Many people have been encouraged by the work of Dorcas in the Book of Acts. Watch as Robert reveals what she did and why she is such a beloved person in the Bible.

ROBERT >> Women have always been some of the greatest servants of God. This week we want to talk about one who truly exemplifies the heart of Jesus Christ, the greatest servant of all. We hope you’ll stay tuned. We’ll be back in just a moment.

SINGING>> Speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth in love.

ROBERT >> When I think of some of the greatest servants of God in the Bible, I think of great women of God like Deborah and Sarah and Ruth and Esther, Mary the mother of Jesus, Anna the prophetess, and the many women who helped Jesus during his earthly ministry, Mary and Martha, Priscilla, Phoebe, and then there’s Dorcas, and the many women who have served in the church even until our day. These ladies exemplify Jesus Christ, the greatest servant of all, the one who taught us to humbly serve others as when he washed the feet of his disciples, and especially as we think of his coming to earth and going to the cross for us.

When he was with his disciples one day in Matthew 20:28 he said, “For the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give Himself a ransom for many.”
Indeed, the apostle Paul talks about this great sacrifice of service that our Lord gave to the whole world in Philippians 2:5-8. I want to read it with you this morning and remind you of what Jesus did for us so that we might have that same attitude, that same heart today as we try to follow him.

Philippians 2:5 tells us, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”

You see, Paul wants us to have the same mind, the same heart, the same attitude that Jesus had. As we read on here in Philippians chapter 2, we’ll see what that mindset was.

Here’s what he goes on to say in verse 6: “Who, being in form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant and coming in the likeness of men; and being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”

Yes, Jesus Christ made the greatest sacrifice of all. He gave up all of the glories of heaven, he came to this earth as a man; and taking on flesh, he was tempted and he was tried, but he was obedient to God in everything. He became a servant of God and a servant of others, going all the way to the cross to pay the price for our sins.

Today, I want us to take a close look at this woman we read about in the New Testament named Dorcas, who exemplified that same heart, that same attitude of service. I want us to see what we can learn from her to become better servants just like our Lord, Jesus Christ. So please turn over with me to Acts the 9th chapter, and there we’ll read the story together, and then we’ll come back and we’ll ask some questions about this woman that will help us to see what a servant of God truly is.

Let’s read Acts chapter 9 beginning in verse 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. But it happened in those day that she became sick and died. And when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. 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. 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. 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. Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and the widows, he presented
her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord. Let’s take a close look at this woman as the scriptures reveal her to us. Notice first of all, where did she live? I think this is important in understanding the story. You’ll notice from verse 36 that she lived in a place called Joppa. It’s now known as Jaffa. It’s a seaport about 35 miles northwest of Jerusalem on the Mediterranean Sea. It was one of the earliest cities to have a Christian population. And you might remember Philip and his association with this place, because I think it’s what brings special meaning to this place, Joppa. You see, Philip the evangelist had preached the gospel to all the cities along the Mediterranean Sea from Ashdod or Azotus to Caesarea, which would have included Joppa. We read this in Acts 8:40, where the Bible says, But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea. So going up the coast of the Mediterranean Sea there, he must have stopped and preached at Joppa. And his message of forgiveness recognized Gentile believers as equal with Jewish believers. Because earlier in Acts chapter 8, you might remember it was Philip that went beyond the borders of the Jews to the place of the Samaritans. And there he preached them the gospel, and many believed, and many were baptized, including, you remember, that sorcerer who was among them, Simon. And in that same chapter it was Philip whom God called to that Ethiopian eunuch that was returning from Jerusalem, going back home. And you remember Philip came to his chariot and he preached to him Jesus. And there as they were going along, they came to some water, and Philip baptized the Ethiopian, and then he went on his way rejoicing.So here was a man who loved all peoples. His was a ministry of love and service for all. And really the story goes back all the way to Acts 6:1-6, where you remember the early church in Jerusalem was having trouble.

There were some complaints about the distribution of the food to the widows. Some of the Grecian widows were being left out. And it was Philip, among others, that were selected to help serve those tables, to distribute that food. So from the very beginning of the mention of Philip in the Bible, we see he was one who was interested in others, interested in helping the poor widows, interested in reaching out to the Samaritans and out to the Ethiopian eunuch, those of all nations.

Here was a powerful evangelist who had been preaching in the city of Joppa, where we find this is where Dorcas lived. No doubt, she knew of his concern and his care for the poor and the widows, and undoubtedly he preached this concern as well. But let’s ask another question this morning about Dorcas.

Who was she?

Well, the Bible goes on to tell us here in Acts 9:36 that not only she was at Joppa, but she was a certain disciple. A certain disciple. She was a disciple, one who receives instruction, a pupil, a learner is the meaning of the word. She was a follower of Jesus Christ. She was a member of the church at Joppa. And then he says her name is Tabitha. Now, Tabitha is Aramaic. It’s Dorcas in the Greek. And that’s what he reveals to us here, Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. It’s interesting that both of these words mean a gazelle. An emblem of beauty. Dorcas is the second woman mentioned after the beginning of the church.

