Luke – Doors Wide Open!
What do we fear most? Many of us have real fears such as the fear of heights, the fear of birds (cough, me), the fear of losing what you have obtained in this life, the fear of losing family members, the fear of not being able to pay all your bills on time, the fear of doing anything for the first time and the fear of embarrassment. From poor to rich, all humans have fears.
A little fear is good. It keeps us from doing things that are not good for us. The fear of death might keep us from jumping off a building unassisted. The fear of personal injury of crashing our vehicles might cause us to be more alert on the highways as we drive with others who seem to have no fear.
Fear can be coupled with respect for those who know more than you know. This is also a healthy fear so that you don’t go beyond limits of what you do not know and get into trouble. For example, when we were younger we did what our parents told us to do for fear of the punishment and/or the consequences of our actions of misbehavior. Our parent’s love and care for us caused them to set limits for our behavior. Our fear of the consequences of misbehaving coupled with our love and respect for our parents guided our decision making. Sometimes, we failed and learned from disobedience. Most times we learned from doing what was right and good for all.
In this same vein of thinking, we fear God with awe and respect for Who He is. We know He can do anything. He created the world. He created us. Nothing is impossible with God. Mary feared God as she fell to her knees. God’s angel immediately assured her with, “Don’t be afraid”. She rose to her feet in awe and respect for God’s message telling her she would carry the Son of God in her womb. Joseph’s fear when visited in a dream by God, coupled with awe and respect for God message and assignment caused him to take care of Mary despite what others in their community might think of this arrangement. Did God choose this couple because of their awe and respect for Him?
The shepherds fell to their knees in fear of the great light produced by the armies of angels who announced the arrival of the long awaited Messiah. The message got them back up on their feet, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” Awe and respect caused them drop everything and go see. Did God announce the great arrival of His Son to mere shepherds, the poorest of the poor, because of their awe and respect for Him?
While fear seems to drive us to our knees, awe and respect of God pulls us to our feet with His message of “Fear not, don’t be afraid” and gets us going because of our love and devotion for God. Trust and obedience to God seems to trump all our fears. Is that why God always opens with, “Fear not?”
These shepherds are good examples for us to imitate today. They received by faith the message God sent them and then responded with immediate obedience.
Luke 2, NLT
The Birth of Jesus
At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. 2 (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. 4 And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. 5 He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.
6 And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. 7 She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.
The Shepherds and Angels
8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,
and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.
When God comes to us and asks us to do something, say something and be His messenger of hope, love and forgiveness, we will have human fears. But our awe, respect, and reverence for God will trump our fears when we trust and obey. Fear not…
Dear Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior,
It seems whenever you ask us to join you in your work we fear first. We are mere humans. But you know that, and you assure us with fear not. Your promises are true and unchanging. You prove your promises over and over in our lives. Where you guide us you provide us with all we need to accomplish what you have asked us to be and do. Fear diminishes as we trust and obey. Thank you for always being with us. Help us to “fear not”, get up and get going for today.
In Jesus Name, Amen