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It's Not How You Start; It's How You Finish

Finishing well is just as important as starting well.

Introduction

I once read an article that listed some of the greatest comebacks in sports history. The list included the 2004 American League Championship Series in which the Boston Red Sox became the only team in baseball history to come back from a three-games-to-none deficit. It also included the University of Minnesota's football team, who once squandered a 31-point third quarter lead and allowed their opponents to come back and win in overtime. In a 1974 game against Duke and North Carolina, North Carolina came back from an 8-point deficit with only 17 seconds left in the game. They went on to win the game in overtime—after Duke allowed them to come back, yet again, from a 4-point deficit.

There is a clear lesson here for our spiritual life: it's not how you start; it's how you finish. It's easy to start well and then lose your focus and spiritually collapse. It's easy to lose your passion. In the church circles I inhabited as a teenager, we used a specific word for this phenomenon: backsliding. It's a dated word, but it's an accurate one. Backsliding suggests that we were making progress but then we veered off track and started sliding backwards in our spiritual life. Remember: it's not how you start the spiritual journey; it's how you continue and how you finish.

Second Chronicles 24:1-23 is a sad story about losing passion for the most important relationship in the universe: a relationship with God. It describes a man who had everything—riches, power, influence, a rich spiritual upbringing, meaningful work to do, and a good track record with the Lord—but threw it all away. Like every part of the Bible, this story is here to lead us to Christ. It's here to share with us a Gospel that declares we are ...

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Matt Woodley serves as the Editor for PreachingToday.com and the Pastor of Compassion Ministries at Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, Illinois. He is also the author of God With Us: The Gospel of Matthew (IVP).

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Sermon Outline:

Introduction

I. Restoring Worship: Starting Well

II. Forsaking the Lord: Finishing Poorly

III. The Gospel: A better ending to our story

Conclusion