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How to Get Ready for Our Hard Goodbyes (Part 3)

The Book of Acts  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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God's Word has the power! 1. To give us Christian growth (vs. 32). 2. To inspire Christian giving (v. 33-35). 3. To soothe Christian grief (vs. 36-38).

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How to Get Ready for Our Hard Goodbyes (Part 3)

The Book of Acts - Part 74

Acts 20:32-38

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - Feb. 15, 2015

BACKGROUND:

*Remember that Acts 20 was a pivotal time in the life and ministry of the Apostle Paul. In these verses Paul reflected on the past. He also tried to prepare the church leaders of Ephesus for life without him. Our main focus tonight is vs. 32-38, but to put it in context, let's start reading at vs. 17.

MESSAGE:

*There are some hard goodbyes in life: sending our little ones off to school for the first time, taking our young adults off to college, sending our loved one off to war, saying our last goodbye to our mom, our daddy, or anyone else we love.

*In vs. 25 Paul told the church leaders of Ephesus that they would never see his face again in this world. But Paul was ready for that hard goodbye. In tonight's Scripture, he shows us how to get ready. And as we saw last week, it all goes back to the Word of God.

1. First: God's Word has the power to give us Christian growth.

*We must rely on the power of God's Word like Paul did in vs. 32. There he said: "And now, brethren, I commend you (or commit you or entrust you) to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified."

*That word "commend" has the idea of placing something on or near something else. And there Paul was saying, "I am not going to be here to take care of you, but I know someone who can take good care of you: God Almighty. And I know something that can take good care of you: The word of God's grace, the word of God's grace that came through the cross of Jesus Christ.

*Paul knew that God's Word is able to build us up and give us an inheritance among God's holy people. God's Word is able! That's why 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says:

16. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,

17. that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

*God's Word has the power to change our lives! In Jeremiah 23:29 the Lord put it as a question: "Is not My word like a fire, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?" John Gill explained that God's Word "is like fire, because of the light it gives to sinners, by which they see their own impurity, impotence, the insufficiency of their own righteousness, and the way of life and salvation by Christ. Also, by the light of this fire Christians are directed in their walk and conversation. By it immoralities, errors, and superstition are detected."

*Also, the heat of the fire "is warming and comforting to saints, and causes their hearts to burn within them. It inflames them with love to God, Christ, and one another, and with zeal for truth and the interest of our Redeemer."

*God also said His Word is "like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces." John Gill explained that the rock is "the heart of man, being hardened by sin, destitute of spiritual life; stupid and senseless; stubborn and inflexible; on which no impressions are made. But God's Word in the mighty hand of God's Spirit can break such hard hearts and bring them to contrition. God's Word can break the stony heart, and melt it into true repentance for sin, through the discoveries of the Savior who was bruised and broken for our sin." (1)

*So, in Jeremiah 23:29 God's Word is profitable as a fire and a hammer to break our stony hearts. In James 1:22-25, God's Word is profitable as a mirror to examine our hearts and minds. In Ephesians 6:17 and Hebrews 4:12, it is profitable as a sharp sword to fight our spiritual battles. In Psalm 119:105, God's Word is profitable as a lamp to guide and direct.

*In John 6, it is profitable as bread to strengthen and nourish. In 1 Peter 2:2, it is profitable as milk for growth and development. And in 1 Peter 1:23, the Word of God is profitable as seed to give us both new spiritual birth, and a fruitful life. God's Word is able to build us up into the people God wants us to be. (2)

*Dr. Clyde Turner told about a little boy in Sunday School when Clyde was the pastor at FBC in Greensboro, KY. This little boy was an unholy terror, and nobody knew what to do with him. Finally, he stopped coming to Sunday School. Dr. Turner later admitted, "I am ashamed to say it, but I think we were all glad of it."

*Nobody made a special effort to get the little boy back, but one day they were having a meeting in the sanctuary. And that little boy came running down the aisle with a violin case under his arm. "Dr. Turner!" he said, "They gave me a fiddle for being good."

*Dr. Turner thought, "In the first place, I could imagine nobody giving him a fiddle, and in the second place, certainly not for being good." The little boy sensed the wonder on the pastor's face and he explained, "You see, doctor, I'm gooder than I used to be."

*Then as the boy raced down the hall, Dr. Turner thought, "Yes, thank God, by the grace of God a lot of us are gooder than we used to be." (2)

*That's what the Word of God can do in our lives. When Paul told husbands to love their wives in Ephesians 5, he said:

25. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it,

26. that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

27. that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.

*How does Jesus make the church all He wants it to be? -- Through the transforming power of His Word.

2. God's Word has the power to give us Christian growth. It also has the power to inspire Christian giving.

*In vs. 33-35, Paul gives us a great example to follow. There the Apostle said:

33. "I have coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel.

34. Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me.

35. I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'''

*In Acts 20:35, Jesus said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." And it's interesting that these words are not found in the Gospels. But John 21:25 says: "There are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written."

