Monday, October 16, 2006

Make a difference in your neighborhood

I was reading through the book of Acts recently and came across the "Joppa incident" (Acts 9:36-42). It gives us great insight into how the early church impacted its neighbors and won their world for Christ. Tabitha (Greek name "Dorcas") was a resident of Joppa and a believer in Jesus Christ. She was a woman "abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did" (v. 36). Great mourning occurred at her death. Apparently, she had served many.

Her particular ministry seems to have been to widows and the kindness she showed was to make them tunics and other garments (v. 39). What a simple description of care and grace. Dorcas insinuated herself into the lives of her neighbors in such a way that when she was subtracted from their lives by death (before Peter raises her back to life) the grief of those who experienced her kindness was great.

O that God would help us to find simple ways to serve our neighbors and to extend to them the love of Christ. Ask Him. Ask Him for creative ideas to serve in ways that both fit your personality and the needs of your neighbors. Ask Him to help you to do what Jeremiah and the people of Israel were commanded to do when they were sent into exile.
  • Jeremiah 29:7 (ESV)
  • "But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare."

When we seek to be a blessing to our neighbors, we open up doors for the gospel that once were barred shut.


Anonymous said...

That Jeremiah 29:7 verse is really cool. I'd never heard it before I heard Tim Keller mention it at the Desiring God conference. I also really liked what he said about churches loving their community in such a way that the community is forced to say, "We may not agree with their position on truth or same-sex marriage, but if they leave town, we'll have to raise taxes."

ChosenRebel said...

I loved that line in Keller's message as well. My personal objective is to be the guy on my block who the neighbors weep over when I am subtracted from the equation of our community.

Leave a hole. Don't just exist. Serve people where you are. I want people to know on the front end that I belong to Christ and then interpret everything they see in my life through that understanding.

Dan, if you've never seen that verse, you need to join me in reading thru the Bible this year!

Anonymous said...


My comment/question has nothing to do with the article you wrote. My question is more about your sermons on 1st Peter. Basically my question is do you think that it is good hermeneutics to spend so much time in what is an oppening greating of a letter? Not just that, it is the first sentence! That is a lot of theology packed into an opening sentence, so much so that I find it improbable that Peter meant to say everything your saying. I think everything your saying is true I am just not sure it is true from 1st Peter 1:1. I suppose that brings us into a whole new discussion on how many meanings and applications a passage can have! I would love to hear your response and I will respond back.


ChosenRebel said...

Excellent and legitimate questions. 1) is it good hermeneutics to spend so much time on the opening sentence? Depends on (a.) what is in the opening sentence and (b.) what the theological needs of the audience are. My line of thinking was (a). I didn't decide to use these words and concepts, Peter and the Spirit of God did. My job is to deal with what is there. But, (b.) a modern audience is so far removed from the culture and language of hte NT that it takes much longer to bring them to the understanding of what the biblilical author meant by a particular word and concept range. In addition, they have many faulty views that have to be overcome in order to establish a solid footing for new concepts (new to them).

Picasso put it this way, "Every act of creation is first an act of destruction." You have to clear the ground of the old (concepts, language, understandings) before you can build new.

Your comment, "I find it improbable that Peter meant to say everything you are saying ... just not sure it is true from 1 Peter 1:1." Fair challenge, but why is it improbable? Because we don't often write letters with so much theology in them? Because it is impossible that Peter could have understood these concepts? Because my explanation of verses 1-2 seems to ring with the the reformed understanding of these passages that was not articulated in their fulness for some 1500 years?

I think, (I hope with all my heart), that if Peter were sitting in the audience, he would be able to say, "Amen, that is the gist of what I wanted those Bythians and Pontisians and Cappadocians to understand." [Actually, if Peter were sitting in the audience, I hope I would be smart enough to sit down and shut up and let him tell the modern audience what he meant.]

ChosenRebel said...


Your post/respnse and my response will be too long to post here. Send me your email address at and I will be happy to respond.

Have a great one.

Craver VII said...

Gee, that would have been neat to read.

ChosenRebel said...

I'll get you a copy when I get it done.