devos from the hill


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The Uniqueness of The Bible – Part 2

It takes faith to believe the Bible is not a work of God.
Lesson 4 from The HOPE Study Guide

Observe & Consider

In Lesson 3, we considered the Bible’s diversity and harmony and its textual reliability – two attributes that make it unique among all the books in the world. Today we will consider two more things that truly separate the Bible from any other book and give it credibility as the most reliable reference point that one could have in the journey of life.

The Bible is unique in its historical accuracy.

Historical accuracy is yet another factor to consider in determining the reliability of an ancient text. In other words, “Do archeological findings substantiate what is recorded in the text?” In the case of the Bible, the answer is clear

  • “…it may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference. Scores of archaeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements in the Bible. And, by the same token, proper evaluation of Biblical descriptions has often led to amazing discoveries.”

– Dr. Nelson Glueck (Rivers in the Desert, p. 31)

  • “…archaeology has confirmed countless passages which have been rejected by critics as unhistorical or contradictory to known facts…Yet archaeological discoveries have shown that these critical charges…are wrong and that the Bible is trustworthy in the very statements which have been set aside as untrustworthy…We do not know of any cases where the Bible has been proved wrong.”

– Dr. Joseph P. Free (Archaeology and Bible History, pp. 1, 2, 134)

The Bible is unique in its prophetic record.

Before considering the Bible’s prophetic record, it is important to understand what distinguishes the prophets of the Bible from other so–called prophets. According to the book of Deuteronomy in the Bible, the test of a true prophet of God was 100% accuracy. If one who called himself a prophet did not pass this test, the penalty was death.1 Now that is motivation to represent God accurately!

It is amazing to discover that there are more than 1,800 prophecies in the Bible.2 Many of these prophecies were fulfilled in the lifetime of the prophet who gave them. Still more have been fulfilled since the writing of the Bible. Many prophecies are yet to be fulfilled. To this day, no Biblical prophecy has ever been proven false! Continue reading


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The Need for a Reference Point

Lesson 2
What is a reference point and why do we need one?

Observe & Consider

In Lesson 1 we considered the question of life’s meaning and purpose. We also recalled this line from The HOPE: “For those who seek answers, for those who are listening, there is a voice.” (The HOPE video, Introduction). And finally, we concluded with the question, “Am I listening?”

Perhaps you are listening for answers to questions about life and meaning. The problem is there are so many competing voices. Beyond the major world religions (i.e. Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Christianity), there are hundreds of religions and world views. All of these advocate a particular approach to life. In many cases, each of them claims to be the way to find God. However, none of them fully agree (and most radically disagree) on the nature of God and how He may be found. With so many conflicting teachings, how can a person know which way is the right way? It would help to have a reference point.

Every traveler needs help to find his way through a strange land. Some might rely on a trusted guide – one who has successfully completed the journey and is able to help others do the same. Some might use a map or instructions from one who knows the way. Others have depended upon a landmark or a star as a fixed reference point by which they can know their position and measure their progress. Continue reading


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The Universal Question

Is there a purpose…for the world and for me?

Note: The following is from Lesson 1 of The HOPE video Study Guide – At the end of this lesson, please join in the conversation by sharing your comments.

Introduction

The HOPE video begins with these words…

Throughout time people have considered the world in which we live; the complexity and beauty of nature, the mystery of life and death, the depth of human joy and pain …and they have wondered, ‘How did it all come to be? Is this world the result of chance…or design? Is there something, or someone, behind it all? And if there is such a being, then what is He like? Does He have a purpose for this world? Does He have a purpose for me in this world? Does He have a purpose for me beyond this world?

– The HOPE video, Introduction

Observe & Consider

These questions from the beginning of The HOPE are not new. People have long pondered the meaning and purpose of their lives, and they have questioned the existence of a divine creator. For many, questions about purpose and the existence of God are inseparable. Even the prominent 20th century atheist Bertrand Russell once said, “Unless you assume a God, the question of life’s purpose is meaningless.” 1

Why would an avowed atheist make such a statement? Because purpose implies intent, and intent implies design. And if there is a design to this world, then there must be a designer. Perhaps then, there are questions even more basic than that of life’s purpose.

Is there a Designer…and is this Designer knowable? Please understand that it is not the intent of The HOPE to prove God…but rather to reveal Him. As the narrator says at the outset of the video, “for those who seek answers, for those who are listening, there is a voice.”

