Barbara Higby

The Angel & Joseph, again

The Angels of Christmas #5

An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

An angel appeared to Zechariah, Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds, and said, “Do not be afraid.” The words challenge us to not fear the present, the unknown, being obedient, or God’s glory. In today’s fifth and final look at the angels of Christmas, those words are missing.

An angel appeared to Joseph, again, but didn’t speak the signature statement, “Do not be afraid.” His urgent message lacks that admonition when he says, “Get up!” He proceeds to tell Joseph to run to Egypt (of all places) because there is imminent danger. And Joseph did so, immediately.

“He got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod.”

I miss the gentle coddling of “Do not be afraid,” but apparently Joseph didn’t need those words. Do I? Or do I just like the pause they give me—the time to assimilate, to prepare myself… to procrastinate?

In 2020, maybe you would like to join my personal challenge to “get up.” To simply do what God puts on my heart. To not consider what would make me afraid, but to respond even “during the night” when there’s not a clear path and my obedience isn’t sensible.

Do not be afraid of the future, my friends—don’t fear danger, threats, or an enemy army.

God is with you. He has a plan. His angels surround you. Your circumstances are under His control.

Quoted verses are from Matthew 2:13-15. Angel graphic from Roy Fields In presence of Angels, YouTube

The Angel & the Shepherds

The Angels of Christmas #4

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 

It was a typical workday for the shepherds—leading sheep to water, corralling them to nighttime safety, keeping watch under the stars—until suddenly, it wasn’t typical anymore.

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 

Terrified indeed! Rapt, the shepherds listened to the angel’s words:

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” 

The scene defies my imagination, regardless of artistic representations—an angel appears to these lowly workers and God’s glory radiates around them. The visual wonder was enough, but the words… How much did the shepherds understand?

Don’t be afraid – I have good news – Joy to the world – The Savior’s born – He’s in Bethlehem – He is the Lord – The Messiah has come!

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” 

The host of angels didn’t appear because one angel wasn’t enough for the shepherds—one angel wasn’t enough for the Savior. The event mankind eagerly awaited and angels longed to see caused them to burst from heaven with glorious praise, worship worthy of this miracle of grace.

And the shepherds? Though they couldn’t comprehend it all, they responded, and ran to Bethlehem to see the Babe.

Do not be afraid of the wonder and the glory, my friends! Don’t allow fear of fresh revelation or deeper worship hold back your unabandoned praise.

God is with you. He wants to reveal Himself to you. He has a plan. His angels surround you.

Scripture quoted from Luke 2:8-14

The Angel & Joseph

The Angels of Christmas #3

An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.Matthew 1:20

The angel advised Joseph to act against tradition, to do the irrational, to bury his pride. By rights, Joseph could, should, turn his back on Mary, hold up his head in spite of the disgrace she brought upon him, and make a new life for himself. He was justified to do so, but God called him to do the opposite, and Joseph obeyed.

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. Matthew 1:24

Did he obey because he understood the angel’s prophesy: “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (v 21)? Or maybe the sight of an angel cowered him into obedience. Still, he could have convinced himself the angel’s appearance was a figment of his troubled mind. After all, “conceived by the Holy Spirit” seems pretty far-fetched.

The bottom line is, Joseph did obey. He did not allow fear to determine his decision and he set a wonderful example for us.

Do not be afraid of obedience, my friends—don’t fear what you didn’t plan and don’t understand. Trust in the God whose thoughts and ways are higher than ours, who knows the end from the beginning.

God is with you. He has a plan. His angels surround you. Your circumstances are under His control.

The Angel & Mary

Christmas Angels #2

Mary was greatly troubled… But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.” Luke 1:29-30

Mary was young and newly engaged, anticipating life as a carpenter’s wife with children from their marriage union. A Godly woman—betrothed to a Godly man, enjoying the blessings of God with expectations of a happy future—is stopped short by the appearance of an angel, Gabriel.

“You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.” Luke 1:30-32

His news was perplexing and disconcerting. It didn’t fit into her plans for the future and would radically change everything about her future. And, yet, she humbles us all with her words of acceptance, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said” (v. 38).

God says to us, “Do not be afraid.” Our future is in His plans and in His hands. Our plans for a wedding, a family, a career, a trip, a retirement may be good, but His are better. They will not only fulfill His purposes, they will fulfill us. And we will not be disappointed.

Do not be afraid of the unknown, my friends—don’t fear detours, defeats, or delays. God is with you. He has a plan. His angels surround you. Your circumstances are indisputably under His control.

The Angel & Zechariah

Christmas Angels #1

Then an angel of the Lord appeared … When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him:  “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.” Luke 1:11-13

Zechariah had much to fear. He was chosen to enter the Holy of Holies, not by his merit, but by the casting of lots, a roll of the dice. An honor to be sure, but a fearsome honor with the possibility that he could die in that holy place. The tinkling of bells sewn at the hem of his garment indicated to those outside that he was still moving, still alive. In case of death, a rope was tied around his ankle to allow others to pull him out without entering the holy place at risk of their own lives.

The tension of entering the Holy of Holies was enough to cause Zechariah trepidation. And now, an angel appears—after 400 years of God’s silence—no word, no prophets, and certainly no angels. Until today, standing before Zechariah, saying, “Do not be afraid.”

On how many levels did Zechariah have cause for fear? Years of prayers for a child have been heard, but his wife is elderly. He will become a father as an old man. His son has a unique, weighty calling on his life. John will bear an anointing like the prophet Elijah and prepare people for the coming Messiah.

Do not be afraid, Zechariah. Do not be afraid of the angel standing before you, of the call on your life, of God’s plans for your child, of the challenging circumstances that lie ahead.

Do not be afraid, my friends. Do not be afraid of God’s presence, of His call on your life, of His plans for you or your children, of the challenging circumstances you face.

Do not be afraid of the present. God is with you. He has a plan. His angels surround you. Your circumstances are under His control.