Beyond the Manger Monday #2 (pursuing Advent all year long!)
Many times throughout the Christmas story we hear the Angels say, “Do not be afraid”. This is the greeting to Mary and Joseph before they are asked to do something very challenging in their lives. For Mary it meant dying to self and carrying a child as an unwed mother. For Joseph it meant continuing a commitment to a woman carrying a baby that wasn’t his. Each time the Angel appeared was preceded by the admonition to “Be not afraid.”
Shepherds were solitary creatures who felt more comfortable in the hillsides with their animals, living quiet lives. The angel appeared to them to announce the news and said, “Do not be afraid” then Heavenly hosts belted out glory to God in the highest slicing their silence with singing.
As we get further and further from Christmas and its songs and stories, these words slip further from our minds.
That babe in a manger came in a way that could inspire fear. Sometimes the things God allows into our lives can initially cause us to fear. They can cause us to quake like the shepherds, or take us by surprise like carrying an unexpected, unplanned child or marrying a woman who conceived God’s child.
Matthew 10:31 says, “Do not be afraid you are more valuable to God than a flock of sparrows.” This verse refers to the fact that just as God provides for the Sparrows, he too will provide for us, because we are even more valuable.
The grown up baby Jesus in Matthew reminds us not to be afraid. That baby grew up into a man who was not afraid to say the tough words and love the unlovable people and connect with the sinner while challenging the self righteous. He took on our sin and died on the cross. But when he went to heaven he did not leave us. He said, “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.” ~ Matthew 28:20
God can take what scares us to pieces and give us peace about it. Are you quaking about something in your life? Do you want to move forward but find fear stopping you, chaining you in your tracks? Take a moment to meditate on a few of these verses:
“We can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’”
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
“I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”
“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.”
“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”
—2 Corinthians 4:8-9
POINT TO PONDER: Fear often comes when God has a mission for us to accomplish…could your fears be hindering you from being a blessing to someone somehow? What can you do today…to step out in faith and be freed from your fear?
Catch us on #HOPEscope every Monday – Friday at 7:15am on www.periscope.tv Mondays feature “Beyond the Manger Monday” where we are exploring how to live Advent all year long. (search Connie P. Shoemaker or kissedbycreator)