Stanley Sharpe - Sri Lanka Convention - 1983

We sang that hymn, number 222, written by Jim Jardine.  During the war time, when there was much anxiety around, this hymn expresses his thoughts, that people would look above to our one hope, which is being true to Christ.  One reason we are gathered here today is found in Psalm 22, "For none can keep alive his own soul."  It is something that we cannot do on our own, to keep alive to God, and we see this picture right throughout the Bible, this need of fellowship.  A shepherd loves to gather his sheep in, he loves to gather everyone, and is glad when all are there.  Some may be wounded, some may be bruised, some may be lame, but when they are there, he can restore.  If they are not there, he does not know, and they are lost and at the mercy of the enemy, perhaps even dead.  The fact that you are gathered here today makes God glad, and He can apply the oil.

Psalm 139 speaks of the x-ray of God.  When people find there is something wrong they go to the doctor, and he takes an x‑ray, and the x-ray reveals the cause of what is wrong.  Here David said, "Search me, Oh God, and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts."  When a person goes to the doctor he wants to know, he wants the facts, wants to know what the x-ray reveals.  This is a good attitude when we go to God.  We want Him to search us, to reveal what is wrong.

Psalm 23, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil."  When we are walking towards the source of light, the shadows all fall behind us.  When we walk away from the source of light, the shadows are all in front of us.  If we are walking from the source of light we will know fear as we face the shadow of death.  This shadow of death is the king of terror, and the terror of kings.  Let us walk to Jesus, who is the light of life.  If we walk away from Him this shadow of death will haunt us, for this day is coming for all.  This day will not bother us if we are walking with our face towards God.

Sometimes people have pie for dessert - sometimes it's apple pie, or peach pie, or cherry pie, made in a round dish, and we take the first piece and it tastes good. We eat some more and soon there is only one piece left.  When we eat the last piece, it tastes just as good as the first piece, but when we have eaten the last piece, there is no more pie.  This is true of life, perhaps we may be working on the last piece, and we do not realize it.  We may be enjoying life, in good health, but we may be working on our last piece.  Life is a brief thing.  One day our lives have to be returned, they are only on loan to us.  We can return it either well-used, mis-used, or un-used.  Whatever we do, we will have to return it.  We may not live a wild life, we may just follow along and our lives are unused.  Some people lead terrible lives, and they are mis-used.  It is good to use our time wisely, and God will add His blessing to it.  This is a target to aim at.

In Solomon's day, it tells us that he made two hundred targets of beaten gold, six hundred shekels of gold went to one target.  Sometimes people have a paper target, sometimes a cardboard target, or a wooden target, or a tin target. Solomon made a golden target.  A gold target is a lot more worth than a paper target.  Some young men start in life, and their father tells them that the main thing in life is to make a million dollars.  The best way is to make it honestly, but anyhow, make a million dollars.  Other people have another target, of educating themselves, studying, getting a degree, they rise in the professional world that is their target.  Other people go farming and are successful.  There are many targets in the world that people aim at, and many hit the target, but they are all cheap targets.

We read of men in the scriptures who had targets of gold.  There is not a lot written about Enoch.  He lived long years ago, without the benefit of the word of God.  He did not have the chapter we read of about the children of Israel, he did not read about Christ, but Enoch seemed to understand God's will.  He had the right target in his life.

We read of Noah; God was unhappy with the sins of the world, it seems almost that the whole plan of the world was a failure and He wanted to destroy it all, but Noah was approved by God, and He showed him His plan of salvation.  Noah could have felt that there would be no flood, there has only been dew up to this point, and the Lord speaking of rain coming seemed impossible.  Perhaps when he was building the ark he could have had some ideas of his own, ways he could improve on it, but no, his target was complete and implicit obedience to what God wanted of him.  This was a golden target.  God said,  "Come thou into the ark," and He shut the door, and there was total destruction on the very same day. The rest of the world ignored and disregarded what God had said.

That man Abraham was led out by God, and he looked for a city that had a foundation, whose builder and maker is God.  It would have been easy for Abraham to have lived and died like his father lived and died, but no.  We read that all that happened of value in Abraham's life happened after he was 75.  We read of some, like Samuel, whom God dealt with while he was a little boy.  Some we read that God dealt them in middle life, like Paul and the disciple; and here Abraham, God dealt with him after he was 75.  Nothing of worth happened until God's spirit moved.  A lot of things have happened in our lives, but nothing of importance until God moved across our life.

