devos from the hill


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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 9

Chapter Nine

From last week’s devotional, we know that God is the one who appoints authorities in our lives. And we know that we are expected to follow those authorities even when they don’t really make sense. We also know that God’s greater concern is for the motives of the heart and He will use the authorities and circumstances in our lives to shape and mold our hearts to be like His.

Today’s devotional digs a little deeper into this process of making us more like our heavenly Father. The author of our book declares, “I’m in David’s situation, and I am in agony. What do I do when the kingdom I’m in is ruled by a spear-wielding king? Should I leave? If so, how?”

Further, he says, “You have your eyes on the wrong King Saul. As long as you look at your king, you will blame him and him alone, for your present hell. But be careful, for God has his eyes fastened sharply on another King Saul. Not the visible one standing up there throwing spears at you. No, God is looking at another King Saul….God is looking at the ‘King Saul’ in you.”

The author of our book so skillfully points out that, like David, we all have King Saul within us. Saul is representative of three enemies of God; worldly thoughts and desires of the soul, power of sin in our flesh, and Satan and his powers of darkness. Even though we, like David, may have a heart turned to God, we are still in this world and connected to our earthly flesh.  In accepting Christ as savior, our spirit is regenerated at once but our outer man has to go through a longer and, most often, unpleasant sanctifying process. Sanctification is all about bringing the rest of our being under the will and the reign of God.

“King Saul sought to destroy David, but his only success was that he became the instrument of God to put to death the ‘Saul’ who roamed about in the caverns of David’s own soul.”

Some closing thoughts from Scripture about embracing the circumstances and authorities in our lives that God may be using to sanctify us…

My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything. – James 1:2-4 NET

Not only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. – Romans 5:3-5 NET

1Therefore I exhort you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice—alive, holy, and pleasing to God—which is your reasonable service. Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God—what is good and well-pleasing and perfect.  – Romans 12:1-2 NET


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A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 8

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 Eight

We are now in our eighth week of A Tale of Three Kings. The Hebrew people who worship Yahweh had asked to be ruled by a king. Yahweh granted their request and through the prophet, Samuel, Saul was anointed – chosen to be the first king of Israel. Saul was a successful king in that he was a powerful and accomplished military man; in a short time, he managed to free the people from most of their enemies, giving them a great sense of security.

But, Saul relied on his own strength and human abilities so that he became insecure and envious when someone else showed equal or greater ability. That someone was young David. David had come to fight for the king and to serve the king. David’s victories on the battlefield were exceeding Saul’s and his favor off the battlefield was gaining him quite a following, too. This was making Saul quite mad with jealousy towards David.

Our chapter begins with the following, “MY KING IS MAD. At least, I so perceive him. What can I do?”  But if we are going to apply some basic principles of this story to our own lives, this is not the only question we found ourselves faced with. The people under Saul’s rule knew that he had been chosen by God to be king. A few were aware that David had also been anointed. But David was still under Saul’s authority as God had not said when Saul’s rule was to end and David’s to begin.

Today we do not have such specific directives from God through prophets like Samuel, but we do have people in authority over us on many levels. How do we know who is the Lord’s anointed? Are they after the order of King Saul or King David? If it turns out they are quite mad, how should we respond? Consider the statements and scriptures below.

God alone knows the heart of each and every one of us. Heart is very important to God!

  • All a person’s ways seem right in his own opinion, but the LORD evaluates the motives. – Proverbs 16:2 NET
  • …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.) – I Kings 8:39 NET
  • After removing him, God raised up David their king. He testified about him: ‘I have found David the son of Jesse to be a man after my heart, who will accomplish everything I want him to do.’ – Acts 13:22 NET

God may reveal to us His anointed if we ask Him; it is His wisdom on which we rely, not our own.

  • Then they prayed, “Lord, you know the hearts of all. Show us which one of these two you have chosen…” – Acts 1:24
  • The unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them because they are spiritually discerned. – 1 Corinthians 2:14 NET

We are not called to respect leaders because they are infallible, but because God has placed them over us. We follow God; therefore we follow those whom God puts in authority.

  • Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except by God’s appointment, and the authorities that exist have been instituted by God. – Romans 13:1 NET

There is a purpose for the king’s role in your life – even if he is subject to madness. It may be a lesson to prepare you to be the next king. Like David, you may try to appease the king or you may need to avoid the king, but you can definitely trust that the King of Kings, the Lord, will deliver you from the circumstance at His appointed time.

