Devotions

Author Archives: Holly Boston

Obedience   Smooth Sailing!

Excuses | Devotion 5: Obedience ≠ Smooth Sailing!
Holly Boston

Have you ever stepped out in obedience to God only to have your situation get worse? In Exodus 5:1-14, the Israelites experience exactly this. Moses, Aaron, and the people went before Pharaoh to deliver a message from God. They requested three days off of work to go into the wilderness to worship God. Certainly, a vacation to spend time with God would have been approved. However, not only did Pharaoh deny their request but he ordered additional work expectations, making it impossible to meet their quotas which led to harsh punishment. Where was God? Where was the God who saw their affliction and promised deliverance? Obedience led to suffering.

In April 1995, I came to a place where life was so overwhelming, and I needed someone to carry my burdens. In brokenness and need, I received Christ as my Savior. Over the next three years of my life, I was bombarded with trials: a cancer scare, two surgeries, job change, job loss, three major moves, and a child diagnosed with Autism. Where in the world was God? Life with Christ was not what I expected, and I was asking the same questions. However, by the grace of God, this is when my walk actually began. Over the last 25 years, God has taught me three truths about why trials follow obedience.

The first truth is the reality of persecution. In John 15:18, Jesus says: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” Moses, Aaron, and the Israelites experienced hatred and rejection when they spoke out of obedience. As believers, we need to remember God’s warning when we experience persecution and not be surprised. We need to allow it to remind us that God’s Word is truth and cling to His promises of blessing and reward. Luke 6:22-23 adds, “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven.”          

The second truth is that we have a real enemy who “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Have you ever noticed that when you commit to serving or growing in Christ, you are bombarded with roadblocks? My daughter and I were involved in the Passion Play for a number of years. Every year we were stunned at the illness, injury, or circumstances that would threaten our participation in the play. I watch the same thing happen when people commit to attending a Bible study. Believer, the last thing your enemy wants is for you to grow in your faith or be used by God to build His kingdom! We must be determined and go to battle. Ephesians 6:11 says, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.”

The third truth is that God allows bad things to happen to His people. Job is the most vivid illustration of this truth. God describes Job as blameless and upright (1:1) and yet He offers up Job to Satan for torment (1:8). Job suffered in ways we can not comprehend. A look at Job’s story gives us three reasons God allows His people to suffer. The first is to test our faith. Job’s determination to cling to his faith is noted in his statement, “Though he slay me, I will hope in him” (13:15). The second reason is to grow our faith. In 42:5, Job makes an amazing statement, “I had heard you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you.” Most of what I know and believe about the Lord is from being in the pit and clinging to Him. The third reason God allows suffering is for the benefit of others. Job’s friends had a front row seat to Job’s suffering. They witnessed both his struggle and his faith. For unbelievers to only see the smooth sailing is to give them a false impression of living for Christ. Be willing to show your pain.

At the end of the book of Job, we see God restore Job and all that he had lost. Free commercial: Restoration to God does not always look the way we expect. Though the Bible does not say, I imagine Job was given plenty of opportunities to share his story to others in similar situations. Do not allow your pain to be in vain. Use it to comfort and encourage others. In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 we read, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

Take away: All the trials and suffering of this life are sifted through the loving hands of the Sovereign God of the universe. There is a purpose for our pain. May we glorify Him as walk the rough roads.

Finding (His) Good in the Bad

Birth | Devotion 2: Finding (His) Good in the Bad
Holly Boston

Have you ever experienced a hostile takeover at work? We hear about them in the news but do most people ever experience this? My husband had been working for a company for about ten years. He decided he was ready for a change and after months of interviewing settled on what he thought was going to be a great opportunity. Less than six months after being with them, the company was bought out. A hostile takeover can sound like an exaggeration, but when you are in the middle of it, it feels like a pretty good description. The new owners changed the entire direction of the company, and after less than a year Greg was looking for a new job. The end result: we had to sell a beautiful new house, move to the west side of Michigan, and live in my grandparent’s lake house until he found a new job. We were catapulted into a difficult two-year journey.

In Exodus 1:1-14, we see the Jewish people living in Goshen, Egypt. Decades earlier, Joseph brought his entire family out of Canaan to Egypt because of a famine. Joseph became a second ruler there. He was highly favored by Pharaoh and respected by the Egyptian people. Joseph and all his family lived well in their new home. In verse 8, we learn of their hostile take over. A new king rose up, and because he believed the Jewish nation was a threat, he looked for ways to control them. The Jewish people found themselves ruthlessly working as slaves. The king wanted to control the growth of their people in an effort to secure his position.

As I read this passage of Scripture, my attention was drawn to verse 12: “But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad.” In this one verse, we find three incredible truths about the God we serve. The first truth is that no matter what the world dishes out and no matter how painful our circumstances, God ALWAYS keeps His promises.

