In my sermon this morning, I referred to a statement the prophet Isaiah made:
" 1 Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the Lord called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name. 2 He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver. " (Isaiah 49:1-2, NIV)
After service, a young man in our church named Gabriel Lazaro was talking with me and said something like this, “God is the archer, the church is the bow, and the members are the arrows.”
What a beautiful image...! God creates us for a special calling and then sends us forth to fulfill that destiny through our local church after working in our lives like an archer straightening the shaft of his arrows so they will fly strait and true toward the target.
This is what took place in Acts chapter thirteen:
" 1 In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. 4 The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus." (Acts 13:1-4, NIV)
Saul had already been sovereignly called by God on the road to Damascus while he was still a persecutor of the church. No church leader of that time would have chosen Saul, later known as Paul, to become an apostle and one of the world’s first cross-cultural missionaries, but God called Saul anyway, without consulting with church leadership. Writing about spiritual gifts later on, Paul declared, “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.” (1 Corinthians 12:11) God reserves the right to call who He wants to, when He wants to, where He wants to, to whatever ministry He wants to, without asking anyone’s permission or needing anyone’s advice.
Having called Paul, God then took several years in Tarsus and the deserts of Arabia to fashion Paul into an arrow He could use. Notice the clear biblical pattern. Having called Paul through a direct, Holy Spirit encounter, the Lord then sends him out into the ministry He called Him to through a local church. God calls people directly but He wants to send them through a local church. This is the biblical pattern and this is the vision of Hillcrest Church:
“To BRING everyone we can into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, HEAL them everywhere they hurt, and TRAIN them to live according to biblical principles so they can LEAD by serving others as we SEND them to make disciples of all people everywhere.”
Sometimes the process of being fashioned into an arrow God can use is painful, but it is also extremely important. God calls some of us to go across an ocean, He calls others to go across town or across the street or across the backyard fence, but He wants to send all of us somewhere to do something for someone. Our local church leadership is committed to helping you walk through the BRING/HEAL/TRAIN/LEAD/SEND discipleship cycle so you can find your place in God’s plan and fulfill your destiny.
There are three simple things you must do in order for that to happen. First, you need to get into God’s manifest presence through regular times of prayer and worship. Second, you need to get into God’s Word through your personal devotions and our public worship services. Third, you need to get into God’s harvest by reaching out to those who do not know Jesus. It will amaze you how quickly God’s plan for your life will begin to unfold as you consistently take those three important steps.
Let’s go for the goal...!