devos from the hill


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The Work of God Through Us

Today’s devotional is from Ligonier Ministries

 

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”    – Philippians 2:12–13

Paul often depicts authentic Christian living as the imitation of God and, since Christ is God incarnate, the imitation of Christ (1 Cor. 11:1; Eph. 5:1). He has such imitation in view in Philippians 2:5–11 when he exhorts us to have the same mind as Jesus in how we serve others. In other words, we must have the same goal as Jesus in not seeking our own interests in a way that denies the good of others.

Christ’s obedience to His vocation was an essential part of not pursuing His own ends at the expense of others, as 2:5–11 explains. Thus, it is clear that our obedience is an essential part of imitating the Savior. As a consequence of Jesus’ submission to the will of His Father, all the Lord’s disciples, patterning their lives on His example, must submit to the Almighty’s will. What is this will? That we “work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling” (vv. 12–13).

The Apostle gives examples of what it means to obey God and work out our salvation in verses 14–18. Today we will note what the call to work out our salvation says about persevering in faith. Scripture explains that we are not saved by signing a card, raising a hand, or walking an aisle for an altar call. Instead, we are saved by the possession of an authentic, living faith. This faith manifests itself through good works of repentance, confession, and service to God and neighbor (Luke 23:39–43;Matt. 7:21–27; James 2:14–26). None of these works get us into heaven; only the perfect righteousness of Christ, which we receive by resting on Him alone by faith alone, gives us access to the Father (Gal. 2:15–16; 2 Cor. 5:21). Yet those who are resting on Jesus alone demonstrate this faith by their works (James 2:14–26).

Persevering in faith, which is evident in our perseverance in good works of service, is achieved as we, by the Spirit, strive to serve the Lord, repent when we fail, and rely always on His enabling mercy (1 John 1:8–9). Simply put, it is living a life that does not take the gospel and its implications lightly. At the same time, even though we play a role in perseverance by obeying God’s commands, heeding His warnings, and more, the very fact that we do persevere is ultimately grounded in divine sovereignty. God wills and works out our salvation through us (Phil. 2:13), and His elect cannot fail to stay in faith until the end of their lives. Augustine says that “[we] are to work with fear and trembling so th

Coram Deo

Augustine says that “[we] are to work with fear and trembling so that [we] will not, by attributing the good working to [ourselves], be elated by the good works as if they were [our] own” (ACCNT 8, p. 245). Even as we are aware that we work out our salvation in fear and trembling, we must also know that ultimately it is God who gives us the desire to persevere and moves us to do so. Indeed, salvation is of Him from first to last.

Passages for Further Study

Ezekiel 36:26–27
Hebrews 7
Philippians 1:6
Jude 24–25


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The Passionate Longing of the Father’s Heart

Today the Mars Hill staff discussed a soon-to-be-published article on the state of the American Church with regard to the Great Commission. The following excerpt should give you a taste for the article, the mission of the Church, and why we are so passionate to oversee the ministry of The HOPE to reach every tongue, tribe, and nation.

The passionate longing of a father’s heart is for his children. A few years ago, there was a movie called “Taken.” A young girl went to Europe and was abducted by a sex trafficking ring. When her father in the U.S. learned of it, he immediately dropped everything and made a total commitment to do whatever was necessary to rescue her. His passion to free his daughter was intense. He would not be stopped by anything.

Somewhere in the world at this moment, there is a soul, chosen by our Father to be His son or daughter, and yet held captive by powerful evil forces. In fact, there are many souls. Our Father desires to bring His children, our brothers and sisters, home. He has equipped us, blessed us and empowered us for this purpose. He is calling us to commit to the mission.

Whether God heals America or not, I want to do all I can to help fulfill the desire of my Father’s heart to free His children. At Mars Hill, that is why we do what we do, and we invite you to join us!


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Thoughts on Grace

Our English word, “grace” comes from the Greek word, “charis.” It is used over 155 times in the Bible.

