November 23 – 27, 2015

Step 11: Gospel Words and Gospel Deeds Preaching Text: Acts 9:32-42

As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the Lord’s people who lived in Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, who was paralyzed and had been bedridden for eight years. “Aeneas,” Peter said to him, “Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and roll up your mat.” Immediately Aeneas got up. All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.

In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor. About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!”

Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.

Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive. This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord. Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named Simon.

Monday The Apostles’ Teaching: Growing Pains (Susan Matos)

In this section of scripture, Peter is traveling outside of Jerusalem to visit new believers. Through- out the book of Acts, as well as in many of the letters written by the Apostles, it is evident that encouraging and caring for new believers was also a major part of their ministry. When Peter enters a town called Lydda, he finds a man named Aeneas, who had been paralyzed and bedridden for eight years. Peter heals Aeneas, but makes it clear that the healing is from Jesus Christ. The response of the city to this healing and the message of the Gospel is quite astounding, and many turn to the Lord.

In a nearby town, a woman believer named Dorcas had just died. She was known for “always doing good and helping the poor.” Since Peter was so close, two men were sent from Joppa to Lydda to get him. When he arrived at Dorcas’ house, and entered the room where she was, he encountered several widows weeping. They showed him the clothing Dorcas had made for them. Peter does something very similar to what Jesus did in the gospels, when he brought a young girl back to life. Peter has everyone leave the room. Then he kneels and prays, and tells her to get up. Then miraculously she does! Again this news traveled quickly and many people believed. Peter then decides to stay for a while in Joppa, possibly to make sure that these new believers were being discipled with the truth of all that Jesus had taught him.

It may seem that the miracles alone were what caused people to repent and believe, but in Lydda there had already been some believers sharing the news of Jesus as well as sharing their lives. Also in Jopp, Dorcas had been a living testimony of the what it meant to follow Christ, and her deeds had caused others to see Christ in her. So when she was brought back to life, it caused others to pay close attention to the hope they too could have as they gave their lives to Jesus: the hope of eternal life.

What is something you are skilled at doing? Are you good at writing, photography, cooking, baking, sewing, gardening, fixing things, etc.? Is it difficult to imagine how God could use something you enjoy to bring people to himself? Take a moment and make a short list of your skills, then ask God how you might use one of them to be an encouragement to someone today.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I want to live my life in gratitude for all you have done for me through your Son Jesus. Help me to use my skills, talents and interests to reach out to someone today that they may experience your love and seek you and find you though you are not far from anyone of us. (Acts 17:27) I pray it in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Tuesday The Fellowship: My Jerusalem (Ann Abbott)

I am a wife, a mother, and a proud grandparent, retired from banking for over 30 years.
For the last seven years I have been a volunteer at the Melrose -Wakefield Hospital.
I do clerical work as well as transport patients in the Endoscopy Department. I love my work, because I am a person who loves people. Just as the banking profession has customer services, the patients at the hospital are my customers and it is my pleasure to serve them.

Out of two broken marriages there came three miracles from God: my two daughters and one son. I still remember when each one of them was born – the day, and the hour. All three of my children have been very supportive of me. Seven years ago, I had major reconstructive surgery. There was no cancer, thank God. My children – mainly my daughter Rena and my son Michael, who both live the closest, were there with me during this time when I was in the hospital. And when I came home, Michael asked me what I needed for food and other needs. He brought me my meals and was there helping me the whole time. After a month, when I was able to drive, my daughter Fran who lives in Florida, came to be with me.

My husband, Bud came into my life six years ago. We were married at the Forestdale Church. His is God’s gift to me – a loving, caring, thoughtful husband. Bud and I do everything together. We go to the Malden YMCA to exercise. We also like to go to the movies and of course there is shopping. We share our love with both families – his and mine.

Discipleship: Ever since my friend Linda shared her health condition with me, I’ve been telling her about our church. I invited Linda and her husband Herb Maggio to Forestdale. Now, they have been coming to church and Linda feels so welcome here, which she has never felt before. Bringing this couple to our church is my discipleship for God. They really needed our church and I am delighted they are with us.

To close, Bud and I, as a family pray every night before supper. We pray to God to please guide and protect our children and grandchildren always. Now that my granddaughter, Cara lives with us – all three of us join in prayer every night.

