Tomorrow is thanksgiving in our world. Most families will gather to give thanks to God, praising Him for all He has given to us and done in us over the past year. Most of us will gather over a huge meal. But some will be alone. Some of the human race will line up for a meal at a local mission. Some will gather to heavily drink, judge, assume and fight with each other and call it day of endurance.
Some will be grateful for life in hospitals across the nation as they live another day fighting diseases of all kinds. Some will plan for getting the meal over with so they can shop for all the things they think people want so they can spend more than they’ve got to please those in their inner circle and to please themselves with the “bargains” they will find. Some will just pause to be truly grateful for another day on earth.
Some will give life, hope, joy and peace. Some will extract life, deflating the lungs of breath from those around them with words that maim, tear down, discourage, with devaluation of others’ character and very being. Some are merely takers with “give me” as the mantra of their lives.
Are we givers? Who is a giver? I have learned that the best givers are grateful to God. Extreme givers, who give without thinking about it, seem to be those who have lost everything this world has to offer it is okay. They are soulfully grateful because of losing the world. The best givers have turned all their attention to seek, find and follow Jesus, the Giver of Life. The best givers have seen troubles most of us cannot imagine and have lived through it all with the Giver of Life by their side. The deeper the pain, the more grateful they are, it seems.
Paul is a giver. He loves and is tenaciously devoted to Jesus. Saul/Paul used to be the taker of life until Jesus changed his life. Saul took life by harassing, maiming, beating, and jailing those who believed in Jesus until Jesus stepped in and transformed a radical Saul to a determined Paul. Paul went from Taker to Giver almost overnight. Being a Giver in the truest sense is being like Jesus who gave His life for ours. Jesus was obedient to God, His Father, giving life to all who believe.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Why are my thoughts going in this direction? What readily leaps from the page is giving life. Paul, because of Christ in Him, is consistently giving encouragement and fresh perspectives of hope in Jesus. He lifts their spirits everywhere he goes. He walks the “less traveled road” to give encouragement along the way. Traveling through the country, passing from one gathering to another, he gave constant encouragement, lifting their spirits and charging them with fresh hope.
Who wants to be like Paul…who wants to live like Jesus?
ACTS—God’s Actions through His Disciples
Acts 20:1-16, The Message
Macedonia and Greece
1-2 With things back to normal, Paul called the disciples together and encouraged them to keep up the good work in Ephesus. Then, saying his good-byes, he left for Macedonia. Traveling through the country, passing from one gathering to another, he gave constant encouragement, lifting their spirits and charging them with fresh hope.
2-4 Then he came to Greece and stayed on for three months. Just as he was about to sail for Syria, the Jews cooked up a plot against him. So he went the other way, by land back through Macedonia, and gave them the slip. His companions for the journey were Sopater, son of Pyrrhus, from Berea; Aristarchus and Secundus, both Thessalonians; Gaius from Derbe; Timothy; and the two from western Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus.
5-6 They went on ahead and waited for us in Troas. Meanwhile, we stayed in Philippi for Passover Week, and then set sail. Within five days we were again in Troas and stayed a week.
7-9 We met on Sunday to worship and celebrate the Master’s Supper. Paul addressed the congregation. Our plan was to leave first thing in the morning, but Paul talked on, way past midnight. We were meeting in a well-lighted upper room. A young man named Eutychus was sitting in an open window. As Paul went on and on, Eutychus fell sound asleep and toppled out the third-story window. When they picked him up, he was dead.
10-12 Paul went down, stretched himself on him, and hugged him hard. “No more crying,” he said. “There’s life in him yet.” Then Paul got up and served the Master’s Supper. And went on telling stories of the faith until dawn! On that note, they left—Paul going one way, the congregation another, leading the boy off alive, and full of life themselves.
13-16 In the meantime, the rest of us had gone on ahead to the ship and sailed for Assos, where we planned to pick up Paul. Paul wanted to walk there, and so had made these arrangements earlier. Things went according to plan: We met him in Assos, took him on board, and sailed to Mitylene. The next day we put in opposite Chios, Samos a day later, and then Miletus. Paul had decided to bypass Ephesus so that he wouldn’t be held up in Asia province. He was in a hurry to get to Jerusalem in time for the Feast of Pentecost, if at all possible.
THINK ABOUT IT…
Dear Friends, I don’t know about you, but encouragement from anyone breathes new life in me, causing me to work all the harder to help others know Life. I love hanging around encouraging people, don’t you? It’s refreshing, life-giving, soul lifting and heart strengthening.
God’s actions in and through Paul give life and encouragement spiritually and literally to all the believers he meets. Read on!
Yes, that’s not all! Did the boy falling out the window amuse you a bit like it did me? Paul is a preacher who, given a willing audience, will preach Jesus until…someone falls asleep and tumbles from the upper room window. Who knows exactly if the breathe of life was knocked from him or if he literally died but what we do know is that it was Paul who stopped immediately, laid his body on the young man, hugged him and prayed life and breath back into the boy’s lungs. Yes, Paul is a giver.
“No more crying,” he said. “There’s life in him yet.” Then Paul got up and served the Master’s Supper. And went on telling stories of the faith until dawn! On that note, they left—Paul going one way, the congregation another, leading the boy off alive, and full of life themselves.
Pause to reflect and pray…
How do we leave people when we walk away? Full of life and hope? Or less than hopeful and discouraged about themselves?
You are the Giver of Life for eternity. You are coming back again someday. In the meantime, we must learn to be givers like you. We must learn to give up ourselves and what we think we need, lay our lives before you in grateful obedience for what you have done for us and receive all you want to give us. Lead us not from the temptations of discouragement, wanting to tear others down in hopes that would lift us up, but instead lead us to grow in your character of giving life to others through the encouraging words you consistently give to us. Your work in Paul is a constant reminder that words and actions of encouragement and hope gives life to the those who think there is no hope. Thank you for teaching us truth this morning. Now, help us live it so well it becomes our habit of giving back to you by giving hope to others.
In Jesus Name, Amen