Consider what these men of God have to say about grace…

J. Vernon McGee– God is overloaded with GRACE. You and I just don’t know how gracious He is. He has an abundance of GRACE. GRACE has been defined as unmerited favor, but I call it love in action. God didn’t save us by His love. He gave His Son, and it is by His GRACE that we are saved. He has so much of it. You may say, “Oh, I am so wrong on the inside, so sinful.” Go to Him and tell Him you are wrong on the inside and ask Him for GRACE to overcome it. He will give you GRACE. He is the living Christ, interceding at God’s right hand for you. Now some may doubt the surplus of His GRACE. May I say to you, all the medicine in the world cannot cure the sick; the remedy must be taken. Likewise, God has the GRACE, my friend; lay hold of it! It is possible for a man to die of thirst with a pure spring of water right before him. He has to drink of it; he has to appropriate it before it can save his life.

Ray Stedman  – GRACE is your heritage as a Christian no matter what your circumstances. GRACE is all God’s power, all His love, all His beauty available to you.

D.L. Moody – A man can no more take in a supply of GRACE for the future than he can eat enough for the next six months or take sufficient air into his lungs at one time to sustain life for a week. We must draw upon God’s boundless store of GRACE from day to day, as we need it.

Thomas Brooks – Saving GRACE makes a man as willing to leave his lusts as a slave is willing to leave his galley, or a prisoner his dungeon, or a thief his bolts, or a beggar his rags.

Erwin W. Lutzer – When the mask of self-righteousness has been torn from us and we stand stripped of all our accustomed defenses, we are candidates for God’s generous GRACE.

C.H. Spurgeon – Self-consciousness is a sure sign that there is not much depth of GRACE.

Thomas Brooks – The life of GRACE is the death of sin, and the growth of GRACE the decay of sin. (Rom. 5:20-21, Rom. 6:1, 11)

Vance Havner once gave the following acronym for GRACE:

G stands for Gift, the principle of GRACE. (Eph. 2:8-9)

R stands for Redemption, the purpose of GRACE. (Eph. 1:7)

A stands for Access, the privilege of GRACE. (Rom. 5:1-2)

C stands for Character, the product of GRACE. (2 Cor. 5:17)

E stands for Eternal Life, the prospect of GRACE. (Titus 3:7)

D.L. Moody – The law tells me how crooked I am. GRACE comes along and straightens me out. (Rom. 5:20)

Stephen Olford – Without this GRACE there is no pardon for the past, no power for the present, and no prospect for the future.  (2 Cor. 12:9, 1 Pet. 1:13)

Stephen Olford – GRACE is God’s goodness and severity converging. GRACE is God’s mercy and justice uniting. GRACE is God’s love and power redeeming.

Augustus Toplady  – GRACE finds us beggars but leaves us debtors. Continue reading


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Born again? What does this mean?

God has blessed Mars Hill with an incredible team of men and women who love Jesus – the risen, reigning, and returning King. Together, we passionately pursue Him as we work to see the Great Commission fulfilled. Together, we study the Scriptures. We embrace and celebrate the mystery of faith and the magnificence of our AWESOME God. And we long for our Savior’s return, when we will know fully as we are fully known.

The Holy Spirit has breathed unique wisdom, discernment and gifts for service into each member of our staff. That said, we are delighted to commence a new series of devotionals, in which each member of our staff will be sharing insights from their inimitable journey with our Father.

We hope that God’s redemptive work in our lives will resonate with what He’s doing in yours.


Today’s Devotional is from team member, Joe Birkmire.
Joe is serving Mars Hill as Director of Production Operations.

Joe devo shot 1Life is interesting. What a way to start a devotional right? You see, if someone approached me about Jesus Christ before I was born again I would have silently made fun of them or just brushed them off. I did not want them to indoctrinate me with their way of thinking. My first response was to play devil’s advocate and prove why they were wrong and why I was right. Most of my knowledge on the subject was coming from the History Channel and other television sources, so I am sure my points were so misleading. The truth is, I made a decision to go after things in this world and spiritual matters did not really make sense even though I knew the truth and I was simply ignoring it.  I still had morals and I think I was a good person…but I just could not get myself to really believe in Jesus and what He did for me on the cross. Before I share my story please join me in reading John 3:1-8:

 1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; 2 this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

The phrase “born again” literally means “born from above.” This comes from two Greek words. Yevváw (gennaō), which means be born, regenerate, or be delivered from and ävw0ev (Anōthen) means from above, from the first, from the beginning. I think the born again question is often a struggle for a lot of people. Take 2 Corinthians 5:17, for example, “Therefore, If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation: the old has gone, the new has come.” There it is again…the phrase born again but written differently.

