Glimpses of the Kingdom


Series: Acts

Passage: Acts 9:32-43

Speaker: Jeff Thompson

The focus shifts from Saul to Peter, and we see God work two remarkable miracles through him as he travels across Judea, ministering to the scattered Church.

Here's the key clip from John Piper's legendary message at the "Passion: One Day" event in 2000, referenced by Jeff in this message:

Transcription (automatically-generated):

As I mentioned at the end of our previous study, we're going to shift the focus away from Saul for a few chapters and return our focus to the Apostle Peter, who Saul met with during the 15 days he spent in Jerusalem. We last saw Peter in Acts 825, returning to Jerusalem after ministering with John in Samaria. If you recall, Philip had been used by the Lord to spark revival in that region, but the Lord chose to delay the giving of his Spirit to the Samaritan converts until Peter and John could be summoned from Jerusalem to lay their hands upon their new brethren. That experience had rocked Peter's world as it proved the Gospel was not only for Jews, but also for the Samaritans, who were considered half Jews by the pureblooded Hebrews, like the apostles. So, let's turn in our Bibles to Acts Nine, verse 32.

As the focus shifts to Peter, we read, as Peter was traveling from place to place, he also came down to the saints who lived in Luda. After ministering in Samaria and returning to Jerusalem, it seems that Peter started making trips all over Israel to visit the church that had been scattered by the persecution of Saul and grown through the ministries of men like Philip, who had preached the Gospel all the way to his hometown of Caesarea. As a result, there were little congregations, little churches starting all over the place. Peter was being led by the Spirit, preaching the Gospel as he had opportunity and ministering to the scattered saints of the young church. One of these ministry trips took him to a community of believers in Luda known as Lord in Hebrew.

It was a long day's journey from Jerusalem and was a local government hub in Judea, the southern region of Israel, with main roads that connected to Egypt, Syria, Joppa and Jerusalem. We read in verses 33 there he found a man named Isaiah who was paralyzed and had been bedridden for eight years. Now, we don't know whether Inaeus was a follower of Jesus at this time, but as we shall see if he wasn't one before his encounter with Peter, he definitely was one after his encounter with Peter, Peter said to him, jesus Christ heals you. Would you underline that? Jesus Christ heals you, get up and make your bed.

And immediately he got up. Remember that Isaiah was a real person. He was a real man who had spent the last eight years lying in his bed, paralyzed. Can you imagine the scene? Can you imagine how he felt when Peter said, inaeus, Jesus Christ heals you, get up and make your bed.

The overwhelming joy as feeling and sensation return to his whole body, the little bit of fear that he was dreaming or that somehow this wasn't real, or that when he tried to stand up, he would fall over. But he doesn't. He stands up and his legs and his body support him. After eight years. What a moment.

This healing is an example of the special anointing and power that God gave the apostles. Through them, God healed many people instantly. And the New Testament only records instantaneous and complete healings. And as we've shared before, this display of the spirit's power was to be partnered with the teaching of biblical truth to prove that the message the apostles were preaching was indeed from God. It lined up with the Scriptures and had a demonstration of the Spirit's power.

Jesus has told his disciples they will do these kinds of things, declaring, these are on your outlines. These signs will accompany those who believe in My name. They will lay hands on the sick and they will get well. When Jesus commissioned the Twelve Matthew ten, one tells us, summoning his twelve disciples, he gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to heal every disease and sickness. Every disease and sickness.

An astonishing time in the church. It's not a coincidence that Peter's words to this man, get up and make your bed, are remarkably similar to the words of Jesus in John chapter five, where he walks up to a disabled man at the pool of Bethesda and tells him, get up, pick up your mat and walk. And we read that instantly the man got well, picked up his mat and started to walk. You see, through the apostles in the early church, the risen Jesus was continuing to heal as they walked in the footsteps of Jesus himself. Verse 35 not now.

Here's something you might not have noticed, even though you might have read the Book of Acts many times before. Verse 35. It says, so all. Would you underline the word all? So all who lived in Luda and Saran saw him and turned to the Lord.

