Antioch Devotionals- May 11-15

MONDAY, MAY 11TH Romans 8:35-39 (NKJV)
Struggle Well by Chris Blacksmith
 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: ‘for your sakes we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39

Antioch seniors of 2020 were highlighted in a tribute video this week.  In case you missed it there was a very short yet profound charge at the end: “Struggle Well”.  Simple right?  Think again!  We all face struggles on a daily basis, some struggle to get up in the morning, some struggle with finances, some struggle with relationships, some struggle with mourning the loss of a loved one, and as of late we are struggling the loss of some of our freedoms.  Truth be told though, they don’t add up to the root of all struggles which is sin.  The struggle of sin is so powerful and deadly that we can’t overcome it alone.  So I ask you, “is the real struggle really hitting home these days?” Take heart because you’re not alone.  That’s right YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Contrary to what you may think or feel you have hope, you have assistance, you have the victory.  God promised us that we are, “more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
What does that mean? First of all it means the effects of sin have been conquered, secondly it means that as we face the daily struggles of life such as loneliness, financial ruin, loss, heartache, and even death that we have the ability to rise above the ashes of such defeat and be met with victory through our loving God who assures us we are not alone.  Sometimes He may remove the problems in our life while other times He may guide us and give us His grace through it.  Either way be encouraged today and every day, and know:
1) You will encounter struggles  {especially with sin}      
2) God is in your corner and wants to see you through it
3) You can rise above the struggle victoriously with His help
A close relationship with God will allow you to have assurance, strength, and the victory.  It will also ensure that you will struggle well.

TUESDAY, MAY 12TH Romans 8:28 (NIV)
By Cindy Beckman
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

I could share many stories of this truth but a more recent one is perhaps the clearest example of God at work for good in our lives.  On January 31, my Mom fell while removing Dad’s breakfast tray at rehab.  By this time, Dad had been either in the hospital or rehab for nearly two months.  She had been going daily to help care for him, often leaving home each day before sunrise.

What we initially thought would be some soreness and bruising turned out to be a busted right elbow and left knee.  The orthopedic doctor did two surgeries on a Sunday morning and after four days, Mom went back to rehab as a patient, in an adjoining room with Dad.  She couldn’t even get up by herself, much less help Dad.  

It was a tough time and Dad was getting worse.  He soon went back to the hospital for 11 days, came back for a short period and then went again to the hospital for six days, only to have the doctors say that they could do nothing more to help him.  He returned to rehab under Hospice care but we had barely filled out the paperwork when the rehab went on lockdown.  Mom was still there, now able to at least wheel herself over to help Dad during his last days.  What seemed like an untimely and unfortunate accident allowed her to be there for her husband of nearly 62 years instead of being locked out.

Prayer:  Thank you God that you are in control of all things and that all things do work together for good for your children.  

WEDNESDAY, MAY 13TH Acts 8:1-4 (ESV)
By Shawn Hammontree
“And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.  Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him.  But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.” Acts 8:1-4

Saul hated what Stephen and these “followers of the way”, (what Jesus’ followers were first called), stood for and was preaching. It was offensive to him and his strict religious views.  To think that a man, who claimed to be God, could actually make people holy and righteous to God apart from any doings on their part was totally wrong.  It was even blasphemous!  Saul, a strict follower of all the Law of Moses, would have none of this teaching; he would stamp it out.  Death is what the followers of this Jesus deserved, and he would personally lead the charge!
Do you think you are beyond the love and reach of God?  Do you think you have sinned too much?  Do you think you have drifted too far?  Do you think there is no way God would accept you?  Oh, friend, Jesus was still boldly proclaimed after Stephen’s death.  His followers knew how Jesus loves each and every one and they fearlessly continued to speak his truth to all who would listen.  And soon thereafter this Saul met the Savior too and he was forever changed.  A murderous, self-righteous, hater of Christ became one of his most devoted followers.  Old Saul became a new Paul.
Stephen is the epitome of the Spirit’s power in the face of persecution.  And Paul is the epitome of the Spirit’s power in the face of a sinner in desperate need of rescue.  Praise God!  The power that was there for Stephen, and the grace that was there for Saul, (Paul), is still that same power and grace that is available for us today!  (No wonder those early followers “went about preaching the word”.  It was good news that needed to be shared!)

Mother's Day by Paulette Herring

Sunday, May 10, was Mother's Day.  A mother's love is like no other innate, very strong, and unconditional. No one loves you like your mother. It might be next to Jesus' love for us.  This can be a happy day or a sad and difficult day if you have recently lost your mother.  For a lot of us our mothers are already in heaven and we are comforted to know they are safe.
We have been reading Romans chapter 8 each day for a couple of weeks now.  Have you memorized it yet?  One of my friends is reading it in a different translation each day.  For a lot of us Romans 8:28 NIV is a favorite verse and we probably do have it memorized.  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”  Romans 8:31 NIV,  “If God be for us, who can be against us?”  Verse 32 continues, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things.”
Turn your eyes upon Jesus, not the world, it has nothing for us.  He has life abundant and free for us and life everlasting.  Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and things of the earth will go strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.