Welcome to Calvary Albuquerque.
We pursue the God who is passionately pursuing a lost world. We do this with one another through worship by the word to the world.
Father, we do ask that. And we ask believing that that's something that you also desire, to speak to your children, to speak to your church. And Father, I ask that we would be receptive as your church. We believe that we are entering holy ground, not because this is a special sanctuary, but because of who's in it, and who's with us, and who's word we 're going to be reading.
And so I ask that we will come in with attentive ears, ready to hear not what I have to say, but ready to hear what you have to tell your church. Would we receive correction? Would we receive inspiration? Motivation to be about your work? And Father, I pray for those that are hurting that you would give them hope.
Father, I pray for those that have pain in their life that you would show them that it can be filled with purpose. And Father, I ask that you will shake up the complacent and those of us fall into that temptation of being slothful. And so we open ourselves to you, the great surgeon. We ask that you would just do surgery, that you would do work on your people tonight. And we pray these things in your name. Amen.
We all have days that we can't forget, don't we? We have those super exciting days. Maybe it's the day that you got that job offer that you have been waiting for years and that job offer comes. That letter comes in the mail. That e-mail comes, says, you know, Mr. So-and-so, we'd like to formally offer you this job for such and such pay. And you just get ecstatic, and you can't forget that day.
Or maybe for some of you it was the first time that you got your first car, and you had your eyes on that car for a while. I remember I had been looking for a Jeep Cherokee for so long when I was looking for a car, and I ended up getting a 1996 Jeep Cherokee, just like I wanted. And that day that I drove it home, I like ordered some new tires. I put them on there, and I won't forget that day. That was a good, exciting day. Maybe for some of you, you remember the day that your spouse said, I do. Hopefully, you remember the day that your spouse said I do.
It will be problematic for you if you don't.
You remember the day that your firstborn child came into this earth, came into this world. You remember that. Those are exciting days. But so many of us remember days that maybe aren't so exciting. We remember the days that are difficult, the days that feel like chaos.
Maybe it wasn't when you were offered that dream job, but maybe it was the day that you were called into the office and you were let go from that dream job. Maybe it was the day that wrecked car that you had been waiting for for so long. Maybe it was a day that you found out about a divorce or a death.
And days like that can feel, they can feel like chaos. And our society in general can feel pretty chaotic. Looking at our culture right now that we live in, it is one of chaos. Looking at the news, even just today there are reports of commercial airliners that have been shot out of the air by Russian missiles. It seems like every, single week there's a new report of some shooting here in America that ended tragically.
Even as I was putting my notes together, I went online and I saw two children and one teacher shot in South Carolina today. Two children at an elementary school and a teacher shot today. There is clashes and riots across our nation, and we're maybe in the most confounding election that this nation has ever seen. Days like this can feel like chaos.
And you may be going through pain personally. What I want you to hear tonight is that God has a plan for your pain, and he wants to leverage that chaos for his work. And before you discount this as a message that exists only for the hurting, I want you to know that maybe the things that we talk about are going to be best put into practice before the pain comes. So that if we can start living habitually like the word of God tells us now, that when the tragedy strikes and when the chaos happens, we will be all the better able to go through those storms.
So we're going to be in Acts, Chapter Eight tonight. You can turn there. Please do turn there. Acts Eight, Verse One. "Now Saul was consenting to his death. And at that time, a great persecution a rose against the church which was at Jerusalem."
Now, Saul was consenting to his death. This chapter starts out with someone's death. Who is that someone? Stephen. Stephen is that someone. Who is Stephen? Well, for context sake, let me catch you up. So what's gone on so far in the book of Acts?
Jesus has both come and died on the cross for your sins. He's been buried. Three days later, he rose again. And that's really where the book of Acts opens up. Jesus has died. He's been buried. He comes back to life and he reveals himself to some of his disciples. He reveals himself to some of the people that have said, I'm following Jesus.
And before he ascends up to heaven with the Father at the right hand of God, he gives them a commission. Acts Eight or Acts 1:8 rather, has it written down. He says to them, you shall be my witnesses. Rather, he starts out by saying, you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, and in Judea, and in Sumeria, and to the ends of the Earth.
