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Divine appointments

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Archives / 2018 / August

 

 

Divine appointments

S. Joseph Kidder

S. Joseph Kidder, DMin, is a professor of Christian Ministry and Biblical Spirituality, Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan,United States.

 

On my flight back from Fiji I had the aisle seat in a four-seat row. The seat next to me was the only empty one on the plane. A young lady, whom I later learned was Christina, approached me. She explained that she had been sitting in the back of the plane with a university group that had gone to Fiji to do medical work. Feeling a need to break away from her group to have some time by herself, she announced that she wanted to change her seat to the empty one next to me.

Although I had been hoping that nobody would sit next to me for the 11-hour trip, God had other plans. As it was late at night, most passengers fell asleep. About four hours before our arrival in Los Angeles, the crew woke us up due to a turbulence, and breakfast was served.Introducing myself to the young lady next to me, I asked what she was doing in Fiji. In turn, she also inquired what I had done there. I told her I had gone there to speak to pastors and church members on the island.

At that moment, she became sad. She told me that a few years before, she had given her heart to Jesus and lived a Christian life. Those few years, she believed, had been the best of her life. Christina had felt joy, purpose, and excitement. Then she went to college, and the secular atmosphere pulled her away from her relationship with Christ.

Taking the opportunity to talk to her about God, I spent the next three hours sharing Scripture and tips and ideas for how she could reconnect with God. I also gave my own personal testimony. Then I asked if I could pray for her. “Please, please pray for me,” she said. “I need it. I want that experience back in my life.” When I opened my eyes at the end of the prayer, I saw Christina crying. Giving me a hug, she said, “This was a divine appointment. There are 340 seats on the plane, and the only empty one was next to you. God was leading me to sit over here. He brought us together for a purpose.”

I realized through this encounter, and others like them, that God works through us, sending us out to share His love—a divine appointment. Our words and actions are powerful, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant.

A divine appointment is a meeting with another person(s) that God has specifically and unmistakably arranged. The Holy Spirit sets up such encounters because someone needs what He can offer them through you. You are one conversation away from God bestowing His favor on them as you act as His channel of blessing. Often that encounter will be with some-one you have never met before.

Our prayers for God’s will to be done open up divine appointments, conversations, and blessings. Filled with God’s favor, such meetings will bless everyone involved and change the course of their lives.

Have you ever had a coincidence that was so special that it seemed as if God had to be involved in it? God is sovereign, all-knowing, and all-powerful. He wants to bless both us and other people. If we are willing to let the Holy Spirit lead us, great things are possible.

Biblical background

Throughout the Bible we find examples of divine appointments. Time after time, God leads the faithful to cross another person’s path, resulting in amazing things.

Scripture declares that “the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord” (Ps. 37:23, NKJV). God orders, arranges, and establishes the details of His children’s lives, including some unexpected divine appointments. After decades of walking with God, I can tell you that seeing Him set up such “appointments” is a thrill without comparison.

How often do we experience delays, changes of plans, or redirections and regard them as intrusions? It could be that God is detouring us so that we can do something different or new for Him. Consider Paul’s trip to Philippi in Acts 16. He had gone to Macedonia because of a God-directed vision (vv. 9, 10). How could he know that he would end up in prison there? But even that trip to jail was God-led because He used Paul to bring salvation to a jailer and his family (vv. 25–34).

The Bible records many such divinely directed appointments. The story of Phillip and the eunuch is a beautiful illustration of the special encounters that God orchestrates for the Christian who walks in the Spirit (see Acts 8:26–39). Philip could have ministered just to the crowds in the cities and village, but God sent him to the desert for a divine appointment with a single individual. We must always seek God’s leading and let Him determine where we are best suited to serve Him. It is a wonderful thing to walk in the Spirit as He makes appointments for us to cross the paths of those who need help and salvation.

Set yourself up

God has a divine purpose for each one of us, and when we allow Him to fulfill it, we will be involved in divine appointments. You may be waiting on a special word from God without real-izing that, by living your everyday life you are not only fulfilling His purpose for your life but also influencing those around you. Whether it be close friends or just a passing stranger, God directs our paths to cross with those of others, all in His perfect timing.

Here are three specific things to help you capture divine opportunities:

1. Pray for divine appointments.How does a Christian allow the Holy Spirit to make such appointments for him? The answer is to pray! Every morning when I get up, I bow beside my bed and pray to the Holy Spirit to give me a divine appointment. In fact, I do it several times a day.

Cornelius, a God-fearing Gentile who had a heart for the poor, was praying one day when an angel told him, “‘Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea’ ” (Acts 10:4–6, NIV).

Meanwhile, Peter had a vision about a basket filled with clean and unclean animals. “While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, ‘Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them’ ” (vv. 19, 20, NIV).

Through the vision of the basket and the invitation initiated by God to meet Cornelius, the Gentile, Peter realized that God accepted the Gentiles. Peter went to the house of Cornelius. “Then Peter began to speak: ‘I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right’ ” (vv. 34, 35, NIV). Peter baptized Cornelius and his family. Thus, two men, praying, resulted in an unexpected divine appointment that changed their lives and those of the Jewish and Gentile nations.

 Annoying or anointed appointment?

Jane, a pastor’s wife, feeling the need to share her faith, started to pray about it. One day several months later, she went to Walmart to buy a pot of flowers. As she knelt down to look at one of them, a voice from behind her commented, “This kind of flower does not survive. It needs a lot of attention. I bought one a couple weeks ago, and it died on me even though I am good with flowers.” Jane glanced back and said, “Thank you.” The woman kept talking and giving her advice about flowers. 

