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“Take One Down and Pass It Around!” Acts 14:21-25 Key verse(s) 21a:“They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples . . .”


“Take one down and pass it around, ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall.” Although this wasn’t one of those endearing songs to dads on vacation and school activity bus drivers, it was a ditty that we sang without invitation since there wasn’t a kid who didn’t know it or didn’t like singing it despite its sometimes irritating refrain and terribly long duration. I don’t know the origin of the song or in specific how long it has been around. I know that it was well-known to my parents who might join in on occasion when so moved. Obviously its origins lay somewhere back in bygone days in the room of some crossroads tavern. The song began slowly and deliberately, always with a smile firmly planted in place. The reason being that we knew full well that it would get more raucous and the tempo would increase with each passing verse. Finally reaching “No bottles of beer on the wall with zero “bottles” to pass around, the song had become almost breathless. Yet, so addictive was its mantra that it wasn’t unusual to start the process all over again. When we sang that song everything else seemed to melt away; all you could focus on was that next numeric bottle of beer on the wall and little else mattered.


What was it about that song that made it so addictive to sing? And, for that matter, why would a bunch of kids like singing it in the first place? In reality it wasn’t the product we were singing about. Rather, it was the “passing it around” that made the song so much fun to sing. The “passing around” was a happy thought because it meant that we were giving and getting at the same time. Not a bad prospect for any kid.


“Giving and getting.” As a Christian there is probably no more advantageous position to be in either. To take some of what we have, even if it is nothing more than a smile, a chuckle or a kind word, and “pass it around” knowing full well that what we start will ultimately come back to us and we can do it all over again with gusto––never ending. Yet, why are there so many discouraged Christians today? Why aren’t they sharing in our “passing” encouragement? Chuck Swindoll writes: “The lack of encouragement (today) is almost an epidemic. To illustrate this point, when did you last encourage someone else? I firmly believe that an individual is never more Christlike than when full of compassion for those who are down, needy, discouraged, or forgotten. How terribly essential is our commitment to encouragement! Is there some soul known to you in need of encouragement? A student off at school . . . a forgotten servant of God laboring in an obscure and difficult ministry . . . a widow who needs your companionship . . . someone who tried something new and failed? Encourage generously! ENCOURAGEMENT! A new watchword for our times. Shout it out. Pass it around.”(Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations and Quotes, pp. 179.)


We have the Good News and it is better than any “ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall” in putting a smile on someone’s face. Yet, like the song, the gospel of Jesus Christ is an accessible commodity. It is there, waiting on the shelf for someone like you and I to take it, read it and then in a spirit of love and sharing, pass it around to others. And, what’s even better is this––there is an endless supply of this encouragement. It’s a song we never need to stop singing and one our Heavenly Father will never tire of hearing. Encourage someone today. Be the one to start the “passing around.”

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