Devotions

Author Archives: Sierra Combs

Jesus Betrayed • Devotion #4: What to do with a Judas

Have you ever been hurt by a friend? I will go ahead and answer for you – of course you have. We all have been hurt by friends and family, both intentionally and unintentionally, more times than we can count. However, have you ever been really, truly hurt and betrayed by someone who you would consider one of your closest friends? I have been there, and there is something that still cuts me to my core when I look back and think about the friend who I loved and trusted, one I spent countless hours with. We were the closest of friends until one day, she just decided she did not want to be part of my life anymore. Without even a conversation, she bailed. It quickly became clear how much of a problem she had with me by conversations she had with others, ones she refused to have with me. It gutted me. I cried about it for months. At that time, I could not focus on much else. I was so absorbed in the hurt and betrayal from this person. How could she do this? After the sadness faded, it quickly turned to anger. No longer was she my friend, but now a bitter enemy in my heart. I viewed her as the worst person I had ever known. I can look back on this now and realize I may have been a little dramatic. Clearly, I did not handle things in my heart and in my mind in a Christ-like way. I let bitterness grow where it should not have been, and I excused it away because the hurt was so tremendous. You may have a similar experience.

One thing that is so wonderful about our Savior is that He gave up the glory, honor, and wonders of Heaven to come and live life as a lowly servant here on Earth. God became flesh because of His great love for us. This was just all a part of God’s great plan, and while it was the best thing that could ever happen for us, it was usually not what we would call great for Jesus. When we look at His life, it was filled with hardships and hurt. Any time I start to fall into self-pity (“woe is me” type of moment), I quickly get a heart check as soon as I look at Jesus. My sufferings and trials pale in comparison, and yet I know that He sees every tear and understands the hurt. When it comes to the hurt and betrayal of a friend, He knows it better than anyone. All four Gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) give an account of one of the biggest betrayals in history. Jesus was in the garden, praying to the Father while deeply overwhelmed with sorrow for what was about to happen. It was finally time for Him to lay His life down on a cross for the sins of the world. Not only was the most intense kind of physical pain about to come upon Him but worst of all, the separation from the Father was quickly approaching. A few of His disciples were with Him in the garden as well, though they did not offer much in terms of support as they lay sleeping. Matthew 26:45-47 records what happened next, “Then [Jesus] came to the disciples and said to them, ‘Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.’ While He was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people.” For those of you who may not know, Judas was also one of Jesus’ disciples. He, along with the other eleven men, spent practically every waking hour with Jesus over the prior three years. They traveled together, ate together, listened and learned from Jesus, witnessed countless miracles, and even were given power and authority to do some miracles themselves. They gave up everything they had to follow Jesus. They were the inner circle to God in the flesh. They knew Jesus and Jesus knew them. Yet one of these men, Judas, would throw it all away in betrayal. Matthew 26:48-50 continues, “Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, ‘The one I will kiss is the man; seize Him.’ And he came up to Jesus at once and said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ And he kissed Him. Jesus said to him, ‘Friend, do what you came to do.’ Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him.” This was no minor betrayal. Judas literally handed Jesus over to be taken and killed. He did all this for 30 pieces of silver. I can only imagine how sad it must have been for Jesus to see this whole thing unfold, even though He knew how it would happen from the very beginning. He knew what Judas would do before he even existed, and yet He still chose him as a member of His inner circle. He knew Judas would betray Him and yet Jesus still placed him at the most prominent spot at the dinner table just hours before. Where most of us would look at this man with the utmost contempt and fury, Jesus loved Him and still called him a friend.

Just like Judas, I am guilty of betraying and sinning against the Lord every day. However, Jesus went to that cross to die for sinners just like me. He forgave me, wiped my dirty slate clean, and calls me a friend. Wow! Every time I think about His amazing love and forgiveness, I realize just how un-Christlike I can be. If He could forgive me, I should certainly be able to forgive those who have hurt me for much less. Whatever kind of hurt you may find yourself in right now, remember that Christ sees and knows your pain. Only through Him can we look upon those who hurt us with love and compassion, choosing to forgive them and maybe even still call them friends. I say this as much to myself as I do to you today. We have a choice to make. We need to go be like Jesus!

