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6-17-21 – Mark Stauffer

I felt like I had won a prize when I saw Psalm 18 falling on Thursday in our Bible reading plan! It is full of illustrations that highlight the power and character of our Lord. While there are many of His glorious attributes on display, I feel led to reflect on the Lord as our Rock.
 
Rock has always been used as a strong building material. Many of the most impressive, durable, and protective structures ever built were made with various kinds of rock. It is no surprise that in this same verse, the Lord is referred to as both our fortress and our stronghold. There is no stone on earth stronger than our God, the Cornerstone! “For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God?” (v. 31)
 
Often, such structures delve down into the actual rock. Carve out enough or start with a naturally occurring cave, and you gain the protective benefits of insulation provided within the earth where temperature fluctuates very little. “The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.” (Psalm 121:6) Like actual rock provides shelter against the heat and the cold, the Lord our Rock provides shelter from any ill effects the world can throw at us.
 
Of course we know that just as Jesus said, the wise would build directly on the rock. There is actually a way scientists classify the strength of rock called “rock quality designation.” The strongest of rocks rated at 100rqd can bear as much as 300 tons per square foot! Though the largest pyramids in Egypt appear to defy the warning against building on sand, there is actually a rock plateau below them that helps explain why they have stood for thousands of years, and that’s just the earthly rock of this temporary world. Our God is the Rock of Ages! “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord Himself is the Rock Eternal.” (Isaiah 26:4)
 
David knew where to look for deliverance, refuge, and protection. He knew where to place his trust. He, like the wise builder, was able to weather the storms of life because his feet were on the Rock. The foundation of his kingdom and his life was the Lord.
 
There are many forms of “sand” in this world on which we could mistakenly build – fortune, fame, friends, or finances to name a few. Like David, may we build on the one sure and steady foundation – the Lord. May we experience the same confidence when the trials of life come. May we see past the temporary to the permanent, beyond the changeable to the immovable.
 
One more thought. What do you think David did in recognition of the greatness of God? “Praise be my Rock…therefore I will praise You Lord, among the nations; I will sing the praises of Your name!” (v. 46,49)

On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand

6-16-21 – Pastor Dylan

Devoted. Is that a word that someone would use to describe you? If so, what would they say that you are devoted to? Your family? Your favorite sports team? A video game? Hunting? Fishing? Golf? The beach? Your job? The things that we are devoted to get much of our time, energy, and focus. We typically speak much about these things. We are willing to sacrifice other good things for the sake of these things to which we are devoted. 
 
As Christ followers, we are to be people marked by devotion! We are to be devoted, above all else, to our Lord. We, as was also the early church in Acts 2, are to be devoted to our Lord’s church! Devotion marked this group of early Christ followers. Pastor Chris just touched on this passage in his sermon series through Acts 2 which we concluded just a few weeks ago. This passage is vital for us to remind ourselves of often. It is so easy for us to get distracted or sidetracked by “good things” but neglect the best things. Look at Acts 2:42-47 and some of the things to which this early church was devoted:

  • The Word
  • Fellowship
  • The Ordinances
  • Prayer
  • Unity
  • Generosity
  • Sacrifice
  • Gathering together
  • Worship

When you think about Englewood, do you think about us as a people devoted to these things? What about yourself? Would your family, friends, coworkers, and fellow Christ followers say that you are devoted to those things? If not, what better time to repent and ask the Lord to help you rearrange priorities in your life, so that you can be devoted to the BEST things! If we want to truly make an impact in Rocky Mount and beyond, we must be devoted to the things that the early church was devoted to! 

6-15-21 – Pastor Charles

Pentecost ushered in a new era for the church – the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to all believers. What a day for the disciples on Pentecost. They experienced the promise, power, and presence of Jesus like never before. The last forty plus days, they had experienced the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. They were able to spend forty days with their resurrected Lord and hear and see so many things! They saw Jesus carried away in the clouds, and then for the next 10 days, they were in an intense prayer meeting. On Pentecost, they experienced the promise of the Holy Spirit and were used mightily to proclaim the “wonderful works of God” (Acts 2:11). Many were amazed and awestruck at what they were experiencing. BUT, there were others that scoffed, made fun of, and jeered at what was happening.

