The Gift of Purpose

Dr. Steve Viars November 29, 2020
Outline

Proverbs 16:9 - The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.

Proverbs 14:10 - The heart knows its own bitterness…

3 reasons to always hold our plans lightly

I. Because Our Plans Are Always Based on Incomplete Information

Isaiah 55:8-9 - “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

“God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them.” (John Piper)

A. Joseph believed his plan was compassionate

Matthew 1:19 - And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her…

B. Joseph focused on immediate relief and resolution

Matthew 1:19 - And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.

C. The gift of God’s purpose was far superior to what Joseph had contemplated

Matthew 1:24-25 - And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.

Matthew 1:21 - She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.

II. Because God Can Overrule Those Planning to Do Us Harm

A. Evil individuals often make plans to harm God and His people

Psalm 83:3 - They make shrewd plans against Your people and conspire together against Your treasured ones.

Proverbs 6:18 - A heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil…

1 John 3:13 - Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you.

B. Herod believed he had a fail-safe way to destroy the Messiah

Matthew 2:7-8 - Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.”

Matthew 2:16 - Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi.

C. Be comforted because God can thwart the plans of the wicked

Psalm 33:10 - The Lord nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples.

Matthew 2:13-15 - Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.” So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. He remained there until the death of Herod.

Isaiah 7:14 - Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.

Isaiah 8:10 - Devise a plan, but it will be thwarted; state a proposal, but it will not stand, for God is with us.

Acts 9:1-6 - Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.”

III. Because God’s Plans Always Cause His Words to Come to Pass

Ephesians 1:11 - also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will…

Psalm 119:89 - Forever, O Lord, your word is settled in heaven.

A. That the Messiah would be born of a virgin

Matthew 1:22-23 - Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.”

B. Where the Messiah would be born

Matthew 2:5-6 - They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; for out of you shall come forth a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”

C. That the Messiah would spend time in Egypt

Matthew 2:15 - He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”

D. That infants in Bethlehem would be killed by murderous Herod

Matthew 2:17-18 - Then what had been spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; and she refused to be comforted, because they were no more.”

Psalm 36:4 - He plans wickedness upon his bed; he sets himself on a path that is not good; he does not despise evil.

E. That the Messiah would grow up in Nazareth

Matthew 2:22-23 - But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Then after being warned by God in a dream, he left for the regions of Galilee, and came and lived in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene.”

Galatians 2:20 - I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

- I hope you were able to join us last Sunday evening for our annual Stewardship Celebration…

- it was a delightful time of thanking the Lord for the way He has abundantly blessed our church family…

- one of the points we tried to make was that all the way back in 2017, we spent a year as a congregation going through a 5-year strategic planning process…and that’s actually the fifth time we’ve done that together…that’s hard to believe…

- part of what’s important, is that’s it grass-roots…in other words, it bubbles up from the congregation…everyone is invited to have a say…as opposed to being top-down, and imposed on the church family by a few people…

- another aspect is that we try to bathe the process in prayer…because we believe that Proverbs 16:9 - The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.

- the beauty is that once we do all that work together…there’s significant buy-in because we’ve all decided together…here’s what we believe the Lord wants us to try to accomplish…

- and often times those goals are significant…because is we believe we are the church of the living God…we ought to expect to be able to get a lot done in a given period of time if we are serving in His strength for His glory…

- that also allows us to have celebrations like the one we enjoyed last Sunday, albeit we had to enjoy it virtually…

- it’s amazing, when to take a step back and think about what the Lord allowed us to see happen with these various initiatives…

- we’re also hoping that when the next planning year comes around…which is 2022 for anyone who wants to mark that on their calendar…because we always take the 5th year to plan for the next period of time together…

- so we’re hoping in just over a year from now, everyone says – oh boy, oh boy, oh boy – it’s another planning year because we’re convinced that the effort is truly worth it…

- however, a very reasonable question to consider about our church’s plans…or our individual or family’s plans as well is…are there any limitations to this process…is it ever possible to hold our plans too tightly?...

- and the answer to that is – absolutely…in fact, the verse we just quoted reinforced that idea…the mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps…and sometimes the Lord takes us in a different direction than we had thought, or then we had planned, or then we had desired…

- here’s a question – when that occurs, what could happen to a person who holds his/her plans too tightly?...what answers come to your mind?...

