devos from the hill


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Money in the Mouth of a Fish, and an AC Unit on the Roof

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.

“However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me.” – (the words of Jesus to Peter when he was challenged by the tax authorities as to whether or not his Master paid taxes) – Matt. 17:27

Several years ago, as we were approaching another hot Houston summer, Doug Whitehead, our VP of Administration informed me that one of the two Mars Hill air conditioner units on our roof had gone out. The AC unit was not our landlord’s responsibility, it was ours. We talked about our options: hold off and endure the heat until we were in a better financial position, or bite the bullet and purchase a replacement unit.

Whatever our decision, we determined that the first thing to do was to get up on the roof and assess the situation; the type of unit, its location, etc. Upon doing our diligence, we discovered something very unusual. Much to our amazement, next to our dead unit, there was another unit in perfect condition (a third unit) just sitting there. Before we moved into our space, it was occupied by a restaurant which needed three AC units to handle a capacity crowd. When we moved in, that third unit was never connected, and it was now available to us!

We marveled at God’s provision! The first thought that came to my mind was the fish story from Matt. 17. God had that fish swallow the coin to pay the tax before Peter even knew it was needed. From that AC experience, I learned a lesson that has set a pattern for me to this very day. Continue reading


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Trust – The Most Important Component of Any Effective Team

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.

Most would agree that trust is an important component to a healthy relationship or an effective team. But let’s be honest. Who do you trust so much that you would share your deepest darkest secrets?  Is there really anyone who you believe always puts your best interest above their own?

Navy Seals are taught, when entering a building where they expect to engage the enemy, that one Seal is to focus only on clearing the left side of the room, and another is to focus only on clearing the right side. They must not turn away from that on which they are to fix their focus. Only through extensive training and discipline is it possible to truly trust that your partner is covering your blindside by doing his job, and doing it well.

I am very aware that partnering among ministries is vital to the completion of the Great Commission, and that partnering requires trust. However, the greatest misstep I have made as the leader of Mars Hill was when I suspended our policy to follow a proven protocol for creating translations of The HOPE, and I trusted a ministry partner to do things that I later discovered he could not do. It was a very costly mistake on many levels, but it was also one of my greatest life lessons. Since that time, I’ve put a great deal of thought-time into the subject of trust. Continue reading


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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 11

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 Eleven

“Caves are not the ideal place for morale building. There is a certain sameness to them all, no matter how many you have lived in. Dark. Wet. Cold. Stale. A cave becomes even worse when you are its sole inhabitant…and in the distance, you can hear the dogs baying.”

When David had to flee the presence of King Saul, there were not too many places for him to take refuge. Imagine hiding out in a cold, dark cave – all alone, knowing that you were being hunted by the King and his army. Add to the emotional conflict of the situation, that David had done nothing wrong; King Saul was simply jealous of David’s relationship with God and threatened by the knowledge that David would one day replace him as King.

David had gone from shepherd to soldier to King’s companion to cave-dwelling fugitive. God was allowing everything to be crushed out of David – little by little.

So, what did this crushing circumstance produce in David? How did he respond? Continue reading


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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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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 3

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 Three

Before he became the king, David served a king… King Saul. During this time, Saul often felt torment and David, being the experienced musician, would play his harp and sing many of the songs that he had penned while tending sheep and meditating on things of God.

David’s beautiful music soothed Saul’s spirit for a while, but at the same time, it was one more reason for Saul to be jealous of David. As Gene Edwards says in his book, “Saul felt threatened by David, as kings often do when there is a popular, promising young man beneath them. The king also knew, as did David, that this boy just might have his job some day.”

David was caught in an uncomfortable position! He had come to serve in the palace at the king’s request, yet he was increasingly aware of the king’s angst against him. Focusing on David’s part of this drama, we considered David’s obedience to serve in whatever situation God put him in, whether it was as a sheepherder, an errand boy or now, as a palace musician.

In Gene Edwards’ book, the author believes that David understood what God wanted. He wanted broken vessels – people who understand that brokenness comes with pain. People who will not run from it but instead, trust God to be their strength through the adversity. Continue reading


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To Walk With God

Contemplating the Way in Which One Walks with God… One Step at a Time
A Mars Hill Staff Devotional by Ray Stedman and Fred Carpenter

Read the Scripture: Genesis 5:1-27

And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters… Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away (Genesis 5:22, 24).

This account says twice that, before he was taken up, Enoch walked with God. I love the story of the little girl who was telling her mother the story of Enoch. She said, Enoch used to take long walks with God. One day he walked so far God said, ‘It’s too far to go back; come on home with me.’ That is what happened to Enoch.

What does it mean to walk with God? Here is a man who, in the midst of a brilliant but godless generation, walked with God. What does it mean? Enoch did not literally walk with God; this is unquestionably a figurative expression, but a figurative walk involves the same thing today as it did then. First, it means he went in the same direction God went. He was moving the way God was going. God is forever moving in human history. He is moving now to accomplish certain things in human life, and He has been doing so for centuries. The person who walks with God is the person who knows which way God is going and goes the same way. Now, what is that? Perhaps we cannot indicate it positively, but we certainly can negatively: God moves always in unswerving hostility toward sin. He is opposed to that which destroys and wrecks human life. No matter how good it looks, no matter how attractive it seems, God is against it. And the person who walks with God is the person who walks in unswerving hostility toward sin in his or her own life and refuses to make up with it or permit it to rule or to reign. That is the first thing in a walk with God. Continue reading


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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.