A friend of mine has decided that she is going to help me become a writer and has been giving me a few assignments to complete. This time my subject is Tabitha. Me having vaguely heard of Tabitha, if at all, decided to do some research so as not to disappoint my mentor.
Consequently, when I did a Google search for Tabitha, the first sentence that came up was: “Tabitha is an American fantasy sitcom and a spin-off of Bewitched that aired on ABC from September 10, 1977 to January 14, 1978.”
Now of course, we do not want to discuss a fictional character from someone’s childhood, but a significant female character of the Bible. So, let’s get started on the story of this little known, but wonderfully generous woman!
Acts 9:32-35 gives us just a little background and context. In these scriptures, we find Peter, who was traveling from place to place, visiting the town of Lydda. During this time, he meets a man named Aeneas who was paralyzed and bedridden for eight years. Peter proclaims to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you! Get up, roll up your sleeping mat!” (verse 34). Aeneas is then healed and the whole population of Lydda and Sharon turned to the Lord after seeing him walking around. This is where Tabitha, also known as Dorcas, is introduced (Acts 9:36-42).
There was a believer in Joppa named Tabitha (which in Greek is Dorcas). Acts 9:36 NLT
Research finds that Tabitha was a Christian woman who lived in Joppa and was one of Jesus’ early disciples.
The name Tabitha is a Hebrew baby name, meaning beauty and grace. It is derived from the Aramaic word for gazelle. Dorcas, a Greek name, also means gazelle. During this period, there was a mixed population of Jews and Gentiles in the area. Both groups commonly had a Hebrew and Greek name. Thus, the writer of Acts identifies her by both her names.
Tabitha is said to have been doing “kind things for others and helping the poor” (verse 36). However, Tabitha suddenly becomes ill and dies. As was the custom of that day, her body was washed for burial and then laid in an upstairs room for viewing. Believers heard that Peter was nearby and sent two men to beg him to come as soon as possible.
Can I be honest with you for a minute? When I first read of Jesus’ visit to the home of Martha and Mary, I agreed with Martha. I identify with her! After all, what more important guests could you have in your home than Jesus and His disciples. Breakout the fine china and linens; there are guests to impress!
But wait, to agree with Martha means I must disagree with Jesus! Well, I’m not going there, so, let’s dig deeper into Mary’s story. Perhaps she will teach you and me something about being a Mary in a Martha world.
In Luke 10:38-42, Mary of Bethany enters the story:
As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”
But the Lord said to her. “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” NLT
In John 11, though a message sent to Jesus by Martha and Mary, we learn that Lazarus, a dear friend of Jesus and brother to the sisters, is sick and dying. This gives us the knowledge that Jesus had an ongoing relationship with Martha and Mary. They were also His dear friends. They knew Him, not just of Him, but directly knew Him!
However, Jesus doesn’t arrive in Bethany until after His friend’s death. As He neared the town, Martha rushed out to meet Him, but Mary stayed home. Why did she stay home? Wouldn’t the proper thing be to meet Him just as Martha had done? Isn’t that what everyone would expect? Mary does go to meet Jesus, but only after she’s told that Jesus wants to see her.
As I was challenged to dig deeper into Phoebe, this woman from the Bible, I couldn’t help but think: “She is only mentioned once in the Bible. What could I possibly gain from Phoebe’s story?” My God, I was so wrong. Though she is only mentioned once in the Bible, this was a woman of phenomenal Godly character, a woman who knew her worth, a woman who had an encounter with Jesus Christ.
Phoebe is revealed in Romans 16:1–2 where Paul writes,
“I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me.” NIV
In biblical times, letters of introduction to strangers were common. The mention of Phoebe in this way means that she was probably the bearer of the letter that went to Rome. The name Phoebe means bright and radiant. From Paul’s comments about her, it seems that those words characterized her personality and her Christian life.
This gives so much context as to who Phoebe was, and if God would use her, He can use us too! Paul writes, “I commend to you our sister Phoebe.” This is super profound here. This speaks volumes of the intimate relationship in which she and the apostle Paul had. Paul associates himself with Phoebe like a brother. An authentic partnership, one without hierarchy between them. The gender difference didn’t restrict either Paul or Phoebe from the mandate God had on each of their lives.
We so often will allow the fact that we aren’t this or we aren’t that to stop us, and we miss the opportunity to be used to the ultimate level God has ordained over our life. Here we see Phoebe being Phoebe, not allowing societal norms to hold her back from everything God has called her to be. Phoebe isn’t waiting for permission to fill the needs she sees within the body of Christ. Instead Phoebe just does.
