Now there was at Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. In those days she fell sick and died; and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him entreating him, “Please come to us without delay.” So Peter rose and went with them. And when he had come, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping, and showing tunics and other garments which Dorcas made while she was with them. But Peter put them all outside and knelt down and prayed; then turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, rise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. And he gave her his hand and lifted her up. Then calling the saints and widows he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. Acts 9:36-42.

 

Here we have the narrative of Peter, through the Holy Spirit, raising Tabitha from the dead. This woman was described as “full of good works and acts of charity”. Those acts are later described as various types of clothing, which the text seems to indicate, were made for the poor since they were acts of charity. Some of the widows standing in the room when Peter arrived very likely were wearing some of the garments this benevolent woman had made. These good works appear to have made Tabitha beloved and well known.

Often times when we think of great works in the Lord’s kingdom, we think of knowledgeable and eloquent preachers, those who give great sums of money for the cause of Christ, and steadfast church elders and leaders. These people are absolutely vital in order for the church to grow and function properly. However, the saints who work “behind the scenes” are also indispensable: teachers of children’s classes, gardeners, song leaders, janitors, treasurers, personal workers, secretaries, encouragers, sound system engineers, computer experts, and the list goes on and on. It is probable that Dorcas did her good works of quietly sewing in the privacy of her home and giving alms to the needy without much fanfare, but what an impact it had on the city of Joppa. Apparently she was well known in the seaport town of Joppa, because combined with her charity and the demonstration of God’s power in raising her from the dead, verse 42 of Acts 9 says; “And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.

Even though we are not formally meeting at this time, please continue to do your good works; praying, studying, staying in contact with fellow members, checking on one another, and mailing in your weekly contributions. God bless you all as we strive to be pleasing to Him.

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This week I had the opportunity to watch a short video of a United States military honor guard in Washington D.C. placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This is a ceremony that takes place each day in memory of not only this particular unknown serviceman buried here, but to honor all American soldiers who have given up their lives for the freedoms we and others around the world enjoy. The solemnity and respectfulness of all those in attendance was beautifully and rightfully obvious. It caused me to also think about all the families who have lost loved ones in the battles that have been waged since the beginning of our country. Their heartache and grief was great. What a sacrifice.

This Sunday, many around the world will be celebrating Easter. To some it is just bunnies, colored eggs, and candy. Others celebrate this holiday as a yearly remembrance of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. To us, the resurrection of our Lord is too precious and marvelous to only observe once a year. Just like the example of the early disciples, it is our practice to remember and honor the great sacrifice of Jesus each and every first day of the week. “And when He (Jesus) had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it, and gave it to them saying, This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Luke 22:19. Also, 1Corinthians 16:2 speaks of Christians coming together “on the first day of every week”.

The gift of freedom which has cost the death of so many of our military men and women is something we should never take for granted. However, the greatest gift of all time was the willing suffering, sacrifice, and death of our Lord. Without His willingness to die on our behalf, we would not have the hope of salvation. Acts 4:12  Jesus’ demonstration of love is too wonderful to relegate to only one Sunday a year. So, we joyfully memorialize the greatest gift every given each Lord’s Day with the solemnity and respectfulness that it deserves.

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     In our walk through the book of Philippians with Joe and the lesson he brought us, we were challenged to look at what we had our hands on. When we look at what is afforded us as Christians by our God, we should never take it lightly but with a seriousness and as the number one purpose in our life. Our Lord left heaven and suffered in the flesh as man and was put to death for us. We do not deserve such a love that was shown for us. The perfect example of selflessness, giving yourself for others.

     Philippians (2:5-8) “Have this attitude in yourself which was also in Christ Jesus, who although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to point of death, even death on a cross.”

     Let us all as one body and likeness of mind and one purpose putting God first, serve Him and seek out the lost. Without selfish ambition, work together to show God to our community, neighbors, friends and loved ones that haven’t listened yet. It is not about us anymore, but what the Lord would have us to do. No one here can save us but the Lord who died for us. So let us live for Him, for we are His now. No more excuses, no more fear, no more putting ourselves first, but God before all and others before self.

 

     I know you all do a good job of serving here, but we could all do better. We all know people that need Jesus in their own life, so let us reach out to show them how to find Him. We have been given such an amazing gift we should not hesitate to share it with others.

 

     Many years ago Joe was here and had a lesson in which he talked about us putting ourselves on the ark and the flood came. No one else could get in, the door was closed and it was too late. Now picture all those on the outside crying and screaming, drowning and begging to get in. You know them, did you try to tell them about Jesus? It’s a terrible thing to wait until it is too late. We know not when Jesus will come, so please share Him now.                                                                                               

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     In these days, when many are suffering with sicknesses and not able to work to supply for their families and all of us not being allowed to gather together in groups, concerned over the health of the ones we know and love and the people all around this world, makes it a very trying time for everyone. We are all waiting for the scientists and medical experts to come up with a treatment and a vaccine. We can only hope it is soon. We put much trust or you may say ‘have faith’ in our government to do the right things and to do as they have promised. To believe in men to lead you, who don’t believe in the God this nation was founded on and those principles, can be risky. We vote with the hope they will do what is right. They more frequently do what will profit themselves more than the right thing.

 

     So where should we put our trust? Where can your faith be put so you can know the truth and what to expect? We can hope for a lot of things in this life but there is only one place real hope in things to come can be found.

 

     1 Peter 1:17-21, “If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”

                                    

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     “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
     We look at this and wonder, how can our righteousness surpass theirs. They were supposed to be the most righteous in the land. If we read through the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us who can accomplish this. He tells us how we are to live if we truly believe. He lays out how we are to live and the blessings that can bring. Jesus explains how we are to be the salt of the earth, and the light of the world. He warns us not to become tasteless salt for it is no longer good for anything. How are we to shine our light? "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). The Pharisees, rather than listening to Jesus, were constantly plotting and trying to trap Him with His words but always failed. In Mathew 23, Jesus spoke to His disciples saying, ”The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move a finger. But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men.”
    We cannot be like the Pharisees but must live righteously as Jesus taught us to in His sermon on the mount. We must choose to live for Christ and not for self, putting others first, and loving all men for God created man. Let us shine our light brightly wherever we go in this life. Live for Christ, be that example of how a Christian should walk through this life. Live righteously so that we may all be able to enter the kingdom of heaven.

                                                                                               In Him, Chuck

 

 

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