Devotions

Author Archives: Holly Boston

The Triumphal Entry • Devotion #4: Are You Packed?

My husband and I prepare for trips very differently. I am a planner and begin writing lists a week before we leave. Greg is more of a “fly by the seat of your pants” kind of packer. He will be up at midnight the night before “just throwing a few things in a suitcase.” Two weeks ago, I got a taste of the consequences of last-minute packing. We had a family emergency and I had about two hours to be packed and ready to leave my home and family for a week. There was no time to write lists, let alone plan my attire. I learned two things: poor planning results in leaving something essential behind (blood pressure medication) and it results in packing all the wrong stuff (clothes for 60-degree weather instead of 80-degree weather). By now, you are wondering what my point is. Stick with me.

As I write this, we have just celebrated Resurrection Week. Every Easter I reminisce about the days when I was part of our passion play. My favorite scene was Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. As part of the crowd, my part was to wave a palm branch and eagerly anticipate Jesus’ arrival. This marks the beginning of His road to the cross; where He willingly laid down His life for each of us. He is more than worthy of all our praise and worship. In the wake of 2020, I spend more and more time thinking about His second triumphant entry, when He will return to take His people home (1 Thessalonians 4:17). What an incredible day that will be if we are packed and ready to go. Are you?

Leaving something crucial behind can have real consequences. Without my medication, my blood pressure climbed each day and I progressively felt worse over the course of the trip. Every performance of the play, I feared forgetting the one prop I needed: my palm branch. Without it, I would have stuck out like a sore thumb and been unable to greet Jesus properly. When Jesus returns and we embark on our final trip into eternity, we will all “appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:10). Will you have packed the critical item?

John 14:6 says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Nothing but a personal relationship with Jesus Christ will get you to your final destination: Heaven. Without Him, you face eternal separation from God, “They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might” (2 Thessalonians 1:9). Neither good character, good works, nor your giving statement will suffice. He alone is the cost of admission.

Unlike my emergency trip, we know this final trip is coming. I knew I had two hours to pack so I had to use my time well. Our departure into eternity could begin in two seconds, two minutes, two weeks, or two years. Only our Heavenly Father knows the hour (Matthew 24:36). Are you packing well for the trip? Are you packing the essentials or a bunch of unnecessary stuff? Matthew 6:19-21 refers to treasures on earth and treasures in Heaven. Are you packing temporal things that are here today and gone tomorrow (James 4:14) like your career, 401K, a bucket list of things to do, and places to go? Or are you packing eternal things like pursuing Christ, sharing Christ, and forgiving and loving your enemies to name a few? Who knew “You can’t take it with you” was biblical.

One final thought. If I had forgotten my palm branch in the play, I would have had nothing to lay at Jesus’ feet when He arrived. Believer, will you be empty-handed when you meet your Savior or will you be carrying crowns that reflect a life lived for Him (1 Corinthians 3:10-15)? Will you be alone or surrounded by others whom you helped in their walk with Christ?

Matthew 6:19-20 reminds us, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

Pack wisely and remember: “You will never see a U-Haul behind a hearse.”

Reach • Devotional #3: “Monkey See, Monkey Do”

“And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.” 1 Thessalonians 1:6-7

You can Google anything. When I was asked to write a devotion on this Scripture, the saying, “Monkey see, monkey do” came to my mind. The origin of this saying did not mean as much to me as the meaning: the act of imitation, usually with limited knowledge or concern for the consequences. I found it interesting. Have you ever been mortified by something your child did or said; only to realize it was something they learned from you? I used to use the word “crap” all the time (still trying to break the habit). My sister would tell me that was not a good word and I would dismiss her because it was nothing compared to what others were saying. Then I heard my son say it. Ouch! Years ago, my husband and I went to our son’s IEP. The meeting started as usual with orientation questions (i.e. address, phone number). Then they asked who was president. Carter responded with the correct name followed by, “But my dad says…” I have never seen my husband move that quickly. Carter’s mouth was immediately covered for fear of what would come. Our kids learn good and bad from us. Our Scripture reminded me that people learn who Jesus is and what it means to live for Him from us!

