Devotions

Author Archives: Jill Osmon

The Messenger

Ministry #1  November 13 The Messenger

“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’ John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.  Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey.” – Mark 1:1-6

“And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.” – Luke 1:80 

God chose John the Baptist as His messenger: The one who would point everyone to the Messiah, the one who would baptize Jesus, the one who He formed and shaped for this role. John was the answer to the prophecy in Isaiah 40:3, “A voice of one calling: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.’” He was shaped and created for a purpose. I do not know about you, but that brings me a lot of peace and a lot of joy. I remember growing up and thinking I wanted to be a teacher, for those who know me well now would probably laugh at that idea. I am not a teacher; God did not make me to be a teacher. He gifted me with other talents, and I believe that we are all created with talents and gifts. I think sometimes we are so focused on what we want to do and not what God has equipped us to do. Most importantly, though, is that no matter what He has shaped you to be, we are to use that to point people to Jesus.

“Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey.” – Mark 1:6

I have heard the saying ‘be in the world, but not of it,’ and I have always thought of John the Baptist when I have heard this. He dressed weird, ate strange things; he was not part of the world. But I believe this idea has lent Christians an excuse to huddle together and shun the world and in doing so has somehow created a message that we are better because we are separate. I read a blog the other day that talked about this concept and shed some light on it. David Mathis, on the Desiring God website, said this, “Jesus’ true followers have not only been crucified to the world, but also raised to new life and sent back in to free others. We have been rescued from the darkness and given the Light not merely to flee the darkness, but to guide our steps as we go back in to rescue others. So let us revise the popular phrase ‘in, but not of.’ Christians are not of this world, but sent into it. Not of, but sent into.”

John the Baptist was given the privilege to go before Jesus, we have the privilege of coming after Jesus and as Mathis said we have been “given the Light not merely to flee the darkness, but to guide our steps as we go back in to rescue others.”  John the Baptist was actively “proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”  We are the messengers now; we are to point people to Jesus, not by isolating ourselves but to actively share the Gospel.

Jill Osmon

Assistant to Lead Pastor

How to Give #4 – The Giving Garden

How to Give #4 – The Giving Garden
Jill Osmon | Assistant to Lead Pastor

It has been a little over 12 years since my grandfather has passed away. Twelve years, but there are still moments that I long for his advice, his guidance, and his unwavering love of people. My grandma and grandpa always had a huge garden when I was growing up. I always wondered why they did such a big garden, we had a big family but not that big, and then I encountered the reason for their gigantic garden. One Sunday, they started to unload their car full of baskets of vegetables and fruits and started giving them to people they picked up on the bus for church each week. I have a distinct memory of my grandfather, with a huge smile on his face, giving out something that had taken months of care, time, and money from him and his family. However, there he was, giving it freely and with such a joy, I still remember it to this day.

I have kept that memory and that lesson of that day in the back of my mind for a long time, and I remember it every time I read 1 Corinthians 9:6-7, “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” We hold back so much of our time, our money, and our love because we want to keep it ourselves. I am sure there were times that going out and maintaining a huge garden was tedious, time-consuming, and expensive, but my grandparents had figured out something that we all need in our lives. They learned that giving joyfully, purposefully, and sacrificially not only benefited those they gave to but it benefitted them as well. Maybe not in the traditional sense but they knew giving with intention honored God.

We have been talking about money the last few weeks, a topic that can be sensitive at times but I believe the concept of giving, being a cheerful giver, goes beyond money and includes our time, our efforts, and our care. Next time you have the opportunity to give, remember that we are to give cheerfully, not reluctantly, and we will reap abundantly!

Man Gots to Know His Weakness

Servant #4 – Man Gots to Know His Weakness
Jill Osmon | Assistant to Lead Pastor

Servitude, sacrifice, and humility are not something our culture tends to affirm or even recognize, but it is something that we are called to do by God. Jesus, being fully man and fully God is the best picture of the ultimate sacrifice, which is, of course, the cross. Leading up to His impending death, however, Jesus battled with the sacrifice He knew He had to make. He understood, being fully man, the pull of the flesh and the pull of His Father to do what He was sent to do. As I read over the verses in Matthew 26, one part jumped out at me in verse 41, “… The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

I found such comfort in these words. Jesus, even in one of His darkest hours, understood the pull of our flesh and warned us. It was a perfect moment that showed His full awareness of our humanity. This is the tension we live in, here on earth. Paul says it perfectly in Galatians
5:17, “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”

Sometimes the difficult part of living out our faith is not the lack of knowledge on what to do but instead, knowing what we should be doing, having a desire to do it, but still, our flesh fails, and we give into the very base of our humanity. In Matthew 26, Jesus warns His disciples and gives instructions on how to avoid the flesh winning, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation…”  What temptation is He speaking of? The flesh winning, even when we want to do good. If we do not prepare and we are not ready, then our flesh will win.

