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Life-Giving Grace

Acts 9:40-43
Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning towards the dead woman, he said, 'Tabitha, get up.' She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive. This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord. Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named Simon. (NIVUK)

Peter had been with Jesus when He raised a young girl to life (Luke 8:51-56). Now he was faced with a similar situation. Tabitha, a godly woman whose gracious behaviour had touched many in her community, had been dead for several hours and was laid out in a bedroom. The local believers were convinced that Peter could do something to help, and sent for him to come immediately (Acts 9:36-38).

The first thing Peter did was to remove all the wailing mourners (Acts 9:39), as Jesus had done previously in Jairus' house. Then he prayed. Like Elisha who was called to the Shunammite widow's house when her son had died, Peter prayed. He could not just presume upon his limited experience; he needed God's authority for this act of ministry and to know what the Lord wanted him to do. The result of his praying was a simple command to the dead body: 'Tabitha, get up'. First she opened her eyes, then sat up and soon after stood up with Peter's help.

Opening the door, Peter invited the mourners back into the room; especially the widows whose past personal grief was a cultural template for yet another hopeless bereavement. When they realised Tabitha was alive, everything changed. As news spread many more people believed in Jesus. Meanwhile Peter took lodgings in the tanner's house awaiting his next divine assignment. The way Luke writes the narrative, this miracle was 'all in a day's work' for Peter. He followed the Lord's leading and allowed the request from Tabitha's friends to take him to Joppa. Although he had seen Jesus raise a dead person, Peter did not presume on what to do or how to do it. But as he prayed the Lord gave him authority and power.

It should be the same for us. None of knows what is around the corner, nor can we assume that Jesus wants us to work in the same way today as yesterday. However when we pray we should expect the Lord to lead us in action He has authorised. When we know what to do, we can and must obey. Then Jesus will be glorified and more people will believe in Him. For the Christian it is routine for God to lead us in ways we do not expect. And He will also allow us to encounter similar situations but expects us not to assume our role until He commands us. The only certainty is that God knows what He is doing, and will tell us what He wants us to do, if we are willing to be used by Him and let Him lead.

Father God. Thank You for leading Your people and for the confidence with which I can serve You when I know that You have authorised me. I am sorry for either presuming what I should do to serve You or for failing to ask You what to do. Please help me to be sensitive to Your Word and Your Holy Spirit so that I may learn to pray before I serve and then minister in the confidence of Your appointment and serve You confidently. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams