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"Tabitha, the catalyst"

Summary of sermon by Arno Stegen, 10 Jan 2016

Acts 9:36-43

36 Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.

37 And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber.

38 And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them.

39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.

40 But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.

41 And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive.

42 And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord.

43 And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner.

It's wonderful to be part of God's body when one realises there's so much God is doing. We should experience God daily. And it's marvellous when one looks back at a day and realise how God had gone before and prepared everything.

It makes us think of the disciples who had gone fishing but caught nothing. Only when the Lord appeared on the scene and told them to cast their net on the other side could they catch a multitude of fish (John 21:6).

When we go through an experience we so readily boast of what we've achieved. But when God works it's all about Him.

If you find it boring to serve the Lord you're in the wrong boat. The early church went from one amazing experience and victory to the next. Peter was in Lydda when a person who has been bedridden for eight years was raised. And the Lord had more in store for Peter. When God works you must have an ear to hear.

After the bedridden man was raised, Peter was still in tune with God to hear and obey when he was called to Joppa. After this miracle where he raised Tabitha from the dead, he went to stay with Simon a tanner, just an ordinary person. In the next chapter we read of how Peter was ready when God called him to his next task.

This woman we read of was full of good works and also gave of her substance to people in need. She did as much as she could. What her hands found to do she did with all her heart. She didn't think it enough to simply give of her money but she also worked with her hands to provide for the disciples. She was faithful. But that wasn't all she did. Firstly, she "was a disciple". Faith and works must go together. One without the other doesn't work. William Booth said that faith and works is like a person walking, the first step being faith but then the other leg of good works is also needed. When Jesus instructed His disciples He told them to go and instruct others teaching them to keep what He had told them. Tabitha was a true disciple who learned from the Lord and then taught that to others.

But then she became sick and died, not because there was something wrong with her. Christians too easily blame fellow believers when they face trials, sicknesses and death. We tend to suspect that there must be something wrong with a believer when something "bad" happens to them.

Tabitha had also looked after the weakest people - widows. And then those whom she always looked after were there to look after her when she fell ill and died. They washed her body and laid her on a bed and sent for Peter. We read here of all disciples working together, from the one who called Peter, Tabitha’s faithfulness when she was alive, and Peter who was in tune with God to know where God wants him. In 1Cor 12 we read of the body of Christ, although there are different functions, yet we are one body.

These were widows. Who is the widow in your community? That person who has lost support. It could even be people whose family has abandoned them because of their faith. Tabitha cared for these people. The family of widows should first care for them, but some don't even have family. They are true widows. She did what we read of in James to care for the widows and fatherless and to keep yourself unspotted by the world (James 1:27). We should, by God's grace, keep ourselves unspotted from the world and be there for those in need.

Peter didn't make the mistake he made before by acting impulsively, but allowed the Lord to lead him in all things.

Peter was also approachable. Although he was great he didn't think so of himself. He probably always remembered how he had failed and yet God accepted Him. He was open and friendly and kind to them to those asking him to come and help.

When they had called Peter they took him to the room where Tabitha's body was, and he put them all out. They could have been offended, but he realised that he wasn't there to impress them but to serve His Master. Then he knelt down. He knew it was a hopeless situation, and that he couldn't do anything out of himself. He bowed and humbled himself, and only God would get the glory at the end. Then he prayed and that prayer moved the hand of God.

It's so different when we find ourselves in a situation where we just see the hopelessness of the situation, and then maybe pray because it's the "Christian" thing to do. But Peter looked to God Himself throughout the situation. May God grant us this heart that Peter had, so that as we face difficult situations we might turn our eyes to God.

We see how God worked in this situation, and everyone working together using the gifts God gave to them. Then it is beautiful and Jesus is glorified.

All of this happened through the faithfulness of one lady who sowed dresses and looked after the needs of others. Yes others were part of the story, but Tabitha was the catalyst.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Last edited on: Monday January 11, 2016     E-mail us at: mail@ksb.org.za          Return to KSB Home page