Engage Community Church

Devotionals

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

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