The angel reassured them, “Don’t be afraid!” he said, “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior – yes, the Messiah, the Lord – has been born today.” Luke 2:10-11
I LOVE reading the words – Don’t be afraid! They are written all through the Bible. But they are not easy words to understand and obey.
Can you imagine the setting? A peaceful, quiet night where the shepherds are quietly watching over their sheep. The fire is crackling. Sheep are probably pretty quiet with stomachs filled and resting for the evening. The shepherds main concern were wild animals and weather. When suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. And the first words out of the angel’s mouth – Don’t be afraid! Yeah, right!
We simply read Luke 2 as if it all took place during the period it takes to read the words. However, I’m guessing there was a little response from the shepherds when the glory of the Lord surrounded them. I would think it would take a few moments to let the shock of the angel’s appearing register before the message sunk in. But scripture tells us right after the angel’s message, he was suddenly joined by a host of others – the armies of heaven – praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
Can you imagine? God’s armies opened the heavens to celebrate the Messiah’s birth – God’s predestined plan that He would send His Son as our Savior – EVEN BEFORE He created any one of us!! God sent His Son as His gift of saving grace for each one of us. That grace fills us with God’s peace.
These days it seems like there is very little peace on earth good will to men. With the devastating shootings in Connecticut, to international uprisings, fiscal cliffs, divorce, chronic illness, pain, death, loss everywhere you turn – how can God’s Words be – Don’t be afraid – I bring you peace on earth?
I discovered a burglary at work recently. It was very unsettling to know someone is desparate enough to violate someone else’s space and take things that didn’t belong to them. God’s Word is the calm I found after that. Man can’t reassure me that it won’t happen again, but God fills me with His peace and reminds me – Don’t be afraid. One of the visible assurances that I fell to sleep with the first night was hugging a stuffed bear I received from my husband many years ago while I drifted off for a restful night of peace. Hugging the bear reminded me that God holds me tightly in His grip. He doesn’t let go.
John 10:28-29 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and He is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.
If our God who:
- Predestined (knew before hand) that He would send His Son, Jesus to be the Savior for all mankind – whom He had not created yet,
- Created the universe and mankind with a free will to choose to love and obey Him,
- Promises in Romans 8:38-39 that nothing can separate us from His love, and
- Holds us so securely that no one can take us from His hand,
then His words should resound fully in our hearts – Don’t Be Afraid!!!
In John 16, Jesus assures His disciples that there will be peace – in Christ. Just before Jesus was arrested, crucified and resurrected, He shared these words with the disciples:
Then His disciples said, “At last You are speaking plainly and not figuratively. Now we understand that You know everything, and there’s no need to question You. From this we believe that You came from God.” Jesus asked, “Do you finally believe? But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving Me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with Me. I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
The peace from God is eternal. There will still be wars, death, pain, destruction, trials here on earth, but our peace comes from the assurance that Jesus Christ broke the chains of death and is reigning with God in glory. Therefore, Don’t Be Afraid!
I’ve been so blessed by the words of Laura Story’s, Blessings. She was newly married and her husband dealt with a brain tumor. She talks about blessings coming from the trials of life – What if trials of this life – the rain, the storms, the hardest nights are Your mercies in disguise. As the world struggles to cope with the destruction in this world, when we turn to God we will find our hope, joy and peace through His grace and love.
“When Jesus takes your hand, He keeps you tight. When Jesus keeps you tight, He leads you through your whole life. When Jesus leads you through your life, He brings you safely home.” ~ Corrie ten Boom
Praying that you may be filled to overflowing the the Peace of God that comes from the true meaning of Christmas ~ Faye
I recently spent a few hours touring a Holocaust Museum. Holocaust is from a Greek origin meaning “sacrifice by fire.” I’m awed, humbled, and grieved at the atrocities that occurred. We heard a female survivor speak. She was only 5 years old when she was taken to Dachau and later moved to Ravensbrück and Bergen-Belsen. She was 7 years old when Liberation Day came. When the troops came across her emaciated body, they thought she was a baby because of her size. She shared how she survived those difficult days by allowing her mind to be creative and imaginative. She remembers not having energy to move for anything and lying among the dead and dying. She was interned with Anne Frank who died a month before Liberation Day. Her main reason for sharing her story is so that people don’t forget the injustices. So people remember to treat each other with respect and dignity. She realizes that when we forget what has happened in the past, we will be prone to repeat the atrocities again.
I left with many questions – “Why does God allow such wrongs?” “Why don’t I stand up for the person ridiculed?” “Why can’t we stop bullying?” But I was blessed by the strength of the speaker when she told of how her father, who also survived, became a devout Atheist, while she gained her strength to go through life from her belief in God. She reminds me a lot of Corrie ten Boom, who shares the story of meeting one of her concentration camp guards years later and all the anger and hatred came back, but then God reminded her to love and forgive.
In Romans 12, God says,
“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,’ says the Lord. Instead, ‘If your enemies are hungry, feed them.If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.’ Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.”
Seeing history like this is painful and part of me didn’t want to go, but I’m really glad I did. It is a good reminder to Love One Another with God’s Abundant Love and Grace. It’s a painful period of history, but one that teaches us a lot about how to treat others. If you want to learn more, check out these links: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Holocaust Museum St. Louis, or Corrie ten Boom’s story.
I am greatly blessed by God’s amazing gift – the gift of forgiveness and grace. Enjoying His love ~ Faye