Saturday, February 3, 2018


James 1:22 says this, But be ye doers of the word and not hearers only,
 deceiving yourselves.

Last month we looked at the acts of Dorcas as recorded in the Bible and what lessons we can learn from the brief account from Acts 9:36-42 where we read the account of a woman who personified this verse beautifully.  She is known by two names: Tabitha (which is Aramaic) and Dorcas which is Greek.  For our purposes here I will be referring to her as Dorcas.

Let me summarize her story for you:
Dorcas lived in the seaport town called Joppa and was known for her good deeds, especially to widows. She became sick and died. After Dorcas’s body was washed and put in a cool upstairs room, the disciples sent for Peter who was ministering in the
general area. When he arrived back at her house, he found the widows crying and they showed him all the clothing that Dorcas had made for them. Peter sent them all out of the room and knelt down and begin to pray, then he turned to the corpse of Dorcas and told her to get up. She immediately opened her eyes and sat up after which Peter helped her to her feet. He then called all of the believers and the widows and presented the resurrected Dorcas to them. Of course news like this doesn’t remain a secret and it soon spread throughout Joppa what had happened and many believed in Christ as the Lord. In fact, Peter didn’t return to Lydda, but stayed in Joppa at the house of Simon the tanner.

 Dorcas’s legacy to us is that of a woman who knew what talents she possessed and wasted no time in putting them to good use blessing others. Dorcas was good at using a needle to fashion clothing, which she skillfully did for the destitute widows in her community. This month I want us to look at the rest of the story.

The Scripture tells us that at some point Dorcas fell sick and died. It is clear from the reaction to her death of the disciples and the widows that Dorcas was far more to them than just a seamstress who made clothing. They had come to love her as a true servant of Christ, with a heart full of his love that spilled over into their lives.

So, following cultural practices, her body was washed and wrapped in cloth and placed in a cool room in the upstairs of the house. Then, one of the disciples, remembering that Peter was in Lydda, sent two individuals to get him to come to Joppa. Why did they send for Peter? It is most likely that they heard that Peter had prayed for a paralytic resulting in his healing and they were hoping for such a miracle. Since Lydda was about twelve miles away, they lost no time in going to ask him to come. When Peter arrived in Joppa and went to the house of Dorcas, he was greeted by totally heart broken people. One writer described it this way: “The works of Dorcas were recognized in the feeling which the Christian community experienced when Dorcas was gone. They remembered her self-consuming service, her compassion, her faithfulness, her charity. They knew that they had lost their dearest friend. The picture of these people gathered about her in her room weeping does not describe people who are sorry for the things and service they had lost but because they had lost one whom they love.” (Harold J. Ockenga,  Women Who Made Bible History, page 224-225)  The grieving widows didn’t really have to tell Peter what Dorcas had done for them, she had left tangible evidence of her ministry to speak for her.
Peter recognized their great loss and was touched by the scene he was witnessing.
Then, he did something that may seem strange to us. He asked them all to leave the room, leaving him alone with the deceased. However, Peter recognized that only God can raise the dead and he wanted to be alone to talk to God. He couldn’t afford to be distracted by the grief and devastation the widows were feeling. When alone, Peter began to pray and then he looked at the corpse and, speaking her name said, “Dorcas, get up.” Now, that’s putting faith into your prayers. She immediately opened her eyes and sat up. Peter then took her hand and led her downstairs to show those gathered there what God had done. What was the result of this healing? As you can imagine, word soon got out that the woman who had died was now resurrected, and many people believed in Christ as the Lord!

There are lessons “aplenty” in this story. The disciples offered more than just sympathy to the widows who had lost their dearest friend and benefactor, they had faith that God could move into this situation and raise Dorcas back to life. Although Peter was 12 miles away, and that meant the two men had to walk 12 miles to reach him (no smart phones in those days) and then Peter had to walk the 12 miles over to Joppa, they
didn’t doubt that God would “do His thing.” They never once said, “Oh, it’s too late now.” Secondly, no one disputes that Dorcas’s life was lived in total devotion to God and others. Yet, her death and resurrection brought many to the Savior and gave her more years to meet the needs of the poor. While sewing might not seem as glamorous as the great healing ministry Peter had, yet Dorcas was honored by one of the greatest miracles in the New Testament.

The name of this ministry, Friends Needing Friends, was not chosen by its founder, Dotti Ackerman, because she liked the sound of it. It is to remind you that, as a widow, you are the friend that someone needs as she walks the road of widowhood. Likewise, you need others to stand by you, encouraging you through words and actions as you encounter difficulties on your journey. What instrument has God placed in your hand? You might not think that a sewing needle would be an instrument in helping to establish a church in a seaside town. But Dorcas’s life would prove you wrong. 

Dandi Mackall says, “Remember what Jesus told his apostles at the Last Supper? If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.” According to this scripture, the blessing is in the doing.  Dorcas did not miss the blessing. She used her enterprise to help those who were in need. If you follow her example, you too will become a doer.

May 2018 continue to make you a blessing to each other as you journey through widowhood being Friends Needing Friends.

Message by Shari Hervold

Music by: Amy Grant & Sandi Patty - El Shaddai

Music by: Sandi Patty & Larnelle Harris
P.S. These are just a few of my favorite songs and people singing them.  I hope you will enjoy them too.   (Dotti Ackerman)