Tag: Summer at Antioch

Making Room –
An All in All Devotional

My guess is that the best and worst days of your life had one common denominator – people were involved. This is one of the many paradoxes of life.

WE ARE MADE TO LIVE IN COMMUNITY WITH ONE ANOTHER, BUT WE CAN DEEPLY WOUND EACH OTHER ALONG THE WAY.

People live in community in a variety of ways. Our first taste of community comes in the form of family, which offers an incredible mix of glorious, painful, frustrating and life-giving experiences. What we experience in our families often defines how we interact with people for the rest of our lives – in school, in the workplace, at church, in our social lives, etc.

Second Corinthians 7:2 contains a phrase that is helpful to us as we live life with others. Paul asks believers to, “make room for us in your hearts.” Paul had sent a letter to the church at Corinth about sin that existed in their midst, and they were hurt and angry. So, Paul asked them for grace, understanding and continued fellowship.

Are you hurt, angry or disappointed with anyone to the point that you have shut them out, emotionally or perhaps, literally? Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how you may need to change your course and repent, just as the people of Corinth did.

MAKING ROOM FOR SOMETHING USUALLY INVOLVES REARRANGING OR DISCARDING.

Do you need to do some rearranging in your relationships? Do schedules, priorities or even attitudes need to be rearranged or discarded in order to make room for someone? Maybe it’s the person sitting next to you at school, the co-worker in the adjoining office, the family member who rubs you the wrong way, or the Lifegroup that would welcome your participation.

Whether making room for others involves repenting or embracing, please pause and consider the rewards waiting for you and others.

IN RESPONSE:

Sit quietly and ask the Holy Spirit to help you determine who you need to make room for and how that should look, practically.

By Penny Allison – Adult Pastor

Penny serves on our Women’t Ministry leadership team and as an adult pastor. 

Have you given your RSVP? //
An All in All Devotional

Around this time of year, invitations fill our mail boxes and inboxes — graduations, showers, weddings, etc. Which ones can we attend? What gifts should we buy? As we continue our summer study of 2 Corinthians, I want to highlight an invitation we have all received more than once –

THE FATHER’S INVITATION TO WHOLEHEARTED LIVING.

In 2 Corinthians 6:4 Paul says, “in everything and in every way we show we are truly God’s servants.”

This invitation to living fully committed to the Father and His kingdom is not for those looking for a continual party filled with laughter, fun, gifts and great food. No. Although those things may be a part of our journey, let’s hit the highlights of verses 5-9 and see what an invitation to this life held for Paul and may also hold for us – beatings, prison, sleeplessness, hunger and character assassination. Are you ready to RSVP, yet?

THE TRUTH IS THAT LIFE HAS BOTH JOY AND HEARTACHE WHETHER YOU ARE A CHRIST FOLLOWER OR NOT.

The acceptance of God’s invitation to live wholeheartedly for Him will not keep us from hard times and pain. That RSVP will, however, give us an indescribably wonderful gift that Paul mentions in 2 Corinthians 6:18, “‘you shall be sons and daughters to Me, says the Lord Almighty.'”

IN RESPONSE:

Have you responded to the Father’s invitation? If you have, are you taking advantage of all that it means to be His son or daughter?

Read, mediate on and memorize Romans 8:15-17 –

“For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons [and daughters] by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”

By Penny Allison – Women’s Pastor

All in All Part Four //
Wholehearted Living

This morning Vincent Carpenter continued our All in All series with a message centered around 2 Corinthians 6 and the sufficiency God gives us to live a wholeheartedly. To live wholehearted means to stick with something even if it isn’t always easy. God is wholeheartedly committed to us, and He gives us the grace we need to wholeheartedly love and follow Him.

There is constantly temptation to fall into half-hearted living. Distractions and a desire to do things on our own keep us from stepping into all God has for us.

We are surrounded by distractions that pull our attention away from our relationship with God. Between our families, jobs, friendships and other responsibilities, it is easy to feel stretched and overwhelmed. When we allow our focus to be split between multiple things, we become passive. But when we put God in His rightful place as our first priority, He gives us the grace to live wholehearted in every other area of our lives.

God’s desire is to provide us with everything we need, we just have to be willing to receive from Him. When we don’t receive what God is trying to do for us, we try to do for ourselves what only God can do. Because of our insufficiency, we will ultimately fail and get burnt out. When we become tired and discouraged, we fall into half-heartedness. But when we lean on Jesus, we have the ability to shift our perspective and see adversity and challenges as something to celebrate. When God becomes central, our challenges become a place for God to be glorified through our weakness.

