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Summary: This sermon deals with the fact that we often allow ourselves to be cheated out of the best things in life. In this illustration story, the clown is a symbol of the devil

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DON'T PAY THE CLOWN!

2 KINGS 13:14-19

14 Elisha had become sick with the illness of which he would die. Then Joash the king of Israel came down to him, and wept over his face, and said, "O my father, my father, the chariots of Israel and their horsemen!"

15And Elisha said to him, "Take a bow and some arrows." So he took himself a bow and some arrows.

16Then he said to the king of Israel, "Put your hand on the bow." So he put his hand on it, and Elisha put his hands on the king's hands.

17And he said, "Open the east window"; and he opened it. Then Elisha said, "Shoot"; and he shot. And he said, "The arrow of the Lord's deliverance and the arrow of deliverance from Syria; for you must strike the Syrians at Aphek till you have destroyed them."

18Then he said, "Take the arrows"; so he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, "Strike the ground"; so he struck three times, and stopped.

19And the man of God was angry with him, and said, "You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck Syria till you had destroyed it! But now you will strike Syria only three times."

We all have hopes, desires, and goals.

Some of them are small.

Others are very big.

Let me tell you about two people who had big goals.

Back in the late 1920s

Charles Lambert, his wife Ellen, and son Abner

lived far out in the country.

12-year-old Abner had never seen a circus.

You can imagine his excitement when a poster went up at school

announcing that on Saturday a circus was coming to town.

He ran home and told his parents.

Abner said he really wanted to go see the circus.

(PAUSE)

In the Bible text this morning

we read about Joash, the King of Israel.

He, too, had a big desire.

He wanted to get rid of the Syrians.

Today...both 12 year old Abner and Joash...

will teach us some lessons for life.

LESSON #1. WE ALL SHOULD SET SOME GOALS TO ACHIEVE:

Abner wanted to see the circus.

Joash wanted to defeat the Syrians.

They both set goals they hoped to achieve.

Do you have a goal that you are hoping to achieve?

May I suggest a few for you?

There may be some bad habit you need to break:

swearing,

telling dirty jokes,

being sarcastic and rude,

You fill in the blank.

You find yourself doing it

without even thinking about it or realizing.

Break that habit.

There may be a relationship you need to mend:

forgiven if you've been wronged,

apologize if you've offended someone.

Make that your goal!

There may be some attitude you need to develop:

generosity,

contentment,

willingness to serve.

Make that your goal!

You might decide to be a better person:

a more considerate husband or wife;

a more patient parent or grandparent;

a better employer or employee;

a better church member.

Make that your goal.

There may be someone you need to lead to Jesus:

your spouse,

your mother,

your father,

a child,

your best friend,

somebody you work with.

Make that your goal.

You want to know Jesus and the Bible better:

study the Bible every daily,

memorize some verses,

spend more time in prayer,

obey what the Bible says.

The goals we set ought to be:

#1 Challenging but realistic.

#2 Worthy and beneficial.

#3 Unselfish.

(PAUSE)

Abner Lambert really wanted to go to the circus.

Although his family was poor,

Charles Lambert sensed how important this was to his son.

He told Abner that if he got his chores done early

he'd see to it that he got to go to the circus.

So, Abner did his best and worked extra hard.

King Joash really wanted to be free of the Syrians.

Elisha said, "Open the window and shoot an arrow."

The king did what he was told.

Then Elisha said,

"Take some arrows and strike the ground with them."

But Joash struck the ground only 3 times.

Elisha was disappointed and angry

with the King's lack of effort and enthusiasm.

There is a lesson here for us, too.

LESSON #2. WE ALL SHOULD DO OUR VERY BEST TO ACHIEVE OUR GOALS:

Abner worked hard;

He did all that his father asked him to do and more.

Joash, too, did as he was told.

But he didn't do exactly what Elisha told him.

The most rewarding goals we achieve

are those that demand our best efforts.

Ted Engstrom wrote in his book "Pursuit of Excellence: "Cripple him, and you have a Sir Walter Scott. Lock him in a prison cell, and you have a John Bunyan. Bury him in the snows of Valley Forge, and you have a George Washington. Raise him in abject poverty and you have an Abraham Lincoln. Strike him down with infantile paralysis, and he becomes Franklin Roosevelt. Burn him so severely that the doctors say he'll never walk again, and you have a Glenn Cunningham - who set the world's one-mile record in 1934. Deafen him and you have a Ludwig von Beethoven. Have him or her born black in a society filled with racial discrimination, and you have a Booker T. Washington, a Marian Anderson, and a George Washington Carver. ... Call him a slow learner, 'retarded,' and write him off as uneducable, and you have an Albert Einstein."

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