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Acts Chapter 8:1-6

Cross the Bridge / David McGee
The Truth Network Radio
May 10, 2021 1:00 am

Acts Chapter 8:1-6

Cross the Bridge / David McGee

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We look at things through a weird lens. Sometimes we think, oh, that's good. Well, that's bad. Oh, that's good.

That's bad. What does the Bible say about good and bad? It says this in Romans chapter eight, verse 28. It says, And we know, not we think, we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Notice, we know in everything. Pastor, how can that be? I mean, I have bad things happen.

In the hands of God, he can use that. Well, Pastor, what about when I stumble and what about when I fall? What about when I sin?

Oh, even then you win. See, because you're brought back to the fact that you're saved by grace, not through your works. As a matter of fact, have you ever noticed how after you stumble a little bit, how much more compassion you have for other people that are messing up? Welcome to Cross the Bridge with David McGee. David is a senior pastor of the bridge in Kernersville, North Carolina.

As we look around this world, we can see many things, but if we only look with our natural eyes, we'll miss a lot. Today, Pastor David explains how it's important to look at the world through God's eyes as he continues in the book of Acts chapter 8. Here's David McGee with his teaching, Persecution Strengthens the Church. Last week, we were looking at Acts chapter 7, and Stephen was martyred, and we're introduced in that chapter to a new character, this guy named Saul. And it says that they laid the guy's clothes, or they laid clothes at Saul's feet as they were throwing rocks and executing Stephen. And we talked about the fact that that may have meant that Saul was actually in charge of what was going on there.

We're not sure, but it's one theory. So Acts chapter 8 verse 1 says, Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church, which was at Jerusalem. And they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Now that little phrase, consenting to his death, some people actually believe that Saul was part of the Sanhedrin and actually voted for Stephen to be executed.

We're not sure. If that is true, it brings up the interesting thing that in order to be a member of the Sanhedrin, Paul would have had to have been married. And maybe you're sitting there going, well anyway, Paul talks about being single later on. Yes, but it would have been very, very unusual for an adult Jewish male not to be married. What probably happened was when Saul was converted to Christianity, his wife left him because of her Jewish roots.

Now that's a possibility I wanted to introduce to you. It's interesting because we're going to see this persecution. And you see there's a constant theme in the book of Acts, persecution. God doing something really cool and people persecuting it.

Boy, that happens. And there's persecution, understand. We think, oh yeah, there used to be persecution. No, more people died in the last century for being Christians than any other century in history. Persecution still happens.

Martyrdom still happens. There's people around the world this morning that if they were caught meeting in a church, they would be executed. I don't know if you ever heard this story.

It's a neat story. Years ago in Russia, there was an underground church meeting, the story says. And these two soldiers burst in and caught them. And so you know what? We're going to kill everybody who won't renounce their faith and walk out of the room. And a couple of people said, you know what? I renounced my faith. I renounced Jesus and they walked out.

And after those people walked out, the soldiers, one of them fired the machine gun in the air. And he looked at the people and he said, we too are believers in Jesus. But we had to be sure about you guys because we could lose our lives and our families could be executed because we believe in Jesus. And we had to be sure.

Pretty cool story. What would happen if you were in that room? See, it's amazing thing that we think that as the church is persecuted, that it would dwindle down. That's not what you see historically. That's not what you see in the Bible. You actually see that your church flourishes when there's persecution. So, you know, while people run around and I know David Limbrough wrote that book about persecution in America, you know, part of you should say, oh, praise God. Let's let's get it cleared up. Let's just do away with the gray area.

Let's figure out who's in and who's not, who's playing the game and who's for real, who's just talking the talk and who's walking the walk. Amen. Verse two, and devout men carried Stephen to his burial and made great lamentation over him. Now, Stephen, we're told in the last chapter, had been killed, and it says that they made great lamentation over him.