- anger…this isn’t what I wanted, this isn’t what I expected, this isn’t what I had written down on my calendar…perhaps you’ve had some opportunities to face that in 2020…where what you planned and what God ordained didn’t exactly match up so well…did that result in your becoming sinfully angry?...

- or perhaps worry…if that plan of mine didn’t come to pass, then what problems will I have to face…because surely my plans are always best – they’re always superior…so if I’m not getting my way, what other dominoes are about to fall?...am I speaking to anyone this morning who struggles when you’re not in complete control of the circumstances around you?...

- what about becoming bitter…the book of Proverbs also teaches - Proverbs 14:10 - The heart knows its own bitterness…

- that’s a short but powerful thought, isn’t it…and you wonder how many of the examples that fit into that conceptualization involve a plan that a person had, or desired, or hoped for that they were really holding tightly and then it didn’t come to pass…and what was left in the bottom of their heart was bitterness…

- friends, some of the central details around the Christmas story can certainly help us on this score…because we see how God Takes Our Plans and Gives Us His Purpose

- with that in mind, let me invite you to open your Bible to Matthew chapter 1…

- while you’re turning, let me be among the first to wish you a Merry Christmas 2020…what could possibly go wrong?...

- I even thought this week about having a contest to try to establish a top 10 list of the very best answers to that question…but I was afraid that might be tempting the Lord…

- but perhaps one of the greatest things about saying Merry Christmas 2020 is that by God’s grace, we made it through…

- who knows what 2021 will hold, but I’ll be happy when I don’t have to write 2020 at the top of my checks anymore…

- this Christmas, we’d like to look at these familiar passages through the lens of the exchanges that God made by sending His only Son to this earth to die for the sins of men…

- our verses this morning will be familiar unless you’ve just recently begun studying God’s Word…but as I read, please be looking for the number of times when a person had a plan…sometimes one that was good, sometimes one that was evil…and then God exchanged it with something more in line with His eternal purposes…

- read Matthew 1:18-2:15

- so we’re talking about how God Takes Our Plans and Gives Us His Purpose and with the time we have remaining, let’s look for 3 reasons to always hold our plans lightly.

I. Because Our Plans Are Always Based on Incomplete Information.

- now, I realize you might say – incomplete – you ought to see my spreadsheets, my supporting data, my background research…that’s good…

- when we go through our church’s 5-year planning process, it’s amazing how much data is amassed and hours are spent…

- but even the very best human plan is woefully incomplete…

- we might as well just get this passage on the table right away…Isaiah 55:8–9 – “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

- see, Joseph had a way of thinking about this situation – and the Scripture is clear – he was a righteous man…and he made a specific plan based on his evaluation of what was occurring…but would it be fair to say – he possessed incomplete information about what was actually occurring?...

- Pastor John Piper once famously said - God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them.

- the passage before us demonstrates that, doesn’t it?...

A. Joseph believed his plan was compassionate.

- when it was revealed that Mary was expecting a child that was obviously not his, he could have shamed her publicly…

- don’t you love the tenderness of verse 19 - Matthew 1:19 - And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her…

- that’s part of the challenge for all of us…I highly doubt that many of the people listening to this message, if anyone, sits around and makes evil plans to hurt someone else…we’re going to discuss that possibility in a moment when we get to Herod’s role in all of this…

- but the average person listening to this doesn’t make hurtful, wicked plans…but we sure could make ones where…what we believe constitutes compassion is different than the purpose and desire of our God…

- so for example…with a child who needs correction…no parent likes to do that…but if you make parenting choices purely on the basis of your definition of compassion, you might actually harm that child in the long run…and we don’t have all the information about the future that God does…we shouldn’t select a plan that contradicts His Word…

- or if you have someone in your life in need of confrontation…but you’ve concluded that the most loving thing to do is ignore what’s going on…that’s not what God’s Word says….and He certainly has more information about where the path that person is on may lead them than we do…so what might feel like compassion to us is actually harmful to them spiritually in the long term…

- or regarding someone in our life who has never heard the gospel…well, I don’t want to upset them…or hinder our friendship…or makes things awkward…

- does any of that sound familiar?...let’s be careful about ever adopting a definition of compassion that differs than what Scripture says…

B. Joseph focused on immediate relief and resolution

- Matthew 1:19 - And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.

