Put on Your Armor

Ephesians 6

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Paul, the writer of Ephesians, was imprisoned in Rome, where he got an up-close and personal view of the Roman soldier’s armor. He encourages us to put on our own armor to deliver us from evil in our own spiritual battles.

Do you realize how often your faith is under siege? In the United States, you probably won’t be imprisoned, attacked, or killed for your faith, but don’t underestimate the battle you are fighting. Lies are infiltrating your mind and heart all day long. Consider how much information you take in each day that contradicts what the Bible teaches:

Do whatever makes you happy.

Truth is relative.

A fetus is just a clump of cells.

Sex before marriage? Go for it!

Billions of years ago…

You’re unlovable.

It can feel debilitating being surrounded by so many lies, but I have good news for you: God is the source of our strength. He wants to clothe you in His protection—His armor.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.(Ephesians 6:13-17)

God has supplied you with the armor, but it’s still your decision if you’re going to put it on. Sometimes we get too busy (or honestly just lazy) and neglect to take the time to put on our armor, but we should take every precaution possible because the consequences of losing our battles are severe.

What exactly does putting on your armor look like? First of all, you must know what the Bible says in order to recognize the lies. Never underestimate the importance of reading your Bible. Next, pray! Pray that God would open your eyes to His truth and would give you the courage to expose the lies.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.(Ephesians 6:10)

 

-Mackenzie McClain

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Children of Light

Ephesians 5

Fuel Devotions - June 2019

I think all dads have the same number one pet peeve: kids leaving the lights on. Sometimes it seems every light in my house is turned on, but we’re all in the living room. Sorry, Dad. My dad’s runner up pet peeve is closed blinds during the day. He’s always hounding me to open up the blinds, exclaiming, “We’re children of the light!”

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord (Ephesians 5:8-10)

Paul calls us to open the blinds—to let the light in. Let goodness, righteousness, and truth flood your life. When you let the light in, you accomplish two things:

  1. Expose the Shadows

But everything exposed by the light becomes visible (Ephesians 5:13a)

Light reveals what darkness tries to hide. By revealing the sin in our lives, we take the first step towards overcoming it. Ask God to show you areas of your life where sin may be hiding and ask your close friends to help keep you accountable.

Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. (Ephesians 5:11)

  1. Multiply the Light

And everything that is illuminated becomes a light(Ephesians 5:13b)

When we reflect God’s light, people around us want to become lights, too. Let your light be contagious! Be so full of love, joy, and grace that people begin to wonder why. Let everything you do point people back to God.

In 1961, Roberto Badillo, a migrant worker, returned to his Mexican village with one Bible, the first Bible in the entire village. Since then, Roberto and his wife Lupe have shared the gospel message with hundreds of people. Never underestimate the power of your light—you never know what fires you may be kindling.

 

-Mackenzie McClain

30-Second Challenge

Ephesians 4

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As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:1-2)

To live a life worthy of the calling you have received is to reflect God’s character in all you do. Simply put, God is love, so go be love. Paul’s challenge to live out love seems impossible, but what if you did it just 30 seconds at a time?

Before a football game, a coach doesn’t know every play he’s going to call. Instead, he takes it one play at a time. In the same way, love the person in front of you just 30 seconds at a time. Once your 30 seconds is up, challenge yourself to another 30 seconds… and another… and another.

A life isn’t lived in a day, a year, or even five years; instead, it’s lived in the small everyday moments that add up to a big, beautiful life. Stop planning to do one over-the-top, love-filled thing and actually go be love just 30 seconds at a time. A plan isn’t love; it’s just a plan.

If we all accept the challenge to live a life worthy of our calling, Paul paints a beautiful picture of what the church would be like:

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:15-16)

30 seconds. That’s all it takes.

 

-Mackenzie McClain

Unimaginable

Ephesians 3

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Once upon a time there was a custodian, Clarence. He spent his days throwing away trash kids had neglected and mopping up spilt chocolate milk in the cafeteria at my high school. His life wasn’t flashy or glamorous.

