Christmas Day

Lack of Fear The Women at the Tomb

Lesson Verse Matthew 28:1-7

Introduction

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!

Key Points

  • 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!


For Today

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?

Christmas Countdown C -1

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Avoid Holiday Let-down

Shaunna Privratsky

The last of the cookies are eaten, the decorations are sagging, and it is time to face the New Year. Whether your holidays were joyous, mediocre, or less than merry, most of us experience a letdown once the carols stop. Instead of singing the winter blues, try these easy steps to wrap up the holidays in style.

  1. Take out less trash. Instead of tossing the pretty wrapping paper, have the kids shred it as each present is opened. Save the colorful strips in a plastic bag for festive packing all through the year.
  2. Reuse bows, gift bags, sturdy boxes and ribbon. Every year, everyone at our house waits to see who gets the green fabric box with the purple satin ribbon. It’s been in use for ten holiday seasons.
  3. Be a savvy Santa. Shop the after Christmas sales for terrific bargains on next year’s gifts.
  4. Pick up discounted holiday themed paper goods. Napkins, paper towels, plates, table linens and tissue can be had for less than half price.
  5. Un-trim the tree when the guests are still around to help. Group items that go together and clearly label the boxes. For example: tree trimmings, kitchen decor, downstairs manger, sled collection. It’s a present to yourself next year when you dig out the decorations once again.
  6. Replace your old lights with the new, safer LED lights. They burn brighter on 80% less energy and are cool to the touch. Grab them on sale and you’ll be light years ahead of the game next year.
  7. Sweep in the New Year with a clean home. Enlist the help of your kids, who are probably home on Christmas break. After a few days with nothing to do, they will be happy to help.
  8. Recycle your tree. Most cities pick up your discarded tree and chip it into mulch for city parks. They also offer free mulch to city residents in the spring and fall. So even after you pick up the last needle from the carpet, your tree will get a second shot at beautifying the landscape.
  9. Take a look at your bottom line. If the holiday bills are pouring in, sit down and form a plan of action to pay them off as quickly as possible. To avoid the same debt cycle next year, start saving now. A little money put aside each month in a Christmas account will add up to easy holiday budgeting next year.
  10. Whittle your waistline. Whether you indulged a little too much in Grandma’s fudge or overdid it on the rich holiday fare, it is the perfect time to eat healthier and lose any extra pounds. Maintaining a healthy weight will save you money by keeping you out of the hospital or doctor’s office.
  11. Plan your summer vacation. It is not too early to start thinking ahead to sultry summer heat and tempting travel packages. By researching early, you could lock in ultra cheap deals on airfare, lodging and your dream destination. It will also give you something to look forward to in the dreary winter months.
  12. Refresh your home’s decor. Do a mini makeover in the guest bathroom by cashing in some of your gift cards. Add a splash of warm color to your neutral living room with pillows and cozy throws. Change out the outdated fluorescent fixture in the kitchen for a bright new look.
  13. Shovel someone else’s sidewalk. Maybe your next-door neighbor fell on the ice and broke her ankle. Or you notice that the Erickson’s down the block didn’t winter in Arizona this year and are having trouble keeping up with the snow. Helping out fosters good feelings. When you need a hand someday, your neighbors will be there.  
  14. Donate your holiday magazines. Christmas magazines typically have tons of craft and decorating projects, perfect for your child’s teacher. Or give them to a nearby nursing home. Arrange to regularly drop off your magazines in the New Year, to keep clutter at bay and let others enjoy them.
  15. Make a list of this year’s favorite holiday memories. Was it baking cookies with the kids?  Shopping the after Christmas sales with your son?  Wrestling the real tree into the van in –13 degrees below zero weather?  This will give you a head start on next year’s holiday season.

If what you are feeling goes beyond the holiday let-down blues, you may be suffering from a deeper form of depression.

 

Anyone who has ever experienced it knows how devastating a bout of depression can be. The symptoms range anywhere from intense feelings of sadness, hopelessness, despair, sleeplessness, fatigue, physical aches and pains, to suicidal thoughts and urges. It can last for days, weeks, months, or even years. The quality of life can degrade to the point of wondering if it is even worth it to go on.

 

There is hope. We no longer have to endure depression. There are many drugs available to help in the fight against depression. Visit with your doctor to determine if drugs are a good option for you.

 

Besides pills, there are some positive changes you can use to improve your outlook on life. These tiny steps can lead you out of the pit of despair and bring you back into the light. Best of all, they are completely free.

 

Live for today. We can’t change the past, so dwelling on mistakes or bad choices will only drag us down. Likewise, we can’t predict exactly what will happen in the future, so we shouldn’t waste time and energy worrying about “what ifs.” 

 

When you wake up each morning, think of one thing you are thankful for in that moment. It could be the beautiful sunrise, the sounds of your children waking up, the smell of coffee enticing you to the kitchen, or just the fact that you have a whole day to be the best you can be.

 

Every day, focus on at least one positive thing to look forward to. Maybe it is the day you meet your husband for lunch, or your favorite author’s new book is released. You can create special moments, too. Pick up a rare indulgence like a frothy milkshake or go in for a totally new haircut. When we train our minds to look for good things, we find them. 

 

Exercise your way to those happy endorphins. Even if you just walk around the block, do some sit-ups during commercial breaks or dedicate an hour to the gym, your spirits will rise and you will feel better about yourself. Make it a routine and think of it as your physical therapy.

 

If something is really bothering you, limit the amount of time you dwell on it to ten minutes a day. Writing down your fears and worries can release you from fretting about it. Remind yourself to put it aside after your time is up.

 

Music is a powerful mood lifter. Play anything you like; upbeat tempos, fast beats or easy sing-a-longs can lift you out of the doldrums and put the spring back in your step. Even playing a radio or CD player quietly throughout the day can make you feel happier.

 

Pets are a great way to lift your spirits. Playing, petting and cuddling will calm you down and make you more optimistic. Even just attending to your pet’s basic needs can give you a feeling of worthiness and take your focus off of your sadness.

 

Smile as you go about your day. When you look for ways to show kindness to others, you feel generous and your spirit is blessed. You just may be the person who helps someone else who is having a bad day.

 

Speaking of bad days; we all experience them. No one can be upbeat and positive all of the time. When a bad spell hits, keep yourself busy doing projects or specific tasks like reorganizing your desk or filing papers. Your feelings of accomplishment can balance out the negative and come up rosy.

 

Before you go to sleep at night, think of three positive things that happened that day. Let yourself be grateful for them. When we concentrate on gratitude, we appreciate what we have been given, instead of always looking at life like a glass half empty. Tomorrow is a clean slate. It is like the ultimate do-over: each day is a new beginning to how you want to live your life. The happiest people are not the ones with the most money, but the ones who are content with what they have.

 

Depression is brought on by many circumstances, most of which cannot be changed. Yet how we choose to react can mean the difference between despair and a more hopeful outlook. By actively participating in how we handle sadness, we can create a positive outlook on life and dig out of depression, once and for all.      

Keeping these hints in mind will make wrapping up the holidays a celebration instead of a letdown. Stay merry in the New Year by looking ahead and cherishing your priceless memories of a happy holiday season, from start to finish.

Shaunna Privratsky is a fulltime author. She lives in North Dakota with her family and is happily looking forward to a new year. Visit The Discount Diva at http://shaunna67.tripod.com/id21.html