- that seemed like the best way out of all of this…

- and again, I’m not suggesting there was anything sinful about what Joseph was intending to do…unless we might say it was a sin of omission because there’s no evidence he stopped to pray about what was occurring…

- but we can definitely forgive him if it didn’t occur to him that the baby Mary was carrying had been conceived by the Holy Spirit…

- but how many of us have latched onto a plan that sought the fastest way out of the problem without carefully considering whether God’s purpose in the matter was going to involve us staying engaged for a much longer period of time with perhaps even greater sacrifice…but please always remember this…

C. The gift of God’s purpose was far superior to what Joseph had contemplated

- to Joseph’s credit…once he was told what was occurring…he let go of his plan and embraced the Lord’s immediately…

- Matthew 1:24–25 - And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.

- see, you can picture God and Joseph just making this exchange…give me the plan you’ve been holding lightly and let me replace it with one far superior…

- and is it true that God’s was far superior?...I realize we are very familiar with these events and if we’re not careful, they can become commonplace…

- but for people who were looking for the coming of the Messiah…after a period of hundreds of years of silence…these words would have been the greatest news he could have ever received…

- no person will ever regret exchanging their plans with God’s purposes…

‑ you know, that starts with accepting the gospel message itself…

- I don’t know for sure the spiritual condition of every person listening to this message…it’s interesting to me that even during the pandemic, the Lord continues to bless us with persons who are new to our church…

- I’m also glad for technology and for all the persons joining us on-line these days…

- but I would imagine there are a lot of Joseph’s and Josephine’s out there regarding the issue of how to establish a relationship with God…

- what I mean by that is – people who believe you earn your way to heaven by your own works…and so you’ve made a plan to essentially save yourself…

- you may be very moral…just like Joseph was…

- you may be very compassionate…just like Joseph was…

- I meet people like that in our town all the time…men and women who believe they are earning their way to heaven by what they do or don’t do…

- that is a plan based on very incomplete information about both the depravity of man and the holiness of God…

- but friend, I hope you’re holding onto that plan lightly…because our God is offering you an exchange…

- and it’s a s simple as what the angel affirmed in verse 21 - Matthew 1:21 - “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

- if we could save ourselves with our deeds, then why did we need Christmas?...why didn’t Jesus stay in heaven and shout down, “be real good…”

- it’s because God is holy, and we need someone who can pay for our sin…that’s why it was so important by the way, for Jesus to be born of a virgin…a detail that this passage explains had been predicted by the prophet Isaiah 700 years before this occurred…

- the Messiah had to be absolutely sinless…so he could be the perfect lamb of God…

- and if there’s never been a time in your life where you admitted your sin…and then trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord…we would invite you to do that today…

- exchange your self-righteous plan to earn your way to heaven with your own works…with God’s plan to redeem every person who will repent and believe through the shed blood of His Son…

- secondly, we should hold our plans lightly…

II. Because God Can Overrule Those Planning to Do Us Harm

- Herod’s role in this narrative looks at this issue through an entirely different perspective…

- what about people are planning right now to harm you in some way?...should we worry about what they might do?...or is there an exchange here that could bring comfort to our souls…

- please keep in mind that…

A. Evil individuals often make plans to harm God and His people.

  • Psalm 83:3 - They make shrewd plans against Your people and conspire together against Your treasured ones.

Proverbs 6 speaks about a list of things our God actually hates…and among them is…

  • Proverbs 6:18 - A heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil,
  • 1 John 3:13 - Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you.

- so in this case,

B. Herod believed he had a fail-safe way to destroy the Messiah

- Matthew 2:7–8 - Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.”

- and you can see, he had no trouble at all directly lying about what he planned to do…

- worshipping this newborn king was the last thing on his mind…then later in the passage…

- Matthew 2:16 - Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi.

- in his way of thinking, that was the plan that would wipe out the Messiah, even if many other little babies had to be murdered as well…

- and you look at someone with the wickedness and the power to carry out a plan like that, and you can easily give into fear and worry…

- what might that person at work be plotting against you…

- or those gossiping extended family members…

- or your ex who seems to find no greater joy than making your life miserable…

- there’s a clear exchange in this passage…because God’s purpose was not going to be sidetracked by Herod’s evil plans…

C. Be comforted because God can thwart the plans of the wicked.

- Psalm 33:10 - The Lord nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples.

