Jesus – the Radical One

Luke Chapter Six

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In chapter six, Jesus is continuing on in his ministry.  We see that twice, Jesus caused the Pharisees, a group of Jews, to get upset.  Both times revolved around Jesus doing work on the Sabbath.  The Pharisees were a sect of Jews that had a high priority and focus on following the letter of the law.  They wanted to make sure they were obeying every letter of the law as well as everyone else.

 

Exodus 35:2 states, “Six days work shall be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD.  Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death.”  This was the law that the Jews were to follow, and anyone who did not follow the Sabbath should be put to death.  With that said, I can totally put myself in the Pharisees’ shoes and understand why they would be so upset with Jesus not following the Sabbath rest.  However, throughout Jesus’ ministry, he had quite the radical thoughts and actions.  A superb example of this is found in the Sermon on the Mount when six times Jesus said, “you have heard that it was said… But I say to you.”  Six times Jesus took what was said in the Old Testament and radicalized it.  Jesus flipped the whole world upside down.

 

This trend of Jesus having quite the radical thoughts and actions continues in chapter six.  Jesus goes on to say that we are blessed if we are poor, hungry, weeping, and hated.  He says that in the end times, we will be satisfied, as the kingdom of God will belong to us.  He continues by saying woe to you if you are rich, full, laugh, and people speak well of you.  To the normal person, this would make no sense, but Jesus flips everything upside down.

 

One of the more well-known radical statements of Jesus is found in Luke six as well –  when talking about our enemies.  Jesus makes the bold and radical statement by saying, “love your enemies,” (Luke 6:35).  It’s common for people to disregard their enemies or even act wickedly to them.  However, Jesus tells us to take another approach with our enemies.  He tells us to love our enemies!  This goes totally contrary to how the rest of the world treats their enemies.

 

Jesus was full of radical statements and actions throughout his ministry.  He was constantly turning people’s lives upside down.  We, as Christians, need to follow our radical leader, Jesus.  He showed us the way, and it is our job to follow his lead.  Jesus did not fit in at all in his society because of his radical statements and actions, such as loving your enemies.  With that said, if we follow Jesus’ lead, then we are going to stick out like a sore thumb as well.  Be bold and courageous and live a radical life like that of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

Kyle McClain

Jesus’ Target Audience

Luke Chapter Five – Jesus’ First Disciples

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Soon after Jesus began his earthly ministry, Jesus went out to find some people who would follow him.  One would think that Jesus would choose his followers from among the elite scholars.  After all, shouldn’t the king of kings have an elite group of close followers?  However, Jesus did not go that route.  Instead, we see in Luke chapter five, that Jesus chose the likes of fishermen and tax collectors to be his select, close followers.  Fishermen had very little to no education, and they would have been close to no one’s first choice when starting a revolution.  Tax collectors, on the other hand, had a poor reputation, as they often tried to cheat people out of their money.  Therefore, tax collectors would have been close to no one’s first choice either.  For whatever reason, Jesus chose this group to be his followers and to take over when he was to ascend to heaven.

 

A big part of Jesus’ ministry revolved around healing people of their ailments.  In chapter five, Jesus heals both a leper and a paralytic.  One would think that after Jesus got done healing people, he would want them to go tell everybody of the great miracle.  However, the opposite is true.  Often after Jesus would heal somebody, he would tell them to tell no one!  We see this in verse 14, as Jesus told the leper to tell no one.  Now, why would Jesus not want others to share of the great wonders Jesus had done?  The answer is because Jesus’ time to die had not yet come.  Jesus still had much to accomplish before his death.  If word had spread too much, they would have had him killed sooner.

 

After Jesus had called Levi, a tax collector, to be one of his disciples, Jesus went to eat with the tax collectors.  This caused the Pharisees to grumble and ask Jesus why in the world he would eat with the sinful tax collectors. Jesus replies, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance,” (Luke 5:31).  Here Jesus says that his target audience are the sinners rather than the righteous.

