devos from the hill


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Two Trees – Two Ways

Two approaches to God – works and grace
Lesson 11 from The HOPE Study Guide

Introduction

And out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil… And the Lord God commanded the man saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.

– Genesis 2: 9, 16-17

In the middle of the garden, there were two trees. One was the tree of life, the other, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God told Adam he could eat from any tree in the garden, but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he must not eat, for when he does he will surely die.

– The HOPE, Chapter 2

Observe & Consider

Thus far in God’s story, we’ve witnessed much drama, but no conflict. God created Adam and Eve and placed them in a beautiful garden where they had all they needed. But two trees stood in the midst of the garden. One tree yielded life, the other death; first a spiritual death, and ultimately a physical death.

Bible scholars throughout history have considered the meaning of these two trees. Most agree that the trees represent two entirely different ways of relating to God and life.The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is thought to represent man’s attempt to be fulfilled, and rightly related to God, through his own effort – often by acquiring knowledge and trying to do what is right in His own eyes. The Bible says the end of this approach is death.2

However, the tree of life is, according to theologian John Calvin, a reminder to man that “he lives not by his own power, but by the kindness of God; and that life is not an intrinsic good, but proceeds from God.” 3 The tree of life represents the life–giving favor which flows from God – favor we do not merit and cannot earn, but can only receive in humility and thanksgiving. Continue reading


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Creation of Adam & Eve – Part 2

Our purpose – to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.
Lesson 10 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

He did not create them to be gods. But as the moon reflects the light of the sun, so Adam and Eve were created to reflect the light of God.

– The HOPE, Chapter 1

The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

– Westminster Catechism, Shorter Version, Written in the 1640’s

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

In the previous lesson we considered the truth that man was created in the image of God. In this lesson we will consider God’s purpose for creating man. There are many verses in the Bible that, if studied in total, would help us understand God’s purpose for creating man. However, there is not just a verse that singularly sums up this subject, at least not in a manner that would satisfy most Bible scholars.

There is, however, a document containing a statement that attempts to sum up what the Bible says about God’s purpose for creating man. This document is known as the Westminster Catechism, and the statement to which we are referring appears above. This statement is widely accepted among Bible scholars as accurate, and it provides a point of reference as we consider what The HOPE says about God’s purpose for creating man.

Without a doubt, the brightest visible object in our world is the sun. It is so bright that gazing directly at it can cause irreparable damage to our eyes. Yet God’s brilliance is immeasurably greater than even that of the sun. In 1 John 1:5 we learn that God is pure, undiluted light. And in Exodus 33:20 we are told that His glory is so great no man can look directly at God and live! So how can people behold the glory of God if He is so intensely brilliant that no man can look directly at Him and live? Continue reading


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Some Thoughts on Propitiation

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from Fred Carpenter

ROM 3:25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. {This was} to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;

HEB 2:17 Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

1JO 2:2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for {those of} the whole world.

1JO 4:10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son {to be} the propitiation for our sins.

1. Propitiation – What it means.

The following 3 statements are from John Piper.
That big word “propitiation” simply means Christ takes away God’s anger at us for our sins.

“Propitiation” means that the death of Christ takes away the anger of God – propitiates God’s wrath – from those who trust Jesus.

That great phrase, “make propitiation” means “make a sacrifice for our sins that brings God’s anger at us to an end” and makes us friends.

In other words, God’s wrath toward sinful man was completely poured out and satisfied in Christ’s work on the cross.

2. Propitiation – The extent of it.

One of the foundational truths of the Christian faith respecting the believer in relation to his sins is the fact that when he was saved all his trespasses (the past, present and future)—so far as condemnation may be concerned—were forgiven. If one buys into this truth (that God has forgiven our future sins), then it is no stretch to embrace the truth that neither is God angry about future sins. This is all the more true since propitiation is at the core of God’s forgiveness.

