Devotions

Author Archives: Sierra Combs

Caleb

Twelve Spies | Devotion 5: Caleb
Sierra Combs  

Have you ever felt like God was leading you somewhere you know would be amazing, but the obstacles in the way made you shy away in fear? I am raising my hand. Even when I know that God has called me to do something, sometimes my fear will hold me back. What if I am not good enough, smart enough, or strong enough? What if I am completely unqualified? Those insecurities scream at me to keep me from where God is asking me to go. This is not just an issue for me; this was an issue for the Israelites who had just fled Egypt under Moses’ lead. By the time we reach today’s passage in Numbers chapter 13, God has already promised Moses a land for His people that was rich and fertile and would be theirs for the taking. Moses sent twelve spies to the land to check it out and report back on what they had found. Upon their return, they gave plenty of good reasons for entering this promised land, but their fear was stronger than their faith. According to ten of the twelve spies, the reward was not worth the risk. Numbers 13:31-33 tells us that the ten spies came back from the Promised Land and reported, “‘We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.’ So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, ‘The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.’” 

These men had seen the beautiful and bountiful land that God had promised with their own eyes, and yet they came back determined to sway the Israelites away from entering it. Instead of God’s promise, all they could see were the giants (literally!) that stood in their way. I am going to pause and give a teeny amount of slack to these men because if I was in a land that God told me was going to be mine, but all I saw were actual giants living there, I would probably be afraid too. It is said that these giants, “the sons of Anak,” would have been between seven and nine feet tall! The cities were fortified with huge walls, with guards stationed on the top. These are majorly threatening and difficult obstacles, probably impossible for mere men, yet they forgot the most important part – God was on their side, and not only that, He had promised them this land! If I can say one thing with absolute surety, it is that if God makes a promise, He is going to keep it. Unfortunately, only two of the twelve spies kept this in mind. In verse 30 we see one of them trying to reassure the people of Israel, “But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, ‘Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.’” 

I have always enjoyed reading about Caleb in the Bible because he reminds me of my own Caleb. My husband would totally be the one to come back from seeing a bunch of giants and confidently tell people that he could take them (and I have actually seen him do it on the basketball court). The Caleb of the Bible knew that God would have their back, and with Him on their side, they could overcome any obstacle. He called for his people to stand and do as God commanded. It would have been wise for the people to trust God and listen to Caleb. Instead, they listened to their fear, and it cost them dearly. Friend, I know the obstacles can be scary. I even know that often times, our insecurities might be totally accurate. Maybe we are not smart or strong enough. I, for sure, know that most of the time, I am totally unqualified. That is when God can step in and do a mighty work. I encourage you to let Him do His job, despite your fear and inadequacies. Trust in His promises and remember that with Him, you are well able to overcome!

Incredible

Red Sea | Devotion 2: Incredible
Sierra Combs

“When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, ‘Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians?’ For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.’ And Moses said to the people, ‘Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.’” Exodus 14:10-14

Have you ever found yourself in a seemingly impossible situation? Perhaps even at this very moment, you feel like you have reached a dead end where there is absolutely no way out. I want to encourage you and tell you that you are not alone. Just this morning, I could not stop the tears from falling as I sat dwelling on a situation in my own life that just seems to be hopeless and impossible. Life is hard. Bad stuff happens. However, the Bible makes it clear that we have a good God on our side, ready to fight our battles.

Exodus 14:10-14 is a fascinating passage. We find the Israelites on their way out of Egypt, with the Red Sea in front of them and an angry Pharaoh and his army behind them. They are seemingly trapped, and Scripture tells us that they were greatly afraid. They initially seem to get it right as they cry out to the Lord, but this quickly turns to panic. They complain and blame Moses, telling him that they would have been so much better off back in Egypt, despite the harsh and terrible conditions in which they had been enslaved. To them, it seemed as if God and Moses brought them out to this place just to let them die.

Have you found yourself in a place such as this? Maybe you are new in your faith and are feeling alone and afraid. Maybe you have a long history of seeing God do great things, but as soon as you reach a dead end, you panic yourself into believing that He has brought you there just to leave you. Friend, let me tell you something, God will never leave you, and He is waiting to fight your battles. In the case of the Israelites, it was indeed God who brought them to this place of impossibility, but He did so for a good reason. In the end, it was He who got the glory, and it was He who proved to be the faithful and true Deliverer, bringing their salvation. The Israelites were stuck between an army that wanted to kill them and a giant sea that they could not pass. The only thing they could do was to be still and let the Lord fight for them, and He did just that.

I encourage you to read on in the passage to see the incredible way out that God provided (He sure is creative). He did it for them, and He will do it for you. It is through impossible situations where God really shines and proves His faithfulness. All you have to do is be still and trust Him.

