Summary: Too many Christians are satisfied with doing their minimum requirement for God. They don't realize the blessings they miss out on because they've just done what they "had to do" as His child. What are they missing out on and how can they change?
(Props: 3 arrows)
OPEN: Yesterday was January 2nd. Does anyone know what national holiday that is?
It’s called “Run It Up The Flagpole and See Who Salutes Day.”
Yes… that’s actually a special day on the January calendar.
I visited a couple of sites that spoke about this “special day” and this is what I read:
“(Run it up the flagpole and see who salutes) was a catchphrase which became popular in the United States during the late 1950s and early 1960s. It means ‘to ... present an idea and see whether it receives a favorable reaction.’” Wikipedia
And www.HolidayInsights.com said that “(The purpose of the day is to challenge you set this day) aside… to do just that. Be creative today. Use this day to try and test new ideas and concepts.”
In short, the idea is to believe in yourself enough to PLAN something. VISUALIZE something bigger than you are. And then DO that something… make it HAPPEN!
Now how many of you have NEVER heard of this holiday? (Me neither). Somebody ran this up the flagpole... and nobody saluted it.
And I got to wondering why this holiday never caught on.
Maybe it’s because the “name” of this holiday is sounds so trivial.
Maybe it’s because it just sounds like another “feel good”, "believe in yourself" tripe.
Or maybe it’s because a lot of people don’t believe in themselves to begin with.
But now here’s the deal... God DOES believe in you.
Ephesians 2:10 says “... we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared in advance, for us to do.”
God believes in you.
He believes so much in you that He has prepared things in advance for you to do.
So the question becomes, if God believes in you and me that much - if He believes so much in every Christian that believes, repents, confesses Jesus as their Lord and rises up out of the waters of baptism - that He has prepared things for us to do… why are so many Christians NOT doing all that much?
As I was thinking about this, an Old Testament story popped into my head (the one I used for our text this morning). In this story we have an Old Testament King named Jehoash who has an interesting conversation with Elisha. Elisha is on his death bed and Jehoash come to pay his respects to the prophet.
Elisha apparently has a soft spot in his heart for this king and he wants to give him a parting gift before he passes away. He tells the king to go get a bow and shoot an arrow out the window. And in the midst of this assignment Elisha puts his hands on those of the king – like a father might his child.
When Jehoash does shoots the arrow, Elisha says: “The LORD’s arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Aram! You will completely destroy the Arameans at Aphek.” II Kings 13:17
Essentially Elisha is telling Jehoash – God has a plan for your life.
And Jehoash had to do almost nothing to receive that blessing.
But notice what happens next: Then (Elisha) said, "Take the arrows," and the king took them. Elisha told him, "Strike the ground." He struck it three times and stopped.
The man of God was angry with him and said, "You should have struck the ground five or six times; then you would have defeated Aram and completely destroyed it. But now you will defeat it only three times." II Kings 13:18-19
What’s going on here?
Elisha asked to strike the ground with the arrows! And almost immediately Elisha is angry in how Jehoash did what he did.
ILLUS: At our preacher’s meeting, one of the preachers asked me: “How did you end up using this story for your sermon?”
Well, when I’ve read through the Bible certain stories have caught my attention… and this is one that so impressed me when I first read it that I began building part of my prayer life around it. But over the years I had messed up the story in my mind… I remembered it wrong. I remembered the story saying that Elisha asked the King to shoot arrows out the window, and that the King only shot 3 arrows.
So, I’d often use this story as a prayer to God “I want to shoot all the arrows you give me.” And that made sense to me. If there are 10 arrows in the quiver, and I’m told to shoot arrows out the window… I’d want to shoot them all.
But… that’s NOT how the story goes. Elisha tells the king to shoot an arrow out the window and take the rest on strike the ground. And Elisha gets mad because the King doesn’t hit the ground more times.