Now, it's interesting that that last verse of Chapter seven says he fell asleep. That's used whenever a believer in the Bible passes away. Doesn't say doesn't talk about necessarily being dead, because remember what Jesus said? He said, I'm the resurrection and the life. Anybody who believes in this will never die. He'll never die.

It's an amazing thing. He won't stay dead or she won't stay dead. So they bury Stephen. And let me let me deal with an issue that comes up sometimes in Christianity. The Bible doesn't talk about cremation.

It doesn't talk about it. And I've heard all sorts of wackiness. I've heard some people say, Well, you know, if you're cremated, you're done. You can't go to heaven because God can't gather up all the ashes to give you your glorified body. That's nonsense. You mean God can't form a body out of the ashes? The same God who formed the body out of the dust?

You see how silly that is now? I'm not going to be cremated. I don't want to be cremated. And I think there is a there is a picture there of being buried in the ground, just like we sow a seed that grows later. We bury our bodies in the ground to be glorified, to be resurrected. Now, the moment you die, Paul says to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. The moment you pass away, your spirit is with the Lord. But understand there is a physical resurrection that the Bible talks about. And I think in burial, it's kind of a picture for that. But the important thing is when you know Jesus, you don't just sit in the ground. You don't just stay dead. And also, if you know Jesus, if you know somebody that goes that passes away, you know, we use the phrase, Well, we lost them. No, no, no. We didn't lose them.

We know right where they are. It's not goodbye. It's see you later.

Is it or in the words of Tigger, TTF in Ta Ta for now. Verse three. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.

Saul's very religious, persecuting people for the wrong reason. And you have to even in reading this, you know, he's misdirected, but at least he's passionate. Now, I understand sometimes I'll talk to somebody and they'll be talking about somebody else's faith or their faith. And and they'll say, Well, I believe as long as you're sincere, long as you're sincere.

Where is that in here? That's not in here because, you know, you could be sincerely wanting to go to Florida. But if you had out of Kernersville going north, you may be sincerely wanting to go to Florida, but you are going to sincerely be lost. There's people that are going the wrong way to heaven. Jesus said, I am the way, the truth and the lie. So Paul is misdirected. But again, he's passionate. Well, Pastor, why are you saying that?

Because here's the deal. When I'm sharing with somebody occasionally, you know, I've had people get really freaked out, especially in street ministry. You know, going up to my hey, you know, the good news about Jesus.

I was down Tate Street in Greensboro, said that. And this guy just started hollering, threw up his hands and, you know, and his wife got all embarrassed. And I thought, go and I'll tell you why. Because, you know, when I go up to somebody say, have you heard the good news about Jesus? They go, yeah, man, I've heard all about that. I know that whole thing that scares me because their heart is hard. See, sometimes when you're getting reactions from family and friends, severe reactions being encouraged loved ones because they might be getting close because it's really starting to bother them that they're not walking with the Lord. Now, don't be happy.

They're bothered, but be happy that there's a reaction that they might be being drawn closer. Amen. Verse four. Therefore, those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. Verse four starts off with therefore, I think it was J. Vernon McGee that says whenever you see a therefore, you have to stop and wonder what it's there for.

So why is the therefore? Well, what's going on? Well, there's nothing bad going on. What's going on?

The persecution of the church. Horrible, horrible thing. Something good is coming out of it. Now, you're saying something good is coming out of something bad?

Absolutely. You know why? Because God can do that. That's what God does.

Now, let's talk about something here. Because sometimes we get in situations, we look at it with our human wisdom. We go, oh, this is bad. It's really bad. And maybe we even have well-meaning friends gathered around us going, it is bad. It's horrible.

It's worse than you even think. You know, it's a gift of encouragement. And so we have that going on and we begin to think, well, this is something bad. And then sometimes something that the world would perceive as good is not good at all.

You know, a lot of people wonder, do this life and they think, man, I've only had a million dollars. I, you know, life, life would be good. I'd be happy.

I'd be filled with joy. Really? You think so?