Counterfeits Exposed 

Moses Challenges Pharaoh | Devotion 5: Counterfeits Exposed
Sierra Combs

The words of God can always be trusted. That is a 100% guarantee. However, we are mere humans, and even the most trusting among us can waver in our faith. Sometimes we just want tangible proof. Because God is good and knows how we operate (because He created us!), He often confirms His truths to us in various ways. Sometimes it is through the gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit, or through another brother or sister in Christ. Other times it comes with more pizazz – like a crazy and large scale miracle. However, He chooses to do so, these signs prove that what He says is true, that He is trustworthy, and that we should listen to Him. In the book of Exodus, we see God making bold statements and huge promises. We also see Him backing those promises with the proof that He can be trusted. In chapter 8, God decides that it is time for people to start listening.

God had a big plan at hand. It was time for His people, the Israelites, to be set free from their bondage to the nation of Egypt. Their deliverance was at hand. God called up a man named Moses to be the guy to help get the job done. He also gave Moses a helper, his brother Aaron, to help accomplish the mission. Moses and Aaron knew they had a big job ahead of them. They knew that merely telling Pharaoh that God was telling him to let a couple million of his slaves go free would not be a simple thing. “Never gonna happen,” is much more likely the answer they knew they would get from the King of Egypt. Yet they trusted that God would take care of it and decided to obey the (seemingly crazy) things He asked them to do. He did not disappoint them! Today we are going to focus on Exodus chapter 7 verses 8-13. Here we see God telling Moses and Aaron that He is going to show some proof of who He is and how much power He yields. “Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Prove yourselves by working a miracle,’ then you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and cast it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent.’’ So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron cast down his staff before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent” (Exodus 7:8-10).  

I know we live in an age where we see movies with crazy special effects, or magic shows with incredible illusions, but this was long before all of that. This was not an illusion; it was the power of God at work. In this instance, the proof was meant for Pharaoh. He wanted to know why he should trust Moses, and why Yahweh- the true God of the Israelites- was any different than all of the gods of Egypt. Instead of being convinced, he decided to replicate it so he could ignore it. Verses 11-13 tell us, “Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers, and they, the magicians of Egypt, also did the same by their secret arts. For each man cast down his staff, and they became serpents. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. Still, Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.” 

I wish I could tell you how exactly the Egyptian sorcerers performed their replication. Perhaps for them, it was an illusion. Or perhaps it was the power of the enemy, Satan himself, that caused their staffs actually to turn into snakes. What I do know is that Satan is the ultimate deceiver and for every good and perfect thing that God offers, the enemy always offers a counterfeit option that will lure people away from God. You would think a stick turning into a snake and then eating all the other snakes would be enough proof to convince Pharaoh to listen to God, but yet his heart stayed hardened. Perhaps one of the reasons for that was that he allowed his heart to be content with the counterfeit.

How often do we do the same? Over and over again God proves Himself true, but instead of being convinced we make excuses. We explain the truth away, so we do not have to listen to God and do what He says. We accept the enemy’s lies and in doing so miss out on the good gifts and promises that God offers us. Just like in this story, there is a big difference between God’s truth and the enemy’s counterfeit. The other snakes or staffs were devoured. Aaron’s serpent was the only one left, leaving the Egyptians with nothing left on which to lean. Aaron was left with the support of his staff and the support of His God.  Friend, do not let your heart be content with the counterfeits of this world. One day they will all be exposed. Only God’s perfect truth will remain. He has proven faithful, and His plans are in your best interest. It is time to listen!

Pain and Promises

Excuses | Devotion 6: Pain and Promises
Sierra Combs

Sometimes we bring a lot of pain upon ourselves. We sin, we do things we know we should not, and we have to pay the consequences. Yet other times, we just get a bad deal. Sometimes the storms of life or wrath of other people just beat down on us seemingly out of nowhere and for no reason. Maybe you are experiencing this right now. You might be trying your best, working hard, and doing everything you are supposed to do, but the trouble keeps coming.

