The angel said, “Fear not…” (Luke 2:10)

So for me it is way too early for Christmas music, it’s not even Thanksgiving yet! But today’s “365 Days Free From Fear” post comes from the story of Christ’s birth. It may not yet be the season for Christmas music, but we can for sure dive into this story and see what it says about living free from fear!

Luke 2:10-11 says:

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord

Mary was understandably afraid when an angel appears to her. I think I would pee my pants if that happened. It is interesting to note though, that the angel doesn’t come to destroy, but he is there to bring good news, the good news, that the Messiah, the Chosen One, the Savior, is to come. Not only that, but Mary has been chosen as the virgin to carry Jesus Christ as her son.

Often when angels appear to a person in the Bible, the first thing they say is do not be afraid! It must be a pretty incredible sight to behold an angel with physical eyes, and tangibly see that angels are real, and then to realize there are thousands upon thousands of them at God’s command.

We have no reason to be afraid because when we have a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ, we become a part of His family. John 1:12 tells how we become children of God when we believe in Him and receive Him. As a part of God’s family, we don’t have to be afraid of anything, angel or enemy, because God is in control and God is our Protector, Healer, Guide, Savior, Lord, Messiah, Redeemer, and much more. We do not have to be afraid.

“Do not fear the people…” (Numbers 14:9)

“Only do not rebel against the Lord; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them” (Numbers 14:9, NASB).

How easy and prevalent it is to take our eyes off of God and to “fear the people of the land.” This could be fearing the people in our workplace, in our classroom, in our home, in our friend groups. This fear leads us to inaction. This fear is often used by Satan to make stale and weak our faith in Jesus Christ by causing us to fear man more than we fear God.

Have you ever been afraid of what other people will think of you if they knew that you were a Christian? I have. I spent much of my middle and high school years afraid of the “people of the land” and not sharing my faith or really even living my faith out well because I didn’t want to be labeled as weird, I didn’t want to have to stand up for my faith. My faith was weak at this point because of my fear.

And yet God is patient and kind and loving. And God’s strength is made perfect in my weakness (2 Cor. 12:9). Through my weak faith and my fear God worked and moved in me to dedicate my life to knowing Him and making Him known. God moved in my life to lead me to fall in love with teaching others about Him and to fall in love with proclaiming Him as often as I possibly can. It is not easy, conquering this fear of the people of the land, but it is worthwhile.

Also, conquering this fear is not a one time feat, but is in fact an ongoing, situational fear that must be reconquered every time the opportunity presents itself. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe I’m the only one that’s experienced this. But sometimes no matter how many battles have been won, when an opportunity presents itself where I could stand for my faith and speak out in a loving way, or I could be silent, there is a battle within every time. I still battle that fear, and I’m assuming I’m not alone. But, we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength (Phil. 4:13). Included in this “all things” is the conquering of the fear of the people of the land.

So don’t be afraid of what people will think of you. It is wonderful and joy-filled and awesome to be in the family of God through faith in Jesus Christ, and to have God’s Holy Spirit living inside of us. Live that out and do not be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:16)!

“Fear Him alone…” (Deuteronomy 13:4)

You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. (Deuteronomy 13:4, NASB)

While many of the passages we have looked at describe what not to be afraid of, this verse tells us there is a Person to fear. All throughout the Bible we are called to fear the Lord. For example, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7); “Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 10:12); etc.

The key to understanding the fear of the Lord is that this “fear” equals reverential awe. We are in awe of who God is, in awe of His power and might and the depth and breadth of His love. We are in awe of the grace of God and the wonder of God and the joy of God.

When you fear God alone and nothing or no one else, that is when you will experience the joy and freedom in Christ. When you recognize who God is, understand what He did in sending His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for your sins and for mine on the cross, and then raised Him again three days later…it is powerful!! Nothing in this world compares to the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ and making Him known. Paul says as much in Philippians 3:8 when he writes,

“What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.”

