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Syndication

A good start doesn’t guarantee a good finish.  I learned that lesson by running distance events in high school.  The runners that sprinted the first couple of hundred yards and gained an early lead were not necessarily (nor even likely) to be the ones that finished the race well.

 

This is illustrated well by a couple of world-class milers.  The first man ever to run the mile in less than four minutes was Roger Bannister.  He did so in 1954.  Later that same year, a second runner accomplished the same feat and set a new world record.  His name was John Landy.  Soon enough those two runners met in a long-awaited duel.  It was dubbed the “Miracle Mile.”  100 million people listened via radio to see who would win their match.

               

At the gun, Landy had a strong start.  In fact, he led the race until the final curve. Because of the way the sun was set in the sky, he could clearly see his shadow and Bannister’s cast on the track.  He estimated that he was some 15 yards in the lead.  To confirm this, he turned his head to gauge Bannister's position. Bannister took that opportunity to pass him on his blind side.  In doing so, he edged out a victory over Landy.

 

A sculpture of the race-deciding moment stands near the spot where the duel was held.

 

Landy later said, “I would have won the race if I hadn’t looked back; if I hadn’t taken my eyes off the goal.”

 

He had a good start, but that doesn’t guarantee a good finish.  To win we have to keep our eyes on the goal.

 

Landy reminds me of the biblical character whose story we will revisit over the next couple of weeks.  His name is Samson.

 

Samson started well, but finished poorly.  He fought the Lord’s battles by day but broke the Lord’s commandments by night.  He was strong before men, but weak before women.  His name meant “sunshine” but he ended his life blinded by the very enemies he was sent to conquer. 

 

Our consolation is that though Samson did not finish as well as he could have, God was not finished doing His work.  As we will see, God is going to carry through to completion what neither Samson, nor any of us, can do on our own.  He is going to save us from our sins and make possible an abundant life that stretches from now to eternity. 

 

Carousel: The Broken Heroes of Judges

“Samson: A Good Start Doesn’t Guarantee a Good Finish”

Judges 13

 

  1. A good birth

 

And the woman bore a son and called his name Samson(13:24a).

 

  1. Divine plans

 

  1. Dedicated parents

 

  1. A good blessing

 

And the young man grew, and the Lord blessed him (13:24b).

 

  1. The blessing of growth

 

  1. The blessing of grace

 

  1. A good burden

 

And the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol (13:25).

 

  1. Source of his burden

 

  1. Stirring of his burden
Direct download: IBC_20190224.mp3
Category:Carousel -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Chuck Colson was a young, aggressive attorney.  He rose to be a special assistant to the president of the United States during the administration of Richard Nixon.  He moved in the circles of greatest power and prominence.  He was known to be ruthless and willing to tackle the toughest of assignments.  He was sometimes referred to as the president’s hatchet man. 

 

In the aftermath of the Watergate scandal that rocked the Nixon presidency, Colson was prosecuted and imprisoned.  He was in a place of abject shame.

 

But something happened during those lowest days, Colson came to know Christ as His savior.

 

In an amazing turn of events, the prisoner became a preacher.  Over time he proved to be one of the most influential American evangelicals of the latter half of the 20th century.  He founded Prison Fellowship.  He authored more than thirty books.  He started “Break Point,” a news commentary based on a biblical worldview. He went from shame to fame.

 

This morning we’re going to meet the biblical character named Jepthah.  He too went from shame to fame as God worked in his life.

 

No matter what our background or failings may be, God can forgive and cleanse and use us to bring good to others and glory to His name.  He wants to raise us from our shame to the fame of His name!

 

Carousel: The Broken Heroes of Judges

“Jepthah.  From Shame to Fame”

Judges 10:6-11:40

 

  1. A lesson on value
    1. A troubled history

 

Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty warrior, but he was the son of a prostitute(1a).

 

  1. A trusting heart

 

So Jephthah went . . . and the people made him head and leader over

them. And Jephthah spoke all his words before the Lord at Mizpah (11).

 

  1. A lesson on victories
    1. Be diplomatic

 

Then Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites and said, “What do you have against me, that you have come to me to fight against my land?” (12)

 

  1. Be dependent

 

Then the Spirit of the Lord was upon Jephthah . . . So [he] crossed over to the Ammonites to fight against them, and the Lord gave them into his hand(29a, 32).

