Devotions

Author Archives: Holly Boston

His Reputation

Broken Tablets • Devotion 2: His Reputation
Holly Boston

Do you think God has a sense of humor? Whenever I stop and really think about the fact that I am Director of Women’s Ministry, I immediately laugh and think, “Wow does God have a sense of humor!” It is the only logical conclusion when you consider that throughout my childhood and adolescence, I could not stand to be around girls. The drama, the backstabbing, and the rumor mill were more than I could take, and subsequently, I preferred hanging out with boys. As I got older, my parents tried to impress upon me that this was unwise and could result in me having a bad reputation. My dad’s words haunt me to this day, “Holly, you are judged by the company you keep.”

This is not an outdated concept — many of the decisions we make every day rest on reputation. We look for clothing with name brands and cars that are known to run long while requiring the least service. We choose reputable colleges, prestigious careers, and churches that are known by their reputation. Reputation is a very important factor and shapes our daily decisions.

Believer, are you concerned about God’s reputation? In Exodus 32:1-14, we read about a conversation Moses had with God. While Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Law from God, the Israelites grew impatient and decided to collect all the gold and fashion a golden calf to worship. Their corruption and idol worship resulted in God’s decision to consume or eliminate them. I found Moses’ response astounding. Moses expressed concern for God’s reputation if He were to carry out His plan. Moses was concerned that Egypt would believe God intended to lead them into the mountains to kill them. My response would have been quite different. I believe I would have said, “I am tired of these people. They deserve the wrath of God. Please remember me and spare me and mine.” Moses was first and foremost concerned with God’s reputation. When I talk to God, I do a great job of praising and worshipping Him and thanking Him for the cross with the daily grace He extends to me. However, when it comes to His actions, my requests come from a selfish heart. I want my will and my way.

Believer, do you profess to be one of His? Do you remember you are saved by grace through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9)? If so, do you understand that you are now His ambassador and representative (2 Corinthians 5:20)? Do you tout attending church regularly, attending Bible study weekly, and praying daily, but what does your walk look like? Do your words, actions, and reactions reflect well on God? You are one of His representatives; therefore, God’s reputation is impacted by your life. Does your life draw others to Him? Your reputation is His reputation.

What if you are the only Bible they read? Your choices impact God’s reputation every day and can affect others’ eternal choices. God is judged by the company He keeps.

May we be determined to make Him look good!

Remember

Passover | Devotion 2: Remember
Holly Boston

Do you remember a time when God’s presence, power, and provision were abundantly clear? Has there been a time when He stepped into your life, and you had no doubt He was moving and intervening in your situation? Was there a time when you thought, “No one else could have done this but God, Himself.” July 2013 was a time like this for me. My son Carter, then 16, came to me and said, “I want Jesus in my heart.” The prayer he spoke on his own was more beautiful than any other I had heard. This was nothing short of a miracle because Carter has Autism. He struggles with earthly, tangible relationships let alone a heavenly, invisible one. For Carter, relationships do not have the depth ours do, or so I thought. I spent years trying to share the Gospel with Carter, hoping he would come to understand the sacrifice Christ made for him on the cross only to have him sob and leave the room. I surrendered my boy to Christ, knowing He would have to intervene. Four years later, God did what only He could do and took up residence in Carter’s heart.

In Exodus 12:1-28, God gave Moses and Aaron specific instructions for observing what the Jews now call the Passover. They were instructed to commemorate the night God would step in and save every firstborn Hebrew in Egypt while killing every firstborn Egyptian (verses 29-31). As I read this passage of Scripture, verse 14 leaped out at me, “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.” 

God, in His infinite wisdom, was teaching them the importance of remembering His mighty works. They would need to recall God’s presence, provision, and protection as they traveled to the Promised Land.

As I studied the Israelites and their responses to trials, I realized I have a lot in common with them. They were so quick to reach for hopelessness, fear, and forsakenness and were very prone to complaining. Does that sound familiar? In chapter 32, the Israelites grew weary of waiting for Moses to return from Mt. Sinai, where he would enter the presence of God and receive the law. Feeling abandoned and uncertain, they turned to a lesser god: a golden calf. Had they forgotten God’s presence and direction they had received up to this point? Exodus 13:22 tells us about His presence with them, “The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.” You would think that would be a tough thing to forget, but they managed.

In Exodus 17:1-4, we see Israel complaining because there was no water to drink. They longed for the days of Egypt when water was plentiful. Had they forgotten the slavery from which they had been delivered? Clearly, they had forgotten about the miraculous provision of manna just one chapter earlier (16:1-4)! Israel forgot God’s presence, His provision, and lastly His protection. In chapter 14, we find Israel pressed between the Egyptian army and the Red Sea. They are afraid and again regretting having left Egypt, their “safe” yet enslaved life. They quickly forgot God’s deliverance when death did not enter their homes but did enter the homes of the Egyptians. How quickly they forget!

You would think that mature Christians prepared to lead would be exempt from needing the constant reminders of God’s faithfulness. As God’s chosen leader, I imagine similar memories carried Moses through times of hardship and mutiny. When God told Moses to stretch out his arm and staff to part the Red Sea, he may have flashed back to visions of the Pharaoh’s staff being swallowed by Aaron’s (Exodus 7:12) These memories probably also filled his mind when God instructed him to strike a rock in order to provide water for his grumbling people (17:6).

Our walk with Christ is no different from the Israelites journey. We also experience hopelessness, fear, and forsakenness as we pursue our Promised Land. We need to remember and take time to commemorate His marvelous works. The sovereign God of the universe that led them, provided for them, and protected them is the same God we serve today. Every day I am reminded of God’s faithfulness as I watch my precious son, now 22, serve his Savior with his life. I get to witness a deep, loving relationship I never dreamed possible. This will get me through all the tomorrows.

May we cling to God and His promises, finding strength and confidence as we remember all that He is and all that He has done for us. His sacrifice on the cross alone is worthy of all of our honor, praise, and worship.

“Remember the wondrous works that he has done,
his miracles and the judgments he uttered.”
1 Chronicles 16:12

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.



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