As I was getting out our Christmas decorations this year, I came across a picture of my grandmother. I have fond memories of spending the night at her house as a young child. The evenings started with tasty dinners followed by front porch rocking, a tour of her rose garden, and often a roll down the hill in her backyard. They always ended with me listening to her read Bible stories. My favorite story was of the birth of baby Jesus. I hope my grandchildren will have fond memories of me telling them the very same story.
The Christmas story has been told again and again, for more than 2,000 years. Think about how the story perpetuated and how it continues to live today. At the time of its first telling, there were no tweets between shepherds, no GPS for the traveling wise men, no coverage of the birth in the local press, nor videos of Gabriel appearing to Mary. And although the coming of Jesus had been prophesied, it is a miracle that the story spread amongst believers and is still alive today. The magical story of Christmas sets the stage for Jesus’ ministry. It leads to his brutal death, but gives us the hope in the resurrection. The Good News is that forgiveness and eternal life are a gift of God’s grace received through faith in Christ and available to all people.
No person, apart from Jesus himself, shaped the history of Christianity like the Apostle Paul. Even before he was a believer, his actions were significant. His frenzied persecution of Christians got the church started in obeying Christ’s final command to take the gospel worldwide. Paul’s personal encounter with Jesus changed his life. He never lost his fierce intensity, but from that point onward, it was channeled for the gospel. God transformed Paul from a persecutor of Christians to a preacher for Christ. Paul’s letters to various churches became part of the New Testament!
Paul was commissioned to spread the message. But he didn’t get to see it completely fulfilled. Neither will we; at least it’s not likely on this side of heaven! We are all waiting on Jesus. In the meantime, we are sharing this message with the world. Our mission is to pass on what’s “most important.” And there is no other message in the world more important than the gospel.
As we prepare to pass on the greatest story ever told, remember that Advent is a season of waiting. The first century Jewish people were awaiting the arrival of their savior. For us, we are waiting for the second coming of Christ. God does not waste our time; he will use our past and present so we may serve him with our future!
1 Corinthians 15:3-8
3I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. 4He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. 5He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. 6After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. 7Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles. 8Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I also saw him.
Are you willing to let God use you as he did Paul?
What struggles in your life has God used to prepare you for the future?
What is God doing in your life to change you like he did Paul?
Lord, prepare me so that I can serve you. Use my past and present so that I may serve you in the future! Help me to spread your Good News. Amen.
This post was written by Pam Haynam. Pam is a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Daily Bible Study, a Lead Mentor Mom for Momentum, and a cook for the weekend worship band. She has a passion for education, has served on a public-school board, and serves on a charter school board. She is married with three children and two grandsons.