- you and I don’t have to worry about what someone else might be able to do to us or someone we love as if that would be outside of God’s control or compassion…

- in this case, after the wise men had left Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus, we read…

- Matthew 2:13–15 - Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord *appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.” So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. He remained there until the death of Herod.

- so friends, who outlived who?

- whose plan and purposes were ultimately fulfilled?...

- there’s no reason to worry about the Herod’s of the world…or the Herod’s in your life…as if their plans could overrule God’s…

- the prophet Isaiah told us something about the Messiah that reinforces what we’re thinking about here…

- Isaiah 7:14 - “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.

- what does the name Immanuel mean?...God with us…

- anyone trying to do you harm is going to have to get through your Savior first…what’s the likelihood that’s going to succeed?...

- in the very next chapter, Isaiah speaks on behalf of His faithful remnant to the Assyrians who were plotting against them -- Isaiah 8:10 - Devise a plan, but it will be thwarted; State a proposal, but it will not stand, for God is with us.

- any question in your mind about what Hebrew word is there, translated “God is with us”?...Immanuel…

- for some of us – the threats and plotting of the Herod’s in our life ought to receive less focus…and we can exchange it for the powerful, personal, protection of our God…

- let me say a word to anyone who might be listening to this message who might be like a Herod…

- again, I don’t know who might be listening to this message…but you might be devising some sort of plan against a follower of Christ…

- maybe your parent or your step-parent is trying to live for God – and you don’t like it – and you are trying to do everything in your power to undermine that person’s authority…and just doing everything you can think of to make your home a miserable place…

- or maybe there’s a godly person where you work – and their honesty and integrity is a source of conviction for you – so you mock them, or ridicule them behind their back, and try to sabotage them in some way…

- the message from the Scripture is – God wants you to make an exchange…

- it’s very similar to what happened to Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus…

- he was like Herod, wasn’t he?...trying to murder Christians and disrupt the church….how did that work out for him?...

- Acts 9:1–6 - Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.”

- the Lord may be offering a similar exchange to someone listening to this message today…

- it’s not that parent, or that co-worker, or that neighbor, or that extended family you’re persecuting…it’s Christ himself…and the offered exchange is for you to admit your sin and embrace the purpose of God which starts with you becoming a follower of Jesus and then loving His people and supporting their attempts to trust and obey instead of undermining them…

III. Because God’s Plans Always Cause His Words to Come to Pass

- Who’s the best planner that you know?...

- the answer – the God of heaven and earth…

- theologically, we refer to this as the decrees of God, and the sovereignty of God…

- Paul told the Ephesians…Ephesians 1:11 - also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,

- the Psalmist affirmed…Psalm 119:89 - Forever, O Lord, your word is settled in heaven.

- if you’re going to exchange your plans with someone else’s purpose…be sure you’re doing it with someone whose perspective is both perfect and eternal…

- that’s why we’re willing to hold our plans so loosely…so lightly…anytime it can be replaced with the eternal purposes of God, that’s what we want…because we know that’s what has the greatest potential for God’s glory and our good…

- did you notice how many times in this passage Matthew explains to his readers…this happened to fulfill a particular aspect of God’s Word?...

- and from the perspective of Matthew’s greater purpose in the book, he’s demonstrating to his readers that Jesus Christ is clearly the promised Messiah of Israel…because look at all the different ways his life and ministry and death, burial, and resurrection fulfill specific prophecies from the Old Testament…

- that’s why our faith is not in some fairy tale…this isn’t Miracle on 34th Street or White Christmas…Matthew is encouraging you to clearly and carefully examine the evidence…even from the pure perspective of mathematics, what is the statistical probability of all of these prophecies being fulfilled in the life of one person unless he truly is the fulfillment of God’s promises and prophecies to unredeemed man?...

- I repeat - if you’re going to exchange your plans with someone else’s purpose…be sure you’re doing it with someone whose perspective is both perfect and eternal…

A. That the Messiah would be born of a virgin

- Matthew 1:22–23 - Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.”

