30. A Holding Pattern

Reading Plan

If you’re looking to dive deeper into what the Bible says about this topic, here’s a suggested Reading Plan, one passage per day for a whole week, based on the sermon:

  1. MONDAY: Acts 9
  2. TUESDAY: Acts 10
  3. WEDNESDAY: Ephesians 2
  4. THURSDAY: Philippians 2
  5. FRIDAY: Exodus 4
  6. SATURDAY: Luke 11:1-36
  7. SUNDAY: Luke 15

eGroup Discussion Questions – Great for personal reflection/journaling, too!

Sermon Notes: “A Holding Pattern” ⤵️

Preacher: Levi Lusko
Pastor of Fresh Life Church in Kalispell, MT
Passage: Acts 9:36-43
Title: A Holding Pattern
Series: Available
Date: December 1, 2019


Acts 9:36-43, NIV

36 In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor. 37 About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. 38 Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!”

39 Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.

40 Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. 41 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. 42 This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord. 43 Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named Simon.


Introduction

  • Pastor Levi shares a story about flying on a plane from Montana to North Carolina while watching an episode of “The Crown” on Netflix.
    • The episode involves members of the British royal family watching the moon landing in 1969. Prince Philip invites the astronauts to Buckingham Palace, but is disappointed because they do not end up being the super heroes he thought they would be (they had come down with an illness from jet lag).
    • All of us long for greatness.
    • Watching Elevation grow was like watching the moon landing.
    • I felt like Prince Philip when I met Steven and Holly for the first time, not disappointed, but relief that they are normal people just like me.
    • God uses normal people who make themselves available.
  • Learning is always for the living.
  • Anything we learn that we don’t act on becomes a lie in our life.

Stuck in a Holding Pattern

36 In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor. 37 About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. 38 Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!” 39 Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.
Acts 9:36-39, NIV

  • Traveling comes with unexpected setbacks.
    • Jet planes have only been around for a little over 100 years (the first flight at Kitty Hawk was in 1903). We are a select few in history that can travel so far so fast.
    • A delay can feel like an eternity even though we can travel across the country and across continents in a matter of hours.
  • When you’re in your holding pattern, you’re at your destination but you can’t get out.
    • This is such a hopeless feeling: To be there but not there is a holding pattern. Feeling like you’re going to miss a connection.
    • I can’t get to where I need to be in order to be where I’m called to be.
    • This is the mood in the city of Joppa. Their beloved Dorcas, who had provided robes to widows, had died.
  • There are two types of people:
    • One type that enters a room and says, “Here I am!” (Focus on me)
    • The other type that enters a room and says, “Here you are.” (Focus on others)
    • Dorcas was one of the second types.
  • God prepares us and fills us up with good works, but we need to do them for those things to come to pass.
    • Ephesians 2:10, NIV: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
    • Dorcas did these things by “always doing good and helping the poor” (9:36)
  • Dorcas, although a silly sounding name to us, was a beautiful name to those at the time. Both “Dorcas” and “Tabitha” mean “gazelle,” which was culturally a way to refer to someone’s beauty. This imagery is used elsewhere, like in the Song of Solomon, where the female lover is referred to as a “doe.”
  • Some Christians are full of it.
    • Full of what God has put in them but unwilling to let it out.
    • “Constipated” with good works. [This is an example of a holding pattern–We’re stuck with good works.]
    • Are you full of it? Or are you doing it?
  • God gives you the will and the strength to do it.
    • Philippians 2:13, NIV: “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”
  • How do I get what’s in me, out of me?
    • Use what’s in your hand!
    • What was in Dorcas’ hand? A needle–Just sew your thread.
    • What was in Moses’ hand? A staff–Just throw it on the ground. [Exodus 4:2-3]
    • What’s in our hand doesn’t look like what’s in our heart [but we need to use what’s in our hand to draw out what’s in our heart.]
  • 1 Corinthians 11:1, NIV: “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”
    • The Apostle Paul is providing a pattern to follow like following a pattern for sewing a dress.
    • We can follow one of two patterns:
      • Holding pattern [Stuck in ourselves]
      • Pattern for holding what’s in our hand to unlock what’s in your heart [Focus is on following Jesus and serving others]
  • Dorcas had a light touch and a long vision.
    • What did she get out of her service?

1. She gave WHAT she could.

All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.
Acts 9:39b, NIV

  • She made the widows cloaks and capes
    • Widows were known by what they wore (what their husbands provided for them, to keep their head covered, which was a sign of status).
    • She couldn’t give what she didn’t have, but what she did have was plenty to give to these widows.
  • All you’re called to give is to give what you can.
    • You’ll never be asked to give what someone else can give.
    • The danger is that we won’t do anything because we can’t do everything.
  • Available v. AvailaBULL = Excuses for not giving
    • “I give my time not my money”
      • The Good Samaritan gave his time and his money. (Luke 10:33-35)
      • We should be glad Jesus didn’t just give us his time. [Jesus “paid it all” with his blood on the cross.]
  • God doesn’t need your money but you need his blessing.
    • A lack of generosity will cut you off from the flow of God’s blessings.
    • [Nick: I’m always hesitant to buy into any theology that suggests that God is somehow holding something back from us like blessings and miracles unless we act a certain way or have enough faith to claim them. This is not the Gospel. The Gospel is that even in our sins, Christ died for us, and even in our disobedience, God forgives us. Like what the father says to the older son in the Parable of the Prodigal Son: “You are always with me and everything I have is yours” (Luke 15:31). The older son didn’t have the faith to believe that this was true. He thought he had to perform to earn his father’s love. But the blessings were still right there the whole time. A lack of generosity makes us blind to the blessings that are present right before us and makes us indignant to the younger brother who’s returned. We don’t have to perform to earn God’s love. We simply need to receive his blessings in faith.]
  • President Garfield was shot on his way to a train station, but he did not die from the gun wound. He died from an infection by doctors who did not wash their hands.
    • Sometimes it’s not what you’re doing that prevents God’s blessings, but what you’re not doing.

2. She gave WHILE she could.

36b She was always doing good and helping the poor. 37 About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room.
Acts 9:36b-37, NIV

  • Dorcas seized the opportunity that was given her.
    • She didn’t know she was going to get sick and die.
  • She didn’t have any excuses to delay her service.
    • Some of us say we’ll give when we have more money.
    • But you’ll be just as generous with one million dollars as you will with ten thousand.
  • The opportunity of a lifetime is only good for the lifetime of the opportunity.

3. She received MORE than she gave.

40 Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. 41 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. 42 This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord. 43 Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named Simon.
Acts 9:40-43, NIV

  • Just like Mary who poured perfume on Jesus’ feet, the perfume goes with you.
  • When you give to God, he returns that blessing to you.
  • Dorcas received:
    • Resurrection (9:40-41)
      • They called for Peter because of what she had done.
    • Participation in Revival (9:42)
      • Many came to know Jesus because of her miracle.
    • Massive Relocation Effort (9:43)
      • Levi Lusko calls this the single most important event in the book of Acts: Peter being in Joppa opens up the door for him to reach Cornelius in Chapter 10, and the door is opened for Gentiles to receive and hear the Gospel, too.
  • In Joppa, Jonah said “No” to God.
  • In Joppa, Dorcas said “Yes” to God.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *