Devotions

Author Archives: Carole Combs

Stand on it…or not

Stand On It | Devotion #2: Stand on it…or not
Carole Combs | Women’s Ministry

There once was a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rains fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house (and they will), but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. There once was a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. Why? It is because it did not hear or do the words of the Lord (Matthew 7:24-27). As Jesus spoke these words to his hearers along the shores of the Galilean Sea, it was an obvious picture to His listeners. Of course, why would anyone build a house on the sand? The sand will only erode when the winds and the rains come. But Jesus wanted the people to look much deeper into their souls. He wanted them, as well as you and I, to see where or upon what we are building our houses (our lives). 

Yes, this world will be stormy and will make us feel like we have just been physically beaten up at times. However, where you and I have built our foundation is vital for our house to keep standing during these storms of life. Jesus told the listeners that it was a wise person who built upon they rock. That rock is Jesus. Everything that appears like a rock is false. This world we live in has many temporal and shaky foundations. They may appear to be stable, when in fact, they are just a pile of sand. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings (Hebrews 13:8-9). It is completely foolish (I am not calling you this, God’s Word is using this description) to trust in or build upon anything but the rock, Christ Jesus. 

The woman at the well had tried so many avenues in her life to try and find stability. She even tried people hoping they were the answer to her incompleteness and instability. I had a woman tell me that her husband was her rock. Her statement scared me for her. People are mortal and sinful. If you or anyone are trusting in a person to be their stability or rock, they will be disappointed and will keep looking because they will fail you. Hebrews 13:5-6 says, “‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So you can confidently say, The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” The woman at the well had an encounter that day with the true rock. She realized that everything in her life that she built upon continually crashed around her. It was not the people in her life; it was not the things she wore or the home decor. This is a big one for many; it was not even her children or grandchildren. She realized that everything in her life was temporary and she was standing before the eternal rock, Christ Jesus! 

On what are you personally building your foundation? Are you like the woman at the well that has tried basically everything in this world to be satisfied and complete? Have you ever had a personal encounter with Jesus? It does not have to be at a well. It can be right where you are right now. Religion has told people that they have to “clean up” before they can come to God, which is not true. He waited for the woman to come to the well. He knew she was coming. He is waiting for you. She left the well with a firm foundation. She no longer was on a path of sinking sand because she was standing on the rock, Jesus. Many Samaritans from that town believed in Him (Jesus) because of the woman’s testimony (John 4: 36).

She may have had many skeletons in her closet. What did she do with those? What are you supposed to do with them? I am pretty sure skeletons are dead! The moment you trusted Christ as your Savior, your past and present sins are forgiven. Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” It is only your enemy, Satan, who likes to throw the dead things back into our face. The woman at the well, you, and I must stand on the promises of God. I could not help but think of this song (“Standing on the Promises of God”). I know it was written in the twentieth century, but I can just visualize the woman at the well breaking into song after her encounter with Jesus. 

I stand amazed in the presence
Of Jesus the Nazarene,
And wonder how He could love me,
 A sinner condemned, unclean.
How marvelous! How wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous! How wonderful!
Is my Savior’s love for me!

These words of this song should resonate in the hearts of every believer. He loved her, and He loves you! You are forgiven. You are chosen. You are a child of God. The past has no hold or control over you. The woman at the well moved forward with her life on a solid foundation, and you can move forward as well. So, the next time you hear those skeleton bones rattling in your heart and mind, stand on the promises of God and throw a dog a bone!

Community

Gather | Devotion #4: Community
Carole Combs | Women’s Ministry

People gather together for all sorts of reasons. It may be for a quilting meeting or even a substance abuse meeting. People gather for a Boy Scout meeting, Girl Scout meeting, to scouting out their ancestry. Students meet on the university campuses for group studies, sorority meetings, and fraternity meetings. People meeting at a designated location to worship God is another reason people gather together. This is surely a very short list of examples of people of all ages, male and female, that gather together. 

