“HITTING THE RIGHT TARGET”                     By Pastor YAU

Text: Philippians 3:12-16                                       July 18, 2010.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)   A champion marksman: Matt Emmons, Olympic gold medallist in rifle shooting in 2004, was set to win another event at Athens. He had a commanding lead and hoped to make a direct bull’s-eye on his last shot. But something went wrong---he hit the target, but he was hitting the wrong one! That wrong target dropped him to eighth place and cost him a medal.

2)   A champion disciple: In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he explained the importance of focusing on the right target in his life. He said, “I pressed toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (3:14) Paul used the term “goal” in an illustration of an athlete running a race. The same word was also used of a target for shooting arrows. In both cases, the prospect of winning depends on being focused on the right target. To Paul, it is the upward call of God in Jesus Christ.

 

WHAT IS IN THE UPWARD CALL?

1)   To fulfill God’s will: “My food”, said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” (John 4:34) To answer a question by his disciples about his need of food, Jesus told them what may truly fulfill his need is not food but to fulfill the will of God, his Father. Even as the Son of God, Jesus never forgot his upward call: to fulfill his Father’s will and to finish his work. This should also be part of our upward call: a call from God for our lives, to do the will of God in us. When our personal will come in conflict with the will of God, it should be clear that we choose the will of God as our priority goal of life.

2)   To care God’s business: “And he said unto them: How is it that you sought me? Won’t you know that I must care about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49) When Mary eventually found Jesus in the temple and told him they have been searching for him, this is what Jesus answered her: “I must care about my Father’s business.” Although he was born as a son of Mary, Jesus never forgot he had to take care of his Father’s business, to prepare himself for the ultimate plan of salvation. This was the upward call God has for Jesus and he never forgot about this. He always has the goal of his life on focus.

3)   To obey God’s commands: “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my father and I too will love him and show myself to him.” (John 14:21) In this last and lengthy discourse Jesus told his disciples his expectation of them: to have his commands and obey them. He also promised the rewards of doing so: to be loved by him and his Father God, and he will continue to show them his will, an intimate relationship between the Lord and his disciples. This is the upward call of Jesus and it is also the upward call to all of us: to obey his commands.

4)   To win God’s prize: “I press on toward the goal to win the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:14)Just as all athletes in any competition aiming to win prizes, Paul strives to win the prize only God can give him and the purpose of winning that prize was to fulfill the will of God. All of us work hard, do all to win prizes, approvals, rewards and praises from the world, and people. But none of them may come close to the prize God will give us. It is not just most precious and glorious, it is also eternal and spiritual. That prize will be given to us when we see God in heaven and it will stay there forever while the worldly trophies will be trashed, forgotten and discarded.

 

HOW COULD WE MISS THE GOAL?

1)    When we have many goals: I am sure Mr. Emmons would not have missed his goal if there were only one target for him to shoot. It was because of the many targets that confused his focus that he hit the wrong one. Same thing happens in our Christian walk. When we add more goals other than the one God sets for our life, it is very easy that we get confused and focus on the wrong one and miss the goal God sets for us.

2)    When we can’t see clearly: Even if there is only one goal, we might still miss it if our eyes are blurred by spiritual short sightedness, a disease caused by internal spiritual problem. Our spiritual health condition may affect our spiritual eyesight that in turn may cause us to miss the mark. Many Christians are spiritual sick or unhealthy that they cannot see clearly the goals God set for them. When one can’t see the goal, how can he hit that goal? It is important that we periodically check our spiritual health condition to make sure we see God and His goals for us. Go back to read the Bible, have a regular prayer time, join Bible classes, attend worship service attentively and consult some spiritual leaders at the church to give you an honest evaluation are some of the ways you can check your spiritual condition.

3)    When we are blindfolded: Unless you are a superman, no one may hit a target if he is blindfolded. Few Christians are totally blindfolded in their spiritual eyes, but many of them are blocked from seeing God’s goal because they replaced their own goals of life. Compare the goal of your life you have now with that in the Bible to find out if they are the same or compatible to the goal God sets for you. If you substitute your goals of life as that of God’s, you will miss every time you try to shoot, life will fall apart and the loss of inner joy and peace of life.

4)    When we are too far away: How can you expect anyone to hit a target when he is a mile away from the target he cannot see. This is the most frequent situation many Christians can’t live a life to achieve God’s goal for them when they live their life so far away from God. We may still come to worship, serve in some positions and even tithe. But if our hearts are not close to God, our value are far from His, the way we live are far from what He wants us to live, we are actually far away from God and His goals for us. We can’t hit the target God sets for us if we allow us to run away from Him.

 

LEARN FROM A CHAMPION: (Philippians 3:12-16)

1)    Looking for rooms to grow: “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect.” (3:12) A few years back, a TV commercial said: “There is always room for improvement.” This should be our maxim of Christian growth. We will never be complete until the day to see Jesus. This was the way Paul grew his life and it should also be our way as well: do not stop growing our dedication to God, serving in his church, loving fellow Christians and bringing people to Christ. A tree doesn’t bear fruits is wasting space and resources. We are not saved to just enjoying God’s love and care. We are saved also to glorify Him through our lives.

2)    Pressing toward the goal: “I press on toward to the goal to win the prize for which God has called me upward in Christ Jesus.” (3:14)Growing is a natural process if life is healthy. But growth is also a process of struggle and changes. Christian growth is also a natural process that includes struggles and changes. We need to know God’s goals for our lives and be willing to pay the price to strive, to advance, endures hardships and changes. No one may grow without knowing his God given goals of life. To press forward and upward is the way that will bring us closer to God’s goal each push we do. Spiritual growth is sailing against the current. If we don’t push forward, we will be pushed back.

3)    Taking a view to mature: “All of us who are mature should take such a view of things, And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.” (3:15)This view of growing to maturity is not just for the elite, but is for everyone who wants to mature. If anyone who isn’t clear of his goal, God will make it clear to him as well. To grow and to achieve a goal is for all Christians. There should be no standbys in God’s kingdom and his church.

4)    Getting it started today: “Let us live up to what we have already attained.” (3:16)No growth of 2 persons are identical, be it the starting point or the progress. God made us all different and we are to grow from different starting point in different pace, but we all need to and will grow toward the goal. No one may make excuse not to grow because it is too late, or too old or you don’t have the gifts or energy. God doesn’t demand that we are all the same, but He requires all of us to begin growing and hitting the goal. It is never too late to start growing today.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)   Hit and missed: No life, be it secular or Christian, has ever been lived to perfection. Missing the target is part of being human. It should not be a reason to give up. We are here to learn and to struggle to get going. Failures serve as our reminder so we will be more careful, diligent and committed to God and His plans in our lives. Stumbling is never the end of growth.  Falling and staying down is.

2)   Hit the right target: Be ready to identify the goal God sets for your life. Make sure you don’t add or subtract anything from the goal God appointed you. Remove all obstacles from your path so you will see your goal clearly to pursue. Do self-examination often to identify problems that are blocking your progress. Make sure that you are on the right track, hitting the right target.

3)   Find the best coach: If life is like a sport or training, you will need the best coach to have the best results. You need the maker of your life, God himself, to show you the right way. Confess to him all your sins, ask him to forgive you and be the Lord of your life. God will make your life with meaning, good reason to exist and aiming for high results.