Beth Moore - Taking Aim - Part 3
Now, remember we have three different metaphors going, and we're going to get into all three of them during the course of this day. We've got a running metaphor, so I've come ready to demonstrate that. We have got our boxing metaphor. We're gonna talk about that in the second half of our present lesson. And we have got our archery metaphor, which we're heading toward right now. So, this would be in numbers of places in the Old Testament, and I want you to look at one of those with me, because what I did was this: I brought up every single occasion in the Word of God where you would find the word "archery". Pardon me. Not archery, but you would find "arrow," that you would find "bow," anything that spoke of aiming an arrow. That is the portion that I looked at, all the way from Genesis to Revelation.
Well, I could not help but notice how many of the Old Testament references to arrows were about a certain concept. I bet some of you are guessing what it is. Would you turn with me to Psalm 64? "Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint; preserve my life from dread of the enemy. Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked, from the throng of evildoers, who whet their tongues like swords, who aim bitter words like arrows, shooting from ambush at the blameless, shooting at him suddenly without fear. They hold fast to their evil purpose".
Have you ever noticed that there are people in the world that hold fast to their purpose all right? And it is an evil purpose. It says, "They talk of laying snares secretly, thinking, 'Who can see them?' They search out injustice, saying, 'We have accomplished a diligent search.' For the inward mind and heart of a man are deep. But God shoots his arrows at them; and they are wounded suddenly. They are brought to ruin, and their own tongues turned against them; all who see them will wag their heads. Then all mankind fears; they tell what God has brought about and ponder what he has done. Let the righteous one rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him! Let all the upright in heart exult"!
Arrows from the tongue. I think it would be a wonderful thing if we could just always divide it in half and go it is only really those that we consider evil people who use their tongues like arrows, and it's not the rest of us. But we know better than that. I would suggest to you that when it comes to aiming, that perhaps there is nothing that we are more diligently aiming at any given time than our words. My tongue is a bow, and my words are arrows. Okay, think about this with me. Return to verse 3 of Psalm 64. It says, "Who whet their tongues like swords, who aim bitter words like arrows".
Wanna say this to you. We've all been there in one way or another if we've lived long enough. I would venture to guess that anybody in this room that is over 15 years old has probably known something of what it's like to feel some kinda bitterness, and here's the thing: a bitter heart shoots bitter arrows. It's not that it can. It's not that it might. It is a fact that if you have a bitter heart and I have a bitter heart, I've had something here recently. Wonder if I can see anybody else's hand. I've had a situation in my life that really wants to make me bitter. Anybody know what I'm talking about? I need to see somebody, somebody agreeing with me in that. I mean, like, I've just like, anybody had just about all they can take of a certain situation, and then you're starting to think, "You know, my life is going by really quickly".
And there's no making up for all. You know how the mind does, and then it just wants to set into you, and it wants to make you bitter. But here's what I know: if I give way to that, it will poison everything in me. If I take down a bitter root and I do not take the grace of God down in under that root, as Hebrews 13 tells me to, then what's gonna happen to me is it's gonna get all poisonous in there. It's gonna get poisonous in there, and what will absolutely happen, it's not that it might. It's not that it can. Is that my bitter heart is gonna come out with bitter arrows. Let me tell ya it doesn't even have to be that it's coming out in bitter arrows. It's just that we, our tongue is just constantly like a bow. Constantly.
Let me give you a couple of scenarios and see if you can relate to this. Say we are in a group of people. Maybe we're at a table with family. Maybe we're with a small group that we're a part of, whether it's in a social kind of gathering. Maybe it is in a school kind of gathering, whatever it may be. We're in a situation where there are a number of people there, and we say something that we act like was to the whole group, but we know good and well that we aimed it to one particular person. Anybody deny that that is ever, like, you're, "I've never done that as long as I've lived. I never". Then you're the quietest person I know. You honestly are the quietest person I know, because this is what we do. Like, we'll look over here, and we're aiming these words right here.
