Author Archives: Jill Osmon

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.

Lesson Five • Devotion #6: Aroma of Christ

“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 2:14-17

Telling others about Jesus should be easy right? We have the Good News of Jesus, we do not call it good news to make it sound appealing, it is actually good news. Yet, we see in the Bible and in our own lives the difficulty of sharing it. 

This is why these verses in 2 Corinthians are reassuring to me. Look at verse 14 again, “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.” I think we take on the weight of someone’s decision, which is heavy! What we are actually called to do is let Christ lead us, speak the Gospel, and bring the knowledge of Him everywhere we go. We are not “peddlers of God’s Word” as verse 17 says. We have all seen the “peddlers of God’s Word,” most of us feel gross after seeing the peddlers, the ones who make money off the Gospel, the ones who use it for their financial gain. We are to be, instead, sincere in our speaking of the Gospel. 

What does it look like to be sincere? First, we have to actually believe it. Sincere is defined as free from pretense or deceit; proceeding from genuine feelings. The world does not need another person with arrogance or condescension that tells them all the ways they are wrong. In verse 15, Paul talks about the “aroma of Christ,” we are the aroma of Christ. It is sweet and loving without pretense. When we approach friends, family, or our community, let us remember to have our love of Christ at the forefront. The “aroma of Christ” should be what people respond to, not our eloquent or awkward words (raise your hand if you feel like your attempts are more awkward than eloquent – my hand is raised!), but His words and actions. 

Lastly, we do not hold the weight of others’ decisions. It says in verse 15, “To one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.” There will be some who accept and others who do not. Our responsibility is to allow God to “spread the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere.” 

Correction • Devotion #6: Unity

Raise your hand if you are a rule follower? I wish we could add emojis in our devotions because I would definitely use the girl with her hand raised emoji. I follow the rules for a variety of reasons, but a huge factor is I do not like being reprimanded, the conflict is soul-crushing. What is both horrifying and amazing is that God gives us a blueprint on how to handle conflict. I say horrifying because we have to learn how to have conflict, but amazing because God teaches us what healthy conflict looks like and it takes something dark and uncomfortable and creates something beautiful and strong.

As I was writing this devotion, I had a conversation with one of my best friends about how thankful we were that our friendship was unafraid of truth, true refining through honest and loving conflict. It made me think about the closest friendships I have in my life and how each one has had a form of truth, conflict, and some pretty difficult and awkward conversations. The conflict has produced strong, biblical, and lovely friendships in my life, which seems a bit backward. So why does conflict produce strong friendships?  

Matthew 18:19-20 says, “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” As I was reading Matthew chapter 18, it dawned on me that these verses, which are usually reserved for describing the Church are more about Jesus right in the middle of the pursuit of unity. God knows that conflict is difficult, but we cannot shy away from it. Instead, be comforted with His presence during our conflict. This is not to say that conflict and reconciliation always turn out stronger relationships. I also have former friendships that did not survive the conflict and attempt at reconciliation. Does this stop me from pursuing healthy relationships? No, but what it does show me is that when it is healthy and right, God is there pushing for unity in our relationships and even in a larger view, the Church. Unity is a precious gift from God, one not to be squandered by hurt feelings or unsaid conflict but pursued in the presence of God. Let that be our prayer and pursuit, unity in our relationships, and in the body of Christ. Oh, how we need unity in our world today, because that is where we find Jesus among us.

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