The last 2 weeks we've looked at how to reach your full potential in the Lord, and done some serious business with God with a view to reaching our full potential in Christ. We've fully committed ourselves with a solemn promise to pursue this until we reach our full potential, and then last week we offered to the Lord our greatest fear and failure, never to take it back.
Today we examine the hurdles you will face as you try to full potential in the Lord!
And I am excited. As your pastor, it thrills me to know that we have a church of leaders, a church of people who will rise up and become all they can become in God.
But we're not there yet! All the commitments and promises in the world, no matter how sincere, mean nothing if you get entangled in things that hold you back.
When they start the hurdles race in the Olympics, the runners are on the starting blocks. They are ready. Then the command comes “Set”, and they assume the position where they are set to explode into the race.
At this moment, they are totally concentrated on the task at hand. They're not thinking about their mortgage, their relationships, their hairdo…. They are totally focussed on the race, and on the prize.
So this morning I want you to practice being disentangled from all that the enemy would bring against you to stop you become who God wants you to become.
DON’T HOLD BACK
The Jeep commercial proudly calls you… don't hold back. But I bet, if you think about reaching your full potential in the Lord, something is holding you back…
Is it that you want to pursue your potential but just aren’t sure that you can? Or are you revved up to run the race that God has set before you?
Is it that you're not sure what to do first?
You know you cannot possibly reach your full potential without God, but just knowing this isn’t enough. Specific shackles in your thinking may need to be faced and dealt with. God will help you correct your thinking, but you must make the first move.
Today we are going to cast off those shackles, and disentangle you to let you run!
CASTING OFF THE SHACKLES TO REACH YOUR FULL POTENTIAL IN THE LORD
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely (entangles us), and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
Most Christians have allowed themselves to become shackled in their thinking in one of three ways:
They have made so many excuses for so long that they are bound up by them. The truth is that there are no good excuses for failing to pursue your God-given potential.
Benjamin Franklin said, “He who is good at making excuses is seldom good at making anything else.”
Many people have exempted themselves from pursuing their potential for any number of reasons. They have decided that their situations or circumstances are unchangeable and that nothing further should or can be done. In their minds, they have already reached the limits of what they can do. Not God’s limits, their own contrived limits.
Or, they have arrived at the perfection of their character so no further refinement is needed.
They have condemned themselves for failing to ask God to reveal His plan and purpose for them. You may think you’ve missed it because you didn’t seek the Lord’s direction earlier in your life. Not so! You can discover and begin living according to His will, plan, and purpose right now. Start by asking God to forgive you for missing the mark in the past. Then pray for Him to show you what He desires for you to do now.
IT’ YOUR CHOICE
Lots of people in the Bible seemed unlikely candidate for success in life, but God saw the potential despite what they had done. Remember Moses killed a man, but God saw a great leader of His people. In fact, in his old age, he became one of the foremost figures of the Old Testament, and wrote the first five books of the Bible
The apostle Paul— previously called Saul, was not only guilty of murder; he had a self-appointed purpose of killing all Christians and destroying the church. But he became the most important missionary of all time. He found his full potential in the Lord!
Your past does not dictate what God is able to do in you and through you in the future! Even if what you have accomplished in life is excellent by human standards, it is nothing compared to what God can do with your future. Never allow what happened yesterday to dictate what you will do tomorrow for God! Never rest on your past achievements and refuse to take on the challenges that lie ahead.
If you are resting on your laurels, you're wearing them in the wrong place! Today is the day to cast off these shackles of faulty thinking. Embrace the awesome future God has for you!
1 Corinthians 9:24-25
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
SEVEN HURDLES TO OVERCOME
After you shake off the shackles that are keeping you from seeking and acknowledging your potential, you are likely to encounter several hurdles in your attitude or thinking.
Make no mistake… all the good intentions you can muster to reach your full potential in the Lord can be derailed by these 7 hurdles.
HURDLE 1- LIMITED PERSPECTIVE
Many people are focused completely on themselves in the here and now.. I mean, this is the selfie generation. As a result, they are extremely short sighted.
They see only what is happening right before them or what is affecting their lives with the greatest intensity at any given moment. Their only and over riding concern is what is happening this hour or this day. Such people live in the moment, sliding from minute to minute without any thought, from drama to drama living life as a soap opera and wondering, “Why this stuff always happens to me!”
People with limited perspective react to life rather than respond to it. Reactions are immediate, instinctive, impulsive, and generally highly emotional. Responses, by comparison, are measured, evaluative, and “thought out” to some degree—and therefore, tend to be slightly delayed in time.
Reacting or responding really reflects your personal walk with God. Godly people react less and respond more, and their responses are based in the Word of God and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.
