God Is In The Relocation Business

Photo by Ian Chen on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to the Book of Acts – we’ll be starting about the end of Chapter Seven. As you turn there, let’s talk about bad things that happen to good people. We’ve all been there. We’ve seen it throughout human history.

When bad things happen to good people, the first thing we want to do is ask “why?”.

If God is love, not hate: 1 John 4:16
If God is light, not darkness: 1 John 1:5
If God is in control, not man,
Then why do bad things happen to good people?

God Calls His Creation To Return To Himself

If you study the Scripture you will find that MAN is not the focal point in human history. GOD is. God made everything. The Scripture opens with:

In the beginning GOD created … (Genesis 1:1)

and ends with:

The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you (Revelation 22:21)

God made us. God loves us. God knows what is best for us. God will be glorified. God will ultimately triumph. God said:

Isaiah 45:5-10 I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: 6 That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the Lord, and there is none else. 7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things. 8 Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the Lord have created it. 9 Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands? 10 Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth?

God is the first cause of all things. God is the Creator of all life. God is. Not us, but God. God is the Source of all life. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords (1 Timothy 6:15). God’s Will will come to pass. The story of Scripture is that God made us, we rebelled against God, but God pursues us still. He wants to bring us into union with Himself.

John 3:17 God sent His Son into the world not to condemn it, but that the world through Jesus might be saved (my paraphrase)

God is not glorified in a lost world.
God is not glorified when racism abounds.
God is not glorified when people hate – and hurt – people.
God is not glorified when humans try and be God.

We need to relocate our hearts and minds to God.

Illustrate Dr. Joe Pettigrew told a story about a dam in Pennsylvania. Civil Engineers warned those who lived nearby that the dam was unsafe, and that the people needed to relocate. People ignored the warning, though the Civil Engineers warned them repeatedly. Then one day the dam broke, and more that 3700 people died under that wall of water. No one would have died had the residents heeded the warning. God, like those engineers, know what is best. Get to high ground. Get to God!

Soul Relocation Comes Through Jesus Christ

God sent His Son to this earth to give us a way to come out of the darkness. Jesus did not become incarnate – God become flesh – just for a few, nor just for Israel. Jesus became the Christ to fulfill the promise God made to Abraham many years before. Abraham, in you shall ALL the families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). Out of this childless man would come a son, and through that son would come the nation Israel. Out of Israel Messiah (Christ) will come. Messiah would come out of Israel, of the line of David, of the Tribe of Judah. And through Jesus the world through Jesus might be saved. Jesus came, lived, died on Calvary, was buried, and resurrected on the third day. To receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is to receive life, both now and into eternity. This is God’s grand scheme to save the world.

Before Jesus ascended into Heaven, He told those who believed in Him:

Acts 1:8 … ye shall receive power, after that the Holy {Spirit} is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

The Christian is not saved with no purpose. The Christian is saved to proclaim Christ to ALL the families of the earth. Following Jesus’ ascention into Heaven, the disciples began sharing Jesus in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea. They met on Solomon’s Porch, a place in the Temple that Jesus often went to teach.

Acts 5:12 … And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch.

We Cannot Stay On Solomon’s Porch If
We Want The Light To Grow

The Church was growing, and meeting from house to house. But the Church – though in one accord – was largely in Solomon’s porch. The Widows and Orphans Table was serving and ministering to Jewish people. Jerusalem and Judea were hearing the Gospel, but Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth were not being reached.

Then Stephen – a man filled with the Holy Spirit and Faith (Acts 6:5) – started witnessing in the Synagogues. Again, only the Jews were being reached, but the Gospel was going forward. Last week we saw Stephen – this good and faithful son of God – executed for his faith.

Acts 7:57-60 Then they {the Jewish rulers} cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, 58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. 59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Where was God while Stephen was being stoned to death? Was God absent? Was God too busy to intervene? No. God was watching. Before he was murdered, Stephen…

Acts 7:55-56 … being full of the Holy {Spirit}, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.

Where is God when the bad stuff happens? He is there, watching, planning. He has a purpose in the bad, a purpose for the blessing of the world.

The God Who is Love, and the God Who is Light, and the God Who “has numbered the hairs of your head” (Luke 12:7), this God watched His son Stephen as he was brutally murdered. God made man in His image and likeness. God sent His Son Jesus to redeem us from darkness and death. Jesus died on Calvary and rose again that the “World through Him might be saved”. The most important thing in the eyes of God is not our safety or our comfort, but that His creation be redeemed through faith in Christ Jesus. Stephen understood this. As He was beaten to death, he did not cry out, “Jesus, why are You allowing this to happen to me?”. Stephen instead cried out,

Acts 7:59-60 … Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge…

Stephen did not cry out that his attackers be destroyed, but that God would NOT destroy them.
Vengeance did not cry out, but Love.

Stephen did not blame God for his painful death. Stephen glorified God. Stephen saw his life purpose was to share Jesus with as many as possible. As Stephen was murdered, there was someone there that God wanted to reach. Read with me:

Acts 7:58 … the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.

Who is this “Saul”? Saul is a Jew’s Jew. Saul was, in his own words:

Philippians 3:5-6 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; 6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

Saul hated the Church. He thought the Church to be a cancer in the religion of Judaism. But God used Saul’s evil to relocate the Church, to spread out the Gospel.

Acts 8:1 And Saul was consenting unto {Stephen’s} death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.