So Jesus gives them this commission, this order. And that's exactly what happens in Acts Chapter Two. The disciples, the believers at that time, they go and they wait in Jerusalem for this promised Holy Spirit who is going to come upon them.
And they receive the Holy Spirit, and they start sharing the gospel, communicating God's love in all of these different languages. And it seems a little chaotic. It's not chaotic, it's completely orderly because God's in it, but it seems chaotic to them and to others.
And then the people say, what's going on? These people are speaking all these different languages. Like, they must be they must be drunk. And that was the setup for Peter's very first sermon ever. He says, actually, we're not drunk. It's only 9:00 AM in the morning, and nobody starts at 9:00 AM.
And then he goes on to go through the history of Israel and to point how Jesus is the Messiah, how Jesus is the promised one, and how Jesus came not only for the Jews, but for the Gentiles also.
And 3,000 people are added to the church that day. Some 3,000 people. That's not a bad first day of a church plant, right? First day, first sermon, 3,000 people at the altar. Call game on. I would say that's successful for day number one.
Well, the next few chapters could be summarized by saying the apostles are preaching the gospel. They're seeing miracles happen. People are being saved, and then there becomes a little resistance from the Jewish leaders. There becomes push back. There's persecution.
Peter and John are walking to the temple and they see this guy. And he's asking for money, and he's lame. He's crippled. He's unable to walk, and they say to him, hey, like silver and gold we don't have, but we have something so much better than that. Stand and rise and walk in the name of Jesus, and he starts celebrating, and people start responding to the gospel.
But the Jewish leaders don't like to see this happening because they hate Jesus. They hate the name of Jesus. And so you'd think that people would celebrate that this crippled guy has been healed, but instead Peter and John get thrown in jail. Well, it's kind of a catch and release situation.
They take them for a day and then they warn them, hey, don't-- just as long as you don't speak about Jesus anymore, then everything's going to be all right with you. Well, that doesn't really shut them up. They just keep talking about Jesus, because when Jesus has gotten a hold of somebody's life, we can't, help but to speak of what he's done.
And so they keep faithfully preaching Jesus and there's more persecution. And there's just all of this buildup of persecution, hostility building. And then Acts Chapter Six happens. And instead of having pressure from the outside, there start to be problems from the inside.
Acts Chapter Six happens and it says that a complaint arose. So I guess they must have had Agape boxes back then or something. There was a complaint. They wrote it down, they--
No, there was a complaint that the Jewish believers were being treated better than the Hellenistic believers. There was a racism problem in that part, in the church at that time. And so the apostles, they look at this and they say, OK, we've got to fix this. But we can't personally attend to it because we're spending time in the word and in prayer.
And so they raise up seven qualified men to take care of the practical needs of the church. They raise up these people and we still call them deacons today. They called them deacons then. It sounded a little cooler because it was in Greek. But we call them deacons today.
And they raise up these deacons to take care of the practical needs of the church. And we had talked about, we had mentioned Stephen before. And this is where Stephen comes in. He was one of the seven chosen deacons.
And what I love about Stephen, what I love about Stephen is that the Bible says that he was full of faith and full of power. And he was called-- get this-- he was called to take care of the practical needs of the church, opening doors, making sure people are fed, making sure the tables are clean, making sure that all of just the hands-on, practical, boots on the ground kind of things are taken care of at the church. But he goes above and beyond, and it seems that he cannot keep his mouth quiet about the Savior that has changed his life.
And so we find Stephen sharing the gospel with all kinds of people. Everywhere he goes, talking about Jesus. And this gets the attention of the religious elite. It gets the attention of the Sadducees. And they bring Stephen before them and they say, hey-- you know, they try to do the same scare tactics that they tried on the other apostles a few chapters earlier. And they say, you need to quit talking about Jesus.
And so what does he do? He launches into a full-on sermon talking about Jesus. And he recounts Israel's history, highlighting God's faithfulness, Israel's rebellion, and that Jesus is the Messiah. And this infuriates the Sadducees so much that they rush him, they drag him out the sheep gate, out of the city of Jerusalem, and they kill him with stones.
