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Summary: Joseph and Mary were a normal couple given a complicated task to perform for the Lord. Though they were in the will of God and followed Him, the path God led them down was not easy. This sermon examine their lives, God's will for them, their trials and th

When God Messes with Your Plans

Chuck Sligh

December 18, 2011

A PowerPoint presentation for this message is available by emailing me at chucksligh@hotmail.com.

TEXT: Matthew 1:18-25


Today I want to speak about Joseph and Mary. The title of my sermon is “When God Messes with Your Plans!” In our text, we see two godly young people making plans for their lives, and then…God messes with their plans.

Illus. – Men, can you remember those days of your engagement? You had fallen in love with the girl of your dreams! And she seemed to be pretty fond of you too! There came that time when you made up your mind to ask her to marry you. And wonder of wonders—SHE AGREED! Boy what a dupe she was!

Well, engagements were handled differently in those days than they are now. Marriages were pre-arranged by the parents, sometimes when the children were only infants. But when they were engaged, they would make their plans, and their future marriage was just as anticipated as it is to engaged couples today.

I can imagine young JOSEPH— The wedding date is approaching. He’s making preparations. All he thinks, eats and breathes is Mary, Mary, Mary.

I can also picture MARY— The event every girl dreams of is almost here! She’s so excited as she and her parents make the wedding plans. She and Joseph have such wonderful dreams for their lives together.

But then [PAUSE] GOD MESSED WITH THEIR PLANS! It was never in their plans for Mary to become pregnant before their wedding night! And certainly, the idea of becoming pregnant MIRACULOUSLY and giving birth to the Messiah was about the last thing they expected.

Their reactions were oh, so normal:

Mary’s reaction to the news WAS ONE OF PERPLEXITY. She asks in Luke 1:34b – “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” [that is, “since I have not been with a man.”]. As a flood of thoughts raced through her mind, she was naturally bewildered. Oh boy, how do I explain THIS to Mom and Dad? Will Joseph still want me as his wife now? Will he believe my story of how I became pregnant? Will ANYONE believe this story? No doubt, the whole thing must have been very frightening to her, and yet somehow exciting to know that in her womb was the long-awaited Messiah!

Joseph’s reaction WAS A LITTLE DIFFERENT AND MORE PRAGMATIC. He had an important decision to make: Should he believe that Mary had remained pure and that she had miraculously become pregnant with the Messiah? I mean, come on—that’s a little far-fetched, and he knew how girls got pregnant, and HE was not the father, THAT’S for sure. Maybe he should just break off the engagement? What was the RIGHT thing to do?

Well, you know the rest of the story—an angel confirmed to Joseph that Mary’s story was true; they DID marry; Mary DID give birth to the Messiah; and the rest is history! Today I’d like to share three observations from our text that I think will be helpful for us:


This suddenly hit me one day. I know of no Scripture where the angel announcing God’s plan ASKS Mary or Joseph if this is okay with them! God didn’t seek their approval before proceeding with HIS will for their lives. He simply INFORMED them through an angel! And their lives were FOREVER altered after that.

Now think back to your own life: How many of you are doing what you planned to do when you were a kid? How many of you are even doing what you thought you would be doing when you graduated from high school?

It’s interesting—I’m not even doing what I went four years of university to train for. I’ve found that the majority of the plans I had as a young person are radically different than what has actually come to pass. Some of them have changed because I’ve changed my desires and focus in life. But others were changed because of circumstances beyond my control: GOD got involved and messed with my plans! And God’s never asked me about allowing those situations into my life!

Illus. – For instance, I never planned to have cancer in 1979—But God did! And He never asked my permission to allow me to experience a surgery, a painful recovery, and a treatment that was sometimes worse than the disease. But God knew what I didn’t know—that I would learn some valuable lessons through those experiences that would better prepare me to serve Him.

Illus. – I’ll tell you something else—I NEVER planned to become a pastor! I earned a university degree and teacher’s certificate to be a school teacher. I taught school one full year—and loved it too. But during that time I also accepted a part-time position as an assistant pastor. I never taught school again, and since then I have served in full-time church ministry in some capacity or another. You see, I had made certain plans for me and my family—but God had other plans for me. And He never asked my permission about it either!

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