Devotions

Author Archives: Josh Combs

Adam’s Curse and Position 

Adam & Eve • Devotion #6: Adam’s Curse and Position
Joshua Combs | Lead Pastor

“And to Adam he said, ‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.’” Genesis 3:17-19

There is an old saying attributed to several different authors and statesmen, that the only two certainties in the world are death and taxes. I suppose we could modify this saying ever so slightly to reflect what God says in Genesis chapter 3. The curse that is spoken over Adam, summarized, is simply, “Adam, work is going to be hard and then you die.” Adam was given the joyful task of maintaining the Garden of Eden and was never going to die, but sin and Adam’s rebellion ruined all of that. The work that had once been so wonderful became extremely burdensome. Food that had been so readily available to provide for his family’s needs would now come at an extremely high cost. Only through tireless sweat, that would simultaneously zap the life from him, would Adam be able to eat and provide for his family. Sin had undoubtedly changed everything, including work.

But Jesus came to redeem us from the curse. He died on the cross and rose from the grave to restore what was broken in Eden. This amazing redeeming work rescues more than just our souls from the powerful grip of sin but redeems work. The Scripture is filled with important passages concerning work that point us to its greater meaning, purpose, and mission.

Paul writes in Colossians 3:22-24, “Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.”

Just as Adam in the garden was “hired” by the Lord and “paid” by the Lord (the room and board were pretty great), in Christ, we are the same. Yes, we will have human supervisors, but they are not who we ultimately answer to or pay us. The Bible is very clear, as followers of Jesus, we are to work diligently not to impress our direct supervisor, but because we know the Lord gave us our job. Not only did the Lord bless us with our job, but it is the Lord who rewards us (Colossians 2:24).

Without a doubt, we live in a fallen world that was dramatically changed that day in Eden. But Jesus the Redeemer has come to buy back what was stolen through sin. The Lord’s redemptive work includes redeeming us and even our work.

Bonus Scripture: 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12; Ecclesiastes 9:10; 1 Peter 2:18-25

Matthew 25:46

Hell and Heaven • Devotion #6: Matthew 25:46
Joshua Combs| Lead Pastor

“And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:46

One of my favorite lines of poetry is from a Robert Frost poem entitled, “The Road Not Taken.” At the end of this beautifully written word picture, he writes:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

For whatever Frost’s convictions were, this illustration of two clear, distinct paths was a consistent and clear theme in the teaching of Jesus. Nearly 2,000 years before Frost, Jesus, preaching on a Galilean hillside said, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14).

Two clear, unmistakably clear paths are laid before each person. The signs that label these two paths can be different: Christ or Satan, belief or unbelief, saved or unsaved, repentant or unrepentant, and the like. One road is wide and well-traveled, while the other is narrow and difficult. 

One day my wife, so brilliantly, described the road to me as a single lane path on the edge of a cliff, where we are often forced to walk sideways with our backs pressed against the cliff-side because the path has become so narrow. But like every road, these gates and paths of which Jesus spoke, have two very different destinations. The narrow gate and road lead to life, and the wide gate and road lead to destruction. One road leads to Heaven and the other Hell. Heaven is described as eternal life and joy in the presence of God. Hell is described as eternal suffering and sorrow away from the presence of God.

Every person has passed through one of these gates and is currently on one of these two roads. Which have you chosen? Have you passed through the gate of repentance and belief in Jesus Christ? If the answer is no, then quickly take the next exit, repent of your sin, believe in Jesus, and start walking the path of righteousness that leads to eternal life. 

Matthew 25:13

The Return of Christ | Devotion #6: Matthew 25:13
Joshua Combs | Lead Pastor 

“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” Matthew 25:13

Jesus is coming back. That simple phrase may thrill your heart or go right in one ear and out the other. Hearing that Jesus is returning may be old news to you, or it may incite apocalyptic prepping. Regardless of your specific view on end times, current cultural trends, astrological interpretations, historical patterns, the stock market, or whichever particular way you receive the news of Christ’s imminent return, the fact remains, Jesus is coming back to earth. 

Throughout Jesus’ ministry, He often spoke of His impending death on the cross. The disciples were so taken back by this thought, that Peter even rebuked Jesus for implying such (in Peter’s view) nonsense (Matthew 16:22-23). Jesus also talked at length of His return as Holy Judge.

Many parables taught an incredibly important principle for believers throughout all ages. We must live every day ready and eagerly prepared for the arrival of Jesus Christ. In Matthew chapters 24 and 25, we read a sermon, or more appropriately, a conversation that Jesus had with His disciples on the Mount of Olives. Just to the east of the temple, Jesus sat on a hillside that provides, even to this day, a beautiful, panoramic view of the city of Jerusalem and, more specifically, the temple mount. He began to speak to them about the impending destruction of the temple (70 AD) and His return. Keep in mind that He had yet to die, be buried, or rise from the dead, so this conversation would have been difficult to understand. But Jesus gave the disciples and us two main tasks to be doing while the master is away. Simply put, Jesus tells us to watch and work.