 In the same way, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. And all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humbleAnd God will exalt you in due time, if you humble yourselves under his mighty hand by casting all your cares on him because he cares for you. Be sober and alert. Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking for someone to devour. Resist him, strong in your faith, because you know that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are enduring the same kinds of suffering. 10 And, after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. – 1 Peter 5:5-10 NET


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Introducing Broken People to the Great Healer

3 Circles Evangelism – A Devotional from Mars Hill staffer, Ryan Renfrow, on how he connects with people right where they are and helps them see the one true source that can address their hurts and their brokenness.

Evangelism isn’t a spiritual gift for a few, but a commandment that Jesus has given to all believers everywhere. The expectation of the global great commission is, as you are going around the world in whatever shape your life takes, you are telling all the people about all that Jesus has commanded and taught you. 

As you are going around the world you’ll notice we live in a place of brokenness. Hurt and heartache are a reality for all people, from all places. Broken lives, broken relationships, and broken systems are cross-cultural problems. Brokenness is universal and we all have the feeling deep in our heart that things in this world aren’t as they ought to be. Everyone would agree there should be a place with no cancer, where children’s hospitals don’t exists and natural disasters don’t happen.

When we see the brokenness around us, we search for a way to make sense of it.  In ourselves, we can’t do anything about the brokenness because an honest look shows we too are broken – we aren’t what we ought to be. This brokenness isn’t just outside and around us – we feel it in us! This brokenness isn’t just a feeling it’s a reality we see and know. And still, something tells us things shouldn’t be this way.

Often when those around us are experiencing this brokenness, our first response is “Here’s what you should do”. But this isn’t helpful and doesn’t give the answer. The answer to brokenness doesn’t lie in what a person can do, it’s found only in what Jesus has already done.

This video demonstrates a simple visual way to show a person how we became broken and how Christ can restore us to fellowship with God…


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Contemplating the Omniscience of God

I recently read the following quote from Thomas Edison…

We don’t know a millionth of one percent about anything.

Conversely… He (God) knows everything. – 1 John 3:20 (ESV).

This week in our staff devotional time we read and discussed the following quotes and scriptures regarding omniscience (all-knowing) of God. I encourage you to meditate on these verses and ask yourself, “how do these truths about God affect how I live?”

A.W. Tozer wrote, “God knows instantly and effortlessly all matter and all matters, all mind and every mind, all spirit and all spirits, all being and every being, all creaturehood and all creatures, …all law and every law, all relations, all causes, all thoughts, all mysteries, all enigmas, all feeling, all desire, every unuttered secret, all thrones and dominions, all personalities, all things visible and invisible in heaven and in earth, motion, space, time, life, death, good, evil, heaven, and hell. 

Because God knows all things perfectly, He knows no thing better than any other thing, but all things equally well. He never discovers anything, He is never surprised, never amazed. He never wonders about anything nor (except when drawing men out for their own good) does He seek information or ask questions.” (A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, NY: Harper, 1987, pp.62-63).

“He looks to the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens.” – Job 28:24

“His understanding is infinite.” – Psalm 147:5

“The secret things belong to the Lord our God…” – Deuteronomy 29:29

“He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding. It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him.” – Daniel 2:22

“In whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” – Colossians 2:3

“To Him belong counsel and understanding.” – Job 12:13

“He knows the secrets of the heart.” – Psalm 44:21

“For I know the things that come into your mind.” – Ezekiel 11:5 (ESV)

“Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” – Matthew 6:8

“The LORD know the thoughts of man, that they are a mere breath.” – Psalm 94:11

“For I know the plans that I have for you, ‘declares the LORD,’ plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11

 


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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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Seven Ways to Pray for Your Heart

Article by Jon Bloom / Desiring God

Over the years, as I’ve prayed for my own heart, I’ve accumulated seven “D’s” that I have found helpful. Maybe you’ll find them helpful as well.

With seven you can use them a number of ways. You might choose one “D” per day. Or you could choose one “D” as a theme for a week and pray through these every seven weeks. You’ll also note that I have a verse for each prayer. But over time as you pray more verses will come to mind and you might find it helpful to collect them so they are right at hand as the Spirit leads.