They throw stones at him until he's dead. And for the first time in history, somebody has been killed for loving Jesus. It wouldn't be the last time in history that somebody would be killed for loving Jesus and preaching Jesus.
Christian Today, they have a website that is largely focused on examining the persecution that goes on around the world. And they estimate that since the time of Stephen until today's age, there have been some 70 million Christians who have been martyred for their faith. We're not talking about 70 million Christians who have been persecuted. We're talking about 70 million Christians who have been persecuted to the point of death, of which Stephen was the first.
So, yeah. I guess if we turn to this chapter and we see Acts Eight, we could say that this was a tragic day. That this was a seemingly chaotic day. And we see Saul, this man who would go on to preach the gospel to so many nations and write more of the New Testament than anybody else, we see him standing and approving the murder of Stephen.
And what we'll see tonight as we look over the next few verses is that God used the chaos that they were going through then to promote his gospel and to save more people. And guess what? He can use the chaos in your life today to promote his gospel and to save more people.
Verse Two says, "And devout men carried Stephen to his burial and made great lamentation over him." Now, first when we read this we think like, of course, people, his friends, are making great lamentations. Of course his friends are mourning. Like, that verse could just be excluded. That doesn't even need-- that goes without saying. Why was that included?
Well, as we dig a little bit deeper, we find that that is actually quite significant. Most scholars believe that the word devout there is indicating not Christian men, but Jewish men, pious Jewish men. There are two other times that Luke uses this word in the New Testament and both times he's referring to Jewish men.
Now, why is that significant? Because Stephen was a man who was just killed for his Christian faith, something that at that time was completely or seemed completely contrary to the Jewish teachings. You have to understand Jesus to the Jews in that day, and even Jesus to many Jews today, is the equivalent of maybe how we think of Joseph Smith. He was someone that came into their system and switched up the rules. He switched up the mindset. He switched up the method, the policies, you could say of that religion.
And so the Jews that didn't believe in Jesus in that day were usually-- they weren't like, oh, OK. We're cool with him. It was either you're all for him or you're completely against him. And so for these Jewish men to be carrying Stephen out to where he would be buried. These Jewish men to be Stephen's pall bearers was quite significant.
Not only that, not only did they have a different perspective than him, but notice that it says "they made greet lamentation." Now, that's highly significant. And we think, no. That's normal. At a funeral, you cry. At a funeral, you mourn. But did you know that in that day it was illegal, it was forbidden, for Jewish people to publicly mourn the death of a criminal?
Now, Stephen wasn't a criminal, but he died the death of a criminal. And to the eyes of those who killed him, he was declared a criminal. He was right before God, but he was wrong before these leaders there. And so they killed him as a criminal.
And so for these devout, Jewish men to mourn and to publicly lament, it was making a statement. It was a statement of protest against those who murdered him, and it was a statement of support for Stephen.
Now, I say all of this to point out that maybe these men weren't converted to Christ prior to Stephen's death, but it seems that his life of faithfulness and that his words, his communicating the gospel, and the way that he died, left an impact on him that he would never see.
See, men who disagreed with his views carried him away weeping his death. No doubt God used him, Stephen, to impact them for the sake of the gospel. It seems that these men were becoming the fruit of Stephen's faithfulness. These were his pall bearers.
It's interesting to think about. it's kind of-- might sound morbid as I ask this question, might be strange. But it's interesting to think about who's going to be at your funeral. You're like, yeah, morbid is the right word. Thanks for bringing that up.
It's a question that sometimes I ask. It's not something that I think about all the time, but it's a question that sometimes I ask. Who's going to be at my funeral? There's no way of knowing for sure. Sure, there's the people that I'm pretty confident they'll be there. Honey, if I go before you, please go to my funeral. I imagine you will.
But there is no way to know for sure who's going to be there. Likely the only people that are going to come and mourn your death are going to be the people who were impacted by your life. And here these men attending his funeral, mourning his death.
