As we look at the Christmas characters, we see that they all were embracing the unexpected.
It happens to all of us. We have our day, our week, even our year planned and then the phone rings. Or we receive an unexpected email. We all know what it feels like to have something or someone intrude into our lives and change all our plans in a heart-beat.
One morning I went to my office, turned on my computer, and stared at the black screen. I couldn't figure out what was wrong, since it had never done that before. Needless to say, I didn't get anything done for the two hours that it took me to get it up and working.
My natural reaction to these moments is resistance and resentment. At these times I realize I’m not usually excited about considering something new and different.
I’ve noticed in the Bible is that every person God used was expected to be open to the new and different. As we consider the Christmas story, we see this principle again and again. Zechariah was the father of John the Baptist. Although he had once prayed for a son, that was many years ago. Now he and Elizabeth were much older and his prayers were most likely a forgotten dream. When an angel informed Zechariah that his prayer had been answered, Zechariah was immediately expected to be open to the new and different. Initially Zechariah resisted this message, but eventually he humbled himself before God and expressed his faith with four words: "His name is John" (Luke 1:63). Zechariah finally embraced the new and different.
Likewise Mary, probably a teenager, was understandably very excited about her upcoming marriage to Joseph. Surely she had many plans about starting a new life together with the love of her life. But God asked Mary to be open to the new and different. In effect the angel of the Lord said, "Mary, God's plan for your life is much bigger than you ever imagined."
Mary's plans for her entire life were changed in an instant. She never imagined having to face her fiancé, her family and her friends as a pregnant virgin. God was asking her to surrender her pride, her reputation, and ultimately the entire story of her life...for the new and different. Mary submitted her heart to the Lord's plan with the words, "I am the Lord's servant; may it be to me as you have said" (Luke 1:38).
Looking back, did 2016 turn out the way you had planned it? Or, did God ask you to be open to the new and different? The Bible repeatedly emphasizes that God's ways are not our ways. But in the end, God’s plan is best. The plans that God has for our lives are formed in his heart and revealed from heaven in God’s perfect time. Let this Christmas be a season of humility. Take some time to thank God for his specific plan for your life...and prepare yourself for the new and different in 2017.
Author:Paul Schlieker www.bible-study-lesson-plans.com
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