Good Morning. It is great to be assembled once again in the Courts of the Lord. Today, if you have a Bible, please open it to the Book of Acts, Chapter 9. This will be the text for our lesson. I have entitled it “Maximize Your Life”.
The more years pass and the more I am exposed to this world, to the different cultures and peoples that inhabit this planet, the more I realize a common ambition in the heart of mankind. It seems that we all want to live life to its fullest. Even those who commit suicide do so because of that desire that has gone unfulfilled and that now seems out of reach. But we all want to live life to its fullest. So, a question that comes out of that is, “What can I do to keep from living beneath what life has to offer me as a Christian?” “How can I make the most of my days?” Today I would like to take some time to answer these two questions that are really one and the same. So, if you have been wondering how to maximize your life, take a pen and a paper. Here is the answer. It is relatively simple. There are three things I must do. I believe these three things are learned by looking at the life and death of a lady named Dorcas in Acts 9:36-43. Let us read “……”
Now, if you look through the scriptures, you will find that the name, Dorcas or Tabitha, in the Hebrew language is only mentioned once in the Bible. The only place you read about her is here in Acts 9. And yet, if you speak about her to most Christians, they will know who you are talking about. I think that’s due to the kind of life she had. She was not an important political figure. She was not famous or wealthy. But she lived a noble and dedicated life. She was the perfect example of a person living life to its fullest. She had made the most of her earthly sojourn. She had a double portion of it. Why? Because of three things the text mentions.
I. She was something
First, in Acts 9:36, we read that she was a disciple. “…..” See, if we want to maximize our life, it starts with us being something. It starts with us being disciples.
Now the term “disciple” may seem a little foreign to some of you. But it was a very common term in the first century. Turn to Acts 11:26. It says there “…..” Now this event would have taken place in AD 43. So it was about 10 years or so before the followers of Christ were called Christians. Before that, they were identified by the term “disciples”. See, disciples were followers or learners. They were servants. That’s what Dorcas was. She was a simple, humble, devout and committed servant of Jesus Christ. What a beautiful description of any human being! See, we also are called to be disciples. James says in James 1:22 “…..” We must be holy as He is holy, I Peter 1:15; we must be kind to all men, Eph 4:32; and we must be followers of God as Jesus Christ was, Eph 5:1-2. It is interesting to me to note a difference between the Western and Eastern worlds. In the Western world, it is what you do that counts. In the Eastern mind, it is what you are that counts. For them, being is more important than doing. They value different things than us. See, I think that anyone who wants to live life to the fullest must ask “What am I? Who or what am I striving to be?” I tell you today, if you have obeyed the gospel and have been added to the church by Christ, through baptism, you are somebody! You have done the first thing on the list. In this life and in the world to come, you will be eternally glad that you became a disciple of the Master. Being a Christian is the ultimate achievement in this world. Remember, you will never stand any taller than when you stand with and for Jesus Christ.
II. She did something
Number 2. If you want to maximize your life, you must not only be something, you must also do something. If you look back at Luke’s account, you will see in Acts 9:36, that Dorcas did something with her life! He says “…..” Doing for Christ is so important. It doesn’t have to be exactly what Dorcas did, but we have to do something. Do you remember the statement Jesus made in Mark 14:1-9, when a woman had anointed him with oil? Let us go back and refresh our memories. He says “….” I love Jesus’ words in v. 8. “Leave her alone. Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing for me!” In v. 8 he adds, “She did what she could!”
I wonder if we are doing all we could? “Are we doing all we can do?” Consider the words of the poet, George MacDonald and let them sink deep into your soul.
I said, but the skies are black,
And there is nothing but noise and din.
And He wept as He sent me back.
There is more! He said, there is sin!
I said but the air is thick,
And fogs are veiling the sun.
He answered yet souls are sick,
And souls in the dark undone.
I said I shall miss the light,
And friends will miss me, they say.
He answered, yet choose tonight
If I am to miss you, or they.
I pleaded for time to be given,
He said is it hard to decide?
It will not seem so hard in heaven,
To have followed the steps of your Guide.
I cast one look at the fields,
Then set my face to the town,
He said, my child, do you yield?
Will you leave the flowers for the crown?
