Hello everybody, and welcome in to episode 50 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Acts 20 today and our focus is on giving and crying- I guess it could be on Driving and Crying, but we don’t want to go there, do we? (And that may be the most obscure joke I’ve ever made)  We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Spain, Assam, India, Nova Scotia, Canada, Fort Worth, Texas, New York, New York, San Francisco, California, Phoenix, Arizona and Indianapolis, Indiana. Thanks for listening! Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast Don’t forget about our new web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more – Click here for our reading plan!

Let’s talk about crying. Let me be straight with you – I’m a little old school here. I don’t think men – or anybody, really, should cry at the drop of a hat. Crying is not a sin, but if we’re always crying, then how do we handle the truly heartbreaking things? That said, I fully recognize that some wounds, some deaths, some losses, and some tragedies are so deep and heart-rending that the only right response is extended tears – maybe daily tears for years. If you are a person that never cries, then perhaps you are in an extended season of blessing and comfort and lack of tribulation. Given how things are going the last couple of years, I’d sort of be surprised by that. Life in a broken world can be sad and soul-crushing sometimes, and the Bible shows us that crying can and should be a good response at times. Some of us will be crying into eternity, until we encounter the blessed promise of Jesus: No more tears!

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away. Revelation 21:4

In our passage today, we are going to see some tears, and I love it, because I think this shows us exactly the types of situations that the manliest of men should be crying. In this chapter, Paul is saying farewell to the elders of the Ephesian church that he had planted a short while ago. He is commending them to the grace of God, and telling them that he likely won’t see them again. Here is how he sums up his ministry among them:

You know, from the first day I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, 19 serving the Lord with all humility, with tears, and during the trials that came to me through the plots of the Jews. 20 You know that I did not avoid proclaiming to you anything that was profitable or from teaching you publicly and from house to house. 21 I testified to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus…31 Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for three years I never stopped warning each one of you with tears. Acts 20:18-21 and 31

What a beautiful ministry!! Two mentions of tears – Paul warned and exhorted this church with tears – real and genuine crying. There is a great deal of power in such genuine exhortations as they seem to come from the very depths of our being. How did these Ephesians elders respond to the announcement of Paul’s permanent goodbye?

36 After he said this, he knelt down and prayed with all of them.37 There were many tears shed by everyone. They embraced Paul and kissed him Acts 20:36-37

Tears, hugs, kisses, embraces. I was raised by an affectionate dad who did not hesitate to express his love, and I am grateful beyond words for that. Many men of his generation, and many others since then, were not. Somehow, someway, it became expected that men should never cry, or hug, or show affection, or weakness, or emotions. Poppycock! Jesus wept, and so did the majority of the wonderful leaders in the Bible. So must we – let us love loudly, love boldly, love affectionately, love appropriately and love obviously. And – let’s read our chapter.

Here’s our verse of the day: In every way I’ve shown you that it is necessary to help the weak by laboring like this and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, because he said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35 

In my church growing up, one of  the leaders would intone that verse EVERY time, right before our offering – I can still hear it said in that Briarwood Presbyterian church of Birmingham cadence. Want to stump a would be Bible scholar? Ask him where in the Bible Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Interestingly, he or she will not be able to answer your question, because this saying of Jesus is NOT written in the Bible.

Has Paul made a mistake here? Not at all. Much of what Jesus said to His disciples was preserved orally, at least initially. In the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, we have a grand total of 783,000 words, give or take a few. That’s a lot of words, but maybe not as much as you’d think. I started this podcast in January 2020. If you add up the transcripts from that day until today, it would total up about the same amount. One daily podcast, amounting to just a hair under 800,000 words. There are 31,426 words of Jesus in the Bible – which sounds like a lot, but this 10 minute daily podcast for just this year adds up to OVER 50,000 words. Do you think Jesus spoke more than 32,000 words during His ministry? OF COURSE HE DID! In one year, most preacher’s sermons add up to 100,000 words or more. Some of the teachings of Jesus were written down in the Bible and some were passed along orally – such as our passage here in vs. 35. Bible scholars call these oral sayings the Agrapha – sayings of Jesus not written in the Bible. We can trust that Paul is accurately recounting what Jesus said. Let me give you one more – this one quoted by early church leader Clement of Rome, who lived at the same time as John the disciple in the first century:  ‘Be ye merciful, that ye may obtain mercy; forgive, that it may be forgiven to you; as ye do, so shall it be done unto you; as ye judge, so shall ye be judged; as ye are kind, so shall kindness be shown to you; with what measure ye mete, with the same it shall be measured to you.”

End of the Show: Bible memory verse for FEBRUARY: Acts 9:31 So the church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.

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