On Sunday,Pastor Jeremy Johnson continued our series, “I’m A Believer,” by showing us through the Christmas story, that we may have some unopened gifts from God because we are intimidated by the wrapping. Joseph nearly ran from the best gift of all because of how it was wrapped.

Matthew 1:18 states, “18This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.19Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yetdid not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorceher quietly.20But after he had considered this, an angelof the Lord appeared to him in a dreamand said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.21She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,because he will save his people from their sins.’ 22All this took place to fulfillwhat the Lord had said through the prophet:23‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’(which means ‘God with us’).24When Joseph woke up, he did what the angelof the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.25But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.”

When Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant outside of marriage, his plan was to break things off quietly so that she would not be disgraced. However, once He found out the Lord’s plan, He continued with the marriage. How many times have we run away from a gift God was trying to give us because it wasn’t nicely wrapped? No wonder Joseph’s first instinct was to run away. Going into marriage with a woman who was carrying someone else’s baby was not the best wrapping for raising the savior of the world.

Often times God is found where we would never think to look. John 1:9-13 says, “The true lightthat gives light to everyonewas coming into the world.10He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.11He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.12Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name,he gave the right to become children of God—13children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”God’s own people did not recognize Him when He came. They knew His word and practiced the law, but could not see Him when He was right in front of them. How many times in our lives have we thought He was not there when He actually was? In not understanding that Jesus was the gift they had been waiting for and evidence of everything they had studied and practiced, the people did not gain access to their right to become children of God. The good news today is not that we believe, but that we have become children of God through believing and receiving the gift of Jesus.

God’s plans for us are not always, what we think they should be or look the way we think they should look. After all, wouldn’t you think that if God called Mary to have Jesus, He would haveprovided a more suitable place for Him to be born? Luke 2:4-12 states:

“4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehemthe town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.9An angelof the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Saviorhas been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.12This will be a signto you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Mary was carrying the savior of the world and there was not a room available for her to have Him in. Why is that? Did God forget that part of the plan? Why were doors shut on them? The fact is that this was all part of God’s plan. The significance of Him being born in a manger was undeniable at that time. Before Jesus, God’s people had to sacrifice spotless lambs on a regular basis to pay for their sins. Before a lamb was sacrificed, they were placed in a manger wrapped in clothes just like Jesus. God was purposeful in a seemingly chaotic situation to show that no more spotless lambs were needed. Jesus was going to be the ultimate sacrifice.

Have you ever wondered why doors were shut on you with that job you wanted or that relationship you were hoping would work out? Maybe it was because God was trying to redirect you. He does not redirect because He is mad at you, He redirects because there is a much bigger and better plan for you than meets the eye. The significance of Jesus being the spotless lamb and the foreshadowing of Him becoming the ultimate sacrifice would have been overlooked had He not been placed in a manger.

Do not be afraid to allow God to redirect you and donot be afraid to unwrap the gifts He wants to give you. The wrapping may look unorthodox like it did for, but unwrapping it is more than worth it. Ask God about the unopened gifts in your life and ask Him to help you unwrap them and live the purpose-filled life you were born to live!