Proverbs 16:9, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps”
Acts 8:26, “Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, go south to the road – the desert road – that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza”
As we wake up and begin each new day, we should have a sincere desire to please the Lord, and gladly anticipate God’s appointments He has planned for us. As we go throughout our busy day, we are continually met with unique opportunities to have an influence on others. Our appointments may be the people we meet or even the unplanned circumstances that are put before us.
It might be an encounter with family, friends, and fellow believers or it might be the man or woman in front of you in line at the grocery store, or the teenager at the checkout counter, it may be the waiter in the restaurant, the fellow passenger on the airplane, or the neighbor across the street that might be your special assignment for today.
Whatever our appointment may be, we should welcome them as opportunities to witness, to serve and to grow spiritually. My brethren, the incidents in our lives don’t just happen by accident, they aren’t determined by the stars, nor are they by chance either. Have you ever noticed how the right things happened at just the right time? It wasn’t by chance but it was God’s hand at work guiding you. If you were to search the Scriptures you would find so many appointments that God had planned. Think about this – it wasn’t by chance that:
(1) Elijah and Ahab met on the grassy slopes of Carmel;
(2) Herod and John met on the highways of Galilee;
(3) Pilate and Jesus met in the judgment hall at Jerusalem;
(4) Peter and Cornelius met on the Syrian seaboard;
(5) Philip and the Ethiopian met on the sandy road to Gaza; and,
(6) Nero and Paul met amid the antique splendors of ancient Rome.
I’m also mindful of the appointments of Jesus Christ Himself. Jesus was a very busy man, and yet, he was never too busy to offer a kind word to the men and women who crossed His path on a daily basis. Here are but a few of His appointments planned by His Heavenly Father:
(1) He stopped and spoke to the diminutive Zacchaeus who had perched himself in a tree to get a better look at the parade of followers;
(2) He took a break from his travels to engage in one of his longest recorded conversations with a weary woman at a well with a sullied reputation;
(3) He interrupted his schedule to comfort a mother in the funeral procession of her only son;
(4) He took time to deliver a demon possessed man who stood in his way on the shore;
(5) He encouraged the distraught Peter after his denial;
(6) He comforted his crying mother as she stood at the foot of the cross; and,
(7) He noticed a lame man among many who crowded around the pools of Bethesda waiting for the healing waters to stir.
From a human perspective, it certainly appears that each of these incidents in Jesus’ life was an interruption in his full daily schedule, but oh, they weren’t interruptions at all. Each of these encounters was a divine appointment from His Heavenly Father who controlled the moments of Jesus’ days.
So, my brethren, could God be sending you out on a special assignment each and every time you cross the threshold of your home. The question then remains, “Who will God put in your path today”? ‘We never know when an apparent mistake or coincidence might be, in fact, a divine appointment from God.’
I will conclude with this true story written by Diane Drew, which I came across some time ago and is very appropriate for this devotional.
Who would be calling this late? I wondered, as I picked up the phone. Although half asleep, I sensed the desperation in her voice. “No, no one here by that name,” I said. “You must have the wrong number.” I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep. Her trembling voice, however, echoed in my mind. I could not sleep.
Again, the phone rang. With a quivering voice, she asked again for her daughter. She had obviously been crying. “No, you have the wrong number,” I said again. “That’s impossible!” she insisted. I wanted to reach out to her. She sounded so helpless. But I was embarrassed. I hung up the phone, but my spirit was grieved. God, is there any hope for me? I prayed. Shy as I am, I had not been able to bring myself to tell her what I felt the Spirit nudging me to say. I knew I had grieved the Holy Spirit. I remembered Jesus’ saying, that if we’re ashamed of him before men, he will be ashamed of us before the Father. I prayed for forgiveness and boldness to be faithful the very next opportunity that presented itself.
But I couldn’t believe it when the phone rang again. It was 1:00 a.m. “Is something wrong? Do you need to talk?” I was compelled to ask this time. (Obviously, God had heard my immediate prayer.) “Oh, yes!” she blurted out. “I’m calling from the hospital. I’m scheduled for heart surgery at 5:00 a.m., and I was trying to call my daughter because I’m so worried, I just can’t sleep.” “I don’t understand how I keep getting you,” she added, apologetically. “I know my daughter’s number by heart. She’s had it for years; and I call her every day!” she said, puzzled. “It’s okay,” I said. “I think I know why the lines keep getting crossed, or whatever is happening,” “Are you afraid of — of dying?” I asked, obviously straining to getting the word out. “Because if that’s why you’re upset,” I explained, “the Bible says we can know that we have — now possess — eternal life.”
She listened quietly as I continued to share the words of life and peace through faith in Jesus Christ. Afterwards, the caller prayed aloud with me the prayer of salvation. “I never felt such peace!” she said. Even her voice sounded different. “You didn’t even get angry at me,” she said with surprise, “for ringing your phone in the middle of the night — not just once or twice, but three times!” “Well, God has been very patient with me,” I replied.
“Think about it. We can call on him anytime. He stays up all night anyway.” We laughed. I shared a couple Scriptures. She especially liked Psalms 86:7, “In the day of my trouble, I will call upon thee…” Then we said good night. I never heard from her again. Whether or not she survived the heart surgery a few hours later, I will never know. But one thing I am certain: That night, God gave her a new heart. I have often wondered how many other opportunities I have missed to share the gospel. Or how many times my witness might have been destroyed through a display of impatience or selfishness rather than compassion and openness to the Spirit’s leading.
We never know when an apparent mistake or coincidence might be, in fact, a divine appointment from God.