Hitting the Target

Hitting the Target

Greetings, First Christian Church shooting team members and parents. We are delighted to have you here today. We congratulate the team members for their performance on the field this year. I’m not just speaking about your improved shooting performance, but also your improved character performance. You represented our church honorably.

It is not common for a shooting team to be sponsored by a church. Youth group activities tend to be less organized than a shooting team. You may wonder why we are doing this.

Well, we are doing it for your benefit. More than most organized sports, shooting demands trust and self-discipline. When we place a loaded gun in your hands, we are trusting you with a tool that can save a life or cause a death. It all depends on you. That is why we spend hours teaching you how to safely handle a gun, why we demand you follow safety rules, and why we insist that you obey your coaches and referees. We are teaching you self-discipline, responsibility, a useful skill, and how to be an adult instead of an irresponsible, immature child.

However, you can be the best shot on the team and follow all the rules as straight as a gun barrel, and still be as empty as a gun spiritually. That is why we have tried to instill in you a faith in Jesus Christ.

All of us need a target to hit in life. Whether or not we hit that target depends on what we are aiming at, and if we are going about it the right way. We can learn a lot about life from shooting at targets. So in case you missed these lessons, let’s review them today.

Psalm 78:56-57 Yet they tested and rebelled against the Most High God and did not keep his testimonies, but turned away and acted treacherously like their fathers; they twisted like a deceitful bow.

A deceitful bow is one that appears good, but it will not shoot an arrow straight. These verses speak about people who turn away from the straight and narrow way of the Lord. They twist His Way to suit themselves; therefore, they miss the target of God’s blessings.

Now, in target shooting, whether using a bow, rifle, or handgun, there are a multitude of reasons why a person might miss the target. Perhaps the shooter is not aiming at the target. Perhaps he cannot see the target. Maybe his weapon is malfunctioning. Perhaps the sights are off. Maybe his breathing is not right. The problem might be the way he is holding the weapon. Perhaps he does not know how to use the weapon correctly. Or, maybe he is just having a bad day.

There are some people who miss by a few centimeters, and others who could not hit the broad side of a barn. Regardless of the reason for missing, one fact remains and you can be sure of this, if a shooter does not hit the target, he has not hit the target. End of story. In spite of all our excuses, which may be true, the fact is that the target has been missed!

To become more accurate at hitting the target, you have to practice the right instructions. If you practice a bad habit, you never become good at hitting the target. Likewise, if you practice sin in your life, you are not practicing the right instructions and you will not hit the targets of blessing you want in life.

1 John 3:4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.

Whether shooting an arrow, or a gun, or living rightly – there is a standard by which all are measured. Some folks would rather use someone else as their standard rather than the true standard. So you will hear a shooter say after missing the target, “I did better than so-and-so.” Sinners will also say something similar, “I’m not as bad as so-and-so.” But the fact is: both MISSED THE TARGET!

God's holiness is the standard! Not your neighbor. Not your parents. And certainly not your pastor. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)

In other words, we have all missed the target! Being better than someone else is not anything to brag about when we have all missed the mark! We need a better standard than comparing ourselves to one another. That standard is the Lord Jesus Christ. Our instructor is the Holy Spirit, whom we receive through faith in Jesus Christ. He teaches us to hit the target, but have to listen and practice His instructions.

1 Peter 1:14-16 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance, but just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do, for it is written, “Be holy, because I am holy.”

Some abandon the way of Jesus Christ because they want to set their own standards of holiness. Therefore, most people are on the easy, twisted road of deceit and destruction. They are missing the target and they will suffer the consequences.

Matthew 7:13-14 Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

To miss the target does not require much. It is quite easy to do. You do not need any training; you do not have to work for it. It is natural to miss the target. Just follow the crowd on the “broad road”.

Many today are missing the target because they don’t even know what the target looks like. The target is a life that looks like Jesus Christ and you can see His example in the Word of God. But many people are not looking at the target. They don’t read His Word.