1 v 1 • Devotional #1: “Mine”

Currently, as I sit to write this I am seven months pregnant with my third child, during a global pandemic, a recession, in an extremely divided and intense country, and in the presidential election year 2020 (which has been memorable, to say the least). There were rumors of murder hornets a few months ago that thankfully seemed to fizzle out. Everything else has been pretty insane. If there was a time to not be pregnant, this would probably be it. Every day is another reminder that the world has lost its mind and chaos abounds. 

Sometimes when I am overwhelmed and fearful, it seems like the human race is in a runaway train speeding down a hill towards destruction, and we are just getting closer and closer to the crash. In reality, that picture is not far from the truth for those who do not know the Lord. It is a scary and sobering thought. I am so thankful to know that my Savior has lifted me from that train and has me safe in His arms. I hold to this truth and remind myself of it constantly, and probably a little more constantly now in this crazy year with a baby on the way. If you have children, you likely know what I am talking about. It is one thing to worry about yourself, but when you have a child, the love is so unexplainably intense that you (or at least I) worry so much more on their behalf. I think of my kids, and know I would do anything for them. It is both wonderful and horrible at the same time. Nothing has tested my faith more than being a parent, responsible for three precious lives. I just want to wrap them up in a bubble and keep them safely to myself.

Maybe you do not have children, or you do but do not struggle with the related fear as I do. Whether you relate or not, I am sure that there is at least one thing in your life that you possess that you cannot imagine having to let go of or release control. Perhaps it is money, your career or talent, or a relationship with a spouse, friend, or parent. It is something that you feel that you have worked so hard to build up or gain, and losing it would be absolutely detrimental. What is most important to you? 

This year has really challenged me and brought many things in my heart to light that I was not even aware of them existing. Faced with a global health crisis early in the year made me fear for the health and safety of those I love. Faced with the possibility of an extreme recession or depression, I found myself worrying about the possibility of losing our income, house, or whatever. Faced with the election coming up in November, I find myself worrying about what things will look like when it is over, regardless of who wins. I am thankful to the Lord that He quickly squashed the murder hornets because that may have just put me over the edge (insert laugh emoji here). 

Thankfully, through all of this, I know that the Lord is sovereign and in control of it all. If He was not, I would not be able to sleep at night. When I find myself consumed with fear about any of these scenarios, I can easily find comfort in the Word. There are so many amazing passages that I could share but when it comes to this matter, I think it is important to get to the heart of the issue – putting too much value in things that we view as “ours.” My kids are “mine,” my money that I earn from my job is “mine.” The talent that I possess and get to share with others is “mine.” The list could unfortunately continue. When we view everything we have as “ours,” it is pretty easy to get possessive of it and extremely fearful to lose it. However, in reality, none of it is truly ours. Everything we have been given and blessed with is from the Lord. He is the One who created your children and gave them to you! He is the One who gave you your gifts and abilities! He is the One who lined up your career and has provided for you financially. 

One passage in Scripture that always helps remind me of this is 1 Chronicles chapter 29. In this chapter, we find King David setting aside his gold, silver, jewels, and every precious thing so that his son could build a temple for the Lord and all of His glory. I think in today’s value it was something like 35 million dollars. Can you imagine? That is a ton of money. However, David cheerfully gave and encouraged his people to give regardless of the cost. In verse 14 (NLT), he says, “But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us!” 

David understood that every single thing that he possessed was given to him by God, and because of that, it should be our joy and privilege to give back to Him. When I remind myself of this truth, I can let go of any fear that I may have because I know that the Lord is not only in control, but He loves me and has an amazing plan for my life. It is up to me to give up any idea of control that I might have and to trust Him. His ways are better than mine. He loves my kids even more than I do. He has a plan for my kids, my talents, abilities, finances, and relationships. The Lord has given us so much. It is now our turn to joyfully give back to Him and watch Him use it for incredible things!

