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Best Of Finding Purpose

Finding Purpose / Russ Andrews
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August 9, 2023 12:30 am

Best Of Finding Purpose

Finding Purpose / Russ Andrews

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August 9, 2023 12:30 am

Today's episode is a "Best Of" for Finding Purpose. 

Finding Purpose
Russ Andrews

Hello, this is Matt Slick from the Matt Slick Live Podcast, where I defend the Christian faith and lay out our foundations of the truth of God's Word. Your chosen Truth Network Podcast is starting in just a few seconds. Enjoy it, share it, but most of all, thank you for listening and for choosing the Truth Podcast Network.

This is the Truth Network. Do you feel like you're on a religious treadmill? Do you feel like Christianity is just a system of rules and regulations?

I can do this, but I can't do that. Do you feel like your efforts to reach God, find God, and please God are futile? Do you feel like your faith is dead or alive? Today, Pastor Russ Andrews will walk us through Scripture to answer these questions. Join us on Finding Purpose, a local triangle ministry glorifying God by helping men find their purpose for living. For more information and to connect with Russ Andrews and Finding Purpose, you can visit us online at or connect with us on Facebook. Now let's listen to Russ Andrews as he teaches us how to be a Christian without being religious.

This is part one of a special two-part episode. This morning, we're going to be looking at really the whole book of 1 Samuel, but we're going to begin at the end of the book. And so if you will, take your Bibles and turn to 1 Samuel chapter 31. We're going to be looking at verses 1 through 13.

And I've entitled this message, Finishing the Race Well. And I'd like to begin this morning by asking you a couple of questions. I want you to raise your hand if you've ever heard of Billy Graham. If you haven't heard him, don't raise your hand. If you live in North Carolina, you've probably heard of Billy Graham. And so let me ask you this, how many of you have heard of Charles Templeton?

Raise your hand. Really? I'm surprised that anybody's heard of him. Well, anyway, there's a reason why most of you have heard of Billy Graham and not many of you have heard of Charles Templeton. You see, both of them had very good beginnings, but apparently only one of them is going to finish the race known as the Christian life well.

What about you? How are you going to finish this race known as the Christian life? Billy Graham and Charles Templeton met in 1945 at a Youth for Christ rally. They were both in their late 20s and they were both equally gifted communicators of the gospel. They toured Europe together.

In fact, they were roommates and they were constant companions and their friendship just grew stronger. They actually alternated in the pulpit as they preached at youth rallies. And Templeton later founded a church that soon overflowed its 1200 seat capacity.

American Magazine said that Templeton set a new standard for mass evangelism. And again, his friendship with Graham just grew stronger. You see, both Billy Graham and Charles Templeton became believers during their teenage years, and they both felt like God had called them into the ministry.

But soon doubts began gnawing at Templeton. You see, his reason had begun to challenge his faith. And as those doubts grew, he began to even challenge Graham, trying to pull Graham away from his strong faith. Graham was about to begin a crusade in Los Angeles.

The year was 1969. In his autobiography, Graham said he felt as if he was being stretched on a rack. Pulling him in one direction was Henrietta Mears, the bright Christian educator who had an abounding confidence in the reliability of the scriptures. Pulling him in the other direction was Templeton. And so as Graham approached, prepared himself for his breakthrough crusade in LA, he found himself grappling with uncertainty, not over the existence of God or the divinity of Jesus, but over the fundamental issue of whether he could totally trust what his Bible was telling him.

Templeton said to his friend, Billy, you're 50 years out of date. People no longer accept the Bible has been inspired the way you do. Your faith is too simple. And Graham remembers that he picked up his Bible and he dropped to his knees in his hotel room as he was preparing for this crusade. And he confessed to God that he had some doubts. But right there on his knees in that hotel room, he felt God respond to him. He prayed, Father, I'm going to accept this as your word by faith. And I'm going to allow faith to go beyond my intellectual questions and doubts.

And I will believe this to be your inspired word. And rising from his knees with tears in his eyes, Graham said that he sensed the power of God in his life like he'd never sensed it before. You see, for Graham, that moment in that hotel room proved to be a watershed moment. But for Templeton, it was a bitterly disappointing turn of events.

Templeton declared about Billy. He committed intellectual suicide by closing his mind. He actually felt pity for Graham.