When we live wholeheartedly, we fully trust God to be our all in all and do what we cannot.

TAKE A LOOK AT THREE WAYS WE CAN LIVE WHOLEHEARTEDLY THIS WEEK //

  1. Start your day with worship // Allow your heart to be realigned every morning; putting God as your sole focus. When we put God at the center, everything else falls into place.
  2. Eliminate distractions // Ask God if there are any distractions that are keeping you from wholehearted relationship with Him. Be proactive about those things this week – this could look like getting off social media for a week or setting your alarm an hour earlier. Ask God for a practical way to respond.
  3. Step into wholehearted living // Ask God if you have been half-hearted in relationship with Him or in relationships with your family, friends or co-workers. Ask God to show you how to step into wholeheartedness.

As we continue our series, be sure to follow along with our 2 Corinthians reading plan, and renew your mind with the truth every day. Download a copy of our reading plan here

Ambassadors in a Foreign Country –
An All in All Devotional

Ambassadors are a country’s highest-ranking representatives to a specific nation. They work there to support their country’s interests. Even though they live and work in foreign countries, they retain citizenship in their home country. Some of their duties include notifying their home country of developments happening in the host country, acting as their home country’s official representative at events and advising their host country in decisions regarding political, social and economic issues.

Guess what? If you are a Christ follower living on planet earth, you fill the above position. Second Corinthians 5:20 says, “We are ambassadors for Christ.” Mull this thought over for a minute.

THIS EARTH IS NOT OUR TRUE OR ULTIMATE PLACE OF RESIDENCE.

Philippians 3:20 says,“our citizenship is in heaven.” So, our words and actions should be motivated by the eternal Kingdom we are a part of, not the temporary place we call home for just a brief time.

As an ambassador of an everlasting Kingdom, our roles take on eternal significance. Just as a government ambassador notifies his or her home country about developments in their host country, so do we. Daily prayer is our line of communication to the King of our permanent residence.

As we act as heaven’s official representative on earth and advise people here on issues facing them, we find ourselves having to take stands that may challenge the status quo – standing for life, for justice, for truth and for mercy.

WE CAN STAND WITH CONFIDENCE THOUGH, KNOWING THAT OUR KING AND HIS KINGDOM ARE PERFECT AND ETERNAL.

When our assignment in our host country, earth, is done, we receive the ultimate promotion, life eternal in our true home – Heaven.

Check out this video, and meditate on our true home.

By Penny Allison – Women’s Pastor

All in All Part Three //
Living for Eternity

This morning Drew Steadman shared part three of our series, All in All. Today’s message was centered around 2 Corinthians 4:1 – 5:10, and we talked about how Jesus is sufficient enough to shift our perspective. In our broken world, it is easy to lose sight of what God is doing, and ultimately lose heart. When our perspective is centered on what we can do, we become discouraged. But when our perspective is centered on what God is already doing, we have renewed confidence. Despite the challenges of this world, God is wanting to take us from being people who lose heart to people who are confident in His character and His plans.

It is easy to fall into the trap of trying to control our own circumstances rather than being confident in who God is. There is a guarantee that God will never change. He will always be who He says He is. He loves us, He is with us, He put His Spirit within us and He is working all things together for our good.

When we’re in the midst of a difficult situation, it can be hard to see that God is moving and working things together for our benefit. When you realize the value and beauty that is happening beneath the surface, everything changes.

SO, HOW DO WE GET THAT PERSPECTIVE SHIFT? THE ANSWER IS FAITH.

By definition, faith means to live by a different perspective. Faith is learning to live in light of heaven because heaven is what we’re made for. Our faith cannot be rooted in this world, it has to be in Jesus. If we think this world is meant to satisfy us, we will always be disappointed. While faith is choosing to trust in what we cannot see, faith is not ignoring the pain we experience in this world. Pain is real, and it is right to grieve. But even in grief, we can live in the hope of our eternal inheritance. Carl Gulley preached on grief this past fall, and we encourage you to listen to that message if you haven’t already.

God has given us an eternal hope with the promise of heaven. He also gives us His Spirit to help us through this life. The Spirit reminds us of the guarantee of what is to come. We don’t have to live with a hope that is in the things of this world, but with a hope that is in heaven.

TAKE A LOOK AT THREE WAYS TO PRACTICALLY APPLY THIS WEEK’S MESSAGE:

  • Ask Jesus to increase your faith and shift your perspective // Jesus is faithful to meet us and answer our prayers. This week, pray this –
    • “Lord, I believe, help me overcome my unbelief and increase my faith.”
  • Declare 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 this week // In the midst of trial, it is easy to become stuck on our circumstances. We may feel struck down, but the Word of God says we are not destroyed. Read through the truth of who God says we are, even in the midst of trial.
  • Read through 2 Corinthians with us // The Word of God overcomes how we feel, and cultivates an eternal perspective. Follow along with our 2 Corinthians reading plan, and renew your mind with the promises of God. Download a copy of our reading plan here.

All in All Part Two //
Sufficiency to Live in Freedom

This morning Drew Steadman continued our All in All series with a message on living in freedom. We read through 2 Corinthians 2:1 – 3:18, and we took a look at how the church in Corinth responded to sin. They were flippant toward the grace of God because they didn’t fully understand that they were trapped in their sin. Many times we have the same mindset as the Corinthians; they didn’t realize they were stuck, and we don’t always realize it either. But because of Jesus, we are given the grace to be free of our sin.

IN ORDER TO FULLY UNDERSTAND GRACE, WE FIRST NEED TO UNDERSTAND THE WEIGHT OF SIN:

  1. Sin hurts others, but grace forgives // The enemy tells us that our sin doesn’t impact other people, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. We like to believe our sin is a personal issue we can manage, but in reality, our sin eventually leads to greater pain in our own lives and in the lives of others. It’s important to recognize that people are hurt by our sin, and there are consequences, sometimes that follow us the rest of our life. But there is also forgiveness. We first receive forgiveness from Jesus, and we then have the grace to ask for forgiveness from those we hurt.
  2. Sin always leads to death, but grace resurrects // The very nature of sin is death. Sin is to the soul what cancer is to the body. When someone is battling cancer, they are willing to do whatever it takes to rid the disease from their bodies. We need to view sin in the same way, because ultimately if we don’t kill sin, it will kill us. Jesus is not intimidated by the weight of sin in this world. In fact, He gives us victory over our sin and over death. When we surrender our lives to Jesus, we experience the rescue of God.
  3. We cannot fix our own sin, but grace transforms // There is nothing we can do to fix ourselves. Jesus knew we couldn’t overcome the weight of our sin, so He took it away. He also gave us His Spirit so we can live transformed. Knowledge of our victory isn’t enough; we need the grace of God to walk out in total freedom.

Once we recognize sin for what it is, we can move toward living a life of freedom. Sin is a big deal, but grace is a bigger deal. The grace of God is sufficient enough for us to live a life free of the weight of sin.

TAKE A LOOK AT THREE PRACTICAL WAYS TO APPLY THIS WEEK’S MESSAGE:

  1. Acknowledge sin and bring it into the light // The enemy wants us to keep our sin hidden, but confession and accountability bring us into freedom. If you are not connected to a Lifegroup, start there! It’s important to have community around you that can speak truth and hold you accountable.
  2. Cultivate a lifestyle of worship // Sin is a cheap substitute for the real joy we find in Jesus. Fixing our eyes on Jesus and getting in His presence gives us the grace to press into Him in the midst of our struggles.
  3. Read through 2 Corinthians with us // The Word of God overcomes how we feel. Follow along with our 2 Corinthians reading plan, and renew your mind with the truth every day. Download a copy of our reading plan here.

Sufficiency in Suffering –
An All in All Devotional

The beeping of the alarm rouses me from a deep sleep. As I open my eyes and stretch and remember, reality crashes in. It has been about two months since my husband of 37 years died of congestive heart failure in this very room. The pain I awaken to has many faces—loneliness, palpable sadness, fear of the future and anxiety that is impacting not only my emotions but my body. These are dark days of the soul, a kind of suffering I have not known before.

Fast forward five years. As I reflect on that period of my life, I can affirm Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 that say, “God is the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction.” At my lowest point, when I was practically paralyzed with grief, I knew that my Father was holding me. I imagine that everyone reading this blog has been in that place in some fashion, but you may or may not have sensed the comfort of God in your suffering. I would like to share three things from our 2 Corinthians study that, hopefully, will be helpful as we encounter suffering.

First, it is unavoidable. This may not sound very helpful, but I think embracing the fact that we all suffer is a real part of living on planet earth and is a vital part of our healing process. Understanding this universal truth helps us not to blame ourselves for the emotions we are feeling because they are part of our human experience. A healthy theology of suffering is an essential component of our journey with the Trinity.

THE KEY IS NOT TO AVOID SUFFERING, BUT TO LIVE THROUGH IT WELL.

