devos from the hill


Leave a comment

Why Would the World Ask About Your Hope?

Today’s devotional is from John Piper.

Peter tells us, “Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). He doesn’t say that they will ask about our faith. Or about our doctrine. Or even about our good conduct. They might ask those things. We want them to. But Peter is expecting that they will ask about our hope. Why?

Why in 1 Peter 3:15 does the unbelieving world ask Christians about their hope?

This was a compelling question for us. We invite you to read and consider as we did in our staff meeting today, how we can understand, experience, and share our hope more fully.

Click here:  http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/why-would-the-world-ask-about-your-hope

 


Leave a comment

“What’s One Little Sin?”

Never underestimate the consequence of sin . . . or your need for God’s grace.

“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point,
he has become guilty of all.” – James 2:10.

Now, what do we do with this verse? Is it saying that if we commit one sin, then we have committed all sins? Is it saying that all sins are equal before God?  Well, the answer is yes and no. Let’s look at both.

  • No – because not all sin results in the same earthly consequence. If I murder my brother, or if I just hate him to the point of saying hateful things, both are sin. Jesus calls hatred murder. But if I only hurt my brother with words, He’s not dead. Not all sin has the same earthly consequence.
  • Yes – because ultimately our sins are not only against our fellow man. All sins are ultimately against God, who gave us the whole law. “Against You, You only, I have sinned . . .” (Ps 51:4).

The common denominator for all sins is that they are all basically actions done independently from God. It is impossible for a man to predict the ultimate harmful consequence(s) of an action that is done independently from God, no matter how big or small the action.

In 1999, Lockheed Martin, the huge aerospace firm, wrote a contract and missed a small detail. They misplaced a comma in an inflation-adjusted formula that was written into the contract. That mistake cost Lockheed Martin $70 million dollars.  One little, misplaced comma cost $70 million dollars!

Like that comma, even the “smallest” sin can have far-reaching repercussions.  And if our sins are ultimately against God Himself, then we can know that even the “smallest” sin against an infinite God has infinite consequence. Or as John Piper puts it, “ . . . in that sense every sin is infinitely heinous.”

Now, what are we to do with this sobering reality? If you are inclined to works and keeping score, you could beat yourself up . . . all the time.  But I believe God intends a different response. As we come to recognize the gravity of the sin that is in us, the frequency of our independent actions and the inestimable consequence thereof, I believe God would have us develop a profound sense of gratitude for His amazing grace and a constant recognition of our need for that grace!

“. . . but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Rom 5:20-21

“And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” – 2 Cor. 12:9


1 Comment

What If It Doesn’t Get Easier?

Faith is a gift from God (Rom 12:3 – “… God has allotted to each a measure of faith.”).  There are times when God may give us the faith to move mountains (Matt 17:20, 20:21). But there are also times when God intends us to climb the mountain and to trust Him for the faith to do so.  Whether it’s moving mountains, or climbing them, God has a purpose for both.

What if our greatest challenge in life does not get easier? Consider these verses.

We Will Rejoice all the More at His Coming

1PE 4:12-1312  “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13  but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation.”

  • Question – Are you ready for His coming?

We Will Know (Have an Intimate Understanding) of His Grace & Power

2CO 12:9-109 “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

  • Thought – You won’t really know His grace & power if you don’t need His grace & power.

We Will Know Him, the Power of His Resurrection and the Fellowship of His Sufferings

PHI 3:7-117 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, 9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, 10 that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

  • Question – How well do you know Him? Is that well enough?

Continue reading


1 Comment

Your Part in the Grand Story

A challenge to complete the Great Commission.
Lesson 65 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit…

– Matthew 28:19

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”

– Mark 16:15

…repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

– Luke 24:47

And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come.

– Matthew 24:14

And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations.

– Mark 13:10

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

– 2 Peter 3:9

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

In the previous lesson we considered the final goal of God’s grand story as it has been revealed to man: “That God might be worshipped with white–hot affection by a redeemed company of countless persons from every tribe and tongue and people and nation”1 (Revelation 5:9, Revelation 7:9). From 1 Corinthians 2:9, we saw that what God has prepared for those who love Him is too wonderful for us to even comprehend. We also saw that those who love God will dwell in a new heaven and a new earth where they will reign with Him and glorify Him forever! (Revelation 22:5, Psalm 86:12).

But when will these things take place? If you recall from Lesson 60, we read that just before Jesus ascended to heaven, He gave his followers some final instructions. These instructions are commonly known as the Great Commission and may be found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. (They are listed at the beginning of this lesson.) Notice from Matthew 24:14 that “the end” (the final goal of God’s grand story) will not come until the gospel is “preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations.”

Recall from Lesson 25 that a nation, in the Biblical sense of the word, is not simply a geographic country, but rather a people group that is distinct from other people groups by virtue of language, culture, tribal affiliation, etc. Immediately after God’s judgment at Babel, 70 nations were born. In our world today there are thousands of nations. Many of them have yet to be reached with the Gospel. And until they are reached, the end (or the beginning depending on how you see it) will not come. Continue reading


1 Comment

The Final Goal of the Grand Story

Worshippers from every nation.
Lesson 64 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

Then He will also say to those on His left, “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels …”

– Matthew 25:41

But just as it is written, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him.”

– 1 Corinthians 2:9

But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.

