Antioch Devotionals- May 18-22

MONDAY, MAY 18TH John 5:28-29 (NKJV)
The Voice of Reason by Chris Blacksmith

“Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice, and come forth-those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” John 5:28-29

My first grade year of school was rather traumatic for my parents especially the day I caught the school playground on fire.  I’ll never forget that next afternoon when mom came home from the grocery store minus the groceries.  She all but flew up the alley to the house and burst through the back gate hollering my name (all three of them), which for obvious reasons was never a good thing.  Time, in my opinion, stopped while I stood there, as George Strait puts it, “on those tremblin’ knees and waitin’ for the worst,” Everyone within earshot knew I had done something wrong because mom’s voice was that of disdain and disappointment.  Needless to say I was in BIG trouble. It’s a scene that forever stands as a reminder that the decisions I make today can have lasting effects well into my future. Much like my first grade experience there will be a time when we will hear a voice calling our name.  This voice will come with a greater consequence for our actions. It will also have lasting effects into our eternity.  Let me encourage you today to listen to the voice of reason, it’s a voice that is like none other.  This voice is calling you to a relationship with Jesus Christ, the name which is above every name.  For it’s at this very name that every knee will bow before, and it’s at this very name that every tongue will declare as Lord. The decision is ours to make though.  We can listen to the voice of reason today and accept him on this side of eternity where we will hear him and be raised to life in eternity, or we can wait and accept him after it’s too late and be raised to judgment.  My prayer is that you will listen to the voice of reason today.  
TUESDAY, MAY 19TH Matthew 25:46 (AMP)
“Used” (In the Best Sense of the Word) by Kerry Stitch
“Then they will go away into eternal punishment, but those who are just and upright and in right standing with God into eternal life.” Matthew 25:46

Rewind with me for a moment to those schoolyard recess days when you raced to be first on the teeter totter only to later experience being slammed to the ground when the other kid jumped off. Ouch! Talk about getting your attention on your backside and checking the stability of your dental fillings…it was jarring to say the least.  Too bad we don’t experience the spiritual version of this very often.  When was the last time you found yourself unbalanced, jarred, and uneasy for someone else’s station in life…specifically their unbelief?  Did it take you back?  Does it prompt a response worthy of your immediate attention?  Difficult conversations matter…eternally!    
C.S. Lewis states in Mere Christianity, “It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the next world that they have become so ineffective in this one.”  That’s a label no one wants to be assigned, “ineffective.”  Jesus practiced the sacred discipline of seeing people.  How’s your “sight” these days?  When we relate to unbelievers, do we adopt the wisdom of Barry Corey, (Good Faith), in revealing “soft edges and firm centers?”  Remember the woman at the well?  Softness allows closeness, humility, and connection.  Firmness denotes truth, experience, and facilitation of a desired outcome.  When aided by the Holy Spirit our lives seek to understand “other” viewpoints, and to breathe the life of Jesus across divides and differences.  Its purpose is to reveal the reality of an eternal heaven and hell and the impact of our choices.  Don’t be tempted to look away, or to avoid the difficult conversations, extreme lifestyles, or past experiences. If we lose evangelism, we might just need to call it a hospitality committee. We have all been in our own share of ditches, but we don’t have to stay on a path that detours heaven if we choose to travel in His footsteps.  Truly, Jesus is an earthly heart transformer and eternal destination changer.  That’s shouldn’t be a secret we keep private, but a solution we are eager to share publicly.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 20TH Daniel 12:2-3
By Nita Kay Freeman

“Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.  Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” Daniel 12:2-3