Gather • Devotional #3: “Pride and Joy”

If I were to ask you what gave you the most hope, brought you the most joy, or made you the proudest, what would be the first thing that came to your mind? Would it be an accomplishment, or perhaps a possession? Would it be a talent, your career, or your prized collection of baseball cards or designer handbags? Would it be your family, children, house, or car? What are your pride and joy?

Paul asks this question of himself when writing to the believers who lived in Thessalonica. In 1 Thessalonians 2:19, he asks “For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming?” Before I tell you his answer, let me give you a little back story. Paul is writing this letter (the Book of 1 Thessalonians that we find in the Bible) to these believers praising them on their Christ-likeness and Christian conduct, and has just told them how much he desperately wanted to see them again. It seems that the last time he was with them, he involuntarily had to leave and was prevented via Satan from returning “over and over again.” So while he waits for the time when he can return, Paul writes this letter and asks them what they think is his hope, joy, and crown. His answer is simple. What made Paul the proudest is those who had received the Gospel of Jesus Christ – especially these believers at Thessalonica. Verses 19-20 say, “For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.”

Paul knew that the real value on this Earth (apart from himself knowing Christ) is people. It is not possessions, money, or even talents or abilities. Before Paul was born again, he had all of these things. Before Christ, he was a man named Saul who was one of the top Jewish religious leaders. He was incredibly knowledgeable of the Law and Scriptures, was likely very talented in his teaching, and would have had every earthly thing he could have wanted at his fingertips. He knew the value of those things, and yet once he met Christ, he happily let those things fade away as he traded his value system for something else: sharing the Gospel of Jesus with people and seeing them saved. This is what gave him joy, made him proud, and gave him hope.

Paul knew what the Thessalonians were before they trusted Jesus as their Savior: idol-worshipping pagans, completely lost in darkness. Yet here they were, completely transformed by the power of God into loving, faithful Christ-followers. For Paul, who gave everything he had, put every effort he had into seeing people saved, and was persecuted beyond what we could understand, this was more than enough to keep his fire burning. He knew that he had the honor of being used by God to further the Kingdom and that one day, he would receive that crown in Heaven that he could lay at the feet of Christ.

For me, this is quite convicting. In our American cushy lives, we face little opposition with sharing the Gospel with others, and yet do we yearn with a passion to see people saved? Is it our pride, joy, and hope? Let this be a challenge to us to refocus our mindset and value systems. May we passionately yearn to share the Gospel of Jesus with the lost world around us. May it bring us hope and joy to win souls for Christ, seeing them transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. May we earnestly run the race that the Lord has put before us, earning crowns along the way that we can one day lay at the feet of our Savior!

Mourn • Devotion #4: Godly Grief

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” These words, said by Jesus Himself in Matthew 5:4, make up one of the most famous sermons in history. You have probably heard it called “The Sermon on the Mount.” I have had the privilege of visiting the spot where Jesus likely said these words, on a hillside overlooking the Sea of Galilee in Israel, and that picture will live in my head and heart for life! It is easy to read over that sermon, as I have done my entire life, and gloss over the words and what Jesus was actually saying.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Upon quickly reading that it sounds nice enough. Who does not want to be comforted when they are mourning and grieving? Not to mention, life can be so difficult and hard. We all will have times of grieving and mourning. I know for a fact that during these times, the Lord does comfort His children. For those who know Him as Savior, He has given us the most wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit, the One who is actually called “the Comforter.” If you are in a state of despair, mourning the loss of a person, a life, or even a concept, cling to the Lord. Rest in His promise of peace and let Him comfort you today.