The word commend is expressively loud and a word of praise. With an exclamation of admiration, this is how Paul affirms all that she is and all she has been. He immediately gives her title, so no one is deceived that though she is a woman, she is less than a leader of the Cenchreae church. Her discipleship counts. Any brother or sister who has confessed Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior has discipleship that counts, in Jesus’ name.
Have you ever been in a crowd, or even among a few people, and felt completely invisible? I mean, your standing right in front of them, but there is no acknowledgment of your presence or any polite conversation started to draw you in. There is nothing. And you feel utterly invisible.
I wonder if in that moment you, like me, become completely frustrated, maybe even angry at the other person because of his/her lack of manners. You may chalk up the situation to a waste of time and simply walk off. And yet, feelings of longing to be seen and to connect linger in the hours after the encounter.
Why is that?
I believe it is because we were not created to be alone. We were created for community. We seek that togetherness in everyone we meet and when we don’t find it in some, we feel rejected and isolated.
Starting in Genesis, we see God creating community for the man called Adam.
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Genesis 2:18 ESV
In the end, even Jesus does not leave without making sure that we are able to commune with God. He tells the disciples that a helper is coming after his departure.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. John 14:16 ESV
So, there is always a piece of us seeking community, seeking to be heard, seeking to be seen.
How do you reconcile these feelings when it comes to God? Everyone at some point has felt a lack of God’s presence in their life. Many of us in our struggles cry out: “Don’t you see me God?”
Woman of God, we can’t transpose our disappointments regarding other human beings onto God. Don’t doubt for a moment that the One who created you doesn’t see you in every moment of time. Don’t take any period of silence between you and God as an indication He doesn’t see you. It is simply not true.
When I founded Transforming Love Ministries a couple of years ago, I had no idea what God was going to do with it. I just knew that women’s ministry is valuable and I wanted to support women everywhere in finding their path to God and/or His calling on their life. Today, TLM is about to reap the benefits of over two years of labor. God is showing up in big ways and opening doors for the ministry.
It’s been a while since we spoke, but Transforming Love Ministries is working on something special!!!
Get Ready for She Steps Forward: Into Destiny (2019)
Work is underway to bring you the first annual She Steps ForwardTM conference hosted by Transforming Love Ministries in Spring 2019. Our theme will be: Into Destiny!
This conference will have a little something for everyone: *Need some time to hear from God and be refreshed by uplifting worship? *Need to sharpen your leadership skills so that you can lead more effectively in your area of ministry? *Want to know more about professional writing and speaking? *Want to get advice from those doing women’s ministry today?
Then you are going to love the She Steps ForwardTM conference!!
CLICK THE BUTTON BELOWto sign up and be among the first to know all the exciting details to come over the next several months!!! Subscribers will have first crack at early registration!
EVERYONE is welcome near and far! Nearby hotel arrangements will be explored once we set the date and confirm a venue. Tell all your girlfriends!! …and join us March 29-30, 2019 as we become Women of Faith who are Leaders in the Faith!!
Transforming Love Ministries email@example.com
“‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’” Acts: 2:17-21 ESV
This passage in Acts is a direct quote from the second chapter of the book of Joel. Having just received the Holy Spirit, excitement filled the members of the early church and they began to proclaim God’s greatness. When those in the community heard what must have sounded like utter pandemonium, they couldn’t help but draw closer. Their faces would reflect their astonishment as they overheard the various dialects of the new believers clearly. Their minds would feel numb from attempting to figure out how they could understand the words they heard without the need of a translator.
And in this moment, Peter would rise. Peter, who had stumbled and slipped all along his walk with Jesus, would now stand confident and bold in proclaiming the Good News.
I believe this was Peter’s defining moment. Would all the instruction, demonstration, and testing he received from Jesus now manifest and propel the faith forward? I think we would all agree, having the benefit of the rest of the New Testament, that it certainly did.
So what role are you playing in the faith? Our passage in Acts tells us God’s spirit is poured out “on all flesh.” Both genders are equally empowered in this passage to “prophesy.” There are no limits placed upon those the Lord has called –no age, gender, or race limits. And most importantly, there is no time limit.
Today, the Church is at a crossroads. Daily the powers of this world throw down the gauntlet daring us to push back. Will we rest easy in these later days expecting someone else to step forward? Or will we each recall the early days of our walk with Jesus and rise to proclaim His truth in a fresh and audacious way? I hope as you step into 2018 you chose not only to take your stand, but thoughtfully consider who else you need to bring along with you. May God constantly pour out His Spirit upon you and bless you mightily this year!