And here's what happens. If they're bold with us they might say to us later, "I can't believe you said that. Did you mean that toward me"? We're gonna go, "No". And then, they're all like, we're gonna accuse them of accusing us when we know good and well... somebody in the house? When we know good and well we meant exactly what we said, and we shot it as a straight arrow right over to them. The tongue shoots arrows and don't think we are not aiming. We can look over here, and we can send it right to our left, right to our right. We do that even, in a lesser sense, even in a gathering like this. In that we're sitting next to people we're hoping, "I hope she got that Word. I hope she heard that, because I'm gonna tell you something. She's got the bitterest tongue I have ever heard in my life. The bitterest tongue I have ever heard". But you're not bitter about her bitter tongue. I know.
Do you know the writer of Hebrews says that bitterness defiles many? And listen, you have to be very, very careful. How many of you... oh, I was gonna ask you to raise your hand. Maybe you shouldn't. But how many of us live or have lived with somebody really bitter? Then do you know that if you don't guard against it, it's so defiling. It's very, very contagious, and it does a lot of harm, and we'll take up that way. And it could be that we're three generations from why the person was even really bitter to begin with. We don't even know why we're bitter anymore. We just come up with whatever. "I guess this is making me bitter". No, it was Grandma Sawyer that was all bitter, but she's handed down all her defilements of tongue to every single generation until we all take it up. Tongue, a bow. Words like arrows.
I want you to hear the words. Jot this down. You don't have to turn there 'cause I have someplace else I want you to go, but jot down Jeremiah 9:1-3, and then verse 8. "Oh that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! Oh that I had in the desert a travelers' lodging place, that I might leave my people and go away from them! For they're all adulterers, a company of treacherous men. They bend their tongue like a bow; falsehood and not truth has grown strong in the land; and they proceed from evil to evil, and they do not know me, declares the Lord". Verse 8: "Their tongue is like a deadly arrow; it speaks deceitfully; his mouth each speaks peace to his neighbor, but in his heart he plans ambush".
Their tongue is a deadly arrow. When we send it out, when we send out those bitter arrows, when we send out those poisons, we mean them to pierce. We mean them to. We don't mean them to have a blunt end. We mean them to pierce, and there's a place where we wanna use words that pierce. But it's not to wound people. We want words to go in, but to upbuild and not tear down, to speak truth and not deceit. Not to manipulate, but to bless, because my tongue is bow and my words are arrows.
Do you know one of the things that we say when somebody has spoken something to us like I just described at a table or whatever it may be? We say to them, "What's your point"? When was the last time you've been in an argument with somebody? You didn't even think. You weren't even anticipating an argument, and somebody said something to you, and like, "What's your point"? Because here's what you're saying? That somehow that thing was an arrow, and it had a point. And what was it? Well, don't we love this best when we go, "There was no point"? Oh, yes, there was a point, but in that moment we're not wanting to own the point. That's when the tongue can be used as a bow, with an arrow that says...
Listen, I just think maybe the world needs bring back the simple words "I'm sorry". Never, ever minimize the power of an apology. Never minimize the power of, "That was so rude. I don't even know why I said it". To just go ahead and own it. "That was so smart aleck. I don't know where that came from". Genesis 49: "Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a spring; his branches run over the wall. The archers bitterly attacked him, shot at him, and harassed him severely, yet his bow remained unmoved; his arms were made agile by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob (from there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel)".
I wanna tell you something. I pray please, please, please do not misunderstand what I'm about to say. Please, please hear this all the way through. But if you are regularly in the Scriptures you know what it's like, as well as I do, to be reading a passage of Scripture that you're not in any way thinking has anything whatsoever to do with you. You're reading it for the value of what it is. It is God's words. You're just, like, drinking it in, like a fountain that is manna to you that day, that morning, whatever it may be. But every now and then do you read something and then you have the strangest sense from God that that's about to be you? Anybody know what I'm talking about?
