Antioch Devotionals- March 23-27

MONDAY, MARCH 23RD Luke 5:18-19
By Terri Smith
“Then behold, men brought on a bed a man who  was paralyzed, whom they sought to bring in and lay before Him. And when they could not find how they could bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the housetop and let him down with his bed through the roof into the midst before Jesus.” Luke 5:18-19
I’m not sure I have ever thought of friendship in the same way as these friends of the paralyzed man in Luke 5.  What a shame I haven’t!! As Bro. Jason told us, we don’t know anything about the men who went to such great lengths to get their friend to Jesus, but never the less they did! Sounds like an awesome friendship to me.
Now, the question, have I befriended someone to this extent?  I would like to think yes, but in reality I think not!! I’m ashamed to say.  One things for sure, I will sure take a closer look at my current friendships  and give God glory, plus ask myself what I can do to let them know how much their friendship means to me and to God!!
Father, forgive me for taking my friendships so for granted. Thank you for this story in Luke 5 to remind me just how special and precious they are. In Your name I pray.  Amen.

TUESDAY, MARCH 24TH Luke 5:18-19
By Jeff Rice
“Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus.  When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.” Luke 5:18-19
There is a pastor in Cleveland, Ohio that I like to listen preach by the name of Alistair Begg.  He has a saying that has stuck with me, “The main things are the plain things, and the plain things are the main things.” He is referencing reading the Bible.  It is a tool of the enemy as we read the scriptures to get distracted by the insignificant things, the details, the unknowns.  Pastor Jason pointed out that this story in Luke 5 has a lot of unknowns.  Who’s house, who are the friends, why was the man paralyzed, etc. etc.  But don’t get distracted.  Here are the plain things: 1. They had a friend who was sick.  2. They couldn’t heal him.  3. They heard Jesus could.  4.  They believed that if they took him to Jesus that Jesus could heal him.  5. They took the man to see Jesus. 6. They were so concerned about their friend that they were going to do whatever it took to get him to Jesus.   These are the things plainly seen in this story, so I think that these are some main things we need to be focused on.
We are living in some crazy times.  Sequestered up in my house bored out of my mind, I have spent a lot of time online this week.  My Social Media Feed has been full of posts, articles, memes, stories about the Virus (those that believe the sky is falling and those that think we are overreacting), about being quarantined, about how to do school online (I’m a teacher) etc.  I may just be speaking to me, but I have spent far too much time being distracted from the main thing.  Here is the plain truth: 1. God is in control.  2. We all know people who are sin sick and if they die in their sin they will spend eternity in hell apart from God.  3. We don’t have the answers or the ability to save them.  4. Jesus can and will save them.  5. What are we doing (even in the midst of social distancing) to introduce them to Jesus.  6. Do we believe that Jesus can save them enough to do whatever it takes no matter how radical to share the Gospel with them?  This devotional is for me more than it is for anyone.  I am going to pray that God makes me less distracted this week.  Praying that the plain things will become the main things in my interactions with people whatever the medium going forward. I’m praying that God will use this virus to bring Him great glory and many people to saving faith in Christ.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 25TH Psalm 46:1-2 (NIV)
Cures by Kerry Stitch
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall…”  Psalm 46:1-2                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
Sovereignty.  Most of us are guilty of wanting to govern our own paths.  Our desire to direct, control, and manipulate our surroundings shows up loud and clear in our actions and attitudes.  Strangely, these days we have all gotten a glimpse, that as much as we desire to operate as self-sovereign pilgrims on our own journeys, we aren’t even successful in venturing out of our own cul-de-sacs!  Headlines blast the need for “cures” these days!  Perhaps this new normal of pursuing global, medical antidotes is positioning us to ultimately seek an eternal cure through believing in Jesus.  Perhaps these changes in our focus aren’t the world off the rails, but ARE God’s perfect plan.  The one He will use to remind us how to reset our thinking beyond our temporal self-imposed wants to a Redeemer, not merely a fixer of our chaos.   Truly there is division all around us these days: countries blaming countries, political dysfunction, criticism dispensed like daily vitamins, and opinions posted larger than billboards on every social media outlet.  (Tons of noise; but few answers, fewer kind words, less unity, stunted servanthood, and sparse grace)  Perhaps the new set of rubrics being downloaded heavenly reveal, “THE answers aren’t within US, but are only found in the tremendous grace of Jesus!”  Could it be that we don’t have everything figured out?  It’s difficult to imagine that if everyone fell in line behind our agendas we might NOT be better off!   Maybe this “shake up” in our daily lives is to remind us that we don’t have the capacity to see the front of the puzzle box as to how this is going to look when all the pieces are divinely placed together.  And to act as though we do is to fail to resemble the wisdom of the Creator.  If we chose to step away from the puzzle and extract OUR self-sovereign opinions, the focus could be on God’s finished work and plan of action, whatever He chooses. Americans especially find this type of thinking difficult to grasp.  After all, we are informed, educated, independent, and empowered to take charge and create conversations and move things “forward.”  But what if we are moving the ladder away from God’s wall?  I don’t think we need more of us in the coming days.  I think we need more of Him…His wisdom, His direction, His love, and His interruptions to our scheduled plans.  If we choose His way, we automatically receive the cure that matters, that’s eternal, and worthy of a living sacrifice.  Perhaps THE only cure (for eternity that we should be seeking) as the puzzle pieces begin to take shape is simply Jesus.
THURSDAY, MARCH 26TH Proverbs 27:17
By Toya Aultman
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

The past few days I feel like I owe an apology to all my introvert friends. It seems their whole lives they’ve had to go to school, work, basically live life in pretty much an extroverted world. In all honesty I’ve never given that a second thought… Until COVID-19 hit my world!
Now this extroverted self of mine is having to live in an introverted world. I love people. I love being around people. I miss my people. Those are things that God put in my being and the person he created me to be. This whole quarantine season of our lives is not taking him by surprise.
He’s showing us new ways to take the church to the people and to be his hands and his feet to the broken and hurting world.
While the world may be searching for a cure to COVID 19, we know deep down what everyone is searching for is a relationship with God. After all we all have that common need and that is the healing of sin that only comes through Jesus Christ.
Father, during this crazy and unsettling time in our world, we ask you to hold us close and show us ways that we can show your love to others. Amen