Engage Community Church

Devotionals

A Gift Fit for the King

               We are entering the Christmas season and with that comes a singular and warranted focus on the birth of Jesus, our Messiah. We will hear the story again, the King of Kings, came and took on the very low form of a baby. What’s more, he was not born in a castle, but in a place reserved for animals. His first bed was not a soft pillowed bassinet, but a feed trough. His first attendants were not palace staff, but dirty shepherds. His birth was not celebrated by royalty but met with jealousy and death.
So it was that Jesus came to be our Savior. The baby in Bethlehem, would be the Passover lamb. He would live to bring light and die to bring life.
Those who first came to see the messiah could not fully understand what his life would mean. Mary herself thought deeply about the little boy she had delivered. The message of the angel had been clear, still there was much to understand. When he was older, magi came and brought gifts fit for a king, but they could not know that this baby deserved even more.
For us, on this side of history, we know so much more than they did. For many of us, the story of the baby born to die, has led us to life and hope. We have believed his message and have placed our faith in Him. We see Jesus as the greatest gift ever given. God Himself came near and paid our debt.
He wiped clean the slate of justice that stood against us. So, what will our gift be in return?
For some of us, this Christmas season is the perfect opportunity to give him the gift of ourselves for the first time. There is no time like today to repent of our sin and place our hope in Jesus, declaring that He is our Passover lamb who takes our sins away and makes us right with God. For the rest of us, we too have a gift to give. Much like the first time we placed our faith in the baby in Bethlehem, we can give gifts fit for the King of King. We can give our time, talent, and treasure. We can give our all. We can move from believer to disciple. We can move from wherever we are towards Jesus.
This season, the greatest gift you can offer is more. More of who you are: more trust, more obedience, more faith, more surrender, more everything. So, as you celebrate the season and the Savior, don’t forget to give Him the gift He most wants and deserves – You.

Pastor Evan

Thanksliving

                The calendar has turned to November. The last of the Halloween candy has been devoured, and our kids may be returning to normalcy as the sugar tsunami starts to ebb. It seems as though the last three months of the year is one constant party, moving from the front porch, to the dinner table and finally to the family room to gather around the tree. For many – especially retailers – as soon as midnight strikes on October 31st, they whisk away the Halloween candy and replace it with stripped canes, and the jack-o’-lanterns are instantly replaced with Santas. Thanksgiving seems lost in the shuffle.

              The truth is, that in our endlessly active lives, the same can be said. Sure, we take time out to say thank you to God, but because of the business of life these moments of gratitude seem to be more the exception than the rule. If things are not going as we hoped or planned, they may become rarer still.

As disciples of Jesus, we have much to be thankful for that has nothing to do with our circumstances. There are things we can always count on and be forever grateful for. Regardless of our stage in life or what we are facing, mountain or valley, we can confidently celebrate and proclaim God’s faithfulness. Among these are:
1) His Goodness – He is good, and His love endures forever. Everything we face is an opportunity
to be conformed to the image of Christ. Every blessing is a gift from the Father above.
God is good! (Psalm 34:8)

2) His Guidance – The Holy Spirit will guide us in all truth. Every question we have, every doubt,
every decision is an opportunity to be led by Him. He will never leave or forsake us.
God orders our steps! (Prov. 16:9)

3) His Grace – He forgives our sin and establishes us as his children through the work of Christ.
This will never be changed, lost, or defaulted on. The blood of Christ achieved it and the Holy
Spirit guarantees it.
We are His forever! (Romans 5:17)

What is left for us to do? Live out our gratitude. Live in peace and power and hope and joy. Live obediently. Love extravagantly. Proclaim our thanks to our Father who provides us with an everlasting hope and inheritance. Let us turn our eyes to Him and make Thanksliving our way of life, and not simply a once a year ritual.

Pastor Evan

Let Us Pray

                Prayer is a powerful and visible part of the human experience. You can easily find pictures of thousands of Muslims praying at the Kaaba in Saudi Arabia, you can find pictures of Buddhist monks praying in seated silence high in the mountains of Tibet, and you can find any number of sports teams huddled together for a pre-game ritual of reciting the Lord’s Prayer. All of these are meaningless.

                Prayer is the opportunity to communicate with the creator of the universe. The one true God of the Bible. He is the only God, full of power and glory and love. So it is a great blessing and privilege to be able to come directly to him in prayer. We know that unlike those who pray to false gods of religion or who treat prayer as a good luck charm, we have an audience with the One who made us and who desires for us to know him.

Prayer is intimacy. It is making ourselves vulnerable, declaring our dependency on someone other than ourselves, crying out in anguished suffering, and shouting out in joyful praise. It is humanity touching the divine and experiencing the divine touch of peace, joy, love, and healing. Prayer is
life-giving, will strengthening, faith lifting and world changing.

Then why is it that we fail to pray? Studies report that even our leaders pray on average about 5 min per day. Why is it that we who know God most, speak with him so little? Prayer changes things. James 5 tells us that prayer is powerful and effective to bring about the will of God. Jesus made prayer a regular daily occurrence, stepping away from people for focused time to communicate with the Father.
We have been given a great gift. We know the benefits and have seen it modeled well. So then,
as a people, as the Church, as those who know the real meaning and purpose of prayer: Let us pray!

Pastor Evan

Take a Vacation WITH God

As summer approaches, many of us will be going on vacation with our families.  For some, it will be the big trip of the year and a chance to make lifelong memories together.  Maybe you’ve planned it all out months ahead of time.  Maybe you’re being spontaneous and just picking a place or direction and you just go!  But for all of us, it can be an opportunity to refresh our minds, our hearts, and even our souls.

God has created us with the need for rest and rejuvenation.  Just like we can’t go very long without sleep, we can’t go very long without a good break, a much needed time to leave our big responsibilities behind and rest, play, explore, learn, and experience more of the wonders all around us, whether that is near or far.  And it is in those breaks that God can do His most refreshing work in you.

If you’ve ever sat beside a still lake in the early morning hours when nature seems to just be waking up and a light mist rises from the water, then you know the peace His creation offers. He is with you there speaking into you His love and peace and tender care.  Can you hear Him?

If you’ve ever looked up at a mountain range with a blue sky above and just a few white puffs floating around the top then you’ve experienced a bit of His majesty and power.  Can you see it?  God spoke all of this into existence.  Just think of that creative, imaginative, and awesome power.  And He did it all for you.

Maybe you like to be active on vacation.  There’s so much to see and do.  You can experience God in those moments too, filling you with energy and joy and freedom.

But sadly, sometimes we take a break from God Himself and go out on our own during these breaks.  Maybe it’s intentional or maybe we don’t even realize we’re doing it.  It’s as if we think, “I don’t have time for God now!”

I’d just like to encourage you with this thought: God knows exactly what you need!  And He is ready to provide it in the most glorious, refreshing, and satisfying ways.  So take God on vacation with you.  The memories He will give you will last for eternity.

Now go enjoy yourselves!

– Pastor Dale