If we were to live in fear, or awe, of God and recognize the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord, and if we were to consider as garbage or trash or rubbish all the things the world considers as success and worth and value, then life would look much different and honestly much better.

 

A life spent pursuing Christ instead of pursuing the passing pleasures of this world is a life well-lived.

“So don’t be afraid…” (Matthew 10:31)

So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10:31

This passage comes after Jesus described how two sparrows are sold for a cheap price (one penny), and yet our Father in heaven cares for each individual sparrow.

The idea here is that if our Creator God cares about a sparrow, which monetarily is worth little, and probably has little impact on the surrounding world, how much more does He care about you, an individual created in His image?

There is a lot of news and media attention right now with the inoperable brain tumors and right to die campaigns. But, what if we understand that every single person on the face of the earth, every single human being whether healthy, deformed, maimed, in pain, with cancer, with no limbs, with limited function, with psychological disorders, with emotional disorders, with mental disorders, is made in the image of God and therefore contains inherent worth and value.

You matterYou have valueYou are loved. Not because of who you are, but because of Whose you are!

Our Heavenly Father desires relationship with us because He created us in His image for a purpose. There is a reason we are where we are, we are who we are, and we are going through what we’re going through. Nothing is without purpose. But a life lived not understanding there is a purpose, not understanding you do matter, will probably lead down a path toward wanting the right to die, or squandering whatever life you do have.

Life lived without purpose seems to me to be a low quality kind of life. Not the kind of life that Jesus promises to those who know and believe in Him. He says, “…I have come that they may  have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10, NIV).

When we understand how much our God loves us, how He desires to have relationship with us, we have no reason to be afraid. We don’t have to be afraid because of His grace and love and truth. We don’t have to be afraid because of His protection and forgiveness and healing. We don’t have to be afraid because of Who He is.

“God has not given us a spirit of fear…” (2 Timothy 1:7)

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

This is a simple and straightforward verse. When we are in relationship with God, through faith in Jesus Christ, we are able and equipped to live in the truth of this verse.

What does it look like to not live in a spirit of fear or timidity? We are able to live in a spirit of power. We don’t have to be afraid of anything or anyone. We don’t have to fear the opinions of others, gossip, expectations, etc. We can live in power, through the power and strength of God, our Creator, Savior, and Lord.

What does it look like to live with a spirit of love? I think maybe it looks like giving people the benefit of the doubt, treating them like Jesus treated people, and showing love even when we don’t feel like it. If you were to go through Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the Bible and look at how Jesus Christ treated people, it is incredible! He showed so much love and care and compassion, and so much purpose and intentionality in relationships with others, always desiring to give them what they need (though it wasn’t always what they wanted!!).

Moving on, what does it look like to live with a spirit of self-discipline? I think this is pretty much what it says. We live a life of discipline. This doesn’t mean anything legalistic, but we use our time wisely, are good stewards of all the resources we are given, and live a life committed to walking in God’s ways.

What does your life look like right now? Does it look more like a life living through a spirit of fear? Or a spirit of power and love and self-discipline? What choices or decisions maybe need to change in your life to begin living through a spirit of power and love and self-discipline?

“Be strong…do not fear” (Deut. 31:6)

The last sermon series Moses preached is caught up in the book of Deuteronomy. Chapter 31 is one of the last chapters of Deuteronomy, and some of the last words Moses speaks are these:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

It is hard to think of more comforting and applicable words than these as Moses steps down, Joshua steps up, and the Israelites are getting ready to claim all the land that God had promised them would be theirs. Many of you probably know the story… Moses had led the Israelites out of Egypt under the power of God, and yet the Israelites were still fearful and full of grumbling and complaining. So that entire generation of Israelites dies off, and Moses himself is not able to enter the Promised Land either.

What if we were to be strong and courageous because God goes with us? No matter where we are, what we do, or who we are, God is with us. Jesus’ name is Immanuel, which means “God with us.” God is personal. God is real. God is powerful.

