Author Archives: Caleb Combs

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).

1 John 5:11-13

Salvation by Faith Alone & Grace of God | Devotion #5: 1 John 5:11-13
Caleb Combs | Gathering Pastor

A few years ago, I stopped by my bank on the way home from work to make a deposit. I cannot remember exactly what for, but I am not a huge fan of going to the bank. However, I now love all of the mobile banking apps out there. Sorry, you are not reading to hear about my banking preferences. So, as I walk out of the bank, I hear this lady yelling at me attempting to get my attention. For some reason, I was off of my game that day, I pride myself in being a pretty street smart person, and for some reason, I walked up to a stranger’s car in a bank parking lot; yes, not the smartest move I have ever made. As I approached her car, she did something I would never have expected; she began spraying me with cologne. I noticed she had hundreds of bottles in her car and it felt like her goal was to spray me with every one of them! I was caught off guard and was ready to walk away until she said the magic word, well at least the words that caught my attention, “I am running a DEAL today!” This was like magic to my ears; I love a good deal. She said that the bottles normally sell for $75, but today she was selling them for $20. I thought to myself, “How can I pass up on such a good deal?” So, we narrowed down to the best smelling one, and I handed over $20 to a lady in a bank parking lot, and she handed me the merchandise.  

Now, I live about 5 minutes from my bank, and so I thought I would surprise my wife with my new smell. I knew she would be so excited about how good of a deal I got and also that I had some semblance of thought on personal smell. So, I sprayed myself a good dozen times on the ride home to the point my car, myself, and probably those cars around me could recognize how good I smelt! I arrived home and walked in with my chest held high in an attempt to impress my wife. She just looked at me in confusion and asked what I was doing. I moved closer sticking my chest out further hoping she would ask about my smell, and to my amazement, she never did. At this point I was frustrated, so I skipped her asking me and told her the story of my amazing deal and how I thought she would be so impressed with me, but to my dismay, she was not. She just looked at me with a crooked face dissecting what I had just done. She said to me, “I think I recognize that bottle.” I responded, “Of course you do, you have seen it at one of your fancy stores!” But she said, “No” and then a light went on, “I know where I have seen that bottle. You can buy it at the dollar store!” At that moment, I realized I had been taken in a bad deal. I was taken for $19 when I thought I had gained so much. 

This is an embarrassing story, but one that shows how a bad deal can work. However, Jesus Christ has offered us the best deal of all, the grace of God. Salvation comes by grace and grace alone. It is not something we can earn by doing good things or deserve by living a “good” life. Simply putting our faith in Jesus Christ and trusting in His perfect plan, we too can have eternal life. He does not ask much of us because He already has done the heavy lifting on the cross. He conquered death, Hell, and the grave; His grace covers all of our sins. 

We are told a powerful promise in 1 John 5:11-13, “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.” Grace is a free gift; it is the best deal we could ever take. If you have never received this gift, make today the day. If you have the best deal of all time, make sure you appreciate the work done by Jesus and realize His grace is enough to cover all of your sins: past, present, and future.

Isaiah 40:8

Inerrancy of Scripture | Devotion #5: Isaiah 40:8
Caleb Combs | Gathering Pastor

If you live in Michigan or a place that experiences the four seasons, you probably love fall. Fall is the greatest time to be outside with all of the colors at a cider mill, play sports, or just get out for a walk. The colors are breathtaking, the air is crisp, and the scents are delightful. I love all football, cider, and donuts, but one thing I never look forward to is raking leaves. I have eight mature oak trees on my half acre lot that love to torture me. Hundreds and hundreds of bags later, my yard is clear from leaves, but man is it a ton of work. The life of a leaf is interesting. Its birth in the spring and death in the fall make for a short life. All things go through seasons; things come, and things go. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” A band called The Byrds wrote a song in 1965 called “Turn, Turn, Turn” based off of this exact chapter, and it turned out to be hit in the United States and the United Kingdom; it’s still played and sung to this day!

The words of this verse say it all, “for everything there is a season.” Isaiah 40:8 tells us, “the grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” Things come and go, fads come in style and leave as quick as they came. My kids loved the fidget spinners for a couple of weeks (weird craze in my opinion), but now those things are just lost among the pile of other old toy fads that came and went. We all can think of something that has come into style and now is not, yet we own it. I still like cargo shorts! Ha Ha! However, the book of Isaiah is clear, though everything may fade away and lose relevance, the Word of the Lord will not ever lose relevance. God’s Word is the same yesterday, today, and forever. When our world seems to be turned upside down by tragedies, God’s Word is something we can stand on. God’s Word says He will never leave you or forsake you, and that is something that you can take to the bank no matter what the circumstance. So today in the business of your life, know this: when all things come and go, His Word will never leave.  

Pontius Pilate

Lesson Thirteen | Devotion #5: Pontius Pilate
Caleb Combs | Gathering Pastor

The Bible is full of people who changed the world. Some have made a difference in positive ways, some negative. Some did it in obvious ways, others not so obvious. Then there are the guys who kind of fall in the middle of all of those categories. Pontius Pilate was one of those guys. Pilate was governor of the Roman province of Judea. The Romans ruled many territories and placed their chosen leadership in conquered or ruled lands, and Pilate was their guy during Jesus’ ministry. He was very important in Judea, but how was he a world changer?

There is value in looking a little deeper into his life. Caiaphas, the High Priest, along with many others who hated Jesus and wanted to see Him killed, took their case to Pilate, knowing that he had the final say in the matter. But Pilate was not so sure. The Bible tells us in John 18 (and in all of the other Gospels) that Pilate lobbied for the release of Jesus because he did not see any fault in Him. The crowd roared in rage at these statements, because they wanted blood. He had a choice to make- should he defy the crowd and release an innocent man, or order His crucifixion?

Pilate was in the decision-making chair, and he held the precious life of Jesus Christ in his hands. Or so he thought.  In John 19:10-11a we see Pilate asking Jesus, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?’ Jesus answered him, ‘You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.” Jesus makes a ground breaking statement to a Roman ruler here, telling him that he had no authority over Him. We can go back and forth over the story of whether or not Pilate should have released Jesus (I would encourage you to read John chapters 18 and 19), but we always should come to the same conclusion. Pilate was put in place to be used by God to save our sins. You see, Pilate did not sentence Jesus to death, Jesus willingly laid His life down. John 10:17-18 (NIV) shows us the words of Jesus, “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” Jesus is clear that He has the authority and He loves you and me so much that He laid down His life for us. Pilate did not take it, and neither did the Romans soldiers who put the spikes through His hands or the Jews who demanded they do so. Jesus came to this earth on a mission and Pilate was put in place to help complete the mission of God. Now he may have thought he had the authority, but ultimately Jesus gives and takes authority.

I am not sure what is happening in your life today, but the word I want you to think about it trust. Trust in God’s plan. It may not be what you think it should be, but trust me when I tell you that God’s plan is perfect. Every detail is thought out and has been ordained before the foundations of the world. There are no surprises to God. Pilate was put in place to change the world, and some may have thought he missed his opportunity. However, I am here today to tell you he changed my world by playing a part in the shedding of the blood that paid for my sin and I am forever thankful for the blood that was shed for me.

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