All Things New - December 4, 2017

"For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power."

- 1 Corinthians 1:17

The preacher just finished his sermon for the morning and proceeded toward the back of the church for his usual greetings and handshaking as the congregation left. After shaking a few adult hands, he came upon the seven-year-old son of one of the deacons of the church, Timmy.

"Good morning, Timmy," the preacher said as he reached out to greet him.

As he was doing do he felt something in the palm of Timmy's hand. "What's this?" the preacher asked.

"Money," said Timmy with a big smile on his face. "It's for you!"

"You don't need to give me your money, Timmy," the preacher answered kindly.

"I want you to have it," said Timmy.

After a short pause Timmy continued, "My daddy says you're the poorest preacher we ever had and I want to help you."

That story makes me laugh because, as a preacher, I've preached some clunkers. Once, as I lamented in a previous devotional, I didn't even preach; I just took one look at the congregation, left the pulpit in a panic, and walked straight out the back door of the church! Other times, I fumbled my words; didn't make my point clearly; or - like the Apostle Paul did in Acts - just went on and on and on (Acts 20:7-12). But, hey, at least I didn't kill a guy. I have that going for me! 

Thankfully, there's something very counterintuitive about the way God works. His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

One Christmas Eve service, several years ago, God showed me something of this. I didn't like my homily (sermon). I wasn't as eloquent as I wanted to be; I didn't sound like any of the preachers I admire; I left the pulpit feeling disappointed, like I wasn't the strong preacher required in that moment. 

And then something amazing happened. A woman came forward. During that very same homily, God stirred her heart to believe the good news of Jesus. She confessed her sins; sought God's forgiveness in Christ; and was born anew on that Christmas Eve! 

Child of God: It's tempting to think that, when it comes to sharing the hope of Jesus, the persuasiveness of the messenger is more decisive than the power of the Message. Thankfully, it's not. While eloquence and sophistication aren't necessarily bad things, they don't make the gospel message any more powerful or effective. It's already the power of God (Romans 1:16).

So, this Advent season, you don't need to be afraid when sharing the message of God's love. In fact, you might be delightfully surprised what God's power will do in the life of someone you love, even - and perhaps especially - in your weakness. 

You're loved. Don't forget it. 

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