I begin each prayer with the phrase “whatever it takes, Lord” because the Bible teaches us to be bold and wholehearted in our praying, not reticent. I also use the phrase because it tests my heart. How much do I want God and all he promises to be for me in Jesus? Do I really want true joy enough to ask for my Father’s loving discipline to wean me from joy-stealing sin? And how much do I trust him? Do I really believe that he will only give me what is good when I ask in faith (Luke 11:11–13)? “Whatever it takes” prayers help me press toward and express childlike trust in the Father.

Delight: Whatever it takes, Lord, give me delight in you as the greatest treasure of my heart.

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)

Desires: Whatever it takes, Lord, align the desires of my heart with yours.

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9–10)

Dependence: Whatever it takes, Lord, increase my awareness of my dependence on you in everything so that I will live continually by faith.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Discernment: Whatever it takes, Lord, teach me to discern good from evil through the rigorous exercise of constant practice.

“But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:14)

Desperation: Whatever it takes, Lord, keep me desperate for you because I tend to wander when I stop feeling my need for you.

“Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.” (Psalm 119:67)

Discipline: Whatever it takes, Lord, discipline me for my good that I may share your holiness and bear the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

“He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:10–11)

Diligence: Whatever it takes, Lord, increase my resolve to do your will with all diligence.

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15–16)

These are just suggestions. The Lord may lead you to pray in other ways. But however he teaches us, whatever means we find helpful, may God cause us all to grow in faith until we pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and never lose heart (Luke 18:1).

See original post: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/seven-ways-to-pray-for-your-heart

 


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The Work of God Through Us

Today’s devotional is from Ligonier Ministries

 

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”    – Philippians 2:12–13

Paul often depicts authentic Christian living as the imitation of God and, since Christ is God incarnate, the imitation of Christ (1 Cor. 11:1; Eph. 5:1). He has such imitation in view in Philippians 2:5–11 when he exhorts us to have the same mind as Jesus in how we serve others. In other words, we must have the same goal as Jesus in not seeking our own interests in a way that denies the good of others.

Christ’s obedience to His vocation was an essential part of not pursuing His own ends at the expense of others, as 2:5–11 explains. Thus, it is clear that our obedience is an essential part of imitating the Savior. As a consequence of Jesus’ submission to the will of His Father, all the Lord’s disciples, patterning their lives on His example, must submit to the Almighty’s will. What is this will? That we “work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling” (vv. 12–13).

The Apostle gives examples of what it means to obey God and work out our salvation in verses 14–18. Today we will note what the call to work out our salvation says about persevering in faith. Scripture explains that we are not saved by signing a card, raising a hand, or walking an aisle for an altar call. Instead, we are saved by the possession of an authentic, living faith. This faith manifests itself through good works of repentance, confession, and service to God and neighbor (Luke 23:39–43;Matt. 7:21–27; James 2:14–26). None of these works get us into heaven; only the perfect righteousness of Christ, which we receive by resting on Him alone by faith alone, gives us access to the Father (Gal. 2:15–16; 2 Cor. 5:21). Yet those who are resting on Jesus alone demonstrate this faith by their works (James 2:14–26).

Persevering in faith, which is evident in our perseverance in good works of service, is achieved as we, by the Spirit, strive to serve the Lord, repent when we fail, and rely always on His enabling mercy (1 John 1:8–9). Simply put, it is living a life that does not take the gospel and its implications lightly. At the same time, even though we play a role in perseverance by obeying God’s commands, heeding His warnings, and more, the very fact that we do persevere is ultimately grounded in divine sovereignty. God wills and works out our salvation through us (Phil. 2:13), and His elect cannot fail to stay in faith until the end of their lives. Augustine says that “[we] are to work with fear and trembling so th

Coram Deo

Augustine says that “[we] are to work with fear and trembling so that [we] will not, by attributing the good working to [ourselves], be elated by the good works as if they were [our] own” (ACCNT 8, p. 245). Even as we are aware that we work out our salvation in fear and trembling, we must also know that ultimately it is God who gives us the desire to persevere and moves us to do so. Indeed, salvation is of Him from first to last.

Passages for Further Study

Ezekiel 36:26–27
Hebrews 7
Philippians 1:6
Jude 24–25