Though bad was happening, God was using it for good. Jesus wanted us to go to “Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The Gospel must be broadcast. As Saul begins to persecute the Church, the Church scatters. The Christians move beyond Jerusalem and Judea, and reach out into once hated Samaria and other Gentile areas.

Acts 8:2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.

Knowing humans, I’m certain as they carried Stephen’s earthly remains to be buried, someone though or even said out loud, “Where was God in all this?” Beloved, God was where God always is. God is there, with us.

He was there all the time
He was there all the time
Waiting patiently in line
He was there all the time

Deuteronomy 31:8 (ESV) It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.

And God told Jacob (Genesis 28:15), Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

God tells us today, (Hebrews 13:5), I will never leave you, nor forsake you. God is always there. But here is the question: Do you understand how central it is to the heart of God that the Gospel of Jesus go forth? Jesus did not die for no purpose, but that the world through Him might be saved”. The light of God must go out. It cannot become stalled, but God’s Will will be done. We read:

Acts 8:3-4 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. 4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.

Saul was entering into every house because the early Church had no buildings. If the Church was not meeting at the Temple, it was meeting in homes. The Word of God was being shared, but primarily in Jerusalem and Judea. With the introduction of Saul, Christians began to scatter for survival. And as they scattered, the light of Christ went forth. They that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the Word. The phrase the Word is a reference to Jesus (see John 1:1-3).

Then Philip … But Simon

Acts 8:5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.

The scattering of the Church under Saul’s persecution moved Philip to go into Samaria. Who is this Philipwe are abruptly introduced to?

When the Church chose out “seven men of honest report” to oversee the Widow and Orphans table, Stephen was the first man chosen, and Philip was the second man called.

Philip was the first Missionary to Samaria. Philip, like Stephen, was sold out for Jesus. He preached the Gospel in the power of God. Samaria was a very dark place, filled with idolatry, before Philip came to town. We read:

Acts 8:6-8 And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. 8 And there was great joy in that city.

As Philip surrendered to God, sharing the Gospel, God blessed Philip’s ministry. When you walk with God, God will walk BEFORE you. As the Gospel was shared, the darkness departed, and there was great joy in that city. God delivers us from the power of darkness, and translates us into the Kingdom of His dear Son” (Colossians 1:13). But the darkness always wrestles against the light of God. As Philip preached, people believed.

There was another “preacher” in Samaria that was competing with Philip, whose name is Simon. Simon is a preacher of darkness, of the things not of Christ. We read:

Acts 8:9-11 But there was a certain man, called Simon, which before time in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: 10 To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. 11 And to {Simon} they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.

Simon used sorcery and witchcraft, and had perhaps healed people even as Philip was doing. Though the miraculous ministries of both men looked the same, the source of their power was different. Sorcery trusts in powers not ordained of God. God told His people in:

Deuteronomy 18:10-12 … There shall not be found among you any one … that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch. 11 Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. 12 For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord …

Simon was relying on the occult to do miraculous things, when Philip came around, doing what appeared to be the same thing. But it wasn’t the same thing. We read:

Acts 8:12 … But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

Philip did not preach power apart from God. Philip preached Jesus Christ (Acts 8:5). Philip preached submission to the kingdom of God. Philip preached the name of Jesus Christ, that is, that the Source of all power is Jesus. Jesus said:

All power is given unto Me in Heaven and Earth”
Matthew 28:18

“The Father hath committed all judgment to the Son”
John 5:22

“God hath exalted Jesus, giving Him a Name above every name”
Philippians 2:9

The powers that be are ordained of God (Romans 13:1). The devil and the darkness can imitate God, but they are no threat against the power of God. As Philip preached, Simon hearing the Gospel, received Jesus as Savior.

Acts 8:13-17 Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. 14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: 15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy {Spirit}: 16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) 17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy {Spirit}.

In the earliest days of the Church, the filling and empowerment of the Spirit was conveyed through the Apostles. The Holy Spirit fills believers so that they might bless the Church, the Body of Christ. As it is written:

1 Corinthians 12:7 the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every {person} to profit with all.

When the Spirit fills a person, that person is enabled to perform some God given gift that will bless the Church. When the Samaritans received Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior, the Apostles Peter and John came to Samaria to pass on the manifestation of the Spirit.

Acts 8:18-19 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, 19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.

Simon thought that the Holy Spirit was a power that he could buy. The Spirit is not a Power, but a Person. Jesus told us to “baptize in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). The Holy Spirit is the very Presence of God, walking with us daily as we go through this life. Jesus called the Holy Spirit a “Comforter” (John 14:16) and “The Spirit of Truth” (John 14:17). When Simon sought to make merchandise of God, Peter rebuked him, saying:

Acts 8:20-23 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. 21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. 22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. 23 For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.

God’s companionship cannot be bought or sold. Though Simon was saved, his concept of God and salvation are twisted. By trying to buy the power of the Apostles, Simon was not loving others as God loved him. He was loving power, fame, prestige.

God’s children are called to live their lives so as to glorify our Father. We are to bring honor to Jesus. We are dead to sin, that we might live to righteousness (Romans 6:1, 11). We are not saved just to go to Heaven. We are saved to be children of God while on this earth. Peter and John corrected Simon’s perception – and he repented of his sin.

We are saved to walk with God, not with the world. We are saved to be the light of Christ in this present darkness. Let us walk with Jesus! Amen and Amen.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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