A similar scenario happened for the Israelites in Exodus chapter 5. Here they were, a giant group of people enslaved by the Egyptians, doing their daily job of making bricks, when the trouble came. In the previous chapters, we see God telling Moses that he is the guy who God was going to use to free His people. God told Moses exactly what to do and what to say to Pharaoh, asking him to let the Israelites go so they could worship God. God even told Moses that Pharaoh was going to reject his request and make things difficult for him and the nation of Israel before the promise was fulfilled. This is exactly what happened. After hearing from Moses, Pharaoh not only rejected his request but also decided to take it out on the Israelites by making their work impossible. He immediately took away the materials they needed to make bricks while demanding they make the same amount as before. When they did not meet the quota, they were brutally beaten and abused. To say the Israelites were unhappy is an understatement. Instead of running to God or even to Moses, they instead ran to Pharaoh in hopes of finding a solution. “Then the foremen of the people of Israel came and cried to Pharaoh, ‘Why do you treat your servants like this? No straw is given to your servants, yet they say to us, ‘Make bricks!’ And behold, your servants are beaten; but the fault is in your own people’’” (Exodus 5:15-16). Pharaoh basically told them that it was not his problem, to stop being lazy, and to figure it out or pay the consequence. As terrified and angry as the Israelites were with Pharaoh, they were even more furious with Moses, who they had just warmly welcomed as their deliverer. When they see him they yell, “May the Lord judge and punish you for making us stink before Pharaoh and his officials. You have put a sword into their hands, an excuse to kill us!” (5:21 NLT). Here they were, wishing curses and judgment upon Moses, the one who was sent by God to liberate them. Unfortunately, bad attitudes did not stop with them. Verses 22-23 (NLT) tell us, “Moses went back to the Lord and protested, ‘Why have you brought all this trouble on your own people, Lord? Why did you send me? Ever since I came to Pharaoh as your spokesman, he has been even more brutal to your people. And you have done nothing to rescue them!’”

We can see that when the trouble came, Moses and the Israelites did not respond well. Notice how quickly they had forgotten what God had promised them. Not only did He promise to deliver them, but He also warned them that it was not going to be a simple path. Pharaoh was not going to make it easy. It was going to take some time, and it was going to be difficult and chaotic. Even though they did not bring this chaos on themselves, they quickly let their bad attitudes and lack of faith get the best of them.

The same is so often true for us. God has given us some pretty amazing promises, all of them true and all of them worth it. But He does not promise that the road to their fulfillment will be easy. Instead, He gently reminds us that in this world we will face a variety of trials and tribulations. This world is full of trouble and chaos, some of which we bring upon ourselves and some that are a natural result of the fallen sin-filled world that we live. It is unavoidable, and the enemy is not going to make it easy for us. But God’s way is always the best way! I encourage you today to keep pressing forward. Do not forget or doubt the promises He has made to you. Trust in His perfect plan, and I promise that it will be worth it in the end!

You’ve Never Failed Me Yet

Commit | Devotion #4: You’ve Never Failed Me Yet
Sierra Combs | Women’s Ministry Director

Recently, the mother of a sweet friend of mine had a massive brain aneurysm and stroke, which led to her being unresponsive in the hospital for a month. This month was filled with prayer: prayers from her family and friends, from the girls in our Wednesday night Growth Community, and from pastors both here at the River and at other churches in the community. We prayed that God would miraculously heal her, knowing that He has complete power and authority to do so. We also prayed that He would bring comfort and peace to those who loved her and trusted in Him, knowing that He would be faithful to deliver on that promise. My friend spent much of the month at the hospital, and every Sunday she sat right next to her mom watching the live gatherings online, singing along to the worship. One Sunday she sent me a text during the message, and I told her that I would soon be closing with one of my favorite songs which include the lyrics: 

“I’ve seen you move the mountains,
and I believe I’ll see you do it again.
You made a way when there was no way,
and I believe I’ll see you do it again.
Your promise still stands,
great is Your faithfulness.
I’m still in Your hands,
this is my confidence-
You’ve never failed me yet.” 

Since I could not be praying with her in person, I figured the next best thing I could do would be to dedicate that whole song in my heart in prayer for her mom, and as she sang along with me from the hospital, it could be like we were praying together. Even though it can be difficult, placing our trust, lives, and the lives of those we love in the hands of God, it will always be for our benefit. He is so faithful, even when we cannot see it or understand His ways. Friend, I assure you that you can trust Him. 

I was really hoping that God would choose to heal her, but after a month it was clear that the time had come for the family to let her go. Like many of those other Sundays, my friend spent the morning in the hospital next to her mom, watching the gathering live, and worshiping with us. This time I closed with another favorite song, singing over and over about how good God is and how He will never let us down. The whole family was in that room that morning, singing those words with me. As we sang, my friend’s dad, the high school sweetheart to his beloved wife, sat and whispered those words in her ear as she passed on from this life and leapt straight into the hands of her Heavenly Father.

I am so thankful for what Jesus did on the cross. Without it, there would be only death. However, because of what He did, we have the opportunity to leap into the arms of the Father when it comes time for us to leave this Earth. Jesus acknowledges this as He drew His final breath on the cross, “Calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’” (Luke 23:46). Surely there is no better place to be than in the arms of the Father. Whether committing our spirit to the Lord when we leave this Earth, or placing every single worry, fear, and situation right into His hands while we are still here, I can promise you this: He is good, He is faithful, and He will never ever let us down.



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