devos from the hill


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How’s Your One-on-One Time with God?

The need for a regular quiet time for personal prayer and feeding on His Word…

In a 2013 poll of its readers, Leadership Journal (a publication for vocational Christian workers) reported that 91% of the respondents admitted to some form of burnout in ministry, and 18% said they were “fried to a crisp right now.”

For today’s Mars Hill staff devotional, we read and discussed the following thoughts concerning our need to have a regular quiet time for personal prayer and feeding on God’s Word – a daily time to be refreshed and nourished by the Living Water and the Bread of Life.

“In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.” – Mark 1:35

“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” – Luke 5:16

In the book “Directions,” James Hamilton writes:

Before refrigerators, people used icehouses to preserve their food. Icehouses had thick walls, no windows, and a tightly fitted door. In winter, when streams and lakes were frozen into silver-gray pathways, large blocks of ice were cut, hauled to the icehouses, and covered with golden sawdust. Often the ice would last well into the summer. One man lost a valuable watch in this sawdust while working in an icehouse. He searched diligently for it carefully raking through the sawdust, but didn’t find it. His fellow workers also looked, but their efforts, too, proved futile.

A small boy who heard about the fruitless search slipped into the icehouse during the noon hour and soon emerged with the watch. Amazed, the men asked him how he found it. The boy replied, “I closed the door, laid down in the sawdust, and kept very still. Soon I heard the watch ticking.”

Beloved, often the question is not whether God is speaking but whether we are being still enough, and quiet enough, to hear what He has to say to us. Be still and get God’s direction for your life!

“Be still, and know that I am God.” – Psalm 46:10 (ESV)

“In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.” – Psalm 5:3  . . . ” Your ears will hear a word behind you, this is the way; walk in it.” – Isaiah 30:21. . . Let God order your morning prayer, and He will show you how to order your day.

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.’” – Matt.4:4 . . . Daily feeding from the Word of God is vital to prevent spiritual malnourishment.

“If we are weak in communion with God we are weak everywhere.” – C.H. Spurgeon Continue reading


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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 Need for a Reference Point

Lesson 2
What is a reference point and why do we need one?

Observe & Consider

In Lesson 1 we considered the question of life’s meaning and purpose. We also recalled this line from The HOPE: “For those who seek answers, for those who are listening, there is a voice.” (The HOPE video, Introduction). And finally, we concluded with the question, “Am I listening?”

Perhaps you are listening for answers to questions about life and meaning. The problem is there are so many competing voices. Beyond the major world religions (i.e. Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Christianity), there are hundreds of religions and world views. All of these advocate a particular approach to life. In many cases, each of them claims to be the way to find God. However, none of them fully agree (and most radically disagree) on the nature of God and how He may be found. With so many conflicting teachings, how can a person know which way is the right way? It would help to have a reference point.

Every traveler needs help to find his way through a strange land. Some might rely on a trusted guide – one who has successfully completed the journey and is able to help others do the same. Some might use a map or instructions from one who knows the way. Others have depended upon a landmark or a star as a fixed reference point by which they can know their position and measure their progress. Continue reading


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The Universal Question

Is there a purpose…for the world and for me?

Note: The following is from Lesson 1 of The HOPE video Study Guide – At the end of this lesson, please join in the conversation by sharing your comments.

Introduction

The HOPE video begins with these words…

Throughout time people have considered the world in which we live; the complexity and beauty of nature, the mystery of life and death, the depth of human joy and pain …and they have wondered, ‘How did it all come to be? Is this world the result of chance…or design? Is there something, or someone, behind it all? And if there is such a being, then what is He like? Does He have a purpose for this world? Does He have a purpose for me in this world? Does He have a purpose for me beyond this world?

– The HOPE video, Introduction

Observe & Consider

These questions from the beginning of The HOPE are not new. People have long pondered the meaning and purpose of their lives, and they have questioned the existence of a divine creator. For many, questions about purpose and the existence of God are inseparable. Even the prominent 20th century atheist Bertrand Russell once said, “Unless you assume a God, the question of life’s purpose is meaningless.” 1

Why would an avowed atheist make such a statement? Because purpose implies intent, and intent implies design. And if there is a design to this world, then there must be a designer. Perhaps then, there are questions even more basic than that of life’s purpose.

Is there a Designer…and is this Designer knowable? Please understand that it is not the intent of The HOPE to prove God…but rather to reveal Him. As the narrator says at the outset of the video, “for those who seek answers, for those who are listening, there is a voice.”

What about you? Are you listening? Maybe you’ve already made up your mind that God does not exist, or maybe you believe there is a God, but you’re unsure about what He is like. For the purpose of our study, perhaps you should ask yourself before you go further, “Am I really listening? Is it possible that there is something about God I’ve not yet heard or understood?” 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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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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Listening to God

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
Are You Listening to God?

 

We began today’s staff devotional with Exodus 20:19, “They said to Moses, ’You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” Do you prefer to listen to God, or to someone who teaches you about God?

Before you answer, read this devotional from Oswald Chambers . . .http://utmost.org/are-you-listening-to-god/