Devotions

Author Archives: Jill Osmon

Eloquence?

God’s Will • Devotion #5: Eloquence?
Jill Osmon | Assistant to Lead Pastor

“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10

The Lord’s Prayer is a template for how we should pray. If you look at verses 5-9a, you will see that the Gentiles were praying incorrectly, they were praying to be heard by men, not by God. “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

I do not know about you, but I like to sound eloquent when I pray, and that can make it more about the words then the actual meaning of what I am saying. It can sound really good and still be empty, meaningless prayers. Which, I think, if we all admit, we want our prayers to have depth, meaning, and be powerful before God. So how we pray is important and what we pray is important.

Verse 10 has always been so interesting to me. In one commentary, it talks about how we ask about His will to be done. Are we resigned to His will, knowing it will happen? Are we annoyed that we do not get our way? Our attitude when asking for His will to be done is important. It shows where we are in our faith. When we ask for God’s will to be done, it should be because we have come to the point in our love and trust that we know God has the best for us, whether it is what we think is best or not. It is difficult; no one can say that giving up control, giving up earthly desires, is simple or easy. But what I do know is that when we begin to give control over to God, let go of what we think we should get, let go of what the world says we should have, and look around to what God has given to us, we will find our faith stronger, and our life being used by God. That starts with a prayer asking for His will to be done.

We know that what He has planned will happen, but He still commands us to pray. John MacArthur says, “To pray Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven is to rebel against the worldly idea that sin is normal and inevitable…” We pray because we want our life to reflect God here on earth, not to reflect what our flesh wants. As we continue to learn about prayer, do not forget that we pray for many reasons and one of those reasons is to connect with God. In connecting with Him, our desire for His will grows, and our request for His will to be done is an outpouring of our faith in Him. So we need to be clear in our prayer, it does not have to be eloquent or perfect, but it does have to be about God and not men.

Not Forsaking

Gather | Devotion #6: Not Forsaking
Jill Osmon | Assistant to the Lead Pastor

Hebrews 10:25 in the King James Version is, quite honestly, a little intimidating, a little bold, and a little unrelenting, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.” Growing up in a pretty strict, conservative Baptist church, this verse was wielded around with some power. I attended church, for a long time, out of an obligation. It was not out of a passion to learn or to be surrounded by other Christians, but as a check on my “to-do” Christian list that I had made up in my mind. I failed to read the verses before verse 25 and really the entirety of verse 25.  When you put the verse in context, it is not a demand to be wielded but an answer to your sometimes hurting soul that is being beaten up out in the world. It is important to take a closer look to those verses, see what gathering with saints really does for us, and why God commands us to not put this off or leave it in our childhood.

Hebrews 10:19-22 says, “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” This is a beautiful way to say we have a completely open road straight to God. We no longer have to go through a priest, we no longer have a curtain that separates us from God, and we have “Confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,” through the cross we have direct access to God. We should celebrate this liberty; we should be joyful and thankful to be able to go to God with no impediments.

With the idea of having direct access to God in mind, verses 23-25, for me seem different. It is no longer a demand but a promise from someone that is the definition of faithful God. Verses 23-25 are one thought, and they say, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how 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.” See God knew that we needed each other, that we needed a time, a community to help us love each other, love those that are hard to love, and to do good. We do not naturally do good, or love people. We need help, and God answered that need in the church.

Do not forget why we gather together, not as a line item on our to-do list to be checked off but to encourage us, remind us how and why we should do good and love each other and others.

Martha

Lesson Twelve | Devotion #6: Martha
Jill Osmon | Assistant to the Lead Pastor

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

In our culture, making a difference or serving others, is looked upon as the ultimate path in life, the ultimate sacrifice.  We love a story about sacrifice and about serving others. This is the pay it forward generation. It is great to live in a world that highlights that, that sees the good in that, that acknowledges the sacrifice in that.

It is not just our world, but God wants us to serve. It is throughout the Bible:

Galatians 5:13 says, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

Hebrews 13:2 adds, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

1 Peter 4:9 continues the thought, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”

Paul says in 1 Timothy 5:10, “And having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work.”

It is a good work to serve others; it is commanded! So why was Martha rebuked by Jesus for choosing the wrong thing when He was in her home?  Luke 10:38-42 says, “Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.’”

Martha loved serving others, so much so that it consumed her life. It became a distraction. John McArthur said in his commentary, “The highest priority for believers – the deep, transforming knowledge of God.” Mary was distracted with good things, but distracted nonetheless.

How many times have we distracted ourselves with good things, but we let that take us away from our highest priority? We can serve, we can love, and we can sacrifice, but it means nothing if it is not coming from a transforming knowledge of God. Our service and our love have to come from our deep, overwhelming love of God. We cannot love Him without knowing Him. We cannot leave one behind. We cannot serve without knowing God; we cannot know God and not serve. Martha left behind knowing God, wanting to work her way into His mercy and grace.

What we need is both, to know God and to serve others for Him. That was the reason for Jesus’ rebuke. We need both.  So do not leave one behind!

