Star Wars is one of the most viewed series of movies in history. Their latest movie continues the theme of good versus evil. The name given for the forces of evil is called: “The Dark Side”. We are fascinated as our interest is pulled into the battles that are depicted on the screen.
In the movie world of Star Wars there is a make believe “dark side”. Believers in Christ also are faced with a real dark side in our spiritual life. The Bible describes our warfare is not with flesh and blood enemies. Our dark side consists of the world, the flesh, and the devil. We at one time were citizens of the world, slaves to the flesh, and captives of the devil. We were a part of that dark side. However when we receive Christ as our Savior, He changes everything around. The location of our citizenship is changed to heaven. We are no longer slaves to the flesh but servants of Christ. The devil is now our enemy instead of our master. We are assured all through the Bible that the outcome of this war is not in doubt. The Bible tells us that we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us (Rom. 8:37). We are also assured that greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world (1 Jn. 4:4). All we have to do find out the eventual winner of this star wars conflict is to read the back of the book. The Revelation tells us that Jesus wins in the end.
But currently we are engaged in a battle with the dark side. We are challenged in scriptures to be strong in the Lord and put on the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:10,11). Also 1 Peter 5:8,9 instructs us to be sober and be vigilant against our adversary the devil and to resist him steadfast in the faith. We are called to overcome the world and to deny the flesh. When God’s people do battle with the dark side we do not rely on a force being with us, we have the power of the Holy Spirit within us.
Bad news has a way of hitting us and leaving us on the side of the road as emotional roadkill. Perhaps the bad news comes from the doctor, or from the disturbing contents of a letter, maybe even from the current political situation. Sometimes bad news has a way of making us feel like we just got run over by a truck.
Can you imagine the roller coaster of emotions that took the followers of Jesus on a wild ride during his last week? His arrest in the garden, His unjust trials before the Jews and Pilate, the cruel scourging, the calloused mockery, and then His crucifixion and death plunged them into a downward spiral of great emotion.
The women at the tomb were weeping with sorrow until they discovered the empty tomb and heard He had risen. Even the two disciples on the road to Emmaus had their hopes dashed and their expectations crushed. Sadness walked with them until the resurrected Jesus joined them on their journey. Their sorrow turned to joy. Confusion was another emotion that clouded the minds of those early followers. They didn’t quite know what to think until the angel explained what happened and Jesus spoke to them. Confusion gave way to understanding. Those disciples were also paralyzed by the emotion of fear. They were hiding but when they soon found that Jesus was alive their fear turned to courage. Thomas wouldn’t believe that He was alive and doubt plagued his mind. When Jesus showed up in his presence the next week and showed him His hands and side, Thomas then said: “my Lord and my God”. His doubts were settled and turned to faith.
Perhaps you have had one of those weeks where your emotions have taken you on a ride to a dark place. The fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ offers us some wonderful good news. Our sorrows can be transformed to joy. Our confusion should give way to understanding. Our fear turns to courage. And our doubts are erased by faith. All because… He is risen!
It is that time of year when major league baseball is ramping up for another season. The players are trying to make the starting roster during spring training. They are honing their skills, they are getting into shape, and they are gathering their equipment. I read of a new player who was trying to increase his value to the team by being ready to play 3 different positions. The article said that he needed a bigger locker because he had 8 different baseball gloves. The boys of summer are doing everything they can to be ready to play.
As I thought of the preparation it takes to play the game of baseball I was reminded of what it takes to serve the Lord effectively. Those who are on the Lord’s team need to make sure they have the proper equipment. First of all we need to place on the armor of God. Just as a ball player wears his team uniform, Christ’s servants need to be armed with the spiritual armor mentioned in Ephesians 6. The six pieces of armor are: The belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit.
As we have put on the armor we next need to pack up the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22,23 gives us a description of the nine-fold fruit that God’s people need to exemplify. Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control should define our character as we prepare to serve our Lord.
If we are going to be ready for effective and intensive activity for Christ we must also put on the mind of Christ. Philippians 2:5 tells us: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus”. Jesus humbled himself, made himself of no reputation and took the form of a servant. God’s game is much bigger and more important than baseball. His players need to place on the armor of God, pack up the fruit of the Spirit, and put on the mind of Christ. Are you ready to play?
I remember that when I was a child our home did not have air conditioning. I recall those hot summer nights trying to sleep in the wilting Indiana humidity. I was so glad when Dad brought me and my brother an old rattling box fan to put in the window. That box fan did not put out a whole lot of air but at least the noise helped us get some sleep. Those box fans are still around and they still do not circulate much air compared to bigger and more efficient models.
As I think of the weak breeze that those fans put out I am reminded of the ineffectiveness of our fleshly efforts in service for our Lord. We might be spinning as fast as we can doing our best but sadly we don’t put out much wind. In the Bible we find that the Holy Spirit is described as a rushing mighty wind in Acts 2. Verse 2 tells us: “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting”. The followers of Jesus were filled with the Spirit in that upper room and the scriptures describe their boldness in preaching the gospel and their fearlessness in facing opposition. Through the power of the Holy Spirit they saw people come to faith in Christ, they experienced answers to prayer, and they saw people delivered from Satan’s grip. The Holy Wind of God blew mightily in the early church. The Holy Spirit and His power are still available to believers in Christ. He can give us comfort in overwhelming difficulties, He can give us a peace that passes all understanding and He can give us a holy boldness to speak to others about their need of a Savior.
I wonder if the activity around our church resembles a rattily old box fan. May we as followers of Jesus be ready to trade in our box fans of self-effort for the Mighty Holy Wind of God.
Pastor Stultz has been writing this weekly devotional for many years. In 2009, he published a compilation of devotionals in book form, also called Moments of Meditation