Devotions

Author Archives: Holly Wells

Hannah

Lesson Six | Devotion #6: Hannah
Holly Wells | Assistant to Lead Pastor Jim Combs

“She continued praying before the Lord…” (1 Samuel 1:12)

I love that the Bible is written about people like you and me who are facing all sorts of life challenges and circumstances. Within the pages of Scripture, we can identify with many who are working out their faith with fear and trembling (or sometimes we see a lack of it). We learn about those who have failed through sin, we identify our sin, and we learn how we can receive the forgiveness and redemption offered through Jesus Christ (John 3:16-17; Romans 3:10, 23; 10:9-10; 1 John 1:9; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 8:1). We are encouraged to press on to a higher calling and to lay aside any sin that ensnares us so that we may run our race with endurance as we look unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith (Philippians 2:12; 3:14; Hebrews 12:1-2). Throughout the pages of the Bible, we read of endless accounts proving, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV). The bottom line is the Bible is as relevant and relatable today as it was during the dates of its writing. How awesome is God to give us such a timeless gift?

As I dug into the story of Hannah which is found in 1 Samuel chapters 1 and 2, many parallels from this Old Testament story are very evident to present day. Although Hannah did not belong to the genealogical line of Jesus, her prayer to dedicate her son, Samuel, to the Lord was a prophetic song to the Messiah. She lived during a time of great spiritual darkness, yet she stood out as a ray of light through her faith and perseverance as she cherished the messianic hope and held the great expectation of His promise to come. Today, we live in a time that is spiritually cold and where society pushes compromise and tolerance of all things, but true followers of Jesus Christ will hold to biblical truths and principles with great anticipation for His promise to return (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). Jesus Christ has always been the One to offer life-saving faith whether during the days of the Old Testament all the way through the present day, and for Hannah she sought Him with an unwavering faith-filled heart.

Hannah’s life demonstrates a deep faith for her coming Savior but also great spiritual commitment, prayerfulness, patience, submission, and motherly love. Through her prayer life, we see her passion and fervency for heavenly things, not earthly things. Her desire to have a son was not for the purpose of self-gratification but rather to give her life to him so that she may give him back to the Lord. Therefore, it was to the Lord that she pleaded. Even through her disappointment and heartache, she remained faithful to Him. In fact, through her frustrations Hannah drew closer to Lord, persisting in prayer, rather than turning away from Him. Hannah had a steadfast faith; she stayed with Him through a broken heart and tear-filled prayers. She allowed her trials to make her a woman of prayer and exemplified what it meant to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Finally, as Hannah brought her petition for a son to the Lord, she was content to leave it with Him. Hannah trusted God to sustain her; she laid her troubles before the Lord with full confidence and assurance He would answer her according to what was best for her.

As we look at the life of Hannah and the virtues she modeled – her fervent faith, her persistent prayer, her unwavering trust, and the cherished hope of her coming Savior – we can be exhorted and encouraged by her example as a Christ follower despite conditions, life, or the world around us may bring. Each of us will experience desires that may not be fulfilled and circumstances that will cause pain. However, the life of Hannah is a true testament that God knows our story from beginning to end, He has a purpose through it all, and trust in the Lord will never be misplaced.

Believe | Who?

Believe | Devotion #1: Who?
Holly Wells | Assistant to Pastor Jim Combs

Do you have to “see it to believe it?” Are you so much of a skeptic that unless you witness something first-hand, there is no way you will accept it or maybe you trust quickly and believe a little too easily? Whether it is the best or the worse infomercials – you might remember the Ginsu Steak Knives, the Snuggie, spray-on hair (really?), the list goes on – somehow, we become captivated by these ideas in theory. With theories in mind, there are top conspiracy theories like JFK’s assassination, Elvis still lives, claims that the world is flat, the government controls the weather, the Beatles never existed, and my favorite, “Siri Can Predict the Apocalypse!” Wow, so Siri now trumps the Bible? (Hint: The answer is found in Matthew 24:36). All silliness aside, we need to consider the source when discerning truth from “junk.” What is your source of determining truth? Is it trusted friends and family, social media, a pastor, the news, and even the Bible? What if all these sources at various times reported a very specific account, something that was going to happen and then later, you found out it happened? The catch is, you were not there to experience it first-hand, so would you believe it?

Shortly after we read about Jesus’ resurrection, we learn about His appearance to one of His disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin) in John 20:24-29. To recount the story, this was not Jesus’ first appearance after His resurrection. In fact, Mary Magdalene, the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, Peter, and the Eleven on the first evening all saw and interacted with Jesus before Thomas (Matthew 28:1-10, Luke 24:13-34, John 20:19-25). However, Thomas would not believe their testimonies. He wanted a personal experience to “see it to believe it.” He wanted to touch Jesus’ wounds. He wanted to “place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into His side, I will never believe” (John 20:25b). Thomas was one of the twelve disciples, so why was it that he would not believe even them? What about the time he spent earlier with Jesus’ as He taught the disciples Old Testament Scriptures that foretold of His life, death, burial, and resurrection?

It was eight days later when Jesus appeared again to the disciples, including Thomas. I wonder how miserable that week of declared unbelief and determined constraints was for him? Jesus demonstrated His care and concern for Thomas and desired to strengthen his faith. After Jesus greeted them, He dealt with Thomas personally. Jesus heard Thomas’ conditions to the disciples earlier; no one had to tell Him. He told him to put his fingers in His wounds, to look at His hands, and to put his hand into His side. Though we may call him “Doubting Thomas,” Jesus did not rebuke him for his doubts but rather his unbelief (John 20:26-27). When Thomas saw Jesus, he no longer needed to touch his Lord’s wounds to believe, seeing Him was enough. Jesus met Thomas where he was and desires to come alongside of us equally. We can be assured we will go through seasons of doubt and struggle, but let us persistently press into our relationship with the Lord through His Word and prayer, by allowing sound teaching and mature believers to encourage us so that through these trials, it will be our faith and endurance that will grow.

Warren Wiersbe wisely observed that interestingly (and sadly), it was not doubt that held Thomas back from believing but rather unbelief itself. Simply defined, “Doubt is often an intellectual problem: We want to believe, but the faith is overwhelmed by problems and questions. Unbelief is a moral problem; we simply will not believe. Unbelief says, ‘I will not believe unless you give me the evidence I ask for!'” Unbelief is a reflection of a hardened heart, not of a searching mind. Finally, though we may wonder who Thomas’ twin was, more importantly, it is to allow the Word to be a mirror into our hearts, allowing it to search us for similar refusals to believe and demands for God to prove Himself to us. May we be honest enough to ask ourselves, “Am I the twin?”

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1, KJV



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