But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this power is from God and not from us.
~1Corinthians 4:7 NIV
Following the account of Saul’s conversion and return home to Tarsus, Luke returns his focus back to the ministry of Peter.
As Peter was ministering from place to place, he visited God’s devoted ones in the village of Lydda. He met a man there named Aeneas who had been paralyzed and bedridden for eight years. Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus the Anointed One instantly and divinely heals you. Now, get up and make your bed.” Acts 9:32-34 ~TPT
To watch Peter go from denial to this, it takes my breath away. Reminds me how low I have been and God’s redeeming powers.
Peter heals a man on command in the name of Jesus with bystanders looking on. Does he take one speck of credit for the miracle? No! In fact, Peter is adamant to point the finger at The Healer, giving all praise where praise is due, “Jesus the Anointed One divinely heals you!”
I beg a crumb of grace, that I might grow as Peter.
I am quick to take credit when I am praised, rather than giving God the glory and honor. A pat on the back, a compliment, I puff up as a puffer belly fish. Yes, I am shamed when I share this. The truth is, I would not even be in this small space, but God. He called me here, and has equipped me through it. When I rely on myself, or take the credit, I immediately recognize pride in the writing. It’s forced somehow, and I know it. When I decrease, give him all glory and praise, become the vessel, the tool through which he works, I am smacked in the face by what I see. Humbled.
Self-importance does not wear well on me. The fit, tight. The knowing, weighty stones in my backpack.
Peter moves from healing to preaching, teaching, encouraging believers, seeking to establish the church in faith.
Quickly the focus shifts from Lydda to Joppa, where we next find Peter.
Modern day Joppa located ten miles from Lydda is a seaport town on the Mediterranean coast. Joppa has an important place in history. Joppa was the place from which the prophet Jonah embarked when he tried to flee God. (Jonah 1:1-3)
The believers in Joppa heard that Peter was in the area, and sent for him immediately.
There was a believer in Joppa named Tabitha (which in Greek is Dorcas). She was always doing kind things for others and helping the poor. About this time she became ill and died. Her body was washed for burial and laid in an upstairs room. But the believers had heard that Peter was nearby at Lydda, so they sent two men to beg him, “Please come as soon as possible!” Acts 9:36-38 NLT
Dorcas, well known and loved has died.
She was known around town for her good works and charity. She made clothing and coats for those in need. Dorcas, most likely, had the gift of mercy, and excels at responding to the needs of the poor, particularly to the widows in her community. Her handmade garments were indispensable gifts of love.
I can easily get caught up in the comparison trap. When I see Dorcas, her gift of mercy, I feel the need to be more like her.
The beauty is, I am, you are, uniquely made, formed by the Maker’s hands (Psalm 139). I don’t need to compare myself to Dorcas, or to you. I do not need to strive to out do, out work, or out Pinterest you.
To get caught on the hamster wheel of comparison will only keep me spinning. The result, bitterness and resentment grow.
I don’t know about you, but for me, this is big.
There is more to this story.
Dorcas, her lifeless body, is washed and placed in an upper room. To wait.
Margin for grace.
Washing the body in death was common in that day. As well as preparing the body with spices and wrapping it in a burial shroud. The body, then taken to the burial place within twenty~four hours.
There is a delay between washing and preparing the body of Dorcas.
The delay and summoning of Peter likely indicates holding out for a miracle. At the very least, they did not want to bury Dorcas without first appealing to Peter for help.
So Peter returned with them; they took him to the upstairs room. The room was filled with widows who were weeping and showing him the coats and other clothes Dorcas had made for them. But Peter asked them all to leave the room; then he knelt and prayed. ~Acts 9: 39-40a NLT
Before anything, Peter empties the room, kneels and prays.
Did you get that? When the hard thing comes my way, or worse, disaster or death, is this my response? Is it yours? To kneel and pray? Do I possess one ounce of this kind of faith?
As we were walking through the unexpected of my Sweet Man’s open heart surgery the thing I was most frightened of was this thought: if the worse thing happens, will I still believe? That I could and would walk away whispering the words, “even if not, I still will.”
The beauty of my relationship with the Lord is this; we have a history together. Similar to the history twenty~nine years of marriage has built. Make no mistake, there is no comparing the two.
Has it all been good? No. Am I guaranteed the answer, the outcome I always want? No. Am I promised a perfect life? Absolutely not.
But this, this I know. God is with me no matter the outcome. I know beyond the hard days, the trials, this life, I have eternal life. There is more.
My heart longs to ask, do you know this too?
As you ponder that thought, let us look at what happens here. Peter, clearing the room, kneels and prays, and this happens:
Turning to the body he said, “Get up, Tabitha,” And she opened her eyes! He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then he called in the widows and all the believers, and he presented her to them alive.
The news spread through the whole town, and many believed in the Lord. ~Acts 9: 40b-42 NLT
The news was good, great in fact. A miracle has occurred.
I want to close our day with this. Through Peter, a miracle happens. The community has their beloved Tabitha in living, breathing flesh.
The Gospel spreads.
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