Devotions

Author Archives: Jill Osmon

Hatred and Jealousy 

Joseph & Brothers • Devotion #4: Hatred and Jealousy
Jill Osmon | Assistant to Lead Pastor

“They saw him from afar, and before he came near to them they conspired against him to kill him. They said to one another, ‘Here comes this dreamer. Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits. Then we will say that a fierce animal has devoured him, and we will see what will become of his dreams.’” Genesis 37:18-20  

Bitterness, hatred, and jealousy are not new. Something from deep within us can react to the mere perceived slight from anyone. Joseph’s brothers come to this moment with a wealth of history piled up into a heap of anger. Joseph was the favorite, Joseph was clearly anointed by God, Joseph had the coat, and Joseph had the dreams to remind his brothers of these very things. 

Does this story instantly bring someone to mind that reminds you of Joseph? Is there someone in your life who seems to have it all, knows they have it all, and reminds you that they have it all? Replace dreams and coat with social media and success, and maybe then you can imagine someone. It makes you discontent, and in that discontentment, it opens a harshness that spreads like cancer to every aspect of your life. You find yourself secretly wishing upon them failures and messes because their life highlights what you do not have. 

Hatred and jealousy say more about us than it does about the person we have decided to point out all of our frustrations. We are wounded, hurt, and wondering why God has lavished such favor on someone else. It makes us react out of a place that is unhealthy and harmful. Joseph’s brothers were not psychotic, evil people. They were wounded and reacting, and we have all been there. I have been reading a book, “Uninvited,” and this statement has stuck with me, “The only thing I’ve seen work in my life to protect my heart from these deep wounds is the constant pursuit of the sweetest grace.” 

Take a moment, think through your life, find those places, situations, and people that pull out the bitterness, hatred, and jealousy. Pursue grace with them and for them. God’s favor does not exclude anyone from hurt and difficulties. We are all in need of God’s grace, to pursue it, give it, and receive it from each other.

Making Promises 

Isaac & Rebekah • Devotion #1: Making Promises
Jill Osmon | Assistant to the Lead Pastor

I am not the most patient person; when I know something is going to happen, I want it immediately. That is pretty normal in the instant gratification culture in which we live. Abraham and Sarah went through the same thing. God promised them a great nation from their offspring, but they were older, to the point that they found it funny when they received God’s Word that they would conceive. “And he brought him outside and said, ‘Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be’” (Genesis 15:5).

Time and again Abraham and Sarah doubted God’s promise and tried to provide it themselves. We have all been there, right? We know God promises us many things (peace, comfort, joy), but we fail to be patient in waiting for those things. We sometimes miss them because they do not come in packages, places, and people we think they will come, and in doing so, we failed to embrace God’s promises when He does bring them. We waste many years trying to create what God has promised us and through that create messes of our lives. Abraham and Sarah took it upon themselves to provide an offspring, and those decisions and repercussions are still felt today. That is a pretty epic disaster of a plan that we can all understand. What epic disaster have you had in your life because you did not trust God? 

One of my favorite themes of the Bible is the redemption of our human failings. We go through the pain and the hurt so that we can recognize and appreciate the redemption and grace that God offers. If we learn and grow from these, we get another chance to hold onto His promises, and wait and see God do some epically amazing things. That leads us to Genesis chapter 15. 

Genesis chapter 15 is the culmination of Abraham embracing God’s plan, and trusting that God would provide what He promised in His timing. Abraham sends his servant to find a wife for Isaac believing and trusting that God would provide. “The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my kindred, and who spoke to me and swore to me, ‘To your offspring I will give this land,’ he will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there” (Genesis 24:7). In the end, he believed. My prayer is that we learn from Abraham and Sarah. We should not wait our entire lives to finally embrace God’s promises in His timing. Instead, we should live a life defined by our radical faith, believing in a God who provides in His perfect timing.

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.



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