Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes


A Divine Appointment
Pastor Steve Schell
Acts 8:25-40
Not every human heart is ready to receive Jesus Christ. Different people are at different places in their spiritual journey. Some aren’t willing to hear the gospel, but others are and God knows where that person is every moment of the day. You and I can’t tell what’s going on inside another person’s heart, especially by merely looking at their outward appearance. But God knows the secret thoughts and longings within each of us. And He knows there are people all over the world, some of whom would really surprise you, who would come to Him today if only someone would tell them the truth in a way they could understand.

Philip shows us that God is aggressive. He will send believers after those with open hearts. He will arrange divine appointments. Putting you and me next to someone who needs to hear the truth is of utmost importance to Him. It’s a matter of life and death for many, and His great loving heart bursts with compassion for them. So if you and I will learn to listen and obey, like Philip, He will do whatever it takes to have our path cross with theirs. And this is where prophetic guidance comes in.

What happened?
DBS (Wed, Thurs, Sat)

Divine Appointments
Philip meeting the Ethiopian official is an example of what we might call a “divine appointment:” God speaking to one of His servants and directing him or her to someone who needs to hear the gospel or receive ministry. God can arrange for us to “accidentally” cross paths with someone (Lk 10:30-37), but as we read the Book of Acts we discover He also miraculously guides His servants. He might use an angelic messenger, or a prophetic vision (Ac 16:6-10), or the inner voice of the Holy Spirit. He may direct us to someone we’ve never met, maybe even someone who is very different from us, but He knows that person and He knows what they need to hear or receive.

Philip
Philip’s example challenges us. First of all in the way he was guided. An angel told him where to walk and then the Holy Spirit pointed out the person he was to talk to and how he was to meet him. The process was very spiritual and intuitive. There’s nothing wrong with evangelistic programs, but this wasn’t the result of a program. This was Philip hearing God’s instruction and doing what he was told.

Second, Philip went to great personal effort and showed remarkable courage. It took a lot of faith to do what he did, and there must have been moments while walking down that road when he questioned himself. We don’t know how far he walked before he caught up to that carriage. Certainly there would have been a guard riding along who would have been alarmed by a stranger running up and then jogging beside them. And then to initiate a conversation with a foreign official was a bold step. But Philip did it, and the question his example raises is, “Would I do that?” Is this just an interesting story about how God worked during the early years of the church, or does He still do that kind of thing today? Must I show courage like Philip did? And there’s no avoiding the thought, “Has He already tried to direct me to divine appointments in the past but I didn’t recognize what was happening, or refused?”

Doing what Jesus did
Philip wasn’t the first person to function like this. There are many examples of this type of guidance in the Old Testament, but no one in the Bible relied on divine appointments more than Jesus Himself. In fact, He said this was the only way He functioned. Listen:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing… (Jn 5:19, 20)

He also said: “I can do nothing on my own initiative…” (Jn 5:30)
And: “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak” (Jn 12:49; also: 14:10).

Jesus is telling us that he was in constant communion with the Father, and that everything He did was because He was shown what to do or told what to say. He initiated nothing. Everything He did was a response to the Father’s leadership.

But after His resurrection Jesus said to His disciples, “…as the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (Jn 20:21), and then He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (Jn 20:22). In other words, He expected us to follow His leadership as carefully as He had followed the Father’s. We too are to stay in constant communion with our Head, who is Jesus, and to daily and moment by moment, follow His leadership. This means we are to do what Jesus did. So, Philip’s example, as wonderful as it is, isn’t meant to be marveled at as a strange event, but learned from as a model of how believers can be led by the Spirit. It’s possible to go through our day watching and listening for God’s guidance. We can start the day by asking for “divine appointments” and then going about our normal duties “as unto the Lord,” but all the while staying sensitive to the Spirit, particularly as we encounter people. This does not mean we will forcefully preach at everyone we meet, or remain strangely aloof while others carry on a normal conversation. But it does mean we will be prayerfully watching to see if there will be a special moment in this conversation, an open door, and if there is we will do or say what He shows us. That’s all He asks. He’ll do the rest.

The Heart-Searcher
God searches the world looking for people who are looking for Him. Not everyone is. There are many who actually don’t want Him for one reason or another. But there are many others who do, but don’t know how to find Him. These God-searchers aren’t people without sin. In fact, the reason many are earnestly seeking Him is because they have already tried everything else and know it doesn’t satisfy. They’re empty and dying, and they finally know it. They’re at a place now where they want to know the truth. If someone would just tell them that God still loves them and what they must do to be saved, they would gladly come to Him. Here’s an example:
• Paul in Corinth (Ac 18:9, 10) “Do not be afraid…but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you and no man will attack you, for I have many people in this city.”
He knows where you are and He knows where they are, and He knows how to direct your paths so they cross accidentally, or He may prophetically tell you where to go and then point the person out to you. He knows how to pick the ripe fruit and leave the green.

Pursing the unwanted
See: DBS (Fri)
There is a powerful message here. God saw this man’s heart and that’s all that mattered. He was humble (v31), teachable (v31), honest (v27), a light-seeker (vs 27, 28), and willing to repent and believe if someone would just show him how (vs 36-38).

Conclusion
The real message here is not about how to have a divine appointment. It’s a great example of one, but that’s not the point. The real message is about the love of God, about how the gospel has broken down all the old barriers. You might say the cross of Jesus Christ has “torn the veil” (Mt 27:51; He 10:19, 20) so that everyone may come into His presence regardless of his or her history. Now, because of Jesus, God not only allows people to come to Him whom the Law would have excluded, but we see Him aggressively pursuing them, working miracles to find them. This isn’t just an interesting story about an Ethiopian official, it’s an announcement: All that matters now is the heart, “whosoever will” may come. In fact, if you’re willing, look out! because God is coming after you…because He wants you with Him forever.

Questions
1) Did you find God or did God find you? If you’re a believer tell us how you met Him. 2) Have you ever had a “divine appointment?” How did God guide you? What did you say? What happened?


 


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