devos from the hill


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Blossom Where You are Planted

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.

“Commit your works to the LORD, and your plans will be established.” – Proverbs 16:3 NASB

When we are young adults, looking at the endless possibilities before us, it seems logical to pick a goal and map out a plan for how to get there. But, when you are a follower of Christ, you become aware that you are not alone in these decisions. In fact, you learn that He already has plans, big plans; so it becomes a matter of discovering what those plans are and what your role in them will be.

I have shared in the previous two devotionals that upon graduating from film school God had given me a deep conviction that I would someday make films that would introduce people to Jesus Christ. However, I had no direction or idea about how that would come to pass.

At that time, I was living in Houston, doing odd media jobs, waiting tables, and strategizing what my next move should be. I attended a church but had not joined a church or become involved in church life because I didn’t know if I would be staying in Houston. Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, and New York seemed the more logical places to pursue a film career.

While searching for something encouraging in God’s word one day, I read Proverbs 16:3, “Commit your works to the LORD, and your plans will be established.” The Holy Spirit spoke to me through this verse. I thought I would find something about my plans coming to pass, but what I saw was not what I was expecting. I realized I had been reading that verse backward. I was trying to make a plan and commit it to the Lord, expecting Him to then show me the work. Continue reading


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Do You Worship the Work?

Today our staff discussed the following thoughts as we prayerfully considered the question, “Do you worship the work?”

From AW Tozer, “Gems from Tozer” – “We take a convert and immediately make a worker out of him. God never meant it to be so. God meant that a convert should learn to be a worshiper, and after that he can learn to be a worker…The work done by a worshiper will have eternity in it.”

Luke 10:38-42 38)Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. 39)She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. 40)But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” 41)But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; 42)but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

From Oswald Chamber’s, My Utmost for His Highest – Do You Worship the Work? – Beware of any work for God that causes or allows you to avoid concentrating on Him. A great number of Christian workers worship their work. The only concern of Christian workers should be their concentration on God. This will mean that all the other boundaries of life, whether they are mental, moral, or spiritual limits, are completely free with the freedom God gives His child; that is, a worshiping child, not a wayward one. A worker who lacks this serious controlling emphasis of concentration on God is apt to become overly burdened by his work. He is a slave to his own limits, having no freedom of his body, mind, or spirit. Consequently, he becomes burned out and defeated. There is no freedom and no delight in life at all. His nerves, mind, and heart are so overwhelmed that God’s blessing cannot rest on him.

But the opposite case is equally true – once our concentration is on God, all the limits of our life are free and under the control and mastery of God alone. There is no longer any responsibility on you for the work. The only responsibility you have is to stay in living constant touch with God, and to see that you allow nothing to hinder your cooperation with Him. The freedom that comes after sanctification is the freedom of a child, and the things that used to hold your life down are gone. But be careful to remember that you have been freed for only one thing– to be absolutely devoted to your co-Worker.

We have no right to decide where we should be placed, or to have preconceived ideas as to what God is preparing us to do. God engineers everything; and wherever He places us, our one supreme goal should be to pour out our lives in wholehearted devotion to Him in that particular work. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might…” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

Two takeaways from today:
1) If you are frustrated or burnt out with your work, it could be that your are focused on the wrong thing….the work!

2) God gives us work to do, but it is so easy to get caught up in getting the job done that we lose sight of the fact that the One who gives us the work is the One who will give us what we need to accomplish the work. The job is always an opportunity to engage with God and worship God, allowing Him to work through us to accomplish His will.


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Guiding Principles of Mars Hill

For over 35 years, Mars Hill films and videos have been used around the world to introduce thousands of people to faith in Christ. Since its inception,CMars Hill has gone through various seasons of ministry, producing different genres of media (short dramatic film, video curriculum, documentary, etc.) for diverse audiences and purposes. Each season has had, and in many cases is still having, a unique and significant impact.

The common thread that ties all of this ministry together is a set of guiding principles that influence what we do and how we do it. Perhaps you will find something of value in these principles to guide you in life and ministry.

 
The manner in which we pursue the purpose of Mars Hill
is influenced by valuing the following beliefs.

  1. The belief that at any point in time, God has a specific mission for this ministry and that He has a specific plan by which He would have us fulfill that mission
  2. The belief that through personal and corporate prayer, prayerful evaluation of relevant information and prayerful discussion, we can (as God allows) come to a conviction concerning His mission for Mars Hill and His plan to fulfill that mission
  3. The belief that this conviction, which the Bible calls faith (Heb.11:1), should be the basis of every decision and action, for “whatever is not from faith is sin ” (Rom.14:23)
  4. The belief that God will confirm the mission and plan through corporate unity as well as spiritual conviction
  5. The belief that the mission and plan will always be consistent with the Word of God, the Mars Hill Statement of Faith, the Mars Hill Mission Statement and the legal documents that govern the structure and operation of Mars Hill
  6. The belief that God will always provide what we need in order to do what He is calling us to do
  7. The belief that there are times when God calls us to do things that contradict natural wisdom. However, in such times there is still value to natural wisdom in that it gives us the ability to understand the gaps we are trusting God to fill. God makes Himself known when He does what only He can do.
  8. The belief that quality is important, because what we do makes a statement about the One we serve
  9. The belief that the ultimate measure of success is faithfulness to what God has called us to do

For more than 35 years, the stated purpose of Mars Hill has been
“To use media to draw people to Jesus Christ.”


