God has “ruined my plans" or "God ruined our whole family..." as Aggie's Dad said to her about his missionary experience where his 27 year old wife died. See video below.
Yes, God does ruin our plans. Often. He has in my life. But His plans are far better than mine even if I don't understand them.
How do we reconcile our plans and God’s plan for our lives?
Let’s take a look at Joseph’s dilemma, how God ruins his plan and what his response is to what He intends to do in his life.
I. The Human Dilemma vv. 18-19
A. A Clash of Plans v. 18
This dilemma is caused when there is a collision between God’s Divine plan and Human plans. In Luke 2:8-20 we find that God told Mary that she would be used to bring about the Messiah’s birth, Christ’s birth. I am sure that she shared this with Joseph. Verse 18 shows us that she was with child conceived by the Holy Spirit.
This was not what he was planning. I am sure he wanted to have a normal life. He wanted to have a wife, have children and serve God. God interrupted Joseph’s plan. His first reaction was not to accept it, at least not from Mary. He had a dilemma, to follow his plan or follow God’s plan.
I am reading a book called You are What You Love, The Power of Habit.It really caught my attention when it asked the questions, 1. What do you want? and 2. What do you love? The first one was easy for me to answer. The second one was not that easy. Yes, I did answer, that I love God first. I love my family. But I also know that there are some things that I love that perhaps are not what I should love. And that is who I am. The thesis of this book is that we are what we really love and what we should really love is God. We are called to worship him with our whole lives and He should be first. When He is first in our lives then, His plans come first.
When we love or we are what we want it creates the dilemma between our plans and His plans for us.
Is there something in your life or family where there is collision between your plans and God’s plan?
B. The Human Answer v. 19
Joseph was not selfish and didn’t want to hurt Mary. He didn’t want to embarrass her publicly. He decided he would divorce her secretly. He was a righteous man and was willing to sacrifice his desires to save Mary. This was a really good thing. It shows his good character.
However, Joseph was not following God’s plan. He didn’t believe Mary. He could have stopped and really think if this was God’s plan but there is no mention of it. He missed it!
Imagine if he had followed through his plan. Things would have been different. God is sovereign over our lives and though he can do anything in spite of us, he desires that we align ourselves with His plans.
You may be doing a lot of good things right now but they may not be God’s plan. It is your plan not God’s plan.
We should ask ourselves before doing anything, “Am I convinced that I am following God’s leading and not my own plans?
If you are not convinced, seek God in prayer, seek godly counsel until God confirms His will.
II. God’s Divine Plan vv. 20-25
A. God Intervenes v. 20
Joseph was about to carry out his plans. He thought about it and was ready to execute. But God intervenes. I am glad God intervenes in our lives. If he didn’t then we would mess things up even more.
God tells Joseph, don’t fear this is my plan. Fear many times keeps us from doing God’s will, keeps us from following his plan. We react with fear to what he calls us to do. We should react with trust in Him.
God tells Joseph, he doesn’t have to worry about this child, it really is a result of the Holy Spirit. It was His plan.
I am sure Joseph even after this did not understand the whole plan. How did God do this marvelous act? Joseph didn’t even get to see Jesus’s official start of ministry. But he did follow God’s plan as we will see.
Many times we don’t understand God’s plan for our lives but we know he is sovereign.
This morning think about your life. Is God intervening in your life telling you, “Stop, wrong path, don’t continue!”
He will not warn you through a dream as he did with Joseph. I think this was a special case. He is warning through His Word, His Holy Spirit and perhaps others as well.
B. God’s Plan is Superior vv. 20b-23
God had a better plan for Joseph and Mary.
I love this about God. When he asks you to do something or leave your plan it is not to make your life miserable. It is to accomplish a superior plan. Yet many of us think that when God asks something we want, like or love it is to make our lives more difficult.
It is sad when we do this because we are telling God that we trust Him for our salvation, He is our Savior but He is not Lord of our lives.
When God interrupts our lives, when he ruins “our” plans it is always to bring about something we are not able to do ourselves. It is usually a better plan that he has for us.
What if God asks to give us all of our lives? Everything we love? This would not be new. God asked this from Abraham in Genesis 22.
One of the disciples asked the question most of us don’t dare to ask. Matthew 19:26-30
He said they had left everything to follow Jesus and asked, “What then will we have?” Doesn’t sound a bit selfish. Jesus could have answered by saying that God has given everything for them by sending him to die on the cross for their sins. “Tough it up boys, don’t be ungrateful. You owe us the trinity a lot!”
Jesus did not say this. He assured them that they would be rewarded with much more.
The plan God had for Joseph (and Mary) was far better than their plan. They were going to be part of the most incredible of God’s plan, The Plan of of Salvation/Redemption for humanity. I don’t think they understood the greatness of this even after accepting it. Joseph died too soon. Mary came to realize Jesus as Messiah at the cross (this is what I think!). They were part of a Christ-Centered plan.
God’s plan for your life will always include you to be his witness, an ambassador for Christ. Your life has to be Christ-centered in everything you do. If Christ is not part of a plan, then it is not God’s plan. He called you to be his follower and for you to surrender under his Lordship.
Muslims believe their religion is their life. They don’t have their religion in a compartment like we do. Their life is their religion. Their religion is their life.
For us to live should be Christ. To die should be gain. (Phil. 1:21) We should say as the Apostle Paul said that he was crucified with Christ and, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Gal. 2:20)
Whatever you go through “Imannuel” will be with you!
HE SHOULD BE OUR LIFE AND NOTHING ELSE. OUR LIVES SHOULD BE RULED BY HIM!
III. Our Response vv. 24-25
The good thing about Joseph was that after God corrected “his” plan he immediately adjusted his plan. He obeyed him: “he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife.”
Notice God commanded, it was not optional but we he did it immediately.
Once again, he didn’t understand the whole plan. He didn’t after either. God doesn’t give him all the details. This is how God leads us.
My kids use to ask a lot “Where are we going?” when going out. I came out with a clever, wise answer!
“It doesn’t matter where you are going as long as you are with me.”
This was true. I wanted to show them that it really didn’t matter where we are going as long as they with me. I care about them, they will be safe, and what matters is our relationship.
This is how God leads us. You can see this pattern in Scripture. God doesn’t tell you everything He will do with your life. I think he has good reasons. One, we won’t get it all. We are limited in what we can know and grapple. The second reason is that we will try to mess things up. Third, it teaches us to trust him and to enjoy his fellowship.
How do we align then our will with God’s will?
1. Surrender your will and all of your plans to Him.
2. Live a Christ-Centered life. Live all of your life for Him and through Him.
3. Obey Him if everything he tells you in Scripture. Obey even if you don’t understand everything.
4. Follow his leading even if you are not sure where you are going (enjoy your time with Him). Seek godly counsel.