But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord."
-- Luke 2:10-11
Wow! What amazing things could happen in our lives if we would continue to stand on these words today. What was the first thing the angel told the shepherd? "Do not be afraid"! This command is still valid today. We are charged to not be afraid. Fear is faith in reverse. Fear opens the door to our enemy.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
-- 2 Timothy 1:7
God didn't create us with a "fear gene". Fear didn't enter into the garden until sin entered in. Fear is from the enemy, pure and simple. The first time we find fear in the Bible is after Adam and Eve ate the fruit they had been commanded not to eat. Suddenly, when they heard God walking through the garden, the God who they had communed with daily before, they hid themselves because they were ashamed and afraid. I hear people say that a healthy dose of fear is good. I disagree. Now, I'm not saying throw caution to the wind. But, it isn't fear that keeps me from stepping off the roof of a tall building, it's wisdom.
God didn't give us a spirit of fear. What kind of spirit were we given? One of Power, of Love and of a Sound Mind.
The next thing the angel told the shepherds was, "I bring you good news"! That's what the word "gospel" means; good news. So, what is good news? Well, if you're poor, the good news is, you don't have to be poor anymore! If you're sick, the good news is you don't have to be sick anymore! If you're lost, the good news is Jesus died to save you!
In a nutshell, the good news is that we have been redeemed from the curses. Which ones? All of them!
Notice that the good news was of "great joy". I think this is a key that we often overlook. How many Christians do you see that look down in the mouth, or even downright angry most of the time? Where is their joy? Have they really received the good news? I think that we often miss out on the blessings of God because we let the enemy take our joy.
The fact of the matter is, I've had a rough year. In fact, I've had a rough couple of years.
I had massive plumbing issues at my house that resulted in literally hundreds of dollars a month in water use and over a thousand dollars in plumber charges... My HVAC unit went out resulting in electric bills of several hundred dollars a month of inefficiency, and then thousands of dollars for the purchase and installation of a new unit... My son and I were involved in a car accident last December in which the car was totaled... The clutch went out on my other car and had to be replaced, so I was without transportation for several weeks... My younger sister was involved in a head-on collision between the van she was riding in and a cement truck. She suffered massive internal injuries, a broken leg, a broken hand and spent 6 weeks in the hospital... My mother has developed Alzheimer's disease... My older sister underwent emergency gallbladder surgery at the same time my younger sister was in the hospital from her accident... My bank account was frozen due to a legal battle resulting in bounced checks and multiple overdrawn fees (even though the money was in there when I spent it!)... As I type this, my puppy is lying beside me recovering from multiple surgeries after being hit by a car earlier this week.
Now, here's the deal: I could cry and moan and whine to everyone about my circumstances. Or, I could stand on God's word and know that this too shall pass. I could praise him in all things. You see, a lot of people are fair-weather Christians. We love God and have faith in him when things are going great. But, how do you react when the storms come? We were never promised there wouldn't be any storms.
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.-- John 16:33
The way I see it, it's a matter of focus.We will have tribulation.We live in a cursed world. But, we are to be of good cheer because Jesus has overcome the world! The victory is ours! The battle has already been won! But, what do we do? We allow ourselves to have a pity party when all along God is saying: "Be of good cheer. None of these things can harm you. My son, Jesus, has overcome the world!"
No matter what, I won't allow the enemy to steal my joy. My son and I walked away from that accident. Tina is out of the hospital and you would never know she was so close to death. Pam is fine after her surgery. I have been showered with gift cards and food and an amazing outpouring of love and support from friends, co-workers and church family that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt is the hand of God on my life. I refuse to fear, for God's perfect love casts out fear!
On this Christmas Day, I wish you peace and joy. I wish you rest in the sure knowledge that Jesus is our savior. He has saved us, not only from eternal death and destruction, but from the troubles of this world. He has asked us to cast all of our cares on him, because he cares for us.
Father, I praise you. I know that with every trial the enemy brings my way, every test he brings to challenge my faith, you have already provided a means of escape for me. You have proved it over and over again in my life. You have brought me through these adversities alive, healthy, happy and blessed -- when others called it "luck", I told them it was the hand of God. Thank you Father, for the many blessings you have given and continue to give, but most of all for the greatest gift of all -- your son, Jesus.