The Bible continually speaks about us being a servant for Him (John 12:26; 2 Timothy 2:24; 2 Corinthians 6:4; Romans 6:22). We fight it because our world and our culture do not uplift sacrifice and servanthood, but instead pushes us to feed our most basic fleshly desires. However, let’s not forget Jesus’ tender words to His disciples, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Remember that even Jesus was tempted to let His flesh win, but He was active and in constant prayer with His Father. That is what helps guard us against a weak flesh, being active in His Word and prayer. Dig into His Word, pray, and be ready to fight the flesh, because even if our flesh fails us, we know we have a God who is powerful, loving, and He will never fail us.

One of my favorite songs is “Give Me Faith” by Elevation Worship, “And I may be weak but Your Spirit’s strong in me; my flesh may fail, but my God, You never will.”

Gratitude

Storm Chaser • Devotion #2: Gratitude
Jill Osmon | Assistant to the Lead Pastor

Psalm 107:28-32 says, “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.”

There are many conversations about how to get through the storm, how to endure it, but we do not usually talk about what we do after the storm. What happens when we survive? What does God expect of us on the other side? I know gratitude is the last thing that usually goes with a storm. Storms are devastating, they can destroy your life, and they can radically change your life. So how can we be grateful at the end?

Gratitude changes you. Think about it… when you are grateful your entire perspective changes. You see actions in a different light; you are more forgiving, more loving, and more Christ-like. However, gratitude is not a natural reaction for us; we have to strive for it. If we do not strive for gratefulness, we are useless. It says in Romans 1:21, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” An ungrateful heart is a heart open to bitterness, anger, worry, hate, and much more. When we go through a storm, we as humans can immediately become embittered because our perspective has been battered and abused. Gratefulness protects us. It allows us to gain a perspective that is focused on God and understanding that He is in control. It allows us to learn and teach from our storms.

God commands us to be grateful to protect us from our feeble human reactions. Be grateful, especially after a storm. Allow God to show us the what, the why, the deep down lessons that we need to learn through our storms. Gratitude allows that. It opens us up to being used by Him. Isn’t that the most amazing thing to be done? To have our storms used to help others, to change us to be better ambassadors for Him.

Choose gratefulness!

Enduring the Storm

Storm Chaser • Devotion #1: Enduring the Storm
Jill Osmon | Assistant to the Lead Pastor

Enduring a storm is difficult; the kind of difficult that breaks men and women. Enduring a storm can seem impossible. Then God brings people into our lives; people, who try to help us endure storms, get through storms, and then thrive after the storm. Those people, the ones that speak into lives of people enduring a storm, that is whom I want to speak to for a bit today.

In the Bible, Job went through a pretty intense season in his life. He lost everything; I cannot imagine his pain and devastation that he endured. Job had a lot of friends surrounding him, with A LOT of opinions. Most giving some pretty terrible advice. His friends were going as far as telling him just to die because his life was so miserable. One friend had been sitting quietly, waiting, and listening to all that the others had to say, and he could not stay quiet any longer. His name was Elihu.

Elihu gave the perfect balance of love and truth; he did not allow Job to wallow in his circumstances, but he also gave Job solid advice. He goes on for a few chapters, and he has some difficult conversations with Job’s friends and with Job. He did not diminish the storm Job was in, but he also stood firm in who God is. Job 37:14 says, “Hear this, O Job; stop and consider the wondrous works of God.” We have to remember to point people to God during their storm. Self-help, self-esteem, self-whatever, does not help if they do not recognize that God is in control, and He is “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling” (Psalm 46:1-3). Elihu reminds Job who he is and Whom he belongs to. Although it seems simple, this simple fact brings a sense of peace and calm that only God can bring.

We will all have opportunities to help others through a storm and to endure a storm. We must be prepared to have some difficult conversations. The most important part of helping others through storms is to point them to God every single time.



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