Here's what I don't want you to misunderstand. In no way am I saying that God made this blessing over Joseph mine. That's not what I'm saying. What I'm saying is that I was reading this portion, and I was really into it, and I got the strangest sense (this was a couple of years ago), I got the strangest sense that the Holy Spirit was whispering into my heart, "That's about to be you". So much so that just, like, I pushed back from my materials that I had out in front of me, sat before the Lord for a few minutes, and then I journaled it and dated it. That there would be a time soon when bitter arrows would come, and I would be shot at and shot at severely. And I am telling you it was not three months before it began.
Now, people like me that are out front, your pastors and your teachers, anybody out front gets hit, because, you know, we're just a target. We're just up here, and it's just easy to aim, and it's just always easier to find something wrong with somebody else, especially if they're telling you things you don't wanna hear, so it's an easy thing. And it's part of what we get. There's nothing that is more poisonous to a Jesus follower than a platform or a podium. That spotlight, it can be so poisonous, and I truly believe that God intentionally lets it be extremely hard, lets the criticism come to keep us from getting addicted to the spotlight, to have to instead make the decision over and over again, "I'll do this again. It may kill me, but I'll do this again". But that season came.
So, I've always had it, but that season came, and I'm gonna tell you this is what it was like: where you just feel like you are shot through. That you have been the target to so many arrows. I wonder does this resonate with anyone in the room. Anybody feel like this has been you in the last couple of years? Anybody? Could be that you're a school teacher or principal, whatever it may be, that put you in a position where a lot of arrows come your way. I want to show you what he says, because this gave me such hope. I said, "Lord, I took every bit of this down on my journal. If I understand you right and I've got a season coming where a lot of arrows are gonna get shot at me, then I ask you, Lord, then you surely do for me in the next verse, what it says that you did for Joseph". Anybody know what I'm saying?
Listen, if he wants to say no, he can say no, but I can ask. I can ask. And so, I've asked Rose. I have a volunteer that's gonna come up here and help me, and I wanna demonstrate to you... come here, Rose. I wanna demonstrate to you what this picture is here. Rose, you come up here. Now, y'all need to know this is taped down so that it cannot shoot at you, because I know this is unnerving. My husband said to me, when he was getting me set up, I said, "Honey, I'm gonna need", 'cause he's wonderful with a bow. He's a wonderful shot, and has a big target that's out in the yard.
He just does it for fun, and so when he got me set up he said, "I'm not sending you with a real one". I said, "Why not"? He goes, "Baby, you don't need a real bow and arrow". And he said, "I'm gonna tell you something else, too". He said, "I'm gonna send you with some of these arrows," 'cause these are real. He said, "Don't you even think about putting that in that bow and shooting it"? And I said, "But I wouldn't shoot it at anybody". He said, "You don't think you would. It would go right around like this, and it would stick right in somebody's chest. No, you're not doing it".
So, here's what we're doing instead. There's no point right here, but you know that there really is one. And then, this is all taped down, so there's nothing that Rose can do here, but, Rose, here's what I want you to do. I want you to stand right here, and I want you to hear these verses again. It says, "The archers bitterly attacked him, shot at him, and harassed him severely".
Now, in all probability this is referring to his brothers, the brothers of Joseph. It could. They said there are some respects. Benjamin, part of one of the tribes, was known for archery, but it's still a reach. There's more sense that it is talking about his brothers, but that it comes as a part of this tribe. That "archers bitterly attacked him, shot at him, and harassed him severely, yet his bow remained unmoved; his arms were made agile by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob".
