Philip was having significant success as a pastor in Samaria. But an angel of the Lord told him in a dream to go on a trip through the desert. He did, even though it meant leaving a growing ministry and without knowing why God asked him to follow the strange request of taking a desert road.
On the trip, Philip met an Ethiopian official who was in charge of all the treasures of the Ethiopian Queen. The official was highly trusted and of significant status. He was sitting in his chariot reading Isaiah.
Philip asked the official if he understood what he was reading. The answer was no. He needed someone to explain it to him. Wasn’t it great that Philip just happened to be there? Philip then presented the gospel message to the official who believed and was baptized! (Acts 8:25-39)
If the Bible didn’t state that God prompted Philip’s trip into the desert, many would believe the meeting of these two was coincidence. But it didn’t happen because of a chance encounter. It was a divine appointment.
What Is a Divine Appointment?
A divine appointment is simply a God-directed meeting that happens at the right time and place for a specific purpose. It usually appears like it is a coincidence, but is really a Godincidence.
With a sovereign God, there are no coincidences; there are only God-incidences.”Dr. David Reagan in Living for Christ in the End Times
A divine appointment happens at the right place and at the right moment. Not only did Philip show up where the official was at, but he also showed up when the official was desperately wanting someone to help him understand what he was reading.
There is a purpose at the center of a divine appointment. The official’s life was forever changed once he understood the gospel and became a follower of Christ. That was a purpose of that divine appointment. But there may have been an even larger purpose not shared with us. The Bible doesn’t discuss what spiritual impact the official had after salvation. Based on the trust and stature he possessed, he may have influenced a chain reaction of life change in many others.
Do Divine Appointments Show Up in Small Groups?
Most small groups are populated by a process that appears to select members at random. Recruiting events match people interested in joining a small group with groups that are open. Friends, family, neighbors, and strangers are all asked if they are interested in joining a group. But even with the seemingly random process, it is clear that the selection of members for a group are not random. God is in it.
I am amazed at how God consistently brings people together in small groups who need and support each other.
I have seen a group member dealing with an illness rare enough that only one person in the entire church should be experiencing it. But when the person opened up about it, two more people in the group said they had experienced or were experiencing the same thing. This phenomenon is not just reserved for health problems. I see the same thing over and over with things like dreams, passions, family issues, and work problems.
It is not a coincidence you are leading the specific people who participate in your small group. It is not a coincidence that the specific members making up your group are connecting with each other. Divine appointments are a part of your small group.
How to Capture Divine Appointments
There are lessons we can learn from Philip’s experience. If you want your group to be a part of God’s divine appointments, consider the following three actions:
Philip already had a successful ministry before God sent him out into the desert. This did not happen without covering his ministry in prayer.
Pray for the spiritual development of your current members. Pray for God to bring in new members who will connect in extraordinary ways. Request God reveals His purposes for bringing your group together.
Philip was obedient to what God asked him to do. It didn’t matter how inconvenient or crazy the request was. It also didn’t matter if he knew the reason why.
Unconditional obedience to what God asks allows your group to be a part of divine appointments.
Did you notice the vulnerability of the Ethiopian official? He admitted to Philip that he needed help understanding what he was reading. That vulnerability provided an opening to fulfill the purpose of the divine appointment.
Create a safe environment in your small group that encourages your members to be vulnerable. Make sure the discussions in your group stay confidential. As the leader, be vulnerable with your small group first and set the example. As members open up, your group will discover many different purposes God had for bringing the specific people together in your group.
Be sure you pay attention to the divine appointments God sends to your small group.
Question: How have divine appointments been a part of your small group experience? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Here’s another example of a recent divine appointment:
I had a strong compulsion to scuba dive on Friday afternoon (10/12) at a local quarry. Though I am Solo-Certified, I prefer diving together with someone else. There was no one available to dive with on that particular day, so I decided to go by myself.
After the dive and as I was getting ready to leave, a young college man (Taylor) walked up and expressed his desire to get certified. After telling him about the local dive shop and their certification classes, he mentioned being a student at the University of Mary Washington. I asked him about his major, and he said “Religious Studies”. After asking him why he chose that particular field, he said he had been raised in a Christian home but had always been interested in what other religions teach.
My response was: “Did you know that the Apostle Paul explains the origins of religion in the first two chapters of Romans?”
He was surprised by that, and asked me to explain. I spent the next 15 minutes summarizing Paul’s exposition on the subject. He seemed genuinely interested to know more, and said he would take a look at Romans for himself.
I asked if he had doubts about his faith, and he said “a little”.
My closing comment was: “Taylor, just remember this. As you study the world’s religions, keep in the back of your mind that religion is an attempt to connect with the spirit dimension; a desire to know if “god” is really out there and maybe find out what he is like. Christianity’s exclusive claim is that the true and living God HAS REVEALED HIMSELF by directly visiting our planet in the historical person of Jesus Christ. We don’t have to guess anymore; God came down to us!”
He smiled and extended his hand. “Thanks Al. I really appreciate what you’ve said. I’ve never thought about Christianity like that. It makes sense.”
“Let that foundational truth remain at the core of your studies. God bless you!” I said as we parted ways.
I strongly believe our meeting was a definite GOD thing, so please pray for Taylor.
Al – Thank you for sharing your recent experience with a divine appointment. It is a wonderful example of how God orchestrates intentional meetings through what appears to be a coincidence. I am glad you responded to that strong compulsion. I am confident God is using that conversation to reveal Himself to Taylor. I will pray for Taylor.