 

Too often in church, our focus is on the righteous rather than the sinners.  We design our services, classes, and events for those that are churched and not unchurched.  Perhaps we should consider the words of Jesus in Luke 5:31. Perhaps we should put our focus on the sinners, rather than the righteous.  It is those who are lost and sinners that really need the church!  Our churches should contain people who are not currently saved but are on the road to salvation.  Jesus says it is these kinds of people that he came to call to repentance.  Our target audience should reflect that of Jesus’ target audience.  At the same time, we do need strong Christians within the church to bring up the unchurched.  There is a healthy balance somewhere that we all must find.

 

Kyle McClain

The Beginning of Jesus’ Ministry

Luke Chapter Four

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In Luke chapter four, we finally get to see the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.  However, before we get there, Jesus spent forty days and forty nights in the wilderness by himself with no food.  He was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit.  We are never told the purpose of the Spirit leading Jesus to the wilderness, but I imagine it served as a great time for Jesus to focus in on God all by himself before he began his earthly ministry.

 

While Jesus was in the wilderness for forty days, the devil came to tempt Jesus.  Three times the devil tempted Jesus, but he had zero success.  To combat the temptation, Jesus responded each time with scripture (verses 4, 8 and 12).  Scripture offers us a great way to combat temptation, as Jesus demonstrated here.  Psalm 119:11 supports this notion, as it states, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”

 

Whenever we are confronted with temptation, as we all are, a great way to resist and combat that temptation is by quoting scripture.  Now, this is only possible if you have scripture memorized in the first place.  This is a big reason why it is important to store God’s Word in our hearts.

 

After Jesus withstood the temptation of the devil in the wilderness, Jesus officially began his earthly ministry in his hometown of Nazareth.  He did not have quite the warm welcoming, as the Jews tried to throw him off of a cliff (Luke 4:29).  This was just the beginning of the Jews seeking to end and kill Jesus.  They were constantly taken back by Jesus’ bold claims that he makes.  In the end, the Jews send him to the Roman government to have him killed because Jesus claimed to be the Son of God (Matthew 26:54).  The Jews seldom got along with Jesus because they did not believe that he was the Christ, the Son of God.

 

Luke chapter four ends with Jesus telling us his purpose, as Jesus states, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent,” (Luke 4:43).  Jesus himself stated that his purpose was to preach the good news of the kingdom of God.  From the very beginning of his ministry, he preached all about the Kingdom.  The message of the kingdom was at the heart of Jesus’ ministry, and it should be at the heart of our ministry as well.

 

Kyle McClain

 

Prepare the Way

Luke Chapter 3

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Luke chapter three talks about a very important and specific job that John the Baptist had.  This job that John had was documented all the way back in the book of Isaiah and quoted in Luke 3:4: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” John needed to prepare the way of the Lord and make his paths straight.

 

Jesus’ public ministry only lasted about three years.  It was important that people were ready for his ministry, as he had a lot to accomplish in little time.  Therefore, John prepared the way, so Jesus could make the most out of his little time here on earth.  John did a number of things to help prepare the way for the Lord.

 

One way that John prepared the way for Jesus was to baptize people with water.  This baptism was “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,” (Luke 3:3).  I’m sure that we all understand the importance of repentance and the forgiveness of our sins.  Therefore, we can see the importance of this baptism by water, as it was for repentance and the forgiveness of sins.

 

John also spent time teaching and preaching to help prepare the way for Jesus.  The crowds asked John, “what then shall we do?”  John went on to describe the importance of being generous with our possessions and money (verses 10-14).  John also focused on preaching “good news” (verse 18) to the people.  That good news that John preached about focused on the message of the kingdom, as evidenced by Matthew 3:2.

 

Preparing the way for Jesus was the main responsibility that John had.  We also have that same responsibility that John had.  Right now, Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God, but one day Jesus is going to descend from heaven and return to earth.  He is going to establish his Father’s Kingdom.  We have to prepare the way for Jesus to come back to earth.

