Four times in the Gospel record of the great event of Christmas the message is sent from God to man -- "Fear Not." It is the continuing message of God right throughout the Bible, from the Garden of Eden to the Book of Revelation. Eighty times the message comes clear and strong -- "Fear Not." From angels, prophets, apostles, martyrs and Christ Himself comes the command, appeal and exhortation to "Fear Not". Yes, the Bible has as much to say upon the subject of fear and worry as it does on other great truths.
As we contemplate the great story of Christmas within the framework of these two powerful words, the message of God becomes personal. Personal and powerful, because God says to you today "Fear Not." Whatever your situation, here are the reasons why you need not fear!
Fear Not... God Answers Prayer
The first scene that comes before our eyes is the temple at Jerusalem. It is the hour of prayer and the priests are burning incense as part of the worship of God. From all outward appearances it is no different from any other day in the temple (Luke 1:8-10).
A certain priest named Zacharias was engaged in this duty in the Holy Place, whilst outside a multitude of people were praying. Suddenly there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord, who stood on the right side of the altar of incense. Immediately fear came upon him because of this sudden turn of events. Have you ever been frightened when something new and unexpected comes before you? Fear is always active in these circumstances of life.
However, the moment the angel saw what effect his presence had made on Zacharias, his first words were "Fear Not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard." We are told that both he and his wife Elisabeth were getting on in years, and so far they had no children. This fact had been a regular matter for prayer, for God is a specialist in miracles. And now the angel brings the comforting message that their prayers have been heard, and God was about to answer!
God has not promised that He will send an angel to let you know that your prayers have been heard. Such a thing is unnecessary for the Christian today, for the Word of God gives us the assurance that our prayers are heard (I John 5:14). And thousands are proving daily that God still does answer prayer! Have you tried the avenue of prayer as a help in life's many battles? "Fear Not"... God does answer prayer! -- Peter Wade.
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About three weeks ago I read a book about expository preaching and felt-need preaching, in which the author quoted Psalm 119:130, "The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple" (ESV).
It is that word "unfolding" that my mind won't let go. It is rendered "entrance" in the KJV and many other translations, but the AMP, ESV, NASB, and NIV use "unfolding." Some paraphrases are more striking. For example the Message Bible reads "Break open your words" and God's Word uses "Your word is a doorway." The HCSB even renders it "As your words are taught, they give light." In these days of biblical illiteracy, I like that!
I'm not a Hebrew expert, but the reference works tell me the word used here does mean an "'opening' or 'entrance' as of a gate, then a door... and then it means opening, insight, instruction. The word as used here seems to denote the opening or unfolding of the word of God... its being made open to us so that we may perceive its beauty, or may ourselves 'enter' into its meaning, its mysteries, and its beauties" (Barnes). Someone opened a door and light has flooded into the room. That someone may be a teacher or a preacher, or God's Spirit as you read His Word in the stillness of your devotions.
I can see a picture of the Architect of your life standing with you and unfolding the blueprint on the table. Yet instead of a floor plan and sketches you see words, hundreds of them, giving the principles upon which your life is to unfold and fulfill its purpose. That's what the Word of God is to you: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105). Read More
Among the varied ways in which miracles are manifested, I must include the many records of miracles involving the healing of the physical body. Like other miracles, healing originates from within. "If [since] the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you" (Romans 8:11).
Romans chapter 8 is one of the highlight passages of the New Testament. It has much to say about victorious Christian living -- the triumph of the Spirit within over the apparent limitations of everyday life. The future resurrection of the believer is not in view in verse 11, and the careful reader will recognize God's choice of words that make it evident that the present is under discussion. John Calvin, an early Protestant Greek scholar, wrote, "The quickening of the mortal body here cannot refer to the resurrection of the saints, but must mean a giving of life to their bodies, while here upon earth, through the Spirit."
Let us pause just long enough to give some background on the two key words, "give life" and "mortal". The Greek word for "give life" ("quicken", KJV) is a combination of the words for "life" and "I make" and is therefore handled by recent translators as "make alive", "endow with life", and so forth. The same word is employed in II Corinthians 3:6, where again the context is obviously in the present, "...for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." It is the work of the Spirit within to give life, and in Romans 8:11 it is to fill the physical body with the vibrant life of God -- real vim, vigor, and vitality. Read More