Devotions

Author Archives: Sierra Combs

Eve’s Role in Sin

The Fall • Devotion #3: Eve’s Role in Sin
Sierra Combs | Women’s Ministry Director

It is good to go back to the beginning, the very beginning when God created the Heavens and the Earth. He did that on the first day and then spent the next several days creating more. He made water and land, trees and flowers, the sun and the moon, and every kind of animal. On the sixth day, He made a man and named him Adam. The Bible says that He made Adam in His image, and since sin had not yet made its way onto the newly formed land, Adam was a perfect man living in a perfect garden on a perfect Earth. Despite the perfection of it all, God saw that it was not good for Adam to be alone, so He created for him a helper, a woman named Eve. I am sure Adam was thrilled to have this perfectly designed woman as his helper. What a good life that must have been! It was just the two of them hanging out with God and a whole bunch of animals in the most beautiful garden ever created! The Bible says that they were both naked and unashamed. They did not know sin and were able to walk in blissful freedom, void of any shame and guilt.

They were only given one rule. In Genesis 2:16-17, God said to them, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” That sounds pretty serious! We do not know how long it took until they disregarded what God had told them, but we do know that the enemy, the crafty serpent, saw a perfect opportunity to mess up the good and perfect thing that Adam and Eve were enjoying. He went to the woman and asked if God had forbidden them from eating of that one tree, and Eve confirmed what God had said, that if they ate of the tree, there would be some serious repercussions. In Genesis 3:4-7 we see the serpent’s response, “But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.”

Just like that, sin entered the world. The serpent, the enemy, known as Satan, crept his way into Eve’s world, tricked her and tempted her to disregard God’s command. Not only did she sin, but she also drug her husband down with her. The fruit itself was not the issue; the sin was that she chose to disobey. Eve already knew good, but by eating the fruit and disobeying God, she gained the personal knowledge of evil. She also gained the guilt and shame that came with it. Her sin had left her exposed, she instantly knew she was naked, and the perfect relationship she had with God was broken. She could not hide from Him, and neither can we. No fig tree outfit in the world can cover our sin and shame. God sees it. The Bible says that because of the original sin back in the garden, we are all born sinners. Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Every single one of us falls short and are separated from God because of sin. Interestingly, though Eve was the first person to sin, God would provide the solution to that sin through “her seed.” That Seed is Jesus Christ, and He alone brings the atonement for our sin. Through His perfect blood that was shed on a cross, my debt was paid, and my relationship with God has been restored. Just like Adam and Eve before their sin, I am in perfect standing with the Father. The same solution is offered to you. I pray you will accept it!

Don’t Miss It!

Fasting • Devotion #5: Don’t Miss It!
Sierra Combs | Women’s Director

Every year, The River Church puts on an amazing play showcasing the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It is something I look forward to participating in every Easter. Even though I am not an actual Jew living in Jerusalem in the first century, it is pretty easy to make believe a little bit once the costume is on and the sets are in place. It always gives me goosebumpsthinking that the events that we are acting out happened! The Messiah had finally come! It is easy for me to act out in amazement when the actor playing Jesus is acting out His miracles. It is easy for me to worship and rejoice when we portray His resurrection. Even though it is just a play, Jesus did those things about 2000years ago. He did come to Earth to heal the sick and raise the dead. He did die on a cross to pay the price for the sin of the world. My natural response is to worship Him- no acting required!

There has always been one part of our Passion Play that has been so unnatural and so hard for me to do – reject Him. Up until that point, all of us townspeople think Jesus is pretty cool. We are intrigued by Him and happy that He is benefiting us with His miraculous works. We even welcome Him with gladness, waving palm branches, and shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”(John 12:13).We lay the branches at His feet as a show of honor to a king. Things are good. However, ten minutes later, we are called back out on stage to demand that He be crucified. We scream for His blood and then laugh and cheer as He is whipped and nailed to a cross. It has always been unsettling to me. I mean, I know our cast is limited, but every year I am like, really? I just had a scene with the guy where He raised my friend from the dead, and now you want me to turn my back on Him and pretend to be in the angry mob of Jesus-haters? It seems crazy, right?

