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Written by Nancy Ruegg for “From the Inside Out” @ http://nancyaruegg.com
View original post @ https://nancyaruegg.com/2021/12/02/faith-and-fear/
Faith and Fear
December 2, 2021 by Nancy Ruegg
If asked to name a theme from the Christmas story, most people would probably mention one of these:
Love—expressed by God when he sent his Son to be born a man, then die in our place (John 3:16)
Joy—that the Savior of the world has come (Luke 2:10-11)
Peace—because Jesus is our Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6)
Hope—in the knowledge that our future is secure in heaven, when we believe in Christ (1 Peter 1:3-5)
But another word is mentioned more often in the account than any of the four mentioned above. Perhaps you’ve already discovered this theme:
Mary was greatly troubled when Gabriel appeared. He had to reassure her, “Do not be afraid for you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:29-30).
Joseph received an angelic visitor in a vision. “Do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife,” he was instructed (Matthew 1:20).
The shepherds were terrified when an angel materialized before them. They too heard: “Do not be afraid” (Luke 2:9-10).
I jump and shriek if my husband walks into the room and I haven’t heard him coming. What must it feel like to witness the sudden appearance of an angel?
And just so we understand: Angels are formidable beings—quite different from the delicate, winged creatures or sweet little cherubs often found in paintings or nativity scenes. (See Daniel 10:5-6 for one description of a fearsome angel.)
One of our pastors said Sunday, “In my imagination, I see Gabriel about the size of Duayne Johnson!”
No wonder these Christmas-story participants were afraid, to be confronted with such a large, commanding presence.
But surely the angel’s message of “Do not be afraid”–spoken three times in the narrative–is not just happenstance. Perhaps God would have us learn how to respond to fear from the examples of Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds.
First, Mary would teach us to counter fear with faith.
It’s doubtful the fear brought on by the angel’s appearance just evaporated at his command. Yes, his message contained good news, including great honor for Mary, but it also came with risks: “scandal, misunderstanding, lunacy charges, and possibly stoning.”
Yet this young girl responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled” (Luke 1:38).
Mary demonstrates: Faith and fear can coexist as we exercise the former to control the latter.
Second, Joseph would teach us: “Do it afraid.”
Courage is not the absence of fear; courage acts rightly in spite of fear.
Joseph is a prime example. He’d face scandal himself as news of Mary’s pre-marriage pregnancy spread through Nazareth. Would his neighbors whisper in the shadows as he passed? Might people refuse to employ him as their carpenter? Would his reputation as an honorable man (Matthew 1:19 GWT) be sullied forever? Surely such questions plagued Joseph.
Yet he chose to do the right thing.
Third, the shepherds would teach us to fight fear with truth.
Even while cowering in fear, the shepherds listened to the angel.
“I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all people,” the angel announced. The shepherds’ hearts that had pounded with fear the moment before must have continued racing, in anticipation of what this glad celestial news might be:
I imagine the angel’s voice boomed with emphasis upon each phrase. And now all-out excitement coursed through the shepherds’ veins. Fear had been eradicated by the truth of what God’s messenger had told them.
In our time we’ve no need to wait for an angelic visitation to bring us good news. Our Bibles provide all the truth, wisdom, and encouragement necessary to meet all circumstances—even those that cause fear.
Like Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds, we have a choice: give in to fear and become disheartened, paralyzed, and useless, OR we can exercise our faith to become encouraged, empowered, and useable.
 Patsy Clairmont, Joy Breaks, p. 109.
 Suzanne Eller, A Moment to Breathe, p. 43.
Art & photo credits: http://www.freebibleimages.org; http://www.wikimedia.com; http://www.picryl.com; http://www.pxhere.com; www. rawpixel.com; http://www.pixhere.com.
P.S. (from bruce) When there is no other place to turn…turn to God !! If you’re not a “born again” Christian, is the Holy Spirit urging you to open this link ?? Here is the truth about how God’s grace is received to become a Christian in God’s eyes; through understanding and obeying the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ… https://godsmanforever.com
To my brothers and sisters in Christ, please feel free to share this message of the cross with those in need…
You say you are a “born again” believer… BUT is your soul “ON FIRE” for the Lord ?? If not, open this link – https://godsmanforever.com/2020/08/01/are-you-a-christian-in-gods-eyes-and-on-fire-for-the-lord-or-not/
Picture credit: https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1SQJL_enUS832US832&sxsrf=AOaemvIN02uXezoLUOw6rGQ-lzyUz19vNQ:1638880217750&source=univ&tbm=isch&q=image+1+John+4:18&fir=mco_JkBd1YIyMM%252CaHbglxFIhbAdGM%252C_%253BjfSPLaMsIdGBJM%252CzhioeW4OccB4rM%252C_%253BaTJKlACzMHoSbM%252Cu8Ov2qKe81xE2M%252C_%253Bex1bqG–6j6kNM%252COGJw9Z38XQaJbM%252C_%253BZfILQ-omaFntzM%252CmyR6qGsoKQWioM%252C_%253BmW-5x0UZXjo6iM%252CyAJEEYZ7rW2mBM%252C_%253BqR0jyFDw3iwFCM%252CfJcpv0Zf89PhpM%252C_%253BqEMEcUp8OWjeJM%252CMjpDXcd59ZxCgM%252C_%253B0yEzB2Fq-h16UM%252CEkX897iehSnSBM%252C_%253B4DOTvxYre-UfQM%252CEMXKUmW90vds3M%252C_%253ByoVvv1BXFLfg2M%252C2WeAUPcfXLDzmM%252C_%253BCw3jHPqzVvRFVM%252CrNBMD3pcCweQhM%252C_%253BJjjIoGImHzqShM%252CR2dsbtJxRii-UM%252C_%253BgYZ3cJH6lA3yAM%252CaABJn1y-e3oHWM%252C_%253BzsG52b1DrrZl7M%252CoP0NNzxcMkui3M%252C_&usg=AI4_-kS4FQ584eRSHec7xWXAay4pW6-Ycg&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjl6tTJ2NH0AhWQlYkEHUc1BvkQ7Al6BAgCEEg&biw=1238&bih=927&dpr=1#imgrc=mco_JkBd1YIyMM
In a Christian’s life, there is no room in the same “vessel” for fear, doubt AND faith!
Thank you, Bruce, for reblogging my post! I am honored and praise God for his inspiration behind every post I write.