Having limited perspective is like looking only in the mirror. You only see how people, circumstances, or situations affect you—not how they might impact the lives of others.
And the crazy thing is this… people with limited perspectives, while they usually fail to consider others, they usually expect others to think continually about them and are upset if that is not the case!
If you believe that your purpose in life is solely in the here and now, or that your purpose is wrapped up entirely in what will benefit you, it is very likely that you will become extremely self-indulgent. The only question important to you is, “What brings me immediate pleasure and satisfaction?” And then you will seek out and pursue only those things.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
To change your perspective you need to ask the question, “What does God have in mind for me and for my life?” Our ultimate purpose on this earth is not to gratify and satisfy ourselves, or to be happy, but to bring pleasure and joy to the heart of the Father… it's a new perspective.
HURDLE 2- FEELINGS OF LOW SELF ESTEEM OR VALUE
We live in a world that tries to convince us that we are just chemicals, just over evolved monkeys without a soul, without a spirit and without hope beyond the grave. It tells us to be consumers, live each day to get the most happiness we can for ourselves.
If you don't believe God has created you with a plan and a purpose in His mind, and if you don't understand and believe the promises in His Word, then you will not value yourself.
You also won't value the lives of others. That's the sinister power of such a world view. The evolutionist who tells you you're just a sack of evolved chemicals, that there is no God and you have no eternal soul, is the same driving force behind the idea that babies are just collections of cells, and if they don't fit with your plans they can simply be discarded.
But if you do understand that God loves and values you, and has done since your conception, that He plans and orchestrates every aspect of your life and circumstances, that He knows every thought you make, every part of you and that He has a plan for every moment of your life, then you can see yourself as valuable, worthwhile and precious to Him.
You are fearfully and wonderfully made!
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
- God has given you a body with a degree of strength, energy, stature, and coordination.
- He has given you emotions and a capacity to experience and express them in a godly way. He has given you a need for love, an ability to receive love, and the capacity to express it to others.
- He has given you a mind and an ability to think, reason, and remember.
- He has given you an ability to communicate, both with and without words.
- He has given you a measure of faith, spiritual sensitivity, as well as a desire to know and be in relationship with Him.
You see, God values you beyond anything you can fully imagine or understand. Consider all the galaxies and the stars and the planets moving through a universe so vast that we human beings cannot comprehend the edges of it. Think about all of the magnificent plants, animals, mountains and deserts on our planet, the seas and all that is in them, the patterns of sunrises and sunsets, and the beautiful colours and shapes and sizes that God unfolds before us on a daily basis. Consider all that our Creator has made.
None of it—despite its apparent grandeur and beauty—none of it compares in value to you. To God, one human being is worth more than all the rest of His creation combined. It is in you that He has placed the capacity to know Him, love Him, serve Him, and live with Him forever.
Even the angels stand in awe at what God has made available to you, placed in you, and provided for you.
As a human being, you have been endowed with the ability to express love to God and to receive His love. And only you can love God and receive His love in the unique way that He has planned for you before the foundation of the world.
No one else can relate to the Lord precisely the way you can relate to Him. In that, He is pleased and calls it good!
So if you are thinking right now, “Well, I don’t see that I have the potential to do anything to serve God or to be used by Him to extend the gospel.” THINK AGAIN!
If you say that, you're only looking at your life only through your own eyes, not God’s eyes. God has made everyone, and that includes you, with the potential to serve Him on this earth and to be a witness for Jesus Christ.
HURDLE 3- CONSTANT COMPARISONS TO OTHERS
This is closely linked to low self-esteem or self-worth… The tendency to compare one’s success or abilities to another person.
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man?
When you do this you'll find yourself quickly jumping to excuses for your perceived lack of success or ability… “I wasn’t born into the family that person has,” “I don’t have the same education,” “I haven't had the same opportunities,” or “I’m simply not gifted in the way that person is.”
And guess what.. you're right!
The truth is, you're not like any other person who has ever lived, is alive, or will ever live. You are unique you're one of a kind!
The problem with comparison is that we use our perceived shortcomings as an excuse for failing to trust God and pursue the unique potential He put in us. If we regard ourselves as failures before we even begin the race, often never even start the race!
1 Corinthians 9:26-27
So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
Boxing the air is a way of saying wasting your time and energies. He didn't do that, he played to win! Everything he did, everywhere he went, every word he spoke or wrote he did so to serve Jesus and win souls. He expected to finish the race and win. Paul was not there to capitulate, to make up the numbers or to float through his life standing for nothing and falling for everything!
So don't you start off expecting to lose! Don’t set out to be average, to be inconsequential, to be without power.
