devos from the hill


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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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The Beautiful Side of Evil

A primary strategy of Satan: the perversion of good.
Lesson 16 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 section of The HOPE we are now considering is described in greater detail in Genesis 3. Notice from the Bible passage above that Satan appeared to Eve and spoke to her as a serpent. Yet Eve, unlike you or I might be, was not frightened by this serpent. Let’s consider why that might have been.

First, up to this point in God’s story we see no indication that fear even exists in the world God has created. The first recorded manifestation of fear is in Genesis 3:10, after Adam had disobeyed God. And from Genesis 9:2 we might conclude that up until that time, animals did not fear man (or at least their fear of man was minimal). Imagine the mindset of Eve at this time, never having encountered anything in the world that would evoke fear in her!

Secondly, let’s consider the way in which Satan presents himself. The word that is translated as serpent in the Genesis passage comes from the Hebrew word nachash1, which literally means, “shining one.” Ezekiel 28:12-18 describes Satan as an exceptionally beautiful creature. 2 Corinthians 11:14 says that “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” From these verses it is evident that evil does not always appear to be evil. Continue reading


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The Certain End of the Great War

God will one day vanquish Satan, sin and death forever!
Lesson 15 from The HOPE Study Guide

Introduction

Our adversary, Satan, seeks to usurp God’s power and thwart God’s purposes in our lives. But the Bible is clear, Satan will not win his war against God. The last word belongs to God, and God alone. The HOPE says it like this:

Satan cannot defeat God, for God is all–powerful. And the day will come when Satan and all the demons will be thrown into the place of eternal torment God has prepared for them, a place called the lake of fire. But until then, Satan will do all he can to hurt God by attempting to destroy that which God loves.

– The HOPE, Chapter 2

Observe & Consider

The final book of the Bible tells us of a day when Satan will be cast into a lake of fire forever.1 In that same book we learn that after Satan is vanquished, God will “wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

What a day that will be! Do you long for it? Does a world without suffering, sorrow or death even seem possible to you? According to God, not only is it possible, it is certain. From your current vantage point, particularly if the place you’re in is filled with pain, it may be hard to even imagine such a day. But God sees what we cannot see. He has a different vantage point.

Consider this illustration. Tapestry is a form of textile art, where many threads are interlaced or woven on a loom. If you look at a finished tapestry from front side, it may depict a beautiful design or scene. But if you turn the canvas over to the backside, the yarns will often look completely chaotic. It may appear to have no resemblance at all to the image on the front side. The backside can be ugly. Continue reading


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Our Discontented Adversary

Satan was not content to fulfill God’s purpose. Are you?
Lesson 14 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

Before Adam breathed his first breath, God had created a multitude of spirit beings called angels. These creatures were given great strength and intelligence to serve God, on earth and in a holy place called Heaven. One angel was given more power than the others. Known today as Satan, this angel was not content to fulfill the purpose for which he was created. He wanted to take God’s place. So Satan became God’s enemy, leading a great number of angels to rebel against God. And so it was that Satan was cast down from his position of privilege before God.

– The HOPE, Chapter 2

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

The Bible and The HOPE tell us that we have an adversary, a foe, an opponent in this life. He is known today as Satan. Not much Biblical narrative is given to the story of Satan’s creation and fall. However, enough passages do exist to piece together what God wants us to know about this fallen angel who challenged God.

Many Bible scholars draw upon Isaiah 14:12-14 and Ezekiel 28:12-18 to learn of Satan’s fall. While these two passages are commonly understood as references to the kings of Babylon and Tyre, many believe they have a double meaning, referring also to Satan, the spiritual power behind those kings.1

These passages show that Satan was given much by God, yet he was not content to fulfill the purpose for which he was created. In his discontent, he rebelled – and when he did, he lost everything. In fact, Satan has become the most despised being in all of creation, and his end, as we shall soon see, is tragic and certain. He chose against God!

ASK & REFLECT

Do you understand the purpose for which you have been created? If so, are you content to fulfill it? Many people are not. Consider the following verses about your purposeful creation:

For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!” (Psalm 139:13-17).

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10). Continue reading


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Tested and Tempted . . . What’s the Difference?

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
From Fred Carpenter
Tested and Tempted Part 1 of 2

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” – Matthew 4:1 NASB

After Jesus was baptized, He was led by the Spirit (of God) into the wilderness to be tempted.This temptation is described in Matthew 4:1–11, Mark 1:12–13, and Luke 4:1–2. Notice that the Matthew 4:1 passage says the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted, but it does not say that the Spirit tempted Jesus. That is an important distinction because the Bible also says in James 1:13 that, “God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” Satan (who is called the tempter in Matthew 4:3 and 1 Thessalonians 3:5) is the one who does the tempting.

Based upon the James 1:13 passage, notice that it was futile for Satan to tempt Jesus, for “God cannot be tempted.” In the end, the temptation of Jesus served only to further the purposes of God. It was all part of His plan. This will become even more evident as we consider the word “tempt.”

“Tempt” (or tempted) comes from the Greek word “peirazo,” which is actually a legal term meaning “to make proof of.” In light of this root definition, we could say that Satan was tempting Jesus in order to prove that He was no different than any other man that had ever lived; that He was just like Adam and that He would fold under pressure. Ultimately, the same way that a prosecuting attorney seeks to disqualify the testimony of a defendant, Satan wanted to disqualify Jesus as the Deliverer who would free mankind from Satan, sin, and death. Continue reading