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What Are You Shooting At?

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

Most of you know that I grew up not too far from here. My Father was an outdoorsman. He was a farmer who hunted and trapped and taught me to hunt and to shoot probably right after I learned to walk. Unlike Ralphie, I had no resistance to getting a BB gun or a 22 rifle. Dad taught me how to shoot a shotgun by going into the back yard and shooting at chimney swallows, that darted all over the place in the early dusk hours. Sometime around the age of 13, I found an old longbow that my dad had tucked away and I learned how to string it and I began to shoot a bow. Dad saw how much I liked it and took me to Armacostís Sporting Goods that used to be beside Woolworths in Westminster and bought me a used 35 lb. Ben Pearson recurve bow with Fiber Glass arrows and I became hooked for life. My cousin and I joined an indoor archery group and I began to win hams and turkeys in the junior division. I wasnít that good; there just werenít many juniors to compete with. And then we joined Mayberry Archers and nearly every Sunday my cousin and I (he had his drivers license) and I were somewhere in the state at an archery competition and I won four or five trophies, again as a junior. I also lost a lot of arrows. You see, some of the targets were 80 yards away. I had a low poundage bow, no sights, or releases, or stabilizers, like we use today, just bare-bow, traditional archery, like Robin Hood had. Some of those 70 and 80 yard targets, I didnít even come close to. Sometimes, I just opted to pass and take the zero; I was probably going to get anyway. But my father always said, "You canít hit it, if you donít shoot at it."

My Dadís old saying became a life philosophy for me, "You canít hit it, if you donít shoot at it." Itís like our Lottie Moon Christmas offering. We established a goal that was double what it has been and said "$5000 and I saw some of the looks like, are you crazy? Yet, you gave almost $6500. Someone said, "Maybe we should have set it for $10,000. Give God a Praise applause. You canít hit it if you donít shoot at it.

Let me ask you a question as we have begun a New Year. What do you want to do or be? What would you like to accomplish? What are your personal or spiritual goals? Do you have a Bucket List? Remember, "You canít hit it if you donít shoot at it!"

In my quiet time a few weeks ago, I read the Apostle Paulís personal goal. He states it in what is the most personal letter that he wrote, 2 Corinthians. Paul exposes his heart and we get to see this man in an authentic and transparent light. We see his motivation and the goals he was shooting for. Turn with me to 2 Corinthians 4:1-5:10. Before we look at what Paul was shooting at. Letís take a few moments and at look at his perspective on life as a whole.

Notice:

  1. He had a Clear Understanding of Where Life was Going (4:16-5:1). He uses a figure of speech known as euphemism, which means that he uses soft words to speak of something harsh. What he is saying is that we are going to die. We are all headed to the grave or to an urn on somebodyís mantle. And we donít know when. But we know that that this outward man- this body is perishing; it is growing old, diseased, wearing out. We may be able, like an old car, to repair parts or to replace parts, but someday it will just stop running. Like my knees and feet. Spurs and Arthritis will not let me do what I used to love to do. While we all may want to be centurions, some will break or wear out before we get there. We are going to die. Life isnít about preparing for retirement and the fun and pleasure that it will bring; itís about preparing for dieing. That is the one thing that is a certainty and ought to be the most important preparation anyone ever makes. Once you have done that, you are prepared to live. Are you prepared to die? Not just funeral arrangements, but where you will spend eternity?
     
  2. He had a Clear Understanding of Where He was Going (4:14; 5:1-5). Paul knew He was going to heaven, not because he was a preacher or Bible writer, but because of Jesus Christ. (5:15-21) He was trusting in who Jesus is and what He did on Calvary. Do you know where you are going?
     
  3. He had a Clear Understanding of His Purpose in Life. (4:1-7; 5:11) He knew why He was here and why God had rescued him on that road to Damascus. His purpose in life was to show people in a dark and ignorant world, the light and life of Jesus Christ. Thatís exactly what Peter says your purpose is (cp. 1 Peter 2:9ff, Acts 26:18). Have you realized your Purpose for living on planet earth? Do you know why God rescued you?
     
  4. He had a Clear Understanding of How He was Supposed to Accomplish His Purpose Ė (5:7). He was to walk by Faith Not by Sight. Paul had a good understanding of faith. Do you? Though we have stated it many times, do you k now how to define faith? What is Faith? Faith is, "Obedience based on Trust (here is a key) regardless of the circumstances or the consequences." He knew Proverbs 3:5-6. He was to trust in the Lord with All His heart, not in what He could see, figure out, or understand. Therefore he obeyed God. That has always been Godís way. We in the 21st century often want a comfortable Christianity, we plan our budgets by what we feel comfortable and confident in, and what we can see, rather than saying, "What does God want us to trust Him for." Like our Mission Trips. More than one person said, "We will never get $30,000 to take a mission trip." But we did and more than once. What impossible thing, done for His glory, might be possible if we trust and obey God in 2012? He asked Moses and the Hebrews to trust Him. He asked Joshua to trust Him. He asked the Prophets like Elijah and Elisha to trust Him. He asked Naaman to trust Him. Every person Jesus touched he asked to trust Him. He has always made it clear that if we will simply put Him first, He will take care of us. And when it comes to our finances, He loves it when we trust Him and give extravagantly. Paul deals with this extensively in chapterís 8-9 of this book.
  5. 5. Pulling it all together; He had a Clear Understanding of the Finish Line (vv. 9-10). Paul knew that not only he but every Christian is going to stand there at the Judgment Seat, The Bema Seat of Christ; the place where our lives as followers of Jesus will be evaluated and rewarded. He speaks of this again in Romans 14:11-12, But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 11 For it is written: "

