Devotions

Author Archives: Holly Boston

Lesson Three • Devotion #3: Our Comfort

I have been addicted to some form of carbonated beverage since college (several decades now). If I had a dime for every time someone asked me, “How many of those do you drink a day?” or “Doesn’t that keep you awake?”, I would be a wealthy woman. Some have sent me articles describing the adverse effects on my health and its contribution to weight issues. Truth be told, I did not read them. Nothing had an impact on me until about 15 years ago. Circumstances were hard. I was dealing with financial issues, marital issues, and trying to navigate my son’s struggles with Autism. I went to the drive-through window at McDonald’s to get my morning Diet Coke. As the young lady handed it to me, I was shocked to “hear” my thoughts, “I have got my pop. It is a good day.” At that moment, I realized I depended on pop the way I should depend on God.

Dawson McAllister, with The Hope Line, states that between 60% and 70% of Americans have some form of addiction, costing 500 billion dollars a year. He cites four main reasons for addictions from his research. Number one on the list is to fill the void, satisfy, or comfort. Believer, what comforts you? For many, it is alcohol, drugs, gambling, or pornography. For some, it is a more socially acceptable addiction, such as caffeine, comfort food, retail therapy, or a relationship. Some Christians find comfort in more spiritual things like a thriving ministry, a successful church event, or a well-delivered sermon. The continuum is long, but they all have one thing in common: they are substitutes for God. 

In 2 Corinthians 1:3, Paul refers to our Lord as “God of all comfort.” It is not some, not most, but all comfort. The God we serve promises us eternal comfort (2 Thessalonians 2:16), through His ever-presence (Hebrews 13:5), His complete provision (Philippians 4:19), and His unconditional love (Romans 5:8). We settle for poor, temporary substitutes when complete comfort can be found in intimate conversations with Christ and time spent clinging to His promises of the Bible.

The second reason for addiction, according to McAllister, is the need to escape the struggles of this life. Believer, how do you escape? Some turn to the self-destructive options of alcohol and drugs, while others choose a more culturally acceptable means. When I come home and hear, “Don’t Look Back” by Boston(ironic) or “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beach Boys pouring through the windows, I know my husband has escaped. I am known to escape via an episode of “Andy Griffith” before going to bed. It offers simpler times and simpler problems that are solved in a half-hour (less without commercials). Others take a more spiritual approach; they pray and beg God to change their circumstances. We request relief or escape instead of comfort and strength as we persevere. 

Years ago, I had a mentor who was walking the agonizing road of end-stage breast cancer. I will never forget one of her posts on her blog, “I realized the very thing I was asking the Lord to remove was the very thing he was using to transform me into his likeness.” In 2 Corinthians 1:4, Paul continues to describe our God of all comfort as the One who “comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction.”

We all need to escape now and then. However, perpetual escape from God-ordained struggles robs us of experiencing complete comfort. We are meant to experience divine comfort so that we can then comfort others. My mentor grew spiritually from the battle of her life. Remembering her words and the truth God revealed to her has comforted me in my own struggles. I am reminded that there is purpose in our pain. Do not avoid it. Embrace it. Grow from it. Share it.

Full disclosure: Those who know me will tell you I continue to battle my addiction to (now) Diet Dr. Pepper. I can honestly say that I first reach for God when things get tough, but the bubbles are a close second. One day I will have complete victory! 

Gather • Devotion #2: A Life of Worship

The hallmark of a religious person has always been going to church on Sundays. Some denominations would say, “Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, Wednesday nights, and every time the doors are open.” Over the years, I have asked many women if they have a personal relationship with Christ and the response I have often gotten is something like, “Yes, I have always believed in God. We went to church every Sunday when I was a kid.” At the risk of being ridiculed and showing my age, one of my favorite shows has always been “The Waltons.” It was one of the few shows we could watch and not be concerned about language or content. This Baptist family regularly attended church. However, one of the sub-themes of the show was that everyone went but the dad, John Walton. The family was always dressed to go in their Sunday best, while John sat at the family table with his coffee and paper. Olivia, the mom, would always ask him to come and Grandma (his mom) would say: “It wouldn’t hurt you to get some religion.” As a young believer, I came to the conclusion that John must not know Christ or he would have the desire to gather with the saints and worship his God. Yes, attending church has and always will be the mark of a believer.