Sometimes one of the greatest privileges that we have as a pastoral team is to conduct and to officiate the funerals of Christians who lived what they said, and who followed God's word. And it's a privilege for us to honor them, to represent to them, but then to bring the Gospel behind this life that they've lived and communicate one last time to their friends and family who might not know Jesus.
And oftentimes when I am doing a funeral, afterwards I'll have people come up to me and they'll say, hey, thanks so much for sharing what you shared. And they'll go on to say, yeah, you know, I knew so-and-so maybe 30 years ago, but I haven't talked to him or them in the last 30 years, but he made such an impact in my life then.
And so that's an opportunity for me to maybe minister of the gospel to them if they don't know the gospel yet. And I bring all of this up to say sometimes you won't see the fruit from the work God has been doing in you.
But just because you don't see the fruit doesn't mean it's not there. And if that's the case, let me urge you with this truth. Never underestimate, never underestimate the impact of your obedience to our Savior. Because you might not see the fruit, but that doesn't mean it's not there.
A few years ago I got an email from somebody who had listened to one of my sermons that I had taught some three years prior to that. And she writes me this email and she says, hey, you have no idea who I am. We've never met, but you preached a message three years ago and I was able to hear it, and I couldn't not hear the words that you were saying. And she repeated like, all the points that were in that sermon that night. And she said at the end of that night, you gave an altar call and I didn't go forward.
But that night later when I went home, I gave my life to the Lord. You see, I was never able to see that fruit, but that doesn't mean that it didn't happen. And gratefully, thankfully, she was able to send me that e-mail three years later and let me know. But I wonder when we get to heaven, how many people didn't send the e-mail? I wonder how many lives will have been impacted because we've been faithful to communicate Jesus' gospel. I look forward to sharing those stories and hearing those stories.
But maybe you've waned in your boldness to communicate God's truth because you don't see the immediate results that you want to see. Maybe you've decided, well, I'm not going to open my mouth as much because it never really seems to change anything. Can I urge you to be faithful to Jesus and leave the results up to him?
No matter what you see.
And to trust that he is working, and that when you send out his word, that it doesn't return void. See, at this point of Stephen's death, there was no record of converts to his account, yet we see these men who seem to have been impacted and are beginning to be changed and made soft. These men were becoming soft to the gospel.
But not all of them were becoming soft. There was one man that was hardened in his heart. His name is Saul. We read about him Verse Three. Look. "As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison."
This guy Saul was bent on seeing Christians suffer he was committed to persecute the church. Do you notice there that it says that he went house to house, that he went door to door? Can I ask you a question? When was the last time you went door to door for anything?
It's like, yeah, I'll shoot somebody an e-mail or send them a text, but go drive to their house or go door to door to people that I don't even know? Like maybe if your daughter is in the Girl Scouts you've said, yeah. I've gone door to door recently because we had to sell those Samoa's and we had to sell all those delicious cookies. And by the way, if you come to my door trying to sell anything other than Girl Scout Cookies, I'm not answering.
On the contrary, if you do have some Girl Scout Cookies, I will gladly take six boxes of each.
Saul wasn't softened at that moment by Stephen's example of faith. He was hardened. He made havoc, it says. He went around trying to capture, arrest, persecute, hurt as many Christians as he could.
Now, I want you to put yourself in the shoes of the early believers of that day. Everybody was a recent convert to Christianity because Christianity had just began. And so you're a new believer. You've been attending this church for a few weeks, maybe a few months.
And it's been a little weird because your family didn't decide to follow Jesus, and so you when you have dinner with them at the table, things are a little awkward. You try to bring up Jesus, and they're just like, yeah, we're just not into that.
You're feeling a little bit of the pinch, but then one day you hear that one of the leaders in your church has been killed because he believes the same things that you believe. And now things are getting a little bit more real. You're thinking, oh man, is that going to be me next? Are they going to go after all of the leaders, and then are they going to go after us?
And then you flip open your phone and you scroll through Twitter and you see that there's this guy, Saul, who is going around and imprisoning people. He's going house to house. And you say, well, I'm in a house. What if he comes to my house? What do I do? Do I shrink back? How do I react to this? Do I go to the gun safe, pull out the Colt ,45? Do I use my American rights? Do I run to the hills and hide?
