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 7

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 Seven

Unlike anyone else in spear-throwing history, David did not know what to do when a spear was thrown at him. He did not throw Saul’s spears back at him. Nor did he make any spears of his own and throw them. Something was different about David. All he did was dodge the spears.

David could have retaliated. But he didn’t. He could have defended himself or questioned or complained. But there was something in David that produced a much different response. It was as if David was unoffended by what was happening around him.

Think about it. David had no way of knowing Saul’s motivations for attack. But his reaction speaks to what he did know – that God’s justice doesn’t require our defense.  Or to say it another away, acting on our own defense is an interference to God’s justice.

Look at 1 Peter 2:21 and the example of Christ’s suffering,

“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting himself to Him who judges righteously

In the face of injustice Jesus didn’t retaliate but instead trusted in what His Father had prepared for him to do. Jesus understood that the mockers and guards and religious leaders with their barrage of insults and accusations were merely the instruments chosen by God, to accomplish a greater divine purpose. Knowing this, Jesus uttered no threats but pressed into trusting the Father.

David had the attitude that was Christ’s, one we should aim for today in our own hearts. When we trust in God as our defender and deliverer, we can rest knowing that in Him we are spear-proof. We will never control the spears that are thrown our way, but today we can establish our response.

It is with the mind of Christ, like David, we can live the unoffended life. A life dependent on God’s justice, not our own retribution.

 

 


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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 5

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 Five

From the time we are born, our most basic goal is to grow, learn, and mature. This happens on a physical level, an emotional level, a mental and intellectual level, and a spiritual level. While much of our learning is concrete and can be easily acquired through parents and education, there are other aspects of becoming the people God means for us to be that require a different kind of schooling.

In our devotional today, the author suggests that God has a sacred school of submission and brokenness. It is not a school that many sign up for willingly because being broken can be a painful process. What does it mean to be broken? The kind of brokenness we are talking about here is similar to the breaking of a horse. As a wild animal, a horse has much potential and power, but no discipline or true direction. And if you think about it, a wild horse has the “appearance” of freedom, but it is only the freedom to be wild and live for self. Continue reading


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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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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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Consider What Great Things He Has Done For You!

God has blessed Mars Hill with an incredible team of men and women who love Jesus – the risen, reigning, and returning King. Together, we passionately pursue Him as we work to see the Great Commission fulfilled. Together, we study the Scriptures. We embrace and celebrate the mystery of faith and the magnificence of our AWESOME God. And we long for our Savior’s return, when we will know fully as we are fully known.

The Holy Spirit has breathed unique wisdom, discernment and gifts for service into each member of our staff. That said, we are delighted to commence a new series of devotionals, in which each member of our staff will be sharing insights from their inimitable journey with our Father.

We hope that God’s redemptive work in our lives will resonate with what He’s doing in yours.


Today’s Devotional is from team member, Brenda Bowman.
Brenda serves Mars Hill with Partner Relations and Special Projects.

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About 20 years ago, in the middle of a sermon, the Lord impressed me with a verse that made me think, “That is what I want my life to be about….that is my motto.” That verse is 1 Samuel 12:24 (NASB):

“Only fear the Lord 
and serve Him in truth with all your heart;
for consider what great things He has done for you.”

The verse begins with the fear of the Lord. I desire to respect, trust, depend on, take seriously, and honor the Lord. These are just some of the things that define fearing the Lord for me.

Serving Him in truth with my heart is the most ambiguous part of this verse to me. I am still discovering what this means and what it should look like in my life. Some of it is manifest in my physical life, such as serving Him in my work and serving Him in the body of Christ. But I think there are even deeper levels that I am unearthing; levels that have to do with being and living IN truth. There is a constant war within me to be truthful….with myself, with Him, with others. I want to fudge in hopes that I will come off in a better light. I will even try to fool myself!

The easiest part of this verse, and the part that helps get me back on track is the last part…considering – remembering what great things He has done for me!