Acts 17:11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

A major hindrance to hitting the target can be sight. You have to see properly. You have to recognize the target so you can be sure to hit the target. When I am on the range, I cannot see the target without my glasses. Spiritually speaking, in order to hit the target, we must have our “Biblical Glasses” on. Examine the Scriptures and you will see the target, Jesus Christ, clearly. His Word will also show you how to “hit the target”.

2 Timothy 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

Of course, seeing is not all there is to it. You have to understand how to handle a gun safely and correctly. That is why we spend much time in training. Likewise, you need to know how to rightly interpret the Word of God. If a person does not put all the information together properly, the conclusion might be way off target! We need training to rightly handle the Word of truth so that we remain on target! So, God has provided trainers.

Ephesians 4:11-14 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

The wind can cause a shooter some problems, especially in long range shooting. Spiritually, we must also watch out for doctrinal winds that are blowing across our line of sight. Unbiblical doctrines will cause us to miss the target if we are not aware of them and making adjustments according to God’s Word.

Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Sometimes improper lighting will cause a person to miss the target. The target needs to be lit up and the sights also need to be visible. The Scriptures give us the light we need to keep us on target today and in our future!

But sometimes folks miss their target because they get distracted. A true marksman must always be focused to hit the target. Nothing can distract. Between the devil, the world, and everything that they offer, there is a lot of distraction out there! Keep your focus on the target, the Lord Jesus Christ, and His Word!

2 Corinthians 11:13-14 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

Some people are not trying to hit the target. These are false prophets, “wolves in sheep’s clothing”, and workers of Satan. They might appear to have a successful ministry on television. They will show you an easier target to hit, one that requires no repentance, no training, and no discipline. Satan and his workers have been deceiving people since the Garden of Eden. Don’t let them get you off the target; which is, Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

Many folks have missed their target because of pride. We must watch out for pride. When we are shooting well or enjoying some success in life, we must never get the “big head” and think we got this and we don’t need Jesus. That is a guaranteed way to fail. Instead, we ought to praise God for His grace to hit His target and be willing to help those who are off target.

Galatians 6:1-3 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

In order to hit the right target, you have to have the proper equipment. To hit skeet, you need a shotgun. To hit a target at long range, you need a high-powered rifle. However, to hit the right target in life, the Bible is the equipment we need! Only the Scriptures tell us about Christ the Redeemer and the pathway of life. Jesus is the only way, truth, and life! A person who rejects the Bible is off target! He is aiming at the wrong things and is on the pathway of death.

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Fear can cause you to miss the target. Being afraid you will miss increases your chances of missing. (You must focus on one shot at a time, using all your training confidently.) Likewise, do not be afraid of following Jesus. Take one step and one day at a time. Jesus is the founder and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). He will never leave you of forsake you (Hebrews 13:5)

Philippians 3:12-14 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

A person cannot pick up a gun and consistently hit the target without a lot of practice. So it is spiritually. You cannot leave your Bible sitting on the table week after week, without picking it up, and expect to be able to be on target with it. On the range, a man who has never picked up a gun or very seldom uses it will be ashamed, because he will not hit the target as much as someone who is skilled with the gun. And spiritually speaking, a person who does not study the Bible will be ashamed when he cannot hit the target by rightly handling the Truth. The Word of God will keep us on target! Read it daily and live by it!

Psalm 119:11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

Let us be honest this morning. We have all missed the target. Whether we have missed it for one of the reasons mentioned, or for all of the reasons, the result is the same. We missed the target. End of story.

However, the solution to hitting the target is also the same for all of us: an intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and the grace of the Holy Spirit. Without faith in Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit, we are doomed to miss the target and God’s blessings, including eternal life in Heaven. There is no other way to stay on target except by faith in Jesus Christ and obedience to His Word.

If you recognize this morning that you are missing the target and desire to get off the easy, twisted path that leads to destruction, believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to atone for your sin. Repent of your sin and living your own way. Give your life to Jesus by confessing Him as Lord and being baptized. Then you will be born again of the Holy Spirit, and you will have a constant instructor living in you to keep you “on target”.