I don't know what you would do, but they booked it. These Christians left as soon as they could. They got out of town. It says, Verse One, "They were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Sumeria, except the apostles." Sorry, that's Verse Four.
"They were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Sumeria, except the apostles." So they're all living in Jerusalem, right? Jerusalem is the city they're living in. Judea you could say is the county that they're living in. So it's the greater area. And so they leave Jerusalem. They scatter into the outer parts of that community, the outer parts of that region.
And then it says that some of them went far up northwest to Sumeria. But get this, this is the crucial part. "Though they fled their city, they did not forsake their Savior." In all honesty, I don't know how I would react if persecution was getting that real and that close to me.
I mean, I'd be tempted maybe to hide my Jesus tats, take the reload love necklace off, take the cross necklace off. I think those are temptations that maybe went across their mind. Should I slump back and just kind of see how this whole Christianity thing pans out? Or should I be active? Should I get out of town? Should I continue preaching Jesus? Or should I just kind of hide and become a disciple?
These were the most difficult days of their lives, and yet they stood with Jesus. I pray that if persecution does come to this continent in the same manner and to the same level that it is in other places, I pray that we would be a church strong, that is steadfast and continues to be with our Savior. And I think that if that happens and when that happens, the Spirit will build up strength within us to confess our Lord.
But as I was thinking about this and as I was studying I just had this thought. Shame on me if my faithfulness only goes as far as my comfort. And I think sometimes I live that way, that my boldness to proclaim Jesus' gospel that changed my life only goes as far as it's comfortable for me to do.
I think that sometimes we get in this mindset that, sure, I'll go out of my way to serve, so long as it doesn't affect the rest of my schedule. Sure, I'll go help that person so long as I've got the time on my calendar, so long as it doesn't discomfort me that much.
I was reminded of Second Timothy 3:12 where Paul tells Timothy, "All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution." Verse Four, "Therefor those who were scattered went everywhere, but they went everywhere preaching the gospel. They went everywhere preaching the word."
Pastor David Guzik calls these early believers accidental missionaries. I like that. They were missionaries on accident. They didn't have this whole pledge, and they weren't sending out all these supporter letters. They just had to flee. And because they fled and they preached the gospel anywhere they went, they just became accidental missionaries.
And I love the genius of God. I love the genius of God in this, that the missions movement was birthed out of the death of a follower of Jesus. See, God used the chaos of Stephen's death to launch global missions. And God use the chaos that Saul caused to send the gospel to places that it had never been before.
God used the chaos. He took their pain, he filled it with purpose, and he set more people free because they wouldn't stop preaching Jesus. And if God can use their chaos, what's to say he can't use the chaos, the pain, the difficulty, the problems, the tragedy that comes our way to fill it with purpose, to use it for his will, and for our betterment that we would look more like our Savior?
So the message for us-- and it might come across harsh, and that's not my intention-- but the message for us is to not waste our pain but to leverage it for his purposes. And that is when we all find the most satisfaction and the most joy, when we're living not for our comfort, not to just try to get through the storm, but to utilize this storm for his purpose, to fulfill the great commission. That is the reason God put you on this Earth. To know him, to glorify him, and to help more people know him and glorify him and enjoy him forever.
And those words might sound harsh, like Matt, you're telling me to just use my pain like it's an easy thing, to not waste my pain. But what about the fact that pain hurts and maybe I just need to be still for a while? I know that what you're going through is difficult. The things that I am going through can be difficult. They can be terrifying.
Sometimes the things that were going through, they can feel like they're crippling, like we can't move forward, like we can't be on mission, like we can't do ministry. And I don't want to belittle whatever you're going through, but instead I want to give you the hope that it doesn't have to be wasted. That it can be filled with purpose.
And I guarantee you no, matter what difficulty you're going through, when you surrender it to God and say I want to grow through this. And not only do I want to grow through this, I want you to use it for your purposes. I guarantee you there will be no greater joy to combat that pain than knowing that you're in the will of God and that you're surrendering yourself to him.