That really is a key for me in working on the first two parts of the verse. Remembering His great sacrifice for me on the cross is the most obvious and most monumentally humbling thing I can bring to mind. But there are also the many prayers He has answered, with “yeses and nos.” I can also list many times that He has been merciful so that I did not receive as severe a consequence as I deserved or gracious so that I got some blessing that I definitely didn’t warrant. Continue reading


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Broken but Redeemed

God has blessed Mars Hill with an incredible team of men and women who love Jesus – the risen, reigning, and returning King. Together, we passionately pursue Him as we work to see the Great Commission fulfilled. Together, we study the Scriptures. We embrace and celebrate the mystery of faith and the magnificence of our AWESOME God. And we long for our Savior’s return, when we will know fully as we are fully known.

The Holy Spirit has breathed unique wisdom, discernment and gifts for service into each member of our staff. That said, we are delighted to commence a new series of devotionals, in which each member of our staff will be sharing insights from their inimitable journey with our Father.

We hope that God’s redemptive work in our lives will resonate with what He’s doing in yours.


Today’s Devotional is from team member, Randy Templeton.
Randy is a Marketing Executive who is currently doing some
volunteer research and consulting on our internet ministry.

It was the week before Christmas and I was over visiting with several of my life-long single friends, including a new person I had never met, my future wife.  Sandy had with her a 6-month old baby boy, my future son, Michael.  For some reason, I was drawn to him, especially odd for a single guy, who was the baby of his family, and someone who rarely held a baby in his life. Michael as a baby had a great gift for crying, so I held him for awhile and then a while longer and eventually until he fell asleep. Sandy, I know was sure by now I was unusual.Randy1

I knew of Sandy and her story from my friends, but this was my first encounter.  It had only been a little more than a year since she lost her first husband and soul mate Mike in a tragic car accident.  Not knowing then, she was only weeks pregnant with Michael. So I met her a few more times in the following months and then asked her if she would go on a date. Not my best judgment call.  I now moved from “unusual single guy” to something three steps below.  Sandy and I did not talk or see each other for the next five and a half years.

It’s now summer 2001, one of our mutual friends Lori is leaving the country for mission work in Asia. Nancy, the host of the Christmas party where I first met Sandy, and I have put together a going away week in Estes Park, Colorado.  Unknown to me Sandy and Michael are headed back to Houston where Sandy has taken a new job and they have been added to the short list of Estes Park attendees.

Michael is nRandy2ow six years old and as history goes he does not like new people and has a notorious reputation for growling at them.  After two days, Michael and I were best friends. He who likes no one likes the unusual single guy. Once everyone got back to Houston I asked Sandy if I could spend time with Michael, closely supervised by spend time with Michael, closely supervised by mom of course.  Motives are always mixed in my human experience; I really liked Michael and had come to the conclusion at that point in my life I would never have a son and enjoyed being a father figure, but I also still had a thing for Sandy as well.

I hung out for the next couple of months, Michael and I played… Sandy and I talked. Michael and I bonded instantly, Sandy took a little longer. Michael looked like my son, he was an introvert who thought and had feelings like my son would have. Interestingly enough, Michael’s birthday is 6-20-95, mine is 6-02-59.

As school started that year Michael quickly became best friends (as they are to this day) with one of his classmates Trey. As weeks passed we met Trey’s parents and not long into our life stories Trey’s mother shared that she had heard through a friend of a woman in California who had found out she was pregnant just weeks after losing her husband in a tragic car accident. Terry was also pregnant at that time with Trey, and she was deeply moved by the circumstances and continually prayed for the unknown mother and child a world away. It was just another affirmation of God’s work in Sandy and Michael’s life.

Sandy and I went to lunch together once, had dinner once, and then we were engaged.  I will forever deny that I proposed to her at McDonalds, she might argue differently, but if so she will have to admit that she accepted the proposal of marriage to a guy who did.  We set the wedding for three weeks away, she was to find a dress and show up, I took care of the reRandy3st, which after two days I outsourced to a good friend who was starting an event planning business. It was a perfect wedding, except for the pictures. Never hire a photographer who is available on two week’s notice.

