Imperfect Christmas: Imperfect Timing Study Guide

This past weekend, we kicked off our special three-week holiday series titled, “Imperfect Christmas.” In part one, Pastor Doug Sauder walked us through the circumstances and timing chosen by God to bring about the Messiah. From the birth of John the Baptist to the immaculate conception of Mary, and the response from both Mary and Joseph to God’s will and plan, we got to see how the Lord’s timing is perfect and how He never wastes a single moment.

Watch the video below to see a few highlights from the message and share it with your friends via social media. To watch the message in its entirety, click here.


Let’s recap some of the key talking points from Pastor Doug’s message this weekend:

God Created Time: As humans, we can measure time, but can’t control time. As much as we’d like to, we can’t slow it down; we can’t freeze great moments like our honeymoon, the growing up of our children, or the great times with good friends. We can’t speed it up to move beyond difficulty into prosperity or to move beyond a dark present into a brighter future. We can’t go back in time; once a moment is gone it’s gone. We can’t control time. But God is in control of time. He made it and He uses it for His good and glorious purposes. He is not subject to time. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. He is in every moment and is in control of every moment.

Thus, we can trust He is in control of every moment in our lives and that His plan for our lives in each individual moment, and in the grand scheme and scope of our entire lives, is perfect and beyond what we could ever ask, think, or imagine.

God Waits with Us in Our Disappointment: There are things God can only teach us in times of waiting. Sometimes things happen in life that are not pleasant . . . things that are difficult, painful, terrifying, or just downright unbearable. Most of us have experienced suffering; we’ve walked through seasons of trials, tribulations, tragedies, and trauma. It’s possible that you’re in the midst of one of those seasons right now.

And when that happens, for most of us, all we can see is the trial, and all we want is for the trial to be over. But so often, God brings about extraordinary destinies out of excruciating seasons. So often, we try to avoid the suffering altogether, but the truth is if we do we’ll never be who were born to be. If we try to avoid the pain, we’ll never experience the gain. And God always has amazing gain on the other side; He always has glory and deliverance and growth waiting for us.

This is where living by faith and not by sight becomes reality for us. You see, for Zacharias and Elizabeth sight would have said, “It’s hopeless. We’re too old. This will never happen.” This is what often happens when God doesn’t fulfill His promises in our timing. Often, disappointment and unmet expectations on our part lead us to shut down, give up, get bitter, or grow cynical and doubtful during the waiting time.

We see the two differing approaches (sight and faith) represented well in Luke 1, as Zacharias doubts the angel’s declaration and Mary responds by saying, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38 NKJV).

God’s Timing Is Perfect: There are a great many moments in the story of Christmas and the coming of Jesus that show us the perfection in God’s timing. From the birth of John the Baptist as the forerunner to pave the way, make straight the paths, and prepare the hearts of the people for the coming of the Messiah to the conception of Mary by the Spirit, to the census that forced Mary and Joseph to travel to Bethlehem (the prophesized birthplace of the Messiah), to the miraculous star appearing and the wise men from the East, it was all perfect. God wasn’t late. He was enacting His perfect plan in the perfect time. And when you zoom out to a historical perspective, the Pax Romana—the period of “Roman peace” in which Jesus was born—had created a time when easier travel was possible for all through the elaborate system of Roman roads. Kings, prophets, politics, and circumstances . . . it all lined up to bring the perfect time for the Messiah to be born.

That’s why Galatians 4:4–5 (NKJV emphasis added) says, “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”

And just as we see the perfection in God’s timing through the Christmas story, we can see it in our own lives! In the same way that He sent His Son when the fullness of time had come, He works in our lives with perfect timing to bring about fullness in our lives. But in order to experience this fullness and walk faithfully in His perfect will and plan, there are two questions we must ask ourselves . . .

1. Am I willing to obey anything the Bible clearly says to do, whether I like it or not?

2. Am I willing to trust God in anything He sends into my life, whether I understand it or not?

Both Mary and Joseph had to accept God’s timing, even though it likely didn’t make any sense to them. And both responded in obedience to God’s command. Likewise, the wise men gave up two years of their lives to follow the star and find this newborn King. They weren’t wasting time nor did they give up when the journey hit a road bump (Herod). They persisted and came face-to-face with the King of the Universe. It was well worth their two years. And whatever waiting you’re doing, it will be well worth it for you if you remain obedient and faithful!

God Never Wastes Time: What are we filling our time with? Are we filling it with media? Phone time? Netflix? Or are we looking into the eyes of our loved ones and making the most of the little time we have on this earth?

If we want to avoid wasting time, we must invest time instead of simply spending time. We must be in the moment! Maybe the holiest thing we can do this Christmas is to cancel something this season. We need to make space to call our parents, to have more than a two-minute conversation with our neighbors, to have true quality time with our spouse, children, and friends. We must seize the moments that are gifted to us and do it all for His glory!

For some, this will be the last Christmas. We need to let that reality alter our choices. We must pray Psalm 90:12 over our lives and truly learn to number our days.

Quote to Remember: Jesus was always busy but never in a hurry.—Pastor Doug Sauder


Visit YouVersion and check out this year’s 12-day devotional reading plan that goes along with our “Imperfect Christmas” series. In this plan, we’ll take a fresh look at the Christmas story and discover that we don’t have to be perfect or have it all together to come to Jesus because our perfect Savior came to us! To subscribe today, click here.


“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”—Matthew 25:40 (NIV)

On Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Jesus. And as we all know, no birthday party would be complete without a gift! For the third year in a row, as our church gives a birthday gift to Jesus, we have the opportunity to radically change people’s lives and futures and make a difference on a global scale. We invite you to be part of this initiative by giving to help support this year’s effort. We’ll announce what we’re giving to Jesus this year duriing our Christmas Celebration services and on Christmas Eve!

Click here to give.


Join us this Wednesday as we continue our discussion from the weekend as part of the “Imperfect Christmas” series.

In week two of our special holiday series, “Imperfect Christmas,” Pastor Doug Sauder will explore the seemingly imperfect setting of the Christmas story. In this message, we’ll see how God uses imperfect places to do extraordinary things, how he turns imperfect places into holy ground, and what all of this means for our lives!

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.