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Summary: In this message the example of Paul is used to show us how we can leave a legacy of faith to those who come behind us

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INTRODUCTION

* Think of the people who’ve made a lasting impact on your life (i.e., grandparent, teacher, close friend, etc.)

* Why we remember them: they made a significant impression upon us and did something that changed our lives - they left a legacy

* We’re always thankful for those people who make such an impact on our lives: Paul had people who left a legacy for him (see Phil. 1:3)

* We should desire to not just know someone who has left a legacy for us, but to also be a person who leaves a legacy for others

* Paul was not only impacted by the legacy of others, but he left a legacy that inspired and blessed others...and still does so even today

* Note verses 36-38: Paul has made such an impression on people’s lives that they weep when faced with the prospect of not seeing him again

* Paul’s visits to Macedonia and Greece in chapter 20 inspired the people and left an impression on their lives.

* Our prayer should be for God to use us to leave a spiritual legacy for those around us.

* Notice Paul’s actions in this chapter. They reveal to us how we can leave a legacy in our lives today.

1. Paul left a legacy because of his encouragement (v. 1-3)

* After the crisis at Ephesus was over, Paul spent time encouraging the people

* encourage = exhort; to call to one’s side; to call to one’s aid (idea of inspiring courage in someone else)

* Encouraging other believers is commanded and expected

- 1 Thessalonians 5:11

- Hebrews 3:13

- Hebrews 10:25

* The great need to encourage others today: we need someone to come to our side/aid as we navigate through life; we need to be that kind of person to others

* Opposite of encourage = discouragement; instead of inspiring courage, to discourage is to remove courage

* Are you a discourager or an encourager? A Christlike legacy is left by encouragers.

2. Paul left a legacy because of his persistence (v. 3-6)

* Paul has faced opposition almost non-stop since he became a believer (Acts 9); it would have been easy for him to take the path of least-resistance and give up

* Verse 3b = instead of stopping his plan when he met resistance, he simply changed his plan and continued to be persistent

* Those who leave a spiritual legacy don’t give up when things don’t go their way or when things go differently than they planned

* What we see a lot of today = giving up (in families, in church, on God)

* If we fail to be persistent we’ll fail to see God do what he wants to do in our lives (What if Paul or Jesus had have given up?)

* God’s desire is faithfulness and commitment (2 Chr. 16:9)

* Our faithfulness and commitment to the cause of Christ can make an eternal impact and help us leave a lasting legacy = Psalm 71:17-18

3. Paul left a legacy because he was available (v. 7-17)

* Paul is on a mission to get to Jerusalem: he has longed for it and wants to get there as soon as possible

* However, Paul does not get so caught up in what he plans to do that he fails to be available to minister to others...

- vs. 7 = he’s available to answer questions of members even though it wasn’t scheduled

- vs. 10 = he’s available to minister even when an unexpected situation arose

- v. 17 = he’s available to help the Ephesian elders even when he wanted to get on to Jerusalem

* Had Paul not been available he would have missed these opportunities to serve God, and he would have missed leaving a legacy for others

* Are we so focused on what WE have planned that we fail to see what GOD has planned for us? Are we so caught up in our goals and our lists that we don’t recognize the “divine interruptions” that God sends our way?

* People who leave a legacy are people who are available for God to use; they’re available for unexpected opportunities to serve God and others

4. Paul left a legacy because of his spiritual attitude (v. 18-24)

* Paul approached everything he faced with a spiritual attitude

* The elements of his spiritual attitude...

A. His attitude toward God = SERVICE (v. 19)

- “served” = a slave; Paul didn’t pick and choose, but simply submitted to the role of service that God had chosen for him

- Paul understood that serving God would not be easy, but it would be worth it (2 Tim. 4:6-8)

B. His attitude toward the church = TEACHING (v. 20)

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