 

We have to prepare ourselves and others for Jesus to establish his Father’s Kingdom on earth.  You can’t prepare others if you yourself are not prepared for God’s coming Kingdom.  Therefore, if you aren’t ready yourself, then get ready!  If you find yourself ready, then it is paramount that you focus on getting those around you ready for Jesus’ return.  In essence, we have the same responsibility that John the Baptist had.

 

Kyle McClain

 

What then is This Child going to be?

Luke Chapter 1

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Reading through the first chapter of Luke came at a very appropriate time for myself.  I recently had my first baby last month.   On top of that, I first became an uncle just a couple of months ago.  Therefore, my wife, Jamie, was pregnant at the same time her sister, Jennifer, was pregnant.  I find myself writing this devotion while we are Facetiming my twin niece and nephew and holding our baby.

 

Nearly 2,000 years ago, Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, was pregnant at the same time her cousin, Mary, was pregnant with Jesus.  Both John the Baptist and Jesus (clearly) end up playing huge roles in the grand scheme of things.  I appreciate that Luke took the time to start both of their stories as newborns!  Everybody’s story starts as a wee little baby, even the Savior of the world!  I would have loved to have seen and held baby John and Jesus!

 

When they were babies, they had all the potential in the world.  John the Baptist went on to prepare the way for the Christ, and Jesus was the Christ himself!  Every little baby that we come into contact with has all the potential in the world, and I hope that we can all realize that.

 

We will talk more about baby Jesus tomorrow, but these babies were no ordinary babies.  John the Baptist was peculiar in that “he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:16).  Not only was he filled with the Holy Spirit, but his birth was foretold by the angel Gabriel.  John’s father, Zechariah, was also made mute until his son was born because of his disbelief.  From the very get go, John was a very special baby, and he grew to be a very special man of God.

 

The babies and young children that we come into contact with may not have had some of the same experiences as John the Baptist or Jesus.  However, they still have all the potential in the world.  We need to be taking great care of our younglings.

 

I encourage you to take a minute or two out of your day and pray for all the little fellas and gals in your life and pray that they grow to be marvelous men and women of God!

 

Kyle McClain

Luke

Introduction to the Gospel of Luke

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The Bible is composed of 66 independent books/letters that were composed into a group of writings.  It’s important to be aware of who wrote which book because the Bible was written by many different authors.  Some authors wrote only one book, whereas some authors wrote a multitude of books.  It’s also important to be aware of who the author’s target audience was, as different authors had different recipients.

 

It’s generally agreed upon that Luke wrote the book of Luke (surprise, surprise).  Luke was most likely a Gentile (basically, not a Jew) by birth.  He was well educated in the Greek language, as evidenced by his writings.  When I took Greek class, the gospel of Luke was definitely the most difficult gospel to attempt to read because of his impressive use of the Greek language.  Luke was also a physician, which would also explain his impressive education and use of the Greek language.  He was a loyal companion of the apostle Paul as well.

 

The book of Luke was written to “most excellent Theophilus”.  We aren’t exactly sure who Theophilus is.  However, it was customary for Roman officials/governors to be addressed as “most excellent”.  Therefore, some people come to the conclusion that Luke was writing to a Roman officer of some sort.  Luke did not only write the gospel of Luke to the most excellent Theophilus, but he also wrote the book of Acts to Theophilus.

 

The books of Luke and Acts are great to be read together, since it is written by the same person and addressed to the same person.  The book of Luke is all about the ministry of Jesus.  The three synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) focused more so on WHAT Jesus did, and the gospel of John focused on WHO Jesus is.  With that said, Matthew, Mark, and Luke have many similarities.

 

Since the book of Luke was written by a physician who was well educated, it is very structured and contains more detail than both Matthew and Mark.  Luke also said that he wrote the book of Luke based off of eyewitnesses, people who actually saw first-hand the ministry of Jesus (Luke 1:2).  Luke took all of the eyewitnesses and composed an orderly account for us about the life and ministry of Jesus.

