Devotions

Author Archives: Holly Boston

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!

HIS Best

Leah & Rachel • Devotion #2: HIS Best
Holly Boston | Women’s Ministry Director

I am privileged to be the mother of an amazing young man with Autism. There are three words I would use to describe John “Carter”: loving, sensitive, and compliant (to a fault). When Carter was young, I often tried to talk to him about Jesus and the sacrifice He made for him on the cross. I was always met with Carter sobbing and unable to listen. I was so afraid he would never come to know Christ. After all, if he struggled with having relationships with people he could see and hear, how would he ever experience a personal relationship with his Savior? Realizing there was nothing I could do, I prayed and gave my boy to God. Three years later, Carter came to me and said, “I want Jesus in my heart.” I then witnessed him pray the most beautiful prayer, tell his entire extended family (unbelievers who assumed he knew Christ because I do), and then practice baptizing himself in a hot tub. All of it was unprompted by Mom. If this is not God’s best, I do not know what is.

When I was asked to write about Jacob marrying Leah and Rachel, I considered topics like sowing and reaping, patience, love, and envy. But the comment I kept coming back to was that there was no indication that Jacob prayed before searching for a wife. In Genesis chapter 29, we learn that Jacob apparently fell in love at first sight, “Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance” (Genesis 29:17). Jacob was clearly following his flesh, not the Spirit. In 1 Samuel 16:7, we are taught that God does not choose people according to their appearance but the heart. We would be wise to do the same.

If you continue to read the story, you will see that Laban (future father-in-law) agreed to give Rachel to Jacob in exchange for seven years of work; the customary price for a bride. After seven years, Jacob asked for Rachel, and through some crazy plot of deceit, Laban gave Jacob Leah instead of Rachel. How a man sleeps with a woman and does not realize it is not his wife is beyond comprehension. But, I digress. The story continues with Jacob continuing to pursue what he wants: Rachel. He agreed to another seven years of work and took a second wife. Please note: Still no praying. A battle ensues between the wives. There is barrenness, hatred, envy, and strife, not at all what God has in mind for us. Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) says,

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” 

Was all the pain and strife a result of not praying? Could all the heartache have been avoided? I believe so. If you fast forward a generation, you get a glimpse of God’s best for Jacob. “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ… Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah…” (Matthew 1:1-2).

Jacob’s son, Judah, was chosen to be part of the lineage of Jesus Christ. It does not get any better than that! The kicker is Leah was his mother, not Rachel. This leaves many questions: Was he just supposed to marry Leah? Could he have received the fulfillment of God’s promises through Leah and avoided all the drama and pain by praying and asking God if Rachel was His choice? I know that if I had gone immediately to God with my concerns about Carter, it would have saved me a lot of sleepless nights. At any time during those three years I could have gone to Carter and told him that he needed to pray to receive Jesus and he would have. He was obedient. But God in His mercy and grace intervened and answered my prayer in a way that I would never again question Carter’s salvation. That is His best!

     There is a second lesson. If you too have failed to give a decision or situation to God and went off on your path, there is hope. Joseph, son of Jacob, was chosen to save his entire family from a devastating famine (Genesis chapters 45-46). Guess who his mother was? Rachel (Genesis 30:23). That is awesome, but it is not His best. The lesson: God’s mercy and grace trump all our mistakes and incredibly, all our sins. Though Jacob and his wives experienced the consequences of pursuing their desires, their way, God worked it all for good. Romans 8:28 (NIV) says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” 

I do not know about you, but I want God’s best! Sometimes God’s plan requires us to endure pain to shape us and transform us. I do not see the need for unnecessary stress and chaos. As for me, I will pray then proceed.

Sarah’s Name Changed 

Abraham, Sarah, & Isaac • Devotion #3: Sarah’s Name Changed
Holly Boston | Women’s Ministry Director

Have you ever wished you could change your name? Several years ago my daughter Mackenzie was complaining about her name. I told her that originally our favorite girls name was Andrea but by the time she was born Mackenzie was the up and coming name, unique. Her response, “You should have stuck with Andrea.”  

According to Proverbs 22:1, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches.” In biblical times, there was more to choosing a name than googling the top ten baby names. A person’s name was a reflection of their character, their reputation. Throughout the Bible we see God change names: Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel, Cephas to Peter, and Saul to Paul to name a few. Sarai, wife to Abram, was the only woman in the Bible whose name was changed by God. Sarai, meaning “my princess” was changed to Sarah, meaning “princess to all” which reflected God’s plan for her life. Genesis 17:15-16 records, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” 

In addition to reflecting God’s plan, I found this citing in a commentary by James Garlows, “The Hebrew letter H is the sound of breath and generally signifies the breath or presence of God.” But this was the wife of Abraham, “father of Israel,” she had to have known God before this. 

A review of Sarai’s life helped me to understand. In Genesis 12:1-2, Abram her husband was called to leave his home, “To the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” Sarai followed her husband to this new land and by Genesis 13:14-16, God’s promise becomes more specific, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted.”

The Bible does not tell us what their conversations were, but I am confident that Abram shared these promises with Sarai. By Genesis chapter 16, we see a wife committed to her husband and fully in support of God’s calling on her husband’s life. There was just one problem: she was aging, barren, and unable to see her part in God’s plan. As a young Christian, I was so encouraged by the testimony of other believers, how God was speaking to them, working in their lives, and directing them. I was not experiencing these things, and I began to question if I knew Christ.