In 1 Thessalonians chapter 1, Paul thanks the Thessalonians for the godly example they are setting. He points out that they have done this by becoming “imitators of us and of the Lord.” I never noticed “us.” Paul is saying that the believers were imitating him, Silvanus, and Timothy and therefore were imitators of Jesus. These believers learned to live for Christ by watching their life. I was left with a very sobering thought, “What people know about Jesus comes from my flawed example.”

This prompted some self-examination. People see that I attend gatherings at church, weekly Bible studies, and serving opportunities, but what about my personal time? Do I spend the first minutes of my day with Him; studying His Word, talking with Him, and then spend my day seeking opportunities to glorify Him and build His kingdom? Does my husband know that he comes second only to God, even before our children because that is what the Bible says (Ephesians 5:22,25,31) or because that is how I live? Do my children show their father respect because they are told to or because of my behavior (Ephesians 5:33)? Does my family see a woman with a servant’s heart who does all for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31) or a woman who complains of feeling unappreciated? The list goes on and on.

What does your list look like? Husband, maybe you need to ask yourself, “Do I love my wife ‘as Christ loved the church’ (Ephesians 5:25)? Father, are your children experiencing the unconditional love (Romans 5:8) and necessary discipline (Hebrews 12:7) you receive from your Heavenly Father? Believer, do others see your complete dependence on the Lord (Psalm 62) regardless of your circumstances? Do others receive from you the same grace and forgiveness you have received at the cross?” Your list goes on and on, too.

When we discuss reaching others for Christ, we are told to be ready to give the reason for our hope (1 Peter 3:15) and to do it with gentleness and respect. We are strongly encouraged to study Scripture and be able to share with others how they can receive complete forgiveness and spend eternity in Heaven because of Christ’s work on the cross. When we continue to read 1 Thessalonians 1:7-9, we are reminded that our commitment to living for the Lord is an important part of people coming to know Christ. Paul tells the Thessalonians that because “you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (verse 9) people all over Macedonia and Achaea came to know Christ.

In closing, remember the meaning of “Monkey see, Monkey do.” As children, we learned with limited knowledge or concern for the consequences. Believer, the lost are watching us. They are learning about who Jesus is and how to live for Him from us with little knowledge and without concern for the consequences. They do not know what we know: our choices have eternal consequences. They determine eternal life or eternal death.

I am reminded of another old saying, “Actions speak louder than words.” Believer, a changed life changes lives.

One final question: What if you are the only Bible they ever read?

Peacemakers • Devotion #5: Be the Peace

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9

As a kid, I was punished fairly often for “having to have the last word.” As a teenager, I was often told I would make a great attorney because I was so good at arguing my case. My desire to be right and convince others of my position has negatively impacted my relationships over the years. My husband used to say: “I am sorry ‘but’ is not an apology.” He has not had to say that in a while. I must be growing. This is one of a number of attributes Jesus has been weeding out of me over the past 25 years.

Today is Friday, December 12th, 2020. As I write this, Michigan is in a partial shutdown to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 virus. We just experienced an election that has polarized our country in ways I have never experienced and there is tremendous social unrest. The Second Amendment has been hijacked as people use free speech to express their opinions cruelly and without respect for others. In our anger, frustration, and discouragement we have become self-centered and self-indulgent. If ever there was a need for peacemakers, it is now.

As I studied the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, I realized that the Beatitudes are not merely a “to do” list to check off. The Beatitudes describe an attitude or way of life; in other words, who you are not what you do. As I read, I was struck by how challenging it would be to uphold such standards. I imagine the Jewish people viewed the Ten Commandments much the same way – impossible to accomplish. Was Jesus dangling an unachievable carrot in front of them, offering a blessing to a select group? If Jesus’ promises were limited to the Beatitudes, we would be overwhelmed with defeat. However, Jesus gives us another promise to cling to in Matthew 19:26, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Jesus does not leave us to ourselves. He makes a way.

