GOD ESTABLISHES HIS CHURCH IN THE WORLD
Ministry Person to Person
Jerry A Collins
u What kind of ministry do you have with others?
u What fruit is your ministry manifesting ?
u Who are the individuals you minister too?
When you think of ministry you must think in terms of individuals not crowds. Godís most effective servants always took time to minister to individuals. Despite the crowds that thronged Him constantly, Jesus Christ always had time and concern for individuals. Even Paul, consumed with reaching cities and establishing the church there revelas name after name of individuals dear to him through his letters to us. Even Peter knew what it was like to preach to and minister to masses of people (Acts 2-3). However, here we see the other side of his ministry. A ministry that was person to person. A kind of ministry we ought to have.
1. IT IS AN ACTIVELY INVOLVED MINISTRY† 32
Here is a description of the ceaseless itinerant nature of Peterís ministry at this time. On one of these trips he comes down to visit saints who lived in Lydda about 25 miles NW of Jerusalem. This tells us that he was not sitting in some office giving directions but moving about in ministry to others. It reminds us of Peterís fulfilling† Christís command in Jn 21 to Ďfeed my sheepí. We also similarly serve the Lord by edifying, encouraging and teaching assemblies of believers in various settings. We too ought to have an itinerant nature of ministry with others where we are actively involved in their spiritual growth. It is this involved ministry activity that often creates more opportunities for us to have more ministry with even richer and deeper impact. My travels overseas, for instance, have created more opportunities for potentially greater and deeper impact especially in India. (Sathish and Helen & Dr. Thomas visiting).
2. IT IS A MINISTRY THAT CHANGES LIVES BY THE POWER OF GOD† 33-35
(1) Here he finds a certain man named Aeneas. Contrast this with a certain disciple named Tabitha in vs. 36. This man is most likely an unbeliever who has also been paralyzed and bedridden for 8 years.
(2) Peter takes no credit for the healing. Compare to 3:12 there is now no use of ďIĒ as then. Peter told him the same thing Jesus had told the paralytic in Matt 9:6 and at the pool of Bethesda in Jn 5:8. Since Aeneasís cure was complete he was no longer confined to his pallet so Peter commanded him to make his bed and he did so immediately.
(3) Hardly anything builds up (vs. 31) or encourages the Lordís people more than a display of Godís working. Vs 31 mentions the church being built up and this miracle and the next do just that. Godís power operating among the Ďsaintsí will lead to men turning to the Lord. Not only in Lydda but also in Sharon, the region this city was located in. This location becomes fertile and productive soil spiritually as it was agriculturally for the seed of the gospel. Saints already there, and Godís power on display are perfect fertilizer for the harvest field there. These people were saved that day. Previously unbelievers they now turned to the Lord, changed their minds and believed.
3. IT IS A MINISTRY THAT STRENGTHENS AND ENCOURAGES DISCIPLES 36-43
(1) We learn that in another city, Joppa, on the coast about 10 miles West a certain disciple, Tabitha (Dorcas) had a reputation for helping people in her community with sacrifice and service. That is the mark of a disciple. A life like this may seem wasted to a selfish world. But tro those impacted by it, it makes a† major impact.
(2) Tabitha fell sick and it caused her death but this verse indicates an amzing refusal by the saints to believe that so fruitful a life was really over. They did not bury her but in faith washed her body and placed it in the upper chamber. Evidently they had something else in mind. What that was become immediately apparent. They plead with Peter on the basis of her good works. The idea for healing may have come from hearing of Aeneasís healing.†† A life useful and fruitful is not easily accepted as ended. In vs. 36 suggests that up to the end she was engaged in these things. Christ is the pattern for us of service to the very end. Even on the eve of His death He washes the disciples feet.
(3) Peter was not too busy to be available to meet this individual need. He saw firsthand how loved Dorcas was. The widows were weeping and wearing the clothing she had made for them. She made clothes for poor widows. This was her ministry person to person. The church is to care for widows and taken seriously by the early church (Acts 6:1ff; 1 Tim 5:1ff). The loss of Tabitha was a serious blow to this group of poor widows.
(4) Peterís method seeks no notoriety or self confidence but by prayer. As he had seen the Lord do when he raised Jariusís daughter (Mk 5:40) Peter sent them all out of the room and in private and in dependence on the Lord He performs it. Having finished praying† he speaks nearly the exact same words that Jesus had. This miracle placed Godís seal on her life since God extends it. Tho there are always Stephenís cut off in their prime, God may often extend the life of one who is very useful and fruitful (Phil 1:22-25). Death cannot end the self-sacrificing life of deiscipleship. The fruits and effects of it continue to reach beyond it. So the Lordís also His disciple.
(5) The phrase many believed in the Lord is similar to those who turned to the Lord in vs. 35. It is another way of saying they became believers. Notice that turning is believing and there is no mention of any other conditions for salvation.
(6) Vs 43 is a bridge between this passage and the following account of Corneliuís conversion. Peter decided to remain in Joppa for many days with a certain tanner named Simon (3 certains). These were challenging days for Peter, as the walls of his lifelong prejudices were tumbling down. First the Samariatns and soon the Gentiles. But now he is with a tanner considered an unclean occupation by Jews since dealing with the skins of dead animals. Prejuduce is devastating to ministry person to person. From Aeneas, to Tabitha and now Simon. Peter is having to face his prejudices. There is no place for effective personal ministry where we show partiality. When we do not, then we can be used by God to have an effective personal ministry like Jesus.