Devotions

Author Archives: Sierra Combs

Revelation Song

Gather | Devotion #4: Revelation Song
Sierra Combs | Women’s Ministry Director

At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald…From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures…and day and night they never cease to say, ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!’” Revelation 4:2-8

There has never been a time when music was not my thing. I love it. Even when I am not singing, strumming, humming, or listening, I am doing one of those things in my head. It is like I have my personal movie soundtrack going on in my head, and it is pretty awesome. God has gifted me with a musical heart, mind, and ear, and in recent years, He has taken this shy, terrified, quiet girl and given me boldness and passion to help lead His people in worship. It is just my favorite thing. Every Saturday night, I go to bed excited to wake up to gather together to worship our incredible God with my church family. Every Sunday morning, He wakes me up at 5:30 am in a good mood, which is truly miraculous because I am not a morning person and on any other day even having to get up at eight is like pulling teeth. However, that is not the case on Sundays. I love the church and worshiping together is important.

As a worship leader, there is nothing better for me than seeing and hearing the church put everything aside and focus their hearts on singing praise to God. There are so many songs that hold much meaning to me, but there is one in particular that gets me every time. I often have held back tears of joy when singing or hearing it because I think, this is awesome now but WOW! This is only just a small imperfect preview of my eternal future in Heaven- sitting around the throne room of God with absolutely no other purpose but to worship the King of the Universe. The song, Revelation Song, is practically plucked straight from Scripture, as you can see from above. Also check out Ezekiel 1:25-28. I love to sing the chorus to this song.

Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
who was and is and is to come.
With all creation, I sing,
praise to the King of Kings,
You are my everything
, and I will adore You! 

I just close my eyes and think about what it will one day be like in Heaven. With all creation, I will sing praises to Him who sits on the throne. I long for that day. I agree as the song continues. 

Filled with wonder, awestruck wonder,
at the mention of [His] name.
Jesus Your name is power, breath, and living water!
Such a marvelous mystery!

That is so true! The fact that God loves us so much that He left that glorious throne room to come to Earth as a man and pay the penalty for our sins is a straight up marvelous mystery. The awesome thing is that if you have accepted Him as your Lord and Savior, you will be standing beside me one day singing praises to the Lamb that was slain. I pray I see you there. In the meantime, we can and should keep practicing here while we wait!

Samaritan Woman

Lesson Fourteen | Devotion #6: Samaritan Woman
Sierra Combs | Women’s Ministry Director

Yesterday I had coffee with a friend who is a new believer. We meet every week to study and discuss some of the main fundamentals of our faith in Christ, and it is an absolute joy for me to see her learn and grow in God’s Word. After we finished our lesson, we got to chatting about how we can share Christ with others. She shared with me that she has someone very close to her who is sick with cancer, and she does not know Jesus. She knows ‘of’ Jesus, she knows some of His teachings, but she does not believe that He is the ONLY way to be saved. “I think you are her person” was the first thing that came into my head and out of my mouth. My friend was silent and quietly flipped through a prayer journal that she kept and showed me what she wrote that same morning, “I think I am her person.”

Do you not love it when God uses us to do His work? In this case, my job was simply to encourage a friend. God was already nudging her in a specific direction and then sent me in to nudge her again. Her job is to plant the seed in her loved one’s heart that Jesus is the Messiah, and pray that one day soon that seed will blossom. Of course, my friend wants nothing more than to see that happen, but as we talked, I could see the worry on her face. Worry screamed, “I am not equipped for this!” and “how could God use me for such an important job? I barely know the basics!” Have you ever felt like this? I know I have! But one thing that I am often reminded of is that God equips those He calls, and He loves to use the ordinary underdogs to change the world.

In the Gospel of John, chapter 4, we are introduced to a Samaritan woman. The Samaritans were considered “half-breeds,” part Israelite part foreigner, and were universally hated by the Jews. In verse 6, we find her at a well when Jesus happens upon her. Now not only was she a Samaritan and a woman, but she was also a woman with a pretty bad reputation, known to be living in sin. No respectable Jewish man would ever talk to such a woman, but Jesus did. Does that not just sound like Him? He was and is always breaking barriers and social norms to reach those that He loves, reminding us that the Gospel is for EVERYONE! Jesus asks the woman for a drink, which confuses her: “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (John 4:9). He then goes on to tell her that while that well offers physical water, He offers “living water.”  In verse 14 Jesus says, “Whoever drinks of the water…will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” It took a few minutes of conversing with Jesus for her to understand what He was talking about, but when she got it, she knew she wanted to tell everyone about it! She immediately dropped her water jug, ran to town, and told others about Jesus, urging them to come and talk with Him.