You might remember the first, Sapphira, who was not a good example. But the first Greek name of a female in the New Testament, its Hebrew equivalent being Tabitha, that was our Dorcas, the gazelle.

I love what Lane the commentator says. This comes from Zondervan’s commentary. But he tells us that, quote, The gazelle is distinguished for its slender and beautiful form, its graceful movements, and its soft but brilliant eyes. It is frequently introduced by the Hebrews and other oriental nations as an image of female loveliness. And the name was often employed as a proper name in the case of females. Zondervan goes on to comment, Whether Dorcas, whose name
means gazelle, was a beautiful woman, whether she was a beautiful woman or not, we’re not told. She certainly lived a lovely life and had eyes reflecting the compassion of the Master whom she so faithfully served, and all whom she influenced and helped saw in her the beauty of Jesus.

As a disciple, she certainly had faith in the one who had called her when she came to see that faith without works is dead, and she also knew that works without faith gain no merit with God. And so the hands that dispensed alms and made garments were inwardly inspired by him whose hands were nailed to a tree, unquote.

You see, Dorcas, this one from Joppa, this disciple of Christ, was a lovely woman, she was a lovely Christian, she was a servant of God.

And now let us ask, what did she do?

Well, as you look on in verse 36 at the end of that verse we see that this woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. She was full of this. And this means a word that talks about swelling, to swell from a burn, bursting. She was bursting with deeds that were generous. And it stemmed from feelings of pity and compassion.

I’m reminded of the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:36 when he said, “I was naked, and you clothed Me.”

That’s what Jesus said of those who clothed his poor and destitute children. And so we see that here Dorcas was one of those kind of disciples. She made tunics and she made garments.

If you’ll skip down to verse 39, you’ll notice in the middle of that verse that it mentions the tunics and the garments that she had made while she was with the widows there at her death. The words used here, the tunics and the garments, really indicate both garments on the outside and inner garments as well, and it might include things like shirts and vests and robes and cloaks and coats and any other kind of clothing, really.

In those days, to make that kind of clothing involved a very difficult process. They didn’t have the sewing machines like we do today. Everything had to be done by hand. In fact, first the material had to be made, or at least purchased if one had the money. And then you had to stitch it together, all of which had to be done laboriously by hand. The whole endeavor was slow and tedious. And cloaks were very difficult to make because they were made by hand. They were made from animal skins, goat or camel hair or wool. And if the cloak was made of camel hair or any kind of animal hair, the hairs could have to be spun into thread or into yarn and then woven into cloth, and then this cloth would have to be sewn together by hand to form a cloak. Because they took to long to make, they were considered to be valuable, very valuable, and a gift of one really to receive that kind of thing was an honor. This continual service to the needy that we see in the life of Dorcas, it not only speaks of a giving heart, but an opportunity to do something about her desire to help others.

You see, Dorcas not only had that desire, but she did something about it. And she must have been a woman of some means, or she would not have been able to give so much. And she must have had some sort of income, or her time would have been spent in making a living, not in helping others. But Dorcas loved others and wanted to serve others, and she used what she had to do that very thing.

But then let’s ask, what happened to her?

Look at verses 37 through 41. In verse 37 it says, “But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. She suffered an illness that resulted in her death.”

I don’t know exactly what happened to her, but she lost her life that day. And then her body was prepared for burial, as it goes on to say how that when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. And then the disciples thought about Peter and how that he was close by, and maybe he could help.

I look here in verse 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. The disciples sent for Peter, who they heard
was in that nearby city of Lydda.”

They knew that God had used him to perform miracles before.

Could he do something for Dorcas?

Go back to Acts 9:32-35, and I want you to see what Peter had done there in Lydda just before this event that we’re reading about concerning Dorcas.

In verse 32 it says, “Now it came to pass, as Peter went through all parts of the country, that he also came down to the saints who dwelt in Lydda. And there he found a certain man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years and was paralyzed. And Peter said to him, Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Arise and make your bed. Then he rose immediately. So all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.”

What a tremendous feat. Here was a man who had had this paralyzation for all these years, and suddenly, he’s completely, he’s immediately well. There’s the power of God. And so they heard that Peter was there, they must have known of the great power that he had, and so they went to get him. And then we read that, yes, Peter did respond, and he did come to them.
Here in verse 39, “Peter arose, he went with them, it says. And then he prayed for Dorcas. As you read on here, 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. But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body, he said, Tabitha, arise. And then she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up.”

Peter was not only able to heal Aeneas from his paralyzation, but Peter was able to raise her back to life. And so he prayed and called her back to life. Peter had witnessed several resuscitations like this before. The widow’s son at Nain in Luke chapter 7, you might remember how that they were coming out of the city, the coffin was there in the midst of them. It was this widow’s only son. But Jesus stops that funeral procession and raises him up at his word. You might remember Jairus’s daughter in Mark chapter 5. Jairus had called for Jesus, but by the time he arrived, she was already dead.

He goes in, and just as he did with Dorcas, calls her back to life, just as Peter did with Dorcas.

And Lazarus, you remember Lazarus in John chapter 11?

