Devotions

Author Archives: Carole Combs

Expect His Presence

Immanuel | Devotion #2: Expect His Presence
Carole Combs | Wife of Lead Pastor Jim Combs

I am guessing that you must not be like me; everything that you plan and work towards happens just as you have planned. You never have any unexpected happenings, right? What an absurd thought! All of us often, if not daily, get curve balls thrown at us on a regular basis. How are you doing with those unexpected happenings? What has been your thoughts or responses? If unexpected things happen each day to all of us, should our responses to the unexpected be different as a follower of Christ than those who do not know Christ? 

It was a wonderful day. Mary was engaged to be married to the most wonderful man named Joseph. He was a very handsome and talented carpenter. Mary was anticipating their special day together that she had dreamt of since she was a little girl. Her wedding dress had been sewn together with love. The detailed plans of the wedding were falling into place. Then the unexpected happened. While Mary was doing her daily chores, an angel named Gabriel appeared to Mary. As he spoke to her, he said, “Greetings O favored one, the Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28). We see the human response of Mary (1:29) which is helpful to you and I. Mary was troubled. How often do you have an angel appear to you and engage you in a conversation? The angel told Mary not to be afraid (1:30). 

Often our first response to the unexpected can be fear. Fear can blind you and paralyze you from seeing and hearing what God has for you in the unexpected. 

Luke 1:31-33 continues the story, “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

For Mary, it was decision time to trust God in the unexpected or not trust Him. Mary responds to the shocking, unexpected news with, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). Not too far away, Joseph, the groom, experienced the unexpected. Joseph was sleeping after a very long day of work. It had been quite an emotional day as he pondered how he would send his beloved pregnant Mary away privately. The child was not his. How could this have happened? An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream, “Do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us)” (Matthew 1:20-23). Joseph woke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him to do. The unexpected events that changed Joseph and Mary’s day were God’s plans and purposes for their lives. God carefully handpicked this young couple. It was a series of unexpected events; however, they were events that had been prophesied 700 years earlier. This was the King that they both had learned about and were expecting. This was the King that was to come to earth to save the people. It went from the most unexpected day to the expected best day ever! God desires to be with you, and He has a purpose designed just for you. He sent his Son Jesus to be the perfect sacrifice for the sins of you, me, and the whole world. He came in the most unexpected way, but He was expected! What better gift could you expect at Christmas? We have His love! If you miss love, you have missed everything!

Gomer

Lesson Ten | Devotion #3: Gomer
Carole Combs | Wife of Lead Pastor Jim Combs

I Choose you!

Red Rover, Red Rover, send Gomer right over! I would have to say that the game Red Rover was my least favorite childhood game to play. If you were called out by name by the opposing team, you had to run full speed and break through the arms that had formed human chains. If you did not break through, your enemy would keep you on their side.

Gomer was a woman who was chosen by God to be on His team. She became the wife of Hosea. Many scholars have differing opinions about the book of Hosea. Some suggest that the entire book of Hosea is allegorical and others suggest it is written literally. Whatever opinion you choose to take, one underlying theme I would like to highlight is that Gomer was chosen. God picked her on purpose and with a purpose. You might be thinking, “Gomer must have been an extremely godly and holy woman for God to have chosen her.” On the contrary, Hosea 3:1 describes her as an adulteress. Satan, our enemy, has a weapon against you. He speaks to your mind and convinces you that you are not good enough, you do not know enough, and your past negates you from serving or being with God. These are all lies from your enemy. We do not have any righteousness, but if you and I have trusted Christ as our Savior, we are clothed in His righteous robes.

I learn something new every day. With that said, I am never going to know enough about everything. God only wants you and me to trust Him and follow where He leads. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. I want the wisdom of God, what about you? Gomer had a past. This did not stop God from choosing her to become Hosea’s wife. God loved her, and so did Hosea. Together, Gomer and Hosea had two sons and one daughter. This story could have had a happy ending. They could have lived happily ever after in their little house with their little family and their little dog. God chose Gomer, but also God gives you, me, and Gomer as well, a free will. Gomer chose not to follow God. She was not faithful to God and her family. Gomer chose to return to her sinful lifestyle. It was the sinful lifestyle that God had rescued her from and given her the victory to break through its clutching arms.