What would happen if we could not go to church? Do not worry, there will always be churches to attend. Or would there? On March 13, 2020, President Trump declared a national emergency that would begin a national quarantine due to COVID 19. We were unable to attend church for the better part of three months. Prior to that, I spent most of my time talking with ladies about accepting Christ as their Savior and then gathering with the saints. Yet, now what? How will we worship? How will we encourage one another and receive the encouragement we need to live for Christ?

God used the quarantine (Romans 8:28) to grow me and the ladies I serve with by teaching us several truths. The first is found in 1 Corinthians 3:16, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” Paul was teaching the people of Corinth that they are God’s church, not a building. As long as there are believers, there will be God’s church.

The second truth that we learned is found in James 1:27, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” Through our inability to gather on Sundays, God taught us that true religion is caring for people. Orphans and widows were the neediest of their culture. During the quarantine, the need was overwhelming. We learned to gather, worship, and encourage in new ways. To encourage the lonely, we often met in front yards to visit. We worked tirelessly to navigate technology so we could gather over Zoom, pray together, and study God’s Word. Ladies went grocery shopping for those with compromised health, visited with people shut in at retirement communities through windows, and prayed in the parking lot of hospitals when we were unable to go in to see people. Though the church was closed, we gathered, we encouraged, and according to scripture, we worshipped. 

The third truth we learned during the quarantine is Luke 6:38, “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put in your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” As we gave, God filled us with the peace, joy, and strength we needed to handle our own struggle and meet our own needs.

I want to reference John Walton again. In one of the episodes, John Boy asks his dad why he does not go to church. I cannot quote the dad but he tells his son that he thinks God is more concerned about how we live and treat others. Now, I do not know if John Walton knew Jesus and I do believe attending church is an important part of our lives as Christians, but it sounds to me like Mr. Walton knew something about James 1:27. Believer, true worship is caring for others.

Romans 12:1 adds, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” 

May we live a life of worship.

1 John 1 • Devotion #4: Practice What He Preaches

“If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice truth.” 1 John 1:6

Truth be told, I would rather write a devotion on just about any other topic than this one. We have all heard the phrase “practice what you preach.” Parents, if we are honest with ourselves, the phrase “do as I say not as I do” has characterized our parenting at one time or another. My husband and I are addicted to pop. Sadly, we have passed this down to all three of our children. We frequently discuss how unhealthy this is and our need to quit. Now, every time I pour myself a pop, my son proudly announces, “Look, I am drinking water!” There is nothing like your own child whacking you with the hypocrisy stick right between the eyes.

As a teenager, I was tormented by hypocrisy. In those days, we called it “two-faced.” I struggled with friendships as I found girls to be prone to drama and being two-faced. On Friday, I would have a great sleepover with my best friend, Katie and by Monday was the subject of her vicious rumor. The pain and lack of trust still affect me today. It amazes me that God has called me to serve women. I think He loves irony.

In preparation for writing this, I Googled “hypocrisy in the church.” Statistics indicate that as many as 72% of people who do not attend church do not go because of hypocrisy. Brennan Manning is quoted as having said, “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny him by their lifestyle. This is what an unbelieving world finds unbelievable.”

Until about six months ago, this kind of hypocrisy was something my family read about or heard about in the news. Now, it is a reality as we learn of past and present mentors who have been living contrary to how they profess. I can not describe the pain and disillusionment I have experienced as I try to make sense of all that has happened, and as I try to help others deal with it as well. In order to cope, I have been brought back to several truths.

Jesus taught, “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on the house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock” (Matthew 7:25). 