As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God."and 1 Cor. 3:12-15. This will be an audit of your life since you received Grace. Our sinful nature has already been judged. We are not going to account for them, but there will be an audit. What did you do with the time you were given, the treasures you were given, the talents you were given, or the tongue you were given? Did you use them for the glory of God who redeemed you, or did you not use them, or did you use them selfishly? Do you know what will be the criteria of evaluation on that day? I could be wrong but I believe that there will be just 3 Things!

  • Did you love God with ALL your Heart? Not just an hour on Sunday when itís convenient, but with all your heart. Thatís His greatest desire from us (Matt. 22:37-38)
     
  • Do you Love the People that He Loves and Died For? This is the second greatest commandment (Matt. 22:39-40; cp. John 13:24-35). John, in his first epistle, tells us that if you donít love your brother who you can see, then you canít love God who you canít see. (1 John 5:20) Are you actively involved in ministering to someone, someway? Are you humble and submissive and considering others as more important than yourselves? Are you using the gifts God has given you to build others up? Our Lord makes it very clear in Matt. 25; that when he comes to judge the world, he will use these criteria.
     
  • Are you reaching the World with the Light and Life of Jesus? We have been entrusted with the most important message ever given. Every one is going to die. Without Jesus there will be hell to pay for a life of sin. With Jesus there is heaven and God to enjoy. What are you doing to get the word out? These three things are the good spoken of in verse 10, everything else is the bad or good for nothing. Every thing in this book, Jesus said, falls under the first Two of these three, and the 3rd, well, they are the reason we exist; it is our purpose in this world. What ever, in our lives doesnít come under one of these three areas, is wasted time, a waste of grace.

So what is Paul shooting for? Verse 9- The word labor, or aim, or ambition, means just that, its what he is shooting for or aiming at, or the goal he is trying to achieve; that is, that his life would be acceptable, Well Pleasing to Him. Paul wanted to hear God say just one thing; that is, "Good Job," "Youíve done well," "Iím proud of you," "Well Done," "Thatís my son or my daughter and he or she did real good."

In His letters, Paul gives us some hints at what this includes for him. And they all fall under the three primary purposes we have stated.

  1. Pleasing an Audience of One. Gal 1:10 10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ (Like Jesus in John 8:29, "I do always those things that please my Father). I remember hearing Mike Huckabee a few years ago say that he realized that he couldnít please everybody so he made it his purpose to be concerned to pleasing only one person Ė God. I love that.
     
  2. Presenting His Body as a Gift to God. Rom. 12:1 "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. Paul would serve God with His whole self.
     
  3. Preferring not hurt anotherís growth in Christ (Rom. 14:16-21) 16 Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who serves Christ in these things[a]is acceptable to God and approved by men. Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. 21 It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.
     
  4. Preferring not to Continue in the Sinful things that Christ died to free us from. (Eph. 5:8-11) 8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit[a]is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.
     
  5. Giving Extravagantly like the Philippians, to meet the needs of the poor and to reach the world (Phil.4:18, cp. Hebrews 13:15-16.) Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. Hebrews, 13:15-16 Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. 16 But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
     
  6. To take the Gospel to the world, especially to people who have never heard it. Romans 15:20 "20 And so I have made it my aim to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another manís foundation." Paul wanted to reach un-reached people with the truth of Grace that is in Christ.
     
  7. To Walk By Faith and Not by Sight (cp. v.7 with Hebrews 11:6) 6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
     
  8. When My life is yielded so fully to Him, that my work is actually His work. (Hebrews 13:20-21) "20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you[a] what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen."
     
  9. Other things Like striving to have a conscience void of offense towards God and man (Acts 24:16), a Character modeled after Jesus (1 Cor. 11:1). To care more about others than Himself (Phil. 2:1-17) and so much more. Paul wanted every area of His life, not just Sunday Mornings, to be pleasing to God. "Will my Father be Proud of Me in this? Will He say, "Good Job? Well done, Iím proud of you." That is what Paul was shooting at.

What are you shooting for? What is your ambition, your aim for 2012? You can make weight loss, muscle toning, debt elimination, bible reading, journaling, and praying more, as your goals. But might I suggest that you include, wanting to Please Him in everything you do, so that one day, when all of this is over, and you face your audit, and stand there in review, your lifeís greatest reward will be to hear Him say, "Good Job, well done, I am so proud of you."

Remember, you canít hit it if you donít shoot at it.

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman