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Defeating The Fears That Hold Me Back

It is a significant fact that at the first Christmas four times the phrase, “Do not be afraid”, is used. The angels had to say it to Mary, to Joseph, to the shepherds, and to a priest name Zechariah. Four times in the Christmas story God says, “Don’t be afraid”.

Today we know the news of the birth of Jesus Christ as good news because we know what’s going to happen.  But it wasn’t good news to the people who heard it for the first time.  In fact, it scared everybody to death.  Maybe you don’t realize this, but in the first story everybody was afraid.  Mary was afraid, Joseph was afraid, Herod was afraid, the shepherds were afraid, Zechariah… everybody.  The Bible tells us the entire city of Jerusalem panicked with the news that the Messiah had been born.

Every one of the main characters had to deal with a different kind of fear.  What is interesting is that two thousand years later we have the exact same five fears that they dealt with in the very first Christmas.  

In many ways 2016 was a year of fear.  It was a tough year.  Everybody agree with that?  You look at the headlines last year and it seemed like every week was a terrorism attack around the world.  There’s Zinka virus.  There are mass shootings in schools and other places.  There’s racial tension.  There’s injustice.  There’s violence in the street.  There are civil wars in the Middle East, and then the biggest refugee crisis in our lifetime.  Right now millions and millions and millions of people will not be home for Christmas because they’ll be in refugee camps.

But the message of Christmas is this:  Don’t be afraid. It is not God’s will for you to walk around being afraid of anything.
 
Identifying the Fears of the First Christmas

1.    Mary had to face the fear of inadequacy – Luke 1:29-34

Mary is told she will be the mother of Jesus.  She is a teenager, uneducated, engaged to a man named Joseph, and she is pregnant. If that wasn’t scary enough how do you explain to your family and friends you are a pregnant virgin? On top of all this she was given the responsibility to raise the Son of God. Who wouldn’t feel inadequate?
    
2.    Joseph had to face the fear of disapproval – Matthew 1:18-20

His fiancé says she’s pregnant and claims God is the father.  How do you explain that to this small community, to your family, and friends?

3.    The shepherds faced the fear of sudden change – Luke 2:8-10

The shepherds were out in the fields watching their flocks the night Jesus was born.  Watching sheep is a pretty non-stressful job. All of a sudden the sky lights up brilliantly and is filled with angels singing. They’ve never seen angels. It scared them to death because their plans for a quiet evening were shaken up.  There was a sudden change.

4.    King Herod faced the fear of losing control – Matthew 2:1-3

Herod was the king of Judea and was hated by the Jews.  He was paranoid of losing his throne.  When he hears that Jesus “the king of the Jews” is being born he freaks out. So he orders the death of every baby in Israel under two years of age to try to prevent Jesus from being born.  

5.    Zechariah faced the fear of being disappointed – Luke 1:11-13

One day while he was in the temple, an angel of the Lord appeared to him and told him that he and Elizabeth his wife would have a baby.  They both were older and had pretty much given up hope of having a child.

How Can I Defeat The Fears That Hold Me Back

1.      Surrender my life completely to God every day! – Luke 1:38; Job 11:11-18

2.      Stop listening to the voices of fear – Romans 14:23

3.      Fill my heart with music that praises God – Colossians 3:16

4.      Base my hope on the promises of God – Luke 1:45; Psalm 56:3-4; Hebrews 2:14-15

Merry Christmas everyone from all of us here at Victory!