Well, Christmas is upon us again! December 25th seems to roll around earlier and earlier each year. Are you ready?
Among all the holiday festivities, Christians everywhere are gearing up to celebrate the birth of Jesus. And they should since He is the Reason for the Season! Yes, long before Santa Claus stole the show, Jesus’ birth was (and for many of us still is) the centerpiece of the day.
But what does the Bible say about celebrating Jesus’ birth? Would it surprise you to know we are not commanded to commemorate it?
Other than the recorded account of Mary’s pregnancy and His birth (Luke 1-2), it doesn’t say anything about an established celebration. Now, that’s in stark contrast to the Lord’s Supper, which commemorates Jesus’ death and was given to us by Jesus Himself as a command to do regularly (Matt. 26:17-30, Luke 22:7-23, Mark 14:12-26).
Therefore, I ask, should we celebrate Christmas?
Absolutely!!! In fact, we need to celebrate everything about Jesus every day! In a world that is growing increasing dark, we need to shine the light that has been strategically placed in our hearts on every occasion. And since Christmas, one of the largest holiday celebrations of the year, draws people from all walks of life to the Church, we need to maximize that opportunity to share the love of our Savior with the world.
The fact of the matter is there is no Christmas without Christ. To overlook the sacrifice He made to leave Heaven and dwell among us is unfathomable. Therefore, we must continue to tell His story from beginning to forever!
In that vein, I would just like to pull a few truths out of the nativity story that are tucked behind the scenes and yet are so critical in telling Jesus’ story.
First, we so easily forget that Jesus’ existence didn’t start here on earth at His physical birth, but that He was One with the Father prior to that fateful day and that Their existence has never been constrained to what we know as time.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John 1:1, 14 KJV
Second, His entire purpose in being born was to die for our sins and restore our relationship with the Father. (John 3:16-17)
Matthew Henry once said: “Come, and see the victories of the cross. Christ’s wounds are thy healings, His agonies thy repose, His conflicts thy conquests, His groans thy songs, His pains thine ease, His shame thy glory, His death thy life, His sufferings thy salvation.”
And lastly, there is no purpose in Christmas without the victory of Calvary, which is celebrated at Easter.
“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Cor. 15:55-57 ESV
I hope these truths speak to you and bring your Christmas celebration to an even deeper level. Oh, by all means, enjoy your family, the food, and the exchanging of gifts! But this Christmas, let His story draw you back in again and remind you of the true joy we celebrate. My Christmas wish for you is that your heart will overflow with the love of the Father and the sacrifice of the Son.
As we celebrate Veterans Day this weekend, I can’t help but think of my father. He served in the Korean War as part of the 1st Cavalry Division. I am fascinated by the fact that he drove a tank! My dad was an average size man, very quiet, gentle in his approach. However, when he was displeased, you knew it! Even still, it is hard for me to imagine him pushing against the tide of North Koreans in a tank or wielding the type of guns they used, but he did.
As I grew up, he never talked about the war unless he was with someone else who had been there, and even then, the conversation was short-lived. That, I know, is pretty typical of most vets.
Today, I hope you will take a moment to honor a vet and thank them for their service. I also hope, as a Christian, you will go one step further and remember some spiritual veterans who paved the way for us to have a relationship with the Everlasting God.
Long ago, there was a little band of brothers called the 12 apostles who forged out in faith against the darkness in this world. Even though their commanding officer had returned to central command, they fought on. They followed their CO’s last directive with passion and persistence until pockets of believers could be found everywhere.
The directive went like this:
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
Had they not bravely preached the gospel no matter what befell them, we would have no hope today. By carrying out their orders, under fire in most cases, they brought light to a dying world.
And what caused them to be so brave. Well, Paul probably said it best:
If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Romans 8:31
Today, let’s remember the brave men and women who fought for the United States, so that we can freely worship the One True King. But let’s also remember those that brought us the gospel and fought the good fight of faith!
Do you need a little wisdom today? Hear directly from God through the words of Solomon. Dive into the book of Proverbs for the next five days!!!
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Proverbs 31:30
I used to say: “When I get old, I’ll just age gracefully.” Now that I’m 45, I’m starting to feel the need to fight it for all it’s worth!! Funny how time changes the way we feel about some things. So, what really makes a woman praiseworthy? According to this Proverbs, it is a woman who “fears the Lord.”
