Acts 10:1-23: Divine Appointments
January 17, 2023
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Genesis 37-38, Psalm 17, Matthew 7:1-14, Acts 10:1-23
Divine appointments. We sometimes blithely say that such-and-such happened by chance. But the Christian disciple knows that, in reality, there is no such thing. Luck is a non-existent quality. We are ruled by divine providence. And by such divine providence we can sometimes discern remarkable openings, opportunities, “circumstances” that are arranged for our good and for his glory.
And even though we cannot discern such movements of God through the circumstances of our lives, he is still moving. Sometimes though we catch glimpses of what God is up to. Here in the story today there is far more than a glimpse.
Through a vision, first for Cornelius, and then for Peter, God arranged the meeting of a pagan centurion with a devout Jewish follower of Christ—in such a way that neither man would ever be able to doubt that God did it. The results of such a divine appointment—momentous results—we will consider tomorrow as we read that part of the story. But today let us consider how it is that God brought these two men together, at exactly the right time, for exactly the right purpose.
It is said that the great preacher Martin Lloyd-Jones missed a train for an appointment for a job that otherwise he might well have taken. Instead, he went on to be the pastor of Westminster Chapel in London, where God used him extraordinarily. We should thank God for missed trains and shut doors, for we know that because we live in a world where God is in charge, there is no such thing as luck. And each movement of our lives is arranged—ultimately—for a good purpose. Developing this attitude to our lives does not come naturally.
The Puritans used to call it “reading Providence.” What is God doing in our lives? What is he arranging here for a gospel opportunity? Why are we in this place? What door is going to open before us as we push on it now? We cannot know for certain what God is doing in this world. That certainty belongs to divine revelation, as recorded in Scripture, not to our all-too-human attempts to read providence. But nonetheless it is important to make the attempt. And even when we cannot discern what God is up to (and there will be many of those occasions too) still live by faith, even as we cannot live by sight.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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