The promise God made to Abraham in Genesis chapter 15, Isaac in Genesis chapter 26, and Jacob in Genesis chapter 28 continued to be fulfilled in spite of the circumstances. Under incredible oppression, the Jewish nation grew tremendously.

As a new Christian, I am sure the enemy meant to destroy me and my new commitment to Christ through very difficult circumstances. My God kept His promise found in Philippians 1:6, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you, will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus.” Though there were times I was ready to walk away, He pursued me and hung on to me.

The second truth we see is that with God we can experience His blessings in the midst of our suffering. In this Scripture, we read about the growth in the physical strength of the Jewish people. Though the Scripture does not specifically say, I can only imagine the personal spiritual growth they must have experienced as they drew close to God in prayer to seek strength and understanding. In the pit of despair, believers often come to know God in a way they never have before. The biggest blessing in my two-year journey was a day to day walk with Christ. I knew Christ as my Savior prior to it all, but my pain and fear drove me to prayer and ultimately to a Bible teaching church.

The third truth is that God uses our experiences, good and bad, to prepare us for the work He has for us to do. The task of the Jewish nation was always to show the existence of the One True Living God and to be instrumental in bringing the Savior of the world, to the world. The trials of the Jewish people throughout the Bible are a testimony to His presence, protection, provision, mercy, love, and judgment. As I reflect on those difficult years and share my testimony with others, I can personally testify to who Jesus is, how He has worked in my life, and our absolute need for a Savior. Our special task is no different than the Jewish people: to share all that He is and all that He does to a lost world. Who is better to share than those who know His love and desire to serve Him in spite of their pain?

When we are in the midst of the trials of this world, we must fight the forsaken feelings of our flesh and focus on truth, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).

There is a popular saying that I have come to love: “Bloom where you are planted.” Although this phrase is not in the Bible, it reminds me of the truths from this Scripture. As believers, we can grow through the tough things in this life as long as we know His promises, claim His promises, cling to Him, and look for His presence in all situations.

The Face of Christ

Son, Mother | Devotion #5: The Face of Christ
Holly Boston | Women’s Ministry Director

On a number of occasions, I have been faced with the question, “What if you are the only face of Christ they ever see?” This is a sobering question. It should provoke us to examine how well we are representing Christ. In 2 Corinthians 5:20 we read that if you know Christ as your personal Savior, you are called to be His ambassador or representative. It further states that through us, God makes an appeal to the lost. It can sound very scary! In a nutshell, we are to draw others to Christ by the way we live.

Jesus made seven statements from the cross just before He died. There is one statement that I believe reflects the core of Christ’s heart and the key to representing Him well.

John 19: 26-27 says, “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.” 

Jesus, the Son of God, had been tried and found guilty of blasphemy. Even though He was an innocent man, He was abandoned by all, beaten, publicly humiliated, and sentenced to death. Not only was He physically and emotionally suffering to the point of death, but He was spiritually broken. With the weight of the sin of the world upon Him, He experienced separation from His Heavenly Father for the first time. With all that He was going through, He looked down at Mary and said, “Woman behold your son!” Incredible! Jesus is moments from death, and He saw His mother’s need. Think back to the most painful time in your life. What was your response? I am ashamed to say that I have responded to much less with paralyzing anxiety. I have been known to doubt God’s goodness, His perfect plan, and His love. Suffice it to say, other people’s needs were not even on my radar. Regardless of the circumstances, Jesus was focused on His mission: to serve (Matthew 20:28) and to save (1 Timothy 1:15). 

Do you see the needs of those around you? Are you too concerned with the busyness or struggles of this world to notice? Christian, if this is you, you need an eternal perspective. Colossians 3:2 says, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Jesus was selfless, and people were His priority. God’s Word outlines the practice of freeing us from our struggles, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). In summary, change your focus, see the need.

The second part of Jesus’ statement is to John: “Behold, your mother.” Jesus saw the need, and He met the need. We not only should see the need of others but we should help meet their need. Have you ever listened to someone share a need or a problem and carelessly responded with; “I’ll pray for you” with little or no intentions of doing so? Pray on the spot! While you are lifting up their situation in prayer, ask God to show you how you can help. Praying is the most powerful thing we can do for someone, but maybe you are intended to be the answer to the prayer. God will equip you for the work He calls you to (Ephesians 4:12). Romans 12:1 urges us to “present your bodies as a living sacrifice.” In essence, give each day to God. Ask Him to use you for His glory. He will give you eyes to see and the heart to help. If the struggles of this life have consumed your attention, give it to God. When the going gets tough, the tough get serving! Tremendous joy and peace come from selfless living.

