Antioch Devotionals- July 6-10

MONDAY, JULY 6TH Matthew 26:33-35
By Paula McKee
“But Peter said to Him, “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will NEVER fall away.” Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will NOT deny You.” All the disciples said the same thing too.”- Matthew 26:33-35

Too often, I’m like Peter. “Others” may do X, Y, or Z, but not I...I would NEVER!  Ha! When I recognize that thought, I’m in for a dose of humility.
As my sixteen-year-old pulled out of a store parking lot ahead of me, a big Yukon pulled out behind her, and I pulled out behind the Yukon. I vacillated between prayers and anger over the course of six miles as the SUV tapped its breaks continuously as it tailgated my daughter’s little Versa. When my daughter turned into our neighborhood, I continued behind the Yukon, rehearsing all the angry words I was going to hurl at that person when he or she finally stopped. Have you ever rehearsed the good chewing out you were going to give another person? I was taking great satisfaction in my feeling of superiority and righteousness.  Righteous anger does exist, right? After all, Jesus turned over those tables in the temple! I was justified!

As I parked, God, it could only be Him, humbled me. Had I ever been guilty of tailgating? Absolutely! Could I have been the person in the Yukon in a big hurry? Of course! I prayed for God to give me the words to say. A gentle word truly turned away wrath (Proverbs 15:1).  Imagine the chewing-out scenario and the response that might have elicited.  Instead, I gently asked this grandmother who was in a hurry because she was late picking up her grandchild to be more careful, informing her that she had been endangering my sixteen-year-old and that I had been right behind her the whole way praying, leaving out the angry thoughts part.  The grandmother cried and apologized. We left with good feelings, praising God, and each vowing to be more thoughtful drivers.

Billy Graham said to substitute the word HUMBLE for the word POOR. Blessed are the HUMBLE in spirit. There is not one righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10-12), except for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. A little self-examination is a healthy thing.  :)

PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for intervening when I am feeling self-righteous. Guide me in my words and actions so that they bring glory to you. In Jesus' holy name I pray, Amen.
TUESDAY, JULY 7TH Matthew 5:5
By Jeff Rice
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”- Matthew 5:5

Jesus bookends this great sermon with the idea that we are completely spiritually bankrupt and without realizing this and putting our faith in him we will not be able to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.  In vs. 5 of Matthew Ch. 5 he says “Blessed (Happy; Content) is the man who realizes they are poor (bankrupt; insufficient) in spirit.  In the last part of Ch. 7 he tells the parable of the wise and foolish man.  The wise man understands that he must build on the Solid Rock (Jesus) while the foolish man believes he can build on the sand (his righteousness).  It reminds me of an old hymn we would sing:
"My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness, I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace, In every high and stormy gale my anchor holds within the veil. HIS oath, HIS covenant (promise), HIS blood, support me in the overwhelming flood, When all around my soul gives way, He then is ALL my hope and stay. When He shall come with trumpet sound, oh may I then in Him be found, In Him my righteousness, alone, faultless to stand before the throne.  On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand all other ground is sinking sand."
Praising God Through the Alphabet  by Paulette Herring

This past Sunday our Pastor challenged us to think of a word that described God using each letter of the alphabet.  Here is an example of such a list.  Let me challenge you to think of a list of your own.

A-Amazing   B-Blessing   C-Creator   D-Defender   E-Exalted
F-Father   G-Great   H-Holy   I-Incredible   J-Just   K-King
L-Loving   M-Master   N-Noble   O-Omnipotent   P-Perfect
Q-Quiet   R-Righteous   S-Savior   T-Teacher   U-Unchanging
V-Victorious   W-Wonderful   X-Excellent   Y-Yaweh
Z-Zealous          Praising God through the Alphabet
THURSDAY, JULY 9TH Matthew 5:3
By Cindy Beckman
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”- Matthew 5:3
Those who grew up in 20th century America witnessed much progress brought about by legislation and social change. Most were optimistic that anything could be fixed in our society. After all, we had some of the brightest and most educated minds in the world working on it.
And we still do have great minds at work finding ways to improve our world. But there are some matters that cannot be legislated or changed through social means. They are matters of the heart. We can’t make people love their neighbors and treat others as they should be treated. We can’t make people do right.  But we can point them to Someone who can.
The first step to doing right is being right. That sounds easy enough but really it isn’t. We are all sinners and no amount of going to church or giving to the poor is going to fix that (Romans 3:23)—in you or anyone else. We are all flawed and we ourselves can’t fix that. No amount of legislation or social change will fix it either.

The only one who can is a loving God who sent his Son to die on the cross, becoming the ultimate sacrifice to cover the sins of all mankind—past, present and future. In Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul states this truth—“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not of works, so that no one can boast.”
We are all feeling a little desperate these days but the real change needed is personal and spiritual, not political and social. And that change can only take place when people truly turn to the One who is able, the One who provided a way through his Son.

Prayer: We humbly come before you Lord, acknowledging that we can’t fix ourselves or our nation through our own efforts. We desperately need Your salvation and Your Spirit to heal our hearts and heal our land. 
FRIDAY, JULY 10TH Psalm 51:1-4 (NIV)
Not Me by Chris Blacksmith
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.  Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.  For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.  Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.”- Psalm 51:1-4

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve put a B.O.L.O. (be on the lookout) for a shady character by the name of Not Me who, in my mind, wants nothing more than to annoy me with their misdeeds.  Conversations with my kiddos through years might have gone something like this:
ME: Who left the empty milk jug in the refrigerator?    Kiddos:  “Not Me”
ME:  Who left the used towel on the floor?     Kiddos:  “Not Me”
ME:  Who left the light on at the little house?  Kiddos:   “Not Me”  
It seems as though our culture has a tendency to pass the buck simply to avoid the consequences of our actions.  This really isn’t a new concept seeing how it began in the garden when Adam passed the buck to Eve, who in turn passed it to the serpent.  Thankfully we see an example of true repentance from David, the man after God’s own heart”.  Don’t miss his response after he committed what has become one of the most renowned sins in all of history.  Notice David didn’t say “me and Bathsheba, rather he said, “I know MY transgressions, and MY sin is always before me.  Against you…have I sinned.”  I get the idea that he put true repentance on display with these words.
In order for us to become poor in spirit as David did we will have to lay aside the Not Me declaration and take full responsibility for our actions.  This will require great humility, integrity, and the recognition that apart from God we cannot be rescued from the wages of our sin.  Consider Proverbs 28:13 “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”