Second, the Father promises He will not leave us. Hebrews 13:5 says, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.” He goes further in 2 Corinthians 1:10 by declaring that, “He will yet deliver us.” The Father is so faithful to remind us of His presence and care whether it be through a timely phone call or text, a much-needed word of encouragement, a hug, a dream or supernatural encounter with the Holy Spirit.

Third, as we experience freedom from our seasons of suffering, 2 Corinthians 1:5 tells us that we are to start becoming instruments of comfort to others. After Ron died, my friend, Margie Atwood, was a tremendous help and comfort to me. Her husband, Darrell, had died six months earlier and she was gracious enough to be an instrument of healing for me even as she was on her own journey.

So today, regardless of where you are experiencing suffering, please know you are not alone. God is at your side. Be attentive to His voice as He comforts you as only He can and as He leads you to others who need to receive comfort through you.

IN RESPONSE:

Pause and listen to this song, and let it be an encouragement to you.

By Penny Allison – Women’s Pastor

Volunteer Spotlight –
Lisa Zgarba

Lisa lives in a small town outside of Waco with her four children and her husband. She homeschools two of her children, and she is usually on-the-go between baseball, softball and dance lessons. On Sunday mornings, you can find Lisa taking care of our little ones in the babies’ classroom.

Find out why Lisa enjoys serving with our Kids Ministry –

Why did you decide to start volunteering?

I have always had a heart for children. I enjoy being around children, watching them grow and being a part of their journey. I have also seen firsthand what an impact the ministry mentors have made in the lives of my own children as they have attended Kids Ministry through the years. Each of the mentors are such a blessing, and as a parent, I am very thankful for them. I wanted the opportunity to serve alongside them and give back what I have been given.

How have you personally grown through your experience serving?

Being primarily with babies, has challenged me to have faith no matter what. Babies fully rely on us to care for them: whether they’re hungry, need a diaper changed or just want to play and learn. In the same way, our Heavenly Father is always there to fulfill our needs.

Do you have a testimony to share from your time serving?

When the children go into the one-and two-year-old classrooms across the hall, it is fun to see how much they have grown since being in our classroom. The first time I saw one of the little ones that started in the baby room with me, their parents and I smiled and waved to each other as the little one looked at me questionably until I said hi and their name. The look in their eyes changed and they smiled. It was a reminder to me that they hear our voices while we are praying, speaking and singing over them as babies.

Is there anything you want to share with people who are thinking about volunteering in Kids Ministry?

If the Lord puts it on your heart to join Kids Ministry, just jump in and let Him guide you. Whether you have children or not, it is an awesome experience. Every day is new and exciting with them and it is so much fun to be a part of their journey.

If you are interested in volunteering with the Kids Ministry, or in another area of our church, fill out this form. We can’t wait for you to get connected!

All in All Part One //
Sufficiency in Trial

This morning Vincent Carpenter kicked off our new series, All in All. Throughout the summer, we are journeying together through the book of 2 Corinthians. As we unpack these Scriptures, we believe it will be a mirror to our lives today, and we will learn more about how Jesus truly can be our all in all.

Today we focused on 2 Corinthians 1:3-11, and learned how God can be our all in all in the midst of trial. As we look at the Corinthian church, we see that God wants us to know Him as our comforter and deliverer in the midst of our trials.

Paul is clear that trials are inevitable, but trials are an invitation to know God in a more intimate way. Often our comfort is intertwined with giving away our lives to God and others. We don’t receive God’s comfort by doing religious works. Instead, when we voluntarily do something out of love for someone else, God will use it as a way to release comfort in our life.

Throughout this passage Paul also encourages the Corinthians, and us, to see God as our deliverer in the midst of our trials. Paul had no bitterness, anger or disappointment. Instead, he declared that God delivered him before, and He will deliver him again. Paul had hope because he was confident that God was enough. The key to deliverance is hope.

TAKE A LOOK AT THREE WAYS YOU CAN APPLY THIS WEEK’S MESSAGE:

  • God provides comfort for people in pain so they can provide comfort to others who are in pain. If you are experiencing a painful trial in your life right now, look for opportunities to support, encourage or help someone else in pain. 
  • We experience personal deliverance when we declare our hope is in Jesus and not in our situation. Think of any place of bondage or struggle in your life and declare over the problem that your hope is in Jesus.
  • Take a few minutes each day this week and tell Jesus He is enough for you. Declare that you are satisfied with Him, with all He has and all He is doing in your life.

We also encourage you to jump in with us as we read through 2 Corinthians this summer. Our summer reading plan starts tomorrow; click here to download a copy.