So, here's what I want you to do, Rose. I want you to put your hand there, right here. The picture of this is that God has his hands over the archer's hands and is pulling back that bow, and he's not letting those arms shake. He's making them agile, loose. He's giving him focus, and he's drawing back that bow, and he's gonna let it go exactly where he wants it. Sometimes, Rose, we learn how to be an archer by getting shot at over and over and over and over, but we don't shoot at people. We shoot what is our real enemy. We shoot at deception, and we shoot at darkness, and not as those who have no aim. His hands on us every time. Thank you, Rose, so much. Rose, I'm gonna give you this arrow so that you have something to keep. Thank you so much. Every time we're shot at, I just want you to imagine God putting his arms around us, holding our hands tight on that bow, giving us aim at where our sight really needs to be. That's the beauty.
What if we aimed our words to pierce the darkness? What if, like Jesus in the temptation in the wilderness in Matthew chapter 4, when we were tempted and harassed by the devil, what if we aimed our response to fit the temptation? Keep thinking about that for a few minutes. Turn with me now to Ephesians chapter 6. Now, remember you and I are talking about spiritual athleticism, and one of the most powerful verses that we can learn... get this in your arsenal, because this is supposed to be you. And this is why it doesn't matter if you're 85 or you're 15, because every single one of us has this resource at our fingertips at the moment we place our faith in him and receive it.
It says in Ephesians 6, verse 10, "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able o stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace".
Here we go. "In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one". I love this because I love when the Scripture says "all". I love to know that it is without exception, and it says very, very clearly that we are to pick up, take up the shield of faith, with which we can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one. Now, here's the thing. Remember when we talked about that we are the target of the great affection of our God? Well, you know what? The thing about that is that we then become a target to the enemy, because, man, listen. If you want to get to me, you can come straight and criticize me. But you mess with my children, uh. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. You mess with my husband, mm. Big mistake. Big mistake.
I can criticize that man, sometimes myself, but don't you think about it. Don't you even think about it. These are my people. These are my people. We are his children. There's just no wounding God, so what's he gonna do? He's gonna aim at us. He's gonna aim at us, and Satan has a quiver full of arrows all his own. And I'll tell you this: he has been shooting arrows throughout his entire existence. He is a good shot. He is a practiced shot. Not only does he have a target where we are concerned, but he is after a bullseye. You know what the bullseye is? Wherever I'm most vulnerable. If you think he will not fight dirty, you have another thing coming, because he's going for exactly that place where we are not covered, exactly that place that's getting us the most, exactly that place.
He's going for that sorrow. He's going for that emptiness. He's going for that heartbreak. He does it over and over because he's mean. He's mean, and he literally is embodying everything that we could imagine about hell itself, even to the point of firing those darts that are set on fire by hell. That's where the shield of faith comes in, because what it does... I want you to picture it with me. What the shield of faith does, in the time of the inspiration of the book of Ephesians, this would have been well understood by anyone who had ever seen a Roman soldier. The shield would not have been something, like, oblong. It would have been something rectangular that looked like a small door.
Now, in those days, I was reading something, if this is accurate. I was reading one of the commentaries a couple of days ago, and I said, "Listen, it would have almost covered those warriors," because it was talking about how big it was. And they said, you know, the average height was about 5 feet, and I just, that's kinda hard to wrap our minds around. But it's all these little, it's like watching the hobbits, you know, with all the little, I don't know if that just strikes you as odd, but somehow I just never pictured. I'd picture all these tall warriors. That was not the case, but here's what they would do. Right here in this hand they had their shield, and they had their sword over here. So, the shield here, their sword here, 'cause the sword was in the sheath right here. Whoosh. Pull it out like this. Have got their shield. What they would do is that they would line up by one another in one line until they formed a wall.
Listen carefully. This is meant to be the body of Christ. See, don't think the enemy doesn't know it, because if he can keep us divided then we are not an impenetrable wall, because we're all scattered all over the place trying to hold up our own shield. But when we stand together, when you stand together as a church body, when you stand together as a group of believers in an accountability group, when we stand together as Christians, even as diverse as we are, then we are side by side. Every one of our shields are up and there is not an inch between them. And so, all those arrows are coming, but none of them are getting through.