Thursday, December 24, 2009

"Do Not Be Afraid"

Fear…if we are honest, most of us would have to admit, at least on occasion, to succumbing to the stomach-churning emotion of fear. It could be anything from realizing you’ve locked your keys in the car to receiving a pink slip, or learning you or a loved-one have an incurable form of cancer. The list of fear-causers is endless, and the assault is fairly regular.

As you think of the Christmas story recorded in Matthew and Luke, you will notice Joseph, Mary and the shepherds were confronted with situations that brought such unsettled feelings. However, the word from the Lord through his heavenly messengers – in every case - was “Do not be afraid”:

"Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:18-21).

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS
(Luke 1:26-31).

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:8-12).

If there is a message our world needs to hear today, it is this one: “Do not be afraid”. As believers and possessors of God’s “great and precious promises (2 Peter 1:4), we can cling to these assurances during times when life threatens to overwhelm us. And as God grants peace to us when we totally depend on him, perhaps others will see the difference he makes in our lives. We may then have an opportunity to share with them God’s message of love that “casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).

As we ponder the message of Jesus’ birth, may we recall that a very real part of the Christmas story is “Do not fear.” And it’s true today because Jesus in near!

Wishing you a blessed Christmas…lefthandrightbrain:)