The reality is that this probably is not too big of a stretch from how it all went down. There was a day when the real Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey (which fulfilled the Old Testament prophesy found in Zechariah 9:9). Great crowds came to welcome Him, waving palm branches, and laying their cloaks on the ground in an act of homage to royalty. They cheered for Him, yelling,“Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”(John 12:13). He was the King. He was the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. He was the Messiah for which they had waited and longed. However, they missed it. Sure, they wanted a king, but on their terms. They expected Jesus to fulfill their political agenda and deliver them from the hands of the Romans and completely missed the fact that He came to deliver them from their sin. They wanted a king who would conquer their earthly enemies and missed the fact that He came to conquer death and the grave. Once Jesus failed to meet their expectations; how quickly they turned on Him! Their “Hosanna’s!” would days later turn into screams of “Crucify Him!”

How heartbreaking that must have been for Jesus. Luke 19:41-44NLT says,“But as He came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, He began to weep. ‘How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes. Before long your enemies will…encircle you and close in on you from every side. They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not recognize it when God visited you.’”Jesus wept, knowing that the people whom He loved so much, the people He came to save, completely missed it.

Jesus loves you so much that He left His throne in Heaven to die on a cross for you – to pay the price for your sin. He conquered death and the grave when He rose again three days later, and He offers you eternal life and a relationship with Him. It is the best gift you will ever be offered. Don’t miss it!

Spirit of Truth

Guidance • Devotion #6: Spirit of Truth
Sierra Combs | Women’s Ministry Director

Think about God’s guidance. We all want it until it is not what we want to hear. Then we toss it aside, pretend like we never heard it and kept pressing for a different answer. Sound familiar, or am I the only one raising my hand? I for one am certainly thankful that God has not given up on guiding me, even though I do not always have the best track record in following. Not only has He given me grace here, He wants to keep guiding me! He loved us enough to send His Son to die for our sins, to die so that we could have a relationship with Him. That is some intense love. Because He loves us so much, He will never leave us in the dust. As much as I may think that my ways are the best ways, time always proves that His ways are much, much better.

You might be thinking, this all sounds great, but we need to be practical. How do I receive guidance from God? I want to clear some things up first. Did you know that soon after Christ ascended to Heaven after His resurrection, God sent the Holy Spirit? Christ Himself calls Him “the Helper,” and that is just what He is. Every single one of us who have accepted Christ as our Savior has the Spirit of God permanently living inside of us. Let that sink into your mind and heart. We have the Helper with us at all times. John 16:13 says that the Spirit of Truth will “guide us into all truth.” God also gave us His Word, which was given to men through the Holy Spirit. Everything that He wants you to know is right there in your Bible. If you feel like God is not giving you any answers, and you are not regularly in the Word, then that is where you should start. If you feel like God is giving you an answer and it contradicts what is taught in the Bible, well then you are sadly mistaken. That is not the Spirit of Truth that has led you there. If God has said something in His Word, He will never contradict it. It is so important that we know what God says, are obedient, and are constantly being led by the Spirit of Truth.

Maybe you have all of the above boxes checked (you know what God’s Word says, you have been obedient, and you are keeping in tune with the Holy Spirit), but you still need guidance. I have been there. It is a difficult place to be, and sometimes it seems like you can be stuck there forever. Here is what I have found to be helpful. How is your prayer life? Sometimes we are so focused on finding the answer that we forget to ask! Jeremiah 29:13 says that “you will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” In James 1:5 we are told, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” Are we truly seeking Him? Are we truly asking, and then having faith to know that He will answer? When He does answer, will we follow where He leads, even if it does not fit our plan? God loves us and wants to lead us in His ways. In Proverbs 3:5-6 we are told that when we truly and deeply trust in the Lord and focus on His plans (not ours), He will guide us. Trust me; His plans are always best. Thank you, God, for your grace, love, and guidance!

The World Revolves Around the Son

Worship • Devotion #2: The World Revolves Around the Son
Sierra Combs | Women’s Ministry Director

I will never forget the moment when it all clicked for me. Well, maybe not everything clicked, but there was such a radical, instant shift in my brain that changed the entire view of my world. The light bulb turned on in my teenage brain. It was the moment when I went from thinking the world revolved around me to realize the world revolved around God. It went from me thinking that life’s purpose was, frankly, all about me, to me realizing that my primary purpose on this Earth was to glorify God in everything I do. As I write this, I am tempted to delete that confession out of embarrassment. It sounds so ridiculous when I think about it. I was raised in the Church. I was properly taught who God is. I was very often reminded by those around me of the truth, but it never sunk into my mind and heart. I was so selfish. It was all about what God could do for me, instead of what I could do for God. You can imagine my prayer life. It was mainly focused on my wants, needs, and desires. I am sure there was “thankfulness” thrown into the mix when things were going my way. There was some “worship” added when I felt like God was doing what He was supposed to be doing. It is gross! Looking back, I can see that this was not true worship, and it is an absolutely terrible example of how we should pray. But how often do our prayer lives look like this?

Prayer is important. If it were not, it would not be mentioned so many times in the Bible. Prayer is how we communicate with God. He wants us to pray! It should be of utmost importance in our lives. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 calls us to “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Colossians 4:2 tells us to “devote [ourselves] to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart” (NLT). Finally, in Matthew chapter 6, Jesus gives us a model of how we should pray. While most people view prayer’s main purpose as a way to ask God for things they want or need (and do not get me wrong, that is a component), they miss out on some other key elements. Prayer should start with worship. I do not mean singing (though this can be a form of worship). I am talking genuine, pure worship by bowing down in reverence and adoration before the One true God, acknowledging Him for all that He is, all that He has done, and all that He will do. So often we send up our prayers, expecting Him to answer when all we are thinking about is ourselves. We forget to whom we are praying. We forget that we are talking to the maker of Heaven and Earth! He created the Universe with billions of stars. He created the sun, moon, and a beautiful world. He just spoke it all into existence! He is so good and so worthy of our worship. How crazy is it that He made us, and He loves us so personally? The God who made the Universe loves you and wants to have a relationship with you!

I encourage you this week to examine your prayer life. How often are you praying? Are you praying continually, with joy and thanksgiving, as it says in Thessalonians and Colossians? Or is the focus of your prayers all about you? There is so much more to address with Him. When you pray, remember to whom you are talking. He deserves our adoration and our worship!

Going to Work

Back to Reach | Devotion #4: Going to Work
Sierra Combs | Women’s Ministry Director

Lately, I have been reflecting on just how awesome God is. Sure, I have known this most of my life, but this week I just keep getting bombarded with the true reality of how awesome He is to me. I am reminded of how much He loves me and how faithful He is. Also, He gives the best gifts. He gave, for example, the gift of His Son Jesus Christ to be my Savior. That one is easily the best gift I could ever be given. Also at the top of the list is the gift of the Holy Spirit. He sent me that “Guy” when I got saved and man, do I love and need His help on a daily basis. The gift list is endless. God has given me so many gifts, and not because I deserve them, but because He is just that incredible. However, not all of the gifts He has given me are just for me to keep and cherish for myself. Nope! I think of the old Sandi Patty song when she sings “The Father gave the Son, the Son gave the Spirit, the Spirit gives us life so that we could give the gift of love. And the gift goes on.” (And on and on and on. That song is catchy and will now be stuck in my head for the next three days). When we become children of God, along with all the gifts that God gives us, He also gives us some jobs. We are called to spread the Gospel to the world. We are called to love people. We are called to “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). God does not just give us His spiritual gifts, talents, and abilities to serve ourselves. He calls us to take those abilities and use them to serve others.

Serving others is not natural for the majority of us. We are born with sinful selfish natures, much-preferring others to serve us. But that is not what Christ calls us to do, and not what He modeled in His own life and death. He is the perfect example of a servant, being that He left His throne in Heaven, came down to Earth as a poor man, poured into others throughout His entire ministry and then died on a cross to pay the penalty for our sins so that we could be counted righteous by the Father. He did not have to do that. But He did. And if God has saved you from your sin, He has called you to serve. 1 Peter 4:10-11 (NASB) says, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God…whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” When we serve others with the intention to glorify God, I am convinced that He will deepen our love for people and turn our attention away from ourselves and more towards the needs of others. 

If God has saved you, you should not just be sitting. Get out there and serve! There are so many people in need of our help, and we are called to shine that bright light of Jesus to them. People should see Him when they see us. God has given us talents and abilities so that we can use them to help others as we glorify Him, so it is time to get out there to use them! Not only will serving others bless those in need, but it will also deepen our faith and help connect us with our brothers and sisters in Christ. I pray that God will turn our focus away from our own needs and desires and replace them with hearts overflowing with care and compassion for those around us. It is time to get to work!



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