Antioch Devotionals- May 25-29

MONDAY, MAY 25TH John 15:13 (ESV)
The Gift of Self-Sacrifice by Shawn Hammontree
“Greater love has no one than this that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

Memorial Day, it is a day of remembrance.  It is a day where we pause and honor all those who have given their lives for our freedom. Some gave their lives on the battlefield, while others died of diseases while serving.  Each American life was precious, and each one made the ultimate sacrifice for all of us. Here are the numbers from every major war in our nation’s history.
4,435- Revolutionary War (1775-1783)
2,260- War of 1812 (1812-1815)
13,283- Mexican-American War (1846-1848)
360,000 (Union), 260,000 (Confederate)- American Civil War (1861-1865)
387- Spanish-American War (1898)
116,708- World War I (1914-1918)
407,316- World War II (1939-1945)
33,651- Korean War (1950-1953)
58,168- Vietnam War (1959-1975)
382- Gulf War (1990-1991)
2,403- War in Afghanistan (2001-present)
Father, today, as we honor those who gave their lives for our nation, we thank You for the freedom You have given us through their sacrifices.  Thank You for allowing us to live in the greatest country the world has ever known.  Please help us to honor their sacrifices by loving this country, loving our fellow Americans, and never taking our freedoms for granted.  Amen.
TUESDAY, MAY 26TH Deuteronomy 10:8, Micah 6:8, & Luke 10:27 (NIV)
By Cindy Beckman
“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes, which I command you today for your good?”  (Deuteronomy 10:8)
“He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
“So, he answered and said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.’”  (Luke 10:27)

During all my years in the classroom, summer breaks were a time to rest after nine months of intense focus on educating the students under my care.  But as the years rolled by, summers became increasingly occupied with professional development workshops focused on making plans for following the state’s course objectives for teaching our particular subject.  In fact, there were even a couple of summers where I met with teachers from across the state to develop and write state Social Studies curriculum frameworks.  Each summer, teachers spend time course correcting to make sure they are teaching toward those objectives.
In these three verses (and in so many others), God gives us a framework to follow in conducting ourselves.  It is very straightforward and looks easy enough to follow but we all need to pause every once in a while to reflect on how we are carrying out these instructions.  We may need to course correct in some areas before moving forward.

Prayer: Thank you Lord for the intermission we have had, the time to rest and spend time with those we love.  Thank You also for this gentle reminder that might also need to use this time to course correct before we move forward into our busy lives again.
World Intermission by Paulette Herring

Just as the children of Israel had times of slowing down such as the forty year wandering period before entering the Promised Land, we are now having a time out or intermission.
This virus has caused a major slowing down of activity throughout the whole world.  God has put us all in time out, brought the whole world to a halt.  God is doing something, He is at work, and He has a plan.  He has our attention now and we can look forward and maybe the best is yet to be!
The world has gone from hectic to opposite, pleasant to unpleasant, to isolation, staying at home, waiting.  We get death counts every day as well as how many news cases, worldwide.  How many jobs are lost and how the stock market is doing.
What can we do with all this time?  We can rest, refresh, catch our breath, stretch our legs.  It can be a time of reflection and adjustment, taking stock.  Read the Bible, pray, support each other by calls, notes, e-mails and texts.  Priorities have changed so new schedules and new disciplines are established.
This is a unique season with changed routines, gloves and masks, social distancing, and curbside service for restaurants or delivery.  Have you ever seen this many Amazon or UPS vehicles going up and down your street?
We seem to be moving toward normal again or a new normal!  We have many things to look forward to, maybe with greater appreciation like going to church!
Remember what God can do, tell us to obey, be still, go forward or stop.  Love God, observe His commands and decrees, love and serve Him  
We are here, get ready, we are about to enter the Promised Land!
THURSDAY, MAY 28TH Exodus 16:3
The Wilderness Experience by Paula McKee
“The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” - Exodus 16:3
I had a very brief wilderness experience when I was 8 and three quarters months pregnant 27 years ago, my front driver’s side tire blew out just as I had gotten to the end of the I-430 bridge leaving Little Rock to return to Conway. I pulled off the Interstate to the left and into the grassy median. I had no cell phone, but I DID have a “Call Police” window sign that I had purchased the previous week. An enlisted man from the Air Force Base was driving toward Little Rock, saw me attempting to place the sign in my window, pulled over to help, changed my tire, and had me back on the Interstate in under ten minutes.
When the blowout occurred, rather than praising God for delivering me from a possibly fatal car accident, I was cursing my luck and the inconvenience just as the Israelites failed to see God’s hand in their situation. Oh, poor me!  Then God delivered me from my plight, and life was good again. Now, how did I have the foresight to purchase that sign, and who made that good Samaritan stop to help in my moment of need? God’s provision in the wilderness awes us when we recognize it. Covid 19 has put us in the wilderness. Do we recognize God’s power and provision? It makes a difference in how we handle it. . 
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the perfection of your word and the assurance that I receive there. Help me not to falter in my faith when I find myself in the wilderness. Help me to be more like Jesus in every way. It is in Jesus’s Holy Name I pray.  Amen.
FRIDAY, MAY 29TH Psalm 130:5
By Jeff Rice
“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.”-Psalm 130:5
 I hate to wait!  Nothing gets me going more than to be behind someone while I am driving who is on their phone or standing in line and the person in front of me has to get a price check or figure out their coupons.  What about that the person in the drive through that takes ten minutes to place an order.  AGHHHHHHH!!! I hate to wait.  So pausing the normal routine the last two and a half months and wait for some sort of normalcy to return has been awful.  I’m just going to be honest with you.  I have struggled with being quarantined.  I am an introvert and most of the time I am ok with times of isolation, but the last few weeks have been just ridiculous.  There have been some dark moments with depression and despair. What to do? Is God listening? Does He care?
The Psalmist in Psalm 130 was struggling with depression and despair.  His sin had separated him from God and He is waiting to hear from God once again.  Out of the depths of his despair he cries out to God (vs. 1) and he patiently waits to hear from God (vs. 5).  This season of quarantine is not a result of our personal sin, but it is the result of a sinful fallen world.  Take heart today.  God knows our despair and He has not forgotten or forsaken us.  Trust in the great promises of His Word and wait patiently for Him to deliver.