We might also think about it in terms of God’s omniscience and foreknowledge. If God knows about our future sins (which He does), and if He still gets angry when we sin, then would not our relationship with Him be marked with a perpetual displeasure (on His part). If God, not being bound by time and space, sees everything “from the helicopter view” as it were, then when exactly would He get angry? The doctrine of propitiation teaches us that God got angry for our future sins two thousand years ago.

Have I ever felt anger toward other? To some degree, I suppose I have, and perhaps will in the future. However, if I could see the future as clearly as God, then I would not be surprised at what is yet to come. And if I completely grasped the reality of God’s sanctifying work in the lives of other people, then I would be much more inclined to see how it was all working together for their good and His glory.

3. Propitiation – The significance of it.

An understanding of propitiation is vital to our assurance and peace with God.

In his book, “Knowing God,” J.I. Packer commits more than a chapter to propitiation. He claims that propitiation is “the heart of the Gospel”, and that it is key to understanding the Bible in general, and five specific truths in particular . . .

A further point must now be made. Not only does the truth of propitiation lead us to the heart of the New Testament gospel; it also leads us to a vantage-point from which we can see to the heart of many other things, too. When you stand of top of Snowdon (the highest mountain in Wales), you see the whole of Snowdonia spread out round you, and you have a wider view than you can get from any other point in the area. Similarly, when you are top of the truth of propitiation, you can see the entire Bible in perspective, and you are in a position to take the measure of vital matters which cannot be properly grasped on any other terms. In what follows, five of these will be touched on: the driving force in the life of Jesus; the destiny of those who reject God; God’s gift of peace; the dimensions of God’s love; and the meaning of God’s glory. That these matters are vital to Christianity will not be disputed. That they can only be understood in the light of the truth of propitiation cannot, we think, be denied.

In terms of practical application, think of this. As Christians do we not aspire to reflect God in our behavior? If we believe that God’s disposition toward us is predicated upon our behavior, rather than upon the cross, then would we not also tend to predicate our disposition toward others based upon their performance rather than grace. The cross of Christ should radically affect our disposition toward others.


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He Is Our Peace

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from Fred Carpenter

The scene was Israel about 1160 years before Christ. The Midianites were causing great suffering among the Israelites. Gideon was threshing wheat when God called Gideon and told him that he would deliver his people. Like so many others called by God to accomplish a God sized mission, Gideon was feeling uneasy about the task before him. The Lord said to him, (Judges 6:23) “Peace to you, do not fear; you shall not die.” 24 Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and named it The Lord is Peace. To this day it is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrite.

The phrase “The Lord is Peace” is the focus of today’s devotional. To understand it, we must go back to the time when (in Exodus 3) God told Moses to return to Egypt to deliver his people. Moses responded “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” And God said to Moses, “I Am Who I Am.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, “I Am has sent me to you.” Exodus 3:13,14.

“I Am Who I Am” is the closest translation (or more exactly, transliteration) of a Hebrew word that cannot actually be pronounced. The closest Latin transliteration is actually YHWH. Notice, there are no vowels, only consonants. This name of God cannot be pronounced. Still in order to make this word accessible, scholars eventually added vowels and this word became Yahweh, or for some, Jehovah. 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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Missionary Weapons

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from My Utmost for His Highest
by Oswald Chambers

Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and *said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!”  Nathanael *said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” John 1:47-48 NASB

Key Take-aways:

– Worshiping in everyday occasions readies us for whatever comes our way.

– A crisis does not build something within us – it simply reveals what we are made of already. A private relationship of worshiping God is the greatest essential element of spiritual fitness.

– John 1:51 Nathanael needed to see that, while his private time with God under the fig tree made him spiritually fit, the time had come to worship openly. In the words of John Piper, “there are no holy geographic places any more designated by God as his meeting place with man. Jesus is now that meeting place.”

– John 1:51 calls to mind Gen 28:12-16. Jacob found himself in a holy place. Jacob saw angels ascending and descending on a ladder. In this passage, Jesus communicates that He is the ladder. Also from Piper, “When we move heavenward, we move on the Son of Man. When God moves earthward, he moves on the Son of Man.”

Click here for the full devotional: http://utmost.org/missionary-weapons-1/