Why did they gather together? They had become a community. A group of people that care about each other and feel they belong together should meet. They share common attitudes, interests, and goals. One of the fundamental human needs is to feel like you belong. People do not want to be lonely. Do not get that confused with being alone. Sometimes in the chaos of my very large family, I would like to have some quiet time alone, not too much though. Being lonely is a very sad feeling. You can be in a room full of people and still have the feeling of loneliness. This is why having a community is very vital for the well-being of a person. 

A real community brings a sense of home, family. A good community gives you a sense of belonging and acceptance of who you are. A community gathers together, or if you may, you are not a community if you do not gather together. When a community gathers together, you begin to trust one another. A funny thing happens, complete strangers can become closer to you than your biological family. I have personally experienced this aspect in my church community. I love to travel. When I travel, I love to visit Bible teaching churches. When I walk into a building of a community of followers of Christ, it is as if I already know these people. We are family here and for all eternity! God is our Father, and we are His children. We are a community of Christ followers! We share the same identity. Our identity is in Christ. Have you experienced this? Are you gathering regularly with a group of believers? If not, why?

Think of all the other communities you have joined. It could be work, sports, gym, crafts, moms, books, and music. How much time and energy do you personally put into them? How much of your resources do you use for it? God made each of us with a need to belong, to connect with other humans. It was His desire for us to connect with Him and His family. Crazy; however, we are no different than those recorded in the Bible. Mankind, you and I, have connected and gathered together for anything and everything except God and the things of God. There is so much in this world vying for our attention. We can gather for this meeting and that event, but heavens no, we do not have time to gather with those “churchy” people. The church has failed in so many ways. Our internal purpose as a community of believers is to love, care, build one another up, and encourage (Hebrews 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Ephesians 4: 12,29). I know these actions are not always present. If the internal purpose has been failing, the external purpose is suffering as well. 

We as believers are told to go into all the world and preach the Gospel (Matthew 28: 16-20). We are to love and care for those outside of the community of believers. We are called to be an army for the Lord. Great things are done when a force goes out! Do not use the failings of the church, a friend, a family member, or even a stranger, keep you from gathering together with a community of believers. Do not use business, laziness, tiredness, or anything as an excuse. You belong gathered together. Become part of the community of believers that God has meant for your life and your families life. They need you, but you need them!

Names

Joseph in Prison • Devotion #6: Names
Carole Combs | Women’s Ministry

Names – We all have them. Some are given to us by our parents, and some are given to us by our friends. Many parents have toiled over hundreds of names to choose that perfect name for their child. They want the name with the perfect meaning that fits their child. Often times they want to include a family name as well. I was born on Christmas Day. My mother told me that her choice of names for me was Holly, Joy, and Carol. I became my parents Christmas Carole (Mom added an “e” just to be different). The Urban dictionary defines my name as “song of happiness.” 

Names have been important since the time of the creation of the world. In Genesis 1:20, we see that Adam is naming the animals and birds. God knew it was a good thing not to call everything an “it.” Recorded in the book of Genesis there was a son born to a husband and wife named Jacob and Rachel. They named him Joseph (Genesis 30:22-23). The Bible tells us that Joseph was Jacob’s favorite son. However, this brought Joseph many problems amongst his older siblings (Take the time to read Genesis chapter 37). Joseph ended up in Egypt. He was away from his family and sold into slavery by his brothers. God blessed Joseph and the Egyptian household that he was overseeing (Genesis chapter 39). The events in Joseph’s life turned quickly upside down as if his life had not already been like a roller coaster. Joseph ended up in prison (Genesis chapters 39-40). Two years later, Joseph was still in prison, but God was still protecting and using Joseph no matter what his outward circumstances were. The Pharaoh of Egypt had a disturbing dream that could not be interpreted by his subjects. However, the King’s cupbearer remembered a cellmate that he once shared a cell with named Joseph. Joseph had interpreted a dream for him. The Pharaoh was willing to give Joseph a shot at the interpretation of the dream. Joseph emphatically told the Pharaoh that his ability to interpret dreams was not in his own abilities, but it was God who worked through him. Joseph not only interpreted the dream but gave a detailed plan on what to do and how to live with the unfolding plan of the dream that was about to become a reality. The Pharaoh was very pleased with what he heard. He rhetorically asked those around him where he could find such a man to undergo the large task of preparing for the reality of the dream. The Pharaoh looked at Joseph and told him he was the man! Joseph would be over Pharaoh’s house and all Pharaoh’s people. The will of the people would be at Joseph’s command. The coronation began. The Pharaoh took his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand. He clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. He rode in the second chariot while servants cried out, “Bow the knee.” Joseph became the grand vizier or prime minister to govern all the people of Egypt. He was second only to Pharaoh himself. 

