November 4, 2021

Brief Encounters

My whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness.
Isaiah 61:10
Near the end of the 8th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, we find a God-fearing official from the nation of Ethiopia who was on his way to Gaza after a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. His nation had long worshiped the God of Israel, and so he was reading the Jewish scriptures as he traveled. The Holy Spirit suddenly told the Apostle Philip to leave the place where he was and go to this place on the road from Jerusalem to the sea. He obeyed, and he found the Ethiopian official with his scriptures. He was reading in Isaiah about the lamb being led to the slaughter.

"Do you understand what you're reading?" Philip asked. "How can I with no one to explain it to me?" the Ethiopian asked. And so Philip explained how this prophecy was fulfilled in the death of Jesus of Nazareth. 

"There's some water!" the Ethiopian exclaimed; "what would keep you from baptizing me?" And so Philip baptized him into the family of Christ right there on the spot. Philip immediately left him, and the Ethiopian continued on his way, rejoicing.

I think upon reading his story how people come in and out of our lives. The length of time we know them doesn't necessarily reflect their importance to us. A Sunday School teacher for a brief time when we were kids, a sermon we heard one time from a preacher we never saw again, a person sitting next to us in an airplane—we often have profound encounters with people that we might never see again. But we should thank God for the influence they nonetheless have on our lives and on our walk with Christ.

Who might I remember today that pointed me in the right direction, even though I knew them only briefly? How might I behave differently if I think about how I might have been sent to someone's side at a time when they needed me?

The official joyfully continued on his way.
 Acts 8:39 (God's Word Translation)
Prayer after thinking about today's devotion:
Lord, for today's encounters with all who are in need,
who hunger for acceptance, for righteousness and bread,
we need new eyes for seeing, new hands for holding on;
renew us with your Spirit; Lord, free us, make us one!
 Fred Kaan (1974)
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After your own thanksgivings & petitions, close with the Lord's Prayer.
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