May the Work I’ve Done Speak for Me

Series: Flaw LESS by Faith: Walking into The Decade of Destiny – SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON FOR MARCH 24-30, 2020

Acts 9:36-42 (ESV)

36   Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity.

37   In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room.

38   Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.”

39   So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them.

40   But Peter put them all outside, 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.

41   And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then, calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive.

42   And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.  

I. Dorcas – the Disciple (v. 36a)

  • She came to know Christ and caught the vision of how she could serve Christ.
  • To Dorcas being good meant doing good.
  1. No one known individual in the Bible was attested to have “good works,” let alone “full of good works.”
  2. Her work was not in flashes. . .
  • Off and on
  • Odds and ends
  • One and done
  • Open and shut

3. But her work was in full –

  • Time after time,
  • On and on,
  • Over and beyond.

4. The help was not. . .

  • Conservative
  • Circumstantial
  • Coerced

5. It was

  • Consistent
  • Commonplace
  • Charitable
  • Her good works and generous alms were of quality and quantity
  • Her manifold good works flowed from a heart grateful to God for His saving grace.
  • She saw faith without works is dead!

James 1:27 (KJV) – Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

James 2:14-18 (NIV)

14   What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?

15   Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.

16   If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?

17   In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 

18   But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”  Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.

II. Dorcas – The Dressmaker (v. 36b)

  1. What’s that in your hand?  What do you have?
  2. Moses – a rod
  3. David – a rock and a sling
  4. Samson – the jawbone of a jackass
  5. Widow woman – a little oil
  6. Little Boy – a lunch of 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread
  7. Dorcas – a needle
  8. Dorcas connected with the vulnerable widows of Joppa.
  9. She wanted to help them and she did what she could for them
  10. She sewed! It was so simple but so effective.
  11. Dorcas used her skills and abilities to help others.

Exodus 14:16 (GB) – And lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand upon the Sea and divide it, and let the children of Israel go on dry ground through the midst of the Sea.

1 Samuel 17:40 (KJV) – And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine. 49 And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth.

Judges 15:15-17 (NCV) – 15 Samson found the jawbone of a dead donkey, took it, and killed a thousand men with it!  16 Then Samson said, “With a donkey’s jawbone I made donkeys out of them. With a donkey’s jawbone I killed a thousand men!”

2 Kings 4:2 (NIV) – Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”  “Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.”

John 6:9 (NIV) – “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

Point to Ponder:  What do you have that you can use to help others and bring glory to God?  Small or large, put it in His hands!

  • Dorcas came to know Christ as her Savior in her church, and there caught the vision of how she could serve Christ with her money and her needle!
  • Giving of alms and making of garments was Dorcas’ charitable act toward Christ and His people, particularly the widows. 

Matthew 5:16 (KJV) – Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

  • Dorcas used her skills and abilities to help others.
  • The garments Dorcas cut out and sewed represented Christian faith in action.

Matthew 25:35-40 (NIV) 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a  stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’  40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, what- ever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

  • Dorcas stands as a sterling example of how we can be the hands and feet of God in our serving.

Point to Ponder: How do we view the disadvantaged people in our society? What help is available to them?

Point to Ponder: Why do you think God places people with special needs among us?

III. Dorcas – her Death (v. 37-41)

  • She was mourned and missed
  • The widows that she helped were upset and weeping at their loss
  • All the widows, not one or some, stood by him crying and showing him the coats and garments Dorcas made for them.
  • Her dying left a huge hole in the church and the community
  • All were reflecting, recognizing and reiterating all the good Dorcas had done.
  • The upper chamber was swamped with tears, tenderness and testimonies.
  • Peter is called.
  • Peter prayed an intensive, insistent and incisive intercessory prayer.
  • Dorcas is raised from the dead!
  • Many others come to Christ

Point to Ponder: How will people remember you when you pass from the scene?  Will the work you’ve done speak for you?

Point to Ponder:  What will, or what do you want, people to remember about you?

Point to Ponder:  Will you be remembered as a “lifter” or a “leaner”?


There are two kinds of people on earth to-day;

Just two kinds of people, no more I say.

Not the sinner and saint, for it’s well understood

The good are half bad and the bad are half good.

Not the rich and the poor, for to rate a man’s wealth,

You must first know the state of his conscience and health.

Not the humble and proud, for in life’s little span,

Who puts on vain airs, is not counted a man.

Not the happy and sad, for the swift flying years

Bring each man his laughter end each man his tears.

No; the two kinds of people on earth I mean

Are the people who lift and the people who lean.

Wherever you go you will find the earth’s masses

Are always divided in just these two classes.

And oddly enough, you will find, too, I ween,

There’s only one lifter to twenty who lean.

In which class are you? Are you easing the load

Of overtaxed lifters who toil down the road?

Or are you a leaner who lets others bear

Your portion of labor and worry and care?  

–Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

PRAYER PRINCIPLE:                            Thank God for the ability to work while you have the time.

SOCIAL JUSTICE PRINCIPLE:             When you see the giftedness of others, encourage them so that they won’t get work; make sure you keep them lifted in prayer just as Peter did.

EVANGELISM PRINCIPLE:                  Share with others the fact that Christ performed the ultimate task; save humankindfrom a life of death and destruction.

STEWARDSHIP PRINCIPLE:                 Persistent and consistent giving allows us to do perform tasks to further God’s Kingdom.

DISCIPLESHIP PRINCIPLE:                  Although your situation may not be ideal, perform the duties God would have you to perform with excellence and diligence; our rewards are not always of THIS world.

NEXT WEEK’S TITLE:     Astonishing

SERIES: The Gospel According to God

NEXT WEEK’S READING ASSIGNMENT:        Isaiah 52; Zechariah 3:8; Zechariah 6:12; Zechariah 9:9; Isaiah 40:9; John 6:38; Philippians 2:7; Psalms 22:6-7; Matthew 27:46; Luke 22:41-44; Matthew 26:67-68; Mark 14:65; Matthew 27:27-30; John 19:1

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