Saturday, August 30, 2014

Purpose of Divine Appointments - Acts 28:1-10

Acts 28:1-2  "When they had been brought safely through, then we found out that the island was called Malta. 2 The natives showed us extraordinary kindness; for because of the rain that had set in and because of the cold, they kindled a fire and received us all."

Paul had survived a storm and a shipwreck along with 275 other fellow prisoners and their Roman captors in Acts 27. The original intent of the journey in Acts 27 was to sail from Caesarea Philippi to Rome, where Paul would appear before Caesar. What was supposed to be a straight journey ended up being an over two-week long ordeal in hurricane force winds with no sun to shine by day nor stars to shine at night. Paul ended up at a little tiny Island called "Malta", just South of Sicily. Concerning Paul's landing on Malta, Bible teacher Woodrow Kroll writes: "Malta is just a 95-square-mile speck in the Mediterranean Sea, but God had miraculously directed Paul's ship to the safety of its shores. This reminds us that not even the depths of the sea can "separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:39). When you are in God's hands, you are in good hands". 

When I look at the overall context of Acts 27-28, the overall destination was Rome.  However before Paul was to go to Rome, there had to be a Malta, which literally translated means "refuge". What appeared to be a non-necessary stop along the way was a Divine appointment. Divine appointments are not scheduled by us, but by God. Our date books, planners and phones don't track the when and where God has us to be or land so-to-speak. Nevertheless what can appear to be an inconvenience ends up being an intersection. What can appear to be a profound waste of time or a dead end can be a great moment for the child of God and the very street upon which God would have us to be. Divine appointments are where God meets with us, chooses to use us and then launches us out to continue onto the next destination. Today's post is about considering Divine appointments and their purposes. 

1. Divine Appointments can be for refreshment
As we saw in the opening verses of Acts 28, Paul and these men landed on the Island, and -  "The natives showed us extraordinary kindness; for because of the rain that had set in and because of the cold, they kindled a fire and received us all." At times God will put an "off ramp" so to speak for you to be simply shown kindness and love. Paul needed this for what laid ahead.  I have had those wonderful seasons of blissful interruption in my life where it seemed things were suddenly interrupted or that I was on a detour, only to be shown love, encouragement and even healing. But notice whatelse happended at Malta, the "place of refuge".

2. Divine Appointments can demonstrate God's power. 
Acts 28:3-6 tells what happened next to Paul - 3 But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came outbecause of the heat and fastened itself on his hand. 4 When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they begansaying to one another, “Undoubtedly this man is a murderer, and though he has been saved from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live.” 5 However he shook the creature off into the fire and suffered no harm. 6 But they were expecting that he was about to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had waited a long time and had seen nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and beganto say that he was a god." What intially began as a place of refuge quickly turned sideways - or so it seemed. Paul was bitten by a snake and the incident would end up being used by God to demonstrate His power and the power of the Gospel Paul would preach to these people. Mark 16:17-18 notes this from Jesus to His Apostles - "These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” To position Paul for how he would use him, God willed to permit this serpent to be in the cord of wood gathered by Paul. The outcome of not dying from the snake bite opened these people up to the possibility that their new visitor was more than met the eye and that he had a message to tell. Divine appointments are designed by God for the purpose of Him showing up when we least expect it.  When He shows up, we know then that what appeared to be a dissapointment ends up being a Divine appointment.  But now notice the third purpose of Divine appointments, not only refeshment and demonstration of God's Divine power but also....

3. Divine appointments are designed for God to use you to minister to other people.
Acts 28:7-9 notes - 7 Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the leading man of the island, named Publius, who welcomed us and entertained us courteously three days. 8 And it happened that the father of Publius was lying in bed afflicted withrecurrent fever and dysentery; and Paul went in to see him and after he had prayed, he laid his hands on him and healed him.9 After this had happened, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases were coming to him and getting cured." Sometimes when we are on our way to our intended destination, God will have a little detour planned that will give us the opportunity to be used by Him. Malta certainly ended up being a place far more than what Paul bargained for. At first he was welcomed and cared for, only to get snake bit and then to see God show up and demonstrate His power. Now Paul was going to be put to work and in this instance God had so gifted Him to perform healings for the residents of that tiny island.  This is the only time Malta is mentioned in scripture and yet it was at this point and time God had chosen to bring healing, deliverance and comfort. Divine appointments are amazing in that the person who is led to be at one ends up being used by God to bless other people.  Now notice the final purpose for Divine appointments...

4. Divine appointments prepare you for the journey ahead.
Acts 28:10 "They also honored us with many marks of respect; and when we were setting sail, they supplied us with all we needed."  Paul's ultimate destination was Rome.  Rome would be where Paul would remain for two years under house arrest. Before it was all said and done, he would end up writing four more letters, preaching the Gospel and bearing witness in the most powerful city on earth at that time.  Much was being required of Paul, and much would be needed. This little stop at Malta proved to be beneficial to the apostle.  No doubt he was invest in as he made investment. People filled up his emotion gas tank and he was spoken into by those new believers. Divine appointments are prescribed by God, being that he alone knows completely what lies ahead.  Will we heed His voice and take advantage of all that a Divine  appointment can offer - a chance to meet and be met by the living God through His word. 

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