Devotions

Author Archives: Caleb Combs

John 20:24-29

Jesus Physically Rose Again & Ascension | Devotion #4: John 20:24-29
Caleb Combs | Gathering Pastor

I am an avid sports fan, Okay, sometimes in an unhealthy way, I will watch or play anything. I recently had the opportunity to travel to Israel for a Holy Land experience. One night at the hotel, I found myself watching a game called snooker. It is a version of billiards with some very interesting rules. I googled the rules so I could follow along in the match. Yes, I am that guy. I love the art of competition and sport; it is enthralling. On November 20, 1982, the world experienced one of the greatest plays in the history of sports. It was a college football game between the California Bears and Stanford Cardinals. They were and are still rivals, with each matchup being highly anticipated. The game went back and forth with both teams holding leads in the game. John Elway, the quarterback for Stanford, found himself down two points late in the fourth quarter. He was able to lead his team down the field for a field goal with four seconds left to take the lead and seemingly capture the most important win. The team celebrated because they had just taken down their rival. They poured the Gatorade jug over the head coach and celebrated this incredible victory. However, by rule, there were four seconds left on the clock, and they must kick the ball off to the other team. The announcer, Joe Starkey said, “Only a miracle can save the Bears now!” If you know the situation, you know what happened next. The term “The Play” was coined because the Cal Bears would take the kickoff back for a touchdown. It is one of the craziest plays you will ever see (trust me, if you have not seen it go check it out on YouTube) that included five laterals. The Stanford players, coaches, and even the band came on the field thinking they had won. The California Bears walked away victorious against their greatest rival in one of the biggest turn of events in sports’ history.

This story reminds me of another turn of events in the history of the world, and Cal’s win does not come close to touching it in the level of importance. I am referencing the resurrection and victory of our Savior Jesus Christ. After Jesus died on the cross and paid the debt we owed with His own life; He was put into a tomb. It was a tomb where everyone thought He would stay; His followers even came to put oils and spices on His body. There was no hope; death had won. Jesus’ greatest rival, Satan, began to celebrate his victory. I can just imagine, Satan and his followers celebrating because they had finally defeated Jesus. He was dead, and the story was over. Oh wait, the game was not over. The tomb could not hold Jesus. Death had no victory because Jesus Christ conquered Death, Hell, and the Grave and walked out victorious. When no one else thought there was hope, and the “announcers” said only a miracle can save Him now, that in fact was exactly what happened. It was the greatest comeback in the history of the world, and one I am thankful for every minute of every day.

I mentioned that Jesus’ followers had even given up on Him. It is just like the game between Stanford and Cal. When Stanford seemingly captured the victory in the closing seconds, most fans of Cal began to head home. They “knew” the game was over and there was no hope. The same happened to Jesus’ followers. Many went home dejected and disappointed knowing they had lost. In the days following Jesus’ victory, He would appear to His followers and show them His victory; they were amazed and astonished. One follower, named Thomas was still in disbelief. He saw with his own eyes Satan’s victory and headed home.  

In John 20:24-29 we pick up in the story. “Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.’ Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’” Thomas needed to see the victory with His own eyes, and Jesus showed up. The victory Jesus earned is given to us. So may you today truly understand the greatest victory in the history of the world, Jesus Christ! 

Galatians 5:17

Jesus Died for Our Sins | Devotion #4: Galatians 5:17
Caleb Combs | Gathering Pastor

We all remember growing up and watching cartoons. Some of us still enjoy watching them. Remember the cartoon character that comes across a situation where he must decide to do right or wrong? The cartoon then showed us a memorable picture. At that moment, an angel appeared on his right shoulder and began to “influence” him to do right.  Then out of nowhere, a devil appeared on the other shoulder with a deep raspy voice and attempted to convince the character to do wrong. The cartoonist painted a picture with visuals, but also characteristics. The characteristics of the good angel showed him wearing white, put together in appearance, and with a very soft weak voice. The devil, on the other hand, was the exact opposite of the “good” angel. He had horns and wore a red cape, yielded a pitchfork, and had a strong, deep voice. These two characters would argue and battle back and forth for the next few minutes, attempting to convince the cartoon character to go to their side and do what they wanted. This battle, although funny in a cartoon, is a great picture of the innermost beings of every follower of Christ.  