 

  1. A lesson on vows
    1. Be slow to makevows

 

And Jepthah made a vow to the Lord (30).

 

  1. Be sure to keepvows

 

For I have opened my mouth to the Lord, and I cannot take back my vow (35b).

Direct download: IBC_20190217.mp3
Category:Carousel -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

The old saying goes, “Everybody loves an underdog.”  I think it is because underdogs exceed expectations.  They give us hope that we, too, though overwhelmed, can win. 

 

On Valentine’s Day in 1992, two Alabama high schools met in a regular season basketball game.  They were the Fort Payne Wildcats and the North Jackson Chiefs.  The game was hard fought and went into overtime.  The refs were calling a lot of fouls that night.  Player after player fouled out.  Before it ended, the Chiefs, who had a limited roster, only had 2 players on the court.  It was 2 against 5 and they were down by 1 point with 5 seconds left. 

 

Against those odds, what are the chances?  Little to none. 

 

The one Chief inbounded the ball to his teammate who streaked down the court with five Wildcats chasing him.  He shot a layup and missed, but no Wildcat thought to block out the player who inbounded the ball.  He was trailing the pack, got the rebound, and tossed in the winning shot as time expired.

 

The crowd went crazy because everybody loves an underdog.

 

We serve a God who loves the underdog.  He glories in exceeding expectations. Often our weaknesses are a platform on which His power is displayed.

 

The story of Gideon in the Bible is a clear example of how God shows Himself strong through our weaknesses.   Join us at Istrouma this Sunday as we will again see how God can exceed all our expectations as we yield our lives to Him.

 

 

Carousel: The Broken Heroes of Judges

“Exceed Expectations: Part 2”

Judges 7

 

  1. Committed warriors

And the Lord said to Gideon, “With the 300 men who lapped I will save you”(7:7a).

  1. Saved by the graceof God
  2. Serve for the gloryof God
  1. Confident worship

As soon as Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped. And he returned to the camp of Israel and said, “Arise, for the Lord has given the host of Midian into your hand” (7:15).

 

  1. Restson the word of God
  2. Responds to the word of God
  1. Curious weapons

Then the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the jars. They held in their left hands the torches, and in their right hands the trumpets to blow. And they cried out, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!”(7:20)

 

  1. Boldness: the trumpets
  2. Brokenness: the jars
  3. Brightness: the torches
Direct download: IBC_20190210.mp3
Category:Carousel -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

What an inspiration it is, when someone exceeds expectations! 

 

I want to tell you the story of a little girl who did just that—repeatedly.

 

She was the 20th of 22 children in her family. She was born prematurely. Doctors did not expect her to survive. But she did. She exceeded expectations. 

 

While still a young child, she contracted polio, causing her left leg to become paralyzed. Some people did not expect her to walk again.  But she did learn to walk again with the aid of a metal brace.  Again, she exceeded expectations.

 

When she was nine-years-old, they removed the leg brace and she began walking without it. When she was 13, she decided to begin running. She entered her first race and came in last. For the next three years, she came in dead last in every race she entered. But she kept on running, and one day she won.  She exceeded expectations. 

 

Eventually, the little girl who was not supposed to live, who was not supposed to be able to walk, who was not supposed to be able to run and win races, would bring home three gold medals and three world records in Rome's 1960 Olympic games.

 

That little girl who exceeded so many expectations was Wilma Rudolf.  She said, “My doctor told me I would never walk again.  My mother told me I would.  I believed my mother.”  Her mother was a woman of faith who instilled that faith in Wilma.

 

We serve a God who glories in exceeding expectations. Often our weaknesses are a platform on which His power is displayed.

 

The story of Gideon in the Bible is a clear example of how God shows Himself strong through our weaknesses.   This Sunday we will see how God can exceed all our expectations as we yield our lives to Him.

 

Carousel: The Broken Heroes of Judges

“Exceed Expectations”

Judges 6

 

  1. A serious crisis
    1. Caused by rebellion(6:1-5)
    2. Cured by repentance(6:6-10)
  2. A surprising call
    1. Because of the recipient(6:11-12)
    2. Because of the requirement(6:14)
  3. A spiritual commitment
    1. To worship(6:24)
    2. To warfare(6:25ff)
Direct download: IBD_20190203.mp3
Category:Carousel -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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