Rest assured that no matter how great the power of God is being experienced by the church and the believer, there will be the “but others.” You and I will come in contact with those who mock at what God is doing. We can encounter them anywhere, anytime, and at any moment of our walk and relationship with our Lord.

When we do encounter such, may our immediate response be to turn to our great and all powerful Father for His strength, mercy, and grace. It is at times like these that I realize how weak and frail I really am in my own strength and human abilities.

Here are three basic actions we can carry out when we do experience the “but others”:

  1. Go to the Word of God. “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.” (Psalm 119:11) “I have restrained my feet from every evil way, That I may keep your word.” (Psalm 119:101)
  2. Pray always. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
  3. Love by faith. “For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.“ (Galatians 5:14-15) “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7)

So my friend, know that there will always be the “but others” in our lives, but may we respond so that the others will see, “Yes, but God!”

6-14-21 – Pastor Jordan

Today’s devotion is a throwback to November 9, 2020. As we read together through John 21 today, take a moment to reflect on the power of Jesus through us, when we are willing to obey Him.
 
There were some men in a boat that had been fishing all night. They didn’t have a single fish in the boat with them. If you’re a fisherman, or if you know someone who is, you know that is called getting “skunked.” After tossing the net on the other side of the boat at the command of Jesus, the disciples caught 153 fish. There has been much speculation over the meaning of that number, but it isn’t very complicated. They caught a bunch of fish and wanted to know how many were in the net! In fact, they caught so many large fish, seven grown men weren’t able to haul the net into the boat (verse 6). 
 
After this, Peter saw a man standing on the shore and quickly realized that it was Jesus. He quickly put his shirt on and swam to shore to be with Him, leaving the six others to get the boat to the shore, dragging the net full of fish behind them. Here’s the part of the story I want us to pay attention to today. In verse 10, Jesus told the disciples to bring some of the fish they caught so He could cook them for breakfast. So, Peter ran back to the boat and hauled the net full of fish onto the shore by himself.
 
Did you catch that? The net full of fish was so heavy that seven men couldn’t haul it into the boat, including Peter. But, when Jesus said to bring some fish to Him, Peter hauled the net in by himself! Here’s the application. Jesus’ commandment is Jesus’ empowerment. 
 
Jesus commands some pretty big things from His people. Sharing the gospel is a big command. Giving to the needy is a big command. The list could go on and on, but this truth remains: When Jesus commands something of His people, He empowers us to do it – by His strength, not ours. Oftentimes, we hear a command of God from the Bible and don’t take the necessary steps of obedience. What is that thing you are struggling to obey God in right now? Take the first step of obedience, and He will do it through you. We live by His power, not ours!

Lord, as we continue to read your Word as a church family, as we hear the Word of God preached from the pulpit each week, by Your grace, grant us faith and obedience. As we follow You and Your commands, grant us the power, by Your Spirit to carry out the task. Amen.

6-13-21 – Pastor Gene

Failure is the school that we never name but all of us attend. It is the motivator that drives the student to study a little harder and the athlete to practice a little longer. Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz was once court-martialed for grounding the USS Decatur. Before becoming the mogul of Microsoft, Bill Gates’s company, Traf-O-Data, failed spectacularly. Michael Jordan, winner of six NBA titles, missed more than 9,000 shots in his career.

The Bible is full of failures. In fact, it was written for failures. Consider Peter as a case study. In John 7, Peter is fishing, but we can only imagine that his mind is far from the sea and his heart is not in his work. On this day, Peter was reflecting back to that day in Jerusalem. He shot off his mouth again. He had to be the tough guy who made the big promises. Others may falter, but not him. He was the guy who would never FAIL Jesus.

Peter talked a good game, but his heart would fail him. He wanted to be loyal and dependable but only from a distance. On this day, Peter was a failure, even as a fisherman. But this story is not about Peter, it’s about Jesus. Jesus could move on from Peter to a more desirable candidate to preach at Pentecost. He could do that, but He doesn’t. He delights in using the flawed, the flops, the failures.