And something that I've seen about pain, difficulty chaos is that when tragedy hits, you make the headlines. When tragedy hits, you make the headlines. Or another way of saying that is that your pain often creates for you a platform.
It was July, 17th-- sorry, June 17, 2015 when an armed gunman entered a church in Charleston. It was a tragic day. Shots were fired and nine people died. You know this. It's been in the headlines because the one year anniversary just passed.
And it was baffling to me, it was interesting to me, to see on CNN, maybe a more liberal news network, B roll and footage inside a church of Christians raising their hands in worship to their Savior. of Christians pouring out their hearts and communicating their trust in a sovereign God. It's not often that we see the news report on Christians worshipping, is it?
And probably CNN would have never gone to that church had tragedy not struck that church, but that tragedy hit and they made the headlines. And so they utilized that as an opportunity to communicate the gospel and give hope to more people, even in their hurting.
I had a friend that-- still have a friend-- that three years ago, she was diagnosed with stage four cancer. And she's gone through chemo, and she's gone through surgeries. She's tried different treatments. And when she was first diagnosed, it seemed like all of the eyes had turned to her, and all of the eyes in our community had looked to her. What's she going to do now?
I remember one of these statements that she made right at the beginning, right at the beginning of her finding out that she had cancer. She said I'm excited. I am excited to start this season and see how God will use it to glorify himself.
And I didn't know what to say to that. Like, you're excited? But that's somebody that realizes that God can use the chaos in her life to transform other people's lives, to glorify himself, to let others be free from the bondage of sin, because now she had a greater platform than she ever had before.
God can use your chaos. You know, it's interesting. The scattering of this church, the scattering of this church in Acts Eight began the fulfillment of the great commission. We said in Acts 1:8, Jesus tells his disciples, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be witnesses to me." Where? Jerusalem, Judea, Sumeria, and to the ends of the Earth.
Now, get this. Acts 8:1 is the fulfillment of Acts 1:8 because in Acts 8:1 the disciples, the people of the church are scattered and they preach Jesus in Jerusalem, in all the regions of Judea, and in Sumeria. So God uses one of the greatest tragedies to bring about some of the greatest good.
| had a mentor of mine-- while I was living in Phoenix a few years back-- I had a mentor of mine call me randomly on a Sunday. I had just finished preaching, got my phone, and the second that I turned it back on, he calls me. You guys might know him, Chip Lusko. He oversees our radio. He's been a pastor years and years here.
And he calls me. And I answer it, hey, Chip. He says, Matt, you want to hear something crazy? And I said, yeah, I want to hear something crazy. I guess I'm always down for crazy.
And like, not even hesitating he says, sometimes God and Satan want the same thing for your life. God will use Satan's evil to accomplish his good. And then he hangs up the phone.
What was that, Chip?
So I call him back and I'm like, wait a minute. Can you say that one more time? Maybe a little bit slower, and then maybe we can have a conversation about this? And he said, sometimes God and Satan want the same thing for your life. God will use Satan's evil to accomplish your good.
And as we continued talking on the phone, he told me that that wasn't something he came up with, but it's a quote from Joni Eareckson Tada. Now, I don't know if you know her or if you know about her, but at 18 years old, she was cliff jumping with some friends. She dove into the water, she hit a rock and she ended up as a quadriplegic.
And her story as she shares it is that for years, or for a while, she became suicidal in her thoughts. That she despaired of life itself, that she didn't want to live anymore, until she met Jesus.
And she said that when she met Jesus. he filled her life with purpose and she learned to paint using only her mouth. And if you look up her paintings, they're amazing and phenomenal and anybody with full use of all of their appendages shouldn't even be able to paint that good, but she does.
And not only does she do that, but she started sharing the gospel, and authoring books, and starting ministries. And I would say that millions of lives have been impacted from her faithfulness to the gospel, from her faithfulness to her Savior. And she's the one that said sometimes God and Satan want the same thing for your life, because God will use Satan's evil to accomplish his good.
Well, here in Acts Eight Satan wanted to persecute the church to stop the growth, but Jesus used the persecution of the church to stimulate growth. Don't you love our God? That Satan might make a move, but then God overrules and makes three more, and replaces, and takes away all of the damage that Satan may have done.