And now on different paths, their lives their lives began to diverge. History knows what would happen to Graham in the succeeding years. He would become the most persuasive and effective evangelist of modern times and one of the most admired in the world. But what happened to Templeton? Well, decimated by doubts, he resigned from the ministry and moved back to Canada where he became a commentator and a novelist.

Templeton even wrote a book shortly before he died entitled, Farewell to God, My Reasons for Rejecting the Christian Faith. So my question this morning is, how can someone who began so good end so poorly? Well, this morning we're going to look at someone else whose life began with so much promise, but sadly one whose life ended tragically. His name was Saul. Saul, the once proud king of Israel had a great beginning, but he did not finish well. You see, as believers, and this is my challenge to you this morning, we want to understand how to run this race as the Christian life. We want to understand how to run it so that we finish well. I want you to picture yourself running in a marathon and you bust through the tape at the end and you land in the arms of Jesus and he says, well done. Do you want to finish well like that?

Do you? Well, this morning we're going to look at someone who did not finish well and we want to learn from his mistakes and so we're going to be looking at the at the book of 1st Samuel, but I want you to understand the historical context. 1st Samuel follows the little book of Ruth which follows the book of Judges. Now the Judges, that book, describes a period of time that lasted about 250 years. It was a very dark period in the history of Israel. It followed the time when Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt through the Red Sea towards the Promised Land. They wandered in the desert for 40 years and then he hands the baton to Joshua and Joshua, over the course of about 50 years, conquers God's enemies and God gives them the Promised Land. And then you enter the period of the Judges where God raised up certain men like Samson and Gideon and even a woman by the name of Deborah to actually lead the Israelites against their enemies. You see, Israel kept turning away from God and so God would raise up enemies to discipline them and then he would raise up a godly person to lead them against their enemies. So you go through that 250-year period of the time of the Judges and you arrive at the book of 1st Samuel where God raises up a woman by the name of Hannah.

Remember that from a few weeks ago? Who has a son by the name of Samuel and Samuel is going to be the prophet of Israel and the priest who will anoint the first two kings, Saul and David. And so we're going to see in 1st Samuel that Samuel anoints Saul and he has a great beginning but he doesn't end well.

And so we're going to actually begin this morning at the end. So if you will, I want you to stand up again as I read 1st Samuel chapter 31 verses 1 through 13. I want you to see how Saul's life ended and then I want you to imagine how it could have been. Beginning with verse 1, now the Philistines fought against Israel. The Israelites fled before them and many fell slain on Mount Geboah. The Philistines pressed hard after Saul and his sons and they killed his sons Jonathan, Abinadab and Malkeshuah. The fighting grew fierce fierce around Saul and when the archers overtook him they wounded him critically. Saul said to his armor bearer, draw your sword and run me through or these uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through and abuse me.

But his armor bearer was terrified and would not do it. So Saul took his own sword and fell on it. When the armor bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died with him. So Saul and his three sons and his armor bearer and all his men died together that same day. When the Israelites along the valley and those across the Jordan saw that the Israelite army had fled and that Saul and his sons had died, look at what they did. They abandoned their towns and fled and the Philistines came and occupied them.

The next day when the Philistines came to strip the dead, they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Geboah. They cut off his head and stripped off his armor and they sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines to proclaim the news in the temple of their idols and among their people. They put his armor in the temple of the asterisk and fastened his body to the wall of Bethshan. Verse 11 says, when the people of Jabesh Gilead, and Jabesh Gilead was an Israelite town, when the people of Jabesh Gilead heard of what the Philistines had done to Saul, all their valiant men journeyed through the night to Bethshan. They took down the bodies of Saul and his son from the wall of Bethshan and went to Jabesh where they burned them. Then they took their bones and buried them with their bones. And buried them under a tamarisk tree at Jabesh and they fasted seven days. You may be seated. Dear Heavenly Father, I just, when I read this account Lord of how Saul's life ended, it literally breaks my heart.

Here's a man, dear God, who began so well and he did not finish well and I know it must have broke your heart more than it breaks mine to read about this. And so Lord, I pray that this morning that you will take your word, that you will permeate this room with your presence and that you will convict those in here beginning with me who need to be convicted, that maybe they're, they've lost their focus. Maybe they've gotten too caught up in the things of the world. Maybe Lord, they've just become distracted. Maybe they've given up their quiet time.

Maybe they're not hungry for you like they were when they first were saved. And so I pray this morning Lord that you would convict all of us in here who need to be convicted, that we will assess where we are spiritually and that we will look at how Saul's life ended and make a commitment this morning that we don't want to end like that. We want to finish well.

We want to finish strong. We want to run this race known as the Christian life with the next world in mind, with our eyes fixed on you Lord Jesus. So I ask you this morning Lord to help us to focus our eyes on you. It's in your name that I pray.

Amen. When I read this account about how Saul's life ended, my first thought is how tragic. Here is a man who died on the battlefield with his sons around him in a losing call. What a life Saul could have lived.

Think about it. What a legacy he could have left if only he had continued to trust God by faith and not lost his focus. And so from Saul's life I would like for us to take note of the three stages in the life of a man who did not finish well. And I want us to learn from these three stages. And here's the first stage in Saul's life.

In the first stage we learned that he had a good beginning. And you can follow with me if you want to turn back to 1 Samuel chapter 8. In 1 Samuel chapter 8 we learned that Israel wanted to be like all the other nations. They looked around them and saw that all the other nations had kings and so guess what they wanted?

That they wanted a king. And here's lesson number one. It's found in 2 Corinthians chapter 4 verse 18. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.

You see the problem that we have in this world is we get too distracted by the things of the world. And so listen when you as a Christian take your eyes off of God and you begin to desire the things of the world in your outline you will lose your focus and you will not finish well. You see the Israelites they took their eyes off of God and they began to crave what their neighboring enemies had which was a king. You see the Lord God was their king but they wanted what everyone else had.

And we're going to see that Saul would make a similar mistake in judgment. Samuel had been Israel's leader as their prophet and priest. But see Samuel had grown old and his sons did not walk in the ways of God. In 1 Samuel chapter 8 verses 6 through 9 we read but when the Israelites said give us a king to lead us this displeased Samuel. So he prayed to the Lord and the Lord told him listen to all that the people are saying to you it is not you they've rejected but they've rejected me as their king as they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day forsaking me and serving other gods so they're doing to you.

Now listen to them but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do. And so God gave to Israel what they asked for a king and his name was Saul. In 1 Samuel chapter 9 we learned a little bit about Saul's beginning. 1 Samuel chapter 9 verse 1 states there was a Benjaminite a man of standing whose name was Kish. Kish was Saul's father. He had a son named Saul an impressive young man without equal among the Israelites a head taller than any of the others. Then in verse 21 when Saul learns that Samuel is going to anoint him as the king of he said listen to what Saul says to Samuel but am I not a Benjaminite from the smallest tribe of Israel and it's not my clan the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin.

Why do you say such a thing to me? See Saul couldn't believe that God actually had chosen him to be the king. In chapter 10 Samuel anoints Saul and says has not the Lord anointed you leader over his inheritance?

And then it says in the spirit of God came upon Saul and he prophesied. You see Saul had a very good beginning. He was gifted physically. He was tall. He was impressive. In fact the scriptures say that he was without equal and yet in spite of all of these physical gifts he remained humble.

He was chosen by God to be Israel's king and he received Samuel's blessing and early on he kept his focus on the Lord and he trusted God but how quickly things would change. Let me ask you have you had a good beginning? Were you born into a Christian family? Have you been brought up in a strong Bible believing church? Have you had the opportunity to sit under biblical teaching that's sound?

Have you had a wonderful friend or mentor who's been able to guide you and encourage you in your walk with the Lord? Let me give you this warning. A good beginning does not guarantee finishing well.

Don't rest on your loss. Saul fell and so can we. On my first day at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary back in September of 1999 I was 45 years old. I couldn't believe I was back in school first of all but I found myself sitting in Binkley Chapel with about 2,000 other students and we were listening to Dr. Page Patterson who was the president of the seminary and he was basically giving us a warning. You know what he was warning us? He basically warned us. He said listen just because you're coming to seminary and just because you're studying books about the Bible don't let that replace your quiet time. He said coming to seminary does not take the place of your quiet time and then he proceeded to share with us that during the course of his career he had personally counseled about 300 ministers who had fallen into some egregious sexual sin and lost their position in ministry.