During lunch one day, Nicolas, a student at my school, lost a ring that held a lot of significance and asked Clarence to keep an eye out for it. After finding it, Clarence returned it to Nicolas with a smile. This small act of kindness was the beginning of a friendship between Clarence and Nicolas. This friendship was contagious, as the whole student body began to hold Clarence in high esteem. His thoughtfulness and passion for the students shined in everything he did, so much so that he was elected by the students as grand marshal of the homecoming parade.

Clarence, the custodian, changed the culture of my school, and he lived happily ever after. The end.

I imagine that there were days Clarence felt undervalued and overlooked, wishing to be in someone else’s shoes. I, too, often find myself wishing for different circumstances. I want to do big things for God, but my sphere of influence feels so limited. Reading today’s chapter, I was encouraged that God can do big things through me right where I’m at.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.(Ephesians 3:20-21)

Immeasurably more. Those are two of my favorite words in the Bible because it means that all God’s power is beyond my understanding. God isn’t limited to the box we often put Him in. No matter where you’re at, God can do immeasurably more through you as long as you trust Him completely. Whether you spend your days mopping puddles or preaching to thousands, God can do more through you than you could ever imagine.

There’s no need to wish to be somebody else. Believe in the immeasurably more God has in store for you.

 

-Mackenzie McClain

 

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Enough

Ephesians 2

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Every Sunday since before I was born, my family has gathered at my grandma’s house for an after-church lunch. It’s a grandiose affair with a lavish spread of food, a fancy tablecloth, and ALWAYS dessert. My littlest cousin, Greta, prides herself on being Grandma’s helper in the kitchen each Sunday. By no means is she qualified to even step foot in a kitchen—she tries to lick the frosting off the chocolate cake, has a fair share of spills, and screams when not allowed to cut the watermelon. Despite her lack of skills and tact, she is the most willing and enthusiastic helper. While my grandma certainly doesn’t need her help, I think her heart bursts into a million little pieces when little Greta pulls up her stool to the counter with wide eyes and ready hands.

Sometimes I feel a lot like a toddler in the kitchen, like I’m not enough. The truth of the matter is that I wasn’t enough.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. (Ephesians 2:1-3)

The story doesn’t end there. I am made enough because of who God is and what Jesus did for me.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.(Ephesians 2:4-5)

We can choose to wallow in our inadequacy, or we can embrace grace. I’ve seen the joy that comes when we let go of the burden of not being enough in the beaming smile of a little girl with chocolate frosting on her nose. You are so enough that God wants to use you for His Kingdom.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.(Ephesians 2:10)

No matter the lies the world whispers in your ear, never stop pulling up your stool to the counter. Roll up your sleeves and do all the things God prepared for you. He’s more honored by your attempts than He is concerned about your results. Frankly, He could go infinity gauntlet style and snap His fingers to accomplish anything He wanted to by Himself. That same God is head-over-heels in love with you.

My friend, you measure up. You have what it takes. You’re enough. Now go do something.

-Mackenzie McClain

Live in Unity

Ephesians 1 

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Churches split. Friendships break. Families fracture. Some people seem to be water and others oil. We are surrounded by division. Fortunately for us, Jesus’ mission is to unite everything in heaven and on earth.

He made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.  –Ephesians 1:9-10

Unfortunately for us, Jesus’ undertaking won’t be complete until he comes back to earth to establish his Father’s Kingdom. In the meantime, however, he invites us to join him on this mission. It’s a great honor to play a part in Jesus’ task, but it’s hard to know where to begin in such a broken world. When it seems like there’s not enough Elmer’s glue to hold the world together, here are some key ways to preserve unity:

See people how God sees people. I think nearly every problem in the world would disappear if we saw people from God’s perspective. If we viewed each person as intentionally and brilliantly designed by our Creator for a unique purpose, division would have no foothold. Pray that God would change the way you see people and you’ll see a change in your relationships.

