God was dealing with a man named Tim about a possible local church ministry, as he worked in a successful career in sales. He and his wife were a young married couple, but without kids yet. He was serving in his local church. He surprisingly was allowed enough time off and went on a short-term mission trip with that church. In coming back from the mission trip, he sensed a leading toward serving within ministry somewhere.
His Director of Missions told him of a scholarship at a Baptist college. He was awarded that scholarship and began attending the school. Being at that school put him in a position to be asked to start a new church. It took almost 2 years to transition his family to the new ministry field. He finished school and pastored that church for 12 years. That same man, whose family was totally and completely relocated then became an associational missionary for that local Baptist association in his area.
God sometimes does radical work in the lives of families to accomplish His purposes. Last week we examined how God can radically move governments to accomplish His plan. What if, amid upheaval within governments, we remembered that God also moves families. When God is bringing His plan to pass, He will impact families.
As Luke 2 progresses, and the census that Caesar Augustus ordered takes place, the young couple, Mary and Joseph, head toward Bethlehem (85 miles south of their town) to be counted in the census. As we see their family moving, consider some areas that God might move your family.
- He Might Move their Location: Luke 2:4
“Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.”
There are three thoughts about “city of David, which is called Bethlehem.” First of all, the meaning of Bethlehem is “house of bread”, which is appropriate since Jesus would be called the bread of Life. Second, the prophecy of Bethlehem occurred hundreds of years earlier in Micah 5:2, where the prophet wrote,
"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,Yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.”
Third, the identity of Bethlehem is “City of David.” Since David’s ancestral lineage ran through Bethlehem, it was his family home. Jerusalem was a city that David built as the king of Israel, and it was the political home of David.
God has never promised us that life would have no interruptions. He sometimes will relocate us to places we had never considered.
In December 2018, I had been the pastor of Green Acres Baptist Church in Warner Robins, GA for almost 14 years. We had experienced some of the most challenging work I had ever done in ministry but a lot of victories. When I arrived in 2005 the church was in crisis and had lost many people over the previous 12 years. One dear lady, who had been at Green Acres more than 20 years, said to me when I first arrived, “Pastor, a couple of people said that, if things did not change, we would have a for sale sign in the yard within 2 years. I told them, ‘Well, you will have to push me out and lock the door behind me before I give up.’” She was one of the few who was that tenacious at the time. This was the mindset of the fellowship when I arrived.
We saw tremendous things take place in that fellowship, and by December 2018 ministries had expanded, buildings had been renovated and rebuilt, and people were steadily joining. There was almost never a time where we did not have people in our new member classes. Yet, I sensed a lull. I sensed that, after all those years, we needed a new, fresh vision before us. I met with my pastoral staff at that time and said, “Guys, I believe a fresh vision is needed as we look to 2019. In fact, I believe this so much so that either God is going to give us a fresh view or he is going to move one or more of us to bring a new view in.”
Later that week, Elissa and I were coming out of John’s Mexican Restaurant in Warner Robins. It is an old Mexican restaurant that has changed names once through the years but has been a Mexican restaurant for over 30 years. We had stopped to pick up a 12 pack of soft, beef tacos. We were leaving the restaurant, and I remember the conversation to this day. I said, “Baby, I really believe we are seeing a bit of a lull in outreach and ministry. I believe one of two things is going to happen in 2019. Either God is going to give us brand new fresh vision, or he is going to replace one or more of us on my staff.
I’ll never forget her next words. “Well, I think it is highly doubtful that it will be you.”
And…4 ½ months later I began as the pastor of Golden Acres Baptist Church. Oh how our Savior will sometimes move the location of families. Would you be open to God changing your family?