Underline that word turned. That word all is astonishing because as you Bible scholars know, in the original Greek, the word all means all. It means all. And it says all who lived in Luda and Saran saw him. The man who had once been paralyzed, had been paralyzed for eight years.

They saw him walking and turned to the Lord. Everyone who lived in the town of Luna and on the surrounding coastal plain of Sarah came to see the miraculously healed paralytic, heard Peter preach the Gospel and turned to Jesus. And I'm pretty sure that meets the definition of a revival when everyone just gets saved. Yet we'll count this one. We're told that those who became believers turned to the Lord, they turned to the Lord.

And that phrase is so important because it paints a picture of what happens when we become a follower of Jesus. It means repenting, which means to change one's mind. Giving one's life to Jesus means changing your mind about who he is and accepting Him as God, Savior, and Lord over your life. It's a change of mind that inevitably results in a change of direction in your life. Why?

Because previously you were the captain, you were the driver. You were the one calling the shots in your life, and you went wherever you wanted to go, and you did whatever you wanted to do. And when Jesus becomes your Lord, he becomes the captain of your soul. He sets the course of your life. He says we're going here.

We're doing this. We're not doing that. And inevitably, it means your life changes course. It changes course. There is no turning to Jesus without a turn happening in your life.

A change of direction. That's what the people in Luda and surrounded, they turned to the Lord. They were going this way. Now they're going this way, because that's where Jesus is. This region was semigile.

That means partly Jewish, partly nonJewish. In Peter's experience in Samaria and his ministry to the church across Israel, we can see the Holy Spirit graciously taking him on this journey of discovery and progressively opening his eyes to the truth that the gospel is for everyone. And I love the way this plays out over this chapter in the next chapters in the Book of Acts, because this is Peter. He was with Jesus for three years. He heard Jesus teach that he had come for everyone.

He heard it. And yet Peter takes years, years just to wrap his mind around the concept. Hey, maybe by all, Jesus meant all, even non Jews, even Gentiles. And this process takes Peter years. The Holy Spirit has to take him on this whole journey through different experiences and encounters, because he just can't wrap his mind around it.

And I know that if we thought for a little while, each of us who've been walking with Jesus for more than a year could tell stories about things that we had to realize, that we wish we could have just realized like this. But the Lord had to take us on a journey. Why? Because we're just not that bright. He's like, okay, I'm going to take you into conversations.

I'm going to draw you some pictures. I'm going to show you some videos. I'm going to put you in some situations, and slowly, slowly, you'll begin to understand this truth. And we go, oh. And then we always say, like, ma'am, why didn't the Lord just tell me?

I mean, I would have just obeyed. No, you wouldn't have. And I promise he tried. And if any of that says that to him when we get to heaven, he'll be like, I can play you the tape of, like, 100 times that I tried to tell you, and you just pretended that you didn't hear me. He's like, that's why we went on this whole long journey.

This is how elaborate we had to get just for you to understand this. And we'll go, oh, okay. Okay. Peter is no different, and that encourages me. Our story now shifts from Luda to Joppa, a distinctly Greek and Gentile town it's sat on the Mediterranean coast about 10 miles or 16 km from Luda, and, like Luda, was home to a community of believers.

It says in verses 36 in Joppa, there was a disciple named Tabitha, which is translated dorcas. She was always doing good works and acts of charity. At verse 39 will tell us that these good works and acts of charity included making robes and clothes for widows in the church. There were extremely limited employment opportunities for women at this time in history. Outside of prostitution, if you were a widow with no family or children to care for you, you would be faced with destitution.

Therefore, the early church placed a special emphasis on caring for widows and orphans among the body of believers. You know, when I needed help working on my car this past week, I did not call BJ. Do you know why? Because I didn't need a pastor, I didn't need an evangelist. I didn't need someone to say, hey, yeah, your car does need some work, but the good news is Jesus loves you.

If I'd wanted that, I would have called BJ. But I needed somebody who knew how to work on cars. And I won't tell you who I called because I love and appreciate them, but I called somebody who knew how to work on cars. You see, these widows needed bible studies, but they also needed clothes. They had practical needs.