I could easily go on and on about how the Lord comforts His children as they mourn, which seems like what this verse is referring to, but I want to look at it from a different angle. While looking at it that way is certainly true, it might not have been what Jesus was talking about when He spoke to His Jewish audience. Many scholars of the Bible believe that Jesus was not talking about the sorrows of the world and the many losses that we may see over our lifetime, but instead the mourning over the sin that has stained our souls. When Jesus came to the Earth 2,000 years ago, He accomplished many things. He tangibly comforted the hurting, changed the way people thought, brought physical healing, and performed many miracles. He still does this today! However, His main mission was to bring salvation to the lost. Who exactly is lost? Each and every one of us is lost!

The Bible tells us that all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory. Every single person is born with the stain of sin, separated from the one true perfect and Holy God. Because of God’s goodness, He created a way to bridge the gap. He sent His Son Jesus to come to this Earth as a servant and to preach repentance (the turning away from our sin). He then offered Himself as the only sufficient sacrifice for those sins, dying on a cross for us, and then rising to life three days later. For the sinner who becomes a saint through the cleansing blood of Jesus, there is no greater comfort than the Gospel! When we look upon our sin as what it is, the offensive and disgusting thing that separates us from God, it should lead to weeping and mourning. Strangely enough, it is when we grieve over our sin that we find the true and ultimate comfort. In 2 Corinthians 7:10, Paul says, “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation.” The promise of salvation is a special kind of comfort, the very best kind, one in which we are pardoned, purified, and restored to the Father through Jesus Christ.

If you know the Lord Jesus as your Savior, you can take ultimate comfort in the fact that your sins have been forgiven. When Jesus said that you would be blessed because of your mourning, He was not kidding! There is no greater blessing than the gift of salvation. You also now have the benefit of the Holy Spirit living inside of you, bringing you peace, joy, and rest.

Even though you will face many trials in this life, you can rest assured that God is in control and is working all things out for your good. If you have not yet put your hope and trust in Jesus to save you, today is the day! Simply ask the Lord to reveal Himself to you, and to reveal the disgusting sin that is standing in the way of a relationship with Him. There is nothing that you can do to get rid of that sin. Only Jesus can do that, and if you confess that you are a sinner and truly believe that only Jesus can save you from that sin, He is faithful and just to forgive you! That is where true comfort begins! If this is you today, please reach out and let us know. We would love to help you with the next steps, helping you grow in your new relationship with the Lord. I may not know you yet, but I am praying for you!

Be blessed!

Gather • Devotion #5: We Are the Church!

I will never forget the moment my nephew reminded me about a very simple truth of the Bible. Of course, it was a truth I very well already knew (and was reminded of constantly by my brother-in-law), but it was memorable all the same. Driving in the car while on vacation, I mentioned something about missing church that weekend. My nephew, who was only about five or six at the time, was extremely quick to jump in and tell me, “We don’t go to church; we are the church.” His father (my brother-in-law) taught him well! It made me laugh then and still does now when I think about it, but it really is a truth that is so easily forgetten. We do not just go to church; we are the Church. If you are a born again follower of Jesus Christ, you are a member of the body of Christ. That is an awesome concept! Often times, people get caught up focusing on the building, denomination, program, or worship style, and lose sight of why we gather together. The body of Christ has been gathering together since the Church was established thousands of years ago, as seen in the book of Acts.

The writer of Hebrews reminds us of the importance of gathering together when he tells us to “stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25). 

Though our gatherings may look a little different than they did back in Israel in the first century, the reasoning behind it stays the same. Going to church does not in any way make you a Christian, but a true follower of Christ should desire to be regularly gathering with their brothers and sisters in Christ. It is here where we can encourage others and be encouraged. Aside from the fellowship, we gather so we can corporately worship God and be taught the truth from His Word. As a child who attended church on a weekly basis, I remember oftentimes wishing I could skip and just sleep a little longer. As an adult, even though I am far more tired and sleep-deprived than I was as a kid, I cannot wait for the weekends when I get to come and gather with my brothers and sisters in Christ!



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