Of course, we do not have two little cartoons that appear on our shoulders every time we need to make a decision, but we have two innate sides that fight for influence in our life every single day. The Bible calls them Spirit (good) and Flesh (bad).  When we are born into the world, we are born into the flesh. Because of Adam’s sin, we are all now born into sin. Romans 3:23 tells us, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” You see, God created man perfect, but in our failure, we brought the flesh into our lives. Through the cross and blood of Jesus, we gain access to the Spirit. It is only when we repent of our sins and call upon the name of the Lord to be our Savior, that we receive the Spirit in our lives. However, we still battle the flesh. How do we balance the two? Galatians 5:17 tells us, “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” Although we laugh at the picture drawn in the cartoons, it is a real battle that rages every day inside us. The key to fighting the battle between flesh and spirit is paying attention to which side we are feeding.

We can feed the spirit by reading God’s Word. His Word is our daily bread; it is nourishment to our souls. We need to be constantly growing in His Word to feed the Spirit. We need to spend time with God in prayer, constantly seeking His direction in our lives. The Bible is a perfect blueprint for living in the Spirit. I love the acronym for the Bible, “Believers Instruction Before Leaving Earth.” The more we feed the Spirit in our lives, the more it grows and influences our decisions. However, the same goes for the flesh. The more we feed the flesh, the bigger it gets and the more it influences our decisions. We feed the flesh by ignoring the Bible and its teachings and doing whatever is contrary to what God says. 

As a believer, we have to understand this battle wages inside us, because if you do not realize it, you could be feeding the flesh and block out the spirit in your life. The Apostle Paul warns his listeners in 1 Thessalonians 5:14-19 not to “quench the Spirit.” Man is that a scary thought! I cringe at the thought of blocking out or quenching God’s direction in my life. 

Which are you feeding more? What changes do you need to make to start feeding the Spirit? Have you been feeding the flesh for so long that it has grown so large you cannot even hear the Spirit? Today is the day to seek God’s will and direction in your life and begin feeding the Spirit. You and I need to get to it!

1 Peter 2:22

Jesus was Sinless and the Virgin Birth | Devotion #3: 1 Peter 2:22
Caleb Combs | Gathering Pastor

Jesus was a lamb without spot, a perfect sacrifice. In the book of Exodus, you find the children of Israel enslaved by the Egyptians. They were in a place and an experience that God had never designed for His people. Ultimately, God planned to get His people to turn back to Him, trust Him, and He would lead them to the Promised Land. The Bible tells us in Exodus 1 that He heard the cries of His people.

God used a man named Moses to lead His people back to Him. Now it would not be an easy or uneventful Exodus because the Egyptians needed the Israelites. God told Moses to go in front of Pharaoh and tell him he would inflict ten plagues on the land. It included removing their water source, bugs, and boils, to fiery hail and darkness. God was trying to get their attention. However, it was not until the tenth and final plague that Pharaoh released the Israelites. The tenth plague was called the Passover. God instructed Moses in Exodus chapter 12, that an angel would come over the land and kill the firstborn of every family. The only way the angel would pass over a home is if the blood of a lamb or goat was spread across the doorway of the home. The Bible describes the lamb needed in Exodus 12:5, “Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats.” 

Why would the lamb need to be without blemish? One opinion is that God deserves and requires our best and if we decide we do not want to give Him our best, we are relying on our self. Another concept is summarized in a quote by Gerald Bray, “If the lamb were less than perfect, someone might say it was being sacrificed because of its defects, but that is not true. It was not the lamb that was the problem but for those whom the lamb was dying.”  

We see the need for a lamb’s blood for protection for the Israelites during the Passover and is a perfect picture for our lives. The Perfect Lamb (Jesus) was slain, and His blood was the covering of our sin. It is not on our merit or status that we are saved, but by the blood of the Perfect Lamb. The lamb was not the problem and would not be needed except for what is said in Hebrews 9:22, “Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” Jesus was the perfect sacrifice needed to cover our faults and failures, and He willingly stepped in on our behalf. 1 Peter 2:22 says, “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.” 

