Devotions

Author Archives: Jill Osmon

Seventh Day

Creation • Devotion #6: Seventh Day
Jill Osmon | Assistant to the Lead Team

“And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” Genesis 2:2-3

I have the privilege of coordinating most of our large events at The River Church, and I love it, I mean super nerd love it, it is what God made me to do. But, it is an intense job, very detailed, and very much requires me to expend a lot of mind muscle energy and just plain physical energy. So after a large event, I completely lose the ability to make decisions, I have been making decisions for the last few months about everything, and now all I want to do is sit and not think. After a few days, I feel refreshed, maybe, but I do not always truly feel rested, and I have struggled with why, after relaxing, getting away, why can I not find true rest?

We have all been there, right? We have been through seasons of life that are just exhausting, a new baby, a new job, teenagers, tough financial times, or health issues for yourself or a loved one; and all you want to do is rest. But what is true rest? God rested on the seventh day during Creation, making a command that we rest. Unfortunately, we have a culture that does not truly know rest, even with vacations and days off, rest alludes most of us. Exodus 20:8-11 says, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

We often equate rest with time off, doing nothing, or vacation, but what is God saying here? If you look closely, verse 10 says, “but the seventh day is a Sabbath TO the Lord your God” (emphasis is mine). While we may come back from a vacation or a day off refreshed, we will not know true rest unless we rest in God.

Psalm 91:1 (NIV) says, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” I know that my soul craves for true rest, and that desire, that need, can only be satisfied by resting in the shadow of the Almighty. So how do we do that? Well, I think we look at how God rested on the seventh day. Verse 31 of Genesis chapter 1 says, “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” We look back on all that God has done, even when we are in the deepest valleys, and we see His goodness, kindness, and love, and we rejoice in gratitude. Matthew Henry Commentary puts it this way, “The Christian Sabbath, which we observe, is a seventh day, and in it we celebrate the rest of God the Son, and the finishing the work of our redemption.” Then, and only then, will we find true rest.

More Than a Prophet

ACTS • Devotion #6: More Than a Prophet
Jill Osmon | Assistant to Lead Team

I had the privilege of going to Israel at the end of 2017, and in the simplest of words, it was life-changing. To see the places I had been taught, I had read about and studied, in person, was and still is a defining moment in my life. Riding into Jerusalem, one of the stories that stood out to me in my mind was the Triumphal Entry. The excitement that they must have felt had to have been powerful, a moment they would never forget. Matthew 21:9-11 records, “And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!’ And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, ‘Who is this?’ And the crowds said, ‘This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.’” But as we know, that moment was fleeting for most of them, and they missed the brevity, the true meaning of that moment. Look at verse 11, “‘Who is this?’ And the crowds said, ‘This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.’” They refer to Jesus as a “prophet,” not the Son of Man, but a prophet. They liked the Jesus that healed people and helped with injustices of the world. However, when He asked for more (their life, sacrifice, and faith), they retreated and became critics of those that wanted to highlight that part of Jesus’ life.

If you take the teachings of Jesus out of the Bible and take them as a “nice” or “moral” way to live, you are missing it. You cannot take Jesus out of the context of the whole Bible. If you do, you will end up like the crowd at the Triumphal Entry, turning against the idea of Jesus, the Bible, and all that God asks of us. When it became difficult, deeper, and required something from them, they turned because they never truly accepted who Jesus is.

He is not just a prophet, good teacher, or moral man to be admired; He is God in human form, the Son of God. He loves us, and He is for helping those in need, being an advocate for social injustices; but we cannot miss the reason for that. That is not all He is; those things are a result of our faith, not our actual faith. Please do not misunderstand, God calls for us to help those in need, to be advocates for social injustices but that is not the whole of our faith, it is because of our faith in God that we embrace those things.

Do not be afraid to go deeper into your faith; do not be afraid of the sacrifices that He requires. In those moments of deepening our faith and those moments of sacrifice that we come to a deeper understanding of God and His love for us. Do not miss that for a shallow, empty view of who Jesus is. He is our Lord and Savior who gave His life for us. Do not miss it!

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!



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