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Missing Persons

Acts 20:36-38


Will you be missed when you are gone? 


The Apostle Paul spent 3 years w/ these believers in Ephesus, and it was very sad for them to see him go.  The feeling of missing someone like that begins even before they are gone.


Ill.—our kids’ grandparents come to visit, and start acting sad before they even leave…anticipation can be exciting as well as frustrating!


Paul sensed in his spirit that this was the last time he’d see these Christians here on earth.  He won them to the Lord and discipled them.  So, they got together and walked down memory lane, talking about all the exciting times they had together, how God had blessed, the victories they had won, the souls saved, the all night prayer meetings, the run ins w/ Satan and his forces of evil.  Their hearts are melded together.


They must’ve watched as he ascended the ramp to the ship, w/ tears streaming down their faces.  He would be sorely missed.  Will you be missed when you are gone?  Will it affect the church?  Will it affect the offering/missions?  Will it affect a Sunday School class?  Will a ministry suddenly be in need of a new worker to take your place?


And now these Ephesians must carry on for God, the One they are truly following.  Don’t follow man, because he’ll let you down…God can move a man to another place, but He’s always the same.  He never moves.  He never changes.


It means a lot to me to hear about a good attendance of people in our absence.  And to hear about a good showing in the evening service, after you know we were gone, means even more!


Ill.—sometimes a member will say, preacher, I missed several weeks and no one called but you.  [that’s not really an indictment on the church as much as it is on them…I’d hate to admit that I can miss and not make enough difference to be missed!] 


Apparently, some people don’t leave any holes to fill.  Just try it at work sometime…miss work several days, and don’t call in, and see if you are missed.  If you are doing your job, then you’ll be missed when you stop doing your job!


Paul left a big hole in the hearts of these dear friends, and he was missed.  Will you be missed when gone?  You are going…and when you do, what difference will it make?  Do you not have any area of service in the church?


Joke—man had surgery, went to recovery room, woke up, and the curtains were drawn.  “Nurse, open the curtains, it’s dark in here, and I want to see out the window…who closed these curtains anyway?”  She said, “settle down, I closed them.”  “What for?”  “Because there’s a big fire outside and I didn’t want you to wake up and think you died!”


When we leave this world we will leave behind all that we have and we’ll take with us all that we are!


It’s amazing what some people will do to try to feel significant.

Ill.—Guinness Book of World Records:  people eating metal, glass, entire bicycles, shopping carts, chandeliers, etc.  [Imagine him standing before God—“what did you accomplish, son?”  “I ate a junkyard!”   ]

        So, what really matters in life, how do we measure significance, and will we be missed?


1.     Paul was missed because of his manner of life.

v. 17-19           faithful, humble, and compassionate.  He was a servant w/ all 3 of these qualities…and you’ll be missed if you are a servant.  If all you do at church is sit, soak, and sour, yet never serve, you won’t be missed! 


Show me a person who sympathizes and empathizes, caring for others, and I’ll show you a person who will be missed when they are gone!  There’s something attractive about an unselfish, caring person.


2.     Paul was missed because of the message of his life.

Whether we’re missed or not, we’ll all be remembered for something…things we did or said.


20:20-21          He was known for stating the truth, proclaiming the gospel.  Ill.—our old church used to have the motto:  “Famous for the Gospel!”  We must strive to be known for this!

--Adrian Rogers died years ago, and at his funeral the preacher asked the congregation what Dr. Rogers was famous for saying, and in unity they all said, “Come to Jesus”!

--an evangelist preached a revival:  on Sunday he preached, “You must be born again.”  Again on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday…someone asked him why, he said, that’s simple:  “You must be born again!”

What matters most?  How to leave a legacy?  Will you be missed?


v. 22-24   It all culminates w/ his convictions…his core…his bedrock bottom line…his convictions.  The 21st C. church has a lot of opinions, but few convictions.  But Paul said he’d rather die w/ a conviction than live with a compromise.  And eventually he would die for his convictions.  So, let’s not be afraid to stand up for Jesus.  If we don’t stand for something, we’ll fall for anything!


Ill.—teachers on strike.  Young people at school.  Work ethic when boss wants you to fudge…etc.


We have enough spineless Christians, we need to go back to the old paths of standing on the promises!


v. 27        Whether you like me or not, I hope you know by now that I will tell you the truth, whether it hurts or not, because it’s always best!


3.     Paul was missed because of the motto of his life.


v. 33-35           We all have a motto…maybe you’ve put it into words or maybe not.  Your motto is what motivates/compels/constrains/drives you.  And Paul’s came from Jesus, at the end of v. 35:  “it is more blessed to give than to receive.”


There are givers and takers.  The takers eat better, but the givers sleep better…and the givers are remembered and missed!


Imagine the last day of Paul here on earth…in a little jail cell.  Picture the executioner showing up w/ axe in hand, and dragging him to the chopping block.  Paul stands up and the guard instructs his flunkies to chain his hands and feet.  But Paul says, “that’s not necessary, I won’t try to get away, I die daily!”  And with no fight or resistance, he lays his head on the block, the executioner strikes, and the basket feels a thud…and a nearby river drinks Paul’s blood.  He gives his life and the executioner takes it.  One is a giver, the other a taker, and Paul, awaking in heaven, stands before Jesus and hears, “well done, good and faithful servant”, and those on earth, whether believers or not, are forever impacted, and Paul is forever missed!


His manner:  faithful, humble, compassionate / His message:  the gospel / His motto:  better to give than to receive.   Will you be missed when you are gone?



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