John 10:30-33

Jesus is God | Devotion #4: John 10:30-33
Caleb Combs | Gathering Pastor

“I and the Father are one. The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, ‘I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?’ The Jews answered him, ‘It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.’” John 10:30-33

“The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.”
C.S. Lewis 

Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” This statement was mind-blowing for the culture Jesus lived in and for our culture today. How could a man actually be God? The crowd responded to Jesus’ claim in outrage and were ready to kill Him for this claim. How could this Jesus be a man whose heart beat, perspired when hot, cried when sad, and bled and bruised just like me? This concept is crazy, yet is crucial to understanding our walk with God. You see, Jesus came as a man to experience life as we know it. He was tempted, He grew physically and mentally, and experienced many things a boy and man would experience in that culture, but why? Why would the God of all of the universe come in the form of a man? The answer is simple; it is for you and me!  

When Jesus was under trial in front of Pilate and the High Priest, the Pharisees were pushing Pilate to sentence Jesus to death; Pilate was disturbed. He could not find fault with this man, but they wanted Him killed for one reason, He claimed to be God. This claim brought huge weight and attention from all over Jerusalem and something the religious world did not like. Pilate brought Jesus inside, away from the crowd, to have a conversation with Him. Pilate asked Jesus in John 18:37, “Then Pilate said to him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.’” Jesus came into the world as a reigning King and was born in a barn around animals. There was no pomp and circumstance to His birth, yet the Almighty God was born that day simply on a mission of truth, and that truth would set the captives free!

God stepped out of Heaven and into our earth in the form of a man. This takes faith to believe, but understanding why He did it is crucial to our walk with Christ. He did not do it to waste His time because He was bored in Heaven or that He could come down and punish this world because we had fallen so far away from how He created us. He did it so that He could spread the truth of how much He (God) loves us and desires a relationship with us. Luke 19:10 says, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost!”

2 Corinthians 13:14

Trinity | Devotion #4: 2 Corinthians 13:14
Caleb Combs | Gathering Pastor

Describing the Trinity is an extremely difficult, if not impossible, task. The word “Trinity” cannot even be found in the Bible, yet it is a crucial piece of our walk and understanding of God. We see the Trinity made up of God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit. As a child, we sang a song that described the Trinity and its components. The song closed with “three in one, three in one.” As a child, and even now, the concept of “three in one” is mind-blowing! I have always said that if someone claims to fully be able to explain the Trinity, then run because they have no idea what they are saying. I am not sure if that is a good statement, but fully understanding the Trinity means to fully understand God and His character and this is something our finite brains can never fully grasp. 

Deuteronomy 29:29 says, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” This verse is something that I think every believer must understand. “I realize I cannot fully understand God, yet my faith in Him is willing to trust Him and His plan and my response is to live for Him every day.” The Bible tells us that we must have a “child-like” faith to believe in God and this is something that we as followers of Christ must cling to especially when walking through tough concepts like the Trinity. 

However, as we look at the Trinity, we see three components that make it up: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit working in unison to establish a relationship with you. 2 Corinthians 13:14 says, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” We see the three characteristics of the Trinity described by Paul in 2 Corinthians as grace, love, and fellowship. All three pointing back to the Gospel and God’s desire for us to be saved. J. I. Packer, a world renowned theologian, describes the Trinity like this, “The Trinity is the basis of the Gospel, and the Gospel is a declaration of the Trinity in action.” The Trinity is three forms of God in action to declare the Gospel to a broken world. The grace of Jesus came to the earth to die on a cross for our sins. The love of God is perfect and true and will never stop pursuing a relationship with us. Finally, the fellowship of the Holy Spirit walks with us everyday, comforting, leading, guiding, and directing our steps. We see all three forms with different characteristics, yet acting in unison pointing us toward a relationship with God. So, just as Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, I write to you, “May the grace of Jesus Christ, the perfect love of God the Father and fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you!” (2 Corinthians 13-14).



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