 

I hope you all enjoy Luke’s account of the life and ministry of Jesus!

 

Kyle McClain

 

 

What Does God’s Word Mean to Me?

psalm 119 30

The question “What does God’s Word mean to me” is a very appropriate question to ask myself during this phase of my life.  I am currently less than a week away from taking on the North Hills Church of God in Springfield, Ohio.  The Ohio area does not offer a ton to me, as I do not have any family there and currently not too many friends, although I look forward to making new friends.  Before I talk more about this, let me rewind a couple of years prior to my freshman year of college.

Prior to college, I lived my entire life in Michigan.  Nearly my whole family lived within a 5 mile radius, I had a great church family, and I had my friends from my school.  I lived very comfortably in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area for 17 years.  I had everything that I wanted: a great family, a great church family, and friends.  There was no attraction to leave the Grand Rapids, Michigan area.  However, I felt called to go to the Atlanta Bible College in McDonough, Georgia.  I had no family or friends really in the area, but I felt God calling me to go to the Atlanta Bible College.  Therefore, I packed up my stuff, and 800 miles later I found myself at the Bible college, far away from home.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Bible college, and I would highly recommend it to anyone considering going.  However, my time came to an end after three delightful years at the Bible college.  It was then time for me to decide what to do after I graduated.  I decided to intern with Andy Cisneros at the Guthrie Grove Church.  This decision was largely based on one, the leadership skills of Andy, and two, the connections I had in the Pelzer, South Carolina area.  Most of my friends outside of my family lived in the South Carolina area, so it made great sense for me to move there.  Also, my then fiancée’s, now wife’s, family lived in the area.  Overall, the area had much to offer me.  The Guthrie Grove Church served me so well, and I again thoroughly enjoyed my time.  Life was great in South Carolina, and I could have very easily and enjoyably stayed in the area and worked with Andy for many years.  However, I felt God calling me to go to the North Hills Church, so I ended my work with Andy at Guthrie Grove.

Twice I moved on from a place that I so much would have enjoyed calling home, and both times were extremely hard.  It was very difficult for me to leave my home in Michigan where I had everything I wanted and go on to a place where I had no connections.  It was also extremely difficult to leave South Carolina.  There were many tears shed in leaving these two areas, and I so badly wanted to stay put.

So here I am today, twice removed from places where I could have very easily laid down my roots and about to head to a place where I have close to no connections.  This is not an easy decision to make, and it is a decision my wife, Jamie, and I have to ponder.  It is a decision that at times brings us to tears, as it is so difficult to leave those whom you love.  Therefore, we ask ourselves, why are we choosing to move away from our loved ones?  The answer is plain and simple.  It is because of what God’s Word means to us.

Jamie and I are making the decision to move on from an area where we had so much to an area where we have close to nothing because of what God’s Word means to us.  God is the reason for this move.  We feel God calling us to move to Ohio and serve the North Hills Church, which we are both excited about.  We have to remain obedient to God’s calling, and we remain obedient because of how much His Word means to us.

God is calling each and every one of you to do great works.  God has a specific plan and purpose for you to fulfill, which is quite awesome to think that the Almighty Creator has a specific plan and purpose for YOU!  We have two choices when we realize God’s calling for our life.  We can either accept his calling or deny it.  It would have been so easy to deny God’s calling for my life because I had everything I wanted in Michigan and South Carolina.  However, the meaning that God’s Word has on my life was all the encouragement that I needed to accept his calling. It is my hope and prayer that everyone who reads this will seek out God’s calling for them and accept God’s calling because of how much God’s Word means to them.  Therefore, when God calls you to do something out of the ordinary like moving away from your family, being a missionary, adopting a child, leading a church, or whatever it may be, I hope you remain faithful to his calling, that whisper inside, because of how much his word means to you.

-Kyle McClain