You already shared with us. He said they all had one common denominator. Do you know what it was? They all confessed to him that they had given up having their personal quiet time. You see those those ministers became distracted by the things of the world and they lost their focus. When a believer loses his focus on God in your outline he's vulnerable to any attack. Have you lost your focus on the Lord? Now be honest about this one.

Have you become too attached to the things of the world? Don't lose your focus. Run the race to finish well. How do you do this you might ask?

Here's how. You keep your eyes on Jesus every step of the way. Paul writes about this in Philippians chapter 3 but he also we read about this in Hebrews chapter 12 verses 2 and 3 where the writer says let us fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith who for the joy set before him endured the cross scorning his shame and set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men.

Why? So that you will not grow weary and lose heart. The writer tells us to fix our eyes on Jesus.

Now how do you do that? Well I think it begins in the morning. Jesus got up early in the morning and prayed.

Guess what we need to do? We need to get up a little early and pray in the morning and we need to open up God's word. That's how you keep your eyes on Jesus. You do it by studying God's word and through prayer.

Are you doing that? It takes discipline. It takes discipline. Saul had a good beginning but in the second stage of his life he lost his focus and he turned away from God in disobedience. In Samuel's address to the Israelites you can find this in 1st Samuel chapter 12. I want you to listen to what Samuel says to the entire nation of Israel. So he's addressing the nation of Israel he says but when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites was moving against you, you said to me no we want a king to rule over us even though the Lord your God was your king.

Now here's the king you've chosen the one you asked for. See the Lord has set a king over you if you fear the Lord and serve and obey him and do not rebel against his commands and if both you and the king who reigns over you follow the Lord your God good. But listen if you do not obey the Lord and if you rebel against his commands his hand will be against you as it was against your fathers. You see the Israelites really didn't trust God to protect them that's why they wanted a king. And as a nation they lost their focus they turned away from God in disobedience.

You see when a believer falls into a pattern of disobedience what you're doing is you in your outline you're inviting God's judgment or his discipline. Do you know what later happened to the nation of Israel? You see Saul became Israel's king around 1050 BC and because Israel had turned away from God, God raised up enemies to come and discipline his chosen ones. In 722 BC the Assyrians came against the northern kingdom of Israel and defeated her and then guess what they did? They took all the Israelites away as slaves and they were never heard from again. The northern kingdom of Israel consisted of 10 of the tribes of Israel.

Those 10 tribes just disappeared. Later the Babylonians came against the southern kingdom of Israel. The southern kingdom was known as Judah. It consisted of the tribe of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin. This happened in 586 BC and just like the Assyrians the Babylonians took the Israelites away as slaves to Babylon where they were held captive for 70 years.

Do you know why this happened? This all happened because Israel as a nation lost its focus and turned away from God in disobedience. Can y'all think of another nation that's done the same thing? We have and I believe that we are asking God to judge us. In fact I wonder why God hasn't raised up enemies to come and defeat our nation. Maybe that's what 9-1-1 was about. Maybe that's what 9-1-1 was about. Maybe that is a shot across the bow that God is warning us as a nation that we need to not progress.

We need to regress. We need to go back to our spiritual roots. That's what we need to do as a nation and what we need in this country we need men of God who will stand up in the pulpits of America and proclaim this truth. But listen, in spite of Israel's rejection of God as their king, Samuel promised them that if their king would trust God and lead the people in obedience to God that God would still bless them. But this is where Saul let his country down. You see Saul was the king. He was not the prophet. The prophet was Samuel. In essence the prophet Samuel was the mouthpiece of God and he spoke the word of God. And so the king was to listen to the word of God spoken by the prophet of God and then he was to lead the people in obedience to God.

But you see Saul took his eyes off of God and he led his nation away from God in disobedience. Just recently I received a shocking letter. It was heart-wrenching. It was a letter from Voice of the Martyrs. Anybody here familiar with Voice of the Martyrs? It's a wonderful ministry. It's a ministry that I've supported for years.

They do an incredible work around the world supporting the underground persecuted church and Tom White has served as its president for the last I don't know five or ten years. The letter that I received informed me of Tom White's death. Apparently he committed suicide.

