"Now I commit you to God and to the Word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I have not coveted anyone's silver or gold or clothing. 34 You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. 35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"
36 When he had said this, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. 37 They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. 38 What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship.
[Editor's Comment: The Apostle Paul was a Pentecostal. He made it clear in the context of these Scripture verses that he was eager to get to Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost. Although he was not present on the day when the disciples gathered in the Upper Room in Jerusalem when the Holy Spirit was poured out as Joel had prophesied and Jesus told His disciples not to leave town until they were endued with power from on high. The Holy Spirit came like a mighty rushing wind, and everyone was baptized with or in the Holy Spirit, and according to what Dr. Luke wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit they all spoke with tongues as the Spirit gave them the utterance or words in a language they did not know. He could not take the time in his busy schedule to sail up to Ephesus. Instead, he requested that the Ephesian elders come to see him in Milieus. They jumped at the opportunity to see their pastor and apostle and to eagerly hear with open hearts all he has to say to them. In honoring Paul God honored them with truth that they may not have known.
Paul shares with them one of the most quoted sayings of Jesus that ironically is not recorded in the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. It is only here in the Book of Acts, the history of the early church by Dr. Luke who wrote the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts. Here is it: "It is more blessed to give than to receive."
Note the sequence of what happened at the closing of Paul's exhortation to them. Paul knelt down to pray. When I was younger as a pastor and an Air Force chaplain I deliberately knelt when I prayed. At my age now of 84 and with my physical challenges if I tried to kneel down, I would have to have two men to help me get up. I like to kneel. It is for me a position of submission and yielding completely and wholely to God.
When I received the Baptism with or in the Holy Spirit I was kneeling around an old wooden altar in my first pastorate at the Brownville Pentecostal Holiness Church near Evergreen, Alabama. That was a defining moment in my life and God opened the Scriptures in a new and most enlightening way. My preaching was dramatically changed. God gave me new power to witness to Jesus in more effective ways. The Baptism with or in the Holy Spirit changed me forever. I want you to know I have not arrived. God is still working on me.
The Ephesian elders embraced Paul and kissed him in those sacred final moments--something none of them would ever forget. We don't do that kissing in our culture, thank God. I have been to other countries where that is a part of their tradition and lifestyle. My mother's family were kissers. I never liked it. I would wipe off the kisses.
Notice the mention of grief that Dr. Luke records. They were grieved because of the statement of Paul that they would never see his face again. That is one of the realities of losing a loved one. I know it is true in the deaths of our two daughters, Julia Frances--a full term, still birth baby. Our OB doctor made a mistake and had not properly examined Melvine. She has a curvature in her spine and cannot give natural birth. Finally, when our doctor took Julia Frances it was too late. She was dead. She fought valiantly to live in the womb. The membranes of her nose ruptured and she breathed into her lungs the amniotic fluid which caused pneumonia and death. I held her warm body in my arms in a blanket. I wanted to scream and cry out to God. I would not allow myself that option. Instead I cried and prayed for God to raise her from the dead. My prayer was not answered. God allowed it to happen. I am confident in the ages to come in heaven with God, that the Father will share with us "the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:7, KJV). One day I will know all about it. Until then, my heart is at peace knowing that God has the final Word and in His time all will be good.
One day I will see the face of Julia Frances and Melvine will see her for the first time. We will see the face of Stephanie Ellen again when we all get to heaven. No one is permanently lost. God will restore that which we have lost. What blessed hope we all have who know Jesus Christ, and the rewards are out of this present world.
To those of you who are grieving I pray you will hear God's Word to you this day in your inmost being May the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Holy Trinity, bring you comfort and peace that will satisfy your searching mind and heart.]