Author Archives: Jill Osmon

The Resurrection • Devotion #5: Just as He Told You

The resurrection of Jesus is profoundly significant to our Christian faith. We worship and serve a LIVING Savior. I have always found the story of Mary and the disciples discovering that Jesus had risen from the grave fascinating. He had told them multiple times that He would not stay dead, that He would be resurrected, yet I think they did not quite believe it, even though they had seen Him bring others back from death.

Mary Magdalene and the disciples were in deep mourning, so much so they seemed to have forgotten all that Jesus taught them. He had told them, I will rise on the third day, yet on that third day, the disciples were still in hiding and Mary was making her way to His grave to treat His body. It is such a clear picture of what we do sometimes. God tells us, “I am faithful, good, and loving” but we move about in our lives as if we cannot be sure that it is true.

Can you picture it? Mary was heading to the tomb to treat a body that she had been told would not be there, and when she got there, the shock of the truth was realized. Look at Mark 16:7, “But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, JUST AS HE TOLD YOU” (Emphasis mine). Also, look at Luke 24:6, “He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee?” Mary and His disciples were moving about as if what Jesus had told them might not be true, they had a contingency plan. Mary walked to His grave to treat His body just in case he had not risen. His disciples were hiding just in case He had not risen from the grave like He said He would.

Yet, here we are, so much like them, living our lives with a contingency, “Well if God does not show up I should be prepared to handle it myself.” How would our lives look different if we simply live a life without a spiritual contingency? Would we live more boldly? Would we live a life that is more faithful to God?

What contingency do you have in your life? What is the one that you hold onto just in case God does not show up as He promises? Maybe, just maybe, if you released those and fully embraced the promises of God, you could see what He has for you.

I love the verse in Isaiah, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10 CSB). Can we live without a contingency and rest in His promises that He is holding us in His righteous hand?

Grow More and More • Devotional #5: “Excellent Work”

“So that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.” 1 Thessalonians 4:12

I worked to find overly flowery words to explain what the second part of verse 12 means, but I have to be completely real, God has called us to work. Please do not misunderstand, work can take many forms. Some work you get paid for, some you do to serve God and His people, and some you do as the calling in taking care of your family. However, whatever it is, God has called us to work. One commentary said, “Christianity does not discharge us from the work and duty of our particular callings, but teaches us to be diligent therein.” We need to be diligent in our work, work with integrity and excellence. Titus 2:7 says, “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity.” Colossians 3:23 adds, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”

My brother is an artist, he takes his craft very seriously, respecting the talent and gifting that he has been given. He works to be excellent. We have had many conversations about Christians and his view (he is not a believer) on how Christians who have horrible reputations of bad work ethics, not working to be excellent but working to do the bare minimum. I will never forget what he said to me. He asked, “Why don’t Christians do things with excellence? They accept just getting by, to create and work without any sense of quality or hard work.” He then said, “If God is supposed to be what it is all about, wouldn’t you want to do everything to the best of your ability, with excellence to make Him look good?”

It was a moment of deep sadness for me, and real conviction. I knew from that moment on, anything I did, even inconsequential, would be done with excellence, not for the world but to show the world that God deserves my best, to ultimately point people to the Gospel. I love what this commentary says about work, “In Paul’s assessment, manual labor is not beneath Christians, and Paul himself had done what he demands that these idle brothers do. The apostle plainly regards work as one way believers may honor God, show love to their fellow Christians, and dis­play the transforming power of the gospel to outsiders. He wants the idle brothers to embrace his perspective and to set an impressive, not disgraceful, example for their unbelieving contemporaries.”

God calls us to work, not to be idle so that we can focus on pointing people to Jesus. Our lack of work, which allows dependence on something other than God, should not be the focus but ultimately the Gospel should be the focus in all things, including our work.

Mourn • Devotion #5: Vulnerability

Matthew 5:4 reads, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

I have a confession to make. Whenever I have surgery, do not feel well, or go through something traumatic (like a car accident), I want my mom. The safety of showing my vulnerability to her makes me open the floodgates and tears pour! I am sure we all have that parent, spouse, friend, or person that is the safe place to be completely vulnerable and open.

For a long time, the world did not want to see that, not really. A controlled showing of emotion when something terrible happens is acceptable, but a deep mourning of loss needs to be measured and controlled. Going a step further, there is an idea in the Church that because we have God, we cannot show the world our vulnerability because then they would look differently at God and the Gospel. We needed to be stoic, God is in control, and if something bad happened, we needed to be seen as accepting God’s will for whatever happened. It was a sign of weakness to be seen as sad or affected by bad things.

I have found it a relief that God calls those who mourn blessed, and not just blessed, but then comforted! This idea of “don’t show your weakness,” was not only unattainable but not biblical. The last few years of my life, through a cancer diagnosis and everything that comes after that, have taught me that showing my weakness can be the perfect path to share the Gospel. I was able to say, “Yes, this is terrible, it is scary, and it hurts but even through all of that God is good.”

The world does not need to see us ignore the hardships, they need us to see it and then point people to Jesus as the only hope that can give us true comfort. Ignoring the hardships only makes the world see us as out of touch and fake. Paul talks about it in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

God’s power is not made perfect in strength, it is made perfect through our weakness! Hold onto this truth, when we are struggling, mourning, and trying to tread water through difficult times, remember that God’s grace is sufficient to see us through it and His power is perfect. It is not an accident, tell everyone who will listen that through our weaknesses we can boast about how good God is. In the honesty of our struggle, people will be drawn to God’s power and come to know His saving grace that is the Gospel.

Back to Reach • Devotion #5: Fully

I have often thought about why we do not serve in the Church. What makes it so difficult to commit? We commit to so many things, some important, some unimportant things. However, when we look at the big picture, we find it difficult to serve weekly or even once in a while. Why?  

We live in a culture that is busy; we are constantly engaged in something like social media, binging TV, or video games. We are used to giving a little of ourselves to a multitude of things. Do we give ourselves fully to anything these days? In 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV), Paul says, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 

We find it difficult to fully give ourselves to anything, yet that is what God is asking from us. Not all of us are called to “full-time” ministry. Therefore, I think for some, they see this verse and think, I have to work and take care of my family. I cannot give myself fully to the work of the Lord. We miss the true meaning of this verse. We are all called to proclaim the Gospel, that is the work we are to fully give ourselves to, and that looks different for everyone.

We serve because that is what God calls us to do, and when we are serving, we are to give ourselves fully. That may be money, time, our skills, all of these, one of these, or whatever we have that God has given us. We are to give fully to the Lord. 

Giving only a fraction of ourselves is an insult to God, and it makes us unsteady and moveable. It elevates the earthly, and that can only bring our faith down. When our faith is down, we allow ourselves to excuse our lack of serving because we are busy with earthly things.

We need to challenge ourselves when we are serving to give ourselves fully. It strengthens us, we can stand firm, and our work will not be in vain.

Lesson Fourteen • Devotion #4: Consuming

I have always thought of tithing or giving as support for the Church. While this is a very important aspect of our call to give to the Church, it is only a portion of this call from God. What 2 Corinthians chapter 9 teaches us is what giving produces in us and other people. It is always interesting, and I fall into this as well, that we do these things God commands of us (giving, praying, and loving) and we do them because we want to obey and “help” other people. What it actually produces in us as individuals is equally beautiful and transformative.

In 2 Corinthians 9:11-14, Paul says, “You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you.”

Paul is saying something here that I think we forget; when we obey God in His commandments, we see Him differently, we see the Gospel differently. Giving (of our time, money, and resources) produces thanksgiving in us and when we are thankful we worship and serve God more abundantly. Hebrews 12:28-29 (NIV) says, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire.’”

We serve an amazing God who should consume us! In order for us to be consumed by Him, we must be thankful for all He has done for us. When we allow this to change us, we can be used to shine a light to those around us. We see this in 2 Corinthians, “By their approval of this service, THEY will glorify God because of your submission” (emphasis mine). Obeying God proclaims the Gospel! For all of my rule followers out there, this makes my heart sing! 

As we continue to grow in His Word, we cannot forget this, we must seek out and be faithful to everything that points people to the Gospel. I am writing this during our COVID pandemic, and when you read this, who knows what the world will be like, but this I know to be true now and in the future, we are called to proclaim the Gospel, in big ways and small ways. Are you being faithful to the things of God? Are you being faithful to the Gospel even when the world around you may be burning down? Obedience to Him is one way to ensure you are proclaiming the Gospel.

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