Divine Appointments

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Introduction

So you get on the airplane and you are seated next to someone. You don’t know this person. You don’t know their background, where they are headed, or why.
As you chat with them you find out that their flight was delayed. As you commiserate over the difficulties and frustration of flying, your conversation turns to the difficulties and frustrations of life. You share with them that when your life is hard and seemingly hopeless, you turn to Jesus. You find comfort peace and security in knowing that your Savior is always with you. As the conversation continues, you are able to share Christ and your flying companion comes to Jesus!
What just happened?
We call that a divine encounter.
Our sovereign God, who doesn’t change and doesn’t make mistakes, orchestrates the affairs of our lives to bring us in contact with those who need Jesus!
He provides gospel opportunities in the most unlikely circumstances. In the middle of every day life, we are given a divine encounter.
That person waiting next you at the mechanic shop may have had vehicle trouble just so they could talk with you. Your car may have broken down just to share Christ with the tow truck driver and the mechanic!
That person you are seated next to may have gotten their flight delayed, or cancelled, just so they could be seated next to you.
That person waiting next you at the mechanic shop may have had vehicle trouble just so they could talk with you.
That person in the waiting room with an incurable disease, maybe you are having health issues just so you can speak to them.
That nurse taking your blood pressure. That parent waiting with you for practice to end. The student next to you at lunch or on the bus. That co worker.
These are not chance encounters! These are not coincidences!
If we believe in an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-encompassing God, we must also believe that He creates divine appointments.
To see these opportunities for the divine appointments they are, we must be led by the Holy Spirit.
Our passage this morning is all about divine appointments.
God has divine appointments in your life.
God has divine appointments in your life. Today our goal is to recognize them so that we can take full advantage.
To take advantage of the divine appointments in our lives, we must recognize them.
When divine appointments are recognized we are able to share Christ.
To recognize a divine appointment, we must ask two questions.
To recognize a divine appointment, we must ask two questions.
Question #1…

1. What Does A Divine Appointment Look Like?

We could say this is The Packaging Of A Divine Appointment.
It would be nice if every time a divine appointment happened a voice from heaven would call out to us and a flashing sign would appear over the person’s head.
That’s not how it happens.
The child of God is called to walk in the Spirit. To live by the Spirit. And to be led by the Spirit.
When the Holy Spirit is in control of our lives, we are ready and able to share the gospel with anyone.
At His prompting, we share Christ at every opportunity.
All that being said, divine appointments are often disguised.
There are two reasons why divine appointments are sometimes hard to notice.
Reason #1. A divine appointment is often…