Interesting remark from a man that had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 King 11:3). That’s a lot of estrogen!!!
I imagine as King Solomon grew older, so did his needs. Fading with the beauty of his wives was his youthful lust for physical contact. Instead, in his maturity, he would now long for true companionship more than anything. Thus, as he interacted with the many women in his life, those who most likely stood out were the women who were virtuous, loyal, and feared God. These are the women that Solomon would find comfort in; and thus, his revelation about a person’s inner beauty became obvious.
Today, let’s remember at the core of a Proverbs 31 woman is her fear of the Lord and that for that she is worthy of praise!
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5
Do you often find yourself trying to figure life out all by yourself? It’s easy to fall into this mindset. We often assume God must be terribly busy with something extremely important and that what we are facing is probably incredibly small in comparison. Surely, we can fix the problem. Sometimes the answer just seems to be dangling out there in front of us.
But this verse from Proverbs teaches that we must trust God and not rely only on our understanding of the problem. God uses all kinds of situations to bring about the display of His glory. He so delicately sets up the circumstances that we could never imagine in our wildest dreams how it all fits together in His overall plan.
And when we overstep and try to resolve the issue without Him, well, we all know it usually doesn’t turn out so well.
For today, let’s practice tying down that free spirit of ours and allow the One who sees how all the parts fit together to guide us.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23
Ever heard the saying: “You need to use that head of yours for something other than a coat rack.” At our house, my husband has used that phrase over and over to emphasize to our son that he needs to use his brain (aka, good sense) when making decisions. Especially, important ones!
As a society, we focus a lot on the power of our brain, but in the Bible, the heart is discussed more often. Why? I think the Lord answers that question in Proverbs 4:23.
Our spiritual heart contains multiple spaces in which we store experiences, memories, and emotions. It is our brain that helps us interpret these things, but the heart is the source from which they come. The heart can at times greatly influence the decisions we make either good or bad. From it can come actions of generosity, unconditional love, empathy, and compassion. Yet, from this same heart comes bitterness, backbiting, and anger.
When we find ourselves in a frustrating, fearful, or unloving state of mind, we need to turn back to our heart to find out what has caused these emotions to bubble to the surface. Once we can identify the deeply rooted source of our emotions, we need to acknowledge it and ask God to do a little spiritual surgery.
Are you guarding your heart? What steps can you take to make sure that you are not allowing certain things to take root in your heart and cause sinful emotions to build up?
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Proverbs 9:10
Proverbs 9:10 is probably one of my favorite Proverbs. Having gone through a period where I rediscovered my faith on a deeper level, it is my life verse. It is a great verse to emphasize to those in Christianity that appear to be going through the motions why they need to develop their relationship with Jesus further.
In essence, this proverb is telling us that we can “know of” God and have a deep reverence for Him, but still not “know” Jesus. And since we know that Jesus is the truth, the way, and life (John 14:6), just knowing of God doesn’t bring us into the authentic relationship that is necessary to either be saved from our sins or live the life Jesus came to bring us.
By entering into a relationship with Jesus, we gain an understanding of God and His ways that we cannot come to any other way.
Today, meditate on this verse. Consider whether you or someone you care about has knowledge of the Holy One. Use this verse to help others understand the difference between “knowing of” and “knowing.”
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22
Coming from a nursing background, I can tell you this verse from Proverbs is TRUE. I cannot tell you how many patients I have cared for over the years that had a positive attitude and carried on through their diagnosis without issue, even when it ended in death. However, I have also witnessed numerous patients with a negative attitude tragically suffer through their illness day after day.
Even in the most dire of circumstances, Jesus can bring joy to our hearts. An infusion of joy makes life bearable. Joy is also considered one of the nine fruits of the Spirit. If we are allowing Jesus to rule in our life, we should have an abundance of joy to offset the times of grief and despair we all go through.
On the other hand, allowing a crushed spirit to remain within us only leads to a desperate existence.
But how do we get our joy back when we suffer some less than joyous moments in life? As tough as it is sometimes, there are some steps we can take to start turning the tide back to a life filled with joy:
Keep your focus on Jesus!
Count your blessings. (I know that sounds cliché, but we seriously forget how much He does for us until we purposely remember).
Stay in the Word (so you can fine scriptures like Proverbs 17:22 to refresh you).
Pray, pray, and pray. (Jesus would love to talk with you about what’s bothering you).
Today I pray that if you are going through something depressing, disappointing, frustrating, or just plain chaotic, that you will reach for the One that can bring joy back to your heart! It’s the best medicine there is.