A Promise is a Promise

Spiritual Gifts | Devotion #6: A Promise is a Promise
Holly Boston | Women’s Director

Have you ever broken your promise? Have you ever been on the receiving end of a broken promise? My father died when I was six months old. Years later, my single mom would send my sister (six years old) and me (4 years old) to the community pool to swim. This was obviously almost 50 years ago because no responsible parent would send two little kids alone. Every day we would play with this really nice man at the pool. We introduced Jim to our mom, and eventually, they married. I remember my dad putting me on his knee and telling us he wanted to be our dad and that we would be a family. Not many people can say they introduced their parents. In 1993, my dad broke his promise. After 30 years of marriage, he decided he no longer wanted to be married, I had no father, and my family was changed forever. Sadly, broken promises have become all too common. But there is One who never breaks His promise. 

There is One who promises: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5), to “supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19), and “equip you with everything good that you may do his will” (Hebrews 13:21). His truth tells us that “…all the promises of God find their Yes in him” (2 Corinthians 1:20). Simply put, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead; you are saved” (Romans 10:9). Bible Gateway declares that there are 5,467 promises in the Bible. I do not know if this is an accurate count, but as a believer, we have the privilege of claiming each one.

The most important promise is the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:13 says, “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, And believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the Guarantee of our inheritance…” When we receive Christ, we become one of His, guaranteed a home in Heaven, and the Holy Spirit resides in us forever (John 10:28). The gift of the Holy Spirit makes us the recipient of all other promises through the work of the Spirit who is in us. He convicts us of sin (John 16:8), guides us into all truth (John 16:13), strengthens us in our weakness (Romans 8:26), and provide us with the power to live a righteous life (Romans 8:2). We have everything through Him.

Today, as I write this, it is October 31st. Two days ago, a lady in the Church said, “I got all my Christmas shopping done today.” This sent me into a tailspin, wondering what will I get family and friends and how will I afford Christmas this year. Now as I reread my devotion to make sure all the “i’s” are dotted and every “t” is crossed, I realize I already have the only gift they need. Let us determine to be led by the Holy Spirit and share His gift to all in our sphere of influence.

Jesus Christ + the Holy Spirit = God’s Promises

To Know Him is to Love Him

Define It | Devotion #5: To Know Him is to Love Him
Holly Boston | Women’s Director

Take a few minutes and read John 4:1-45. In this story we find a Samaritan woman performing an ordinary task, and she ends up having an extraordinary encounter with Jesus. She goes to a well to draw the water she needs for the day and enters into a conversation in which Jesus offers her “living water” (verse 10) that will satisfy her thirst completely.  Ultimately, this unlikely woman receives Christ, becomes God’s vessel for the Gospel, and is used to transform many in her town (verse 41).

There are many truths taught from this one story: salvation is for all, Jesus knows our past and still loves us, Jesus meets us where we are, and too many are looking for love in all the wrong places. As I look back at my own story, I realize I have a lot in common with this lady, and I have drawn my own truth from it: to know Jesus is to love Jesus. 

This lady was an unlikely recipient of an encounter with Jesus, let alone His gift. Jewish men were not to be seen or to associate with Samaritan women. Samaritans were treated with prejudice and disdain because they were the product of intermarriage between Jews and Gentiles. Jewish people avoided passing through Samaria, but Jesus did not. I was also an unlikely recipient of an encounter with Jesus having been raised in a non-Christian environment and never having heard of Jesus’ life and sacrifice for me. But the most striking commonality between this woman and myself is a lack of understanding, stemming from a wrong perspective. 

After Jesus offers the woman “living water,” she responds with these words, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water” (John 4:15). She did not get it! Jesus was offering the “living water” that would completely quench her spiritual thirst and meet every need she would ever have. She was focused on her worldly, physical needs and Jesus was focused on eternity and the condition of her soul.

In 1995, I met Jesus and received His gift of eternal life. The cares and struggles of this life had broken me, and I needed to be saved. My parents had just divorced, and my own marriage was not the heavenly union I expected. This anxious, controlling woman was becoming more anxious and realizing how little control she really had. Meeting Christ was followed by three years that were riddled with heartbreak and struggle: job loss, home loss, health problems, and a child diagnosed with Autism. In 1999, I called my sister and told her that if this was life with Christ, I am out. Where was Jesus who loves me and would never leave me? How could Jesus offer me rest and peace, take control of my life, and then allow such pain? Two minutes later my brother-in-law called and said: “I do not understand. You gave your life to Christ, and now you are ready to walk away and do not even know Him.” He was right. I received Christ and then continued attending my church, which was steeped in legalistic ritual and absent of any instruction on the Word of God.

I immediately enrolled in a Bible study and began to learn the truth about my Savior. I expected Jesus to end my struggles but Scripture says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2). He goes on to say, “For you know the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4). I was stunned to learn that my pain was actually part of His plan and allowed for the purpose of transforming me. These truths were only palatable when I learned His promises:

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

When I was led by misconceptions and half-truths about my Savior, I felt angry and abandoned. With the understanding I have received from studying His Word and walking with Him, my relationship has grown, and my love for Jesus has deepened. I love Him because He first loved me!



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