Dwell on unity. Do you have a friend that you agree with 99% of the time, but the 1% has created a rift? I once had a heated debate with a friend, Luke, on the right way to eat a Little Debbie’s Nutty Bar. After 30 minutes of quarreling, it was clear neither of us were going to budge. While most issues threatening relationships are bigger than a Nutty Bar, it is still silly to dwell on them all the time. Whether you differ on a specific doctrine, a political view, or a football team allegiance, spend more time focusing on your similarities than differences. As Christians, we are more alike than different.

Seek reconciliation. We’ve all said and done things that we regret, but our true character is revealed in how we handle the hurt. Humbly admit when you are wrong, give grace when you’ve been hurt, and diligently deal with the cracks in your relationships. There is no weakness in forgiveness.

Consider the cost of division.  Unity is costly in terms of effort, but the results of division cost much more. I’ve seen the nasty effects of broken friendships, strained family relations, and hurting churches. Remember that a rope is stronger than a single string. We were made to do life together—in unity.

 

-Mackenzie McClain

Power Struggle

Ephesians 4-6

ephesians-5-25-26

Thursday, June 29

There is no such thing as a power struggle in a Godly marriage.  Ephesians 5:23 states that the husband is the head of the wife.  I get the feeling that some women have a hard time agreeing with that these days.  They aren’t going to let their husband tell them what to do.  I am convinced that the reason God put man in charge has not changed through the years and this rule still applies today.  Why would God have the man and woman become one in marriage, but then tell the woman to submit to the man?

I think God was trying to keep harmony in the marriage.  Think about a church board that had two people on it and they both got one vote.  In other words, neither one had more power than the other.  What would happen if they disagree on something?  Perhaps they could compromise or one could give in to the other, but I suspect if they both had very strong opinions, they may not be able to come to a resolution.  It would probably not end well.  I am not sure, but I suspect this could be the reason we no longer have Simon and Garfunkel.  What a shame.

The husband is the head of the wife, but it is important to look at the whole picture.  God is in charge of everything and Jesus is next in line, above man.  Man is number three.  The man has been given orders on how to be a leader.  He doesn’t get to make all of the decisions.  Many of the important decisions have already been made for him and he just needs to carry them out.  Think of God as the owner of a store, Jesus as the manager of the whole store, and man as the department manager of one of the departments in the store.  The owner gets to do whatever he wants to do with the store.  The store manager follows the directions from the owner and makes sure all of the department managers are doing what they are supposed to do.  The department managers get to make some decisions within their area, but they must follow the directions from the owner and store manager.  Man does not have the freedom to do whatever he wants; he must follow the directions from God and Jesus.

Wives need to submit to their husbands, but Ephesians 5:25 tells husbands that they need to love their wives.  Verse 28 clarifies it even more by saying husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies.  We all have selfish tendencies so we all know what it is like to want to make our own lives as good as possible.  A massage feels awesome, certain foods taste wonderful, and eight hours of sleep feels great.  In the same way that we desire these good things for ourselves, men need to make sure that they are supplying this level of love to their wives.  They need to constantly be aware of their wives’ needs and fulfill those needs with the same vigor they would use to take care of their own needs.  In fact, they will need to sacrifice their time and energy to love their wives the way they should be loved.

Men, it is true that you have been given the power to make decisions in your marriage, but I suspect some men abuse their power and use it to keep their women down.  They enjoy being in charge and they make sure their women know that they are in charge.  They use that power to make their own lives better, rather than loving their wives the way they should be loved.  Ephesians 5:26-27 explains what men should do with their power.  He should present her in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless.  In other words, he needs to use his power to lift her up, not keep her down.  He needs to invest in her life to make her the most she can be.

The struggle is NOT real as long as wives submit to their husbands and husbands love their wives.

-Rick McClain