I have been reminded of the importance of building my life upon Him, His example, His love, His faithfulness, and His promises. Our dependence on self and others leads to destruction. God also tells us all have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), including our shepherds. God warns us saying, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust man” (Psalm 118:8). God promises, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

While these truths bring comfort and have helped me to turn my focus to Him, there is also the truth that convicts and calls me to self-examination. All believers are called to be His ambassadors and His representatives (2 Corinthians 5:20), and we are warned about causing others to stumble (1 Corinthians 8:9). I have come to realize that I have been so consumed with the sin of those around me that I have become blind to my own. I have no problem seeing the speck in their eye but ignore the plank in my own (Matthew 7:3-5). I am often guilty of weighing sin. Certain sin committed by certain people is less forgivable than my own. However, with God, sin is sin (James 2:10), and all sin separates us from Him (Isaiah 59:2).

This week God shed light on hypocrisy in my walk, and it has rattled me to my core. A lady at church said, “Holly, I love how transparent you are.” At that moment, I saw the enormous plank in my eye. I am ashamed to say that I now realize my honesty about my struggles has given me license to continue in my sin and has stunted my spiritual growth. In other words, it is ok to fall short as long as I admit it. Believer, I now know the slippery slope I have been riding. I have become apathetic toward my sin in the name of transparency. By claiming to be one of His while choosing to live in darkness, I am a liar.

Believer, what if you are the only face of Christ they ever see? What if you are the only Bible they read?

“Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” 1 John 2:6

Church • Devotion #5: Who’s in Charge?!

Our youngest, Carter, has autism. Every year as a student, we attended an IEP to discuss his progress and establish goals for the school year. When he was 13 years old, the conversation started with the typical questions: age, date, address, teachers’ names, and the name of our president. Carter responded with a resounding, “Barack Obama.” As we celebrated his correct response, he continued, “But my dad says.” Having no idea what he was going to say next, we quickly interrupted him and segued into a different topic. Later, Greg and I would discuss the importance of voicing our opinions out of his earshot.

From the time we are born, we experience different types of leadership – a parent, a teacher, and a supervisor. Also, if you have a saving relationship with Christ, you are under the leadership of Jesus. At some time or another, most if not all of us, have asked the question, “Who put him (her) in charge?” We have all questioned the decisions mandates of our leaders at some point. I will never forget when God had me read Ephesians 5:22, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” No conditions were given. It is just a straight-up command. What? I hope I am not alone when I admit that sometimes I question even His leadership.

Whenever you are struggling with understanding and following God, there are stories in the Bible that will remind you that you are in good company. Read the book of Habakkuk. It is a quick three chapters. Habakkuk was God’s chosen prophet to Judah. During that time, Habakkuk was grieved by the spiritual decay surrounding him in spite of his prayers and his commissioned message to the people. When he sees the invasion of Judah by Babylon, the most wicked nation of the day, and God’s people being carried into captivity, he is confused and begins a question. Habakkuk 1:3 says, “Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong?”

Have you wondered the same thing, “Has God taken His eye off the ball?” Have you ever believed the lie that evil is winning? Have you ever questioned who He “allows” to win elections, who He elevates at your workplace, who He gives a teaching certificate, or who He gives children? Then the big question, “Is God really in control or has He turned a blind eye?” God answers Habakkuk and He answers you. Habakkuk 1:5 says, “Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.”

Habakkuk needed to be reminded that God is fully in control, God’s thoughts and His ways do not often make sense, and He can use anyone or anything to bring about His purposes. Believer, we are in need of the same reminders.

Psalm 11:4 says, “The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.” No matter who is in charge on Earth, they answer to the God of Heaven.

Isaiah 55:8 adds, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” God’s eternal decisions often are a mystery.

Paul adds in 1 Corinthians 1:27, “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.”

God can use anyone. Do you remember Judas?