a. Hidden in the negative vv. 13-16

In Paul’s experience here we will see two seemingly negative circumstances that often accompany divine appointments.
When something negative happens in our lives we ask… Is it a frustration? Or a divine appointment?
Is it a frustration? Or a divine appointment?
The answer depends on our perspective and on our willingness to take advantage of every opportunity to proclaim Jesus Christ.
Seemingly negative circumstance #1…
Seemingly negative circumstance #1…
The limitation of freedom vv. 13-14
READ v. 13
The divine appointments start right here.
Agrippa and Bernice come to greet Festus. At least, that’s why they think they have come.
In reality, God has orchestrated a meeting between them and Paul.
They didn’t know Paul was there. They had their own purpose, to greet Festus. God had a greater purpose! For them to hear the gospel from Paul.
Sometimes God works in more subtle ways than others.
Turn back to , .
,
Acts 8:26 NKJV
26 Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert.
Acts 8:40 NKJV
40 But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea.
These are obvious encounters.
Now turn to .
Acts 16:16–18 NKJV
16 Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. 17 This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” 18 And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour.
This doesn’t seem like a divine appointment!
It seems like a frustration. An irritant. Yet the Lord uses it to bring the Philippian jailer to Christ!
These people coming together here in ; this is a divine appointment.
READ v. 14
Paul has been a prisoner for more than 2 years (24:27). From a human standpoint and perspective, this is negative.
Two years without freedom! Two years being held at the whim of a corrupt governor!
Even though 2 years have passed, the Jewish leaders are still intent on Paul’s death. In v. 3 Luke told us of yet another plot to kill Paul.
This too seems like a negative.
However, we need to be reminded that The opposition of these leaders will take Paul to Rome as God has directed!
Paul is a prisoner. He has been incarcerated for 2 years.
Prisoner – Incarceration
This seems like a negative, it probably even felt like a negative. But it is a divine appointment!
Seems like a negative, probably even felt like a negative. But it is a divine appointment! God is at work.
God is at work. He has a plan unfolding right before our eyes!
Seemingly negative circumstance #2…
The presence of hostility vv. 15-16
READ v. 15
Festus is sharing with Agrippa and Bernice all that had transpired between himself, the Jewish leaders, and Paul.
He is going to ask for their help, he wants them to see the whole picture.
The Jewish leaders made criminal accusations against Paul.
They wanted Festus to pass sentence.
The leaders of the Jews are hostile to Paul. They want to see him dead.
That definitely sounds negative!
But remember, God has a purpose.
Paul has appealed to Caesar. That means he is going to Rome.
Rome is where God has called Paul to preach the gospel.
Circumstances that seem horrible from our perspective can be used by God for His purpose and glory!
READ v. 16
The account earlier in the chapter doesn’t give us this information.
This custom of the Romans saves Paul’s life.
Look up at vv. 3-4.
The custom of the Roman’s was to have the accusers and the accused meet face to face.
Because of this custom Paul is kept in Caesarea and not take to Jerusalem. Thus, his life is saved from those planning to ambush him.
What a coincidence, right?
Not only does this Roman custom save Paul. It has guaranteed him an opportunity to proclaim Christ.
“Answer” here is the Greek word apologia meaning defense. Paul will be given the opportunity to defend himself from the charges that have been made.
Based on everything else in the book of Acts, Paul will use this opportunity to proclaim Christ.
God uses Roman custom to preserve Paul and give him a gospel opportunity.
Paul has been in prison for two years, his fellow Jews want him dead, and he has been forced to appeal to Caesar.
All of these seem like negative circumstances!
Yet God is at work through them to give gospel opportunities and place Paul right where he needs to be.
When negative circumstances enter your life, be on the lookout for a divine appointment.
When negative circumstances enter your life, be on the lookout for a divine appointment.
God is at work! Opportunity is hidden within what seems negative.
That’s reason #1. A divine appointment is often hidden in the negative.
Reason #2. A divine appointment is often…