Then we had to tell Michael the news, not really knowing what his real reaction would be. He had real issues with the kissing thing.  It was after church one day when we were going to let Michael know. We were driving to lunch and asked Michael what he learned at church that day, (which at age six most every day would be “I don’t remember”).  This day he remembered the Old Testament story of Ruth who had lost her husband and how a distant cousin Boaz offered to marry her and redeem her family.  Our seemingly difficult task was done.

Sandy later in the week asked Michael what he was going to call me and he said what every son does, “Dad”, but not until after the wedding.  He stuck by his principle and called be Mr. Templeton for the next three weeks.  It was a story we could never have imagined, that has progressed to see the further addition of sons Blake and Carter to our and Michael’s life. Continue reading


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The Church – A Work in Progress

Don’t reject Jesus based upon the witness of the Church.
Lesson 63 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless.

– Ephesians 5:25–27

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

Have you ever known anyone whose reason for rejecting Jesus was that, “the Church is just full of hypocrites”? It is a common sentiment. When you consider some of the weird things going on in the Church today or when you consider Church leaders who have not been good examples of Jesus followers, it is not difficult to see why people are turned off by the Church. But is that a good reason to reject Jesus?

In the world of music, classical composers like Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven are considered to be masters. It is enthralling to experience one of their works performed by a world class symphony. However, when a fifth grade orchestra attempts to perform the same work, the results are dramatically different. No one judges the genius of Bach when the fifth grade symphony falls short of perfection. It is almost expected. But when the Church falls short of perfection, many people question the value of following Jesus.

The person who rejects Jesus because of the Church needs to be aware of two things. First, Jesus is perfect regardless of how well the Church represents Him. And two, just because Jesus has not yet “perfected” the Church, or those who make up the Church, doesn’t mean that He is not able to do so, or that He won’t. The Church is a work in progress. Continue reading


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Moses – Never Too Late for God

When he thought he was finished, he was finally ready.
Lesson 33 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father–in–law … And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed …God called to him from the midst of the bush, and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” …Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said also, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. And the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey…”

– Exodus 3:1–8

Moses fled to the desert, and he lived there as a shepherd for forty years. Then one day, God appeared to Moses in a fire in the midst of a bush, yet the bush was not consumed. And God spoke to Moses from the bush. God told Moses to return to his people and lead them out of Egypt. God promised to be with him.

– The HOPE, Chapter 6

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

In the first lesson of Chapter 6, we learned of the very specific vision that God gave to Abraham. God told Abraham that:

  • His descendants will be strangers in a land that is not their own.
  • They would be enslaved and oppressed for four hundred years.

Then, in Lesson 32, we saw how God used Joseph to save his family (Abraham’s descendants) from the famine in their own land by allowing them to live in Egypt (a land that was not their own). In Egypt, Joseph’s family increased in number and was eventually enslaved and treated harshly by the ruler of Egypt. During this time they became known as the Hebrew people. At one point, the ruler of Egypt ordered the death of every son born into a Hebrew family. One Hebrew child was spared, however, when his mother placed him in a basket in the river that ran by the palace of the princess. The princess found the boy, took him in as her own and named him Moses.1 He was raised as a prince of Egypt…but he had been born a Hebrew, and he never forgot it.

One day when Moses was about 40 years old, he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, so he killed the Egyptian. Fearing for his life, Moses fled into the wilderness. There he married a shepherd’s daughter and lived in that place for another 40 years. It is at this point that our current lesson opens. The descendents of Abraham have been enslaved in a foreign land, just as God had said. And at 80 years of age Moses is about to encounter the covenant–making–God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Think about it, as a prince of Egypt Moses received everything that wealth and power could provide. Still he recognized the plight of his people (Exodus 2:11). With his influence, he might have helped his people like Joseph did. But when Moses killed the Egyptian, everyone turned against him, even his own people. With all of his potential seemingly squandered, Moses went into hiding in the wilderness. Continue reading