Devotions

Author Archives: Jill Osmon

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.

Obey | How?

Obey | Devotion #6: How?
Jill Osmon | Assistant to the Lead Pastor

“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’” Matthew 28:18-20

We have been talking about the great commission this week, the who, what, where, when, and why. Today I want to focus on the how, which, quite frankly, is a little intimidating. How do we adequately, successfully, and clearly give the Gospel out to the world today? We are living in the midst of a shift in America. As Christians, we are no longer the majority, we are not given the benefit of the doubt, and we are not given space to reach out as we have in the past. So, in our everyday life what does that look like? I think we first start with what God gave us, His Word.

The Bible is our conversation with God; it is our answers to how we live our lives. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

God promises to equip us to “every good work.” I do not know about you, but that is a relief. That means I do not have to do it on my human abilities. I tend to freeze up during important conversations. I think about what I want to say, and it sounds really good in my head. I sound smart, together, and eloquent. Then I open my mouth, and I sound like I have never had a complete conversation with another adult, at least that is how I feel. Can anyone else relate? I feel like a failure, like the life of that person was in my hands and I failed. However, this is what is so unbelievably humbling about God. He takes that feeble attempt, and He rescues peoples lives, in spite of my fumbling, in spite of my arrogance, and in spite of my nerves. He comes in and speaks directly to them, making our words work mysteriously. I am writing this, and I feel inspired that I can go and talk to people about my experience and God uses that, not because of me but because of Him.

Knowing when to speak is also a difficult thing to navigate. In Acts chapter 9, we learn of Saul’s conversion, and specifically in verse 20 it says, “And immediately he proclaimed Jesus.” I think it is that simple, immediately. Do not over complicate it. If you feel God’s prompting, act upon it. We all have stories where we felt God telling us to go and talk to someone, and we have ignored it. We should not do that anymore. We do not have time, and nothing else is more important. I am not advocating awkward, bursts of Gospel bombs, but a conversation, to connect with someone and tell them why your life is different. In 1 Peter 2:9 it says, “that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” If you get intimidated, scared, or unsure, remember this verse. Here it is again, because for me, when I read this all I want to do is cheer and honestly sing the song, “Into marvelous light I’m running, Out of darkness, out of shame. By the cross, you are the truth. You are the life; you are the way.” If you know the song, you are probably singing it, too!

Again,1 Peter 2:9 says, “that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” People want to come out of the darkness, they are searching and longing to come into the light. We cannot squander our chances to tell them how to come into the light.

So, as we go out living our lives, do not forget to listen to God’s prompting. Be ready to share why your life looks different, to be able and willing to give the Gospel because it is not our ability but God’s who will reach the lost. We get to be used by God to point people to Him. We can not take that for granted, nor lose out on the opportunities He gives us!

The Resurrection

Delivery Day • The Resurrection
Jill Osmon | Assistant to the Lead Pastor

Luke 24:6-7
“He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” 

Growing up in church, Easter was always a big deal. We always got new outfits, always looked really nice that Sunday, and the chocolate bunny was always an added bonus! I knew it was more than all of those things, but as a kid, who self-admittedly was very sheltered, the depth of what Easter was did not land in my mind.

As an adult, the weight of what Easter is, what we celebrate and recognize, should be humbling, it should be something that gives us hope and joy while understanding the sacrifice. Unfortunately, I find myself focusing on everything but that. I worry about events, about family, about clothes, and a slew of other well-intentioned things that are not important when compared to the resurrection. I am sure you have things that you focus on during this time of year that seem less important when you begin to remember what we celebrate this time of year. So I guess what I should say is what Easter should mean to me, how should Easter shape how I live my life.

Because of the foundational importance of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, I think we sometimes complicate it more than it is. Josh McDowell says it best, “Few people seem to realize that the resurrection of Jesus is the cornerstone to a worldview that provides the perspective to all of life.” Everything that we do should be through the purview of the resurrection. Acts 4:33 says, “And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.” God will give us grace; He will give us strength and hope and joy, all that we need to live a life that brings Him glory.

I am a pretty steady person; not much can knock me off the course I believe God has for me. I am not easily swayed, not easily emotionally manipulated, and not much can unsteady me. I wish I could say that steadiness is always based on the foundation of God and His goodness, but a lot of the time it is based on my strength, my work, and that fails 100% of the time. Charles Stanley says, “There is only one secure foundation: a genuine, deep relationship with Jesus Christ, which will carry you through any and all turmoil. No matter what storms are raging all around, you’ll stand firm if you stand on His love.”

That is what Easter means to me; it is that which I strive to have my life completely and assuredly attached. The resurrection, it is where our hope and joy comes from because without the resurrection our faith has no foundation. I love this quote, “No matter how devastating our struggles, disappointments, and troubles are, they are only temporary. No matter what happens to you, no matter the depth of tragedy or pain you face, no matter how death stalks you and your loved ones, the Resurrection promises you a future of immeasurable good” (Josh McDowell).

So this year let us challenge ourselves to realign where our foundation lies, that our hope and our joy comes from the one place that can always promise immeasurable goodness, that is Jesus.



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