Rachel

Lesson Two | Devotion #6: Rachel
Jill Osmon | Assistant to the Lead Pastor

Genesis 30:1 says, “When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister. She said to Jacob, ‘Give me children, or I shall die!’”

I have always thought world changers had big, huge lives that made big splashes. As I have gotten older, I see people have influence over others, and it is not massive, no one knew them, yet their impact is felt for many years and many generations.

Rachel was one such quiet influencer. We do not know much about her, but Rachel’s struggles are something that we can all understand and from which we can learn. Rachel compared her life and was envious of what she did not have. She was not able to see past her pain, her desires and to be able to see that God had a bigger plan for her.

The Bible is very clear about comparing ourselves. 2 Corinthians 10:12 says, “Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.”

Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

When we are blinded by what others have and comparing our lives to others, we miss opportunity after opportunity to feel God’s presence and love His people. Think about it, if we stopped comparing, if we stopped being envious, what greater influence could we have on the lives of others?

God’s plans will always happen. He always intended Rachel to give birth to Joseph, that Joseph would become one of the greatest stories ever told, and that Rachel’s influence as a mother would help Joseph navigate the difficult situations God placed him. The point is not that we drastically change God’s plan with our human inabilities, but how greater of opportunities will He give us if we accept where He has placed us and allow Him to use our lives to bring Him more glory.

Rachel is a reminder of what an envious life looks like, full of despair, anger, and comparison. What she could have accomplished if she had not been distracted by how she perceived her life and instead been open to what God had for her is immeasurable.  Do not be bogged down by comparison and instead recognize that we are all uniquely made and loved by God, that should be freeing enough to live our lives unshackled by doubt and envy.

Hagar

Lesson Two | Devotion #3: Hagar
Jill Osmon | Assistant to the Lead Pastor

Sarah and Abraham are significant in the Bible, their lives are followed, and yet in the middle of it all, a young woman named Hagar is thrust into their lives by one decision. She finds herself in a place I am sure she never imagined, did not want, and was not happy with how her life was moving. Genesis chapter 16 walks us through Hagar’s journey.

Genesis 16: 1-4 says, “Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said to Abram, ‘Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.’ And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress.”

HAGAR FLEES

Genesis 16:6 adds, “…Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her.”

After all of this, Hagar fled. She could not take the pressure, the shame, the anger, and her role in it all. We sometimes do this, we get to the middle of a season, a season that has been difficult, one that has hurt, and we leave. It is not just a situation, but we leave where God has placed us. It is easier to walk away, convince ourselves that God did not place us there and that God would never make us walk through this valley. It hurts too much to be accepted as being from God. Please listen, if we go through life by running from every valley and trial God has for us (whether that is self-inflicted or not), our faith will be small and weak. God grows us; our faith is strengthened through these moments. We see this throughout the Bible. We see it with Paul and his thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). It is evident throughout Moses’ life, whether it be his doubt or valleys God walked him through. We are not promised an easy road; we are not promised a life void of hardship.

God meets Hagar on her flight, and the first thing He does is remind her where she should be. God will not let world changers take the easy way out; you have to go through the valleys to get to the mountain tops.  You cannot go around; you cannot take a shortcut, you have to go through it.  He then quickly follows it up with a promise, can you picture it? Hagar is distraught and angry and bitter; God has just reprimanded her. Have you ever been there? It can feel lonely, joyless, and scary, yet God in His grace and mercy still gives us His promises.

GOD’S PROMISES – Genesis 16:10-12

God gives Hagar a promise, she will bear a son, and his offspring will be many. Her needs would be met.  Her life may not be what she wanted, but her needs would be met. God’s promises are what brings us out of deep waters. One of my favorite songs is Oceans, by Hillsong United. Part of lyrics are, “Your grace abounds in deepest waters; Your sovereign hand will be my guide; where feet may fail and fear surrounds me; You’ve never failed and You won’t start now.” Hagar calls Him the “God of seeing.” He sees us, He sees you, all of your imperfections, all of your hurt, and all of your dreams. He sees EVERYTHING. He sees us, loves us, and gives us promises upon promises. He has never failed us and He never will.

GOD PROVIDES – Genesis 21:14-20

I wish the rest of Hagar’s story was one of joy and peace, but she finds herself in another valley.  Once Sarai has a baby, Isaac, the reminder of Hagar and Ishmael is raw and ever present. So, Abraham sends them away with only a bottle of water and some bread.

Ishmael and Hagar go through the water and bread that Abraham provides and are on the verge of death. She cries out to God, not remembering His promise, but simply sitting, waiting to die. An angel calls from Heaven, tells her to take Ishmael, reminds her that God promised to make him a great nation, and then He provides for their earthly needs. Verse 18 and 19 say, “‘Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.’ Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water.”

I read in one commentary that Abraham gave her a bottle, but God gave her a well. Man’s attempt to provide will always pale in comparison to God providing for us.  Our feeble human attempt to provide for ourselves or even for others without God amounts to a bottle versus a well. Even when we forget, even when God has to open our eyes, He still provides, and His promises endure. Even when we cannot see it, even when we doubt, God provides.

Hagar should be a reminder that no matter our circumstances, God provides, His promises endure, and He will never fail us.



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