I would imagine this might have been how Sarai was feeling. After all, God was speaking to Abram, not her. With no child in sight and time passing, Sarai takes matters into her own hands and has her husband sleep with her maidservant. She opened the door to a season of personal pain as well as centuries of embattlement as we see in the history of the Arab people.

In Genesis chapter 17, God speaks profoundly and changes the landscape of Sarai’s life. We see her name changed to Sarah and so much more. God specifically names Sarah as the woman He would use to build the nations (See 17:15 above). For the first time, Sarah experiences God’s Word for herself, “The Lord said, ‘I will surely return to you about this time next year and Sarah your wife shall have a son.’ And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him” (Genesis 18:10).

It is after Sarah hears her name and has a personal experience with God that we see God’s incredible plan come to fruition. Shortly after, Sarah conceived and bore Abraham’s son, Isaac. Generations later Jesus Christ the Messiah would be born.

Like Sarah, when our experience with God is second hand, limited to a great sermon or the testimony of others, our view will be limited by our perspective and our resources which always results in us going our way to our destination. But a personal walk with Christ, grounded in daily prayer and studying the Word of God, will open our eyes and ears to His perspective, give us access to His resources, and ultimately take us to His destination.

If you know Jesus as your Savior, your name has been changed, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God” (1 John 3:1-2 NIV).

You are His, and His plan for you is perfect. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” It is time for each of us to go beyond hearing about the amazing Savior we serve and see Him for ourselves.

Job 42:5 adds, “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eyes see you.” 

 

Sin and the Cure

The Fall • Devotion #1: Sin and the Cure
Holly Boston | Women’s Ministry Director

Whenever someone says to me, “I have good news, and I have bad news,” I always ask for the bad news first. I want to get it out of the way. So, here is the bad news:

“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). Sin entered the world through one man (with the help of one misguided wife).  Adam enjoyed perfect fellowship with God, had a perfect job, worked for the perfect Boss, and was married to the perfect (only) woman. The one thing God denied him was fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 2:17). In one weak moment, Adam succumbed to temptation and “he ate of it” (Genesis 3:6). One man, one temptation, and one choice led to one sentence for all mankind, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Romans 6:23 adds, “For the wages of sin is death.”

However, there is Good News. Romans 5:15 says, “But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.” The Sovereign God of the universe loved us so much He devised one plan, one way to save the world from eternal damnation. In 1 John 4:9 we read, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his Only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.”

Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Jesus laid His life down on the cross so we can live forever in Heaven with our gracious Father. He paid our penalty so that we can live. The most amazing part is that He accepts us just the way we are, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). I thank God always that my salvation has nothing to do with my ability. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

One God, one Son, one way leads each of us to one decision, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). One decision leads to one prayer, “Because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). The one who believes and prays with a sincere heart will ultimately make one commitment, “By the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1).

Incredible: One fall, one gracious God, one perfect plan, one obedient Son, and one changed heart equals one new life! That is Agape (perfect love)!

Got Jesus?

ACTS • Devotion #4: Got Jesus?
Holly Boston | Women’s Ministry Director

I love to hear people give their testimony, the story of their journey with Jesus. I have realized that each story begins with a need that seems to always fall in one of two categories: where they will spend eternal life or how they will bear the struggles of this life. The place, time, and circumstances vary greatly, but all are out of a need that only Jesus can fill.

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.’” John 14:6

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

Note: Not some needs or most needs, but every need!

As a young adult in my “B.C.” (before Christ) days, I was a self- sufficient perfectionist with a tendency to worry…a lot! To illustrate what I mean, I remember thinking that I needed to worry because “it works.” I remember getting upset because I forgot to worry. I think this classifies as abnormal. Later, as a young wife and mom, I began to realize how little control I had and I had a lot more to consider. The normal struggles of marriage and raising a child while working full-time were tough enough, but watching my parents’ marriage end made life unbearable. I shared with my sister that I was at the end of myself and could not handle this life on my own. That day Heidi led me to my Savior. She told me I could have peace with Jesus “…in me you may have peace” (John 16:33) through faith in Him “…since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

My journey came from a need for peace, calm in the chaos. As a new believer, I had little knowledge of the Bible and no understanding of how Jesus would work in my life. Thank goodness Jesus received me just as I was (John 6:37) with a child-like faith (Matthew 18:3). It turned out; I only knew half of what I needed to know. I did have peace with God and no longer under his wrath but forgiven of my sins because of Jesus’ work on the cross. But I missed the second part of John 16:33, “In the world you will have tribulation.” I spent the first few years of my walk with Christ feeling duped. A child diagnosed with Autism, unemployment, and losing our home left me with one question: Where is the peace? After declaring my decision to walk away from Christ, my brother-in-law challenged me with his observation, “You are ready to walk away from Jesus but you do not even know Him.” It has taken the better part of 23 years to understand that the peace Jesus offered is different than I expected.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.” John14:27

It is not a peace without problems, but in spite of them. Once I understood struggles were a part of the journey, I had to learn how to get His peace.

“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 transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

In my “A.D.” (after death to self) days, I have learned that the key to His peace is the complete dependence upon Jesus. Jesus is the calm before, during, and after the storm. Get Jesus; get peace!



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