When Shawn talked about those that say “I don’t believe in a God that would punish someone by sending them to hell”, I can’t even relate to that.  I have been so blessed in my life.  I grew up in a family that made sure I attended church and bible study, I went to a Christian University, I married a Christian from a Christian family.  We agreed our children needed to be in church and raised with God in the forefront.  Did we fail at times?  Of course, but we never questioned who God was or if there was a heaven or hell!  I have encountered those throughout my life that don’t believe in heaven or hell, but I have always stood strong in my belief!  I was saved at the age of 8 during Vacation Bible School.  I was wearing blue pajamas and my mom let me listen to my Gaither 8-track on my orange stereo until late that night.  (I think I just showed my age).  But I know that there are those that have not been as fortunate.  As I was reading about the above scripture, I read “God has chosen to bring about the salvation of the chosen ones by means of suffering”.  He delivers some FROM suffering, but he also delivers some THROUGH suffering.  The righteous do not receive their full reward in this life.  Are YOU ready to claim your reward at the Father’s feet in heaven?  Are YOU ready to dodge the gates of hell and spend a life of worship and celebration on the streets of gold?  Are YOU ready for the death of your earthly body?  Are YOU ready to meet Jesus face to face?  Be ready!  The day is coming!  ETERNAL LIFE IS REAL!  It’s your choice, make the right one!
THURSDAY, MAY 21ST Luke 16:24
By Terri Smith
“Then he cried and said Father 'Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.” Luke 16:24

I know I have never been in a situation where I was tormented! Yeah, yeah, we can all say we were tormented by our siblings!
At least we felt like we were and even in adulthood, there might be in situations that we feel like we were and maybe even the present. Webster's Dictionary defines "torment" as extreme pain or anguish of body or mind".
The first thought that comes to mind is Jesus as he suffered on the cross. all on our behalf. Praise the Lord.
Let's take this one step further and think of our daily lives. I know for a fact that I have coworkers that I do not know about their thoughts of salvation, not to mention hell!
I have never given much thought to how awful that place would be, but if we would think about Bro. Shawn's sermon, it's hard not to think of it- especially the scripture in Luke 16.  Can you imagine? One drop of water satisfying you... AH, not me!  And maybe not you, as I go with a large cup of  water to drink all day long.
I say all this, to say, people are so thirsty for the gospel, but they don't realize what it is they need, unless we tell them.
Maybe if we revisit this scripture, and Bro. Shawn's message, it will give us the courage to speak out to those allowed to be in our paths. Of course, putting ourselves in the place of Lazarus, couldn't hurt any either.
Father, please help me to be always open and praying for your guidance and help us reach out with the gospel, to those in need
In your precious name we pray, and everybody said...AMEN!

FRIDAY, MAY 22ND  2 Corinthians 6:2
By Toya Aultman
“God says, “At the right time I heard your prayers. On the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you that the “right time” is now, and the “day of salvation” is now.” 2 Corinthians 6:2

We hear much about frontline workers during this pandemic we find ourselves in. People out there working to help others in ways God has equipped them. Whether it’s in hospitals, grocery stores, pharmacies, truck drivers, and many other jobs they find themselves on the frontlines to take care of others, often putting their own health at risk. Aren't we all thankful for them? I know I certainly am!  Shawn brought up another frontline worker Sunday...the Christian.
Children of God, if you've read the back of The Book, then you know the end of the story. You may also believe, we're closing in on those final chapters. The end of this world is coming, Jesus will return and take His bride (the church) home to Heaven. Just as sure as Heaven is a reality for the believer, Hell is a reality for the unbeliever. An awful, terrible, tormenting reality for those who don't put their faith in Jesus. God will give us plenty of second chances, He desires to have us all in Heaven with Him. It’s my choice. It’s your choice. And once death comes, or that glorious day of Jesus' return happens, all chances are done. May we be quick to share the Good News of what Jesus has done for us to those around us. It’s time to be a frontline worker, not to save people from Covid-19, but to introduce them to the Healer of the worst disease out there...sin.

Father, send Your Spirit daily to convict me and urge me to tell of You and Your Son to others. May every word and deed done be to Your honor and Your glory and to make Your Name known to this world! Amen.