Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. --Romans 12:11-13
Most people think of St. Nick as a jolly, bearded man who rides around in a sleigh delivering gifts to all good boys and girls. But, he is more than just a children's Christmas legend—he was a genuine man of God. Nicholas was born to wealthy parents in Patara about 270 A.D., and was still very young when they died and left him a fortune. However, he was a humble young man and secretly gave of his wealth to the poor.
Nicholas eventually forsook his wealth to answer the call to ministry, and was soon chosen as bishop of Myra. He was destined to lead the church through the worst tribulation in history. In 303 A.D., during the reign of Roman Emperor Diocletian, Christians were ordered to sacrifice to pagan gods. But Nicholas and thousands more refused to denounce that Jesus Christ is Lord, so they were dragged to prison where they were savagely tortured, beaten senseless, or brutally murdered.
However, their persecution couldn't stamp out Christianity. Instead it spread. After years of imprisonment, they were freed by decree of the new Emperor Constantine. Saint Nicholas was welcomed into his city once again by the people. Although the bishop was beaten, he was not broken. Through the prayers and witness of this faithful soldier, many found salvation in Jesus.
St. Nick's fame still carries faint reminders of this ancient man of God—the red color of his bishop's robes, his lectures to children about good behavior, and his secret gifts of food and money to those in need. Yet if he were alive today, this saint would humbly deflect attention from himself as he did centuries ago, and point people to his Master. Shouldn't you do the same this holiday season?
PRAYER CHALLENGE: Ask God to help you point others to Him. Pray that your faith would be unshakable and that you would relentlessly pursue and confess Christ at all costs.
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