Engage Community Church

Devotionals

Spring Cleaning

I made the terrible mistake of moving something in my living room yesterday. What I uncovered was the biggest Dust Bunny I’d ever seen.  Fortunately, it didn’t attack.  (They can be vicious!)

As Spring FINALLY arrives it brings with it a peculiar light. This light suddenly shows me that my house isn’t a clean as I thought and it’s time for some much-needed Spring Cleaning!

It’s also a good time to let the Light of the World shine into the many rooms of my heart and show me what He needs to organize, unclutter, and clean up.

Unclutter Your Life:  From time to time, it’s a good idea to throw away things that are cluttering our lives. Sometimes these are things that distract us from spending more time with Jesus. It’s easy to spend too much time working, watching TV, shopping, exercising, and engaged in a hobby. And suddenly we find ourselves without any time for God.  De-Clutter! Spring is a great time to get back to your Daily Devotional Time with God.  You’ll be much refreshed and renewed!

Dust:  Maybe it’s time to wipe away some things in your past that are holding you back emotionally and spiritually. Past hurts and failures can build upon our hearts and minds, keeping us from living free from the “Spiritual Allergies” that come with this dusty residue. Ask God to cleanse you of your hurts, your broken dreams, and past missteps.  He’ll wipe it all away leaving you with a shiny new start!

Polish:  We can also make our relationships shine by forgiving and serving others as God leads us. Take time to pray and ask God to give you forgiveness for that person who has hurt you. And there are all kinds of creative ways to serve people around us. Look around at the people God has placed in your life and ask Him what you can do for them. By cleaning up our relationships, our lives blossom!

Happy Spring, Everyone!  (And beware those Dust Bunnies!)

 – Pastor Dale

Why Can’t I Get My Locker Open?

 I remember as a teenager being given a devotional book entitled, “If God loves me, why can’t I get my locker open?” The gist of the book was to help teens navigate their life in Christ in the midst of everyday challenges. What do you do when you are facing a big biology test? How do you know Jesus is there when you don’t make the team? Why are some kids determined to give me a hard time? Today, kids face greater challenges in our schools, of course, but those everyday questions remain.

As adults, the questions change context but are no less prevalent. Why am I always getting passed over for that promotion? How come I can’t seem to shake this virus? Why am I the butt of office jokes just because I’m trying to grow in my faith?

We may have thought that just because we decided to follow Jesus that things would get better. After all, the other folks at church seem to have everything together, and the guy on television said that God wanted to bless me if I’d only let Him. Yet here I am, still facing hardships, still feeling unsure of myself, still a mess. Nothing feels different. Am I doing something wrong?

Following the resurrection, things certainly were different! Jesus removed Thomas’ doubts, restored Peter to his position, and gave a new commission to His followers! He even sent the Holy Spirit to empower them! But life still faced them. They still endured hardships. They faced challenges. Most of them even gave their lives for the cause of Jesus.

The miracle of the resurrection is not that it makes life new and better and always pleasant. The miracle of the resurrection is that the power of Christ makes US new. The best way to face the challenges of life is to keep our eyes on Him.  We do this by spending time with Him, sharing our joys, pains, questions, and doubts with Him. And we grow as we join with others on the same journey.

As we move out of the Easter holiday, may we continue to believe that life is new. May we continue to seek the presence of the resurrected King. May we find a joy, hope, and peace that sustains us as we face the challenges of life and learn to walk in the power of Christ that makes us more than conquerors, even if we “can’t get our locker open”.

 – Pastor Evan

Jesus: “The Suffering Servant”

Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12

As we approach the Easter season, let’s take some time to focus on what the Cross and Resurrection really mean. One great way to do that is to read about them in each of the four Gospels. We encourage you to take some time each week to read and meditate on the greatest story ever told!

Another valuable way is to meditate on Isaiah’s prophecy about “The Suffering Servant,” which we know today is Jesus. In this passage, written about 750 years before Jesus, we see a depiction that is very different from many modern portrayals of Jesus. Instead of seeing a handsome, long haired man with a beautiful smile, Isaiah tells us “there was nothing beautiful or majestic about His appearance, nothing to attract us to Him.”

Isaiah tells us He would be “despised and rejected.” He then goes on to tell us in excruciating detail how “The Suffering Servant” would be tortured and killed. We read about Him being pierced and crushed and beaten and whipped. All of this was centuries before Crucifixion was even invented.

This is the “what” of The Suffering Servant. Isaiah also tells us the “why.” The Messiah does not appear in the flesh to simply give us a moral example or to show us what sacrificial love looks like. Instead, the “why” is so much greater. When Jesus bears sickness and pain, it is to carry it for us (v. 4, 11, 12). When He is crushed and pierced, it is on our behalf, we who have transgressed the Law of God (v. 5). All of the punishment that the Savior endured is on our behalf.   We are the ones who have committed the atrocities that punishment is doled out upon “The Suffering Savior.”

In verse 6 we find the phrase “the iniquity of us all.” The word “iniquity” may sound old and religious to our ears. It is both of these. In the Hebrew language, it means moral evil or perversity. Jesus arrives on Earth to gladly and willingly suffer the punishment due to us for our rebellion so that we can be reconciled to our perfect God.

These are the “what” and the “why” of our Suffering Servant. As Easter approaches, let us meditate on our own sin, the great love of God, the sacrifice of Jesus, and the power of His Resurrection!

– Pastor Dale

Spending Time With Our Master

Recently I read an interesting article about the effects that close emotional bonds may have on dogs and their owners. It seems that as dogs learn to hear the sounds produced by their master’s voice, they may actually develop regional accents. The study, conducted in the United Kingdom, suggested that dogs in Scotland have the most distinctive accent in the British Isles and the dogs in Liverpool sound just like The Beatles…okay, they don’t, but they do have higher-pitched barks as compared to the lighter tones of the Scottish dogs. Researchers concluded that dogs imitate their owners to bond with them. The closer a dog and owner were, the more similar the sounds of their vocalizations were.

While it is only one study and may seem far-fetched, there have been many studies that indicate dogs are affected by and take on characteristics of their masters. If a Yorkshire Terrier is in a home with small children, for instance, the dog tends to be hyper. If it is in the home of a retired widow, the dog will likely be more subdued. There is also the old thought that dogs end up looking like their masters.

Regardless of the level of legitimacy of these claims, it does bring up an interesting set of questions when we consider our relationships with the Lord. How much do we sound, act, and appear to be like our Master? Would people recognize His influence in the things we say and do? As we are actively reaching out to those around us, do they hear and experience the love, hope, and joy of Jesus in us?

The more we know Jesus ourselves, the more we can share Him with others. By having daily Quiet Times of reading the Bible, thinking through it, praying, listening in silence, and learning, we will know Him more and the Holy Spirit will make us more like Him. Our bond with our Master will be closer, and our lives more like His.

If you are not in the practice of a daily Quiet Time, I encourage you to start. The benefits of intimacy with the Lord will be a blessing to you, and to those you encounter daily. As we engage with the Savior, we are brought to life in Him and empowered to love others in life-giving ways!

– Pastor Evan