When I was growing up I always went to church with my family. But, after High School and especially college, I was rarely seen in church. I did not want to go, but, to be honest, deep down I knew something was out of place or probably more accurate to say, I was running from the truth. I knew who Jesus was, but I wanted the world more.Joe devo shot 2

You see, I trusted Him a long time ago, so I thought, at a Christian Young Life Camp called “Wilderness” in the Rocky Mountains. That was where I accepted Jesus for the first time at the age of 16, but it didn’t really change me at that time. Regardless of this experience being real (complete) or not I will never forget that trip. I was more caught up in the emotion rather than really believing in Jesus Christ, and all that He did for me on the cross. ­When I got back from the trip I did not live it out like I should have.

Then about 10 years ago at age 27, I was invited to go with a friend to another church. The only reason why I went was because there was nothing else better to do. For me to go to an unfamiliar church was out of my comfort zone, especially since I had not been in a while. But after the church service that Sunday morning, the most awkward event happened to me; a young woman yelled out to me…“Are you born again?”

My first reaction was…she’s crazy. More importantly, why was I being captivated by this thought of being born again days later? This statement was so far over my head. Looking back I was just like Nicodemus questioning Jesus with, “how can one be born again?” I also could not stop thinking about my experience in the mountains. This born again question really made me think about “me.” Who am I? Why can’t I just believe? Continue reading


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Beauty for Ashes – Isaiah 61:1-3

God has blessed Mars Hill with an incredible team of men and women who love Jesus – the risen, reigning, and returning King. Together, we passionately pursue Him as we work to see the Great Commission fulfilled. Together, we study the Scriptures. We embrace and celebrate the mystery of faith and the magnificence of our AWESOME God. And we long for our Savior’s return, when we will know fully as we are fully known.

The Holy Spirit has breathed unique wisdom, discernment and gifts for service into each member of our staff. That said, we are delighted to commence a new series of devotionals, in which each member of our staff will be sharing insights from their inimitable journey with our Father.

We hope that God’s redemptive work in our lives will resonate with what He’s doing in yours.


Today’s Devotional is from team member, Beverly Bates.
Beverly is Assistant to the VP of Administration and she cares for the team in countless ways.

A big part of my family heritage is: attending church! I grew up in a rural Ohio farm community and not only attended the same, small, country church that my great great grandparents went to, but I was very involved in the church.

The summer after my third-grade year was an exciting time for me! I was finally old enough to attend Church Camp, which meant a whole week away from farm chores, picking green beans, hoeing the garden, mowing cemeteries, and picking cherries from Aunt Rowena and Uncle Fred’s cherry trees.

At Camp St. Mary’s I looked forward to the week of vacation activities: swimming in a pool every day, making craft projects, canoeing in the canals, and singing around the campfire.

Camp was a fun place, and it is where I accepted Jesus in my heart. I did not share my good news with anyone back home, which means I was not encouraged in my faith or discipled by anyone.

Around the age of 13, I thought I knew everything and became a Smart Aleck!

I started making stupid choices and hanging with the wrong crowd. Eventually, being young and dumb, and giving in to peer pressure, at the age of 17 I made a poor choice that would affect my future in ways I did not think of at the time:  I made the choice of turning my back on God.

It would be another six years of going down the wrong path before I realized I needed to rededicate my life to the Lord, which I did!

The Lord is helping me keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and to live daily in a way that brings honor and glory to Him.

