Devotions

Author Archives: Josh Combs

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.

Hebrews 4:15

Jesus was Sinless and the Virgin Birth | Devotion #6: Hebrews 4:15
Joshua Combs | Lead Pastor

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15

What a wonderful joy it is to know that in our temptations we are not alone! In both the Gospel of Matthew and Luke, we see Jesus face a barrage of temptations from the enemy. Satan attacks Jesus with three distinct evil schemes (1 John 2:16 calls them, “The desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life.”) and each time the Lord repels the volleys of the Devil. What is crucial to understand is that Jesus faced each type of temptation that we will ever face, demonstrating for us how to defeat temptation. An important promise that God has made to us concerning temptation is found in 1Corinthians 10:13. The Scripture reads, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” Jesus not only gives us the battle plans for overcoming temptation, but empowers us, through the Holy Spirit, to endure the fiery trials of temptation. 

Another profound principle we learn from the temptation of Christ is that to be tempted is not sin. Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted (Mathew 4:1), but He remained “without sin.” When we face temptation or our flesh (see Galatians 5:16-25) desires something evil, the devil will use guilt to make us feel defeated, but we must realize to face temptation is not sin. We must endure and look urgently for the way of escape that God has promised to provide. The promised escape hatch is there. Find it. Take it! Know that Jesus sympathizes with our human weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15), He has paved the way for escape, and empowers us to take the way of escape. Sometimes fleeing temptation (2 Timothy 2:22) will be mental, sometimes that means physically leaving where you are, changing media habits, or altering your driving patterns. 

Whatever temptation tactic Satan attacks you with, know that Jesus faces that temptation with you!



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