– 2 Peter 3:13

And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”

– Revelation 5:9–10

“Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? For Thou alone art holy; For all the nations will come and worship before Thee, For Thy righteous acts have been revealed.”

– Revelation 15:4

And so it has been from that time to this very day. Whenever a person turns in faith to Jesus as the sacrificial Lamb of God and the risen Lord of all, their sins are forgiven, and the Spirit of God comes into them, bringing eternal life.

Those who have decided to follow Jesus have grown in number to include hundreds of millions of people. And according to God’s story, the time will come when His followers will include people from every tribe and nation under Heaven. Then, Jesus will return, just as He promised.

Those who have rejected Jesus throughout the ages will be forever separated from God in the place that was prepared for Satan and his followers. Those who have trusted Jesus will know life as it was meant to be, with God…forever.

– The HOPE, Chapter 12

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

There is not a subject more unpleasant to discuss than hell. But if hell is real, nothing is more unloving than to avoid speaking of the reality. Hundreds of passages in the Bible deal with the subject of hell. Jesus spoke more about hell than all the other writers of scripture. Hell is real, and Jesus clearly wanted to warn people so that people might avoid spending eternity there.

Concerning this subject we should be aware that: 1) Hell was created not for man, but for Satan and his angels (Matthew 25:41),  2) it is not so much that Jesus sends people to hell as that they choose to go there by rejecting God’s salvation through Jesus (John 12:48). Continue reading


1 Comment

The Greater the Obstacle, The Greater His Glory

A life that glorifies God has God–sized challenges.
Lesson 35 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord swept the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land, so the waters were divided. And the sons of Israel went through the midst of the sea on the dry land, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. Then the Egyptians took up the pursuit, and all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots and his horsemen went in after them into the midst of the sea…

– Exodus 14:21–23

…Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may come back over the Egyptians, over their chariots and their horsemen.” So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal state at daybreak, while the Egyptians were fleeing right into it; then the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea…

– Exodus 14:26–27

…And when Israel [the Hebrew people] saw the great power which the Lord had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in His servant Moses. Then Moses and the sons of Israel sang this song to the Lord, and said, “I will sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted; The horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea. The Lord is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation; This is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will extol Him. The Lord is a warrior; The Lord is His name…

– Exodus 14:31–15:3

Finally, the Pharaoh released the Hebrew nation. And the people went out of Egypt. But the Pharaoh had a change of heart. With his army, he pursued the Hebrew people to the edge of the sea. So God divided the sea for the Hebrew people to cross on dry land. And when the Egyptians pursued them, God caused the sea to return, drowning the whole army.

– The HOPE, Chapter 6

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

As if peering through the lens of a camera, let’s look at today’s lesson from two perspectives. First we’ll look at the close–up view, and then we’ll zoom out for a wide angle view.

From the close–up view you can almost feel the salt mist as the sea lies in front of you while the Egyptian army is closing in behind. You lived your whole life as a slave in Egypt. Then in an incredibly dramatic turn of events, the ruler of Egypt not only decides to let you go, but he sends you out with many valuable possessions. You’ve hardly left Egypt and thousands of people are crowding in on you and your family. Fear is on every face. Then, just when you think that all hope for freedom is gone, Moses lifts his staff and the sea in front of you parts! God has made a way where there was no way …not only a way of escape for your people, but also a way to destroy the threat of the mighty Egyptian army.

Now let’s zoom out and re–examine this same event in a wider context. Recall that in the first lesson of this chapter, we considered a dream in which God gave Abraham an amazing preview of what was to come:

  • Abraham’s descendants would be strangers in a land that is not their own.
  • They would be enslaved and oppressed for four hundred years.
  • Ultimately God would judge the nation in which they are enslaved.
  • After God’s judgment, Abraham’s descendants would leave that nation with wealth.
  • Abraham’s own life would end in peace at an old age.

With today’s story, everything God told Abraham had come to pass. Those who had listened to (and believed) the story of Abraham that had been handed down from generation to generation must have been looking forward to this day. They were no less surprised when God parted the sea, but they may have been a little less anxious, knowing that God had promised to deliver them and that everything else God had promised up to that point had come to pass. Continue reading


2 Comments

The Attributes of God

What the Bible says about God.
Lesson 6 from The HOPE Study Guide

Introduction

Before there was anything, before time or space or physical matter, there was God…One who is far beyond our ability to fully comprehend or describe. Through His story, we find that God is Spirit without a beginning or an end. He is complete within Himself, lacking in nothing. He is all knowing and all wise. He is perfect in every way. He is not limited by anything.

– The HOPE, Chapter 1

Observe & Consider

The first week of our study presented evidence that the Bible is the most trustworthy reference point in all the world for understanding reality. The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself, and it reveals truth about God in two ways. One way is by demonstration: recording God’s action and interaction with the world and humankind. Another way is by declaration: making direct statements or claims about the nature and character of God.

Consider the following Bible verses that support the excerpt from The HOPE quoted above.

• Before There Was Anything, There Was God

“For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:16-17)

• God Is Beyond Our Ability to Fully Comprehend

“Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable.” (Psalm 145:3)
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” (Romans 11:33)

• God Is Spirit

“God is spirit…” (John 4:24)

• God Is Eternal – He Has No Beginning or End

“Before the mountains were born or You gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” (Psalm 90:2)
“…And Your years will not come to an end.” (Psalm 102:27)
“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:17)

• God Is Complete within Himself, Lacking in Nothing Continue reading