 

Your worst nightmare. Your best day ever. Everything in between. God is there. You don’t have to be afraid of what will happen when the credit card bill comes, or when you finally get that phone call you’ve been dreading. You don’t have to be afraid because God is there.

When you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ (which is possible when you confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that He died and rose again for your sins (Rom. 10:9)), then you not only experience God with you, but His Holy Spirit actually living inside of you.

When we understand what it means to have God’s Spirit inside of us, and we live with that present reality, it completely changes the way we face our days and circumstances. Believe and trust in Jesus Christ. Faith in Him destroys all fear because He is powerful, loving, grace-filled, full of mercy, forgiveness, truth. You can trust Him. Don’t neglect the power of what can happen in our lives when we live free from fear because God is with us.

Remember that God is with us. God is right there with us. God goes with us. God will not leave us or forsake us because He is with us. It’s a good idea to keep repeating this to yourself daily, ‘cus it can sometimes be easy to forget! Remember that God goes with you :)

**Just a warning, trusting in God does not mean we can do whatever we want. We can live free from fear, but we also have to make sure that we use wisdom and intelligence. God enables us to live free from fear, and He also gives us a brain to make intelligent choices. We can use our faith and our brains to live a full life walking in God’s ways.

Serve Him without fear (Luke 1:74)

Obviously doing something without fear is easier said than done. Can we really not have fear? Where does fear come from? Is it healthy? Is it good?

What are you afraid of? Why are you afraid of that?

 

I think there are many facets to fear. I’m sort of discovering this as we go on this journey of 365 Days Free From Fear.

As we go on this journey, what I’m discovering is the truth of 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (NLT).

So, when we have a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ, we do not live in a spirit of fear, because we have the capacity to live in power, love, and self-discipline. We don’t have to be afraid. We can serve God with no fear.

What might this look like? Maybe it means standing up for your faith in God even when your co-workers don’t like Christians. Maybe it means speaking up when you’re hanging around the “water cooler” and your co-workers are gossiping about someone, or tearing down someone, or making jokes at the expense of someone who isn’t there.

Maybe serving God without fear looks like reading your Bible and praying even if people think you’re weird, or that prayer doesn’t work, or that the Bible isn’t really true or really isn’t the Word of God.

Maybe serving God without fear looks like daily living your life in such a way that people notice a difference in you, and when they ask you are able to begin the story of what Jesus Christ has done in you as He transformed you and made you into a new creation who loves and serves Him.

 

I don’t know what serving God without fear looks like for you. I think for me it looks like standing firm in my faith in public and private; not giving in to subtle temptations that distract me from Jesus. It means living a life full of bold love as I’m constantly being transformed by the awesome and incomprehensible and unending grace of God and have the wonderful opportunity to share that grace with everyone I come into contact with.

Why are you fearful? (Mark 4:40)

I’ve missed a few days, huh? Looks like the 365 days might stretch into more than 365 days :) but, we will get them all in, Lord willing!

 

Have you ever gone through something that was outside of your control? Have you been in a situation that was so uncomfortable because there were circumstances going on around you, but you couldn’t really influence them to reach a different outcome?

I think if you’re human, you have experienced you this before. If you’ve ever lived in the Midwest, or driven in the snow and ice in the Midwest, you probably know this feeling well. There are few things that make you feel less in control than driving on ice. When your car starts to slide on the ice, there is nothing you can do. It is beyond your control until the tires can regain some traction in order to steer and regain control.

The disciples in this passage of Mark, in 4:35-40, were following Jesus’ instruction. They were not “outside of God’s will” but were in fact doing exactly what He had asked of them. Sometimes we experience things not because we did something wrong, or sinned, but because we are living in the will of God. Sometimes we encounter storms and trials in life because those are the greatest moments through which we can meet Jesus and actually experience His provision, protection, and love.

