Summer 2024

Daily Devotional: Thursday, December 29 - Swing Big

“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. … Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” — Ephesians 6:13, 17

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The game of baseball is a grind. Most games — to the casual observer — are slow and, in many cases, “boring.” I like to say that “boring baseball” is usually good baseball. It likely means there’s great pitching and lock-down defense. Manufacturing a rally is hard work! When you get multiple runners on base, you’ve got to find a way to capitalize on the opportunity and score runs.

A rally begins when a runner finds a way to get on base — driving one in the gap, legging out an infield single, or even battling in the box for an eight-pitch at-bat that results in a base on balls. But do you know what ignites the rally? Timely base hits — especially multiple base hits, more so than walks.

At the college and pro levels, walks are almost always earned through plate discipline. However, at the youth level, too many coaches and players are looking for free passes. Coaches are either urging their players to look for the “perfect” pitch, or they play the odds and have their kids take pitches until they must swing. Consequently, these young players are often timid when they step into the box. They watch pitch after pitch, and gleefully skip down the first-base line after the umpire belts out “ball four.”

When I coached, I emphasized to my players that they were equipped with a weapon when they stepped into the batter’s box. Their job — when presented the opportunity — was to punish the baseball. Put the ball in play, make the defense work for an out. After all, why bring a bat with you if you have no intention to use it?

Babe Ruth once said, “I swing big, with everything I’ve got. I hit big or I miss big. I like to live as big as I can.” You simply can’t “live big” if you don’t swing the bat!

I often wish those kids — the ones who never swing the bat — would swing hard and hit the sweet spot just once. They’d understand how much more fun the game can be when they go for it.

Sadly, as Christians, we play the game of life in similar fashion much of the time. We are equipped with weapons, but rarely brandish them. We tackle life’s battles with our limited human means, all the while leaving the most powerful artillery back in the armory: the Holy Spirit and the Word of God (Ephesians 6:10-17).

As my friend, Cole Ragsdale, has so eloquently stated, the Holy Spirit “convinces and convicts.” Cole says the Spirit is the “Great Nudger.” He lives within us, is always with us, guides us toward God’s best, and away from danger — both physical and spiritual. But it’s certainly possible to neutralize the Holy Spirit by how we live. Perhaps you’ve heard the term “grieving the Holy Spirit.” This happens when we live in a way that doesn’t bring honor to God. This can be through sin, unforgiveness or just plain recklessness.

The Word of God is two-fold. First, it’s the Bible: what God says to us, and reveals about Himself, through Scripture. Second, the Word of God is personified — it is Jesus Christ.

This means, to wield the sword of the Spirit, we must do three things:
1) Live in a way that honors the Lord
2) Spend time reading and meditating on Scripture
3) Get to know Jesus, and spend time with Him

It’s time to step in the batter’s box. The pitch is coming. It may knock you off the plate, or it might be a laser at the letters. Either way, you’ll want an offensive weapon to help you out. Don’t leave it on your shoulder. Like the Babe, swing big, and see how incredible life can be when you put the armor of God to use!

— C.A. Phillips, Communications Pastor at NorthStar Church, Kennesaw, Georgia

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