devos from the hill


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Shame and Blame – The Fruit of Sin

The victim mentality – a vicious cycle.
Lesson 19 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

Before Adam and Eve ate of the fruit – And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

– Genesis 2:25

After – Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. And they heard the sound of the Lord walking in the garden in the cool of day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of Thee in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” And He said, “Who told you that you were naked?” Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” And the man said, “The woman whom Thou gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

– Genesis 3:7–13

Then she gave the fruit to Adam, and he ate. And immediately, they were aware of their nakedness and they were ashamed. Something terrible had happened. Something had changed … Adam and Eve tried to hide from God, and to get rid of their shame by covering themselves with leaves. But this did not work, for their problem was not outward, but inward. Shame is the result of sin, and sin was at work in them like a poison.

– The HOPE, Chapter 3

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

Before eating the forbidden fruit, there is no indication that Adam and Eve had ever known shame1  (Genesis 2:25). After they disobeyed God, they saw their nakedness and for the first time felt exposed and vulnerable. So they tried to cover themselves. Then they tried to hide themselves from God. Why? Because they were afraid. They may have been afraid of God’s response, but they were actually hiding themselves from the only One who could really help them, the very One they needed the most.

It is very interesting that God would ask, “Where are you?” God is all knowing. He knew where Adam and Eve were hiding. But His question was not just rhetorical. He was bringing Adam and Eve face to face with the result of their sin. The question “Where are you?” takes on a much greater meaning if applied to their spiritual condition more than their physical location. They were at a desperate place, and God’s question was like holding up a mirror. They needed to recognize the seriousness of their situation.

Notice what happens next, when they are “found.” Adam blames Eve, and Eve blames Satan. Shame was one of the first fruits of sin, and blame was a direct result.

ASK & REFLECT Continue reading


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A Deadly Line of Thought

The first question is not is He good, but rather is He God?
Lesson 17 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said,’ You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.’ And the serpent said to the woman, “You surely shall not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

– Genesis 3:1–5

And so it was one day as Eve was walking in the garden near the tree of knowledge that Satan spoke to her. She was without fear, for fear had not yet come into the world. Satan asked her about the forbidden fruit. He questioned God’s warning and His motive toward man. Eve listened and began to doubt God. She considered the fruit and ate. Then she gave the fruit to Adam, and he ate. And immediately, they were aware of their nakedness and they were ashamed.

– The HOPE, Chapter 3

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

The current lesson continues our study of Satan’s interaction with Eve at the tree of knowledge. Let’s think about Satan’s tactic with Eve as recorded in the Bible passage above.

Eve told Satan what God said about the forbidden tree, “You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.” Satan responded, “You surely shall not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”1

At first, it appears that Satan is simply contradicting God, or at least trying to re–interpret what God has said. He seems to be trying to get Eve to question whether she really heard what she thought she heard. Instigating doubt and confusion is certainly one of Satan’s primary tactics.

But if you dig more deeply, there appears to be even more to Satan’s strategy. In his line, “You surely shall not die!” you can almost hear him saying to Eve, “Oh come now. God wouldn’t do that to you …would He?” Satan is leading Eve to question God’s intentions toward her. Then he follows up with, “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” This sounds like Satan is hinting that perhaps God doesn’t really want Eve to become all she can be, which would then cause her to wonder, “Does God really want what is best for me?”

At the core of this line of thinking there lurks a very dangerous question: “Is God really good?” People throughout time have stumbled over this very question. When Eve begins to ask it, slam…the trap is shut. Doubting that God is for her, she will now begin to look after her own interests.

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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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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