So once we wrap our mind around the truth that God does not just allow people to take positions but actually places them in authority (Romans 13:1), how are we expected to respond? I would consider myself to be a rule follower. I am obedient in my actions (mostly). My husband and I obey the laws of the land, comply with the expectations of our supervisors, and treat our parents with respect (mostly). However, Carter’s response that day revealed our rebellious hearts. We were teaching him disrespect with our careless words. Believer, we must remember that all authority, good and bad, comes from God (Romans 13:1) and they are sent for our good (Romans 13:4). To rebel publicly or privately is the equivalent to rebelling against God. We are called to live a godly life and according to 1 Timothy 2:1, this includes praying for our leaders. Believer, our leaders do not need our critical, condemning words but our humble request that God would provide them with wisdom, leading, and protection.

Suggested Scripture to pray are Ephesians 1:17-18 and Colossians 1:9.

Let us pray!

Home • Devotion #5: Just Do It!

The most vivid memory I have of my grandmother is when we were talking in her living room about 24 years ago. I was a mother of two and had been a Christian for about a year. My husband and I were having difficulty agreeing on whether or not to have more children. I decided for the first time ever to pray for guidance. A short three months later, I found myself telling my grandmother of our dilemma and my decision to pray. I confidently and proudly asserted that God decided and I was expecting a baby in eight months. Without missing a beat, my grandmother responded with, “Oh, is that who you’re going to blame?” I was shattered.

We all have different family backgrounds. Some were raised in Christian homes (God bless you!) and some of us attended church but biblical truths and principles were never discussed and applied to daily living. Still, others were raised in homes where God and Jesus were not even on the radar. I have noticed something about God’s Word – when He gives a command, there are no conditions attached. He does not say forgive others if they apologize; love others, if they are loving; or submit, if your husband loves the Lord. He simply says to forgive, love, and submit. Respecting your elders is no different.

In 1 Peter 5:5, we read, “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another; For God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

That is interesting. I do not see, “Respect or submit to your grandmother if she responds in a godly or even a caring way.” However, I do see a promise of God’s grace. God’s fourth commandment reads: “Honor your father and mother, as the Lord your God commanded you” (Deuteronomy 5:16). No conditions are noted but we find a promise of long life attached to it. Many commentators agree that this is a “multigenerational attitude of respect” and applies to grandparents. As I combed through articles, I found commentators suggesting this is an “outdated sentiment.” Historically, this saying meant that elders should be respected because of their knowledge and experience. However, since the young of our culture know more than the older it is an irrelevant saying. Believer, we are called to respect our elders because of who they are (His creation); not because of what they know or have accomplished. He also sites situations where the older have mistreated the younger. Believer, the sin of others does not negate God’s commands. His command is not based on what our elders deserve. We are called to: Just Do It!

As a new grandmother, I feel compelled to address my fellow grandparents. I have a 9-month granddaughter, Leah Kate. As much as I love my children, there is nothing like the love I have for my granddaughter. She has done nothing to earn my love but as Proverbs 17:6 says, she is her Grammy’s “crown.” I know many grandparents who have become very critical of their children’s parenting skills and stunned by the behavior of their grandchildren. Psalm 145:4 says that we are to share God’s works with the younger generation. Grandparent, have you introduced your grandchild to the One who saves and transforms lives? I constantly hear grandparents complain they are overburdened with caring for their grandchildren and others complain they hardly see them. Too much time, too little time – the real question is, “How are you spending your time with them?” Are you sharing stories of the amazing works God has done in your life? Proverbs 13:22 says, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.” Have you spent half the time making sure they receive an eternal inheritance through Jesus Christ as you have on their temporal (material) inheritance?

One more thought: My parents and grandparents were (are) very good at telling stories of their youth. They love telling stories about how hard they had it or how they “went without.” I do not remember them sharing who got them through it. My parents and grandparents did not have a personal relationship with Jesus to depend upon and to share with other generations. I do. I am determined to make sure Leah Kate knows the Savior Grammy serves. Honestly, this intimidates me. I have never seen it done. However, God is faithful to equip me (Ephesians 4:12).

I intend to pray and then: “Just Do It!”



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