Antioch Devotionals- April 27-May 1

MONDAY, APRIL 27TH Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV)
By Cindy Beckman

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift of God—not of works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:8-10

Most high school world history courses introduce students to the major world religions during their study of ancient civilizations because that is when most of these religions began, with the oldest being Judaism and Hinduism.  Islam is introduced much later, six centuries after Christianity. 

In teaching this curriculum, I always outlined the major beliefs as well as the major requirements of the religions—the rules that followers were expected to follow. We did the same thing when we later studied Roman Catholicism.  One of the highlights of the course for me was introducing them to the central doctrinal tenet that Martin Luther preached in the Protestant Reformation.  It is found in Ephesians 2:8-9: by grace you have been saved, through faith.  

The God of Christianity does not offer a works-based salvation. Good works aren’t required to be reincarnated into a better life next go-round. There are not multiple paths to salvation—only one.  Salvation is available through the gift God gave by sending His Son to die on the cross for our sins.  And all we have to do is accept it through faith. Then we can live life with the Holy Spirit guiding and directing us to good works that God has prepared for us to do. 

Prayer: Help us Lord to remember that Your gift of salvation frees us from condemnation for our past, present and future sins. We can live in the Spirit who will guide us to do the work that You have for us.

TUESDAY, APRIL 28TH Matthew 23:25
Suit Up (not ice bucket) Challenge by Paula McKee
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.” Matthew 23:25

Jesus didn’t like hypocrites; that’s clear. Accept this, though: if you know Christ Jesus as Savior, your struggle is over because your cup is clean inside and outside. The problem I have is like Paul’s; I feel guilt over everything. I can’t believe God wants me to struggle, so here’s the answer.
Suit Up Challenge: Start each day by suiting up with the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:14-18). Start your day right, and you aren’t fighting alone.  Review these steps first thing every morning until they become a habit. Make a calendar and mark it down. Draw a picture and tape it to your ceiling above your bed. Do what it takes. Who’s with me? Put on your...

• Belt of truth: God’s Word…read it; know it; claim it. It holds everything together.
• Breastplate of righteousness: God will protect your heart and soul from any attack when you know that you know what you know about His truth and live with the righteousness of Christ.
• Feet fitted with the Gospel of Peace: Make sure you’re grounded and not questioning your salvation. There’s peace in that, and you can “stand” firm.
• Shield of Faith: You must have your shield to protect you where you are most vulnerable. Suiting up every morning will bolster your faith for moments of attack.
• Helmet of Salvation: The mind is vulnerable to lies and false doctrines. Put on the helmet and know from where your salvation comes.
• Sword of the Spirit: Use this for defense from the attacks from others and your own distracted or misguided thinking but also to advance Jesus’s Gospel of Peace, the Word of God.  
Are you up to the challenge? You bet you are!

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your faithfulness. Please strengthen me to be faithful as I walk in Your Word each day. In Jesus’s holy name I pray. Amen.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 29TH Hebrews 11:7 (NIV)
Are You Ready? by Chris Blacksmith

“By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.” Hebrews 11:7

Can you imagine how vile life was back in Noah’s day?  As an outsider looking in I can say with utmost certainty that they had distanced themselves from God to the extent that the entire world felt it.  Are we any different today?  Consider for a second just how far removed we are from God.  Whose society redefined marriage? Ours! Whose society redefined gender? Ours!  Whose society redefined when life begins? Again it was ours!  God provided the directive for Noah to build an Ark and out of obedience he did just that.  Like Noah, God has given us a directive that will bring salvation.  
Romans 10:13 says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  I like the words of Benjamin Franklin who once said, “By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.” The question then remains: Are you ready?  Are you ready for the day when the Lord returns? Are you ready to step into eternity? Are you ready to stand in the presence of the Lord to give an account of your life? Are you ready to lead your family and friends to safety?  We have been warned that our life is but a vapor and that His return will be swift.  We have been provided security, the path that leads to security, and the instructions on what to do with that same security once we’ve experienced it.  Ask yourself today like your life depends on it (because it does): Are you ready?

Going to Church  by Paulette Herring

Jesus told us that where two or three are gathered together in my name I will be there.  That is our church now.  Didn't know that I could feel His presence and worship Him sitting in my recliner with a computer in my lap wearing PJ'S.  The most spiritual experience I had was our recent Lord's Supper.  Even though I only had a cracker and a sip of coffee, it was a wonderful worship experience.
Holy Spirit you are welcome here.  Come, flood this place and fill the atmosphere.  Your glory God is what our hearts long for, to be overcome by your presence Lord.
So we are going to be able to go to our church building again, but will have to maintain social distancing.  We can't hug everybody like we usually do but at least we can see and hear them.
My Sunday school class is taught by teleconference.  We all enjoy it very much and get to greet each other and give prayer requests.  Bro. Pat McCarty does his usual great job teaching the lesson.
God has a plan and we have all learned a lot from this pandemic, some good and a lot bad.  But we can trust Him and we know He will guide us through this.  Maybe He is coming back soon and we can all go to Heaven together!  Unsaved people might better work on getting ready for the rapture just in case.
Bro. Jason's home work is to read Romans chapter 8 every day

FRIDAY, May 1st Romans 7:24-8:2
By Jeff Rice
“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?  Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! ….. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”  Romans 7:24-8:2

Wow! This is a passage that just never gets old, stale, or boring.  I really have nothing profound to say.  Just read the passage and understand what Jesus has, is, and will do for you today.  Jeff Rice was a wretched sinner who was condemned by that sin to spend eternity apart from God, but Jesus came and through His death, burial, and resurrections delivered me from that sin.  So now that my faith is “in Him” that means I am “in Christ” and that means there is no condemnation for the sin that was, is and will be.  But, more than that not only is there no condemnation but there is a life of freedom from the law of sin and death.  All I got to say is “Thanks Be to God”!!!