*Jesus said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." In other words: "Getting is good, but giving is better!" And anyone who has ever put these words to the test has found out that they are absolutely true. "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

*During that crucial week before the Lord died on the cross for our sins, Jesus took some time to watch what people were giving in the Temple. That's when Jesus saw a very poor widow cast in two mites. God's Word records this incident in Mark 12 and Luke 21. Both of those Gospels basically say the same thing about the poor widow who gave so sacrificially to the work of the Lord.

*Mark 12:41-44 puts it this way:

41. Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much.

42. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans.

43. So He called His disciples to Him and said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury;

44. for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.''

*"She threw in two mites. The original word means "the thin one," and it was the smallest coin of the day. But Jesus said she had given more than all the rest, because they gave a just part of their abundance, but the widow gave everything she had.

*We can learn a lot from her story: God sees what we give, and God can do a lot with our little. God didn’t ask her to give all of her money. She didn't give all because she had to. She gave all because she wanted to.

*Do you think she was trusting in the Lord? She must have been. Do you think Jesus was watching over that poor widow? We know He was. Do you think Jesus provided for her needs? Yes, He always does. And one of the ways He does it is through His people.

*As the Lord looked upon that penniless widow, He knew there were godly people in Jerusalem who would step up to help her. Jesus knew there were many people seeking to follow the Lord's guidance in Old Testament Scriptures like Proverbs 19:17, "He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given." Also Proverbs 22:9 which says. "He who has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor." And Proverbs 28:27 which says, "He who gives to the poor will not lack, but he who hides his eyes will have many curses."

*On top of that, in Luke 6:38, the Lord had already said, "Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.''

*Here in Acts 20, we see that Jesus said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Do you think He fulfilled that truth in the poor widow's life? We can be sure that He did. And the Apostle Paul knew that. That's why in vs. 33-35, he was able to say:

33. "I have coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel.

34. Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me.

35. I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'''

*We can sum up the heart of these verses by saying, "Don't be greedy and selfish. Work hard. And do all you can to be a blessing to other people." That's the kind of generous people God wants us to be. And it will help us get ready for our goodbyes.

3. God's Word has the power to inspire Christian giving. And it has the power to soothe Christian grief.

*God's Word has the power to soothe the kind of grief we see in vs. 36-38 where the Bible says:

36. And when he (Paul) had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all.

37. Then they all wept freely, and fell on Paul's neck and kissed him,

38. sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke, that they would see his face no more. And they accompanied him to the ship.

*Some Christians believe that grief is somehow wrong for us. And it's true that we shouldn’t grieve like people who have no hope. But that doesn't mean we don't grieve at all.

*Christians in the Bible certainly grieved. We see a clear example in vs. 37-38, when the church leaders from Ephesus realized this was the last time they would see Paul in this world. Again in vs. 37, "They all wept freely, and fell on Paul's neck and kissed him." And in vs. 39, they were "sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke, that they would see his face no more (in this world).

*Church: We find the same kind of sorrow back in Acts 8, just after the deacon Stephen gave up his life for the Lord. Please first listen to Acts 7:59-60. There the Word of God says:

59. And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.''

60. Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not charge them with this sin.'' And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

*Then Acts 8:2 says: "Devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him." These men were suffering. We can understand that. It hurts to lose someone you love.

*And the pain of grief is just the natural result of losing someone we love. We usually don’t grieve over people we don’t know or love. Where there is no love, there is no grief. And since grief is a natural result of love, then we don’t have to feel guilty about our grief, as if it shows weak faith or some flaw in our character.

*The Christians in Acts 20 and Acts 8 were not disobeying God when they grieved. Acts 8:2 tells us that those men were "devout" men. They were good, reverent men, devoted to the Lord. But they made great lamentation over Stephen's death. The word picture there is beating your chest in grief. Their weeping was loud and passionate.

*Sure, they knew that Stephen was in heaven with Jesus, but he was gone from them. They loved Stephen, and they were already missing him. God didn’t condemn these men for their grief, and He won’t condemn us.

*Wherever there is love, there will be grief, even when we are sure that our loved one is safe and secure in Heaven. Vickie Arthur's godly dad died in Oct. 2005, and she expressed this sorrow the best way I have ever heard. Vickie came into my office a few days later and said, "I know he's gone to Heaven. But he's gone."

*And that's what hurts. But if we know Jesus we know we have an unbreakable bond with God and His people. I remember going to the funeral for a 40-year-old man who was killed in a plane crash in Vicksburg. The preacher closed his funeral with these words of comfort from Peter Marshall:

-"The one we love is with the Lord

-And He is here with us.

*If the one we love is with the Lord.

-And He is here with us

-Then the one we love cannot be very far away."

*This reminds Christians that, yes, we will have some hard separations in this world. But for all who believe in the Word of God, for all who know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, there are no final goodbyes!

CONCLUSION:

*How can we get ready for our hard goodbyes? God's Word can help us like nothing else can. It has the power to give us Christian growth, to inspire Christian giving, and to soothe our Christian grief.

*May the Word of God do these marvelous works in your life and mine! Would you please bow for prayer.

(1) Adapted from "John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible" - Jeremiah 23:29

(2) Adapted from SermonCentral sermon "God's Word Is Profitable" by Alton Coleman - Psalm 19:1-11

(3) SermonCentral sermon "The Grace of God" by Steve Shepherd - John 1:14

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