b. Directed through uncertainty vv. 17-21

It seems rare that God tells us exactly what He is doing.
Scripture reveals that we walk by faith and not by sight.
In these next verses we find that Paul’s path is laid out through the uncertainty of others.
READ v. 17
Again, the previous actions are reviewed by Festus.
Note with me that this is an official proceeding.
The words “without delay” and “the next day” indicate that this is somewhat of a rushed affair.
Festus is eager to do the Jews a favor, and they are eager to be rid of Paul.
This haste, ends up working in Paul’s favor.
READ v. 18
READ v. 18
Festus didn’t expect these accusations.
Had the Jewish leaders taken more time to prepare, maybe they could have come up with more convincing arguments.
Festus had an expectation of what would be said. When they brought out their charges, v. 7 tells us they couldn’t prove any of them!
Earlier in the chapter we are not told details of what was said. Festus gives those here.
READ v. 19
Questions – ζήτημα (zētēma) issue (dispute). An important question that is in dispute and must be settled.
Questions – ζήτημα (zētēma)
The Jewish leaders didn’t bring the accusations Festus thought they would. Instead they brought a religious dispute!
I can only imagine the shock of Festus when he is expecting some heinous crime, some grievous offense, and instead it is a religious argument.
However, This religious argument is the most important argument ever.
I love the clarity Festus brings to the argument.
Jesus died.
This is true! Look at (S).
Romans 6:9–10 NKJV
9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
These verses not only tell us that Christ died, they also tell us why Paul affirmed Him to be alive!
Christ died for our sin once for all! There is no other sacrifice that can be made for sin! Christ alone paid the penalty! Christ alone dealt with sin!
But. Jesus. Didn’t. Stay. Dead.
Amen?
This is the glorious truth we celebrate at Easter. Christ is risen from the dead!
Death has no dominion over our Savior. He died once for all, now He lives!
This is the debate. This is where everything is on the line.
If Jesus Christ died and never rose, we are miserable and should be pitied by all ().
But if Jesus Christ died and rose again, He is the Savior, the Redeemer, the Messiah, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, the Alpha and Omega, beginning and the ending, the first and the last! He is God in human flesh, that’s what we celebrate at Christmas.
Festus was uncertain about their accusations.
What’s awesome here is that he was not uncertain about what Paul was claiming.
Even in the midst of uncertain circumstances, we are certain about who our God is and what He has done for us!
What we learn here is that in the course of the trial before Festus, Paul gave the gospel.
You cannot talk about the death and resurrection of Christ without going into why He died and why His resurrection is significant!
Festus had believed he was there to pass judgment on Paul. No.
He was there because he had a divine appointment with the gospel!
Beloved, Paul recognized this for what it was, a divine appointment.
Was he still in prison? Yes! Was he still a target of assassination? Yes! Was he still going to be sent to Rome? Yes!
But none of that mattered to Paul!
What matted was faithfully proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ at every opportunity!
You and I may have difficult circumstances. We have trials, hardships, and heartaches.
Within those hard times are divine appointments. Don’t miss them.
READ v. 20
In v. 9 Luke tells us Festus wanted to do the Jews a favor. Festus says he was out of his depth and uncertain how to handle these religious questions.
Both are true.
Festus, rightly, does not feel qualified to deal with these questions. He also wants the Jews to owe him one, so he asks Paul to be tried in Jerusalem.
Paul, as a Roman citizen, has the right to appeal to Caesar and to be tried where he is.
In an unexpected move, Paul appeals to Caesar.
Again we must note that this is perfectly aligned with God’s will.
The uncertainty of Festus provides direction for Paul.
It is going to direct him to yet another divine appointment.
READ v. 21
We read about this earlier in the chapter.
Paul has appealed to Caesar and will be transferred to Rome just as the Lord had revealed to him.
All through this process Paul has dealt with uncertainty.
Uncertainty when he first arrived back in Jerusalem and was told all the Jews were against him.
Uncertainty when he was arrested in the temple.
Uncertainty as a mob attempted to kill him.
Uncertainty when the high priest broke the law during Paul’s trial.
Uncertainty when there was a plot against his life.
Uncertainty when he was transferred to Felix in Caesarea.
Uncertainty as he remained in prison for two years.
Uncertainty as he faced Festus.
Uncertainty now as he waits to go to Rome.
Yet through all of this uncertainty, Paul has had one gospel opportunity after another.
Over and over again Paul has recognized the divine appointments and take full advantage of them.
Don’t allow an uncertain future to obscure gospel opportunities.
We walk by faith!
Unexpected appeal vv. 20-21 Appeal
There are no guarantees of safety, security, and health.
The only guarantee we have is that we are safe until God calls us home.
There is security in the center of His will.
Though storms may rage and foes may attack, our God is greater!
In the middle of our darkest hours, He will show Himself strong.
In the middle of our struggle, He has divine appointments.
That was question #1. What do divine appointments look like? They sometimes look like negative and uncertain circumstances. We must learn to see past ourselves and find the opportunities God brings our way.
To recognize divine appointments we ask a second question.
Question #2…

2. Why Are Divine Appointments Given?

As we finish out this chapter we will discuss The Purpose Of A Divine Appointment.
Does anyone remember God’s two-fold goal for suffering?
Growth, and gospel opportunities.
We have seen both of these taking place in the life of the Apostle Paul.
God has more divine appointments for Paul to keep.
Divine appointments provide the believer with three opportunities. All of these opportunities are not always present as they are here with Paul. But a combination of these usually are.
Opportunity #1…