Then into his hand went mine,
And into my heart came He,
And I walk in a light divine,
The path I had feared to see.
What a beautiful picture of one who does for Christ! You know, as I read these words, I am reminded, Christ came into this world to do things too. In Matt. 20:28, we are told that He came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give His life as a ransom for many. In Matt. 23:3, we are told he has no tolerance for those who talk the talk, but do nothing. Speaking about the religious leaders of his day, He said, “……” (“They say and do not,” says the KJ)
See, you can’t be something without doing something. If you are a Christian, a disciple, you will live an action-packed life. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the following:
Now I would suggest that even the young ones here are called to do something for God.
Daniel was a great man of God because he did something for the Lord, God while he was still a teenager. In Dan. 1:8, we read, “….” Joseph was up and doing early on too. He served as the prime minister of Egypt at the tender age of 30. David was a mere youth when he went to war for God. Yet in his zeal, he slew the giant, Goliath, and became a man after God’s own heart. William Cullen Bryant wrote his Thanatopsis at age 16. Napoleon was only 26 when he proclaimed himself Emperor of France. Alexander the Great conquered the Mediterranean World at age 33. See, you don’t have to wait until you are half dead to do something for God. The time to do and maximize your life is now and not tomorrow. I am reminded of another poem here. It’s called “The Tools in the Master’s Hand”. It is as follows:
There are rusty tools.
They sit in the cobwebbed corner,
Useless to their master,
oblivious to their calling.
Then there are tools on the anvil,
melted down, molten hot, moldable, changeable.
They lie on the anvil,
being shaped by their master, accepting their calling.
There are also tools of usefulness,
sharpened, primed, defined, mobile.
They lie ready in the blacksmith’s tool chest,
available to their master, fulfilling their calling.
Some people lie useless:
lives broken, talents wasting, fires quenched, dreams dashed.
They are tossed in with the scrap iron,
in desperate need of repair, with no notion of purpose.
Others lie on the anvil:
hearts open, hungry to change, wounds healing, vision clearing.
They welcome the painful pounding of the Blacksmith’s hammer,
longing to be rebuilt, begging to be called.
Others lie in their Master’s hands:
well-tuned, noncompromising, polished, productive.
They respond to their Master’s forearm,
demanding nothing, surrendering all.
We are all somewhere in the blacksmith’s shop.
We are either on the scrap pile,
on the anvil, in the Master’s hands, or in the tool chest.
(Some of us have been in all three.)
See, Christians, or disciples, are a people who want God to use them to their fullest, for his glory and honor. That’s the second way to maximize your life. You do for Him and He will grant you a double portion of it.
III. Leave something behind.
Finally, if you would maximize your life, you must leave something. In Acts 9:39, we read, “….”
Apparently, Dorcas didn’t leave a large sum of money for her family to fight over after she was gone. She had used what she had to do some good during her lifetime and now there were things left behind for people to remember her.
Benjamin Franklin wrote, “If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading or do things worth the writing.” In the same way each Christian should ask, “What will I leave behind?”
See, we should leave behind lives that will be remembered because they were God-centered. God-centered lives are lives that are lived for others. Samuel Morse lives on through each telegraph wire erected and through each message sent. Edison lives on in each light bulb that we burn. Eli Whitney lives on in each boll of cotton ginned. Jenner lives in each smallpox inoculation given. Guttenberg lives on through each newspaper, book or magazine printed. Every time we talk on the phone, Alexander Graham Bell remains very much alive.
Bible characters, such as Cain, Ahab, Jezebel and Judas, have left poor examples. People like Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin, have left bad influences. They have long died, but their actions continue to affect, adversely, our humanity.
Turn with me to Hebrews 11:4 and read with me, “…..” What a beautiful statement. And, like Abel, it could be said of Dorcas, “By faith she still speaks, even though she is dead.” Her good example and godly influence lives on to this day to influence thousands. Will the same be said of you? “By faith, ________ still speaks, even though dead!”
Maximize your life today by obeying the gospel and becoming a disciple. Be someone. Do something. Leave something. Leave your children and grandkids the legacy of a Christian father or mother, grandpa or grandma. If you need to be baptized to be forgiven of all your wrongs and to receive His Spirit, come down as we stand and sing.