Boy, did our pooch have the vinegar this morning! When I let him out he first ran over to our neighbor’s side of the yard to check and see if their fuzzy little white dog was out and about. When that proved negative he ran down the fence line to the corner post near the back gate and nuzzled against the fence slates just in case the screws I put in to inhibit his ability to exit the yard had come loose. When that didn’t work he quickly ran across the yard, down the other fence line and up to the forest side front fence.
Once he determined that there were no rabbits, vultures, hawks, deer or the evil squirrels to chase, he turned and ran at top speed back across the yard to his initial position and his observation of the neighbor’s back deck! During all of this I stood on our deck snuggled up in my heavy wool-lined hoodie and laughed aloud in between acting as a play by play announcer for my wife who was seated at the table just inside the open sliding doors.
After a few more seconds, Fiver took off across the yard again and suddenly stopped near the play structure and turned to look at me with that look on his face that just seemed to say: “Well?” And being the good father that I am, I knew exactly what he was requesting, so I ran into the house and grabbed his bowl of treats. Then I went back outside, walked down the steps to the patio and squatted down with the bowl in my outreached hand. He took one look at me and ran with a renewed burst of energy toward me. As he approached I stood up while he ran past me, literally flew over the three steps leading up to the deck and ran inside the house where he stopped, turned and sat down waiting for me and his treat… to which I heartedly obliged him.
You know… that’s the way I like to start my days. With purpose, mixed with enthusiasm, excitement and a few good laughs! How about you? Well… while reading from the very beginning of Luke chapter two, I got the idea that this is exactly what the good Lord also wants for us… and that He has even provided a way to accomplish it… no matter what our circumstances may be!
It was Luke 2:1 as paraphrased in The Message Bible that got me to thinking about this hypothesis. It reads: “About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the empire.” Now this may seem a little out of context for the Christmas season… but as soon as I read this verse yesterday, I immediately thought about the original Star Wars movies… and in particular the 1980 sequel entitled: “The Empire Strikes Back.”
I had to laugh and push back my chair while my mind wrapped itself around the idea that was percolating in it! I finally turned to my wife who was sitting quietly next to me and said: “That’s exactly what Jesus came to do through His church!” I found it interesting this morning when I realized that the same word translated “empire” in the Message or “world” in the King James is used by Jesus himself when He talked to His disciples about the end of the age saying: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto; and then shall the end come.” (KJV)
If you exchange “Empire” for “world” in that translation you will probably see where I am going with this. Caesar Augustus thought that he had sovereign and ultimate rule over his empire… But Papa God had a higher plan of a greater empire… the kingdom of God… that would eventually be preached all over the world, offering those who accepted Jesus as personal Savior and Lord freedoms and power that the Caesar’s authority could never match and on top of that… the promise of eternal life through Him. Like WOW!
You see…. Christmas is really a celebration of “The Empire Striking Back!” Caesar Augustus was simply a pawn used to help set up God’s plan of salvation and the proliferation of a Godly empire in those who would eventually accept that little baby who was humbly born in that stable in Bethlehem. Kinda puts another whole spin on Christmas doesn’t it?
I admit that I was disappointed when my pregnant wife and I left that theater back in 1980 after watching the movie “The Empire Strikes Back.” I don’t like it when the bad guys prevail… and I had to wait another three years and two kids later before I got to see the good guys win the war! But as a Christian… I don’t have to wait for all that Jesus has already provided for me through His finished work of the cross.
Every morning I pray over my wife from the prayer that Jesus told His disciple to pray saying: “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom (or EMPIRE) come. Thy will be done in earth, right here at 410 Sherman Rd, in Fuquay-Varina NC, in Piper, just as it is in heaven…” (Matthew 6:9-10 KJV-personalized) You see… as far as Papa God and His Word is concerned… His EMPIRE has struck back, and I am claiming His kingdom’s provisions for my wife!
Because of what was set in motion way back in that little town of Bethlehem some 2000 plus years ago, you and I can walk in confidence, in boldness, in power and in love… even when things and people around us may not be loving! You and I have the power of God’s EMPIRE living in us, for us and through us! You see… I don’t have to be disappointed at how this story ends because I know what the end of the book says… and you and I as citizens of God’s EMPIRE win!
Papa God presented His EMPIRE to a dying world who had no access to Him when that little baby was born of a virgin girl in that insignificant little town many centuries ago! He presented The WAY and the means for us to draw near to the Father, live a successful life and help others to reach the same place of inner peace and victory!
So what do you say? How are you going to celebrate Christmas this Sunday? Whose EMPIRE are you going to let have its way in your life in 2017? You know what? I am looking forward to being the first one in my neighborhood to declare that “The Empire is Striking Back!” What about you…
Piper and I (and of course Fiver) pray that each of you have blessed, peaceful and joy-filled Christmas gatherings and celebrations this year. You might even want to bring your Light-saber (ie., your Bible) with you this year. If you recall, John tells us in John 1:4 that: “In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” (KJV)
This Christmas I encourage you to be proud to be a member of Papa God’s armed services and an active participant of the team that helps “The Empire Strike Back!”