Summary: Understanding demanding changes in life in light of God’s plans helps us to handle them with unlimited resources, greater encouragement, and a view to eternity

It’s December! And in our continuing effort to provide really practical, helpful information, I found a top 10 list that you may need over the next 3 weeks. Here it is, Top Ten Things To Say About the Gifts You Don’t Really Like.

10. "Well, well, well, now, there’s a gift!"

9. "No, with all the hostile takeovers this year, I missed the big Ronco/K-Tel/Ginsu merger. Would you just look at that! What will they think of next?!"

8. "Hey, as long as I don’t have to feed it, or clean up after it, or put batteries in it, I’m happy!"

7. "No, really, I didn’t know that there was a Chia Pet tie! Oh, wow! It’s a clip-on too!"

6. "You know, I always wanted one of these! Jog my memory — what’s it called again?"

5. "You know what? — I’m going to find a special place to put this!"

4. "Boy, you don’t see craftsmanship like that every day!"

3. "And it’s such an interesting color too!"

2. "You say that was the last one? Am I sure glad that you snapped that baby up!"

1. "You shouldn’t have! I mean it, you really shouldn’t have!"

Maybe that will prove helpful this Christmas when the gift is from your in-laws or something! But what do you say when the One giving you the gift is God? How do you say to God, “Thanks, Lord, but I really didn’t ask for this!”? What do you say when God brings you something you just really don’t want or think you can use? This morning, I’m thinking especially about the gift of Changed Plans.

You’ve probably seen the saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” I’ve always thought that was funny. Then, I found out that’s an adaptation of a verse…

Proverbs 19:21

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

In other words, if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans!

James 4:13-15

Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that."

This whole year we’ve been focusing on the way that when people have a close encounter with the Lord their lives are forever changed. For the month of December, we’re going to look at people associated with the Christmas story and the way they were forever changed, because one after another there are stories of peoples’ plans being turned on their ears right around the time that Jesus was born. One of the most obvious is Mary…

Luke 1:26-33

In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."

We don’t know a thing about Mary before she appears here in Lk 1. It’s a short scene, but it also started the forever change in her life. We don’t have any record of her life before that day, so I can’t tell you anything about it. But, I can tell you this for sure: starting with this passage we’re looking at today, her life was never the same.

That can be a good thing, or a not good thing. Either way, having our plans changed can be challenging. What do we do? When that’s the gift God gives us, how do we handle it? Let’s find some answers in this first scene we have from Mary’s life. First,

I. Remember God has Plans

Proverbs 19:21

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

1. Scary plans

Sometimes, God’s plans can be scary, because we know they’ll be hard. Maybe you know that because you’ve read your Bible – you’ve read about Job, about Jonah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Moses, about the Apostles. God used each them for special service, and every one of them paid for dearly it in one way or another.

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