have been used around the world to introduce thousands of people to faith in Christ. Since its inception,CMars Hill has gone through various seasons of ministry, producing different genres of media (short dramatic film, video curriculum, documentary, etc.) for diverse audiences and purposes. Each season has had, and in many cases is still having, a unique and significant impact.

The common thread that ties all of this ministry together is a set of guiding principles that influence what we do and how we do it. Perhaps you will find something of value in these principles to guide you in life and ministry.

 
The manner in which we pursue the purpose of Mars Hill
is influenced by valuing the following beliefs.

  1. The belief that at any point in time, God has a specific mission for this ministry and that He has a specific plan by which He would have us fulfill that mission
  2. The belief that through personal and corporate prayer, prayerful evaluation of relevant information and prayerful discussion, we can (as God allows) come to a conviction concerning His mission for Mars Hill and His plan to fulfill that mission
  3. The belief that this conviction, which the Bible calls faith (Heb.11:1), should be the basis of every decision and action, for “whatever is not from faith is sin ” (Rom.14:23)
  4. The belief that God will confirm the mission and plan through corporate unity as well as spiritual conviction
  5. The belief that the mission and plan will always be consistent with the Word of God, the Mars Hill Statement of Faith, the Mars Hill Mission Statement and the legal documents that govern the structure and operation of Mars Hill
  6. The belief that God will always provide what we need in order to do what He is calling us to do
  7. The belief that there are times when God calls us to do things that contradict natural wisdom. However, in such times there is still value to natural wisdom in that it gives us the ability to understand the gaps we are trusting God to fill. God makes Himself known when He does what only He can do.
  8. The belief that quality is important, because what we do makes a statement about the One we serve
  9. The belief that the ultimate measure of success is faithfulness to what God has called us to do

For more than 35 years, the stated purpose of Mars Hill has been
“To use media to draw people to Jesus Christ.”


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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