There is a man we know in the police force, a top man; he was presented to the Queen in his country.  He was a body-guard for the Queen.  Eighteen months ago, this man had an opportunity to go to gospel meetings.  His wife had died one year before.  The revelation he got, he could see that what he was listening to his wife had never listened to.  His wife missed what he now had a chance to have, and he said that nothing of value had happened in his life until now, when he listened to the gospel.  It was the most important thing in his life.  Lot chose to go down to Sodom.  He suffered the consequences, but Abraham had a golden target - he prayed to God, first for 50, then 40, then 30, then 20, and the Lord responded and Lot was rescued.  Abraham had lovely golden targets.  Lovely to see those who are not satisfied to see others outside, but they have a regard to others who have not chosen so wisely, hearts that go out to the world’s needs, a world that needs our help and prayers.

During the Second World War, at Dunkirk, this town in France was being invaded by the Germans, so the British sent over to rescue their troops by sea, otherwise it would have been a fight to the death.  Volunteers were called to take their boats to rescue these troops, many came, and one man arrived with a row boat and others said what could he do with a little boat like that, and he said, "Perhaps I can save one life."  It is the spirit of this man that is so appealing. This same spirit is what Abraham had, and it is the same spirit that we have to have as we look out on a world that is wasting their time, wasting life, living for things that are useless.  Abraham did not say it was no use, he prayed to God because he felt that help would come.

Then we read of Joseph.  He was in the pit, there was no water, and his brothers traded him off as a slave, they did not care.  It would have been easy for Joseph not to care about them.  He could have said, "They don't care about me."  The opportunity came later when Joseph showed he had a golden target.  He wanted the relationship to be made right.  Wonderful if we can make this request to our Father in Heaven, when there is any kind of trouble, that it may be made right. This is a golden target.

Moses chose rather the affliction of the people of God.  He had an important place in the royal family; he could have been content with that and said, "I've got it made, why should I make all this trouble trying to help these people?"  He had eyes lifted to a golden target.  We need to keep our eyes on target, otherwise we might miss it.  We need to look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. When we get our eyes off Jesus, and start thinking that we are better than a brother or sister, we get our eyes off the target and we might miss it.  It's possible to just want to be important in the eyes of people, and get lifted up, but this brings the wrong reward.  In a meeting, we could give a testimony to impress our brothers and sisters, and we may impress them, but there is no reward from above, because we have already had our reward in the meeting, but if we keep our eyes on the target there will be a reward.

Joshua had a golden target when he was leading the people to the Promised Land.  "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."  When Joshua was buried, he was buried in the border of his inheritance.  It shows us that when he was buried he was just on the border of all that he had lived for.  We can enjoy all things in this life in the way of God, and when we come to the end, we come to the border of what the Lord has prepared for His faithful ones.

We read of Ruth who had a golden target.  Her sister-in-law lost the target, and went back to Moab, but Ruth kept on the target.  She chose three things: God, God's way, and God's people.  Some people like God but they do not like His people.  Some people like God's people, but not God, but we must have all three as our target.

We read of David, he had a golden target.  He was persecuted by Saul, and when Saul died and he was now king, and in authority, he said, “ Are there any of the household of Saul?"  Not to square the account, but to show the kindness of the Lord, even to one man.  He did not have a target of revenge.  He didn't say, "Now, I'm king, and should have been king long ago," but he now wanted to show the kindness of God, that had been shown to him.

Solomon also had a golden target.  The Lord asked this man, "What do you want?"  He did not want riches.  He felt he was so weak, he wanted wisdom, and the Lord was pleased with his target, and said He would give him this, and also riches and gold.  There came a time when he lost view of the target.  Solomon became a victim of his own folly.  We could get worked up in our own ideas, and although we see others who have made a mess of things, we think it won't happen to us, but we have to face this, that none of us have the Wisdom of Solomon. Don't let us ever get the feeling that we are on safe ground, because none can keep alive his own soul, we all need the help of all.

Daniel was a captive in Babylon, he and his companions were prisoners, they were at the mercy of their captors.  During the war, a sister worker was in Norway, at the time when Germany over-ran Norway, and she was placed in a prison camp. When she came out, she told us that she realized she was helpless in that camp. There were guard dogs surrounding the camp, there was barbed wire, and there was no power in this world that could help them, no military power.  The only thing that they could not take from her was the love of God.  She did not fear or fret, because she was true to Jesus.  She said that the only thing that could affect her life was this old self.  No political power could separate her from the love of God.  Daniel purposed in his heart, and he had the courage to stand true to that purpose and that conviction.  He would not partake, not eat or drink of the kings meat.  The prince, who was in charge of these men, came and said to them that he was in danger of losing his head, and this is an angle that weakens a lot of people.  The enemy comes along and somehow wants to get you involved, and you say, "No, I don't want to."  Then the enemy says, "I'll get in to trouble if you don't." Then you yield a little and say, "Maybe," and then they put pressure upon you and you give in.  Daniel did not give in.  This man said he would lose his head, but Daniel said that didn't matter, he had a right target, a right purpose.