a. Proclamation v. 22

READ v. 22
Agrippa wants to hear what Paul has to say.
They are going to hear Paul.
They are going to hear Paul. If Paul is given the chance to speak, what do you suppose he will speak about?
If Paul is given the chance to speak, what do you suppose he will speak about?
We already know!
Paul was arrested in ch. 21. In ch. 22 Paul addressed the mob that had just tried to kill him.
He tells them that Jesus of Nazareth is alive, is in heaven, and is the Messiah!
In ch. 22 he speaks to Felix about the resurrection and judgment.
Every chance Paul gets, he proclaims the gospel of Jesus Christ!
This was Paul’s burden and passion! Consider a few passages of Scripture with me.
; (S).
;
1 Corinthians 1:17 NKJV
17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.
1 Corinthians 9:16 NKJV
16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!
This is why God gives us divine appointments! So that we can proclaim the gospel.
This reality demands that we know how to share the gospel.
If you are unsure about sharing your faith, we did a Sunday School class on it.
Go to our website gracechurchlockeford.org (S).
Click up here in the tab that says sermons (S).
Up here where it says “filter by category” click on series (S).
Then click on personal evangelism and it will take you here (S). Then just find part 1 and start listening.
We are given divine appointments to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.
To do that we must recognize the divine appointments for what they are.
Once we have recognized them, we must be bold to take advantage of them.
This is a matter of compassion for the lost and obedience to Christ.
We must be sharing our faith.
Opportunity #1, Proclamation.
Opportunity #2…

b. Vindication vv. 23-25

READ v. 23
Look at who is present at this meeting. The governor, a king and queen, the military leaders, all the prominent members of society.
Is this an accident?
Are all these people coming together by mere chance?
These are divine appointments!
This also highlights the reality that God desires all to be saved. Turn to (p. 1362).
(p. 1362)
1 Timothy 2:1–7 NKJV
1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, 7 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
We are to pray for all men.
What are we to pray for? In this context, we are to pray for their salvation.
This means that we also share Christ with them as we have opportunity.
We have already seen that many Roman leaders were corrupt. There may have been a temptation not to share Christ with them. They don’t deserve it.
There can be this same temptation today. We must remember that no one deserves salvation!
That’s why it is a gift!
Agrippa and Bernice arrive in full pageantry! It’s like this is some fancy state affair. All to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, though they don’t know it yet.
I picture Paul coming into all this and being excited. “Look at the audience they’ve brought me for the gospel!”
That is the perspective we need to have.
Paul will also be able to answer the accusations that have been made.
Paul has been falsely accused, he will now have the opportunity to set the record straight.
There will be a certain level of vindication here.
READ v. 24
The tone of everything here demonstrates that this is a very formal event.
The Jews have been petitioning Festus both in Jerusalem and in Caesarea.
Festus makes it clear that they have made a formal request for Paul to be charged with crimes.
However, they have already determined what they think his sentence should be, death.
They are shouting and crying out for his death!
They have made many serious accusations. But all the accusations are false.
We can expect this same level of opposition and hatred.
Jesus told us this would happen. Turn to (p. 1243).
(p. 1243)
John 15:18–20 NKJV
18 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.
The world will hate us. That hatred is evident here.
READ v. 25
Yet again it is made clear that Paul has done nothing wrong!
Because of his appeal to Caesar, Paul will be sent to Rome.
Here is Paul’s vindication. He is innocent. The commander in Jerusalem saw it, Felix knew it, and now Festus has made the same determination.
However, in this instance, innocence does not lead to freedom.
God has a plan for Paul to preach the gospel in Rome! This is how that plan will be accomplished.
Part of the purpose here is for Paul to be vindicated before all these people.
These are people Paul would not have had access to apart from these circumstances.
Divine appointments place us with purpose and timing.
We will learn in the weeks ahead just how precise God’s timing is.
These are people who need to be reached with the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is accomplished through these difficult circumstances while simultaneously allowing Paul to be vindicated in regards to the crimes he has been accused of.
Opportunity #1, proclamation. Opportunity #2, vindication.
Opportunity #3…

