Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Shepastor: "From Detour to Destiny"

Matthew 2:13-23. And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life. And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

Detours…I don’t know about you but I hate detours. I like to have things all mapped out. And because I can be directionally challenged, I even have my husband to take me on what we call, “dry runs” a few days before I have to be wherever I am going so that I won’t have the frustration of trying to figure out how to get there on that day. I suspect that I am not the only one directionally challenged, for the auto industry and technological industries are making a fortune on devices such as the GPS, google maps, android and Apple “apps,” just to help folks to get to where they want to go.

But even those marvelous apps get thrown off at times because of detours. They even have disclaimers that will say something like, “these directions do not include detours that may occur.” Detours – they can be pesky things. They take us off of the course that we have planned. They change the pattern of our direction. They may add time to our journey. They may put us way out of the path that we are accustomed to following.

But detours are designed to take us around dangerous places, holes in the ground, construction sites etc. The thing about detours is that if you follow them, they are designed to put you back onto the path that will carry you to your destination.
Life is filled with detours.

Jesus’ journey began with some detours. Mary and Joseph were espoused to be married but God sent an angel to visit her, tell her that she was highly favored by the most high God and that she would have a baby without being involved with a man…a detour.

Joseph gets the word about his beloved Mary, that she is pregnant and he is not the daddy. He therefore makes plans to “put her away privately,” but an angel comes and tells him not to do it – God is in the midst. God is the baby’s father – marry her anyway… a detour.

When Mary was “great with child,” the Scripture says that a “decree went out from Caesar Augustus that “all the world should be taxed/registered.” That meant that Joseph had to take his very pregnant wife and travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Scholars suggest that it was about an 80 mile, four day journey. Some suggest that they may have joined a caravan in order to get there. But whatever the case, it was a long, long distance for a very pregnant woman – a detour.

When they finally arrive, they can’t find anywhere to stay – no room in the inn – a detour. They ended up in a stable – you know the Christmas story. We glorify it but it was a painful, smelly, uncomfortable inconvenience – it was a DETOUR! One would think after all of that the detours would be over. Not so. Now Herod with his crazy, jealous self tries to trick the wise men into telling him where the baby Jesus was born. But God sends the wise men on a detour and tells them to go home another way.

Next the Lord appears to Joseph in a dream and tells him to take the baby and Mary and flee into Egypt because Herod is about to order the execution of all of the children age two and under – trying to destroy Jesus…another Detour! But in each instance, God was moving…moving Mary and Joseph, moving the wise men, moving you and I…moving Jesus closer to destiny.

Because of the detours, prophecy was fulfilled. Because of the detours, lives were saved. Because of the detours a Savior was born!

We too experience detours – they don’t make sense at the time. They may frustrate and anger us while they are happening. They may make us uncomfortable and even be painful at times – but every detour is moving us closer to the destiny God has for us. Our plans and God’s plans are two different things. It does not mean that we should stop planning. It does not mean that we shouldn’t get prepared. It means that we must be flexible in our planning.

We must be open to listen and obey. What if Joseph didn’t listen to the angel? What if the wise men hadn’t paid attention to their dreams? What if Joseph would have ignored the warnings he received to get up and flee into Egypt? We must avoid being so rigid in our planning that we ignore the voice of God. Know that even if your plans must change, God has a plan for your destiny. God knows just where you will end up. God knows just why He is taking you around some things, by some things, over some things and through some things.

The detour is necessary to preserve you. The detour is necessary to protect you. The detour is necessary to fulfill God’s divine will and purpose for your life. Don’t despise the detours. Don’t ignore the detours. Don’t plumb through the detours. Obey the signs. Go with the flow. Trust God enough to be obedient.

In 2015, let the Lord lead you all the way around. Let the Lord guide you in the direction that He would have you to go. In 2015, trust God even in the detours. Know that His plans for you are good. God’s plans for you are right. God’s plans for you are just. God’s plans for you are your destiny.

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May you and your family have a joy-filled, “on purpose,” “To God be the glory,” New Year!

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

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