However, at the same time, remember you're not running someone else's race, you're running your own race. God has set a course before you, designed exclusively for you, with tasks before you that you alone are to complete.
God has equipped you with exactly what He intended for you to have as the basic tools, gifts, and abilities to fulfil His plan for you.
HURDLE 4- LIMITING YOURSELF
God’s plan for you has nothing to do with your family tree, your school or college, your culture, your race, your financial and material acquisitions, or your personality.
Your purpose in life, your full potential in the Lord is not something you can achieve. It is not something made by man, nor is it a situation into which you were born or grew up. It is not something that you figure out as you go along. God chose your destiny, He designed it and equipped you for it.
No trial or hardship negates His plan for you. No difficulty you encounter can deflect you from His plan and purpose… unless you choose to be disobedient or choose to give up!
Many of us carry self imposed limitations that have been with us since childbirth.
When a baby elephant is tethered by a very thick rope to a stake firmly hammered into the ground, it tries several times to get free, but it lacks the strength to do so.
After a year, the stake and the rope are still strong enough to keep a small elephant tethered, although it continues to try, unsuccessfully, to get free. At this point, the animal realises that the rope will always be too strong and so it gives up.
When it reaches adulthood, the elephant can still remember how, for a long time, it had wasted its energies trying to escape captivity. At this stage, the trainer can tether the elephant with a slender thread tied to a broom handle, and the elephant will make no attempt to escape to freedom.
These limitations are often what our parents told us we could or couldn’t do. In some cases, they are rooted in cultural or religious teachings that told us life was nothing more than a series of rules and regulations to keep.
Some of you may have been brought up in a legalistic church, with everything labeled “Thou shalt,” and “Thou shalt not,” emphasis on the latter. Such a strict upbringing can cause you to put man made limits on what God has for you.
Now I'm not advocating that we throw all rules away, because that does not give you freedom, that gives us you breakfast in bedlam! Many of these rules are not Biblical at all (even if dressed up to be), so we need to let the Bible be the guide here, not rules.
Former rules include lipstick, shorts, movies.
“These people come near to me with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me
is based on merely human rules they have been taught.
Jesus faced this too, because by His time there were literally hundreds of rules made up that devout Jews had to keep. But Jesus said, “I have come to set the captives free!” (Isa. 61:1; Luke 4:18). He came to release people from their sin nature and from the legalism that had imprisoned their minds and weakened their faith in God.
So don't let rules or preconceived expectations limit what God has planned for you!
HURDLE 5- FEAR OF DISAPPOINTMENT
The Bible says 365 times do not be afraid, that's one for every day of the year!
Perhaps you are afraid to let God down, or other people. Question is, are you sure your fear of disappointing others isn't really a fear that they will disappoint you? Are you afraid that if you really open up and truly go for it to reach your full potential, God or people around you will let you down?
Often we say we don't want to disappoint others, but in reality we're afraid that others will disappoint us because they will fail to support us or recognise our achievements. Perhaps we fear that God will let us down, have another plan we don't know about or be unable to make His plan work properly.
Look, the truth is there will always be those who don't support you, criticise you compete with you or are jealous of your successes. There are always those who covert what you get or achieve. Just this week we attended a pastors conference at a church nicer, plusher and classier than ours, with a great kitchen and coffee shop. Fiona said, “Thou shalt not covert thy neighbour’s Crystal Cathedral.”
But here's some greater truths…
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
- God will never reject you, forsake you, or fail to encourage you as you seek to follow His leading and fulfil His plan for your life. He will help you, not hinder you.
- God is never disappointed by your sincere desire to do His will. He will uphold you, send others to assist you, and guide you to the path He desires for you to walk.
- God can turn all of your disappointments into joy. He has wonderful and unique ways of turning even the worst rejection into grand acceptance. He very often turns the harshest critics into the closest allies.
Many people with a fear of disappointment are often perfectionists who expect too much too soon—both from themselves and from other people. The truth is, nobody can achieve perfection in this life. Each of us can do our best at everything we attempt, but no one is going to be perfect or do perfect work all the time. Furthermore, God has a timetable for the fulfilment of our potential. His will, plan, and purpose are revealed slowly and over time, day by day, step by step.
HURDLE 6- FEAR OF FAILURE
Fear of failure is a constant hurdle we face as we try and reach our full potential in the Lord.
Each of us must acknowledge that we already have experienced plenty of failures. How many times do you think you fell down learning to walk as a baby before you finally took your first steps? How many exam questions have you blown? How many times have you tried something and not succeeded? If at first you don't succeed, perhaps skydiving is not for you!
