Summary: This morning let’s look at some reasons why we don’t finish strong.
INTRO: In his book Finishing Strong: Going the Distance for Your Family, Steve Farrar recounts the story of three young evangelists who burst onto the American scene in 1945. Their names were Billy Graham, Bron Clifford, and Chuck Templeton. All three were in their mid-twenties, and rose to quick prominence because of his speaking abilities. Each packed out auditoriums across the country.
One seminary president heard Templeton address an audience of thousands, and he was so impressed that he called him the most talented young preacher in America. Templeton and Graham became close friends and preached together for the Youth for Christ organization. But most people thought Templeton would be the successful one of the two. One magazine featured him in an article and called him "the Babe Ruth of evangelism." The article didn’t even mention Graham.
Bron Clifford was tall, dashing, intelligent, and elegant. He was so gifted that he was called the most powerful preacher in the church in centuries. People lined up for hours to hear him. At Baylor University he gave a discourse, and the university president ordered the class bells turned off so that nothing would interfere with Clifford’s message. For two and one-half hours the students sat on the edges of their seats, spellbound as he gave a brilliant dissertation. He was so attractive and charming that Hollywood tried to get him to play the lead role in the famous movie The Robe.
But a few years later, things had changed for two of these three men. In just five years Chuck Templeton left the ministry, declaring that he no longer believed Jesus Christ was the Son of God. He pursued a career in radio and became a newscaster. The "Babe Ruth of evangelism" gave it up entirely; today, his name resides in the annals of evangelical obscurity. By 1954, Clifford had lost his family, his ministry, and his health because of financial irresponsibility and alcohol abuse. He left his wife and their two Down’s syndrome children. At the age of thirty-five, he died in a cheap hotel on the edge of Amarillo, Texas. Some pastors collected enough money to purchase a casket and ship it back east where he was buried in a pauper’s cemetery.
Billy Graham, of course, went on to be the best-known, most beloved evangelist of the second half of the twentieth century—a spiritual advisor to seven presidents and one of the most respected men in the world.
-Two had sprinted, but one ran the distance. Your success in following your dreams won’t be judged by how you start but by how you finish.
-This morning I will conclude my series on discovering your dream and we will look at the concept of finishing strong.
-But first let me review what we’ve covered for those who’ve missed.
We’ve learned we are God’s workmanship (where we get our word poem).
We’ve looked at some things that can hold you back (fear, failure, over-satisfaction). We talked about the concept of giving it away. We are to give away love (an unlimited supply if we are Christians).
Last week we looked at the poor widow who had the creditors who were going to take away her children.
-But God provided, he took a little oil and filled all the empty jars.
-We need to understand what this woman thought was nothing became everything. What small thing are we overlooking that God wants to use?
TITLE: Discovering Your Dream – Part 5
Opening thought: If you were to walk up to two people who are beginning a conversation about a movie they saw recently, you will generally hear them talking about the ending. Boy wasn’t that a good ending, or wasn’t that a surprise ending, or I can’t believe that happened in the end.
-Think about it, we generally don’t talk about the beginning of a movie as do about the ending.
-The text this morning instructs us that the end of the matter is better than its beginning.
TS: This is hard at times to believe because a lot of us haven’t experienced many good endings. We all can come up with reasons that will affect our dream that God wants for us and if we’re not careful we won’t finish what we’ve started. The writer of Ecclesiastes, Solomon the wisest man who ever lived, makes it obvious where the benefit of any task lies. It’s not the beginning but the end.
Take for example it is great that some have decided to lose weight, including myself, but the real benefit comes at the end when we’ve accomplished the task.
-If I don’t complete the plan, I won’t receive the benefits because the benefits are at the end.
-Galatians 6:9, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."