Lack of Fear The Women at the Tomb
Lesson Verse Matthew 28:1-7
I know this is an Advent study for Christmas. This is also the story of fear, how it came into the world and how Jesus, even before He was born, worked to eliminate fear from our lives forever. In order to fulfill God’s call on your life, you must first learn to control your fear and strengthen your faith. Overcoming your fear to do as God asks may reward you in ways you can’t imagine, just like the women at the tomb!
- When Adam & Eve ate the fruit, they not only sinned, they brought fear into the world
- From the beginning, the message of Jesus has been “Fear Not!”
- With the resurrection of Jesus, not only are our sins forgiven, our fear has been eliminated
When Adam & Eve ate the fruit, they not only sinned, they brought fear into the world
Many people think Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge, a tree whose fruit gave the two of them wisdom. They did not. Adam and Eve ate fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good from Evil. The fruit gave the two of them discernment. I believe before they ate the fruit, Adam and Eve did not understand the difference e good and bad. After creating everything, God looked at His creation and declared it all GOOD! To Adam and Eve, everything was good. Like very small children, they had no understanding of bad.
Now, I know God told them not to eat the fruit of the one tree, however, when someone else came along and said it was alright to eat the fruit, they accept his opinion. Much like children following the instructions of adults even when those children have been told not to, Adam and Eve simply didn’t know any better.
Once they ate the fruit, Adam and Eve could see and feel evil. Where once everything was good, suddenly they saw things that were not good at all, things that were very bad. Eating the fruit didn’t simply bring sin into the world. Eating the fruit brought FEAR into the world and with fear came sin. Sin does not exist on its own. Sin is a powerful symptom of fear. How do we know they were suddenly afraid? Scripture tells us right after eating the fruit, Adam and Eve covered their nakedness because they were ashamed and when they heard someone walking in the garden, they hid because they were afraid.
Once Adam and Eve ate the fruit, once fear and sin had been released into the world, the books of the Old Testament are filled with stories of people being overcome by their fear and, as a reaction to their fear, sinning.
From the beginning, the message of Jesus has been “Fear Not!”
Each time a person encounters an angel in the birth story, the first words the angel says to them is, “Fear Not!” or don’t be afraid or some other variation. Even before Jesus was born, His story was one of faith, not fear. Jesus came to eliminate, not just your sin but also the fear that often causes you to sin.
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus shares a message of hope, telling people not to be afraid, not to worry about anything. His message was meant to strengthen your faith and turn your energy and faith to working for the Kingdom of God. Jesus offered ways to help you grow spiritually and focus on God’s call on your life.
With the resurrection of Jesus, not only are our sins forgiven, our fear has been eliminated
Finally, the story comes full circle. When the women arrived at the tomb on Resurrection Sunday, they find Jesus is gone and an angel is waiting for them with a message, “Fear Not! He is not here. He is Risen.” The first words that announced the coming of the Baby Jesus were Fear Not. The first words heard by the women following Jesus’ resurrection were Fear Not!
On Easter Sunday, the women and the world learned that with the resurrection of Jesus, not only was your sin eliminated but your fear had also been eliminated. You have no reason to be afraid any longer.
Faith Vs Fear
The opposite of fear is not courage. The opposite of fear is faith. You can be very afraid and still do something courageous. The way to eliminate your fear, or at least control your fear is to strengthen your faith. You do this through prayer, reading Scripture, Bible studies, church, fellowship with other Christians, and with your family.
You are the heart of your family. You have an obligation to help them grow in faith so all of you become stronger and less fearful. It is important to clarify the difference between guilt and fear so you are able to recognize when your fear is out of control and take steps to overcome it. You must also remain strong in faith to help your family overcome any fear they might have. It can be difficult, I know. You are often concerned about your children and this can grow into fear. Recognize when this is happening so you can stop it right away.
Discover ways to identify your fear, grow your faith, and use that faith to conquer your fear. Then you are able to grow into the Empowered Woman God sees!
Christmas comes at the end of the year & this is the perfect time to consider the message of Fear Not! It’s too easy to live in fear. Fear is sneaky. You don’t always realize how frightened you are, especially if this is a normal way of life for you. Time to overcome fear. Time to step out boldly. Time to strengthen faith and say’ “Here I Am, Lord!”
How can you overcome the fear in your life?
How can you give yourself the gift of faith?
Lack of Status The Shepherds
Lesson Verse Luke 2:8-20
On the night Jesus was born, the angel appeared to one of the most under appreciated groups in the community. The angel had appeared first to Zechariah, a priest. Then to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Then to Joseph, husband of Mary and father on Earth of Jesus. The three of them are held in high regard. We understand why the angel appeared to all of them, why the angel had a message for them. Why did God send His angel to the shepherds? For me, this is the most important appearance of all.