Learn from Peter. What does he do after his spectacular flame-out? He jumped into the water to get to Jesus. He didn’t even wait for the boat to take him to his friend. The Lord was waiting with open arms yearning to restore Peter. Not only did Jesus restore him, He used him to do great and mighty things for the Kingdom of God. Not because Peter was great, but because Jesus is that great. You won’t find your future in your past, but never waste the lesson. Don’t allow your failure to be fatal. When failure comes, and it will, Jesus is waiting on the shore. 

6-12-21 – Pastor Ben

It’s easy for us in a fallen world to be tempted to think negatively about everything. As we endure trials, we often ask the Lord how long He will allow us to remain in the difficult situation. This is what David does in Psalm 13: “How long, Oh Lord? Will you forget me forever?” This is the cry of a man who is longing to hear from God, who needs a word from heaven.

At times of trouble, we can fail to immediately direct our hearts to the Lord. When this happens we can fall into the trap of “stinkin thinkin.” “Stinkin thinkin” happens when our thoughts become constantly negative. Have you ever been caught in a negative cycle of thoughts? You keep coming back to a run of defeating, pessimistic, gloomy ideas you have trapped in your mind. Your thoughts circle around and around to the same negative things, and you become exhausted! Have you ever said, “Stop this train and let me off?!”

David learned how to combat the lies of doubt and defeat in his life, and so should we. Most of the time when we are struggling with this type of thinking, we don’t need a therapy session, we need divine help through relationship with God. We need His power and light in our lives to overcome all the flaming arrows and accusations of the enemy.

It can be easy enough to repeat over and over the lines of v. 1-2 in our heads, but we need the discipline to help us move into the resolve seen in verses 3-6. When you’re caught in a “thinking trap,” why not pray more than you ‘think”?

  1. Bring everything- all your troubles- to the Lord (v.1-2).
  2. Call out the the Lord. Put all your hope in Him (v.3-4).
  3. Resolve to trust in Him. Let trust lead to rejoicing, and rejoicing to singing as you reflect on all his blessings (5-6).

Even in the middle of sadness or trial, God’s child can live in the light of His faithful love, and find joy. We are never forgotten or abandoned by God, and we can lean into His promises. Let’s do that even today!

6-11-21 – Pastor Chris

Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, – Titus 3:10

Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. – Romans 16:17 

Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation. – 1 Peter 2:12 

Today’s devotional is a bit different in my approach. My heart is stirred over some of the contentious conversations surrounding the annual meeting of our Convention of churches. Some have predicted that this could be the most divisive meeting in four decades. Many factors play into this. There are vastly divergent passions and philosophies surrounding important issues. There are many people who are emotionally charged in ways that won’t be resolved quickly. Some of these tensions are directly related to the words and actions of people through social media. More than a few of these actors are intentionally seeking to keep the tensions high, believing that this approach will force the subject of change. While that approach is not only present but applauded in our culture at large, it is not the way of the Church of Jesus. Jesus did not say that we would be known by our great progress but by our love for one another.

My heart is grieved over the potential damage to the name of the Lord if we miss the importance of this moment. As I have been considering and meditating on that very thing, I was drawn to the above Scriptures. Each of them speaks to different facets of the deeper issues at hand and give clear instructions on how to deal with them. Carefully examine the positions of those that are in opposition to the Scriptures as we have been taught them. Reject those who seek to divide on these issues after sufficient warning. Do all of this so that our testimony remains strong in the eyes of the watching world.

I think this wisdom rings true, not only as it relates to the annual meeting, but also in other areas of our holiness. Do we hold firm to the orthodox teachings of the Scripture, rejecting those things that war against it, while doing so for the sole purpose of pleasing the Lord and magnifying His name among the nations?

Some reading this may need to remove some divisive influences in their lives. Some may need to discard teachings, actions, or habits that war against holiness. Even more, perhaps all of us, need to remember that it is not our issue or our reputation on the line; rather, eternity for many in the watching world hangs in the balance, and we are called to guard the name of Jesus so that they will give Him glory, either in this life or in eternity.

Carefully consider the weightiness of your actions and words. They matter. In big ways.

