devos from the hill


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Created to Love God and Be Loved by God

Where does your picture of God come from?
Lesson 13 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

For man was created to love God and to be loved by God.

– The HOPE, Chapter 2

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

How we perceive a person inevitably influences the way we respond to that person. For instance, if you learned from a co-worker that your supervisor was very angry with you, how do you suppose you would feel to see him (or her) suddenly appear at the doorway of your office?

Or, if you were driving down the street and listening to some of your favorite music and you saw a police car approaching from behind with lights flashing, would you immediately look at your speedometer to make sure you were not breaking the law? If you’re like most people, you would.

In the same way, your perception of God will most likely determine your immediate response to Him. We saw the line above from The HOPE in an earlier lesson, but didn’t dwell on it then. But because this simple statement is so significant, let’s look at it again and delve more deeply into what it means to us. If this statement is true, then it becomes a foundation for every other truth we’ll consider in our study of God’s story through the HOPE. If it is not true, then you could hardly be blamed for abandoning this endeavor here and now. Continue reading


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Two Trees – Two Ways

Two approaches to God – works and grace
Lesson 11 from The HOPE Study Guide

Introduction

And out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil… And the Lord God commanded the man saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.

– Genesis 2: 9, 16-17

In the middle of the garden, there were two trees. One was the tree of life, the other, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God told Adam he could eat from any tree in the garden, but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he must not eat, for when he does he will surely die.

– The HOPE, Chapter 2

Observe & Consider

Thus far in God’s story, we’ve witnessed much drama, but no conflict. God created Adam and Eve and placed them in a beautiful garden where they had all they needed. But two trees stood in the midst of the garden. One tree yielded life, the other death; first a spiritual death, and ultimately a physical death.

Bible scholars throughout history have considered the meaning of these two trees. Most agree that the trees represent two entirely different ways of relating to God and life.The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is thought to represent man’s attempt to be fulfilled, and rightly related to God, through his own effort – often by acquiring knowledge and trying to do what is right in His own eyes. The Bible says the end of this approach is death.2

However, the tree of life is, according to theologian John Calvin, a reminder to man that “he lives not by his own power, but by the kindness of God; and that life is not an intrinsic good, but proceeds from God.” 3 The tree of life represents the life–giving favor which flows from God – favor we do not merit and cannot earn, but can only receive in humility and thanksgiving. Continue reading


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Creation of Adam & Eve – Part 2

Our purpose – to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.
Lesson 10 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

He did not create them to be gods. But as the moon reflects the light of the sun, so Adam and Eve were created to reflect the light of God.

– The HOPE, Chapter 1

The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

– Westminster Catechism, Shorter Version, Written in the 1640’s

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

In the previous lesson we considered the truth that man was created in the image of God. In this lesson we will consider God’s purpose for creating man. There are many verses in the Bible that, if studied in total, would help us understand God’s purpose for creating man. However, there is not just a verse that singularly sums up this subject, at least not in a manner that would satisfy most Bible scholars.

There is, however, a document containing a statement that attempts to sum up what the Bible says about God’s purpose for creating man. This document is known as the Westminster Catechism, and the statement to which we are referring appears above. This statement is widely accepted among Bible scholars as accurate, and it provides a point of reference as we consider what The HOPE says about God’s purpose for creating man.

Without a doubt, the brightest visible object in our world is the sun. It is so bright that gazing directly at it can cause irreparable damage to our eyes. Yet God’s brilliance is immeasurably greater than even that of the sun. In 1 John 1:5 we learn that God is pure, undiluted light. And in Exodus 33:20 we are told that His glory is so great no man can look directly at God and live! So how can people behold the glory of God if He is so intensely brilliant that no man can look directly at Him and live? 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 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