John MacArthur said it this way, "Satan's attempt to stamp out the church's fire merely scattered the embers and started new fires around the world." Or the way that our church father Turtullian said it. The blood of the martyrs is what? The seed of the church. "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church." Though they were scattered, they did not stop preaching.
So the takeaway for us, the implications for us, see your problems as just a part of the bigger picture and never quit preaching Jesus. I want you to take a minute and to think about the chaos, the difficulty, the pain, the hurt in your life. And I want you to just surrender that to the Lord right now. Maybe in a short prayer. Lord, would you use this chaos to make me more like you and to help others see you and know who you are?
God can use your chaos. While Luke has been really zeroed in on the impact of Stephen and on the impact of this large group of the church, all that were scattered, everyone that was being persecuted in Jerusalem and fled. He's had kind of this panorama view of all the persecuted Christians, but now he really zeroes in and he zooms in on Philip.
Look at Verse Five. "Then Philip went down to the city of Sumeria and preached Christ to them. And the multitudes with one accord headed the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits crying with a loud voice came out of many who were possessed, and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed."
We're introduced to Phillip in Acts Chapter Six right next to when we're introduced to Stephen because he also was a deacon. Philip was also somebody that was raised up to take care of those practical needs of the church.
But Philip goes out as the persecution goes on and he goes to a specific city called Sumeria. It's a little bit Northwest of Jerusalem, and it's to a people that were in large part despised by the Jews. And Philip goes there to preach the gospel to them.
And I love that it doesn't say, you know, Philip went into the town and he explained every reason why they should put their hope in Jesus, giving every answer to every question they ever had. And it doesn't say that he debated their highest thinkers. He just told them about his Savior.
And the result was that he saw miracles, that demons trembled, and that people were healed. You see, the greatest need in this world isn't social reform, or a better education, or a presidential candidate, the greatest need in this world is the gospel.
And what I love that we see here is that Jesus can use an individual to reach an entire city. Philip goes by Sumeria and it doesn't say anything about him going with a mob, or going with a crowd, or having an organized crusade in that city. It just says he went and he spoke about his Savior.
And I think that sometimes I get this idea in my mind that in order to be effective with the gospel, then we've got to have a fourth of July celebration every weekend. And we utilize that arena because God uses that arena and he blesses it.
But maybe one of the more effective and most effective things that we should be doing on top of that is simply communicating to the people in our life that there is a God in heaven that loves them and can change their life like he changed ours.
So don't be fooled into thinking that God needs a church service to save somebody's soul. He used Philip as an individual to turn an entire city upside down. He preached Jesus in Verse Eight. "There was great joy in that city."
The scattered people didn't have door flyers and podcast. It says that they preached the word wherever they went. They preach the word wherever they went. I've got a question for you tonight. Where are you? 4001 Osuna Road NE 87109. That's where I'm at. I'm at Calvary Albuquerque right now.
Where are you going to be after service? Where are you going to be tomorrow? Where do you work? Where do you hang out? Where do you spend your time? Where do you get your coffee? Where do you go to the gym? Where do your kids go to school? What groups are you in? Where are you?
And wherever you are, are you preaching Jesus? Are you telling people about your Savior? Are you telling people that they can have a Savior too? Are you leveraging the resources in your life to introduce people to your Jesus?
As we end, I want to circle back to where Joni Eareckson Tada said. She said, "Sometimes God and Satan want the same thing for you. God will use Satan's evil to accomplish his good." The prime example of this has to be the cross of Christ. You see, Satan and God both wanted the cross to happen.
There was a song that we used to sing in a church that I used to go to. And one line of it says, "on that day, all hell rejoiced." We're talking about the day of the cross. "On that day all hell rejoiced to see him hang upon the cross, briefly joyed by the war that they thought they'd won. But crushing their hopes, Jesus rose and our sin was all undone."
You see, Satan had planted it in Judas' heart to surrender Jesus to the authorities, to sell him out, so that he could be killed on a Roman cross. But did you know that our Bible tells us that it pleased the Lord to bruise him? That it pleased the Father to bruise his son.
