Sunday, December 24, 2017

Don't be afraid: to you a Savior is born this day!

Luke 2:8-11 

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”

Reflect: What is the good news for you this Christmas? How does the love of God expressed in Christ help drive out your fear?

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Don't be afraid to do what's right

Matthew 1:18-20 

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”

Reflect: When have you needed to do something that looked insane by the standards of the world, but that was right by the standards of God? What emotions might you feel if one day you were called to do such a thing, as Joseph was?

Friday, December 22, 2017

If your life gets turned upside down, do not be afraid

Luke 1:26-31 

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.”

Reflect: What is the most life-changing news you have ever received? What kind of fears did you experience in that moment? How might God have been speaking to you in that moment, "Do not be afraid"?

Thursday, December 21, 2017

When God actually shows up in worship, do not be afraid

Luke 1:11-16 (An angel appears to Zechariah while he is in the Temple)

There appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. Even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit."

Reflect: Do you actually expect to encounter God when you come to church? What might happen if you did?

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

When Jesus is not where--or what--you expected, do not be afraid

Matthew 28:5-10 (Easter)

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’…So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him.  Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Reflect: The women are told twice not to be afraid, yet they left the tomb with fear (and great joy). How might the first Easter have been frightening? How do we need to hear this message today?

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

If you need a hero, do not be afraid

John 12:12-15 (Palm Sunday)

The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord—the King of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written: “Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion. Look, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!”

Reflect on what it would feel like to see a king riding into town on a giant war horse, surrounded by warriors. Then reflect on what it would feel like to see a king riding into town on a young donkey, surrounded only by people waving palm branches. Which image inspires fear? Which inspires hope?

Monday, December 18, 2017

If money causes you stress, do not be afraid

Luke 12:32-34 (Jesus teaching about money and possessions)

Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Reflect: Read a couple of Jesus' other teachings about money and possessions in Mark 10:17-27 and Luke 12:13-21. How do you see fear at work in these stories?

Sunday, December 17, 2017

When Jesus boggles your mind, do not be afraid

Luke 5:4-10 (The Call of the Disciples) 

Jesus said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.”  When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break…when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken…Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.”

Reflect: When have you been scared to recognize God's presence or God's power? When has Jesus left you amazed? How can we respond to such amazement not with fear, but with wonder, worship and service?

Saturday, December 16, 2017

When you can't believe your eyes, do not be afraid

Matthew 17:2-7 (The Transfiguration)

And Jesus was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him…[and] suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.”

Pray: Spend some time in silence, listening to God.

Friday, December 15, 2017

When the storms rage, do not be afraid

Matthew 14:24-27 (Jesus calms the storm)

The disciples’ boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Pray: Listen to the song "Calm me, Lord" (

Thursday, December 14, 2017

When anxiety surrounds you, do not be afraid

Matthew 10:29-31 (Jesus teaching anxious crowds)

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  And even the hairs of your head are all counted.  So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Try, for a moment, to count the hairs on your head. Then spend time reflecting on your great value to God.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

When life has beaten you down, do not be afraid

Zecharaiah 8:13-15 (God promises restoration after the people's exile)

Just as you have been a cursing among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so I will save you and you shall be a blessing. Do not be afraid, but let your hands be strong. For thus says the Lord of hosts: Just as I purposed to bring disaster upon you, when your ancestors provoked me to wrath, and I did not relent, says the Lord of hosts, so again I have purposed in these days to do good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah; do not be afraid.

Pray: God, let my hands be strong. Let me be a blessing to others. Let me not be afraid.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

If God calls, do not be afraid

Jeremiah 1:4-8  (Jeremiah’s call to be a prophet)

Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.”

Reflect: What might God be calling you to do? What words might God call you to speak? What scares you as you reflect on these questions? What would it look like to not be afraid to speak God's words?

Monday, December 11, 2017

In times of discouragement, do not be afraid

Isaiah 41:9-10  (God encouraging the people after harsh years of exile)

You whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners,
saying to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”;
do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.

Pray: As you breathe in, pray "do not be afraid"; as you breathe out, pray "for I am your God." Repeat this many times, matching your words with the rhythm of your breath.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

In the midst of panic, do not be afraid

Proverbs 3:23-26 (reflecting on the rewards of God’s wisdom)

You will walk on your way securely and your foot will not stumble.
If you sit down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
Do not be afraid of sudden panic, or of the storm that strikes the wicked;
for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.  

Reflect: What do people around you seem panicked about today? What is causing you to panic? Hold these things in the light of God's love and care.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

When you're called to lead, do not be afraid

Joshua 1:8-9 (as Joshua is getting ready to become leader of God’s people)

"God’s word shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall be successful. I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Reflect: What places will your feet (or your car) carry you this week? Picture all those places in your mind, breathing in and out God's reassurance to Joshua: "The Lord your God is with me wherever I go."

Friday, December 8, 2017

When you're overwhelmed, do not be afraid

Deuteronomy 7:17-19 (as the people prepare to enter the Promised Land)

If you say to yourself, “These nations are more numerous than I; how can I dispossess them?” do not be afraid of them. Just remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt, the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs and wonders, the mighty hand and the outstretched arm by which the Lord your God brought you out. The Lord your God will do the same to all the peoples of whom you are afraid.

Reflect: What is God hoping you'll remember today? Reflect on an overwhelming time when God has been faithful to you.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

When you're caught between two impossibilities, do not be afraid

Exodus 14:10-14 (At the Red Sea)

The Israelites looked back, and there were the Egyptians advancing on them. In great fear the Israelites cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?” But Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.”

Pray: God, when there seems to be no way forward and I know I can't go back, help me not be afraid and trust you will make a way. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

When facing the unknown, do not be afraid

Genesis 46:2-4: At an old age, Jacob is preparing to leave the only country he has ever known.

God spoke to Israel in visions of the night, and said, “Jacob, Jacob.” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “I am God, the God of your father; do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there. I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again; and Joseph’s own hand shall close your eyes.”

Reflect: What unknown do you face this Advent season? Hear God speak these words: "Do not be afraid."

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

When God seems to have forgotten you, do not be afraid

Genesis 21:15-19: Banished into the wilderness, Hagar has run out of water and faces her own death and the death of her child

When the water in the skin was gone, Hagar cast her child under one of the bushes. And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. God heard the voice of the child; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Do not be afraid; for God has heard the voice of the child where he is. Come, lift up your child and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make a great nation of him.” Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water.

Pray: God, this Advent may my eyes be open to see you are there. Help me not be afraid. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

When God seems slow to act: Do Not Be Afraid

Our theme for Advent this year is "Do Not Be Afraid"--a phrase that shows up again and again throughout the Christmas story. But it's not just in the Christmas story that it shows up. Throughout the Bible, God speaks these words again and again: do not be afraid. Throughout the season, reflect each day on a different passage that calls us not to fear. How does this passage speak into your life and our world?

Genesis 15:1-6: God promised Abram children, but God has been slow to do what God promised

The Lord’s word came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your protector. Your reward will be very great.” But Abram said, “Lord God, what can you possibly give me, since I still have no children?”  The Lord’s word came immediately to him. He brought Abram outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars if you think you can count them. This is how many children you will have.” Abram trusted the Lord.

Reflect: How are fear and trust related? Where are you called to deeper trust?