devos from the hill


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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 16

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 Sixteen

So, you find yourself questioning the decisions and behaviors coming down from the one who is in charge; how can you tell if the one you have to answer to is a King Saul or a David? If you could figure that out, would it change the way you respond to them? And….what if you got it wrong?

Most of us know at least one man in the lineage of David who was damned and crucified by other men. By men who were absolutely positive that the one they were crucifying was not a David! It happens all too often that men go after the Sauls but mistakenly end up crucifying the Davids among us.

“Are you so certain your king is a Saul and not a David that you are willing to take the position of God and go to war against your Saul?”

What, then, should you do? Perhaps you should follow David’s lead and wait for God to move.

By waiting on God, a lot may be revealed over time by the behavior of your leader.  More importantly, the passing of time and the way you react to that leader – be he David or Saul – reveals a great deal about you!

A few scriptures to consider:

…then listen from your heavenly dwelling place, forgive their sin, and act favorably toward each one based on your evaluation of his motives. (Indeed you are the only one who can correctly evaluate the motives of all people.) – 1 Kings 8:39 NET

For who among men knows the things of a man except the man’s spirit within him? So too, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. – 1 Corinthians 2:11 NET

make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you,  so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need. – I Thessalonians 4:11-12 NET

Final Thoughts:

Instead of spending time trying to discern the Sauls from the Davids, (which were both anointed by God), we would do better to turn our attentions to the development of our own hearts and minds.

We don’t always see everything as clearly or fully as we think we do.

Often God keeps knowledge veiled so that His purposes will be accomplished.


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Creation – Part 2

A scientific case for creation.
Lesson 8 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

According to His story, God spoke all of creation into existence. By His Word He made everything out of nothing… According to His story, God created the heavens, the earth, and every living thing in six days.

– The HOPE, Chapter 1

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

Even among those who believe that the world was created by God, there are different interpretations of the creation account found in the Bible. However, among the predominant Biblical views there is also agreement on many key concepts. After reading the preceding excerpt from The HOPE video, let’s consider a few of these concepts.

First, because God is all powerful, not limited by anything, He can create however He chooses, even simply by speaking. This concept is clearly presented in the Bible:

“Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3)

“…by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed.” (2 Peter 3:5)

Secondly, God made everything that is, out of nothing. Think about that. When we humans create, we must utilize or draw upon things that existed before us. When we “create” we are really “re-creating.” But God, who created from nothing, is creative in the ultimate sense: Continue reading


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Creation – Part 1

The Watchmaker Theory – Evidence of a Designer.
Lesson 7 from The HOPE Study Guide

Observe & Consider

In our previous lesson we examined a few of God’s many attributes, each one referenced by one or more Bible verses. As we continue our study, we will now consider what the Bible has to say about God and His creation. But before we do, let’s look briefly at a page from history.

In 1794 British theologian and philosopher William Paley published a book entitled, A View of the Evidence of Christianity. That book was required reading at Cambridge University for more than 100 years. But in 1802, Paley published another book for which he became even more widely known. It was titled, Natural Theology: or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, Collected from the Appearances of Nature. In this book Paley argued that a supernatural God could best be understood by examining evidence from the natural world. His image of the watchmaker has become one of the most famous metaphors in the philosophy of science. Although written over 200 years ago, it bears repeating here. (You may find the language a bit stilted, but hang in there!)

In crossing a field, suppose I pitched my foot against a stone, and were asked how the stone came to be there; I might possibly answer, that, for any thing I knew to the contrary, it had lain there forever… But suppose I had found a watch upon the ground… I should hardly think of the answer which I had before given, that, for any thing I knew, the watch might have always been there. Yet why should not this answer serve for the watch as well as for the stone?… For this reason…that, when we come to inspect the watch, we perceive (what we could not discover in the stone) that its several parts are framed and put together for a purpose, e. g. that they are so formed and adjusted as to produce motion, and that motion so regulated as to point out the hour of the day [etc.]…This mechanism being observed…the inference, we think, is inevitable, that the watch must have had a maker… 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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Beware of the Need to Know

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from Fred Carpenter

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.” – Deuteronomy 29:29 NASB

Are you an information junkie? Where does checking the news (financial, sports, political, etc.) fit into your daily routine? Do you have a need to know things you don’t really need to know? Do you have a need to know why God has brought (or allowed) something into your life before you can embrace it? Do have a need to know why before you follow the instructions of someone in authority over you, be it God or man? Do you tend to over plan and over prepare before moving forward?

