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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 23

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.

“This book (A Tale of Three Kings) reflects my concern for this multitude of confused, brokenhearted, and often bitter Christians who now find their spiritual lives in shambles and who are groping about for even the slightest word of hope and comfort.” – Gene Edwards, Author’s Preface

Chapter Twenty-Three

For today’s devotional consideration, we read from our book what could have been an exchange between King David and Abishai, his nephew. He alone accompanied David when he entered the camp of Saul while he slept and took his spear and water jug. He commanded a third of David’s army. He slew a Philistine giant who threatened David’s life, and on one occasion withstood 300 men, and slew them with his own spear.

This man, Abishai, was obviously an invaluable right-hand man to the king, but even such a trusted companion does not always grasp the deep heart motivations of the one they serve. This becomes apparent as Abishai presses King David for what he will do regarding the growing rebellion to take the throne led by David’s own son, Absalom.

Abishai remembers well the madness of King Saul. He knows the irrational thoughts and actions that Saul directed towards David, fearing that David would take the throne from him. He had witnessed with his own eyes David’s restraint and mercy towards Saul when he could have brought him down and taken what he knew was destined to be his.

No man would have faulted David for standing up to Saul’s unwarranted attacks and fighting back. In this chapter, Abishai repeatedly reminds David that he would have been humanly justified in defending himself against the mad king, but now that he IS the king, he has, even more, rights to defend his throne.

King David responds to Abashai’s urgings for action; he was not an Absalom towards Saul and he does not want to be a Saul towards Absalom! The following reveals what his heart knows to be true:

“I did not lift a finger to be made king. Nor shall I do so to preserve a kingdom. Even the kingdom of God! God put me here. It is not my responsibility to take or keep authority. Do you not realize, it may be His will for these things to take place? If He chooses, God can protect and keep the kingdom even now. After all, it is His kingdom.”

Abishai presses him once more. “You know that Absalom should not be king!” And David responds, “Do I? No man knows. Only God knows, and He has not spoken. I did not fight to become king, and I will not fight to remain king.”

David was prepared to let it all go if that is what God wanted. Finally, Abishai got it. And his admiration for his king grew even deeper.

Things to consider:

O LORD, You have searched me and known me! A Psalm of David. Psalm 139:1 ESV   (David’s relationship with God is evident throughout this entire Psalm; he understands how well God knows him and he freely expresses his thoughts and desires back to God.)

And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. – Romans 8:27 ESV

…but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we declare it, not to please people but God, who examines our hearts. I Thessalonians 2:4 NET

Final Thought:

If God knows us so well, and He is sovereign over all, what keeps us from resting in the hope and comfort that He will guide our lives in the ways and the times that they should go?


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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 20

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 Twenty

27 “How long must I bear with this evil congregation that murmurs against me? I have heard the complaints of the Israelites that they murmured against me. 28 Say to them, ‘As I live, says the Lord, I will surely do to you just what you have spoken in my hearing. 29 Your dead bodies will fall in this wilderness—all those of you who were numbered, according to your full number, from twenty years old and upward, who have murmured against me.  – Numbers 14:27-29 NET

And let us not put Christ to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by snakes. 10 And do not complain, as some of them did, and were killed by the destroying angel. 11 These things happened to them as examples and were written for our instruction, on whom the ends of the ages have come. – 1 Corinthians 10:9-11 NET

Murmuring, grumbling, and complaining. We all do it. We express our discontent with our world, sometimes under our breaths where few can hear it and sometimes a bit more audibly for the benefit of others. It may seem innocuous enough…like we are just venting or letting off steam. But, there is actually great harm at the root of it and as the Scripture passages above reveal, these expressions of discontent are an affront to God.

The story of Absalom, 3rd son of King David, is an excellent example of how even a private, inward discontent can fester and grow into an all-out rebellion and life of destruction. (For background on Absalom, you may want to read 2 Samuel 13 – 18.)