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The Other Purpose for Planning

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from Fred Carpenter

“This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do.” – John 6:6

Planning is a wise thing to do, right? The Bible warns us what can happen when we fail to plan (Luke 14:28). We plan so that we can arrive at our goal, on time and within our budget. But there is another purpose for planning, one we might not expect.

It had been one of those kinds of days when the falleness of this world affects you to the core of your being. Jesus’s disciples had just returned from burying John the Baptist, who had been beheaded by Herod. After hearing their report, Jesus led them to the other side of the Galilee to find some quiet and rest. But the people learned of it and followed them.

It was getting late in the day and thousands of people had gathered round them. Many of them had come a great distance to see Jesus. Being responsible, anticipating the situation, the disciples approached Jesus, and offered their counsel. How foolish to counsel the Son of God. They urged Him to send the crowd away, so they might find food and shelter while it was still daylight. They were thinking ahead. Formulating a plan to avoid an undesirable outcome. That’s a wise thing to do, right? Continue reading


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Finding Deep Truth in Small Verses

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from Fred Carpenter

“Commit your works to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” – Proverbs 16:3

I believe the Word of God is inspired by God Himself. This conviction sets the stage for me as I read a passage of scripture. Years ago, as I was reading Proverb 16:3, I asked God what He wanted me to see in this short verse. What He showed me has made this little verse one of my “life verses.”

The first thing that impressed me was God’s choice of the phrases “your work” and “’your plans”. I suppose at first glance this verse could look like a formula for self-determination; a means to an end to get what we want in life. But as the Spirit, my Teacher, directed the eyes of my heart to see these words through the lens of other scripture, I understood that “your” work and plans are not the work and plans we choose of our own initiative, rather, they are the ones He has chosen for us . . . from before the foundations of the world! I was reminded of John 8:28 where we read that Jesus did nothing of His own initiative, and of Jeremiah 29:11 which reads, “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD . . .”, and of Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” . . . and so on and so on. I love the way the Word of God resonates with itself! It is true that “Deep calls to deep . . .” – Psalm 42:7. Continue reading


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Are You Ready for Another Day of Labor?

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from Fred Carpenter

Emile_Claus-the_Harvest

Does the title to this devotional cause a happy feeling to rise up within you? Probably not. Many of our feelings about work are no doubt shaped by the curse that came after the fall (Gen.2:17-19.) But God, who redeems fallen things, is able to change our perspective on work.

On June 24, 1894 Congress passed a law making the first Monday in September a legal holiday, Labor Day. Yesterday was that day. How did it work out for you? On the morning after, were you ready for another day of labor, or would you rather have another day off?

Paul closes the 15th chapter of 1 Corinthians with a strong statement that speaks directly to our attitude about labor. “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (v.58). Reading this verse, two questions jump out, “What is the work of the Lord?”, and “Why should we have this attitude about it?” Continue reading


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Active and Passive

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
Read the Scripture: John 15:4-11

Do you ever struggle with the balance between “being” and “doing” – between God’s part and your part? If so, then you might find this short devotional helpful…

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me (John 15:4).

Notice that our Lord divides this passage into two sections. There is an activity that is to be done, and a passivity that is to be acknowledged. We are to remain in Him (that is active, something we do), and we are to let Him remain in us (that is passive, something we allow Him to do). Both these relationships are essential, not one as opposed to the other, but both together.

When our Lord says Remain in me, He is talking about the will, and the decisions we make. We must decide to do things that keep ourselves in contact with Him. The Holy Spirit has placed us into Christ. Now we must maintain that relationship by the decisions we make, such as exposing ourselves to His Word and having a prayer relationship with Him. We remain in Him when we bear one another’s burdens and confess our faults and share in fellowship with one another. All of this is designed to relate to Him: Remain in me. If we do that, we are fulfilling this active, necessary decision of the will to obey His Word.

This is what Bible study and prayer are all about. They are not mere mechanical practices that every Christian ought to do in order to get brownie points with God! No, they are means by which we know Him. If you open your Bible and begin to read it without the conscious expectation that it is going to tell you something about Him, you will read in vain. If you try to pray as though it were some exercise in which you chalk off fifteen minutes’ worth, mechanically going through a list, it is a valueless experience. But if you pray because you are talking with One whom you love and want to know more of, sharing with Him out of the fullness of your heart, then prayer becomes a beautiful experience. That is remaining in Him.

But that is only part of it. Jesus says, Remain in me, and I in you. There is also the other side–Let me remain in you. That has to do with empowerment, enablement. You can make choices, but you cannot fulfill them. And though you are responsible to make choices, you are not responsible for the power to carry them out. There you are to depend on Him, to let Him abide in you. You are to rest upon His ability to see you through. As you venture out on that basis, you expect Him to carry you through.

Both of these are absolutely essential. Making decisions and then trying to do the whole thing yourself is going to produce intense activity, but no results. On the other hand, letting Him take all the responsibility and making no choices at all will also produce a fruitless life. We must determine to expose ourselves to Him; we must seek His face in the Word, in prayer, and in fellowship with others. And then we must count on Him to see us through, to supply that enabling power that makes us able to love and forgive and rejoice and give thanks. When we do, we are remaining in Him and letting Him remain in us.

Father, teach me the proper balance between making hard choices to remain in You and resting in You to do in me what only You can do.

Life Application: What is the tremendous difference between our will power and our activity power – between our power to choose and our power to do?

http://www.raystedman.org/daily-devotions/john-13to17/active-and-passive
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.