The Miracle of Joppa; the ingredients for revival and the spread of the gospel

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A Sermon Preached by the University Pastor

Acts 9:36-43
36 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.
Introduction:
Today in our text we see a woman of God that became ill and died. Her life as a servant was so powerful God allowed Peter to raise her back from the dead.
Secondly we see, that A woman with good works will always leave a lasting impact on the world, her community and her love ones.
Thirdly we see that, in this city, God has a church that’s was growing. In this church, there were believers who had a love for service. One such believer was Sister Dorcus.
Dorcus lived in Joppa. [a seaport town] It was the “Gateway” of ancient Palestine; the city was built on a rock, high and lifted up.
Its harbor was small but beautiful. As with many seaports, people pass through Joppa. Men like Jonah passed thought its ports. It was a city that existed through two covenants, the old and the new.
Background:
As we discovered on last week, the first century church has been blessed up to this point in History.
Their persecution has subsided momentarily. Peace has swept the region. Churches have been planted, leadership has been developed and growth in the kingdom is on the rise.
When we come to today’s text we yet again look in the life of the leadership of the early church. Apostle Peter has taken to the road to visit the churches that have been spread abroad.
In his ministry travels we see him go down to the coastal cities in the region, and there he stops in to check on the saints that had moved on from Jerusalem and journeyed elsewhere with the gospel.
As he travels he does so with the ministry of encouragement for the body of Christ. His first stop was Lydda, where a man named Anaias was paralyzed for 8 years. Peter healed him as the Lord had commanded him, and a revival spread across the region.
While He was there in Lydda, some of the believers heard of the miracle he conducted there and beckoned for him to come to Joppa, and help them to recover as well.
Joppa and Dorcas
36 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.
Note:
When we arrive at this verse the first thing we see is that God is at work in another City, on the same coast. Joppa has the imprint of God upon her, because a church has been born there. There are people in the region that belong to God, and where God’s people are He can be found in the midst of them.
Secondly, this City is a Sea port City; From the ports in Joppa people imported and exported.
It was a City of merchandise, business and commerce. It was a busy city and God could use a disciple who was at work for Him in a city that engages in business. (like Dorcas.)
The third thing we see is that Dorcas was a disciple. The word disciple means a follower of Jesus.
Her life belonged to God, and her actions said so.
Both Tabitha and Dorcas mean “gazelle” or “antelope”. Her name describes her physical characteristics. She was beautiful inside and out, graceful and kind, giving and glowing.
She was a sister who was abounding in deeds of kindness and charity.
The words, “full of good works” means to overflow.
Dorcas was a disciple whose ministry overflowed with kindness, charity, compassion and benevolence. In other-words She served continuously.
Observation:
Dr. A.T Robinson suggest that there is nothing said about a husband for Dorcas and so she was probably unmarried. (even though she was a beautiful sister)
She is the second woman mentioned by name after Pentecost (Sapphira the other). God knows all His daughters by name, and She was a person of prominence in the church, who the Lord could use for his honor and glory.
The next thing he says is that she clearly did her beautiful deeds by herself. She did not have a Dorcas society, or Dorcas Mission. She was a member in the church who had a ministry in the church to encourage the church.
Application:
We can learn from Dorcas my brothers and sisters, how we too can make a difference in the church and in the community.
As Disciples of Christ we are called to follow the savior. Whatever we see Him doing in scripture we are called to do.
God has called each one of us to be a witness for Christ in a world full of poverty and pain.
Justice and Dorcas
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.
Note:
When we come to this portion of the text we see that the wages of sin have caught up to the life of the beautiful disciple. Death has touched her because Justice has got to be paid.
She was a sinner, and the wages of sin is death. Even after being born again, she must suffer the consequences of sin in her world.
Secondly I noticed the following things:
The text says that she became sick and after her sickness came death! [Justice has had his way]
I noticed that prior to becoming sick; she was working for the Lord. She labored until she died. [Death was the only thing that stopped her ministry]
Here I see that even the good workers [for God] have to suffer the effects of sin in a fallen world.
She was a good worker, but sin touched her too
She was a faithful disciple but Sin touched her too
She was a giver and follower of the Lord, but sin touched her too
In a fallen world everybody gets sick sometime
In a fallen world everybody gets afflicted with something
In a fallen world everybody must endure the side effects of a broken cosmos and a weakened human nature
“Even the good saints go through it”, even the best believers get to catch illness. Even the solid saint’s get sick and suffer from the pains of death.
The third thing I see in this text is that, it was customary to wash the body before it is buried or burned.
When they ministered to her they put her in the upper room!
Because of her ministry among the saints, even in death they would look up to her.
Because of her ministry among the saints, even in death she was held in high esteem.
Because of her ministry among the saints, even in death she was loved and respected.
Because of her ministry among the saints, when she died the church missed her service, spirit, love and companionship