The Bible has a great deal of positive things to say about being sober minded, diligent and wise as we walk in this world. But there is a difference between counting the cost (which is encouraged in the Bible – Luke 14:28) and trusting in what we can count rather than trusting in God.

In 1 Chron. 21:1, we read that “Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel.” Satan exploited David’s “need to know”. But “God was displeased with this thing, so He struck Israel.” – 1Chron. 21:7. A census is not evil in and of itself, but in this situation, it was the how and why of the census that resulted in God’s anger toward David.

First, the instructions for numbering the people were given in Exodus 30:12. David did not follow those instructions. Second, David’s census was a violation of ownership. A person only has the right to inventory what he owns. You can’t go into your neighbor’s house and count his possessions without his permission. By taking this census, David was saying, these are my people. He is not acknowledging God’s ownership of the people. He counted them as if they were his. And finally, David’s census reveals that he was not trusting in God. Counting men was a king’s way to determine the size of his army. But it revealed that David was depending on human strength rather than on God. David’s census was rooted in unbelief, and the consequences were disastrous. God sent a plague which killed 70,000 men.

Satan also spoke to Eve’s “need to know”. In Genesis 3:2-5 we read that “The woman said to the serpent, ‘From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden (the tree of the knowledge), God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’ The serpent said to the woman, ‘You surely will not die! ’For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’”

Of course, we are all personally familiar with the result of that event. Eve acted on her innate “need to know” and sin entered the world, infecting mankind and bringing death to this very day.

Do you have a need to know things that you really don’t need to know . . . things that really belong to God? Spare yourself (and others) the grief. “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” – Isaiah 26:3

Some Key Take-aways by the staff:
1. It is one thing (& perfectly ok) to ask God, “why?” It is another thing to have to know before you can trust Him!
2. Parents can play a key role in how easy or difficult it is to superintend our need to know. As we are lead through early life by our parents, having to trust them without all the knowledge that they have, as they guide us, it builds our character for trusting and following God the Father.
3. Perhaps the ultimate purpose of knowledge is to bring us to the end of ourselves so that we can rely solely on God.


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Prayers of Faith and Cries of the Heart

This Week’s Staff Devotional
from Fred Carpenter

“Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. (18) Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.” James 5:14-18 NASB

 

In James 5:15&16, we read about the effectiveness of a “prayer offered in faith.” And in verses 17&18, the prayers of Elijah are cited as an example of such a prayer. These examples are recorded in 1 Kings 17:1 and 1 Kings 18:1 & 18:42-46.

Elijah’s prayer In 1 Kings 17:1 reads more like a confident prophetic proclamation than a request, “As the LORD, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, surely there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” Because Elijah was a righteous man (Jas 5:16) and a prophet of God, we must conclude that these words did not originate from Elijah’s self-initiative, but from God’s revelation to Elijah. Elijah was praying in accordance with God’s will.

In chapter 18, we find it explicitly stated that God told Elijah exactly what to do and say, (18:1) “Go, show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the face of the earth.” Then Elijah went up Mt. Carmel, got on his knees, and again, prayed in accordance with God’s revealed will. This account is given to us in James 5:17&18 so that we might know how to pray today. Continue reading


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Power in Prayer

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
Read the Scripture: 1 John 3:21-24

Would you tag your relationship with God super vibrant? Ultra dull? Or somewhere in between?
This short message from Ray Stedman may shed some light on what makes the difference.

Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him (1 John 3:21-22).

Part of the reason so many are finding Christianity to be boring is because they are not experiencing the kind of Christian living described in this passage. They have not entered into this kind of relationship, where each day they experience the glorious adventure of seeing a living God at work, answering prayer, and giving to them things that they ask. But in this passage we have a beautiful picture of the normal life of a Christian. It is all centered in prayer, because prayer is the most fundamental relational activity that a Christian can experience. Prayer is the expression of dependence on a loving God, and the whole Christian life is to be characterized by a continuous attitude and spirit of prayer.

Look at the earmarks of true prayer that John brings out in this passage. First, there is the spirit of prayer. We have confidence before God (and the word is, literally, boldness); we have boldness before God. If you have boldness before someone, it implies that you are in a close relationship with that person, that you have a clear right to come before him or her. There is no fear of rebuke but a good understanding between you. Thus, to have confidence or boldness before God implies that you have a clear understanding of your right to come before Him. Continue reading