Wednesday, December 21, 2016

And the Angel Said Do Not Be Afraid…

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

It's Christmas season!  For some it is a season of joy and for others it is a time of frustration filled with fears.  Are you fearing the Christmas season?  Many walk around with fears dancing in their heads as they think about such things as ...
  • Gifts to buy and money to spend!
  • Crowded schedules of places to go and people to see.
  • Loneliness of the heart as they think of loved ones so missed.
We too often dismiss our fears with clichés such as "Keep the faith!" or "Jesus is with you!"  Fears are not so easily erased away with clichés.  Max Lucado says this concerning our fears: "Satan's modus operandi is fear.  To manipulate you with the mysterious, to taunt you with the unknown.  Fear of death, fear of failure, fear of God, fear of tomorrow - his arsenal is vast.  His goal?  To create cowardly, joyless souls."
Left to ourselves fears overwhelm us.  Left to God He drives them from our minds giving us a spirit of power, love and a sound mind.  And so from the scriptures we find God moving toward us with the hopes and fears of all the years being met in the Christ.
Zacharias…Do Not Be Afraid to Receive God’s Answer to Prayer - But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John.  [middle name: "The", last name: "Baptist".]
Zacharias was a god-fearing man who served as a priest in the temple. He and his wife Elisabeth (who was Jesus' mom Mary's cousin) were older in age. And while he is in the temple performing his priestly duties, an angel appears to Zacharias. The normal response in the Bible, when a person recognizes an angel, is one of fear, as opposed to many of today's popular TV or movies versions of angels.  One of the primary responsibilities of angels is to serve God by announcing or executing judgment.   So it is no wonder that Zacharias would have been fearful. Yet here the angel tells him to "fear not". Why not? "For thy prayer is heard." Zacharias and his wife were going to have a baby in answer to their prayer. It was a miracle for them to have a baby, so Zacharias was doubtful in Luke 1:18 - :Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.  As a result of his doubt, Zacharias wasn't able to speak for 9 months until his son, John the Baptist was born. M. Zacharias' answer to prayer would be no ordinary baby; he would become the forerunner for the Messiah Jesus who would be born 6 months later, in an even bigger miracle, to a virgin.
How many times do we worry and fear and doubt about things that we instead should trust God in? The remedy for this type of anxiety is to pray - because God answers prayer.  If God can answer Zacharias' prayer for a miraculous birth at an old age, he certainly can answer our prayers regarding the things that concern us.
Scripture to Claim
Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  Hebrews 4:16

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