As Christians, we are called to share the Gospel with others. Perhaps just like my friend, God has placed a specific person or group of people on your heart to be “their person.” Maybe you are fearful that you do not have the adequate tools to go to work. Maybe you feel embarrassed by things that you have done in the past, wondering why anyone would ever listen to someone like you. But look at the Samaritan woman! She immediately dropped her baggage and told everyone she knew about Christ, despite her background, despite her reputation, despite her lack of knowledge. See what happens. “Many Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony…And many more believed because of His word. They said to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.’” (John 4:39-42).

Be encouraged. Plant those seeds. Tell others about Christ and let His words do the watering. The harvest is ripe!

Elizabeth

Lesson Ten | Devotion #6: Elizabeth
Sierra Combs | Women’s Ministry Director

Righteous. Blameless. Barren. One of these words is not like the other, especially in biblical times. But, they were the words used to describe a woman named Elizabeth.

Luke 1:5-7 says, “In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.”

In Elizabeth’s day and age, there was perhaps no greater shame for a married woman than being unable to bare a child. Whether true or not, being barren was often considered a curse or a result of some not so righteous living. It must have been difficult for her and her husband, not just because they longed for a child, but because their reputations were probably often questioned. They were already set apart as descendants of Aaron and members of the priesthood (Elizabeth, the daughter of a long line of priests and Zechariah, a priest himself). They had the “godly” credentials on paper, but the lack of children in their advanced age probably suggested the lack of favor from God.

Are you not glad that things are not always as they appear? 1 Samuel 16:7 reminds us that “the Lord sees not as man sees…the Lord looks on the heart.” Elizabeth had a righteous heart, “walking blamelessly in all commandments of the Lord.” While she must have known the stigma that she carried, she lived her life to please God, not men. She could have easily become angry with Him, knowing that she was doing everything right and yet she still was stuck in a hopeless situation. Instead of questioning why, Elizabeth and Zechariah prayed. They probably prayed for decades. It was all they could do. So many things in life are out of our control, but we can rest in the complete assurance that we have a mighty God who cradles our lives in His hands. While we may never know why and when, God has a plan.

His plan for Elizabeth was a great one. Luke 1:13-17 tells us that the prayers of Zechariah and Elizabeth were answered and that they would soon be given a son whose name would be called John, and that they would “have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord…he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will…make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”

Their son would be John the Baptist, a man that had been prophesied centuries beforehand by the prophet Malachi. A man whose mission would be to prepare the way of the Messiah Jesus Christ who would be born to Elizabeth’s cousin Mary just months later! Matthew 11:11 says, “Among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist.” It was by no coincidence that God chose Elizabeth to be his mother in that specific place in time. She was faithful, righteous, and obedient. Coming from a long line of priests, she would have known God’s Word and how to raise a child in the ways of the Lord. She was the perfect woman for the job, and God blessed her.

Elizabeth lived a good portion of her life in what seemed like a hopeless situation, but God had great plans for her, in HIS perfect time. Likewise, God has great plans for you! If you are struggling, feeling like God has forgotten you or left you alone in difficult circumstances, do not lose hope! Live faithfully, be patient, and pray, as Elizabeth did. Your time may be coming soon. Our God is the God of the impossible!

Sarah

Lesson One | Devotion #6: Sarah
Sierra Combs | Women’s Ministry Director

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

If you ever want to be inspired and encouraged in your faith, Hebrews chapter 11 is a great place to start. This chapter, also known as the “Faith Hall of Fame,” is all about some of the Bible’s all-star characters – men and women known for their faith despite their crazy circumstances. The first woman mentioned in this chapter is Sarah, wife of Abraham. Her story is found mainly in Genesis chapters 12-25, but she is mentioned several more times throughout the Old and New Testament. She is mentioned more than any other woman in Scripture and is the only woman in the Bible to have her name changed by God – from Sarai to Sarah, which means “princess.” God said, “I will bless her and will surely give you [Abraham] a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her” (Genesis 17:16 NIV). Sounds like a woman who could change the world!

Now Abraham and Sarah loved God, and they trusted Him. God had proven faithful to them before, but the promise of a child was harder to grasp for Sarah because she was barren for many years, and she was already getting up there in age. I can only imagine the pain, sadness, and shame she must have felt not to be able to give her husband an heir, let alone the pressure she must have felt due to this promise! God said He would give her a son and yet the clock was ticking and nothing was happening. It was out of her control, and she was desperate. She was so desperate that she took matters into her own hands and gave her handmaiden, Hagar, to her husband so that they could have a child through her. I find it interesting that a woman who is famous for her faith is also famous for being a control freak – two opposing character traits. But how often do we tell God that we trust Him, and yet as soon as something does not go our way on our timetable we try and take matters into our own hands? How often does that work out? For Sarah, it did not. This decision did result in a child, but not the child God had promised, and in the end, it just created a gigantic mess. It brought more pain, more shame, and more sadness.

