This message was the first of a series built around the gifts of the Magi. It could be used either as an introduction to the Christmas season or as a follow-up to Christmas at the beginning of the New Year. It could also be adjusted slightly and used as a single sermon.

Today, I’d like to begin thinking with you about the assurance, the confidence, the security of soul and the peace of mind with which God created us to live. The Bible promises that God will give us this crucial and amazing gift, but, if we are honest about it, it is a gift we so rarely have.

“Fear not,” said the angels at Christmas. Then the doctor’s office calls, and there’s a problem with the tests, maybe a serious problem. You need to come in and have a talk.

“Fear not,” said the angels. Then the office calls, and they say, “You know that project you’ve been working on so long, the one you put so much into? We’ve been rearranging the plans, and the whole thing may be going out the window. We may need to think in a different way about your future.”

“Fear not,” said the angels. Then the other students in school let you know there’s a brand-new student at school, and he’s a star athlete, and he’s going for your position.

“Fear not,” said the angels. Then a loved one reaches out to you and says, “This is hard to talk about, but this relationship isn’t working.”

“Fear not,” the Bible says, in one way or another 365 times, as if God wanted us to get this message every day of our lives. Yet, a major university did a poll of its students asking them to identify the number one problem they faced. The administration expected to have answers like too much to do or too little time to study or things like that. The number one problem 75 percent of the students named was fear, insecurity, lack of self-confidence, and it was eating away at their own ability to do their best in the studies before them.

I’m bringing this message because I want to suggest to you that if you look with eyes to see, that same percentage is probably present in the population as a whole. For, as you begin to look with eyes that see, you’ll realize that you and almost everyone around you is in one way or another wrestling with fear, with insecurity, with anxiety.

We often put on a bold front. We try not to let it show. But as that fear eats away at us, it eats away at our ability to step forward and grow into the people God most wants us to be and created us to be, and that we in our heart of hearts most want to be.

I’ve got a very simple idea to share, but I believe it can grow in your heart with power and blessing as we explore it in the weeks ahead: God did not create you to live in fear, and He intends for you to move beyond that fear. We really can learn to move away from the anxiety and insecurity with which we usually live to an assurance and boldness and confidence more durable than the mountains themselves.

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About The Author

Steve Wende recently retired as senior pastor of First United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas, He is a Contributing Editor of Preaching.

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