2 Chronicles 20:20
Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.”
We all fail, but that does not mean we are failures.
Some thought Jesus failed when he was executed on a cross, but God never saw Him as that!
Failure is part of God’s success formula! He does not exempt us from failing. Rather, He uses it to teach us and reveal to us what does not work as we pursue what will work.
You may have heard about the failures of Abraham Lincoln before he was ultimately elected president of the United States. We know the many failed attempts of Thomas Edison before he finally invented the light bulb. Failure is not only a part of life, it's an essential!
Every major invention, every major success has been preceded by multiple failures. So it is reasonable to assume that you will fail at times as you pursue God’s plan for your life. It is what you do with your failures that count. Do you deny them? Do you refuse to learn from them? Do you give up and refuse to try again? Do you allow them to discourage you to the point that you give up on yourself and on God? These are not the right responses to failure.
Failure on some level is inevitable. But without failure, you won't learn, so buckle up and get ready to fail, but make sure you get back up again. I can tell you that the older I get the more I realise that I have done things in God I never thought possible. I have even become someone I never once thought I'd be. Look back on your life, look at how far you've come with God, how much you've grown and this should encourage you to have no fear of being disappointed, even if you fail a time or two. Believe God will do as He has said. He always has and always will.
When you fail, just ask, “God, please show me how and why I failed. Help me not to repeat it, and enable me to get up, move forward, and trust You to work all things together for my eternal good.”
One of my strengths as a pastor is not that I never fail. I do, and often! But I do not like repeating the same mistake twice. Fail once, it's learning. Fail twice it's hard learning. Fail 3 times and it's a bad habit you need to change.
So don't focus on the possibility of disappointment or failure, focus on the possibility of success. Focus on winning the race set before you. Focus on the rewards and benefits of a godly life of obedience and perseverance. Focus on the positive things God can accomplish through you and on the people who can be positively influenced by your example.
Those who refuse to take risks out of fear of disappointment and failure rarely experience the full joy and satisfaction that God desires for them. So rather than focusing on what you can’t do, haven’t done, or have already failed at doing, focus on the fact that God has placed within you the capacity for success. He has prepared you for all kinds of cool things for you to achieve and accomplish. God has built into you the ability to be complete and whole. He did not create you to partially succeed. He expects you to fulfil His purposes for your life, not to fail.
HURDLE 7- LAZINESS
We live in a basically lazy society. We all want to get rich quick with little or no effort. We all want awesome relationships in our time frame and our terms. We have a remote for the fan, the aircon, the TV, the DVD. Nathan tells me the new Tesla car even drives itself, you just have to sit there.
Everything related to God’s vision of success for your life is already in you. But if you are lazy, you will not make the necessary effort to explore or develop the gifts and talents that God has placed in you. If you are not willing to get up and get going on the tasks that lie ahead, you cannot experience the true joy and satisfaction that come with completing them to the best of your ability.
Each of us faces a four-fold challenge about any task we undertake:
Productivity—doing as much as we can
Quality—doing things as well as we can
Time management—doing things as efficiently as we can
Maximum impact—doing things as effectively as we can
These four challenge areas automatically raise certain questions:
Are you doing everything you can today to reach your full potential? Are you procrastinating, letting things slide, or avoiding or putting off certain responsibilities or tasks
Ike reading the Bible? Are you doing things in a slipshod manner instead of giving every task your best effort? Are you using your time well? Do you let your mind wander? Do you take unnecessary detours? Do you have goals that focus your efforts? Have you determined the area where God desires for you to have impact or influence? Are you continually looking for evidence that what you are doing is having significant results, such as making a positive difference in the life of another person?
We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
God does not reward laziness, and He doesn't bless a sluggard. We must first do the natural before God does the supernatural, so if you are sitting around wasting time watching the idiot box, don't expect to reach your full potential in God that way!
There are no excuses for laziness.
God has a master plan, and you're part of it. When God created us, he gave us gifts and abilities that fit with his purpose for our lives. As he transforms our lives, we are able to use our gifts in keeping with the purpose for which God created us.
For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
That's what church is about. God has given each of us certain gifts and abilities. It is only when the members are connected to the body in their appointed place and fulfilling their appointed functions that their usefulness is realised.
In light of this truth, we must seek to discover our spiritual gifts and find a place where our talents and abilities can be used to help others. Then the entire church can experience spiritual growth. That's why we have 201 today. If you're not sure where you fit, come along after the lunch… it's free, and will help you reach your full potential in Christ!
Today, search your heart and decide if you face any of these hurdles, if any of them seem daunting. If so, come forward and let or team stand with you to sort them out, to empower you to leap over these hurdles in a single bound.