- see, not only does God have a plan and purpose, but He went on record 100 of years in advance and explained exactly what that plan was…

B. Where the Messiah would be born

- so when Herod asked the chief priests and scribes where the Messiah would be born, they knew…and what’s amazing about that is, it’s not like they picked the largest city because the probability of being right would be higher…that’s the significance of “O Little town of Bethlehem…”

- so the chief priests and scribes answered… Matthew 2:5–6 - They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; For out of you shall come forth a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’ ”

- part of what’s amazing about this part of the story is – Herod believed what the Bible said on this point…otherwise his subsequent actions wouldn’t make any sense…

- yet it shows the irrationality of unbelief…if you’re going to believe that detail, why wouldn’t you believe everything else Scripture predicts about the coming king…

- and who do you think you are to thwart the eternal plan of God with your murderous intentions?...

C. That the Messiah would spend time in Egypt

- Matthew 2:15 - He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”

- you could imagine people saying – see, there’s a contradiction in the Bible…how could the Messiah both be from Bethlehem in Judea and from Egypt at the same time?...

- is there a lesson for us there when we don’t understand how various truths taught in the Word of God could possibly be fulfilled?...

- maybe we shouldn’t assume that’s God Word is incorrect and instead understand that we don’t have all the information He does…at least not yet…

D. That infants in Bethlehem would be killed by murderous Herod

- Matthew 2:17–18 - Then what had been spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “A voice was heard in Ramah, Weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; And she refused to be comforted, Because they were no more.”

- David spoke about people who… Psalm 36:4 - He plans wickedness upon his bed;

He sets himself on a path that is not good; He does not despise evil.

- That’s what wicked Herod did…as he exercised his power and plans as an instrument of death…

- it’s chilling, by the way, to hear and see politicians lining up to enact policies where babies in their mother’s wombs right up to the point of conception can be murdered at taxpayers expense…anyone in favor of that is not a nice guy, or a nice woman…

E. That the Messiah would grow up in Nazareth

- Matthew 2:22–23 - But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Then after being warned by God in a dream, he left for the regions of Galilee, and came and lived in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene.”

- this is why we should hold our plans so loosely – God has a plan that is forever settled in the heavens…for those who are moving toward Him in repentance and faith, His plans and purposes will always result in His glory and our spiritual good…

- the challenge is – we don’t always know that in advance…that’s the difference between God’s directive will – what he has revealed to us in his Word, which we can always know – and His decreed will, what He has ordained to occur, which often can’t be known until it happens…

- what’s the upshot of that?...the more we know God’s revealed will in His Word, and make choices and decisions in line with what Scripture says…

- the more likely we are to be on the right path to begin with…

- or best positioned to quickly pivot as His decreed will becomes more apparent in the moment…

- So how can all of this help us as we move into Christmas as individuals, families, and as a church?...

- we’ve had to exchange a lot of our plans this year, haven’t we?...

- and it’s not that many of them were bad…they were more like Joseph’s plan to put Mary away privately, or move his family here or there…

- and then sovereignly intervened…not always in ways we would have preferred or chosen ourselves…

- however, the sovereignty of God can bring great comfort during times of uncertainty…

- this Messiah who grew up and then died on the cross for our sins makes it possible for us to crucify our plans and be raised to a new life of embracing His purpose with as much joy and submission and hope as possible…

- Galatians 2:20 - I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

- I realize that everyone is tired of the pandemic, but apparently the pandemic is not tired of us…

- I’d like to encourage everyone in our church family to make personal and family choices that are consistent with the 2 great commandments [review]…

- part of loving our neighbors is being very concerned right now for our hospitals and medical workers…

- please remember that it’s not really love until we are sacrificing to serve someone else…

- don’t waste COVID 19 and the opportunities to be conformed to the image of Christ

- CFE – thank you for signing up to sponsor children – this may be the most important year to do that ever…

- there are still some remaining serving positions

- a great opportunity, even when many of our plans have been put on the shelf, to embrace God’s purpose during these days…

- LN – we believe we can do it safely for our guests and our volunteers

- thanks for those who helped unload trailers, set up the scenes

- please be as flexible as possible as we make last minute substitutions…

- but let’s pray for a harvest of souls this Christmastime…what a perfect opportunity to exchange our plans for God’s eternal purposes…

Authors

Dr. Steve Viars

Roles

Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation

Bio

B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and four grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video