First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Sunday, July 25, 2021)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
“Tabitha: A Disciple from Joppa!”
The more I read the book of Acts, the more I come to the conclusion that God, our God, is able to use ordinary people, people like me and you, to do extraordinary things in the world. This has been the theme that we all got to see in the book of Acts so far. This theme reminds me of what the apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:7, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” Precious treasures are kept in jars of clay. This theme, this pattern, is repeated over and over again in Acts. We saw it when we looked at the life of Stephen, Philip, and Ananias. It’s not about us, it’s all about God’s power working in us.
Our journey in Acts takes us today to the city of Joppa, known today as Jaffa, an ancient seaport on the Mediterranean south of Tel Aviv in Israel. In Joppa, we get to meet our hero for today; a disciple named Tabitha. Listen to what Luke says in Acts 9:36, “Now in Joppa there was a disciple whose name was Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas.” Tabitha is a Hebrew name that means “gazelle” or “deer.”
The story of Tabitha is a reminder that God works in a variety of ways and that our life has a purpose. I feel that we are tempted today to look at the great figures of Scriptures and see what they’ve accomplished and think that our lives are insignificant. Who are we in the light of such great people? Who are we in light of David, Moses, Paul, or Peter? God may not call us to preach to thousands or to plant churches, but that doesn’t mean that we have no purpose.
The life of Tabitha is a reminder that there are a variety of ways in which we can participate in God’s redemptive plan and make an impact in the world that lasts for eternity. So let’s look at the life of Tabitha this morning and see what she did and the effects of what she did. Two things stand out to me as I reflect on the life of Tabitha:
First: Everyone Has a Role to Play
The life of Tabitha reminds us that everyone has a role to play in God’s Kingdom. It doesn’t really matter whether that role is big or small. Each one of us is given a certain gift or a talent. Those talents are not meant to be kept for ourselves. We are to use them to grow the kingdom of Christ.
Tabitha was one amazing lady who used her talent to serve those around her. This is what Luke says about her in Acts 9:36, “She was devoted to good works and acts of charity.” Luke even gives us a more specific details in verse 39 about how she used her talent to help the least. He tells us that when she died, the widows in Joppa were weeping bitterly and showed Peter the tunics, garments, and other closing which Dorcas had made while she was with them.
When I was a little boy, I used to see a group of women who belonged to the Presbyterian Church I grew up in. They called themselves, “Tabitha’s Group.” They would meet weekly for a couple or three hours knitting, sewing, and crocheting. Then, a couple times a year, they would collect all their work, bring it on a Sunday morning and place it on the stage so that the Pastor and the congregation pray over their finished stuff before they donate it to a local orphanage. I didn’t know back then why they called themselves, “Tabitha’s Group” and why they did what they did. To tell you the truth, I though this is a group of elderly women who got time in their hands and got nothing else to do. I was wrong. When I grew up, I got to know that they intentionally did all this knitting, sewing, and crocheting, hours and hours of work, to share the love of Jesus with the children in that orphanage. God knew that they were doing an amazing thing and they were impacting the lives of those children. That’s what they could do.
We may not do everything, but we can do something. That’s the part Tabitha chose. There might be so many things that you can’t do, but choose to do the things you can do. Don’t belittle the little things that you can complete because in many cases, it is the small things that occupy the biggest part in people’s hearts. Everyone has a role to play.
Second: Leave a Legacy Worth Remembering
Tabitha made a legacy worth remembering. In fact, her legacy was so amazing that her example is put before us today two thousand years later.
We must strive to live a life that is worthy of our calling. We don’t simply live for ourselves; we are called to live for God and others. And that’s exactly what Tabitha did here. We don’t read anything Tabitha said in Acts. She was a woman who translated her faith into actions. That’s why when she died, all the “widows stood by [Peter] weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them” (Acts 9:39).
It’s a great tragedy when people die, and no one misses them. No one cries for them. No one grieves for their absence. It’s quite a tragedy and it only means that they haven’t lived a life worth remembering. Tabitha was missed by everyone in Joppa especially those poor widows.
How about you and me? When it’s our time to depart this earth, how would people remember us? Will they remember a loving, caring, and kind person? Or we will go forgotten. I hope when we leave our physical life, what remains would be stories of how we made a difference in people’s lives. Some people are gone, but they will never be forgotten.
Friends, as you can see, everyone has a role to play in the Messiah’s Kingdom. You may not be talented in sewing, but I’m sure that you have something to contribute. All you have to do is look into yourself, have a talk with your savior, and see what you can contribute to the work of God. Start with something small; something you can do. Little is known about Tabitha. Her reputation, her legacy, was made from something as simple as sewing clothing for the poor. It seems this was her one talent. Not particularly remarkable you might think. and yet Tabitha touched many lives. It was out of gratitude for Jesus that she dedicated her one gift to Jesus. She could sew and so she sewed to the best of her ability. She was sewing for Jesus. True faith expresses itself in deeds not words. What will your legacy be? Amen.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.