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Feb 11

Leaving a Family Legacy

What’s the first impression that comes to mind when you hear the following names? In other words, when you hear these names what comes to mind regarding their individual legacies?

• Billy Graham
• Mother Teresa
• Bill Clinton
• Adolph Hitler
• Rick Warren

What is a legacy?

Webster’s dictionary defines the word “legacy” as: “Something handed on from those who have come before.” The Bible tells us in Psalm 127:3 that our children are our legacy: “Sons (daughters too) are a heritage from the Lord, children are a reward from him.” Joel 1:3 further explains: “Tell your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation.” Legacy therefore, is generational continuity and increase!

What is the “it” or “something” that we hand to those who come after us?

– The “it” or “something” that we leave behind is more than property and money. The “something” we leave behind is what we pour into our children that results in them living blessed lives that uniquely impacts others! The “something” we pass on is genuine love for God that results in offering back to Him in worship our unique gifts and talents that He has bestowed upon us to bless others.

Jonathan Edwards vs. Max Jukes (a case study of the legacies of two men)

A Brief Family History of Max Jukes

Max Jukes was an atheist who lived in New York during the 19 century

Of Jukes’ 560 known descendants:

– 7 were murderers
– 60 became thieves
– 67 reported having syphilis
– 100 were alcoholics
– 50% of the women in his family line became prostitutes
– 300 died prematurely

The Family History of Jonathan Edwards

– 300 were preachers
– 295 were college graduates
– 100 were missionaries
– 100 were lawyers
– 80 held public office including 1 Vice President of the United States (Aaron Burr), 13 U.S. senators, 1 state governor, 3 big city mayors and 1 U.S. comptroller
– 75 military officers
– 65 college professors including 13 college presidents
– 56 physicians including 1 Dean of Medical School

Of the two legacies presented above which would you rather leave?

Why was Jonathan Edwards able to pass on such an incredible legacy?

He was a man of prayer!

Few know that although Jonathan Edwards was an incredibly busy man, he was also a very devoted husband and father. Edwards spent at least one hour per day praying for and speaking blessing over each of his eleven children. Because of his commitment to pray for his children on a daily basis God blessed not only them but his entire generational line!

Do you have vision or a plan for leaving a legacy to your family and descendants?

“And without vision the people perish. . .” Proverbs 29:18

If you don’t have a plan for leaving a family legacy, why not begin with praying for and speaking blessing over your children on a regular basis like Jonathan Edwards did?

Does the Bible say it is possible for you and me to leave a legacy like the one Edwards left to his descendants?

The Jewish Legacy

We know that it is possible to leave a legacy to your children because Abraham left a legacy to his son Isaac, his grandson Jacob his great grandson Joseph and his great great grandchildren Ephraim and Manasseh.

Abraham’s Legacy Began with Himself

Abraham: The First Generation

When Abram (Abraham’s original name before God changed it) left his father’s household, his relatives and his country, he and his wife Sarai (Sarah’s name before God changed it) were old and childless (see Genesis 12:1-5).

Later, when Abram was older and still with no heir God told him again, while standing underneath the evening sky, that his offspring would be as numerous as the stars (see Genesis 15:1-5).

After trying to produce an heir out of her own strength Sarah miraculously gave birth to Isaac at the age of 90!

Abraham, means “the father of many.” Although Abraham did not live to see the fullness of his legacy he was able to see his son Isaac come into the world. Abraham was the starting point or “seed” of the Jewish Legacy. Every legacy begins with a seed!

Are you willing to be a seed like Abraham?

Are you willing to bless your children regularly like Jonathan Edwards did?

If you are, God can and will perpetuate your legacy far into the future!

Isaac: The Second Generation

In Genesis 24:34-37 we see that God had blessed Abraham in every possible way:

“The Lord has blessed my master (Abraham) abundantly, and he has become wealthy. He has given him sheep and cattle, silver and gold, menservants and maidservants and camels and donkeys. My master’s wife Sarah has borne him a son in her old age, and has given him everything he owns. And my master made me swear on oath and said, ‘You must get a wife for my son. . .’”

• Abraham had already bequeathed to Isaac his inheritance but also wanted to ensure that he would get married, have children and perpetuate his legacy.
• Abraham’s ceiling was Isaac’s floor! Because of his father’s obedience to God and the covenant God had established with him Isaac was even more blessed!

“Isaac planted crops in the land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the Lord blessed him. The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy.” Genesis 26:12-13

Abraham was wealthy (Gen. 24:34) but Isaac was “very” wealthy (Gen. 26:12-13). The blessing on Isaac had exceeded the blessing on his father.

Jacob: The Third Generation

• Before Isaac died he spoke a blessing over his son Jacob:“Therefore may God give you the dew of heaven (water obviously is necessary for good crops), of the fathers of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine. Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be master over your brethren, and let your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be those who bless you!” Genesis 28:13-15
• In an attempt to make amends with his brother Esau Jacob sent him a gift of over 540 animails“He spent the night there, and from what he had with him he selected a gift for his brother Esau: two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty female camels with their young, forty cows and ten bulls, and twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys.” Genesis 32:13-15
• Jacob convinced his brother Esau to accept his gift stating that he had plenty of everything.Esau asked, “What do you mean by all these droves I met?” “To find favor in your eyes, my lord,” he said. But Esau said, “I already have plenty, my brother. Keep what you have for yourself.” “No, please!” said Jacob. “If I have found favor in your eyes, accept this gift from me. For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably. Please accept the present that was brought to you, for God has been gracious to me and I have all I need.” And because Jacob insisted, Esau accepted it. Genesis 33:8-11

Joseph: The Fourth Generation

• Although Joseph suffered for 17 years while a slave in Egypt he lived a tremendously blessed life!
• Not only did Joseph become the ruler of Egypt, the most powerful nation on earth at the time, but he also “fathered” Pharoah and his household (see Genesis 41:41-43).
• Joseph was so wealthy that he provided land and food for his father’s (Jacob’s) entire family during a terrible period of famine (see Genesis 45:11; 47:12)!
• Why was Joseph blessed far beyond his father, grandfather and great grandfather?

“I will surely bless you (Abraham) and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” Genesis 22:17-18

God is a generational thinker, long range multi-generational planner who honors the covenant He made with Abraham in order to perpetuate blessing down Abraham’s family line! If you are “in” Christ that’s you and me!

“He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Jesus Christ. . .” Galatians 3:14

If you don’t transfer the blessing forward future generations will be negatively affected!

• Because Joshua did not transfer the incredible blessing upon his life and generation those who followed him fell into idolatry!

“Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of a hundred and ten. . .After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who neither knew the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals.” Joshua 2:8, 10-11

How do I leave a material legacy?

1. Open individual savings accounts for each of your children.
2. Invest your money wisely in real estate, stocks and bonds.
3. Hire an attorney to draw up a living trust so that your estate will pass to your children instead of having to go through probate.

How do I leave a legacy of fond memories?

1. Take a lot of pictures and put them in photo albums.
2. Film videos (dvds) of special family occasions.
3. Spend “fun” time with your children on a regular basis!
4. Talk about the faithfulness of God regularly (i.e. how He provided; healed; intervened on your behalf, etc.)!

How do I leave a spiritual legacy?

1. Genuinely love God and others with all of your heart!
2. Read the Word of God daily and share what God has shown you with your kids.
3. Dads (or single moms) lead your family in prayers of blessing, protection and favor around the dinner table at least once a week (read “Legacy of Blessing”: How to Bring Out the Best in Your Family).

Again, what will happen if you commit yourself to speak blessing and pray over your kids like Jonathan Edwards did?

– Generational continuity
– Generational increase