Antioch Devotionals- June 15-19

MONDAY, JUNE 15TH Acts 1:8 (NIV)
By Cindy Beckman
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”- Acts 1:8

The hate and disrespect in recent days is but a flagrant reminder that we are all flawed. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). Government legislation can’t fix that and we can’t change the hearts of others either. But I know who can. Accepting God’s gift of salvation—that His Son died for our sins and rose triumphant of over sin and death—is more than just a gift that keeps us from escaping an eternal life in hell. God also gives us His Spirit.
As a Christian, I will not ever become perfect while living on this earth. I will try to become better but I will still make mistakes. Even the great kings of the Old Testament like David and Solomon—who had God’s hand on them and were chosen to lead—were not perfect and struggled.
The good news is that when you accept God’s gift of salvation, when you become a Christian, you don’t have to do life alone. And the Spirit also helps us in our weaknesses (Romans 8:26). His Spirit empowers, prepares and equips us. God is a God of the living and the purpose of the Resurrection is that we not continue to live as we did but live a new life with the help of the Holy Spirit. He can transform hearts and lives.
In Matthew 22, Jesus said the greatest commandments are 1) Love the Lord your God with all our heart, with all your soul and with all your mind and     2) You shall love your neighbor as yourself. His Holy Spirit can help you obey these commandments. His Spirit can change hearts and replace hate with love.
Prayer: God help us as Christians to share this message of how hearts and lives can be transformed by your redemptive mercy and grace. We are Your witnesses. Help us have the courage to speak this message to the ends of the earth. You are the solution to the chaos.
TUESDAY, JUNE 16TH 1 Peter 3:15 (Life Application Bible)
Hot Water Can Cause Shrinkage by Kerry Stitch
“Quietly trust yourself to Christ your Lord and if anyone asks why you believe as you do, be ready to tell him, and do it in a gentle and respectful way.”- 1 Peter 3:15

Chaos is rampant, turbulent, and intimidating.  DON’T SHRINK!!!  Your testimony is a gift from God to be boldly shared with compassion and humility.  No doubt, we would be deliberate and eager in sharing a possible cure for Covid19 with others, so why do we hesitate testifying to the Good News of Jesus which provides an eternal cure?
Thankfully, I haven’t spent much time in courtrooms other than field trips with fifth graders, but it’s readily apparent that “testimony” is a form of evidence that is obtained from a witness as to what they know.  As we are daily called to the stand of life, how do we testify to our own Jesus encounter and provide evidence of his influence in our case?
Effective Christians aren’t Lone Rangers!  They understand that connection is risky, but SO worth it!  Love demands abiding and belonging which tends to get messy at times.  It’s as simple and complicated as relationships worth fighting for.  There’s no better example of an “ALL IN” kind of person than Jesus!  To reflect His image and to testify of his attributes is to choose to be vulnerable, devoted, and authentic.  Billy Graham states, “If you give it to God, He transforms your test into a testimony, your mess into a message, and your misery into a ministry.”  So, expect the heavenly sculpting that holy sandpaper applied to your attitudes and actions produces.  The friction might just illuminate the Cross and extinguish the chaos!
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 17TH Hebrews 12:1-2
By Nita Kay Freeman
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”- Hebrews 12:1-2

Jason talked about the church and how so many try to tear it down.  He said “as long as there is fight in our body, we need to keep talking about Jesus”.  Before the sermon, the worship team sang one of my favorite songs that says “through it all, my eyes are on you, through it all it is well.”  Now, that is CHURCH to me!  Through all of this chaos and disaster that surrounds us and seems to be growing by the day, it is WELL, if our eyes are on JESUS!  Isn’t that the secret?  Isn’t that the only way?  I know it’s the only way that I get through my day EVERYDAY, especially THESE days!  LOOK TO JESUS!  In the above scripture, it references the race that is set before us.  When I researched that verse, I found comparisons between the race that we are running as Christians and a physical race.  I can promise you, I don’t know a lot about a physical race, because I haven’t run one in, well, ever!  But, I have heard from my running friends that you have to keep your eyes focused on the finish, not on the race itself.  Isn’t that true with this spiritual race . . . Jesus is the finish!  He is the only way!  In protecting our family, protecting our country, protecting our CHURCH, we must always keep our eyes on JESUS.  Then, and only then, through it all it is well!
THURSDAY, JUNE 18TH Isaiah 43:10
By Terri Smith
“You are My witnesses,” says the Lord, “and My servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He.” - Isaiah 43:10

Words, not just words but “our” words, I’m not sure I have ever really thought about my words and how important they are.
In this week’s sermon Bro. Jason shared about how important they are. He also shared how as pastor he is “supposed” to say the right things, witness and lead others to Christ.
I’ve thought of this a lot during my time in the ministry, about how the pastor is supposed to do these things because he gets paid to do it…you see, I’ve been there, in the active pastorate, that is, and I know how people think.. But what they are missing is, how important ”they, themselves”  are and how important their words are.  I don’t know if you realize this but as important as our pastor is, people are often more receptive to you and I when we “live and talk” the church.  As I said earlier, Bro. Jason shared with us how people think, “well that’s his job”, and it is, but let me insert this. The ministry is a calling not just a job. In saying this it doesn’t make our position as church members any less important.
We also heard Sunday morning how the Israelites were filled to the brim with the Holy Spirit. When is the last time that we have felt like we were filled to the brim and ready to go out and witness?  It all starts with spending time in the word and with the Father.
Let us use this message as a springboard to encourage us to dedicate our life and words to the Lord and be ready for opportunities the Lord provides…and remember. The Lord will not call you to do something that he doesn’t enable you to do!
Father, Thank you for being so patient with us as we continue to learn our importance in your kingdom. Help us to open ourselves up to you each and every day.  In your name I pray, Amen!!!
FRIDAY, JUNE 19TH Acts 2:42
By Toya Aultman
"They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." - Acts 2:42

If you are like me, you have quit scrolling social media. Sure, I'll go on there and share pictures or something, but the good old days of scrolling and enjoying are long gone. I just can't handle the hate, the negative comments, the arguments...and realize the major majority of my "friends" claim to be Christians.
I wonder if Acts 2:42 was written today if it would sound more like "They devoted themselves to teachings of the Truth, encouraging social media posts during pandemic days, social distanced fellowships and their knees were sore from praying for their hurting world."
So how are you doing? Are you listening to only truth, the Word of God? You can't take part of the Bible and align it to how you want to live, but you have to align how you live to the Bible. Do you share social media posts before fact checking it to the Word of God? Do you encourage and share Jesus to those hurting ones living in sin or do you condemn and spew hate, ready to stand as judge and jury? Are you making efforts to share in fellowship with others? In past pandemics that would have been hard, but the Jetsons' life we are living in makes it real easy.
And how about those knees? Are they sore from spending time in prayer? Are you praying for that family member who drives you up the wall? How about the neighbor who has the dog that never quits barking? Are you praying for those you don't agree with in life? Are you praying for your church? Your Governor? Your President? Are you praying for God to move His mighty arm across our nation and bring revival? Oh Children of God, may we realize that praying is our response to God's ability!
Father God, we realize we are living in a dark and hurting world. Continue to pour Your Light into us that we may share Your Name with our corner of the world. Amen.