Topic for this week: Fear Not

Theme for the month of December: God With Us

The Carmichael SDA Church is providing spiritual growth resources for individuals, couples, families, and small groups as an extension during this pandemic for a church that is scattered like salt and to indeed be salty; to be light and receive another infusion of power. Pick and choose from these resources for your spiritual growth, whether it’s during your time of personal devotions or family worship or small group gathering. The 10 options include:


Bible Dialogue

What are you afraid of? Some childhood fears go away as we grow up. It could be that we are still afraid of certain things. We have different reasons for being afraid of things and/or people. Here's a medical perspective on fear:
"Fear is experienced in your mind, but it triggers a strong physical reaction in your body. As soon as you recognize fear, your amygdala (small organ in the middle of your brain) goes to work. It alerts your nervous system, which sets your body’s fear response into motion. Stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline are released. Your blood pressure and heart rate increase. You start breathing faster. Even your blood flow changes — blood actually flows away from your heart and into your limbs, making it easier for you to start throwing punches, or run for your life. Your body is preparing for fight-or-flight."
5 Things You Never Knew About Fear
Fear is good as a defense mechanism which tells us to run away or fight, known as "fight or flight". The phrase "fear not"  or "do not fear" appears 202 times in the Bible. Some of those instances is when God refers to people who do not fear Him in the sense of not being believers or following his commandments.
There seems to be a lot of fear surrounding the Christmas story. The shepherds were told not to fear. Mary was told not to fear. Joseph was told not to fear. Zechariah was told not to fear. 

Fear Not!
Is there something you were afraid of a some point in your life and not afraid of anymore? Why?

Read Luke 1:30 and 2:9-11 

1. How would you react if an angel appeared to you? (vs. 9)

  • Won't believe it even if I saw one.
  • I would run away out of fear.
  • Would be so awestruck that I can't move.
  • Fall face down and recognize that I'm actually in front of an angel.
  • Have a conversation with the angel.
  • I’d have a list of questions.
  • Quickly pose for a selfie with the angel.
  • I’d hit the deck—fall face down in worship.
  • Other.

2.  The most used word for "fear" in the New Testament is the Greek word phobos. What kind of phobias do you have? See this interesting list of phobias.

  • Arachnophobia - Fear of Spiders.
  • Claustrophobia - Fear of confined spaces.
  • Dentophobia - Fear of dentists.
  • Glossophobia - Fear of speaking in public.
  • Necrophobia - Fear of death or dead things.
  • Sociophobia - Fear of social evaluation.
  • Xenophobia - Fear of strangers or foreigners.
  • Phobophobia - Fear of phobias.
  • Theophobia – Fear of God or religion.
  • Other.

3. In Luke 2:10 the angel tells the shepherds to "fear not". What is your reaction when some tells you to not be afraid?

  • It doesn't help me to not be afraid.
  • I get defensive.
  • It depends who is telling me to not be afraid.
  • It reminds me of a moment I was afraid and how I reacted.
  • It helps me to calm down and think about the situation.
  • I'm glad someone is assuring me that it's going to be alright.
  • It makes me even more afraid.
  • Laughter—you’ve got to be kidding!
  • Other.

4.  Can you think of an event in life where your fears were dissipated by "good news"?

  • You got the text that said they're home safe.
  • A diagnosis from the doctor.
  • A class exam.
  • You got the job!
  • Help is on the way.
  • You won!
  • Out of ashes something even better appeared.
  • Other.

5.  In the New Testament, "angels" is the word for "messengers". Which messengers in your life help you put fear in its proper place?

  • Your parents.
  • Siblings.
  • Family Members (cousins, uncles, aunts, grandparents, etc.)
  • Spiritual Leaders (pastors, elders, etc.).
  • Friends.
  • No one has been able to help me with that.
  • Random people I meet and talk with.
  • God.
  • Social Media.
  • Inspirational Quotes.
  • Literature.
  • Other.

6.  How can fear be a good thing?

  • It helps me to stay safe.
  • I am able to protect vulnerable people.
  • Gives me a healthy perspective on the fragility of life.
  • Reminds me of my humanness.
  • Serves as a reality check on what’s before me.
  • Exposes my inner issues.
  • Helps me identify what’s much greater, Godly, from my perspective.

7.  In Luke 2:10 "fear" is to be substituted with "joy" for what is coming. What positive things can you substitute fear with?

