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Summary: This sermon deals with moving joyfully through life changes

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The changing challenges: Judges 13-16

Beginning:

Life challenges change as long as we live. At one time my biggest challenge was keeping my hair from messing up. Now all I want is for it to not fall out. I one time thought about finding a girl who would love me and marry me. Now my children are married and dating, and I am cleaning my gun for the time some hairy-legged boy wants to have a date with my granddaughter.

Burden:

Each level of our spiritual growth brings new challenges.

Background:

The story of Samson is really everyone’s story of change. Samson was very human and failed about as many times as he succeeded. We learn equally well from negatives as we do positives. Let’s use Samson’s failures as learning points for our lives.

Basic Truth:

Stepping up for God opens one up to new challenges

Big Question

How do I prepare myself for the next level of challenges?

Stay with the fundamentals

In chapter 13 Samson’s mother dutifully followed God’s instructions while carrying and raising the boy. Samson kept his Nazarite vow until he discovered girls.

Illustration:

The successful person has the habit of doing the things that failures don’t like to do. The successful person doesn’t like doing them either, but his dislike is subordinated to the strength of his purpose." If you’ve allowed yourself to develop the habit of making excuses, make a commitment to change today. Trading excuses for excellence opens the door to many of the other positive trade-offs you’ll need to make to be successful.

-- John Maxwell

Application:

This is a list of fundamentals you will need at every level of life:

#1. The most foundational of all fundamental lists is the establishment of a covenant relationship with Jesus that has dealt permanently with the sin question.

#2. The next big question deals with your faith family. Where will I invest my life in God’s harvest field.

#3. You need a priority time with God every day in which you learn to hear his voice and say “Yes” to his leadership.

#4. Your fundamentals should include the incorporation of Biblical truth into your life each day such as obedience in tithing and generous

giving.

James 1:22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.

Transitional Statement:

The fundamentals of the faith are a rudder that guides our ship through life’s changing challenges. One of the biggest challenges of all for our lives is the way passion pushes it’s powerful product into our changing life.

Expect powerful passions

In chapters 14-16 we read that every level of life has new desires. Samson grew and his needs and passions changed for each season.

In childhood we experience dependence. Adolescence pushes us toward Independence. Adult life desires control and power

Later in older adulthood we need dependence. Finally our mortal bodies long for the release from pain that death offers.

Illustration

A young woman quickly signed for a library book, the title page of which read: HOW To Reach Men --To Hold Men -- To Win Men When she got home, she discovered it was a Manual on How to Build a Men’s Bible Class.

Application:

Don’t be surprised at the new passions that jump up in your life.

Remember that each passion is a part of growth and each one has a provision made by God to meet it.

Transitional Statement:

You will not get an A on each life stage report card. There will be those extended stages of life that we find failure our most common guest. There is a glorious spiritual truth that we can learn. It is—

Learn to fail forward 16:21-22

We all are failures at one time or another.

Samson failed miserably. He failed just about every way and everyone possible. Guess what, so will you. Learn how to fall when you fail. fail forward and fall toward God.

Illustration:

Joseph failed forward all the way to second in command in Egypt. Peter failed but later became a rock John Mark failed and later became a great missionary. A. Lincoln failed all the way to the presidency of the USA

Application:

The way to fail forward is to not own your failures or successes. Remember they belong to God and are part of His sovereign plan for your development. Just see them for what they are and don’t allow failure to stop you. Just get up and keep going. The only way to fail is to not get up and try again.

I don’t want staff people serving the great Evergreen Church who have never failed. People who learn from their failures become strong and help others through their dark valleys.

Transitional Statement:

Through it all remember what waits at the end. Failures and successes come and go, but God lasts forever.

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