Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: A look at the Christmas passage - specifically, the struggle of Mary and Joseph having the baby in Bethlehem far from home. A look at four ways God uses our struggles in our lives.

Mary And Joseph’s Road Trip: “Why does God allow these struggles in my life?”

- Luke 2:3-6.

- The trip to Bethlehem under such difficult circumstances had to be a struggle. Did they have questions? I know I would have. “God, why are You allowing this?” “God, have You forgotten us?” “God, wouldn’t it have better to have this child – Your child – at home?”

- Do you have unanswered questions about your struggles? Do you have things you want to ask God? You’re in good company.

- Certainly this morning I want to acknowledge that every struggle we go through can be unique and so we need to be careful in applying these truths. That having been established, there are still important truths that we can apply to the struggles that we go through. Taken together, they can help us to understand why God might be allowing these things.

- As we look at four of these possibilities, I want you to think of your own struggle and see if one or more of these apply to your situation.

What God Might Be Up To:

1. He might have a divine appointment for you.

- Micah 5:2.

- What do I mean by a “divine appointment”? I mean those occasions when God orchestrates a meeting for us – usually without our knowledge. It could be a person we know that we “just happen” to run into. It could be putting us in front of someone we’ve never met but who needs something we can share. It could be a person in need that we can show the love of God to through an act of kindness. It could be someone hurting who needs a shoulder to cry on.

- To get us to our divine appointment, God sometimes has to short-circuit our plans for that day. At a practical level, that often looks like a struggle or being sent in an unwanted direction. It’s not usually pleasant; it can be frustrating.

- So, yes, it stinks that the line was really long in the drive-thru at McDonald’s, but that put you in the elevator with the lady from accounting, which led to you asking about her husband, which led to her crying, which led to a half-hour conversation just off the elevator about the diagnosis of cancer for him that happened yesterday.

- So, yes, it stinks that your evening plans got ruined to go to that movie you really wanted to see, but it opened up the door for that talk with your child where you learned about the problem they’ve been having.

- So, yes, it stinks that your work day went long and then you still had to stop at Walmart to grocery shop, but it put you in the produce department at 8:11 p.m. when the friend you hadn’t seen in two years came around the corner and you were able to invite him to church this Sunday.

- Now, again, obviously this is not true of all our struggles, but there are certainly times in the life of each obedient Christian that He does this.

- This passage actually provides an interesting and encouraging example of a divine appointment.

- Mary and Joseph were from Nazareth, so it was not a common thing for them to be in Bethlehem. The two cities are distant from each other within Israel. And yet this census required them to be in Bethlehem because it was the hometown of Joseph’s people.

- The timing of it, which seemed incredibly inconvenient to them in that moment, was deeply significant. Why? Because it was prophesied in Micah 5:2 that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. This seemingly random inconvenience was being used to orchestrate the fulfillment of a centuries-old prophecy: that the Messiah would come out of Bethlehem.

- What does that mean for us? It is another piece that gives us confidence in the divine origin of Jesus’ birth. All these details coming together to lead to the improbable birth of Jesus in Bethlehem – the census, the timing of the birth.

- Yes, this was a struggle for them, but it was a divine appointment.

2. He might be leading you in the right direction.

- Isaiah 55:8-9.

- The first point had to with a specific moment – this point has to do with a larger, ongoing direction in your life. We might have certain plans and desires for our life to go in a particular direction. And then we have problems that come up that keep pushing us in a different direction. It’s possible that God is using the struggles to point us in that direction.

- What are some examples of this?

- A high school student is intent on going to one college, which seems to be their dream school. Yet as they try to bring together details to make that happen, there are ongoing struggles with every facet of the process. As they pray about it, they begin to feel a leading toward the school that was there second choice, which is where the person who will be a life-changing mentor to them, teaches.

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