But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name Him Immanuel, which is translated “God is with us” (Matthew 1:20-23, HCSB).
There are a great many enemies of the Christian soul. Some enemies are obvious some are quite subtle, often not easily recognizable. These enemies of the soul would rob us of the joy of being followers of Christ. They keep us from enjoying the “full life” or the “abundant life” that is found in Christ.
Pride, selfishness, conceit, bitter spirits, apathy, and lack of spiritual disciplines are examples of obvious enemies to our souls. There is one enemy which probably inflicts more individuals than we care to admit and is very subtle – Fear.
As the angels appeared to Mary, Joseph and the shepherds we find this command in every encounter–“Do not be afraid.” In fact the command not to fear is a repeated theme throughout scripture. Did you know that the phrase “Fear not” appears over 289 times in the Bible and the phrase “Do not be afraid” appears over 233 times? In most instances it is a word of confidence spoken to God’s people in the midst of his call to obedience and trust.
Not all fear is bad; in fact fear can be beneficial. However, for most of us, fear is toxic and is birthed out of an insecure view of the future producing self-protection.
If we choose not to be held captive to fear, what do we put in its place? Faith. The response of Mary, Joseph and the shepherds says a great deal about their faith. Here is an important life principle, how we respond to life’s issues says as much about what we believe about God.
Undergirded in faith is an understanding of God’s sovereignty. When we live our lives in righteous obedience we do not have to live in fear because he is our God–the sovereign one.
Written by Jay Vineyard
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