"Don’t be afraid." These were the first spoken words recorded in the New Testament era, uttered by the angel Gabriel to a terrified priest named Zechariah.
Have you ever noticed how often angels need to say that when they appear? People are startled by unexpected guests, of course. They may feel small next to such power. But I think the fear comes primarily because we feel guilty and unworthy in the presence of holiness. We know we're not worthy of heaven. We suspect that the hammer is finally coming down.
"Don’t be afraid" is not a bad summary of the entire gospel message. If we had to generate our own confidence in God's eyes, we would be like schoolboys in a cemetery, whistling and pretending on the outside but shaking on the inside. But our confidence comes from God's solid promises, and his promises are backed up by his splendid deeds.
This reading plan presents pairs of devotions. One will give voice to our fears, using words first spoken by other fearful saints. But each fear will be followed by God's calming words of encouragement. As your own shaken heart is stilled, may you be a calming voice to other people in your life, sharing comfort from the God of all comfort.
- Pastor Mark Jeske