On Target

On Target

Graduates, shooting team members, and parents, we are delighted to have you here today. A baccalaureate is a sermon given to those who have achieved a degree. Before any mention of God was removed from the public schools, a baccalaureate was given during a commencement ceremony. Commencement means a beginning. “To everything there is a season.” Our graduates have finished their high school education, and they are commencing a new time in their lives.

Therefore, I want to encourage them and I hope everyone will receive some inspiration from this message. All of us are trying to accomplish some goal in life. Whether or not we reach that goal depends on what we are aiming at, and whether or not, we are going about it the right way. Shooting at targets from various distances is a good way to illustrate our chances of success in life.

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. The application is that the people had turned away from the straight and narrow way of the Lord. They had twisted His Way to suit themselves; therefore, they were off target. The government and the religious leaders were corrupt. The knowledge of God was rejected or perverted. We, too, live in a nation that has rejected God and perverted His Word. Our nation is “off target” due to deception.

Now, in target shooting, whether using a bow, rifle, or handgun, there are a multitude of reasons why a person might be “off 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.

Regardless of the reason, one fact remains, 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!

There are some people who miss by a few centimeters, and others who could not hit the broad side of a barn. But when your life depends on hitting the target, a miss is still a miss. 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.

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 the same thing, but the fact is: both MISSED THE MARK!

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.”

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

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 stay on target, but few obey His instructions nor walk with Him. Some abandon His Way because it is too hard. Therefore, most people are on the easy, twisted road of deceit and destruction. They are missing the target.

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. Many today are missing the target because they don’t even know what the target looks like. What is hindering them?

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. You have to see the front sights of a gun so you can keep them aimed at the target. Seeing both near and far is key here. 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 clearly.

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.

Seeing is not all there is to it, of course, because a person might be able to see the target and also be able to see the front sight on the weapon, but he might miss because he does not understand how to put all that information together. Some folks will miss the target because they are not rightly interpreting the Word of Truth. If a person does not put all the information together properly, the conclusion might be way off target! We must be sure to rightly handle the Word of truth so that we remain on target!

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 lit. The Scriptures give us the light we need - both to our feet and our path – for leading us on target today and keeping us on target for our future!

2 Thessalonians 2:15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.

There are folks who will miss the target because they are standing on shaky ground. Spiritually speaking, if you are standing on the shaky, ever-changing, philosophy of this world, you are going to miss the target. Stand on solid rock of Christ and His Word and you will be building your life on unshakable ground!

Ephesians 4:14 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. They will cause us to miss the target if we are not aware of them and making adjustments according to God’s Word.

Colossians 3:2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

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! This one hindrance has caused a lot of folks to miss their target. Keep your focus on the target, the Lord Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of your faith!

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”, 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, training, nor discipline. Satan and his workers have been deceiving people since the Garden of Eden. Don’t let them get you off target; which is, Jesus.

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, let us never get the big head and think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think. We ought to instead, praise God for His grace 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.

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 you have missed it for one of the reasons mentioned, or for all of the reasons, the result is the same. We missed.

However, the solution to hitting the target is 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. That target is Jesus Christ and His eternal life now and in Heaven. There is no other way to stay on target except by faith in Jesus Christ.

Graduates, when you confessed Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and joined this church through transfer of membership or through baptism, we made a commitment to you to pray for you and help you stay on target. Your graduation does not change that commitment. Whether you stay in town or move to attend college or a new job, we are still committed to pray for you and help you stay on target. You always have a church home here. Whatever you do, do it as unto the Lord. Go with the Lord and make disciples of Jesus Christ.

To all, I plead, 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”.

   June 2019   
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