All According to Plan

Have you ever made plans only to have them fall apart? I suspect you have. That’s part of life. Sometimes, though, when our plans fall apart, it isn’t because we’ve done anything wrong. It isn’t because anyone else has done anything wrong either. Instead, it’s because God has His own plans and He’s interrupting to make sure His plans happen. This kind of thing can be monumentally frustrating, but as we’ll see in this next part of our Advent series, All Planned Out, this always works out for our good. Thanks for joining me as we talk about how God makes sure things happen all according to His plan.

All According to Plan

There’s a pretty well-known children’s book that starts out like this: “I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be…” If you know the book, say the next line with me: “…a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.” Now, what poor soul experienced all of that bad luck before breakfast? Why, Alexander, of course. The book is entitled Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

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Morning Musing: Luke 2:10-11

“But the angel said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today in the city of David a Savior was born for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord.’”
— ‭‭Luke‬ ‭2:10-11‬ ‭(CSB‬‬ – Read the chapter)

A week’s worth of joy is not such a bad thing to have. Better would be a whole season of it. Even better than that is a permanent joy that no amount of trouble or fear can shake loose from our hearts. When Jesus arrived on this earth in the form of a little baby, that’s exactly what He came bringing with Him. Rejoice with me today in this good news, this Gospel, and then close out your week with a song that’s sure to bring a smile to your heart.

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Morning Musing: Matthew 5:11-12

“You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me. Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

People don’t like it when you’re happy at times they think you shouldn’t be. There’s a great scene from the classic baseball movie Field of Dreams when Kevin Costner’s dad tells him how he hit when he played. He would look the opposing pitcher in the eyes, and just before he threw the ball, he would smile and wink at him. He said this would get in their head and make them think he knew something they didn’t know. Of course, when he actually got to put this into practice in the ghostly game near the end of the film, the pitcher threw the ball at his head in retaliation, but it worked. As followers of Jesus, we get to be like that batter. No matter how bad things may get in this life, we can smile and give a little wink because we know something the world doesn’t know. This is what Jesus tells us joy looks like.

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Digging in Deeper: Genesis 3:4-6

“‘No! You will certainly not die,’ the serpent said to the woman. ‘In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ The woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Okay, I give. What on earth does this have to do with joy? Were you asking that as I started reading? I mean, on its face, this passage is about the entrance of sin into the world. There’s nothing particularly joyful about that. So, why are we reading this passage this morning on the second day of our weeklong reflection on this third virtue of Advent? Because it tells us a whole lot about joy. Let’s talk about it.

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Digging in Deeper: Psalm 105:42-43

“For he remembered his holy promise to Abraham his servant. He brought his people out with rejoicing, his chosen ones with shouts of joy.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

What is it that makes you happy? Perhaps many different things fit that particular bill for you. I’m happy when I’m spending time with my family, when my sports teams are winning, when a sermon goes just right, when I’m doing something good for someone else, when I’m out at night to see the stars twinkling, and so on and so forth. Your list may include some things like those, or it may be totally different. What I suspect your list does have in common with mine, though, is that the things on it are all situationally-linked. That is, they depend on the presence of a certain set of circumstances. Happiness is a good thing. But in the Scriptures, we are called to something greater: Joy. This week, as we continue our Advent journey, we are going to dig into the idea of joy and how we can experience this deeper reality in Christ. I hope you’re ready.

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