Luckily for Sarah, God is not one who breaks His promises. Years went by, and again God promised Sarah a son. She was at the ripe old age of 90. When Sarah heard this, she laughed in disbelief, but God responded with words that we should always remember, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14) Sarah’s doubtful laugh was soon replaced with the laugh of delight when her son Issac was born. “And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered Him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man [Abraham], and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.” Hebrews 11:11-12 (NIV)

Sarah was a remarkable woman. Despite her shortcomings and because of her faith, God used her to change the world. She would be the mother to the entire Jewish race, the nation of Israel. From her line would come nations, kings, and eventually the King of Kings Himself, Jesus Christ.

Joseph

Delivery Man • Joseph
Sierra Combs | Women’s Ministry Director

I love a good story, and one of my very favorites in the Bible is the story of Joseph. If you grew up in the church, you have most likely heard of him. He was the young boy with the colorful coat. It was given to him by his father Jacob, or Israel because God changed his name. This did not sit well with his brothers (he had 11 of them) because they saw the intense love that their father had for Joseph and were extremely jealous of him. They were so jealous that they threw him into a pit and sold him as a slave to some guys heading for Egypt. This is a riveting story! I encourage you to read it this week for yourself in Genesis chapters 37-50. Joseph finds himself as a slave in Egypt, but because of his gifts, wisdom, and God’s blessing, he works his way up in society. This certainly was not by accident; God had this plan for Joseph the whole time. At one point, God’s plan had Joseph living in comfort and success, like when he found himself in charge of a very prominent household in Egypt. Just when things started getting good, God’s plan landed Joseph in prison for two years for a crime he did not commit. However, God was always working in and through Joseph’s life, and regardless of his circumstances, Joseph remained a godly man of great integrity. God blessed him and used his hardships for a purpose, which eventually led to him becoming the second most important man in all of Egypt, second to Pharaoh himself.

Joseph had always been a dreamer and an interpreter of dreams. It is one of the reasons his brothers hated him so much. It is also how he got connected to Pharaoh. Because of this God-given gift, Joseph was able to warn Pharaoh of an upcoming famine that would affect all of Egypt and beyond. Joseph knew he had some time and made provisions over all the land to store food in the time of abundance. When the famine eventually came, because of Joseph’s quick thinking and good managing skills, there was enough food for not just all of Egypt, but the surrounding lands as well. It becomes interesting who was included in those surrounding areas, but the very brothers that sent him to Egypt in the first place. I can only imagine how Joseph must have felt. The last time he saw them was when he was looking up from a pit or looking back at them as he was taken off as a slave. They hated him and never wanted to see him again. All these years later, they meet again, with Joseph having complete control over their lives and their futures. Most would have had the brothers killed on the spot, or at least turned them away. Instead, Joseph showed them mercy and grace, “So Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Come near to me, please…I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for … God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors” (Genesis 45:4-7). Chapter 50 verses 20-21 (NIV) continue the story of forgiveness, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” Not only did Joseph provide food for his brothers, but he also moved the entire family to Egypt and provided them with the best land in all the region. While Joseph’s brothers were afraid he would seek revenge for what they had done, Joseph recognized God’s sovereign plan to use him to deliver His people, the young nation of Israel.

It is good to do a little recap on Joseph. He was a shepherd to his father’s sheep. He was loved deeply by his father, and despised by his brothers and others who wanted to harm him. He was sold for the price of a slave. He was tempted, falsely accused, and bound in chains. Life was difficult, and he suffered greatly, but he overcame and was exalted to the second highest position, seated at the right hand of the king. He forgave those who wronged him and delivered his people from death. Does it sound familiar? Perhaps one of the biggest reasons I love the story of Joseph is because it is a beautiful foreshadowing of another that would come. While Joseph was a deliverer, Jesus is “the” Deliverer. He was also a shepherd to His Father’s sheep. He was loved deeply by the Father, and despised by His people. He was sold for the price of a slave, tempted, falsely accused, and bound in chains. His life was difficult, and He suffered greatly. However, He overcame and was exalted to the highest place, seated at the right hand of the Father. If we accept Him as our Savior, He forgives us and delivers us from eternal death and separation from Him. That is quite a delivery! Thank you, Jesus, for Your grace and mercy!



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