05/29/16 From Ordinary to do Extraordinary!

Posted by Pastor Steve Siegrist on Sunday, May 29, 2016 Under: Sermon
Acting Like Jesus Series – Acts 9:36-43

Intro: Dead or Alive: Once there was a hermit who was very wise. He articulated answers to troublesome questions. This aggravated some of the youth, who decided to trick him. They captured a small bird. And this was their plan: One would approach the guru with the little creature clutched in hand, asking if the bird were dead or alive. If the oracle said “alive,” the bird would be crushed. If he said “dead,” it would be released to fly away. Eagerly awaiting the encounter, the youngsters approached the wise man. One boy asked, “This bird that I hold in my hand; is it dead or alive?” Quietly the perceptive wise replied, “As you will, my son, as you will.” Each of us have a decision we freely make; that of choosing how to live!

The story today is about an ordinary person like all of us here today, we are ordinary people with a God who wants to do extraordinary things through us! For the last 7 weeks on Sunday night we have been working through a small group study form “Living on the Edge Ministries” with pastor Chip Ingram. The title of study is “Good to Great in God’s Eyes” God wants to take ordinary good people and make them great. If it wasn’t for thousands of good people who were willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice so we could have freedom, we wouldn’t be here today celebrating Memorial Weekend.

This ordinary person did what we are all to do: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

Text: Acts 9:36-43 (NKJV) “At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. 37 But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. 38 And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them. 39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them. 40 But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, "Tabitha, arise." And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. 41 Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive. 42 And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord. 43 So it was that he stayed many days in Joppa with Simon, a tanner.”

To appreciate how God used this ordinary person in an extraordinary way it is important to first understand what it was God was doing in this event. I learned so much last year when I went verse by verse through the Book of James. One of the most important teachings from this powerful Epistle was; James wanted the reader to know of the importance of everything being done for the glory of God, period! In chapter 9 of Acts Jesus Christ shows everyone through His messenger Peter that He has the power to raise the dead. The message Peter preaches in this setting is still the message we should proclaim today, the Lord conquered death. Ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things for Christ will live again after death.

1. The Need: vs. 36-39

“At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. 37 But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. 38 And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them. 39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them.

The ordinary person was a woman, this woman knew what it was to be a disciple and she accomplished great deeds. She did however have a need, maybe it was more of the others who needed what she had given. This woman unexpectedly died, and God used this need to speak to all of us today. The place she died was Joppa and this was an important commercial city full of disciples and saints. Disciples and saints who needed to know God wants to reveal His Glory to all who would listen. The need was created by the tragic death of a believer. The believer was a faithful believer, a lady named Dorcas. Two names are given for her: "Tabitha," which was her Jewish or Hebrew name, and Dorcas, which was her Greek name. Her name means gazelle which is a most beautiful creature.

Dorcas was deeply committed to Christ, a very faithful and devoted disciple, full of “good works" serving and doing all kinds of good to all who needed help. The emphasis is that she gave things, gifts which she herself made. She must have been well off, perhaps wealthy; for she was buying material to make clothing, apparently for a large number of the needy. She was helping a large number of widows.

I think what really spoke to me through this text was: this ordinary woman was the real deal; Dorcas' discipleship was not a false profession. She did not promise something and then not follow through. She did not begin and then slack off. She did not say, "I will serve" and then ignore the need. She did let her light shine and God used this in an extraordinary way. In 2 Corinthians Paul challenges us with this: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: Though He was rich, for your sake He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich. 10 Now I am giving an opinion on this because it is profitable for you, who a year ago began not only to do something but also to desire it. 11 But now finish the task as well, that just as there was eagerness to desire it, so there may also be a completion from what you have.” 2 Corinthians 8:9-11 (HCSB)

Dorcas tragically died. The idea seems to be that she died right in the midst of her ministry when she was so needed. The believers were crushed. There was little hope that the ministry could go on as effectively as it had been. There were few, if any, as mature in the Lord as she. The church desperately needed Dorcas. A great hope and desperate appeal was stirred. The disciples at Joppa had heard about Peter being close by in Lydda. They had heard what Peter was doing in the name of the Lord, heard about the phenomenal healing of the paralytic.

It’s important to see great hope swelled up in their hearts. They did not rush to bury Dorcas as was the custom of Jews. But they washed her and laid her in an upper chamber. They sent two men to ask Peter to come and seek the Lord in behalf of Dorcas—for the sake of the church and its witness as well as for her sake. They demonstrated great faith in the possibility that the Lord could raise the dead and meet the cry of their hearts.

A sensitive, pastoral response was the result. Peter arose and went with the two men. He was the servant of the Lord, so he did love and care. He was deeply concerned and compassionate. He had been made aware of the need; the cry for help had reached his ears and he responded. (What a lesson for the leaders of the church!)

A deep sorrow was expressed for Dorcas, the dedicated believer. As soon as Peter arrived, they took him into the upper chamber. The widows whom she had helped so readily surrounded Peter, weeping from broken hearts, they even began to show Peter the clothes Dorcas had made and given them. They were actually wearing the clothes she had made in her honor or because they had few or no other clothes decent enough to wear publicly.

So much to be said about this need and the need we all have!

2. The source of power: vs. 40-41

“But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, "Tabitha, arise." And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. 41 Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive.”

The source of power to raise the dead is Christ Jesus. The disciple got alone with the Lord. He excused everyone from the room. He had to get alone and seek the Lord. He had to concentrate and meditate; his thoughts had to be undisturbed before the Lord. Peter prayed to the living Lord. The Lord is living, and because He is alive Peter got alone with Him and asked at least two things: He asked for the Lord's will. Was it the Lord's will or not His will to raise Dorcas? Once Peter knew that the Lord wanted Dorcas raised, he prayed both for the power to raise her and for God to use the miracle to make men believe.

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we asked of him.” 1 John 5:14-15 (NIV)

Peter did exactly what Jesus instructed. He turned to the body and boldly demanded, "Tabitha, arise." Look at Peter’s faith; it was the faith of the Lord Jesus Himself, the faith which Jesus had demonstrated in raising Jairus' daughter. It was the Lord's will for Dorcas to be raised from the dead. The Lord told Peter what His will was while Peter was praying. If Jesus had told Peter it was not His will, then Peter would not have commanded Dorcas to arise. Her resurrection was to serve a greater purpose than her remaining dead. This ordinary woman received God’s extraordinary power His love.

3. The results: vs. 42-43

“And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord. 43 So it was that he stayed many days in Joppa with Simon, a tanner.”

You ready for this? The results of raising the dead - many believed. A tremendous door was open for Peter to freely evangelize the area. It was here in Joppa that God was to give him the vision that led to the carrying of the gospel to the Gentiles. When God raises the dead, it is always to demonstrate the enormous power of God to save men through any and all trials, even from the greatest of enslavements—death. There is dramatic symbolism in this point for the conversion of a soul from death to life eternal.

The "many" who believed in Joppa believed because Dorcas was raised. Because she was raised, they turned to the Lord for salvation. They turned from spiritual death to spiritual life, from physical death to life eternal. They wanted life now and eternally, life abundant and life that lasted forever. They wanted to live with Christ in that glorious day of promise, the day of redemption. This ordinary woman who showed discipleship did extraordinary things because of a God who gave extraordinary power!

Conclusion: “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

What are we willing to live for knowing there is so much to gain when we die for Christ?

In : Sermon 


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