Many of you can relate to Gomer’s story. God has chosen you and called you out of your painful and broken sinful lifestyle. He has called you to His plan and purposes. Turn a deaf ear to your enemy calling you to return to destruction. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). You do not have to return to the old. Sadly, Gomer returned to her old ways. Hosea (a wonderful picture of the love and grace of God) went to the pits to rescue Gomer. She had sunk so low into sin that Hosea had to pay the price to get his wife back. God is calling you to return home. You have not sunk so low that God cannot rescue you. Maybe you have never trusted Christ as your Savior. God sent His Son Jesus to pay the price for your sin and mine. God is calling you to accept His Son Jesus as your Savior. God is calling you to live in His fulfilling purposes and plans He has for your life. It is a life that is abundant and satisfying! God chooses you!

Rahab the Harlot

Lesson Three | Devotion #6: Rahab the Harlot
Carole Combs | Wife of Lead Pastor Jim Combs

Grace Erases

Have there ever been decisions and or actions that you have made that you wish you could just erase? There are products on the market to virtually get every stain imaginable out of fabrics, carpets, and anywhere else there seems to be a spot that does not belong. What if I told you there is someone who could erase all the stains that have tarnished your life?

Rahab experienced personally the stains of life erased by the grace of God. Rahab was a woman who lived in Jericho. Her home was built into the wall of the walled city. Every one of the city knew the location of Rahab’s house. Even those who traveled to Jericho for business knew where Rahab lived. Rahab was a prostitute. However, her life changed the day when she had two male visitors that did not come seeking for what she had to offer. God had promised the children of Israel the land beyond the Jordan. Jericho would be one of those cities within that region that God had promised to His people. God had instructed them to conquer and destroy all of its inhabitants. Joshua, the leader, had sent the two spies to Jericho that day.

In our day and age, we have the capabilities to have news travel in moments across the globe. It may not have been moments, but the news of the Israelites coming to conquer the lands beyond the Jordan was front page news. There was a fear in the people of the lands. They had heard how this God of the Israelites had stopped the waters for the people to cross on dry ground. They heard how this God had provided food for them on their travels. They heard how He protected and drove their enemies away and to destruction. They heard that this God promised the very homes in which they were living. Rahab was no stranger to this news. She had heard it for years from the traveling businessmen about this God of the Israelites. The people of Jericho were living in fear of what they had heard. Now Rahab was faced with a decision as to what to do with these Israelites who had lodged at her bed and breakfast. The King of Jericho heard that these men had stayed at Rahab’s place and commanded that these men be brought to him.

Rahab chose to put her life on the line for the God of theses Israelites. She hid the men on her roof under stalks of flax. She told their pursuers that they had already fled the city. Rahab believed the stories she had heard about the God of the Israelites. She believed that this Almighty God who took care of His people could take care of her as well. She declared that the Lord their God, He was the God in the Heavens above and the God on the Earth. Rahab feared the King of the Universe more than the king of Jericho. As soon as the spies’ pursuers were a distance from Jericho, the spies climbed out a window from Rahab’s home by a red cord. The spies promised Rahab that when they saw the red cord in her window, her life and all her family that came within the walls of her home would be saved from destruction. They were thankful for her courage and sacrifice to them.

Rahab’s faith in the Jehovah God saved her and her family. When the people of the city saw no beauty in Rahab, God saw her beauty. When the people of the city saw only a harlot, God saw a heroine. Only men came to her home to use and to abuse, but God came to her home that day with mercy and grace. Rahab had an opportunity to choose the lifestyle she was living or choosing to trust in the Jehovah God that she had only heard stories about what He did. She found out that day that they were not just stories, but God was real! Grace erased her past. Grace can erase your past as well. Make the choice and accept the hand that holds the biggest eraser in the world. That eraser is called GRACE!