The question then is how are we to be peacemakers in this broken, angry world? Matthew 5:9 teaches us that there is a direct correlation between being a peacemaker and a son or daughter of God. Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Left to ourselves we are driven by our old sinful, rebellious nature; led by our own will and desires. However, when we choose Christ to be the Lord of our lives, we become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). We take on God’s own nature through Jesus and are then free to pursue His will and desires. We make others more important than ourselves (Philippians 2:3). Warren Wiersbe says that when we live for Him, “We become peacemakers in a troubled world and channels for God’s mercy, purity, and peace.” It is only through Jesus that we are able to be the peace we are called to be. He is the way!

Inner peace begins with surrendering your life to him. Isaiah tells us how to keep this peace throughout our walk. In Isaiah 26:3, we read, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

Believer, what consumes your mind? Is it the number of COVID cases reported yesterday or maybe the debate on wearing a mask? In what or who do you place your trust? Is it an election? Choose to consume your mind with the Word of God and trust in the certainty of His promises. As you do, God will transform your heart, your desires, and your attitude. You will become a peacemaker!

I discovered a new Christmas song that speaks to this very topic. The song is entitled “Here to Stay” by Hannah Kerr. The chorus is beautiful

“The baby in the stable

Is the only one who’s able

To bring comfort and peace

That’s never gonna leave.

There is hope for every season

And Jesus is the reason

Love came down on Christmas Day

Now my hope is here to stay.”

May we be the peace!

Poor in Spirit • Devotion #4: The Real You

Parents, have you ever been accused of being an armchair quarterback? You know, that parent that knows exactly what your child needs to do to “up his game.” My son, Tyler, played travel soccer for years. During the game, I would shout my pearls of wisdom to encourage Tyler. My gems were greeted with his stern stares. One day I decided to offer them to the coach. He was very kind and listened respectfully and when I was finished, he thanked me and said something to the effect of, “Oh, Tyler has a great head on his shoulders; he knows exactly what he needs to work on.” In other words, Tyler is well aware of his strengths and weaknesses. I was both proud and leveled.

Having a proper view of myself has never been my strong suit. I have spent most of my life vacillating between thinking better of myself than I should and being my own worst enemy. When I was asked to write this devotion on the first Beatitude, I was reminded of this shortcoming.

Matthew 5:3says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  

“Poor in spirit” is a misunderstood concept in the Bible. I have heard people define it as downcast, downtrodden, oppressed, and unworthy. When I set out to study the Scripture, my definition was humble. While this is accurate, I realized it was incomplete. Warren Wiersbe adds, “To have a correct estimate of oneself.” Again, this is not my strength.

In 1990, my sister began “witnessing” to me. While on vacation, she shared her “conversion story” with me. She explained that she now knew Jesus and was going to spend eternity with Him in Heaven and if I did not repent I would spend mine in Hell. Honestly, I do not remember her exact words but this is what I heard. I was appalled! What kind of person did she think I was? I was not breaking any laws; I was a good person (mostly). I was 26 years old and had the world by the tail. I was a successful Occupational Therapist; running my own pain management clinic in Texas. I was independent, successful, married, and well on my way to my first child. I was living the American Dream. Then in 1995, my world imploded. With marriage problems, health problems, and parents divorcing, I found myself lost for the first time. Life was out of control and I was out of control. I needed help. In April 1995, I was broken and felt alone. Humbled by my circumstances, I repented of my sin and asked Jesus to be the Lord of my life. Over the next two years, the Holy Spirit would reveal the truth of who I was and the life I had been living. According to the world, I had it all, but in truth, I had been an enemy of God (Romans 8:7), completely separated from Him and without hope (Ephesians 2:12). I was focused on the world and pursuing all it had to offer (1 John 2:15-17), living for myself (Ephesians 2:1-3).

Twenty-five years later, Jesus and I have covered a lot of ground together. Over the years, the Holy Spirit has taught me much about who I am in light of my Perfect Savior. At times, the conviction has been so heavy that I questioned my salvation and His presence in my life. Consumed with my tendency to always fall short, I began to pray and ask God to show me how He sees me. He lovingly reminded me that I am a sinner saved by the grace of God (Ephesians 2:8), chosen and adopted by Him (Ephesians 3:1-8), loved by Him and bought with a price (John 3:16). He began to show me all that He had accomplished in me through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:10) and reminded me that through Him I can do all that He calls me to (Philippians 4:13) and bear fruit that will glorify Him alone (John 15:16). God is so good! Yes, He is good all the time!

