Author Archives: Josh Combs

Praying Specifically and Pray BIG 

Isaac & Rebekah • Devotion #2: Praying Specifically and Pray BIG
Joshua Combs | Lead Pastor

Setting aside all of the cultural contexts of the Ancient Near East for a brief moment, simply put, we meet a man in Genesis chapter 24 who is looking for a wife. Strangely, he is looking for a wife for his boss’ son, Isaac. I am sure as the son of the extravagantly wealthy Abraham, Isaac had had many ladies (with their father’s prodding) vying for his affection and hand in marriage. Marrying Isaac would have equaled wealth, servants, and great herds. But Isaac had submitted to his father, who had dispatched the head of his household to the land of Mesopotamia in the city of Nahor at the well. The sun was beginning to set, so the scorching heat began to subside, and that was the time when the women of the city would come to the well to draw water. The servant knew this was a great place to meet all of the ladies of the city and Lord willing, find a bride for Isaac. The servant, however, does not simply rely on his own understanding or knowledge but begins to pray. The specificity and boldness of this prayer in inspiring. Abraham’s servant realizes that without the Lord’s blessing, this could be a waste of a trip.  As he is finishing his prayer, Genesis 24:15 says, “Before he had finished speaking, behold, Rebekah…” 

The servant had yet to finish praying, and the Lord was answering. As we pray, we must never forget that we are approaching a royal throne. “Let us then with confidence,” the writer of Hebrews states, “draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Our prayers need not be small or timid. We approach God’s throne, not as uninvited, intruding guests, but children approaching our Father who has repeatedly invited us to test the limits of His power, the vastness of His resources, and the depth of His love.

As a secondary application and challenge, we see a biblical framework for finding a wife or a husband. Here are a few guidelines we see here in the Scripture:

  1. Honor your parents/spiritual leaders (24:1-11)
  2. Pray – Ask God to direct your steps (24:12-14)
  3. Look for someone with a servant’s heart (24:14-27)
  4. It is ok to look for someone you think is beautiful (24:16)
  5. Watch for consistency in the person’s life (24:21)
  6. Honor their family (24:22-53)
  7. Do not force it (24:58)

Abraham’s Response 

Abraham, Sarah, & Isaac • Devotion #4: Abraham’s Response
Joshua Combs | Lead Pastor

Genesis 17:19 says, “…Sarah your wife shall bear you a son.”

God brings to Abraham what is probably the strangest news the Father of Faith could possibly imagine. God says of Sarah, Abraham’s wife, “I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her” (Genesis 17:16). God explains to Abraham, who is 100 years old, that his 90-year-old wife, Sarah, will be giving birth to a son next year. God leaves no room for doubt or questions: Abraham will be the father, Sarah will be the mother, and the child, Isaac, will be the son of promise, with whom God will fulfill His covenantal relationship with Abraham.

Sadly, Abraham’s reaction is less than what we might expect or imagine from this great saint. He outright laughs at God. His human mind is unable to imagine fathering a child at 100, but the audacity of God to suggest that Sarah will give birth just seems comical. Abraham may have not been laughing at God, so much as he was laughing at Sarah. Ironically, that is exactly what God had planned, announced, and would accomplish. Sarah would give birth. The scorn she felt as a childless woman would be removed.

This announcement is the first time God would reveal to Abraham that his wife, Sarah, would be the mother of the promised child. Abraham and Sarah had sought other means of providing an heir, but that was not God’s plan or His design. God was honoring marriage. The holiness of one man and one woman for life was and still is God’s design. Abraham broke that covenant. He violated the sanctity of His marriage with Sarah. But God honored their marriage by choosing to miraculously bless this aging couple with a child. What Abraham did was culturally acceptable, but is never honored by the Lord. First Peter 3:7 states, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”

God warns husbands not to dishonor their wives because the consequences are that God refuses to accept our prayers. Do not laugh at God. Do not laugh at your wife. As God did in Genesis chapter 17 and confirms in Hebrews 13:4, “Let marriage be held in honor among all…”

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.

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