Long Way from Land

Storm Warning • Devotion #6: Long Way from Land
Carole Combs | Wife of Lead Pastor Jim Combs

My dad was listening to the transistor radio (if you do not know what this is, ask your parents or grandparents) because the weather began to look rough outside. All of a sudden he told all of our family that we were going into the basement to take shelter from the storm. As a little girl, I was not sure that it was much safer in our spider-ridden dirt Michigan basement. My dad knew this was a safer place. Sometimes the Lord takes us places we do not want to go to keep us safe from the real storms of life.

In Matthew 14:24, it says that the boat by this time was a long way from the land beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. You may be feeling right now that your boat is sinking. It is being beaten by the waves of this world, and you feel like the only thing you are doing is bailing water. The verse goes on to say that the wind was against them. You may also feel that everyone around you is against you. The disciples in the boat thought that life was over for them that night. Here is the best part of this account.

Jesus said, “Take heart, it is I. Do not be afraid.” Jesus knew they were in the storm, and he was with them. The same is true today. The Lord knows the storms you are in. He is with you. “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will NOT leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Sometimes we cannot prevent the storms that we go through. Often there are warning signs. My dad heeded the warning that day to protect his family. Lighthouses were placed strategically to prevent the ships from crashing against the rocks. Dash lights in our vehicles are meant to warn us of a vehicle problem (or annoy us, for those who ignore them. I am not naming any names). On a daily basis, there are many warnings to keep us safe.

How do I stop my soul from crashing against the rocks? How do I know if this is what I am supposed to do or where I am supposed to go? How can I feel safe from the storms of life? The Word of God not only will warn you of danger, but it will also teach you, lead you, and comfort you. “For the word of God is living and active…” (Hebrews 4:12).

Even if you are a long way from land (God), He is waiting for you.

October 12th

I have been there so many times before, sitting in the same place listening to the sermon the Pastor was preaching. Something was different that day. The words that the preacher spoke were piercing deep inside my soul. I was convicted of the sin that was in my life. I realized it was my sin that separated me from a relationship with God.

At the end of his sermon the preacher invited all those that would like to accept Jesus as their Savior to come to the front of the church at the altar and someone would be there to help me receive Christ into my life.

It was the day that changed my life forever, a day that changed my life for all eternity when I was twelve years old.

I remember a few days later the Pastor of our church came to our home to talk to my parents and me about baptism. He explained that baptism was an act of obedience for a new believer. I was baptized the next Sunday. It was through baptism I showed the whole congregation what had happened in my life. It was the death of Jesus, the burial of Jesus, and the risen Jesus that conquered death, hell, and the grave that saved my soul!

I am thankful for my Mom who took my sisters and I to church even before we could walk. She knew what Christ had done in her life, and it was vital to her that her family knew Him also. My Mom went through a lot just to keep us in church. Having a Dad that did not go to church with us was very difficult for her as she led the family spiritually. I remember many Sundays as a teenager rolling over and covering my head when my Mom came into my room to get my sister and me up for church. I knew my Dad was not going; I questioned why I should have to go. My Mom was relentless. Needless to say, I think I ended up with perfect attendance at church. Moms? Dads? Are your children’s souls important enough to you?

When I was fourteen, after listening to many missionaries at my church, I made a commitment to the Lord that my life was His to be in full-time service for Him. I thought I would go to India or Mexico as a missionary. Little did I know that I would be a Pastor’s wife for the last 36 years.

I remember the day I accepted Christ so clearly as if it was not forty-four years ago. I remember where I was sitting when the conviction overwhelmed my soul and the walk toward the altar that seemed forever. I am glad I moved when Christ called. Have you been ignoring his call? Is pride keeping you in your seat? Step out and trust Jesus!

 

Carole Combs
Women’s Ministry



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