Day 261: September 18, 2013

Today's Reading(s)

Acts 9:32-43
32 As Peter was traveling from place to place, he also came down to the saints who lived in Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, who was paralyzed and had been bedridden for eight years. 34 Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and make your bed,” and immediately he got up. 35 So all who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord. 

36 In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. She was always doing good works and acts of charity. 37 In those days she became sick and died. After washing her, they placed her in a room upstairs. 38 Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples heard that Peter was there and sent two men to him who begged him, “Don’t delay in coming with us.” 39 So 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. 40 Then 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. 41 He gave her his hand and helped her stand up. Then he called the saints and widows and presented her alive. 42 This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. 43 And Peter stayed on many days in Joppa with Simon, a leather tanner.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

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Today's Reflection

Key Verse(s)

This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. 
—Acts 9:42

Point to Jesus
by Jay Fennell, Adult Groups Minister, Brentwood Campus

I have to admit: I want to be noticed; I want to be admired; and I want to receive attention. I like it when people tell me how talented or gifted I am. It feels good to have people observe your best traits and then tell you how awesome you are. If you hear it long enough, you begin to truly believe it.

I’ll also admit there are times where I’ve engaged in ministry in hopes of being recognized. The drive to receive accolades taints the proper motivation for doing the good work. Rather than truly pointing people to Jesus, I sought to point people to me.  Perhaps you’ve struggled with that in your life and ministry too.

In our passages today, I’m captured by the fact that Peter sought to deflect all glory from himself and point to Jesus through his life and ministry. Peter didn’t say, “Aeneas, in the name of Jesus Christ, I heal you.” Instead he said “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you.” He gave all glory to Jesus and took none for himself.

With Dorcas, he knelt down, prayed, and beckoned her to “get up.” He claimed no power for himself to perform the miracle. Peter simply relied completely on the power of Christ to do what only He could do, which is raise the dead.

In our culture today, we’d almost expect someone like Peter, who had this sort of power, to go on talk shows, write books and hold national revivals so that everyone could see it again and learn how these miracles happened.  All Peter wanted to do was point people to Jesus.

At the end of each of these miracles, I’m also amazed at the response of the people. After Aeneas was miraculously healed, Luke writes in verse 35, “All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.”

Again, after Dorcas was raised to life, Luke writes in verse 42, “This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord.”

These miracles served the purpose they were intended to serve, to point people to Jesus. The people of these towns didn’t clamor to become disciples or followers of Peter. Instead they simply saw Peter as a vessel of God’s mighty power and recognized God at work in their midst.

Alexander MacLaren writes: “The first condition of work for the Lord is—hide yourself behind your message, beyond your Master, and make it very plain that His is the power, and that you are but a tool in the Workman’s hand” (Expositions of Scripture [Baker] Acts 9:32-43).

Reflection Questions

  1. Do you struggle with an attempt to share glory with Jesus? Ask Him to help you to have proper motivation for the work you do in Jesus name. 
  2. Through your personal ministry, how can you point people to Jesus and not to yourself?
  3. Thank God for the grace daily extended to you that allows you to “be a tool in the Workman’s hand.” 

About the Author

Jay Fennell

Originally from Irmo, South Carolina, Jay graduated from the University of South Carolina and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Before joining the Brentwood Baptist staff in January 2013, he served as the Associate Pastor for Adult Discipleship at Lexington Baptist Church in Lexington, South Carolina. On the Brentwood Baptist staff, he oversees all aspects of on-campus group ministry to adults. His passion is connecting people to Jesus and helping them become more like Him as they move forward in their spiritual journeys. Jay is married to Erin and they have three children: Jack, Avery, and Mills.