Lazarus had been dead now for four days when Jesus came and called him forth from the tomb. Even the Lord himself, of course, he was raised back from the dead. And so Peter had the faith. He had the faith to believe that Dorcas could come back if the Lord willed it. And being raised from the dead then, Peter presented her to the disciples alive.

Look at verse 41. “And he gave her his hand, lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive.”

What were the results of her resurrection?

When you think about Dorcas, the kind of woman she was and how she lived her life and spent it serving others, and this grand miracle of God, the power of God being shown on this occasion, what was the result of all of this?

Notice what it says in verse 42. “And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord.”

Yes, you see, what happened here with Dorcas was the cause of an evangelistic explosion. Like Aeneas in Lydda, the Lord chose to use Dorcas to display his power and cause many to come to faith. In the New Testament we see that miracles occurred, and time and time again when God was wanting to authenticate the message of salvation.

He was confirming the message and the messenger. So as they went forth preaching the gospel, you see the power of God confirmed that message. The Lord working with them confirming their message, the Bible says in Mark 16:20. And in Hebrews 2:3-4, we see that these signs, miracles, and wonders were given as a witness to prove that this message is not just of men, it doesn’t just come from man, it comes from God. In Joppa, you see, we see God using Dorcas to show the world his truth about who he is, the all-powerful one who controls
life.

So that’s why we see those miracles in the New Testament, revealing and confirming the gospel of Jesus Christ. Having served their purpose now, we have the complete message. We have that gospel revealed, we have that gospel confirmed, we have that power that can change hearts, that can change lives. I’m not ashamed of the power of the gospel. “I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, because I know it has the power unto salvation,” Romans 1:16.

The influence of Dorcas did not stop with this; but throughout the generations to follow, many, especially women, have been inspired by Dorcas’s example to dedicate themselves to doing acts of charitable service. And this is particularly seen in the establishment of Dorcas Societies all over the world.

So quickly, what can we learn from Dorcas?

We can learn a few things. We can learn that God requires believers to do good to others, especially the poor and the widows.

“As we have opportunity, let us do good,” the Bible says in Galatians 6:10, “especially towards those of the household of faith.”

To the rich Paul said in 1 Timothy 6:18,Do good and share.

And in James 1:27, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this, that you visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction.”

You go there to see their need and to take care of it. Something else we learn from Dorcas and her example is that our good works prove our faith and our love.

She had that kind of faith we read about in Galatians 5:6, faith working through love. That’s the kind of faith that avails unto salvation.

“Faith without works is dead,” the Bible says in James 2:26.

And so we must prove our faith and our love. “Love not in word and tongue, but in deed and in truth,”the Bible says in 1 John 3;18.

And finally let’S notice that God will use our good works to not only benefit others, but to bring glory to him.

Even so, “let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven,” Matthew 5:16.

God help us. Help us all to follow Dorcas as she followed Christ to serve God and others.

SINGING>> Rock of ages cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee.
Let the water and the blood from thy riven side which flowed
be of sin the double cure; cleanse from its guilt and power.
Nothing in my hand I bring;
simply to thy cross I cling. Naked,
come to thee for dress; helpless, look to thee for grace;
vile I to the fountain fly,
wash me, savior, or I die.

SINGING>> Each day I’ll do a golden deed,
By helping those who are inneed;
My life on earth is but a span,
And so I’ll do the best I can.
Life’s evening sun is sinking low,
A few more days, and I must go
To meet the deeds that I have done,
Where there will be no setting sun.
To be a child of God each day,
My light must shine along the way;
I’ll sing His praise while ages roll,
And strive to help some troubled soul.
Life’s evening sun is sinking low,
A few more days, and I must go
To meet the deeds that I have done,
Where there will be no setting sun.
While going down life’s weary road,
I’ll try to lift some trav’ler’s load;
I’ll try to turn the night to day,
Make flowers bloom along the way.
Life’s evening sun is sinking low,
A few more days, and I must go
To meet the deeds that I have done,
Where there will be no setting sun.

ROBERT >> Thanks for watching the program today. We’d love to hear from you, so let me encourage you to contact us with your questions, comments, or requests at The Truth In Love, P.O. Box 865, Hurst, Texas 76053.

You may e-mail us at requests@ttil.tv. .

Or call our toll-free number, 800-819-2966.
.

And also, please visit our web site at www.ttil.tv. .

Remember, all our materials and services are absolutely free of charge. We just want to do what we can to help us all towards heaven. So let us know how we can help you, and please join us next time right here on The Truth In Love. .

SINGING>> Sing to me of heaven,
sing that song of peace.
From the toils that bind me it will bring release.
Burdens will be lifted that are pressing so,
showers of great blessing o’er my heart will flow.
Sing to me of heaven,
let me fondly dream
of its golden glory, of its pearly gleam.
Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall.
Sing to me of heaven, sing the sweetest song of all. Sing to me of heaven tenderly and
low till the shadows o’er me rise and swiftly go.
When my heart is weary, when the day is long,
sing to me of heaven, sing that old, sweet song.
Sing to me of heaven,
let me fondly dream of its golden glory, of its pearly gleam.
Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall.
Sing to me of heaven, sing the sweetest song of all.

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