8.  How does the "Good News" of Jesus' Birth take away fear for those shepherds and for the rest of the world?

Prayer Experiences

One of the more popular sections of the 23rd Psalm is verse 4, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me."  Read through and imagine yourself being such a situation as David describes here and not fearing evil. As you pray this week and meditate on this verse, allow God to show you what "not fearing evil" would feel like.

Psalm 46:1-3 is another Psalm where David reminds us that God is greater than anything else we can be afraid of. He establishes God's strength and that He is a refuge. As you pray, imagine yourself guarded in some "safe place," feeling safe and secure, where fear is dissipated while things around you are falling apart or as David describes it, "the earth gives way...mountains are moved...waters roar... mountains tremble..."

Psalm 56:11  - There's a correlation between trusting in God and not fearing. There's a holy confidence that is demonstrated by David who had many scary experiences in his life, yet he declares that he has put his trust in God and that he "will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" Pray for those fears of what "man can do to you" asking for an increased level of trust.

Numbers 21:4-9 – When the Israelites complained to God about feeling stuck in the wilderness, God removed his protection from the wilderness snakes. These snake bites were lethal. The Israelites repented. God provided a unique remedy: Look at a bronze snake on a cross. Would you do that? Wouldn’t that be like worshiping an image? Ask yourself what trouble you might have created for yourself, maybe even complaining about something that seemed legitimate about which to complain. Would something threatening, like poisonous snakes, instill enough fear for you to turn to God? Is that the best motivation for you to respond to God? Is that the only thing that works for you? Spend time talking and listening with God about this topic.

Discussion Questions

Select from these questions, or let them prompt your own questions. You can reflect on these by yourself, or discuss them with another person or group of people.
  • 2020 has been a year where "fear" has dominated the news. How have you dealt with fear this year?
  • What do you think is the connection between fear and anxiety?
  • How has fear stopped you from doing something because you focused on the worst possible scenario?
  • How has fear helped get out of a dangerous situation?
  • How do you help others when they are afraid?
  • Why does the first statement given to a human from an obviously supernatural being usually, “Fear not”?
  • How many “Fear not’s” are in the Christmas story?
  • What degree of fear did the following entities have when they heard about the birth of Christ 2,000 years ago?
    1. Mary, the mother of Jesus.
    2. Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist and a priest in the temple.
    3. The shepherds in the fields of Bethlehem.
    4. The wise men from the East.
    5. The priests the wise men met after following the star to the temple in Jerusalem.
    6. King Herod who heard about the wise men looking for a baby king.
    7. Joseph when the angel told him to flee from Herod.
    8. The wise men when they had a dream to not return to Herod.
    9. Satan.
    10. The angelic host overseeing the birth of Christ.
  • When is it a good thing to be afraid? When is it a bad thing?
  • When did Jesus strike fear in people during his ministry on earth? (hints: Matthew 8:26-27; 17:2-7; Mark 5:1-20; Luke 19:45-46; 24:36-40; John 19:7-11.)

Application Ideas

For the last 9 months or so there has been a lot of fear surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. The different fears are:
  • Getting sick with the virus
  • Loss of income - financial
  • Fear of not being able to see family and friends - relationships
  • Having to connect on a computer for everything
  • Think of how you deal with fear in your life. Write (journal) these thoughts and ideas down. Admit your fears to God. Then find ways to sharing this experience with others who may be facing fearful situations or are in a state of fear.

“Fear” in the book of Revelation often relates to worship. The old English use of “fear” comes from danger, frighten, but also reverence. It’s easy to see the link to the “fear of God” being either a worship of God or a reverence toward God or being frightened by God if you’re not really on God’s team.

In Revelation 1:17-18, John sees an awesome being in vision. His response is to fall prostrate, being overwhelmed by being in the presence of the resurrected Jesus in heavenly glory. Christ’s response is, “Don’t be afraid” (Fear not). But note the difference between Christ’s response and the responses of an angel in Revelation 19:10 and 22:8-9. John observed the entity being supernatural and went prostrate as a reflex. Both times the angel told him not to be afraid, and also to not worship him since he was a fellow servant like John.

The first angel’s message of Revelation 14:7 includes the proclamation to “Fear God” and “give glory to him” and “the hour of God’s judgment has come.” It includes “worship the Creator.”
To apply these messages about fear in Revelation, consider who to fear and who not to fear. Let that lead you to revere and worship God, and to be unafraid of those, even supernatural “fellow servants” who might reveal themselves to you.