From what I have observed during my 16 years at Mars Hill, my co-workers, and our board members relentlessly pursue the Lord, and it is my desire to do the same. Because of Christ living His life in me and through me, I don’t have to live in bondage to sin any longer but have been set free to obey Him. I thank the Lord that He has placed good leadership at Mars Hill to help me grow in my faith journey. Continue reading


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The Wrath of God Poured Out on Jesus for You

The incredible meaning of propitiation.
Lesson 55 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

…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.

– Romans 3:25

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.

– Hebrews 2:17

…and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.

– 1 John 2:2

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 John 4:10

At the cross Jesus took our sin upon Himself. He paid the penalty for our sin. He became our substitute. At the cross God’s justice was satisfied, and His love fulfilled. Then Jesus said, “It is accomplished.” And He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit.

– The HOPE, Chapter 10

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

In the previous lesson we considered that Jesus’ work on the cross resolved a dilemma of divine proportions: it fulfilled God’s love for man and, at the same time, satisfied His righteous justice in regard to sin. There is something more that was satisfied by Jesus on the cross – God’s anger at sin and its destructive effect on this world.

Have you ever heard or read of something so evil that it turns your stomach? Many people respond to these kinds of stories by saying, “If God is so good, then how can He allow such a thing to take place?” When people say this, it is an indication that there are some truths of which they are not aware.

Regarding sin and its effect in the world, God has more anger than we can understand. But there is a reason that God doesn’t just pour out His anger and judge this sinful world immediately. We can know this reason from 2 Peter 3:9-10 , “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. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.”

From this verse we see what will someday happen to this world and all of its works–it will all be burnt up. Ultimately, God isn’t trying to preserve or rescue this sin infected world; He is creating a new one (Revelation 21:1). But as much as God is angered by sin in this world, this verse also tells us Jesus is not slow about His promise (to return and to judge the world), but He is patient because He wishes that none should perish. In other words, as intense as His anger is over sin, His love for people is even more intense.

Though His judgment of this world may not be immediate, it is imminent and inevitable.1 And it will be terrible. This brings us back to the point of today’s lesson. Continue reading


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The Source of Unshakable Hope

Knowing Him through His Story.
Lesson 40 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

In the Garden of Eden, God promised to send a Deliverer. Through Hebrew prophets, God gave hundreds of promises concerning this Deliverer, who would one day conquer Satan, sin and death forever. In the temple, the smoke from sacrifices ascended day after day, year after year, generation after generation, giving the Hebrew people a constant reminder of humankind’s need for the Deliverer. But when would He come? How would He come? By now, some must have wondered if He would come at all.

– The HOPE, Chapter 7

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

Today’s lesson marks the midway point in the story of The HOPE. Thus far we have considered many Biblical truths and events. Just as God intended, this has set the stage for what is to come. Looking back we have dealt with:

  • Why the Bible can be trusted as God’s revelation to man (Lessons 3 and 4)
  • What the Bible says about God – Who He is and what He is like (Lesson 6)
  • What the Bible says about man – created in image of God but separated from God by sin (Lessons 9 and 10)
  • God’s purpose for man – to love God and to be loved by God (Lesson 13)
  • The nature of sin and its effect upon man and his relationship to God (Lessons 18 and 19)
  • What the Bible says about Satan and the war he wages against God and man (Lesson 14)
  • God’s promise to send a Deliverer Who will conquer Satan, sin, and death forever (Lesson 20)
  • How the nations of our world came to be (Lesson 25)
  • How God called out a man, Abraham, through whom He promised to bless all nations (Lesson 26)
  • How God’s promise was kept alive through Abraham’s descendants (Lesson 31)
  • How from Abraham’s descendants God formed the Hebrew people, through whom He would send the Deliverer and fulfill His promise to bless all nations (Lesson 32)

All of these events and truths are recorded in the first five books of the Bible. These five books (known by the Hebrew people as the Torah) were carefully compiled and painstakingly preserved prior to the time period covered in our current lesson (approximately 400 B.C. to 1 A.D.). See Lesson 3 to review Hebrew methods of guarding the accuracy of copies of the Bible. Continue reading