c. Explanation vv. 26-27

READ v. 26
Here we are given part of the motivation for Festus to hold this meeting.
Festus needs some sort of charge to send to Caesar with Paul.
This is interesting considering that Festus has already declared Paul to be innocent.
King Agrippa is perceived by Festus to be more knowledgeable about spiritual matters than he is.
They are going to have this investigation, this inquiry, so that Festus can have something to write about Paul.
Because Paul has appealed to Caesar, Festus feels the need to have a list of charges or offenses to send with him.
This is the measure of Paul’s character.
So far they have found no wrongdoing in Paul.
They are having a second hearing just so they can explain why he is in custody at all!
Paul describes the character a believer should strive for in (p. 1358).
(p. 1358)
1 Thessalonians 4:9–12 NKJV
9 But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; 10 and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more; 11 that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, 12 that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing.
We are to love one another, lead a quiet life, mind our own business, work with our own hands, and behave properly towards unbelievers.
This is how Paul lives his life.
What about you and me?
Would their need to be a second hearing to figure out what to charge us with?
READ v. 27
This is a very practical concern. To send Paul on to Caesar without any charges would seem very suspect.
This verse makes me laugh. “We need to come up with some charges!”
The end result of all of this is Paul being allowed to speak to the gathering.
Paul will not just vindicate himself for the present accusations. He will also explain why he has arrived at the conclusions he now holds.
We will examine the full explanation over the next few weeks.
All of this is a divine appointment.
God has orchestrated it all!
Why? So that the gospel can go forward.
Paul will offer his explanation and in that explanation will be the gospel.
When God provides an opportunity, take it.
This is our responsibility. To take advantage of the divine appointments that come our way.

Conclusion

Divine appointments are not just about the child of God. They are primarily about those God brings us into contact with.
A divine appointment is two or more parties meeting in which God has a plan and purpose for all involved.
To take advantage of divine appointments, we must recognize them for what they are.
A divine appointment may be hidden in the negative, it may be directed through uncertainty.
What a divine appointment will have is a person who needs the gospel and an opportunity for the believer to share it.
In a divine appointment we have the opportunity to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We may also be vindicated as we face accusation or have the opportunity to explain our beliefs and circumstances.
Here’s the bottom line.
A divine appointment is a God-ordained opportunity to share Christ.
You have access to people I will never meet.
I have access to people you will never meet.
The circumstances of our lives are orchestrated by God so that we can come in contact with people who need Jesus.
In your difficulty, look for opportunity.
In your circumstances, look for a divine appointment.
All of this is by God’s design that Paul might have opportunity to present the gospel to men and women of authority.
Always take advantage of every opportunity to present the gospel.
All of this is by God’s design that Paul might have opportunity to present the gospel to men and women of authority.
#201 “Grace Greater Than Our Sin”
Acts 25:13–27 NKJV
13 And after some days King Agrippa and Bernice came to Caesarea to greet Festus. 14 When they had been there many days, Festus laid Paul’s case before the king, saying: “There is a certain man left a prisoner by Felix, 15 about whom the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, when I was in Jerusalem, asking for a judgment against him. 16 To them I answered, ‘It is not the custom of the Romans to deliver any man to destruction before the accused meets the accusers face to face, and has opportunity to answer for himself concerning the charge against him.’ 17 Therefore when they had come together, without any delay, the next day I sat on the judgment seat and commanded the man to be brought in. 18 When the accusers stood up, they brought no accusation against him of such things as I supposed, 19 but had some questions against him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, who had died, whom Paul affirmed to be alive. 20 And because I was uncertain of such questions, I asked whether he was willing to go to Jerusalem and there be judged concerning these matters. 21 But when Paul appealed to be reserved for the decision of Augustus, I commanded him to be kept till I could send him to Caesar.” 22 Then Agrippa said to Festus, “I also would like to hear the man myself.” “Tomorrow,” he said, “you shall hear him.” 23 So the next day, when Agrippa and Bernice had come with great pomp, and had entered the auditorium with the commanders and the prominent men of the city, at Festus’ command Paul was brought in. 24 And Festus said: “King Agrippa and all the men who are here present with us, you see this man about whom the whole assembly of the Jews petitioned me, both at Jerusalem and here, crying out that he was not fit to live any longer. 25 But when I found that he had committed nothing deserving of death, and that he himself had appealed to Augustus, I decided to send him. 26 I have nothing certain to write to my lord concerning him. Therefore I have brought him out before you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that after the examination has taken place I may have something to write. 27 For it seems to me unreasonable to send a prisoner and not to specify the charges against him.”
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