Annoyed by the woman’s persistence, Jane finally chose one of the flower pots and put it in her cart. As she started walking away, the woman followed, still talking. Although Jane tried to be polite, she just did not want to talk to her.

After the strained conversation had gone on for about 30 minutes, it finally dawned on Jane that maybe God had sent the woman to her. Beginning to question the woman, Jane discovered that her father had died recently. Jane shared comforting words and testified of her faith in Jesus, our Comforter.

Exchanging phone numbers and email addresses, they began talking regularly. After they had met at cafes a few times, Jane eventually invited the woman to her house. When the woman arrived, Jane was startled to discover that the woman had brought her hus-band and children with her. Jane’s husband connected with the other woman’s husband, and the children from both families played together. The woman and her family began coming over every week.

The woman and her family asked the Adventist family about what they believed, resulting in Bible study. The family began going to the Adventist Church and eventually were baptized.

Sometimes, when we are in a hurry and something interrupts and annoys us, we might miss what God has for us. Jane did not understand what God was doing until she took the opportunity to minister to the woman.

2.  Prepare for divine appointments.The Bible says in 2 Timothy 4:2, “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season” (NIV). Also, in 1 Peter 3:15, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (NIV).

If we all start looking for those “divine appointments,” we will find them. By making ourselves available to God, we will see things happen that we would have never expected.

Upgraded for a divine appointment

My flight from Chicago, Illinois, to San Antonio, Texas, in the United States was oversold in coach, so I got upgraded to first class. But the seat next to me was still empty. A few minutes later, the gate agent entered the plane and told a flight attendant that the man booked to sit next to me was on a delayed flight, so they were going to move someone from the back of the plane next to me.

At the time I was frantically working on a presentation I was scheduled to present. Then the pilot announced, “We have to be deiced. It is going to take half an hour, but don’t worry, we will still get you there on time.” Two minutes later I felt a compelling urge to talk to the man, Cody, who had been shifted next to me. Not knowing what to say to him, I made the obvious observation, “Isn’t this interesting that we will be delayed half an hour with deicing but still make it to our destination on time?” Ignoring my comment, he asked whether I lived in San Antonio. “No, I live in Michigan,” I replied. “I am going to some Adventist churches to speak on church and spiritual growth.” When he inquired whether I was Seventh-day Adventist, I explained that I was an Adventist pastor.

He started asking a series of questions, beginning with, “What do you believe about Christ?” Then he raised the topics of the Sabbath, what happens after we die, hell, and the sanctuary. This went on all the way from our departure from Chicago to when we parted ways in San Antonio, almost three hours later. Finally, he told me, “My neighbor was an Adventist and shared with me some of that stuff. He moved out of the area, but I have been thinking about some of these things ever since.”

As we parted in the airport, Cody said, “This was a divine appointment. God brought us together from two different sides of the plane so that you could explain many things to me. You gave me a lot of food for thought, and I need to think about what I should believe.”

Like the conductor of a symphony, God orchestrated circumstances to bring us together so that I could answer the man’s questions. It was truly a divine appointment.

3. Act on the opportunity of a divine appointment. The story of theSamaritan woman is another example of a divine appointment (see John 4:5– 42). Jesus met the woman at Sychar’s well and seized the opportunity to minister to her. The result was that she and the whole village believed in Him, and it changed all of their lives. We know that this was truly a divine appointment because of the results. I believe that Scripture recorded this story for us to realize that God desires divine appointments in our own lives. He wants us to realize that they happen in the regular course of events, but we need to be prepared. They will be the most satisfying experiences that we will ever have.

An appointment for hope

A few years ago, when I went to speak to the pastors of a local conference, its executive secretary met me at the airport. After he picked me up, he said, “The meeting starts at seven o’clock. I will take you out to dinner at five o’clock before we drive to the meeting place, but between two o’clock and five o’clock we have plenty of time. I know you are into prayer. There is something I have been wanting to experiment with for a long time. I would like to knock on doors and get at least ten people to respond whether they would like prayer or not.”

We went from house to house until we got our ten, asking whether we could pray for them. All said yes with various degrees of enthusiasm. The last one was a young woman. When we offered to pray for her, she started to weep. “I just lost my baby son to SIDS [sudden infant death syndrome],” she managed to explain.

We ended up spending two hours there, comforting her, trying to give her hope, and sharing with her that God loves her and cares for her. She had drifted away from church, but not God. Then she told us that she did not have any support system. Her parents lived far away, her husband worked long hours, and, being new to the area, she did not have a lot of friends. “The pain today was so strong,” she said, “I prayed the whole day that God would send someone to comfort me. God sent you both here today to do that. It was a divine appointment.”

We left at six o’clock, having missed dinner, but it was worth it. My friend and I were not trained counselors, but what the woman needed was someone just to listen to her. So we offered her the ministry of presence, and through our presence and prayers, we brought her the presence of Jesus. God cared about this woman who had no support system, so He sent two strangers to comfort her.

Divine appointments are about how much God cares about His people. Look for such opportunities and moments in your life when God is using you as a divinely appointed son or daughter to be a source of hope, comfort, and love. 

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For more on this topic, see S. Joseph Kidder, “Divine Appointments: God’s Miraculous Encounters That Changed My Life,” in S. Joseph Kidder, Out of Babylon: How God Found Me on the Streets of Baghdad (Nampa, ID: PacificPress, 2018), 9, 10.

 

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