I don't think so. If you think just because you had a few more dollars and therefore you had a bunch more bills that you would be happy, nothing could be further from the truth. We walk, you know, and they do that. The Ed, what North Carolina education lottery thing? Yeah, the lottery is a tax on people who are bad at math is really what it is. And we think, you know, we think, well, you know, boy, if I won the lottery, oh, you know, I'd be on easy street. Really?

Let me share a couple of examples with you. Evelyn Adams won $5.4 million, became a compulsive gambler and lost it all in a few years through the lottery, bud post won $16.2 million through the lottery. His former girlfriend successfully sued him and his brother hired a hit man to kill him. And a few years later, he was broke too. And then he went to jail for firing a gun over a bill collector. He's now broke. Charles Riddle won a million dollars and got divorced, sued, indicted for selling cocaine and became broke. Willie hurt one $3.1 million.

And two years later was broke, divorced, addicted to crack and charged with murder. You want to win the lottery? You see, we look at things through a weird lens. Sometimes we say, oh, that's good. Well, that's bad. Oh, that's good.

That's bad. What does the Bible say about good and bad? It says this in Romans chapter eight, verse 28, it says, and we know, not we think, we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who are in the good God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Notice we know and everything, pastor, how can that be? I mean, I have bad things happen in the hands of God.

He can use that. Well, pastor, what about when I stumble and what about when I fall? What about when I sin?

Oh, even then you win. See, because you're brought back to the fact that you're saved by grace, not through your works. As a matter of fact, have you ever noticed how after you stumble a little bit, how much more compassion you have for other people that are messing up, how much more mercy you're willing to extend to other people.

So even now, I'm not saying, you know, when you get out of here, go stumble so you can have more mercy and compassion. But even in those stumblings and those grumblings, God can be glorified in your midst. The life lesson here in a world of uncertainties, we can know God is a good God. We can know God is a good God.

You can believe that. And if ever you come into a circumstance where you begin to wonder, fall back on what you know. If you get into life at times of uncertainty, fall back on what you do know, and you can know this. God is a good God. You may not understand what's going on in your life.

You may be uncertain about what's going on in your life, but you can know that God is a good God. You know, so often we look at our lives in the natural. We look at our lives with a natural eye. Do you know how easy it is to fool the natural eye? And yet we go through our lives looking at things with our human eye going, well, that's good.

Well, that's bad. It's not what the word of God says. The word of God says God's going to use it all to draw you closer for your for the purpose of bringing you and strengthening you closer and closer to him. The Bible puts it this way. Second Corinthians five seven says where we walk by faith, not by sight, not by sight. We walk by faith. We'll be right back with more from David McGee on Cross the Bridge. Right now, here's a word from associate pastor D.A.

Brown. We want to take just a minute to pray for some cities in our listening audience, specifically Merlin Pendleton, Portland, Powell Butte, Prairie City and Redmond, Oregon. Lord, we thank you for the people living in these cities. Lord, we pray that you would draw them into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Father, we pray for their homes, that there would be unity and love, that they would follow you with all their heart, soul and strength as a family. Lord, we pray for the pastors and churches in these areas. God, that you would anoint them to teach your word verse by verse, even, Lord, that you would give the pastors wisdom and discernment how to serve and love the people that God brings. Lord, we love you. We thank you for these cities and we pray that you do a mighty work in the name of Jesus. Amen. Amen.

Thank you, brother. And now let's get back to David McGee as he continues teaching verse by verse. You know, a few years ago, John F. Kennedy's son died, and part of the reason he died in that plane crash, you may remember, is he got disoriented.

And, you know, he had a few hours, but I don't believe he had his instrument rating. And what that means is that when you lose visual sight, when you get in a fog and you're not sure what's going on, what you do is you check your instruments that are on the dash and they'll tell you where you are in your altimeter and, you know, how far up you are. Are you level? Because it's easy to get disoriented when you're up there. Life is like that. Sometimes you get in the middle of something and you get kind of disoriented and you get kind of confused.

And what do you do in those times? You check the instrument rating, either instruments, and you say, okay, well, how am I doing? Well, this book will tell you.