And praise God, the lord provided for those needs through the ministry of Tabitha. The church needs more Tabithas. We need more people who can cook sow clothes, do accounting, help people budget, fix cars, work with AV equipment, help people with home repairs, and meet practical needs. Scholars believe that Tabitha was likely married to a wealthy man and therefore had much free time. And instead of spending it all on herself, we see the effect of the holy spirit on her life.

You see, the spirit tends to produce generosity in the heart of a believer. And Tabitha begins to ponder the question, how can I bless the church with my time? She didn't seek a platform. She sought to bless the people of the church. The spirit stirred that question within her and then directed her to the answer, which was making clothes for widows.

She's a wonderful example of a godly woman. For most men and women in the western world, this kind of free time only appears at the age of retirement if you're fortunate enough to have that financial ability. But I want to suggest that the western concept of retirement, as the culture perceives it, is in conflict with the Christian's view of life. And I'm not trying to pick on anybody who's retired or is about to retire. I just want to bring something to our attention and love and remind us how the lord has called us to live.

And here's where I'm going with this. When we talk about retirement in western culture, it's generally code for when I don't have to work anymore. I'll finally have the freedom to be as selfish as I've always wanted to be, but just didn't have the time to be. I'll finally have the margin and the time to devote my whole life to myself. I'll get up when I want to get up.

I'll go to bed when I want to go to bed. I'll play poker on my phone all day if that's what I want to do. I'll go out with friends if I want. I'll stay home if I don't. Me.

Me. My whole life is about working towards two to three golden decades of total self absorption. That's the dream that advertisers sell, right? It's the vision that drives saving for retirement in our culture. But it's not God's dream for us.

And you won't find anything like it in the pages of Scripture. Because for the believer, some things don't change at all when it comes time to retire. Most importantly, write this down jesus is lord over your life the day before you retire, and Jesus is lord over your life the day after you retire. That doesn't change. And your decisionmaking process is still to be based on the same question what should I do, Lord?

Retirement doesn't take the title of Lord away from Jesus and give it to us. Our free time does not belong to us before retirement or after retirement. Now. Praise God. The Lord wants us to have healthy rest as part of the rhythm of our lives.

He's the Lord of the Sabbath. He rested from creation on the 7th day. But whether we work, rest or play, all of it should be under the Lordship of Jesus at his command.

If you've never watched John Piper's legendary sermon from 2000 called Don't Waste Your Life, you have to go watch this. Every Christian has to watch this message. Just go to YouTube and search for John Piper and the word seashells and it will be it will be the top result. If you are close to retirement, especially or you are retired, you must go watch this. Tabitha shows us what should happen in a believer's life when they have the gift of much free time.

The Spirit will stir a desire to be generous, a desire to bless the church, and then the Spirit will provide opportunities to be generous. And those who are submitted to the lordship of Jesus will walk in those opportunities. Paul would later write to the church in Ephesus that God has prepared good works ahead of time. For us to do that should encourage us, because it means whatever stage of life we're in. There are good works that God has prepared for us, and we can walk in them if we continue to live under the lordship of Jesus.

If you're retired or close to retirement, think on these things. Reflect on them. The final decades of your life may be the most fruitful of your life. If you are submitted to the lordship of Jesus, that's what he wants for you. For the rest of us, if you can save for retirement, you should.

It's wise. But I want to urge you, however old or young you are, not to embrace a vision for retirement that is centered around your own selfish desires. Rather, look forward to retirement as a new season, when you can be more available than ever to be used by the Lord Jesus to bless his church and to grow in the knowledge of him. But how sad. If you take the final quarter, the final third of your life, and say, this just isn't going to matter.

I'm going to take the last two to three decades of my life and just have them not matter at all. That's no way to end a story. So make us more like Tabitha, the Lord. I plan to be teaching God's word until Jesus comes back. I die or I lose my mind.

And if I lose my mind, hopefully, then I'll just be teaching the word of God to an empty room, thinking there's a thousand people there, because I've got one life, just one life, one life. And as best I can, I want to spend it all on Jesus. That's the only reason I want to grow old. I'm not scared of dying. I just want more time to serve Jesus.