A document from the Tomb of Rekhmire in the Late Bronze Age says that the vizier is the “grand steward of all Egypt. All activities of the state are under his control.” The Egyptian Empire at one time stretched from modern-day Syria in the north to modern-day Sudan in the south and from the region of Jordan in the east to Libya in the west. Pharaoh wanted to integrate this Hebrew into the Egyptian society. As part of the coronation, Pharaoh would change Joseph’s Hebrew name to an Egyptian name. He gave him a wife from the upper echelon of women, too. Title and prestige went along with Joseph’s job promotion. Not much has changed in society several centuries later.  

Joseph’s new name was Zaphenath-paneah (Genesis 41:45). The meaning of his name has been problematic for translators and biblical historians. Many have attempted to decipher this Egyptian name. A significant Egyptian name with great meaning would be very important to precede the grand vizier. All who would hear it would know its meaning and its importance. The name Zaphenath-paneah is divided into two parts. It would be like our first name and our middle name. Egyptologists generally accept that the second name, paneah, means “life” or to provide life. Jerome, a theologian and historian (420 AD) believed the second name means “preserver of the world.” As we look at the entire name, it becomes more exciting. Egypt was about to experience seven years of abundance and seven years of famine. Joseph was to oversee and manage these very important fourteen years of history in Egypt. It was a matter of life and death. The Pharaoh did not worship the God of the Hebrew Joseph, but he surely recognized that there was a divine presence with him (Genesis 41:38). He named him Zaphenath, meaning “The one appointed by the God.” People may not know your God, but they should see something different about you, too. Joseph or Zaphenath-paneah, the one appointed by the God to provide life, saved the Egyptians as well as the Hebrew people from death (It is a wonderful story to read in detail in Genesis chapters 37-50). 

The book of Genesis was written by Moses over a thousand years before Christ. Moses recorded an amazing prefigure of the life of Jesus in the story of Joseph. Jesus was the one appointed by God to provide life. Joseph foreshadowed the life of Jesus Christ. We all can live life in abundance, but there will come a day that we will come up short. We cannot in our own ability sustain or maintain our own lives. 

Mankind was helpless, but God sent His one and only Son, His favorite, to provide you and me life. There must be a time in your life when you accept and trust in God’s Son for your life here and for all eternity. It will never be in your own merit or your own abundance. “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11). 

This Christmas Carole trusted in the name of Jesus at twelve years of age. When did you trust in the name of Jesus? If never, why not today?

Unity 

Tower of Babel • Devotion #1: Unity
Carole Combs | Women’s Ministry

Disunity with God will never produce unity with man.

The word unity is a warm fuzzy word to me. When I think of unity, I picture a perfect tranquil utopia where everyone is living in perfect harmony and where there are no disagreements or conflicts. Nowhere in this world will you find this kind of unity. However, you can have unity with God in this life, and He has also prepared this perfect place for you to live for eternity with Him and with all those who have trusted His Son as their Savior. If there is disunity in this world, how then can you and I have unity with God and man in this world? 