This book will tell you. The New Living Translation puts that verse in second Corinthians like this. This is why we live by believing and not by seeing. See, at this point, the church is thinking something horrible has happened. This persecution, but something remarkable is coming out of it. The church is now leaving Jerusalem.

Wow. Well, it's kind of like a mother bird kicking the baby out of the nest, isn't it? I mean, you have to wonder if that didn't happen, would they still be in Jerusalem? You know, if you wanted to go to a Christian church, you'd have to go Jerusalem every morning.

That'd be kind of be a tough commute, wouldn't it? But that's not what happened. Persecution came to church, spread. Verse five, then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them.

And the multitude, the multitudes was one accord. He did the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles, which he did. God had told them this was going to happen. God had told them that this was going to happen. God had said, if you do this, it's what I'm going to do.

Remember one of the key verses in the book of Acts is chapter one, verse eight says, but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you. And you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth. So God was bringing this verse to pass. Now they were in Samaria. They were telling people about the goodness of God.

Why? Because God's always faithful. And God has some of these verses that if then, and this is an if, he said, you're going to receive power from the Holy Spirit. And then you're going to not only be witnesses in Jerusalem, but in Judea and Samaria and into the end of the earth.

And it's cool because that's the way the Lord works. And you need to understand the Samaritans and the Jewish people. They did not get along. The Samaritans in part were from when the Assyrians came in and they were intentionally diluting the Jewish bloodlines. So the Assyrians were mixing with the Jewish people producing the Samaritans. And then the Samaritans kind of became their own entity. And, and they started saying, well, the, the, the rest of the Old Testament's not true. The first five books of the Bible. And then they began doing this thing.

They built their own temple in Mount Garazim. And that's what you see Jesus talking to the Samaritan woman about in John chapter four. When she says, we worship here, you guys worship there. And Jesus says, you know what?

Don't worry about that. Now there was bad, bad blood between the Jewish people and the Samaritan people. As a matter of fact, if you were in Northern Israel and you were taking something to Southern Israel, the most direct route would be to go through Samaria, but that's not what they did. They would go around Samaria.

You know why? Because they felt like the dirt in Samaria was unclean and they would mark goods that came through Samaria as being unclean. So that kind of cast the light when they said to Jesus, you're a Samaritan. That was a slam when Jesus told the story about the good Samaritan.

That was a dig. We need to understand that. And then you may remember in Nehemiah and Ezra in Nehemiah, they were going to build the wall back and the Samaritan said, well, we'll help you. And they said, no, we really don't want your help.

And the Samaritan said, okay, we'll tear it down then. A lot of bad blood. They were very much considered infidels, if you will, to the Jewish people. That's kind of interesting.

Isn't it? Where is the first place church went from Jerusalem? Samaria. Now, see, when I'm talking about Samaritans, you're cool.

I mean, you're probably not too. Yeah, I hate them Samaritans. I tell you what, I mean, you probably never met a Samaritan.

There's not many of them in the world now. But what does make you uncomfortable? What people group makes you uncomfortable?

What people group do you look at and go? Ah, a little suspicious. This is what if you remember John in the Gospels, they go into a town and they don't like them. And there's some racial stuff going on there because their skin looked different.

Their language was different, if you notice. And you notice John's response. He comes back to Jesus, called down fire from heaven, toast them, crispy crust. And Jesus says, you know what?

You don't know what spirit you're of. And Jesus in his wisdom didn't give John the power to call down fire from heaven. We can be thankful that we don't have that power, you know, because you probably would have used it at the at the wrong time. You know, waiting in the grocery store line, 15 items left, 16, you know, called out fire from heaven and toast somebody in the grocery store. There's somebody pulls out in front of you calling down fire from heaven. Yeah, you can't do that.

I'm so thankful I don't have that, you know, because I'd sit in here. Oh, they're asleep. You know, I mean, but John went from wanting to call down fire from heaven. Listen to what he says in his epistle.