Maybe you’re going through a storm right now. Maybe you’re coming out of a storm. Maybe you’re about to head into a storm. I’m not sure what your story is or where you are right now, but wherever you may be, the truth of the matter is this: We never have a reason to be fearful. Why? Because God is with us! Jesus’ name, Immanuel, literally means “God with us” (check out Matthew 1:23).

The way that we can live without fear is through our faith. When our faith is in God, we have no reason to fear. Jesus says in Mark 4:40, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” (HCSB).

Faith in God can destroy any hint of fear of man or circumstance.

So go. Go in faith. Go and live free from fear.

“Do not be afraid, for I am with you” (Genesis 26:24)

I remember as a child when, for whatever reason, I would be afraid of something and would sort of start to panic and freak out and know that I needed to get to a safe place. This could happen in the middle of a night with a scary dream, or even in the middle of the day watching a scary movie or when something just freaky happens. Whatever the case, as a child, I ran to my parents because they were the one’s in my mind who would keep me safe no matter how afraid I felt. We can all remember a time as kids ourselves, or kids in movies or TV shows we’ve seen, when we ran out of our room straight to our parents bed to cuddle with them because we were afraid of something.

Do not be afraidWhat made us not afraid anymore? I think as a kid, when I was next to my parents, I was fearless. Why? Their presence. We run to our parents or guardians or caretakers in these times of fear as children because just being in the presence of someone who has that kind of love and power in our lives is someone we can trust to protect us from fear.

Tonight from the book of Genesis we see the principle of presence driving out fear.

“and the LORD appeared to him that night and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you. I will bless you and multiply your offspring because of My servant Abraham” (Genesis 26:24, HCSB)

We don’t have to live in fear because we can live in the arms of Christ. We can live under His influence, in His presence, abiding in His love and grace and forgiveness. We can walk every single day of our lives in freedom from fear when we recognize the presence of God in our lives.

Are you afraid of something? Are you anxious about something? Are you doubting something? Are you stressed about something? Lay it all at the feet of Jesus, take up His yoke and His burden (Matthew 11:28-30), and live free from that fear.

Begin a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, call on Him as your Savior and Lord, believe that He died and rose again for your sins (Romans 10:9). Experience His salvation and live every day in His presence as His Holy Spirit fills your heart and your life (Acts 1:8) and you begin to live as a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and live out the fullness of life Jesus promises (John 10:10).

 

Live in God’s presence each day. His presence drives out all fear.

 

Whom Should I Fear? (Psalm 27)

This is a pretty famous Psalm, or at least the statement in the Psalm is pretty famous! There have been songs and books and blog posts(!) written about this Psalm.

“The LORD is my light and my salvation–whom should I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life–of whom should I be afraid? . . . Though an army deploys against me, my heart is not afraid . . . Wait for the LORD; be strong and courageous. Wait for the LORD” - Psalm 27:1, 3, 14 (HCSB)

These are just a select few verses from the Psalm, but they embody the idea, whom should I fear?

Ultimately, since Jesus Christ is victorious over sin, death, and hell, we have nothing to be afraid of if we abide in Him. Satan, our Enemy, has no power over us when we trust in Jesus Christ through faith in Him.

If you are living in fear–fear of not having enough money, fear of potentially losing your job, fear of a bad economy, fear of being a parent, fear of what others think of you, fear of failure, fear of being a leader, fear of anything–rest in the Lord. God is the stronghold–He is the foundation we need when life gets hard and He is the foundation we are able to walk confidently on through the good and the bad.

God is always there. That is why we never have to be afraid. God is stronger, mightier, and more faithful than any enemy we could ever have. We can abide in Him, keeping our eyes focused on Him each day instead of our fear.

Replace your “fear” with the heavenly “Father” and your focus will be in the right place. David should have been very afraid when going up against Goliath, but David’s focus was not on how much fear he had toward Goliath; David’s focus was on how much faith he had in God. Place your focus on God and He will lead you and guide you through your fear, and can give you victory over your fear.

Live in freedom. Live in victory. Every day choose to live in relationship with Jesus Christ.