divine appointment

St. Philip the Apostle, Albrecht Durer, 1516
Tempera on canvas; Uffizi

Acts 8:26-40

For Sunday, May 10, 2009
Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year B

The story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch is one of the most famous divine appointments in the entire Bible. Philip is directed by an angel of the Lord to go south from Jerusalem down toward Gaza where he encounters a high-ranking Ethiopian official (who may or may not have also been a eunuch), who just happens to be reading a Torah. Philip asks a wonderful question that any of us can use in our own ministries: “Do you understand what you are reading?” The official responds, “Not entirely. When Isaiah says, ‘He was led like a sheep to the slaughter’, was he talking about himself or someone else?” Philip then begins with that very passage of Scripture and tells this official the good news about Jesus.

While this was self-evidently a divine appointment the real focus of this entire chapter – Acts 8 – is the divine appointment God has given to us to reach the nations for His glory. At the beginning of the chapter a man Saul is persecuting the church. This self-same man goes on to become a champion for Jesus among the Jewish people. Then the world’s mother church, Jerusalem, is scattered under intense persecution. Yet this merely results in Philip doing miracles in Samaria and enthralling that key city with the the good news of Christ. Next Philip is directed to this Ethiopian official, and suddenly a large portion of Africa has just opened to the gospel.

As the Jerusalem Christians were scattered by their circumstances, to where have adverse circumstances scattered us today? Might this be our Samaria? Is there someone to whom God is directing you today, whether through an angel or otherwise? As Philip was for the Ethiopian official, maybe today is the day that you can ask someone, “Do you understand what you are reading?”

As Christians we are divinely appointed to bring the message of Christ to every people of the world. Let us give ourselves to our Father today wherever we find ourselves and move expectantly toward ministering to everyone with whom God grants us opportunity.


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