First, John 420. He says, if someone says, I love God and hates his brother, he's a liar. For he who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from him that he who loves God must love his brother.

His brother also life lesson here. We should love one another, including other people groups. We should love one another, including other people groups. What what people group do you have hostility for or distrust or suspicion or just not an open loving attitude towards what people group is it?

I don't know. Is it is it Indians? Is it Asians?

Is it whites? Is it blacks? Is it men? Is it women? Is it elderly? Is it youth? Is it Hispanics?

Is it Islamic? Is it gays? The people with AIDS, people with piercings or tattoos, people don't dress like you. Identify who those people are in your heart and in your mind and every single person in here has them and begin to pray for them. I don't mean just God don't smite them. I mean, God bless them and begin to take a hard look at your heart towards other people because you know what? Way too much hatred and bitterness has gone on in this world in the name of God and in the name of religion.

Let us not be like that. And see, it's real easy as we talk about the Jewish people and the Samaritan people. Probably nobody in here got convicted, right? But also, and it's very quiet in here, isn't it?

Everybody's going home. What about Jewish people? How you feel about Jewish people?

Everybody in here has a has a toe that I can kind of put a little pressure on, including myself. Now, I'm not suggesting just especially if you're new here. I am not for this worldwide ecumenical movement of, you know, let's all stand in a circle with Buddhist and Islamic and and behind and let's all join hands and sing Kumbaya. You know, we don't need to do that. We shouldn't do that, but we should love one another. And there's people God has placed people in this fellowship to help you get over some of the stuff that you've brought in here for you to begin to let go of. And you should look at your own heart and ask yourself some hard questions.

Confronting some of the evil in your heart so that you can be set free to love people the way God intended for you to love people. It's bizarre to me that the people that have been shown so much grace and mercy are known for being so harsh and critical and judgmental in the world. That disturbs me. But see, if we're going to reach people, we got to tear down the walls.

We can't keep walls up between us and build walls between us. That's not what God wants. Friend, do you know for sure that your sins have been forgiven?

You can know right now. I want to lead you in a short, simple prayer, simply telling God you're sorry and asking Him to help you to live for Him. Now, God wants you to pray this prayer so much that He died to give you the opportunity and the ability to ask Him to forgive you.

Please pray this prayer with me out loud right now. Dear Jesus, I believe you died for me that I could be forgiven. And I believe you were raised from the dead that I could have a new life. And I've done wrong things. I have sinned and I'm sorry. Please forgive me of all those things. Please give me the power to live for you all of my days, in Jesus' name, Amen. Friend, if you prayed that prayer according to the Bible, you've been forgiven. You've been born again. So congratulations, friend.

You just made the greatest decision that you will ever make. God bless you. If you prayed that prayer with David for the first time, we'd love to hear from you. Visit crossthebridge.com and click on God's Plan for New Life to receive your free to receive our First Steps package with helpful resources to help you begin your walk with Christ. God wants to bless you and encourage your relationships today. Whether you are married, considering marriage, or engaged to be married, we have a resource for you. Pastor David wants to send you his four-part video series, Allies Stay Friends. Allow God to minister to your marriage through His Word today. This was an unforgettable weekend that encouraged many marriages.

And you and your spouse can be encouraged too. Allies Stay Friends is our thanks for your generous gift today to help more people hear God's truth on this station and beyond so they can cross the bridge from death to life. Please visit crossthebridge.com today to give a gift of any amount and get your copy of Allies Stay Friends. Well, DA, before we go, what are some ways that we can bless our listeners? Each day you can wake up with encouragement from Pastor David through the Word of God with his email devotional, life lessons to consider, a daily reading plan, and a thought to meditate on throughout your day from the heart of David McGee. Those are terrific, and it's easy and it's free. So folks, sign up today at crossthebridge.com. Thanks again for listening and join us next time as David McGee continues teaching verse by verse through the book of Acts.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-19 23:11:25 / 2023-11-19 23:23:02 / 12

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