Sharing Options

How do you share your faith story when it's fearful to do so? Usually we think of sharing our faith story as having to tell people what you believe. In general, we usually wait for someone to ask us some question about God, the Bible or Faith before we say anything. I've met some people who could flip any conversation into a spiritual topic. Others get really nervous and start sweating with just the thought of trying to intentionally share their faith.

This week as God to put someone in your path who needs words of encouragement. Pray that we can have the awareness to realize who that person is when the time comes.

Share with another person Bible examples of people who seemed to be fearless, or maybe simply courageous in spite of fear. It could be Joshua, Deborah, David, Jonah (part of the time), Elijah (most of the time), Peter (primarily after Christ’s ascension). Add your own. Share these names and examples with another person and ask for their Bible heroes who seemed fearless. Then share how this relates to you.

When have you sensed God’s “peace that passes all understanding” so that the phrase “fear not” was not your reality? Thank God for that. Share that experience with another person. Ask them to share with you any examples that come to mind for them.

As we experience another coronavirus surge, and during a traditional gathering time for families, how will you relate to “fear not’? Will you ignore or flaunt the recently imposed shutdowns as a “fear not” response? Will you “fear not” when it comes to relating to this Christmas season in a different way? Share with others and listen to their reasons on how they are doing Christmas this year.

Dialogue with another person about the “fear of God.” Are you afraid of God or do you revere God? Reflect on your relationship with God and what part the “fear of the Lord” and “fear not” have to do with it.

Bible-In-My-Head, Heart, and Hand

Part of the “Bible Dialogue” passage for this week includes Luke 1:30 and 2:9-11.  Consider memorizing one or both of these passages. Write them down in an index card and keep them in your shirt pocket. Take the card out when waiting in line at the grocery store, while at the drive-thru, setup a reminder on your Bible app. Even writing them on post-it-notes and sticking them in strategic places around the house, your car or your desk. Even while you're brushing your teeth in the morning, you can look at these post-it-notes on your mirror.

2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.


Enjoy the variety of music that speaks of the Trinity. 

Kids of All Ages by Pastor Melissa

Last week when Grandpa was helping Wyatt put together a new Christmas toy, he picked up the directions and then started laughing out loud.
“What is it, Grandpa?” Wyatt asked, “What’s so funny?”

“This warning!” Grandpa giggled, brushing aside the nuts and bolts and small pieces of the unbuilt toy. “It’s ridiculous!”

“What does it say?” Wyatt wondered.

“Listen here,” Grandpa cleared his throat, “it says: PLEASE DO NOT SHOVE ANY SMALL PARTS UP YOUR NOSE OR INTO YOUR EARS!”

Wyatt laughed loudly with Grandpa. “Tiny pieces in your nose? That’s gross! Why would they put that in the directions?”

“Well,” Grandpa paused. “I suppose it’s because someone somewhere actually did that. They have to write “don’t stick it up your nose” because some dumb kid ALREADY DID stick it up his nose!”

“Well I’m never going to put any of these pieces in my nose!” Wyatt decided.

“Good choice,” Grandpa agreed, “Then I guess I won’t either!”

You know kids, the Christmas story is a little bit like the warning on the new Christmas toy. Every single time the angels appear to someone - be it Mary, or Joseph, or Zechariah or the shepherds - they always have to start by saying the exact same thing: “FEAR NOT!” Don’t be afraid. They aren’t saying this because they think at some point in the future Mary or a Shepherd might get a little bit scared of them. They are saying it because Mary, Joseph, and I’m sure all the shepherds ALREADY DID feel afraid! God doesn’t expect the people not to be scared. He knows they ARE scared, and He wants to bring them peace and calm instead.

There are lots of scary things in our world today. God wants us to have faith, and trust that He will meet our needs and take care of us. When he says, “Don’t be afraid,” it isn’t because He expects us to he 100% brave all the time and never have any worries or fears. It’s because he knows we ALREADY DO have worries and fears. And He wants us to know one very important truth: that He’s big enough to handle those fears. What’s more - He’s going to stay beside us and help us through all of them.
What fears and worries are in your family home tonight? Let’s remember that God already knows we’re afraid sometimes, and it’s okay. And also? Let’s remember not to put small pieces of ANYTHING up our nose or in our ears.

Family Questions:
  1.  What are some scary things in our world today?
  2. Is it okay to be afraid, even for followers of Jesus? How does Jesus help us with our fears?
  3. What scary thing do we want to trust Jesus with or ask for His help with today?