devos from the hill


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Why Don’t We Experience God’s Love More Fully and Frequently?

By Fred Carpenter

For the next several weeks, the Mars Hill staff devotionals will dive into the topic of “experiencing God’s love.” Recently, I was reading in the Gospel Coalition website and I came across this quote from pastor Colin Smith.

“Many Christians live at a great distance from a felt experience of the love of God. So much Christianity in the West is shallow and satisfied. It affirms a creed, but it so often lacks spiritual life. Across the country, there are millions of people who have a faith, who’ve been brought up in the church to believe Jesus died and rose, but they have no living experience of God’s love.”

As I’ve talked with people about our current devotional series, I am increasingly convinced that Colin Smith’s observation is accurate. But why do so many Christians go through life with little or no real experience of God’s love? Before we delve into that question, let’s be clear about what we are asking, and to whom we are addressing the question.

First, we are not questioning the reality of God’s love. We are asking why we don’t experience that reality more fully and frequently. Continue reading


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Do You Really Experience God’s Love?

By Fred Carpenter

The Mars Hill staff has started a new Devotional Series on experiencing divine love. The incentive to go down this path began last year when I attended the memorial service of a very beloved and godly woman. Her granddaughter shared that the greatest lesson she learned from her grandmother was simply, “How to let Jesus love on me.” Her words went straight to my heart of hearts as I thought to myself, “Do I even know how to do that?”

Apparently, I am not the only one who struggles with that question. I recently read about a seminary professor who asked 120 of her students the question: “Do you believe that God loves you?” Out of 120 Christian students preparing for ministry, only two said, “yes.” The rest gave answers like this: “I know I’m supposed to say, ‘Yes’ . . . “I know the Bible says he loves me . . . but I don’t feel it,” or “I’m not sure I can really say I believe it.” (Link to quote source article, TGC)

Is it a Realistic, Biblical Expectation to Actually Experience the Love of God?

Citing Romans 5:5, John Piper affirms that the actual experience of God’s love is indeed a realistic, Biblical expectation . . . “Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Piper goes on to explain, “This is a Spirit-given experience of God’s love, not a logical inference from an argument. It is something poured out. It is something felt in the heart. Known in the way the heart knows.” Continue reading


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And God Was “Willing” to Be Grieved

His willingness to be grieved shows how much He loves you.
Lesson 22 from The HOPE Study Guide

Introduction

Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.

– Genesis 6:5–6

The earth became filled with evil. And God was grieved!

– The HOPE, Chapter 4

Observe & Consider

In the previous lesson we considered how rapidly sin increased on the earth in the generations after Adam and Eve. Today we will consider God’s response to this as recorded in Genesis 6:6. But before we attempt to discover what God might say to us through this verse, let’s determine what it is not saying.

The phrase, “And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth,” could be understood in a number of ways. For instance, a person might say, “I’m sorry I got myself into this mess.” And by that he would mean, “I wish I hadn’t done what I did to be in this situation,” or “If I had it to do over, I would do it differently.” Applying this line of thought, could we read Genesis 6:6 and reasonably conclude that God regretted doing what He had done, as if He had made a bad decision?

We cannot conclude such a thing, and here’s why. The Bible never contradicts itself. A verse should always be considered in light of the whole Bible, and when we look at what the whole Bible says about God we learn that:

  • His ways are perfect (Deuteronomy 32:4). Creating man could not have been a mistake because God doesn’t make mistakes.
  • He knows everything (Psalm 139:16). God knew that He would have sorrow and grief over the sin of mankind, even before Adam and Eve were created.

So what is this verse saying to us? To say that God was sorry and that He grieved in His heart shows us that God has emotions. In fact, the Bible frequently ascribes emotions to God. At various times He is said to be grieved (Psalm 78:40), angry (Deuteronomy 1:37), pleased (1 Kings 3:10), joyful (Zephaniah 3:17), and moved by pity (Judges 2:18). But who can really understand the emotions of God who is infinite? Continue reading


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Created to Love God and Be Loved by God

Where does your picture of God come from?
Lesson 13 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

For man was created to love God and to be loved by God.

– The HOPE, Chapter 2

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

How we perceive a person inevitably influences the way we respond to that person. For instance, if you learned from a co-worker that your supervisor was very angry with you, how do you suppose you would feel to see him (or her) suddenly appear at the doorway of your office?

Or, if you were driving down the street and listening to some of your favorite music and you saw a police car approaching from behind with lights flashing, would you immediately look at your speedometer to make sure you were not breaking the law? If you’re like most people, you would.

In the same way, your perception of God will most likely determine your immediate response to Him. We saw the line above from The HOPE in an earlier lesson, but didn’t dwell on it then. But because this simple statement is so significant, let’s look at it again and delve more deeply into what it means to us. If this statement is true, then it becomes a foundation for every other truth we’ll consider in our study of God’s story through the HOPE. If it is not true, then you could hardly be blamed for abandoning this endeavor here and now. Continue reading


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Free from the Fog of Fear

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from Fred Carpenter

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” 1 John 4:18 NASB

Today we are talking about fear. Not the kind of fear that suddenly grips you with terror, but the kind that lurks below the surface of your conscious mind. The fear we equate with terror comes on us in an instant, like a life-threatening wound from a gunshot. The kind of fear we are talking about today is more like a slow moving disease. It’s the kind of fear you may not even be aware of, or have forgotten was there, until you’re faced with a challenge (or an opportunity) that reminds you of its power.

This is the kind of fear every one of us inherited as a son of Adam. This kind of fear can rob you of peace and joy, and keep you from running unencumbered toward your destiny. This kind of fear can bring the flow of your life to a standstill, just as a dense fog can bring the vibrant flow of traffic in a busy city to a dead halt.

But consider this, according to the Bureau of Standards in Washington, a dense fog, covering seven city blocks to a depth of 100 feet is composed of less than one glass of water. That amount of water is divided into about 60 billion tiny droplets. Yet when those minute particles settle over a city or the countryside, they can almost blot out everything from sight. Continue reading


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Does God Love Everyone?

Mars Hill Staff Devotional

“Does God love everyone or just Christians?”
God is love. God does love. But does God love everyone or just those who follow Him?

Join us in spending some time reading scripture and thinking through this tough question posed in the devotional below.

http://www.gotquestions.org/does-God-love-everyone.html