Do you know why? Allegations were made to authorities several weeks ago that Tom had inappropriate contact with a very very young girl. Rather than face those allegations and all the resulting fallout for his family and the ministry and himself, Tom appears to have chosen to take his own life. Now here is a man who spent 18 months in a Cuban prison because of his faith. Here's a man who had dedicated his life to serving the persecuted church around the world and so my question is what happened? How did he lose his focus? Well sadly this is not just an isolated case of a Christian leader who has fallen into egregious sin. History is filled with people who began the race with great success but they failed to end well. What happened?

Somehow they took their eyes off of the finish line. Remember David? The man God chose to replace Saul? David had a phenomenal beginning.

In fact if there was ever a surefire candidate to finish well it was David. In the first 10 chapters of second Samuel David could do no wrong. He was never defeated on the battlefield.

His judgments were always right. He began his reign in prayer and he always trusted God and the boundaries of his kingdom were increased from 6,000 square miles to 60,000 square miles but that was the first 10 chapters. Steve Ferrara in his in his book Finishing Strong writes in chapter 11 David is shipwrecked and his life would never be quite the same again he writes. Before the shipwreck with Bathsheba all David knew was triumph.

After all he knew was heartbreak and trouble. Listen in the Christian life it's not how you start that matters it's how you finish. Do you want to finish well?

So let me ask you how are you doing? Have you taken your eyes off the Lord? Have you lost your focus?

Have you become too attracted to the things of this world? Do you really want to finish well? If you do then you must stay focused. You must listen, you must keep your eyes focused on Jesus every step of the way and the only way that you can do that is by living day by day by the Spirit. Paul writes in Philippians 3 13 through 14 but one thing I do forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

This word strains it comes from a Greek word that gives the picture of a runner straining every muscle to finish to reach the finish line. I think of Secretariat. Do y'all remember what Secretariat did? First of all he was voted as one of the 50th greatest athletes even though he was not a human. In 1973 in the Belmont Stakes yeah if y'all can see the movie Secretariat that didn't bring you to tears something's wrong with you.

I'm gonna cry just thinking about it. He's coming around the track and he begins to separate himself from the from the other horses. He finishes I believe it's like 41 lengths. It's a record that has never been even been approached and they said that every quarter mile he was increasing his pace every quarter mile.

So when he finished when he busted through the finish line that was the fastest quarter he ran in the whole race. See that's the way we want to run the the Christian life. We want to be increasing our pace as we approach the end. We want to bust through the finish line and fall in the arms of Jesus and he says well done. Do you want that for your life?

I do. You see Saul had a good beginning but then he turned away from God in disobedience. Here's what happened. In chapter 13 we learned that Saul decided to take matters into his own hands. That's when it always begins and he decided to serve not just as king but also as prophet. You see the Philistines had assembled their army against Israel and they way outnumber the Israelites and so the Israelite army was quaking in fear and a number of the soldiers were deserting.

They were actually leaving the battlefield. Now Samuel was on his way to the battlefield because they always before they entered battle they would worship God and so Samuel was coming to offer the burnt offering before they the troops went on the battlefield and Saul knew this. You see the prophet was the only one who could offer the burnt offering based on God's command.

The king was not to do that. That was a job for the prophet but Saul grew impatient. Samuel was just a little bit late and so Saul decided to offer the burnt offering himself. You see he took his eyes off of God and after he offered the burnt offering clearly going against God's command Samuel arrives and here's what Samuel said to him in verse 13 of chapter 13. You acted foolishly Saul. You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. If you had he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. See that's the legacy he would have had but you but now your kingdom will not endure. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people because you have not kept the Lord's commands. You see when you try to live this life in your own strength and focus mostly on yourself constantly putting your your needs first I can promise you you'll lose sight of God. This concludes part one.

Part two will air next week. Being a Christian is not about being religious but about having a dynamic alive relationship with Jesus Christ. You've been listening to Finding Purpose with Pastor Russ Andrews a local triangle ministry glorifying God by helping men find their purpose for living. You can discover more about finding your purpose in life by checking out the resources at or connect to Finding Purpose on Facebook. Pastor Russ would also like to extend a special invitation for you to join him and over 300 other local triangle men to study God's Word together every Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in downtown Raleigh. Find out more at
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-09 03:53:53 / 2023-08-09 04:05:14 / 11

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