"Ministry of Service"

Preached by on October 2, 2016
— From the series,

"Let your light so shine that men may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven." How can you live a life that reflects light? Serving the lost is one way to share Jesus.

 

Ministry of Service

(Acts 9:36-43)

Intro:

A.  Anyone ever give you a nickname?  Generally those names come based upon some occasion that people remember or some aspect of your life.  Some are just silly.  My nieces decided that instead of “Uncle Jeff” they would send notes to me as “un-cool Jeff.”  Ya, I wasn’t wild about that one.  My teen years I was called “Super-Clutz.”  Wasn’t wile about that one either.  Because of my last name, in high school I got called “Dill Pickle” or “Dily” for short.  Nicknames can stick with you for a lifetime, I chose to move and run away from them.  Sometimes people know you, not so much by your nickname, as by your character.

B.    For example, Joseph of Cyprus was called Barnabas, while that might qualify as a nickname, it really was a reflection of his reputation.  Barnabas was man who spoke well of others spiritually.  He lifted people up.  That was his reputation.  So what is your reputation?  How would people describe you?  I hope I am described more for my character than I am a nickname from high school.

C.  But there is another that doesn’t get as much press.  It is not so much that she has a nickname, but she does have a reputation.  It is her story that we examine today, because she teaches a lesson that Jesus taught during his ministry.  The lesson is simply this:  If you love others with the love the lord, you will bring sinners to salvation.

 

I.  Tabitha/Dorcas/Gazelle

A.  In our text we meet a woman with two names, but really she has three.  In Aramaic her name is Tabitha, in Greek it is Dorcas, but those names both mean Gazelle.  It is an animal known for its beauty, stunning eyes and swift feet.  But what made this woman beautiful is the point of this sermon.  Her story takes place in the town of Joppa.

B.  Joppa has it significance for us as Bible readers.  For it was in Joppa that Jonah ran to to get a ship to flee from God when God wanted to send him to preach to Gentiles.  It is also here in Joppa, after this miracle, that we find Peter staying in a house when God gives him a vision concerning unclean animals and Gentile men knock at the door asking for Peter to come and teach the Gentile centurion named Cornelius.  So for us, Joppa is a great place for the saving message of God to be sent forth to the Gentile world.

C.  But the city is not our study, it is Tabitha that we learn from today.  Here in Joppa was a dear Christian woman who was sick.  I am sure that the Christians in Joppa had surrounded her in prayer asking God to bring a healing to her.  But with great sadness she died.  But our story is not about what Tabitha said, but about what Tabitha did.

 

II.  Full of Good Works and Charity

A.  Look again at the words that were read to you (read Acts 9:36).  Many people believe she was a widow, but we don’t know.  What we know is that she was loved.  She was loved because she put her faith into action.  The Bible tells us to live like Tabitha.  Listen to Gal. 6:10.  That is the challenge that God has placed before us.

B.  When we think of people who lived a life of service, we quickly look to people like Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa offered tender, loving care to those most in need, the poorest of the poor, all over the world independently of their race, color, nationality, cast or creed. In each human being, she saw a child of God, created for greater things: to love and to be loved. Respecting this innate value and dignity of each person, she endeavored to bring this love where it was lacking, offering her humble service to whoever was in need, without considering their religious affiliation.  I disagree with the doctrinal teachings that Mother Teresa held, but I admire the love she gave to others in the name of Jesus.  I challenge you to show love the way she did, to the type of people she did, with heart that she appeared to possess, and see what it does for the ministry of Jesus Christ.

C.  Tabitha was full of “good works and acts of charity.”  It that a gift?  Yes.  Is it also an attribute for EVERY Christian to possess?  Yes.

D.  What made the “good Samaritan” good?  It is the mercy, love, act of kindness he showed towards someone who, most likely, would not have shown that kindness towards him.  At the end of that story, Jesus simply said, “Go and do likewise.”

 

III.  Congregational Calling

A.  This congregation has a wonderful food pantry.  But what else are we as congregation known for?  What defines us a body of believer in this community?  I know that many of you do good works and acts of charity individually, but is there not also a calling for us as an entire body to have a reputation of good works and acts of charity?  I challenge us as church to meet the needs of our community in such a way as to glorify our father in heaven.

B.  What do we as a church teach our children about acts of kindness and charity?  How do we do as a church to encourage our Christian teens to live out their faith in kindness and charity?  What do we as church do touch the hearts of the lost around us in ways that draws them to Jesus?  Those questions are placed before us to call us to action, not make us feel guilty.

 

Conclusion:

A.  When Jesus saw the crowds he had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless like a sheep without a shepherd.  When Jesus saw the thousands who were following him, listening to them, he had compassion upon them and told the disciples to feed the people.  Jesus told us to “let our light so shine that when people see our good works they glorify our father in heaven.”

B.  Look at verse 42“Many people believed in the Lord.”  Believed because Peter raised a woman from dead.  Yes. Believed because of the woman who was raised from the dead? Also yes.  Tabitha became a living testimony for Jesus.

C.  Chris Rice sang a song that hits the meaning of this sermon.  Here are some of the words.

There is a candle in every soul
Some brightly burning, some dark and cold
There is a Spirit who brings a fire
Ignites a candle and makes His home

So carry your candle, run to the darkness
Seek out the helpless, confused and torn
Hold out your candle for all to see it
Take your candle, and go light your world

Words by Kathy Troccoli