- The shepherds were considered unclean
- They lived on the fringe of society
- The shepherds were welcomed at the stable
The shepherds were considered unclean
The shepherds lived outside of town, staying with their sheep. They lived and worked with animals so the shepherds were considered unclean. They were not allowed to associate with other people in the community because they were unclean. If they touched someone else, it would make that person unclean, a condition that could only be corrected through a cleansing ritual. Therefore, the shepherds kept to themselves.
They lived on the fringe of society
Like most people who are scorned and held in low regard, the shepherds lived on the fringe of society. They stayed with their sheep, keeping them safe from harm. Living on the fringe, the shepherds might not have known much about their faith. We don’t know what their background might be. Did they come from a family of shepherds? Did they have no family? Did their family stay with them? Shepherds didn’t seem to associate with the people in the cities. They stayed out in the wilderness where their sheep could find food and water. The shepherds never left their sheep, allowing them to protect their flock from any harm.
The shepherds were welcomed at the stable
I imagine the shepherds hesitated to go into town. The angel, however, told them where they would find this very special child so they went to see Him. If there had been room at the Inn, if Mary had given birth to the baby in a room there, the shepherds might not have felt comfortable going inside. They might nave been stopped from entering. The baby was born in a stable, though, as place the shepherds felt very comfortable in. Not only did they feel comfortable entering the stable, they found they were welcomed by Mary and Joseph.
Even as a new born child, Jesus was able to reach out to the lowest in society and the highest, with the Kings. Everyone was welcome into the presence of the Child.
Faith Vs Fear
All of us find ourselves in situations where we feel intimidated. Your fear in the situation, the people may overcome your faith in yourself. You might have a strong desire to simply stay home. I’m sure some of the shepherds hesitated to seek the newborn child. They found comfort in the hills with their sheep. Then they took a breath and stepped out to see this baby for themselves. And what a wise decision that turned out to be? Who knows how their lives were impacted by their encounter with the Christ Child.
Like the shepherds, you have no idea what you might encounter when you step out of your comfort zone this Holiday season. Even if you don’t have a life changing moment like the shepherds, you may experience something you never imagined happening. None of us know what awaits us on the other side of the door, the other side of our comfort zone. Like the shepherds, you need to step out in faith, having confidence in, if not yourself, then the Lord who only wants the best for you.
The shepherds were outsiders yet God, through the angels, invited them to be among the first to see the Christ Child. Leaving the safety and comfort of the fields, they took a bold step and went to find the Child.
You may find God calling you to go somewhere outside your comfort zone or to do something that makes you uncertain. Time to take a breath and step out boldly!
The lives of the shepherds had to have been changed by their encounter with Jesus. Such a small act had such a deep impact on our society. Even as an infant, Jesus was in the company of everyone in society, even those seen as outcasts or those on the fringe.
Your life may be changed by stepping out into the world and going where God leads. This doesn’t mean He is going to send you anywhere dangerous just somewhere outside your comfort zone. Perhaps a women’s group in another church or working at a shelter. Wherever it might be, you can rest assured you never go alone. Just like the shepherds, wherever God leads you, you always find Jesus there!
How Much Are You Worth to God?
I mean it. How much do you think you are worth to God? Yes, it’s easy to recite the verse above that tells you that God takes care of the needs of sparrows and you are worth more than them so He will take care of you. Reciting the verse, knowing the verse, however, is not the same as believing the verse.
The Lord sees to the needs of every creature on Earth and this includes YOU! You are made in His image. His Son died for YOU! Why would you think for a moment that there is ANYTHING He wouldn’t do for you, as long as it was in keeping with His rules?
No parent wants to see one of their children suffering. This is true for God as well. He doesn’t want to see you suffer. He doesn’t like to see so much stress in your life. He wants to help you ease your stress, to help you enjoy the season. Remember the sparrows and know that He cares for you even more than He does them.
Lord Grant Me Peace!
You may find yourself saying this, or some version of this statement, throughout the Holiday season. You must remember that you already have His peace within you. In the Gospel of John, during the Last Supper, Jesus told His disciples that He was leaving them 3 things: A Helper, in the form of the Holy Spirit, His joy, and His peace, which He told us He was giving us but not as the world gives.
When someone gives you something, they hand it to you. It exists outside of you, in the physical world. Jesus gives you His peace, not outside of you but within you. You already have the peace of Christ within you, waiting to serve you in a way that “transcends all understanding,” guarding your heart and mind.
Unfortunately, you may be fighting against this peace. You let the chaos of the world affect your life rather than allowing the peace of Christ to guide you, comfort you. It’s time for you to get control of your life and feelings. When things seem out of control, find a quiet place. Yes, I know it is difficult but there must be SOMEWHERE you can hide or go where no one else wants to follow. Take deep breaths. Feel yourself relax and the stress leave your body. Then allow the peace that lives, all the time deep within you, come to the surface, allowing you to focus and continue with your Holiday and regular activities.