And why? Because of the outcome of the cross. Jesus rose after he had died so that you could have life, so that you could have eternal life later, and so that you could have abundant life now. Both God and Satan wanted the cross but for far different reasons. Paul puts it this way, "He-- being God-- made him-- being Jesus. He made him who knew no sin to become sin. To be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
So if God can use the greatest evil or the worst evil we could say, if God can use the most unimaginable evil in history to bring about the greatest possible good ever, then what's to say he can't use the difficulty, and the pain, and the problems that you and I face today?
What would happen, what would happen, church, if we decided to never waste our pain? What would happen if we decided we're never going to stop talking about Jesus? Would we see a different Albuquerque? Would we see a different New Mexico maybe, or different work places?
We've used the word preach a lot tonight, and that's really the thrust of this is preach, preach, preach, preach the gospel. And you might hear that word and think that's kind of a scary word. That's a pastor word. That's what Pastor Skip is supposed to do. That's what the person on the platform is supposed to do. That's what the person behind the pulpit is supposed to do.
But if we look at the Greek word, it's where we get the word evangelism. And evangelism, it simply means to bring good news. To bring good news. It doesn't mean to bring good news to every single person on Earth. It doesn't mean you have to bring good news through a microphone or through a podcast. It doesn't mean you have to bring good news through a sermon. It just means to bring good news.
You know, I saw a video circulating on Facebook and it's really cool. One of the things that scientists have discovered that they can do is freeze and kill some types of cancer cells in the body. It's called internal cryosurgery.
And what they do is they put this needle into the tumor, they inject it into the tumor, and then they release a liquid nitrogen that freezes the tumor, freezes the cells, and then the liquid or the water inside those cells will turn into crystals and will slowly die off. And one of the coolest things is that it doesn't harm, it's not supposed to affect, the healthy tissue.
And so you're able to take care of those cancerous cells without harming the healthy cells. That's good news. Isn't that good news? And so it's been shared over, and over, and over, over like 5,000 times and it just came out because that's good news.
And when we come across good news, we like to flaunt that good news. Well, church, I have something to tell you. We have far better news than a medical advancement. We have a cure for the soul, not just the body. The forgiveness of sin, the freedom from hell in abundant life now and eternal life later on. And I wonder if anyone in here thinks that's good news worth sharing?
I read a statement in a letter that a friend of mine had written. I just read it earlier today. Actually, I added it to my notes after I was already finished putting them all together. But he wrote this in this statement, in this letter. He says, "I'm not content not making an impact for the Kingdom of God here in Albuquerque. I'm not content not making an impact for the Kingdom of God here in Albuquerque."
And I wonder if that is a heart that you share with him? Are you content living your life as you have been? And listen, some of you are already sharing the gospel and telling everybody that you encounter about Jesus.
But am I content living the way that I am without ramping it up and taking it to the next level? Am I content not making an impact for the Kingdom of God in Albuquerque? In my prayers, let it never be so. Let us always be hungry for more ground. Let us ever be putting our feet in new places so that he will prosper where we put the sole of our foot and bring more people into his kingdom and take more people from hell and put them in heaven.
Father, we thank you for your word. Lord, we ask that you would inspire us to action, that we wouldn't just clap in this room, that we would continue into the world proclaiming that you are the God that saved us. And I thank you that you haven't made it difficult for us. Anybody that is saved is able to tell somebody else how to be saved.
Lord, I ask that you would stir us as a church to be vocal, to be living lives that demonstrate the gospel, yes, but to be vocal in communicating your word, your truth, your gospel. Father, we've been praying for revival.
We've been asking that you would stir something up in this country, in this nation. And we continue to ask that, but we also ask that hoping to be a part of the answer, hoping to be a part of the solution by being vocal about what you've done in our lives. Lord, we ask that you would set more people free because we're here in Albuquerque.
We pray these things in Jesus' name. Amen.
What binds us together is devotion to worshipping our Heavenly Father, dedication to studying his word, and determination to proclaim our eternal hope in Jesus Christ.
For more teachings from Calvary Albuquerque and Skip Heitzig, visit calvaryabq.org.