What the Christmas Story Teaches Believers About God's Timing

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Like many of you, I've read and preached the Christmas story many times in my life.

But a few years ago, I noticed something that I had missed for most of my life.

God's timetable is all over the Christmas story.

Once you see it, you'll never miss it again.

As leaders, it's important to have a good sense of timing. Getting in sync with God's timing helps us lead our church to seize the opportunities He gives us.

So, what can the timing of Jesus' birth tell us as leaders about God's timing in our own ministries? I'll share five lessons over the next two weeks. Here are the first three.

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1. God has a timetable for everything that happens. God had been telling the world for centuries that He was going to send a Savior. But God waited thousands of years for just the right time to send His Son.

Why didn't God send him sooner?

God had his own timetable for Christmas.

The Bible says, "But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children" (Gal. 4:4-5, NLT).

We don't know why God sent Jesus when He did, but we know it was the right time to do what He wanted to do.

The same is true in your ministry. God has a timetable. You may not know what it is right now, but you can trust that His timing is perfect.

2. God does not tell us the details in advance. Although God has a timetable for your ministry, He doesn't lay it all out to you in advance.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NCV) says this: "God has given them a desire to know the future. He does everything just right and on time, but people can never completely understand what he is doing."

God didn't tell Israel exactly when Jesus would come, but the Bible says Jesus came at the right time.

You and I like to know exactly what's next in our ministries, but that's not how God works. God rarely lays everything out before us. Why?

First, it would overwhelm you if God told you everything He wanted to do through your ministry right now. You'd likely run away from it.

Second, you'd probably abuse it. You would try to change the bad parts.

But the most important reason He doesn't announce His timetable for your ministry in advance is that He wants you to trust him. Everything God does in your life is because of His love for you. He wants you to trust Him more today than you did yesterday.

3. God is never in a hurry, and he's never late. God isn't bound by time. He can be in the past, present and future at the same time. Our view of time is bound by life on earth, which rotates every 24 hours and travels around the sun every 365 days. God doesn't live on a planet, so He is timeless. He is never in a hurry, and He's never late.

When the people of Israel were awaiting the coming of Jesus, it probably seemed like God was taking forever. Many thought He was late.

But the Bible says Jesus came at just the right time—not a second too soon or a second too late.

To see that, you would need to have God's perspective on time. Second Peter 3:8 (NIV) says, "Do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day."

Pastor, that's not how you and I look at time. When we're waiting on God to change a heart, meet a need or grow our church, it feels like a thousand years. We don't like to wait. But God is timeless.

That has major implications for our ministries. God has given you a vision for your ministry. I know many leaders who give up on God's vision because it's taking too long.

Maybe that's you. You're ready to throw in the towel. The dream for your ministry is bruised and broken.

God doesn't want you to give up. He says this in Habakkuk 2:3 (GW): "The vision will still happen at the appointed time. It hurries toward its goal. It won't be a lie. If it's delayed, wait for it. It will certainly happen. It won't be late."

If God gave you a dream, He will make it happen. It just has to happen on His timetable, not yours.

So, wait for it. It's worth it.

I know what it's like to want to rush the dream God has given you. I was 25 years old when I started Saddleback. I was in a hurry to get everything, but God's timing was different. Slowly and steadily God fulfilled the vision.

Pastor, God is not in a hurry. He has a timetable that He will fulfill.

His timing is always perfect.

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church, one of America's largest and most influential churches. He is the author of the New York Times' bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book The Purpose Driven Church was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. Pastor Rick started The PEACE Plan to show the local church how God works through ordinary people to address the five global giants of spiritual emptiness, self-serving leadership, poverty, disease and illiteracy. You can listen to Daily Hope, Pastor Rick's daily 25-minute audio teaching, or sign up for his free daily devotionals at PastorRick.com. He is also the founder of Pastors.com, a global online community created to encourage pastors.

For the original article, visit pastors.com.

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