John 3:16, is the nicest target of all.  God had every reason to feel hopeless with the world.  Thousands of people had lived useless lives, but God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth should not perish but have everlasting life.  While we were in India, we went to Mysore and saw the palace of the Maharajah.  We saw pictures of him riding on a golden throne on an elephant, and we saw the splendor of that place.  We'll never know till later the contrast of Jesus leaving the glories of Heaven to come to this earth. The splendor of this Maharajah is nothing compared to the glory that God has prepared for His people.  God sees you faithful, and if Christ is our life, when He appears, we will also appear with Him in glory.  This is the key to the whole thing:  If Christ is our life, then shall we appear.  There is more glory to enjoy than any king in this world has.

Jesus, at the age of 30, went out to preach.  Judah and Israel were under the Roman occupation, taxation was oppressive, life was joyless.  Jesus went out to preach and say, "Come, and follow Me."  A few responded and the wonder of God's great kingdom was unfolded to them.  Then the world turned against them. Jesus said to them, "Go to all the world, preaching and teaching."  This is a beautiful target.

This light will not go out until Jesus comes again.  "Tell people about the things that ye have seen and heard.  You are the salt of the earth and the light of the world."  One time I wrote to a salt company and asked them the question, "How does salt lose its savour?"  They replied that salt never loses its savour, but in the language that Jesus used, it was true of the language of that day. They took water from the Dead Sea, and the water evaporated then left a white substance which was not salt.  It had a little salt in it, but it was mainly made up of two elements, Sodium Calcium Sulphate, and Sodium Calcium Carbonate. This was put on the fish and meat, and the salt would go into and leave the other substances behind, and people would scrape this off and it would then be good for nothing.  If rain came upon this, the salt would be leached out and this remaining white powder would lose its savour.  Jesus said, "Ye are the salt of the earth," showing the measure of the spirit of God in us is the value to God.  This is the "salt" in the human body.  If we remove the salt from our lives, remove the Spirit, we are good for nothing.  The only thing of value to God in your life is the spirit of Christ - we are the light of the world, we are the hope of the world.

There have been some storms in our country where you could not see too far. One time in open country where there were no roads or fences, a father came to visit his daughter, and there was a snow storm.  The daughter thought perhaps he had not started on the journey, because he didn't arrive by evening, and she went to bed.  When daylight came, she looked out in the field, and there was the shape of a horse and sleigh.  She went out and found her father.  He had died, looking for her home.  He was so close to safety, but he could not find the place.  She wished that she had put the light in the window all night long.  People are depending on us all.  There are eyes on every one of us, and people who are looking for hope can look on our lives and say there is hope for me.  A hopeless world can begin to feel there is hope now.  We could do something foolish and turn a soul away for all eternity.

One time I visited an iron foundry, where they were melting iron to make wheels for a railroad.  They had big kettles and they would tip the molten metal into a mold.  A little carelessness, a little splash of metal, could finish a person forever. Over the door of that foundry was this sign, large enough for all to read it, "Your first duty today is to be careful."  God looks down, and He cares.  We may feel that there are many friends and workers who don't care, but God does care.  This is true of human love, between a husband and wife, and parents and children, there is care and concern for the future.  Parents are not only concerned about today, but also the future.  God loves us, and I hope we can appreciate this.

One time in a shipyard, there were men building a freighter, and it took a thousand man-hours to build this freighter.  It was going out on its maiden voyage, and it had to go through a narrow gap.  It was war time, and every ship that went through this gap had to give a signal.  A fishing boat came through and gave no signal, so the soldiers fired a shot across the bow of the boat, and right behind this boat was the new freighter, coming out on its maiden voyage, it was hit and went down.  We may do our best for our children, and our best for our neighbors, and our children may do their best at school, and we may put in many man-hours, but one careless shot can undo a lot of things that others have done.

A man who wrote some of our hymns, Jim Jardine, had a brother who had not composed any hymns.  Once at convention he said, "I have composed a hymn. The first verse goes like this: 'Go on, go on, go on.'  The next verse goes: 'Go on, go on, go on.'"  There is no way of going back There is no way to sit down, but to go on, go on, go on.  This is our golden target.  We must keep the light alive.  We need to be careful, we need to promote unity, and we need to be looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; let this be our target.  We will sing hymn 323, it's a hymn that I like at the end of a meeting:

"Dear Saviour, leave me not alone,

Hold Thou my hand within Thine own;

The shadow of Thy wings sublime

Protects, assures me I am Thine,

That I am not my own. "