Application:
I see a proto-type for women’s ministry right here for NBC.
Dorcas was an active witness in the church.
This is what we need out of women’s ministry.
In spite of her own life, she made herself available to serve others.
This is what we need out of women’s ministry.
As women in ministry we too can learn from her example. She was loved by all and admired by all. We should strive to have this type of witness in the church.
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.
Note:
Here we see that God has a work for Peter to do and God has a need for Dorcas to suffer so that others can also see his glory!
Lydda had experienced revival, because Ananias has been lifted up from his paralysis.
After God was working there, He was also preparing to work in Joppa, because there was a need for God in that City too.
Joppa needed a demonstration of the Gospel (love and compassion of Jesus Christ, the gospel with signs and wonders.
Secondly we see why they [the disciples] called for Peter to come and minister to the daughter of church…
Because Ananias was a beautiful leader in the church and he ministered to him, they thought that Dorcas deserved the same kind of ministry visitation from the preacher…
Notice this….
Dorcas had a ministry to the bereaved!
She was kind to the widows.
In their sorrow she was present (A Picture of women’s ministry)
In their sorrow she bore their pain. In their suffering she was available to cry with them.
In their loneliness she was a willing friend. (A Picture of women’s ministry)
Thirdly we see that they had experienced death before and now they had suffered lost again…and because of their pain they cried out to Peter. [Death had taken someone else they loved.]
Thirdly I see that they remembered her works, and how she blessed them while she was alive!
Each one had in their possession, something that she blessed them with, as a token of her affection for them. [Another picture of women’s ministry]
In their grief they were able to show what she did in her ministry
They were able to produce evidence that her ministry was making a difference
They were able to boast of her works among them in their time of need
They showed her works and expressed their gratitude.[All of these are things that reflect the effects of women’s ministry that was done well]
Application:
When we live our lives caring for hurting people they never forget the impact we have made on them.
We should live to serve others just as Dorcas did. In the end people will remember your living and you’re giving. This is biblical discipleship-done well.
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.
Note:
Peer put them out ( they were a distraction to faith)
Peter knelt down in humility and called on the LORD.
With confidence in God Peter told Tabitha to, Arise!
Her eyes opened and she saw Peter the servant of the LORD.
She sat up (the picture of attentiveness)
He gave her his hand and lifted her up (ministry assistance and encouragement)
He called the saints and widows and presented her alive.(This was the ministry of encouragement)
The Lord used her life as a witness in the Soul campaign in Joppa,
Her life was a miracle and a tool in the hand of the Lord.
God wants to use our lives as a witness in the Fresno Soul campaign. If he could resurrect Dorcas unto good works, he can resurrect us also.
Conclusion:
Many believed in the LORD as a result of the miracle in Joppa. Miracles and signs were given to point people to Jesus. Dorcas was raised for the gospel sake. She would one day die again, but all who lived in Joppa would know there is a God who can raise the dead. His name is Jesus.
Maybe you are here today and you are dead to good-works and you would like to be raised up to serve again.[A better witness] God has divinely set this day up for you. Let us pray.

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