2009-04-22 / Religion

Sunday School Lesson

God continues to touch lives
Rev. James Temples

Acts 9:32-43

It is easy for humans to lose sight of the reason for the preaching of the gospel — the good news that Jesus Christ came into the world to save those who accept him as their personal lord and savior. Yes, the great commission (Mark 16:14-18) promised that spectacular things will happen, as the word of God is preached. However, we must not focus on the works that would be accomplished, but on the promise that "he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." Mark 16:16a.

After that momentous day of pentecost (Acts 2:1-4), the message of the gospel began to be preached in the city of Jerusalem, and then, to the regions beyond. The message was scattered as the result of persecution from the religious leaders. Acts 8:1-4; 9:1,2. Thus, groups of believers could be found in many areas.

In the beginning of the preaching of the message, those who were targeted were the Jews. This mind-set had been part of their Jewish background, They considered Jehovah — the I AM (Exodus 3:14) — to be their God, exclusively. This doctrine was not taught in the Old Testament, but had been developed by the rabbis, after the fall of the nation. 2 Chronicles 36:14-21. Yes, Israel was the chosen nation. Deuteronomy 7:6-8. Through the prophet, Isaiah (Isaiah 9:2), and many others, the message of the love of God to all people became clear to all who would receive it.

The divine plan does not follow the pattern that might seem logical, since its origin is eternal. God stopped a man in his tracks — Saul of Tarsus — as this Jew attempted to wipe out this radical message. Acts 9:3-22. After this man had met the master, "Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee, and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied." Acts 9:31.

The ministry of Simon Peter carried him to the city of Lydda. We are told that "there he found a certain man named Aeneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy." Acts 9:33. The record declares that "Peter said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately." Acts 9:34. The effect of this healing resulted in a revival in that area. "And all that dwelt in Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord." Acts 9:35.

As Luke (Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1) continued his account of the spreading of the gospel, the scene changed to the seaport city of Joppa, approximately 10 miles from Lydda. "Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and alms deeds which she did." Acts 9:36. We are told that "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." Acts 9:37.

Generally, this act of washing the dead body was the final preparation for placing it in a grave. However, for this group of believers, they considered one other act that could be done. "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." Acts 9:38. News must have reached them of the mighty miracles that had been done in the ministry of the Apostle. Acts 5:15, 16.

There is no indication that Peter knew what would be accomplished, as he went with these men. However, "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." Acts 9:39.

The apostle did not seem to have been impressed with this dis- play. His focus was on what God could do through prayer. "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." Acts 9:40. The action of Peter was one of common courtesy. "And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive." Acts 9:41. The effect of this miracle was the spreading of the gospel. "And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord." Acts 9:42.

This miracle opened a door for further ministry for the apostle. The fact that he stayed with one of that trade was an important step in the spiritual development of Simon Peter. For the strict Jews — of which this man was one — to be associated with dead bodies in any form would cause them to be ceremonially unclean. This address in Joppa became important in the next divine assignment given to the aapostle. Acts 10:9-48.

The spreading of the Gospel was the reason for the miracles that happened in the Early Church. However, the great commission has not been amended nor deleted from the divine plan. Today, miracles are performed by the power of God. This promise was — and is — open ended. Are we willing to allow the power of God to work in our lives in such a way that those around us can benefit from our walk with God? If you have not exercised your faith in God, please do so today.

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