I believe it first begins with our unity with God. The people of Shinar (Genesis 11:1-9) seemed to be in perfect unity. They settled together, they had a plan together, they made bricks and mortar together, and they even built together. There was one problem; they did this all together without including God! They did not inquire or include the God that made them and all things into the construction of their lives or in the construction of their plans. God allowed them to continue for a time in their futility. Imagine God watching the whole process of their tower building. Imagine God watching you in the process of what you are doing in your life. God was watching them, as well as God is watching you. God is watching you and I as we make our plans, and as we build our lives. He wants to see if we include Him. Are you leaving God out of your plans? Do you find that there is disunity in your relationships? 

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths.” God is a holy and just God. He would not allow the people in Shinar to continue in their complete disregard of Him, nor will He allow us. We see nowhere in these verses that they inquired of God nor that He directed their paths. The decisions they made were on their own and without God. They thought they were in unity during this process, but sadly they were in disunity. God was not leading or guiding, only the “I, we, and us” were in charge. God allowed the language of the people to become completely different from one another. A father could not understand a son. A mother could not understand a daughter. God needs and wants to be placed in everything you do. Disunity with God will never produce unity with man. Fathers will be in disunity with sons, mothers will be in disunity with daughters, and husbands and wives will be in disunity. Neighbors will be in disunity with one another. The Church will be in disunity.  The whole world will continue to be in disunity when God is not placed in the center. Go where God wants you to go. Make God’s plans your plans. Build your life around His tower. “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.” Proverbs 18:10

Paid in Full

Confession • Devotion #4: Paid in Full
Carole Combs | Wife of Lead Pastor Jim Combs

“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Matthew 6:12

I do not like any debts at all. I do not like to borrow anything or even owe one dollar to anyone. If the Lord shared with His disciples that there was a debt and they needed to pray about this, we must sit up and learn what that debt is.

Do I have this same debt? Do you? The debt is our sin, yours, mine, and the whole world, too. There is nothing we can do to pay off our debt of sin toward God. But God sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty of our debt.

There is a heart attitude that Jesus is teaching here as well. It is a heart of humility. You and I have a debt that needs to be settled. We cannot give enough money or do enough good deeds to nullify the debt. We must humbly approach an Almighty God and ask and receive the forgiveness of sins He so graciously lavishes upon those who have repented. It is like God was going through the grocery store of life. He saw you and picked you up off the shelf and placed you in His shopping cart. He went to the checkout and placed you on the conveyor belt. When the cashier scanned you, buzzers sounded and lights flashed. The cashier’s screen read, “Do not scan, already purchased.” God said, “I know. This is my child.” Are they already covered? Yes.

The debt of your sin has been paid in full by Jesus if you have put your faith and trust in God’s Son as your Lord and Redeemer! Jesus continues with His instruction to the disciples. They were to pray for forgiveness and forgive those who had wronged them. It involves forgiving those, if you may, that are in debt to them. We then are to forgive maybe someone in a broken relationship. It may be someone who has hurt you in your childhood. Is it someone who has committed crimes against you? Whatever debts they may be, people hurt people. Do you realize that if we can somewhat fathom what Jesus did for you and I on the cross, forgiveness would come much easier?

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” Colossians 3:12,13.

Because we have been forgiven, we must forgive. I had a wonderful woman ask me to pray for her struggling heart. She went on to give me the details of her struggle. The next day she would be at the trial of the man who had killed her sister. She told me that she knew that she had been forgiven by God and that her debt had been paid in full. She wanted to forgive this man who had stolen her sister’s life. I wish we all could be like this woman who had the realization of God’s forgiveness in her life and she wanted forgiveness to transcend to those that had a debt against her. Jesus is our best example of forgiveness as He hung innocently on the cross for you and I. Jesus even said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). I still do not like to be in any debt, but I am thankful beyond words that I am not in debt to God! My debt has been paid in full! Are you in debt to God?



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