Giving testimony to the Gospel of Jesus in the in-between times.
And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.
[This devotion was originally published on the Monday after Thanksgiving.]
This is the in-between-times that occasionally occur when Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) falls on a very early date. There is still one whole week of November left between Thanksgiving and December!
Usually, my family and I begin our Advent/Christmas preparations & anticipations after the sun sets on Thanksgiving Day. This is typically less than a month before Christmas.
But this year the calendar and our youngest son’s work schedule conspired against us!
While we did watch our traditional Christmas movie on Thanksgiving evening (A Christmas Story), we have not put up any inside Christmas decorations or our Advent wreath the day after.
We do all that on the day we get our Christmas tree. But like I said, our son Mark’s work schedule was such that he wasn’t around at all this past weekend. He was working at the local nursery & garden center baling and loading and delivering Christmas trees for our neighbors in our community.
This year’s calendar and work schedules helped remind us what this season is really all about. There was no decorating and the house isn’t decked out in Christmas items and will not be for about a week or so.
Surely, this season is about family and friends getting together, it is about celebrating and anticipating, and it is about feasting and gift giving.
But the ultimate reason for this Advent & Christmas preparation and anticipation is about Jesus! That is all we have to focus on for the moment.
In the first century, those who were sent by Christ (the apostles, “ones who are sent”) lived their lives “giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.”
That’s what they were sent to do. They were sent to tell as many people as possible the Good News about Jesus.
This particular passage – Acts 4:33 – in the Book of Acts says they were telling about the resurrection of Jesus.
For Jesus to have been resurrected, he would have to die. For Jesus to die he would have to live first. For Jesus to live, he would have to be born.
And that brings us to the true meaning of Christmas. It is about the birth of Jesus Christ. In the language of the Church, Christmas is about the incarnation (literally, “putting skin on”).
Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, that he was born to be our substitute under the Law of God.
Jesus would then grow up and live a perfect life in order to be our righteousness by faith.
Then Jesus would die on the cross to forgive all the sins of all people of all time.
Three days later Jesus would rise from the grave showing that we, too, will rise from the grave one day.
And forty days after that, Jesus ascended into heaven with the promise that he would come back to take all believers in him to paradise forever.
And that brings us to the reason for the weeks leading up to Christmas.
The four weeks before Christmas are called, in the language of the Church, Advent. This word means “coming.”
It is a time for Christians to look ahead, anticipating, and preparing for the Second Coming of Christ.
You and I, who believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, are sent to tell the Gospel of Jesus to everyone we meet.
We are, in this sense, apostles.
The apostles of old did this “with great power” and “great grace was upon them all.”
This great power and great grace comes from the Holy Spirit, and is promised to us as well!
“You will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself” (Acts 2:38-39).
As we now head into the Advent season, anticipating and preparing for our celebrations of Christ, I pray you will join my family as we give testimony to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Heavenly Father, you have called the Church to give testimony to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We pray for great power as we do so, and that great grace will be upon all who receive our testimony. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
©2017 True Men Ministries