I love you all and am grateful for the privilege to serve you.

– Pastor Chris

6-10-21 – Mark Stauffer

There’s a lot wrong in the world. Much that was once good seems forgotten or unappreciated. Everyone serves their own interests. People call evil good and good evil. What can one believer do about it?
 
I’m sure none of us would ever dwell on such pessimistic thoughts, but some of David’s trusted advisors did. Psalm 11 records one such conversation. They were telling him to flee, give up, or hide away from the adversary. They were saying that those standing against his faith in the Lord were too many, too strong, and too determined for David to overcome. They said, “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3)
 
Ever feel that way? Are you are not only disappointed that the world is so willing to embrace the darkness, but also discouraged that many believers seem to just throw their hands in the air?
 
I want you to be encouraged today by David’s response. “In the Lord I take refuge. How then can you say to me…?” (Psalm 11:1) Be sure you notice where the quotations are in this psalm! I like to imagine David shocked and wide eyed as he looked at those advisors! Maybe what he actually said was, “What are y’all talking about?”
 
We shouldn’t be too surprised that David counters these doubts and disapprovals with extolling the virtues of God. He’s always going around singing praises to God!
 
In the Lord I take refuge v.1
The Lord is in His holy temple v.4
The Lord is righteous, He loves justice; the upright will see His face v.7
 
Keep looking up! God is in control. He examines everyone that is on the earth. He has a plan. Nothing takes Him by surprise. He is reigning and ruling just as surely today as He did yesterday and will tomorrow!
 
Now it’s one thing to say or sing a song about that, and another to live it out. Look at one great example of how Jesus walked the walk. In that crucial moment when Pilate is scrambling for an excuse to set Jesus free, he asks, “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” Jesus doesn’t make a defense or excuse. He doesn’t have a fight or flight response. He doesn’t even say “Just wait ‘til the next election!” He simply points to the Father, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.”
 
God is in control. What can the righteous do? We can keep looking at and pointing to the Father. The Lord is on His heavenly throne.
 
I don’t usually end with a prayer, but this time I am because I struggle with this! If you don’t, you can just change the pronouns and pray it for someone else.

Lord, I confess there are times I look too long at the darkness in the world and find it overwhelming. Incline my heart to always look to You. May my lips be quiet in regard to trials and loud in respect to the One Who overcomes. Let my responses, my words, and my whole life point to You, that You may receive glory as you reign on Your heavenly throne.

6-9-21 – Pastor Dylan

Do you have a favorite sport? Mine is definitely football! Playing football all throughout middle school and high school taught me a lot about teamwork, respect, hard work, and discipline. In order to be successful at any athletic event, you must be disciplined. For football specifically, there were a ton of areas in which I had to be heavily disciplined in order to be successful. I had to prepare myself physically and mentally in order to be in the best shape possible to do my job to help my team succeed.
 
Similarly, as Christ followers, we must be disciplined! We see this truth played out today in Proverbs 5 with two men. The disciplined man is full of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. This man is faithful and is not enticed by deceitful desires. The other man follows his desires wherever they take him. He has no discipline and is not faithful. His lack of discipline and his great foolishness lead him into destruction. 
 
Followers of Jesus are all a part of the same family, or team if you will. We have a collective mission of taking the gospel to the nations. Additionally, each of us have individual roles to play in that. In order to play our individual roles well, we must be disciplined. The desires of the flesh and the desires of the Spirit are constantly warring within us! To be successful (faithful), we must be disciplined. How are we to discipline ourselves as Christ followers? Well, there are many lists out there of Spiritual Disciplines, but since I have been reading Donald Whitney recently, I thought I would share with you his list of 10 Spiritual Disciplines from Scripture. 

  • Bible Intake
  • Prayer
  • Worship
  • Evangelism
  • Serving
  • Stewardship
  • Fasting
  • Silence and Solitude
  • Journaling
  • Learning

In which of these disciplines are you strong? In which are you weak? Ask the Lord to help you grow in these areas, and try to make all of these Spiritual Disciplines regular practice in your life! Remember, we can do nothing of our own effort, but it is only by God’s grace that we will grow in these disciplines and grow in Christ.