That's in verses 37. About that time, she, Tabitha, became sick and died. After washing her, they placed her in a room upstairs. Since Luda was near Joppa, the disciples heard that Peter was there and sent two men to him who urged him. Don't delay in coming with us.

The believers in Joppa had doubtless heard about the healing of inaeus in Luda. Peter got up and went with them. When he arrived, they led him to the room upstairs, and all the widows approached him, weeping and showing him the robes and clothes that Dorcas had made while she was with them. See our culture because we're a social influencer culture, a TikTok culture, a public speaker, conference culture. Get my DVDs.

Well, that's a dated reference. Watch my video online, read my book kind of culture. We love to view some ministry positions as more important than others. But that's not how things work in the Kingdom of God. We're called to play different roles in the body of Christ.

But we will not be rewarded by Jesus based upon our roles as though they were some type of rank. We will be rewarded based on how faithfully we fulfilled the roles to which we were called. These widows loved Tabitha, and every time they put on an item of clothing that she had made for them, they were reminded that somebody loved them. They belonged to a family, and the Lord loved them and would take care of them. Tabitha did not preach, she didn't have a platform, and yet nobody would dare say upon reading this, all Tabitha did was so close.

Nobody would say that it was much more than that, as it always is when our time, talents, and treasure are submitted to the Lord because he takes them and he does profound things with them beyond our expectations. Maybe not in the way that our world thinks is great or sensational, but in the most eternally, meaningful ways.

It says in verses 40 that Peter sent them all out of the room. He knelt down, prayed, and turning toward the body, said, Tabitha, get up. She opened her eyes, saw Peter and sat up. He gave her his hand and helped her stand up. He called the saints and widows and presented her alive.

I don't think there's anything I could say that could adequately capture the shock and the joy of those present. When Peter led Tabitha down the stairs and presented her to the woman who had just been washing her dead body and preparing her for burial less than 24 hours earlier would have been astonishing. I've shared this before, but it bears the repeating. I am continually struck by how wrong death feels. If death is just the natural order of things, it's just the inevitable ending of the evolutionary cycle at the stage of each life.

If that's all it is, if it's just biology, it's to be expected. Why does death feel so wrong?

If genetics says X, many children are going to die of cancer every year, why does it feel wrong? Why don't we view it as what exactly should be happening? Why does death feel so wrong? Why are we gripped by this sense that things are not as they are supposed to be? When cancer or leukemia or a car crash takes lives, there's coveting deep in the soul of every person that tells us something has gone wrong with the world, and things are not supposed to be like this.

Something is off. And that's the truth. And we feel that because something is off. We weren't made to die. We were made to live forever.

But we forfeited that gift when we chose sin instead of choosing to follow God. Because only God can give life, only he can give life. And where we're disconnected from God, there will be no life. He's the only source of life in existence. Sin ushered death and entropy into the physical universe and destined us for eternal death in the spiritual realm.

And death here and in eternity was the eternal destiny of every man and woman but Jesus. Those are two really wonderful words. But Jesus changed our destiny. He came and offered us life and life eternally if we'll accept him as our Lord and Savior. And what is so moving to me about a story like the Raising of Tabitha is that it offers a tiny glimpse of what life is like in the kingdom of God.

Where death doesn't get to have the final word. It beckons us to lift our eyes and our hearts to the kingdom where there is no death, only life forever. The kingdom where we will never feel that things are not as they should be, but rather we will marvel and delight at the fact that everything is as it should be. The kingdom where there is no weeping, there is no mourning, there is no grief, there are no painful goodbyes. Jesus is the source of life, and his kingdom is a kingdom of life and life in abundance.

And that's why we can't wait for the day when we find ourselves living in the physical, literal kingdom of God under the rule and reign of Jesus. Can't wait. Would you write this down? Miracles like the raising of inas give us glimpses of the coming kingdom of Jesus. Miracles like the raising of Inaas give us glimpses of the coming kingdom of Jesus.