Absalom was angered when his half-brother raped his sister. We can only imagine the frustration and bitterness that Absalom felt when their father, King David did nothing about the situation! No discipline, no confrontation, no acknowledgment, no rectification.

David failed to deal with the issue, and that sin brought much grief to the family and kingdom. But, his failure does not let Absalom off the hook for his own failure to deal with the situation in a just and open manner.

Instead of bringing the matter to the King and more importantly to THE King, God Himself, Absalom let his discontent simmer under the surface. He let it affect his every thought and action. It drove him to find his own solution…take over and become the new king! Over years, he methodically charmed his way into the peoples’ hearts by tapping into their own discontent, with promises that he could and would fix their problems. Eventually, it led him to full rebellion against his father, the King and ultimately to his own death.

Some Things to Ponder:

Murmuring, Grumbling and Complaining

  • provides no benefits.
  • dulls our spiritual senses, causing us to forget about what He has done and missing out on what He is doing
  • becomes a stage for Satan to get a foothold in our lives
  • gives a poor testimony of God to others
  • is an affront to the God who ordains our lives

As noted in Lesson 13, God uses discontent to accomplish His purposes in us. The question is how will we respond to our discontent? Saul’s response was to go mad and throw spears. Absalom chose instead to let his discontent fester over a long period and turn into a full on outright rebellion. Yet David, for all his sins and faults, stayed faithful in recognizing that God was sovereign over all and the source for all wisdom, instruction, and direction for life.


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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 17

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 Seventeen

Today we get to join with a young soldier and sit at the feet of a wizened old soul, one who had lived alongside David in the days before he was king and also the days of his rule. We can relate to the questions the young soldier asks about King David and his mighty men of valor. We may even come up with a few questions of our own, but the answers will give us all pause for thought.

Young soldier:  Are you, sir, one of David’s mighty men of long ago – one of those men of whom we have heard so much?

Old soldier:   If you are asking if I am a former thief and cave dweller and one who followed a sobbing, hysterical fugitive, then yes, I was one of the ‘mighty men of David.’

Young soldier:  But, sir, you make the great king sound like a weakling. Was he not the greatest of all rulers?

Old soldier:  He was no weakling. Nor was he a great leader.

Young soldier:  Then what, good sir? What was the greatness of David?

Old soldier:  The clearest memory I have of my king, when we lived in the caves, is that his was a life of submission. Yes, David showed me submission, not authority. He taught me no the quick cure of rules and laws, but the art of patience.

Men who speak endlessly on authority only prove they have none. And kings who make speeches about submission only betray twin fears in their hearts: They are not certain they are really true leaders, sent of God. And they live in mortal fear of a rebellion.

My king spoke not of submitting to him. He feared no rebellion…because he did not mind if he was dethroned!

No, authority from God is not afraid of challengers, makes no defense, and cares not one whit if it must be dethroned.

As far as David’s having authority: Men who don’t have it talk about it all the time. David had authority, but I don’t think that fact ever occurred to him.

Scripture to consider:

… Therefore, so that I would not become arrogant, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to trouble me—so that I would not become arrogant. I asked the Lord three times about this, that it would depart from me. But he said to me, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me. 10 Therefore I am content with weaknesses, with insults, with troubles, with persecutions and difficulties for the sake of Christ, for whenever I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NET

Final Thoughts:

If we need power and authority, we are probably not ready or suited for it!

To borrow from John Piper, God’s design is to make us a showcase for His power…not by getting rid of all our weaknesses; but by giving us strength to endure and even rejoice in tribulation.

Although David did not know it, his heart and attitude was a reflection of the One, king of kings, who would follow about a millennia later; the One that Paul spoke of in 2 Corinthians 12:9 >> So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me.