What about you? Are you listening? Maybe you’ve already made up your mind that God does not exist, or maybe you believe there is a God, but you’re unsure about what He is like. For the purpose of our study, perhaps you should ask yourself before you go further, “Am I really listening? Is it possible that there is something about God I’ve not yet heard or understood?” Continue reading


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Time for a Declaration of Dependence

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
Thoughts about Freedom and Independence
from Fred Carpenter

July 4th is the day when the U.S.A. celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress in 1776. Considering the current spiritual condition of our nation, perhaps it is time for America to rethink the meaning of freedom and to adopt a Declaration of Dependence.

Independence

The world values independence, the freedom from having someone tell you how to run your life. The Bible on the other hand, speaks about a dependence that leads to freedom and fulfillment. “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” – Matt.16:25

The mark of a mature Christian is not how much he knows, but rather how much he depends on Christ to express His life in and through him on a moment by moment basis. Jesus said, “. . . apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5.

Dependence on Christ, not only results in our fulfillment, it results in the glorification of God. In fact, in a sermon preached on July 8, 1731, Jonathan Edwards made the case that when we do not depend on God, we rob him of glory. “Now whatever scheme is inconsistent with our entire dependence on God for all, and of having all of him, through him, and in him, it is repugnant to the design and tenor of the gospel, and robs it of that which God accounts its luster and glory.” Continue reading


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Our Secret Weapons

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from Authentic Christianity
Ray Stedman

Key Take-away:
– We will all be engaged in a battle today. How foolish would it be for a soldier to go into battle without his weapons?! God has provided the weapons we need to be victorious. Do we know what they are? Are we using them?

Read the Scripture: 2 Corinthians 10:1-6

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:3-4).

Paul says we do not employ the weapons of the flesh. What are those weapons? What does the world use to try to solve the problems it recognizes in society? You know what it uses: coercion, manipulation, pressure groups, compromises, or demonstrations that ultimately result in raised voices, clenched fists, and outbreaks of conflict. These are the weapons of the world. So it is understandable why those who are governed by the flesh would seek to employ fleshly weapons to get things done. But the universal testimony of history is these do not work.

We have other weapons. They are mighty, they are powerful, and they accomplish something. They will demolish strongholds of evil, Paul says. But there are no answers in this passage to the question, What are these weapons? The apostle has referred to them in various places in his letters.

The first weapon available to us is truth. The Christian is given an insight into life and reality that others do not have. We know what is behind the forces at work in our society today, and we ought to know how to go about overcoming them. That is what truth is all about. Truth is realism. The wonderful thing about the Word of God is that when you understand the world as the Bible sees it, you are looking at life the way it really is. That is why it is so important that we understand the Scriptures, that we refresh our minds with them all the time, for we are constantly bombarded with illusion and error every day, and it is easy to drift back into thinking the way everybody around us thinks.

Love is also a powerful weapon, and in Scripture, the Word of God links truth with love. When you begin to treat people with courtesy instead of anger, when you accept them as people with feelings like yours and understand that they too are struggling with difficulties and see things out of focus as you often do, when you begin to treat them as people in trouble who need help–that is what love is–then you change the whole picture.

Along with truth and love in Scripture is faith. Faith is the recognition that God is present in history. He has not left us alone to stumble on our own way. The Lord Jesus sits in control of all the nations of earth. Faith believes that and expects Him to do something. In Hebrews 11 we have the great record of the plain, ordinary men and women like you and me who found, by faith, that they could stop the mouths of lions, open the doors of prisons, and change the course of history.

Another powerful weapon for the Christian, proceeding from faith, is prayer. The power of prayer is held before us throughout Scripture. We are constantly exhorted to expose the situations in which we find ourselves to the prayers of believing people, both individually and corporately, praying that God would move in and change things. Again and again the record testifies that Christians who pray have drastically altered events.

Lord, help me from here on to begin to use the weapons of truth, love, faith, and prayer.

Life Application: For every Christian, spiritual warfare is a given, whether engaged actively or passively. Are we alert to identify and engage our spiritual weaponry?

Copyright © 2007 by Elaine Stedman — This daily devotion is from the book The Power of His Presence: 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 http://www.RayStedman.org if the copy is posted on the Internet. Please direct any questions you may have to webmaster@RayStedman.org.

http://www.raystedman.org/daily-devotions/2-corinthians/our-secret-weapons