Peter was with Jesus when he went into the home of a synagogue leader named Gyrus. Gyrus had pleaded with Jesus to come to his house and heal his daughter, who was deathly sick. But by the time they arrived, she had already passed. In Mark five, we read they came to the leader's house and he saw a commotion. Jesus did people weeping and wailing loudly.

He went in and said to them, why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead, but asleep. And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside. He took the child's father, mother and those who were with him and entered the place where the child was.

Then he took the child by the hand and said to her to Letha Kuhn, which is translated little girl, I say to you, get up. Immediately. The girl got up and began to walk. She was twelve years old. At this.

They were utterly astounded. Jesus asked to have the room cleared because he didn't want to be around scoffers. Peter asked to have the room cleared because he didn't want the attention to be on him. He wanted quietness to pray. And pray he did, asking the Lord Jesus to reveal and work his will.

You see, Peter understood what Paul would write about Jesus in Ephesians three, verse 20. To him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us to him be glory in the church. See, Peter understood that firstly, the power comes from God, and it's given to bring glory to Jesus. Peter spoke to Tabitha in Aramaic and his command differed from Jesus command to Gyrus daughter by only a single letter. Jesus had said to Letha Kumb and Peter said Tabitha kumb, verse 42.

This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. Peter's ministry to one person caused an entire city to be exposed to the Gospel. Now, granted, he did raise that one person from the dead, but the point still stands. When you walk in the Spirit seeking to obey Jesus, to go where he leads and serve where he leads you, you will find yourself ministering to individuals. Individuals.

It's not our job to try and identify the most high potential individuals we can administer to them. It's our job to minister to whomever the Lord calls us to. And if we'll do that, I promise he'll do more through us than we could imagine. We may not see it this side of eternity, but we have no idea where God may place us in the chain of events that make up a person's life. We have no idea what seeds we are planting in the lives of the children, men and women that God calls us to serve.

It's not our job to be strategic. It's our job to be faithful. Hear me on this, please. It's our job to be fully present where we are right now and to be faithful where we are right now. It's not even our job to try and figure out strategic ministry opportunities.

Our job is to be faithful to the opportunities the Lord has given us today as spouses, parents, children, students, workers, volunteers, business owners. And I could go on. And as we walk with the Lord faithful in what he's given us today, asking to be filled with his spirit, he will lead us into those future opportunities that he has for us. We don't have to sit down and come up with a strategy. He will lead us, he will illuminate them.

We're not called to ask how can I be faithful beyond where I am today? We're not called to seek a platform. We're called to ask this question how can I be more faithful where I am today? How can I be more faithful where I am today? Because in the kingdom of God, faithfulness is greatness.

Would you write that down? In the kingdom of God, faithfulness is greatness.

God is looking for faithfulness. He's looking for faithfulness. He's looking for those who will be faithful with little so that he can trust them to be faithful with much. In Mark chapter nine, we read this. It says they, Jesus and his disciples came to Copernham.

When he was in the house, he asked them, what were you arguing about on the way? I love this story. But they were silent because on the way, they had been arguing with one another about who was the greatest. Sitting down, he called the Twelve. And I love it because Jesus knows this.

He's just messing with them. He's like, what are you talking about on the way? They were like, the weather is beautiful, you know, sitting down. He called the Twelve and he said to them, if anyone wants to be first, he must be last. And inerrant of all, he took a child, had him stand among them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, whoever welcomes one little child such as this in my name.

Welcomes me. Welcomes me, he says. This is what greatness looks like. You want to minister to me, minister to this kid. So God bless all of you who serve and love on our children in Jesus name.

You're loving and serving the Lord Jesus himself. Here's the wonderful thing about being focused on faithfulness. You can do it wherever you are right now, and you have everything you need to be able to do it right now. You can be a servant, you can be great in the kingdom of God, whatever your situation in life right now. And as we read through the Book of Acts, we'll find that this is the quality that makes the apostles, and especially Paul, so effective.

