Perplexed? Exchange Your Plans for God’s Plans! – A Joy-Filled Advent #5

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Perplexed? Exchange Your Plans for God’s Plans!

Do you find changing plans perplexing? Mary and Joseph changed their plans often as they listened to God. Why not ask God to help you lean into change? God can help you most when you are willing to exchange your plans for God’s plans!

Advent JOY

Welcome to Advent JOY Podcast #5, based on my book The Joy Of Advent: Journey With The People, Events, and Prayers At The First Coming Of Jesus Christ.  Today, we travel with Matthew’s Gospel, meet some unexpected members of Jesus’ ancestry, and hear of Joseph’s dream and his faithfulness to Mary. Matthew fills us in on details of Mary’s return home to her betrothed Joseph after she visits Elizabeth.

The Family Record (Mathew  1: 1-7, 16-17)

  • So, we start with Matthew 1. At the time of Jesus, families kept a genealogical record (or family tree) to distribute inherited property and other rights under Jewish laws.
  • Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI points out that Matthew 1 is not a perfect historical account that includes every single member of the ancestry of Jesus Christ, saying: ”This was not Matthew’s goal.“ (Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives, 2012, p. 8).
  • Matthew wrote to appeal to the Jews by placing Jesus first and foremost as the Son of Abraham—the Patriarch and Father of Israel promised as part of an everlasting covenant with God (Genesis 17: 6-7), and as the Son of David—the priestly King of Israel, whose ancestors were prophesied to reign forever (2 Samuel: 7:13).

Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba in the Lineage of Jesus

  • Jewish lineages, at the time of Christ, usually did not contain names of women. Christ’s ancestry lists five women in Matthew 1. Of course, we would expect the  Blessed Virgin Mary to be named. But there were four others listed—Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba who came from foreign ancestry or had a reputation for immorality that could have disqualified them from inclusion in the lineage of Jesus Christ.  All were Gentile women who turned away from immoralities or idolatries to become faithful to God in their circumstances.
  • Even if your past life or “family tree” seems dishonorable, Jesus offers you forgiveness, grace, mercy, and a new beginning when you turn to Him. You are part of the family of God, and every day you can have a new life in Christ. Hebrews 2: 11: G”od is not ashamed to call them [or you] brothers and sisters.”
  • Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote on the deeper meaning of the genealogies of Jesus and said:“[T]hose who believe in Jesus enter through faith into Jesus’ unique new origin, and they receive this origin as their own…Joseph did not beget Jesus but was truly born of the Holy Spirit from the Virgin Mary, so it can now be said of us that our true ‘genealogy’ is faith in Jesus who gives us a new origin and …to birth ‘from God” (Jesus of Nazareth, p. 12-13).

Found with Child (Matthew 1: 18-25)

  • Dreams were a common way God communicated with His people in the Old Testament. Joseph did not hesitate in his response to the angel in the dream. He trusted God to work everything out. He willingly exchanged his plans for God’s plans. We could say he leaned into God’s plans.
  • Joseph, from the tribe of Judah and the house of David, a carpenter by trade, became the legal head of this precious family (Abbott Ricciotti, The Life of Christ, 1947).  Joseph is a role model to families—looking for God’s plans and leaning into them. This was the beginning of Joseph’s mission for life. Some have said it this way, Joseph was born for this vocation — to be the father of Jesus and Mary’s most chaste spouse. Like Mary, Joseph said “yes” to his vocation. His entire happiness was in knowing what God wanted him to do and carrying it out to the end ( Fernandez, Conversation with God, Vol. 1, 1997). He was devoted to God and his family.

Our Response

  1. Lean into God’s Plans. Can you picture Joseph’s perplexity when his plans suddenly changed? He was likely building the house, planning the wedding, or earning extra money for the marriage, but he was unprepared to hear Mary’s announcement.  Then God gave him more direction through an angel in a dream.  He leaned in the changes. You can ask yourself: Am I open to changing my plans to fit God’s plan? Talk to Jesus about how you can stay open to God’s plans. What changes can you lean into?
  2. Accept Your Place in God’s Family. If you feel unworthy or unqualified to be part of God’s family, remember Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth. These women changed direction to follow God, joined God’s family, and are part of the lineage of Jesus. It is not too late for your family to come to God.  Ask Jesus to forgive you and your family. Ask him to help you change directions.  Then do what he tells you.


Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy small group study that accompanies each podcast series, especially this one:  A Joy-filled Advent: Journey with the People, Events, and Prayers.  Read more on hosting a CUP of JOY Women or Cup of JOY Gathering small group.  For more information, please email

You can download a Bookmark of prayer points from A Joy-filled Advent Podcast #1 at my website:

Check out more podcasts here!

Click here for the book: The Joy of Advent: Journey with the People, Events and Prayers at the First Coming of Jesus Christ.

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