 


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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 14

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 Fourteen

He came to the sheepfolds by the road, where there was a cave. Saul went into it to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the recesses of the cave. David’s men said to him, “This is the day about which the Lord said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hand, and you can do to him whatever seems appropriate to you.’” So David got up and quietly cut off an edge of Saul’s robe.Afterward David’s conscience bothered him because he had cut off an edge of Saul’s robe. He said to his men, “May the Lord keep me far away from doing such a thing to my lord, who is the Lord’s chosen one, by extending my hand against him. After all, he is the Lord’s chosen one.” David restrained his men with these words and did not allow them to rise up against Saul. Then Saul left the cave and started down the road. – I Samuel 24:3-7 NET

 

Today in our book, A Tale of Three Kings, we discussed David’s great restraint from doing harm to King Saul when given the opportunity. King Saul had been aggressively hunting David to kill him. In Saul’s madness, his jealousy over David had driven him to all kinds of irrational thoughts and actions.

David had presented no threat or harm to King Saul and in fact had willingly served the King on the battlefield and in the King’s court. But, Saul was being tormented by an evil spirit and knew that the Spirit of God was with David. Saul also knew that God had chosen David to be his successor to the throne, but without the Spirit of God upon him, Saul was subject to insecurity, fear, and paranoia over when the throne would be taken from him.

Humanly speaking, David was blameless towards Saul. He had been a model citizen and employee of the King. He was in no hurry to take over the throne. He was best friends with Saul’s son and married to one of Saul’s daughters. Everyone liked him.

King Saul had killed people who gave David assistance, and David’s present companions were at risk from Saul’s wrath as well. In fact, they begged David to take the shot…declaring that the Lord was giving him this opportunity. If David had killed Saul in the cave, it would likely have been seen as self-defense….fully justified.

So why didn’t David follow his companions’ advice? When all the evidence was in his favor and he knew he was destined to be the next king anyway, why did he not seize the opportunity to make things “right?” One answer may be found in I Samuel 24:15,

15 May the Lord be our judge and arbiter. May he see and arbitrate my case and deliver me from your hands!”

David was fully committed to the sovereignty and leading of the Lord. The Lord had anointed and made Saul King. He had not yet given word or sign that Saul’s reign was done. David had a profound reverence for God and HIS plan. Therefore, he refused to take matters into his own hands; he allowed the will of God to unfold in God’s time.

In closing, read through I Peter 2:13-24. In this passage, we are told how we should relate to those in authority and we are reminded of the ultimate example when the Lord Jesus Christ Himself submitted to the unfolding of God’s will.

Consider This: How would it look for us to have this same mindset in our everyday day circumstances?

 


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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 6

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 Six

Today’s devotional study delves into some of the issues at play behind the scenes in I Samuel 18. Saul becomes jealous and angry with David and throws a spear at him; David responds by ducking and running.

Our author suggests that David might have instead chosen to pull the spear out of the wall and return the favor. Didn’t David have the right to defend himself? Wouldn’t people have thought him justified, bold, even courageous to fight back? Especially since the motives of the King were unfounded. David had done nothing wrong!

The King was acting out of jealousy and of fear that his own reputation was waning among the people. But the issue here is that however irrational his motive, Saul was still the God-appointed King and David knew that. David knew that even though the prophet, Samuel had anointed him to be king someday, that day had not yet come. King Saul was still the sovereign ruler under God. And there was no directive in place for David to take the kingship from Saul, so the best course of action was just to do his job and stay out of the line of fire.

Chapter 6 deals largely with God’s divine establishment of authority. Read (as we did) Romans 13 and consider your reaction to this passage of scripture. What do you find hard to swallow? Do you think there are any exceptions to “the rule”?

You might also consider reading more about David’s actions throughout I Samuel 16, 17, 18. He showed courage time and again when carrying out the orders given him, both in taking care of his father’s business and in his battle assignments from the king. He also had no fear when standing up for the Lord’s reputation on the battlefield with Goliath. But, he showed great restraint and humility when dealing with the king himself. David knew his place and did not try to elevate or promote himself. He knew who was in charge of them all!