He's so good at being fully present wherever he finds himself every day, he's being filled with the Spirit, and he's faithfully serving and ministering, whether that means preaching to the thousands or the single jailer to whom he is chained. He's fully present where he is at that moment, whether he is traveling on a boat, debating the greatest scholars in the empire, or teaching a Bible study to a small group of women. So may the Lord help us to be fully present so that we can be faithful, that we might be fruitful, and that Jesus might be glorified.

Verse 43 tells us Peter stayed for some time in Joppa with Simon, a leather tanner. The Lord is doing something in Peter's heart, and you can see it. He had seen the half-Jews. The Samaritans received the Holy Spirit. He'd been journeying around Israel, visiting Jewish towns, semi-Jewish towns like Luda, and now the fully Greek town of Joppa, where he ended up staying in the home of a tanner.

Now, for you Millennial and Gen Z'ers among us, I should explain that a tanner is not someone who owns a business that helps you get a tan. That's not what we're talking about. Peter is not lodging in the back room of a tanning salon. A tanner was someone who worked with animal skins and helped turn them into usable products. But as a profession, it was considered abhorrent by the Jews because it put you around animal blood and death on a daily basis.

It would have rendered you ceremonially unclean on an ongoing basis. The Mishnah is an extrabiblical compilation of Hebrew laws that were created by rabbis and religious leaders. And there's only a few instances in it where it's permissible for a wife to divorce her husband. But very specifically, one of those instances is if he is a tanner because he would smell so bad that the rabbis considered divorce to be reasonable under the circumstances. There's only like two or three professions they say that about, and one of them is a tanner.

Why? He just smells so bad. We get it. You can divorce him. It was no accident that the Spirit led Peter to stay with Simon the tanner. The Lord was working through circumstances and revelations to change Peter's, understanding his paradigm of what was clean and what was unclean in the eyes of God. And the Lord was doing this because he would soon send Peter to people that he thought were beyond the gospel, gentiles non-Jews. And we're going to see that unfold over the next couple of chapters of Acts. Now, in closing, brothers and sisters, I want to exhort and encourage you to be fully present where you are in your life right now.

Be fully present, be faithful where you are in your life right now. Because if you will, if you'll be faithful, if you'll be present, I promise the Lord will make you fruitful. He will. And Jesus will be glorified. And that's the point of everything.

There are good works that God has prepared for you to do where you are right now. Be encouraged by that. And let's never forget the secret to fruitfulness found in the words of Jesus in John 15. Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me.

I am the vine, you are the branches, the one who remains in me, and I and him produces much fruit because you can do nothing without me. Nothing without him. We need his power. When Peter was in a situation where he realized he needed the power of God, what did he do? He got on his knees and he prayed, and he sought Jesus.

That's where he went for the power that was needed for that moment, and we need that every day. There are situations and relationships in our lives where we cannot be Jesus apart from the power of his spirit. We can't do it. And so we need to be filled with a spirit every day. Can I just tell you the truth here?

This is something you'll realize over time. This is one of my long journeys that the Lord took me three years back. The people God has placed in your life don't need more of you. Do you know this? They need more of Jesus in you.

People in my life, they don't need more of Jeff. They need more of Christ in Jeff. That's what they need. I don't have what they need. The Lord does.

And so I want as much of him to flow through me as possible. That's the goal. So let's pray for that. Let's pray for that power. And as wonderful as the healing of inaeus was, can I just tell you, it could not compare to the miracle of even one man, woman or child.

Turning to Jesus doesn't compare. For in so doing, they were not receiving a mere temporary physical healing, but were being raised from eternal death to eternal life. Do you know there are no clear examples in the New Testament of believers being healed. Did you notice? Only nonbelievers.

But there are, however, multiple examples of believers being raised from the dead. Now, I don't think that's because God never heals believers. I don't think that. I think it's because God wants believers to understand that there is no greater miracle than being raised from the dead. And he has done that in an eternal way in the life of every single person who loves Him.

God has done a miracle in you. He's done a miracle in you. He has done the greatest possible miracle in you. In one way or another. At one time or another, he walked into your life and your spirit was dead, ready for burial.

Dead. And he took you by the hand and he said, I have healed you. Now get up. Get up and follow me.


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