Please join our family as we pray to God daily for help with even the little things that happen, such as safe travels during the day and clear traffic. Every day let us give thanks because He is always there for us.

Wednesday The Breaking of Bread: Discovering Christ Among Us (Susan Matos)

My step-mother, Joanne, is an amazing person. About twenty-five years ago my mother passed away from breast cancer. This was a horrible time for my family, and we were all devastated. My father was affected the most, because he and my mother had been so close. He was very depressed. A few years later though, he met my step-mother and they were married. She had also lost her husband, so there was a great understanding of suffering between the two of them. She has been an excellent companion for my dad, and a great friend to me and my siblings.

Over the past few years Joanne has had to battle many health issues herself: a rare auto-immune disease, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, degenerative arthritis, skin cancer, cataracts, and most recently gallbladder surgery. Yet if you met her you would never know how much she suffers. She always has a smile on her face and an upbeat attitude. Beyond this she is always helping others, especially a neighbor of hers who is close to ninety years old and lives all alone. She often brings her meals, bakes her cakes and helps her with her bills.

When Joanne was told that she would have to go in for surgery on her gallbladder, it was very overwhelming. She was very afraid of what might happen with all of the other problems she was already facing. She called her neighbor to let her know that she would be having the surgery and the woman started to cry. She said, “You know, Joanne, I am an atheist, but because I love you so much, I will pray for you.” Joanne replied, “I think God will be surprised to hear from you!” This made the woman laugh. Then Joanne added, “He will also be so pleased to hear from you.”

It is incredible to think that someone could live close to ninety years and not believe in God. Yet God used a difficult situation and the love of my step-mother to cause this woman to talk to Him, maybe for the first time in her life!

Pastor’s Note: Please take a minute today to pray for Joanne: for her healing even as Peter prayed for Aeneas and for Dorcas. But pray also for Joanne’s neighbor: that God might meet her as she prays for Joanne! Pray that both of them might experience God’s presence and power in these next days and weeks in such a way that they might both “turn to the Lord” in deeper and fuller ways.

Thursday Prayer: Learning to Pray the Scriptures (Beth Govoni)

In Monday’s devotional, Susan writes, “Throughout the book of Acts, as well as in many of the letters written by the Apostles, it is evident that encouraging and caring for new believers was also a major part of their ministry.”

Prayer:

Lord, you seem to show up
in special ways
to new believers.
Help us to encourage new believers in ways that help their faith
to deepen and grow.

Whether we are a new believer or a seasoned Christian, draw us close to you
and reveal your great love for us.

Help us to appreciate in a fresh new way what Jesus’s death
and resurrection
means to our lives.
Amen.

Friday Take the Next Step: “Jesus Christ heals you.” (Nancy McLaughlin) 40 Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed.

Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.”

One man was bedridden for eight years, and one beloved woman was dead. And yet an apostle of our Lord was able to heal the man and raise the woman from the dead.

Another word for heal is “restore,” and another word for raise from the dead is “save.” How did he do it? The Bible says he got down on his knees and prayed.

By what power and for what reason was Peter able to restore and save? These miracles were performed through the power of the Holy Spirit. And they were accomplished in order that many more people would “turn to the Lord.”

35 All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord. 42 This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord.

What does this mean for us? Two themes come to light for me. The first is PRAYER. Peter’s act of getting down on his knees and praying demonstrates the importance of prayer. Prayer can move mountains. Jesus himself said, “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.”

The second theme is MISSION. The desired outcome of the healings, and of Peter’s whole mission, was to make disciples and increase the number of people who “turn to the Lord” (by the power of the Holy Spirit) and become part of God’s Kingdom.

For me, the “next steps” suggested by this scripture are to realize the power of prayer and mission in our own lives:

  • to pray that others would be healed of their problems, troubles, and difficulties;
  • and to recognize that God wants use us, and these experiences of answered prayer, in thegreater mission of drawing unbelievers to “turn to the Lord.”

    For both these steps, we need to appreciate and trust in the almighty power of the Holy Spirit. Is there someone who needs your prayer today?

    Prayer: Dear Lord, urge us to pay more attention to those around us who are going through struggles this week. Lord we need the Holy Spirit to remind us of the power of prayer. Help us believe in our hearts that what we pray for WILL happen and will be done for them. Help us be an instrument of Your will as we notice those whom You would have believe in You. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.