We must be watching for His return (Matthew 25:13). We cannot become so enamored with this world that we are not setting our hope in the kingdom yet to come. We must not just be watching, but working, diligently for the Master. He has entrusted to each of us His treasures that we must daily be using to further the Lord’s interests. Watch and work – that is our call while we wait for the return of the Lord.

Acts 1:3

Jesus Physically Rose Again & Ascension | Devotion #6: Acts 1:3
Joshua Combs | Lead Pastor

“He presented himself alive to them after His suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.” Acts 1:3

As the lives of many historically important military, political, social, and religious leaders come to an end, either by age or in some cases by assassination or other tragedies, society begins to memorialize them, honor them through the building of monuments or museums, or other means of transforming a cultural figure into an icon. Martin Luther King Jr. and both John and Bobby Kennedy were each assassinated at what appeared to be the prime of their lives. Entertainers who have died due to a drug overdose, plane crashes, or car accidents instantly have their last movie or album celebrated as their final work. Military figures who die in battle or win wars have been remembered with statues that can be found all around the world. Even today as I write this, I received the news that Dr. Billy Graham has gone to Heaven at the age of 99. No evangelist or preacher in modern time has had the global impact of Graham. His legacy will live on for decades to come. For many, Jesus of Nazareth falls within this same scope, relegated to simply a brilliant teacher, political figure, and founder of a global religious movement. But one single event sets Jesus apart from everyone else: The Resurrection.

Jesus did not stay dead. He rose again after being dead and buried for three days. This single, historical event creates the lens through which we view every other facet of Jesus’ life and ministry. Years after Jesus’ resurrection, the Apostle Paul writes, “He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:6). Jesus’ resurrection was attested by 500 people who saw Jesus, not at separate, individual times, but at once. Jesus rose again and to demonstrate the validity of this, He gave us “many proofs” (Acts 1:3). After suffering the unspeakable wrath of the cross, dying, and rising again, He would eat with the disciples, talk with friends, travel on the road to Emmaus, teach, allow His wounds to be examined by Thomas, and many more proofs.

The idea of Jesus’ bodily resurrection is a fact attested to by hundreds of witnesses and further proved by the fact that many of them would themselves face death by martyrdom for believing, preaching, and professing this reality. The Scripture is clear, “…in fact Christ has been raised from the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:20).

Ecclesiastes 7:20

Jesus Died for Our Sins | Devotion #6: Ecclesiastes 7:20
Joshua Combs | Lead Pastor

“Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.” Ecclesiastes 7:20

If you have ever shared the Gospel or engaged in a spiritual conversation before, one of the most common discussions will center around how we get to Heaven and who gets to go to Heaven. Several years ago, I was given a counseling referral to meet with a mother and her daughters. The mother was a professing Christian whose daughters were extremely skeptical and, honestly, somewhat hostile towards Christianity. The mother’s goal, unbeknownst to me when we began, was for me, the pastor, to convince the daughters of, not only the validity of Christianity but the very existence of God. It was no small order! What transpired in my office over the next hour, was one of the most disturbing meetings I have ever experienced. Frankly, I have been haunted by it ever since. I began by asking some questions, attempting to grasp the worldview that these young ladies and their mother held. I quickly realized that I was dealing with an extremely humanistic viewpoint. I talked about creation, the historical evidence of the existence and ministry of Jesus, and the validity of the Bible as we know it. Up to this point, the Mom was completely on my side. But I knew at the core, what was needed was a faithful presentation of the Gospel and, Lord willing, the conversion of these students. As I began to turn the conversation from several extremely hot-button cultural issues to the Gospel, I could not have anticipated what would happen. Every faithful presentation of the Gospel begins with a fundamental understanding that we are sinners and in need of a savior. Romans 3:11 says, “None is righteous, no, not one… all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” There are no exceptions. Everyone ever born has sinned against God and needs to be saved from their sin. As I shared Romans 3, not only were these two girls disgusted at the proclamation from Scripture that everyone not only sins, but is innately sinful, but their mother began to adamantly disagree that everyone sins and cannot save themselves. That is where this meeting came to a screeching halt. 

Unless someone realizes their absolute helplessness in the light of sin and that condition encompasses the whole of mankind, there is simply no way to go forward with the Gospel. You cannot get to the Good News until there is an acceptance of the bad news. As that meeting came to an end, my heart broke. Not only were these two young, intelligent girls lost in sin, but their mother did not understand the true Gospel either.

The total sinful depravity of man is a fundamental truth of Christianity. We are, as the Bible says, “dead in the trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). We are not kind of dead. We are not on spiritual life support. We are utterly and hopelessly lost in sin. We are slaves to sin. But Jesus came. He died for our sins. He did not just come and die to be a personal improvement program or establish a superior religious movement. Jesus was the only means of salvation. His atoning work on the cross of Calvary is the only means of salvation and freedom from our sin.



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