In closing, you may want to read Psalm 40, penned by David. Here is an excerpt:

I relied completely on the Lord,
and he turned toward me
and heard my cry for help.
 He lifted me out of the watery pit,
out of the slimy mud.
He placed my feet on a rock
and gave me secure footing.
 He gave me reason to sing a new song,
praising our God.
May many see what God has done,
so that they might swear allegiance to him and trust in the Lord!
 How blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord
and does not seek help from the proud or from liars!

Psalm 40:1-4 NET


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The Mystery of History – Ray Stedman

Read the Scripture: Acts 4:23-31
On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. Sovereign Lord, they said, you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them.  Acts 4:23-24

After being released from custody of the Sanhedrin, the apostles did not go out to organize a revolutionary committee to overthrow them. They did not even try to arouse a popular demonstration. The clear evidence of this passage is that they had popular support. But the apostles do not rely for even one minute upon political or popular pressure. They cast themselves upon the unique resource of the church in any age, which, when it forgets it, becomes nothing more than an instrument of distortion. They cast themselves wholly upon the sovereign power of God at work in history. That is the greatest force to alter a power structure that the world has ever seen. It has been ignored by the church many times and thus Christians have frittered away their efforts in relatively useless activities which make a lot of noise but never accomplish anything.

The apostles found encouragement in two things: First, the sovereignty of God, his overruling control of human events. The very first word of their prayer recognizes this,Sovereign Lord. God holds the world in the palm of his hand, and is intimately involved in every human event. They found great consolation in that, but I find many Christians have forgotten it. These disciples openly recognized that God had even predicted the very opposition they faced. Later, they quote the second Psalm in support of it. They had clearly been doing what Christians ought to do under pressure: They had gone to the Scriptures. They had found in the second Psalm the prediction of the actual opposition they were facing.

This second thing they saw is what we might call, the mystery of history. You can see it in verse 28 where they say of the Sanhedrin, They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. In other words, the God of history uses the very opposition to accomplish his purposes! That is what they saw. God worked through the free will of man. These people opposed the plan of God. They tried to thwart God’s purposes. They tried to derail his program. But God operates in such a marvelous way that he uses even this opposition to accomplish his will. That is the story of the cross and of the resurrection of Jesus.

That principle is what these Christians reckoned upon. They recognized a principle at work in human affairs which is the most powerful force known to man, and which the church frequently ignores to its peril.

Thank you, Father, that I can trust in your sovereign power and control even over those events which do me harm.

Life Application: What are two important principles we derive from God’s Word regarding our reactions to deepening moral decay and human suffering? Are we willing to act faithfully, while acknowledging the mystery and majesty of God’s sovereignty?

We hope you were blessed by this daily devotion.

From your friends at www.RayStedman.org

Copyright © 2014 by Ray Stedman Ministries — This daily devotion is from the book Immeasurably More: 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 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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The Attributes of God

What the Bible says about God.
Lesson 6 from The HOPE Study Guide

Introduction

Before there was anything, before time or space or physical matter, there was God…One who is far beyond our ability to fully comprehend or describe. Through His story, we find that God is Spirit without a beginning or an end. He is complete within Himself, lacking in nothing. He is all knowing and all wise. He is perfect in every way. He is not limited by anything.

– The HOPE, Chapter 1

Observe & Consider

The first week of our study presented evidence that the Bible is the most trustworthy reference point in all the world for understanding reality. The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself, and it reveals truth about God in two ways. One way is by demonstration: recording God’s action and interaction with the world and humankind. Another way is by declaration: making direct statements or claims about the nature and character of God.

Consider the following Bible verses that support the excerpt from The HOPE quoted above.

• Before There Was Anything, There Was God

“For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:16-17)

• God Is Beyond Our Ability to Fully Comprehend

“Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable.” (Psalm 145:3)
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” (Romans 11:33)

• God Is Spirit

“God is spirit…” (John 4:24)

• God Is Eternal – He Has No Beginning or End

“Before the mountains were born or You gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” (Psalm 90:2)
“…And Your years will not come to an end.” (Psalm 102:27)
“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:17)

• God Is Complete within Himself, Lacking in Nothing Continue reading