Jesus Says Go

Mark 16

image (5).png

Jesus was nailed to a tree, he breathed his last, the curtain was torn.

The stone was rolled away, sin lost its stronghold, death was defeated.

This story holds so much power, whether it’s your first time hearing it or your ten thousandth time. Live everyday like you’ve just seen the stone rolled away from the tomb with your very own eyes. Let that excitement, awe, and wonder overflow from your heart.

We know the power of the empty tomb, so now what? When Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection, he appoints them to a certain task: Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation (Mark 16:15).

Jesus said go, so the disciples went.

Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it (Mark 16:20).

Jesus said go, so the disciples went, and God showedup.

God saw the disciple’s obedience as usability. When we go, we obey Jesus’ calling on our life, and God can work through us. Look at everything God accomplished through the disciples after Jesus’ ascension into heaven:

Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed (Acts 5:14-16).

Jesus said go, so will you obey? Will you let God work through you?

You don’t have to go far, but you do have to go. Go sit in your front yard and engage your neighbors walking by in conversation. Go to the grocery store and be extra friendly to your cashier. Go to church and mentor the newly saved Christian. Go to work and be eager to strike at every small opportunity to share the hope of the Kingdom.

You have a mission field. Your mailman, your coworker, and your next-door neighbor, need to hear the gospel. You have a message to share! If not you, then who?

 

-Mackenzie McClain

Advertisements

If Paul can, You can

Philippians 1 

7

Shipwrecked on an island, stoned, bitten by a snake, beaten, and thrown into prison. It seems that Paul could never catch a break. The letter of Philippians was actually written while Paul was imprisoned in Rome. After a short greeting to the church of Philippi, Paul explains his current predicament:

Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.(Philippians 1:12-14)

Paul’s attitude is truly humbling. Instead of grumbling, blaming, or whining, he recognizes that all of his difficulties have “served to advance the gospel.” What a mindset to strive for! By being transparent about his sufferings, Christians at the time were encouraged to be more confident and daring, spreading the gospel without fear. I was shocked to read that the people were more encouraged by Paul’s endurance than petrified by his tribulations.

My sister once brought a box of bacon-cheddar flavored crickets to a family gathering. At first, everybody thought the crickets were an amusing joke, but nobody seriously considered eating one. After staring at the crickets for a long while, my brother-in-law finally ate one as we all goggled and gawked. Then the next person ate one, and the next person, and eventually everyone in the room had eaten a cricket. After witnessing someone else eat the cricket, it was much easier for me to eat a cricket, too. (FYI crickets don’t taste like chicken).

In the same way, early Christians adopted an “If Paul can, I can” kind of faith. Let Paul’s resilience and conviction in the face of obstacles encourage you, too, to proceed boldly in your faith. If Paul can withstand being shipwrecked on an island, stoned, bitten by a snake, beaten, and thrown into prison, you can be daring and bold in your faith, too.

When was the last time you took a risk for your faith? Get your hands dirty, get uncomfortable, and get moving.

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.  For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:20-21).

 

-Mackenzie McClain

Put on Your Armor

Ephesians 6

6

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

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

4

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

3

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

 

BC-Clarence-4.jpg

Enough

Ephesians 2

2

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