To the Lost:

Please do not allow the father of lies (John 8:44) to convince you that you are good enough. God would not have sent His only Son to die on a cross for you if there were any other way. It is not enough to believe in His finished work on the cross. After all, Satan himself believes and is committed to keeping you convinced that you are all you need. You must confess your sin and receive Him as Savior (Romans 10:8-9). The choice is yours.

To the Believer:

In confessing your need of a Savior and asking Jesus to be the Lord of your life, you have displayed the first Beatitude – “poor in spirit.” Choosing to humble yourself under His Lordship has opened the door to all His blessings and promises. Welcome to the family! Please keep reading!

Gather • Devotion #3: A Matter of the Heart

About six years ago, I accepted this position on staff as Director of Women’s Ministry. At about that same time, our Church began defining our mission as Reach, Gather, Grow, and Back to Reach, taken from the Great Commission in Matthew chapter 28. Since then, we have revisited this topic every September and January. These months are typically when believers reassess their priorities and set goals.

As I write, it is January 6th. I recently returned from vacation and set out to begin preparing for another year of study. I reached in the box and pulled out the new book: Reach, Gather, Grow. Full disclosure: I rolled my eyes and thought, “Not again.” To add to my weariness, I needed to write this devotion on gathering. I began seeking God’s guidance in writing about an “old” topic in a fresh way. God is so good and so very faithful. He managed to teach me a new truth.

Six years ago, I was frustrated. Our pastor was frequently preaching on “What the church is not.” He frequently reminded us that we are members of one body, each having a specific gift we are meant to use to grow His Church. Though these truths are very important, I found myself thinking, “This is not deep enough” or “I am not being fed.” I was not growing spiritually, but my attitude was growing worse. Through the teaching of our mission, God taught me that my Sunday gathering is not meant to be my time in the Word. My Growth Community and Bible study is the primary place to grow.

Several years later, I began to get frustrated again. This time I started to resent the interruptions during “my” gathering time to assist ladies with their needs. The Lord stepped in and pointed me to a second truth. We are called to “meet together,” “encouraging one another” (Hebrews 10:25), and “count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). Ouch! It was difficult for this selfish believer to receive and yet another important truth.

The third truth is the icing on the cake. Over the last week, I have started revisiting our mission, and God faithfully brought me to a passage. Psalm 84:1-2 says, “How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; My heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.” 

My commentary suggests this Psalm was written by a Jewish man who was unable to go to the temple (Church). In those days, Jews were expected to travel three times a year to the temple. It was not like today, where believers can enter the throne room of God any time, any place. The presence of God was believed to be only in the temple. Scripture teaches us that for some, this required months of travel by foot, through desert conditions while navigating dangerous animals and situations. This puts a lot in perspective. I have been convicted about those times when I did not want to leave my warm home to drive ten miles to the gathering time that fit my schedule. I am really hoping someone else can identify with this. As you read on, you realize this man views the temple as his home, like “the sparrow finds a home” (verse 3) and values this time greatly, “For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere” (verse 10). Clearly, the longing of this believer’s heart was to be in the house of God.

I realized I have a lot in common with this gentleman. My flight on Christmas Eve landed at 4:45, and my first concern was whether or not we would make it to the last gathering. Many of the people at church were strangers as friends were traveling, and I was surrounded by the unfamiliar faces of out of town guests. Honestly, I enjoyed my uninterrupted opportunity to worship my Savior, and it was so good to be home.

It is true that a word of encouragement on Sunday morning is important, but the gathering was not meant to be my sole opportunity to grow in His Word. It is true that we are called to gather with and encourage those around us, but not at the expense of our personal worship time with God. Hence, I needed to find balance.

Believer, what is the desire of your heart? Is gathering with the saints a priority? Do you fall in the category of believers who do not want to get up early on their one day off, do not want to battle the snow or fight the traffic, or would rather serve because you learn just as much online or have to get your child to travel sports? There are many excuses, but when all is said and done, we rob ourselves when we choose not to worship and fellowship with God.

Free Commercial: if you are racing (or floating) into gathering after prayer and worship, you have missed Him!



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