Last week we began to have a look at how you can reach your full potential in Christ. We touched on the incredible potential God has placed in all of us, and how unless we commit ourselves fully to the task of obediently seeking Him, we condemn ourselves, and even sometimes content ourselves with being mediocre.
And that is not God’s will. He sees unlimited potential within you, unfathomless beauty in your character… He sees what you could and should be, the very image of His one and only Son.
And last week most of you stood and made a covenant with the Lord to step out with Him and discover your full potential in Christ and destiny He has for you. You may have had a tough week, you may have faulted, but I can assure you that God’s promise to you stands if your promise to Him abides. It is that solemn promise that I want to further develop this week…
QUESTIONS TO ASK GOD
Imagine this: You are an intrepid, hard hitting reporter, Oprah Whimpy. You've interviewed amazing people in the past, and asked the big questions. You asked Lance Armstrong why he used steroids, you've asked Napoleon why he invaded Russia, and you've asked Superman if he really is from Krypton.
And now God Himself is being interviewed, and you can ask the big questions again. You could ask how He created the heavens, you could ask about end times… but why not ask about something that affects you, and indeed all of us?
Why not ask God about His will, plan, and purpose for your life? Are you fully willing and available to receive His answers? Are you afraid of what He would say, or afraid that you will never measure up to His opinion of you?
Ok, now let's get specific about your full potential in Christ! Among the questions I would ask of Him—and I encourage you to ask— are these:
- “What do You want to do in my life?”
- “What do You want to do through my life?”
- “What do You still desire for me to experience?”
- “What possibilities lie within me?”
- “What potential lies before me?”
- “What could I become, or what should I become?”
- “What did You have in mind when You created me?”
- “What do You desire for me?”
Only God can answer these questions. And for most people in the vast majority of situations and circumstances, He will answer them only when asked.
Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.
Every year at around this time of year thousands of students and young people are planning their futures— the job they want, the course the want to study, the career they want to pursue, where they want to travel, who they want to meet and marry, the experiences they want to have. My questions to them would be: “Have you asked God what He has created you to do and be? Have you asked the Lord what He has planned and purposed for you?”
But it is not only the young person who needs to ask these questions. Everyone needs to ask God these things periodically throughout life. Old and young, mature and naïve, employed and unemployed, married, divorced, parents, whatever the case may be, all of us needs to ask the Lord the big questions!
Talked during the week with a couple who face a situation… do they follow their dreams, or take the safe way just to earn money. I always inclined to the first option, lest you get stuck in a job you hate, miserable for years, just for the money. I urge all of you to discover your dreams, reach for your dreams and, if you feel like money or anything else is in short supply, trust God and be generous and, like the Israelites facing the Red Sea with the Egyptian army at their back, believe for a miracle.
But God, would you really do that for me?
ARE YOU DISQUALIFIED FROM REACHING YOUR FULL POTENTIAL IN CHRIST?
I bet some of you are sitting here thinking you're not good enough, that God couldn't have an incredible plan for your life.
Sometimes we think that what we have done in the past, or the situation we are currently in disqualifies us from reaching our full potential in Christ. But God’s Word reveals to us that destiny is a series of choices, regardless of our past or current circumstances, and you can start making right choices this morning!
So you are still qualified to reach for your full potential and destiny in Christ even if…
- You've recently lost a partner through death or divorce
- You've recently lost a job or job opportunities, or can't get one
- You're about to be married or move
- You’ve got rowdy, out of control kids of any age
- You've just changed churches
- You've done drugs, slept around, robbed banks… even murdered someone.
None of these disqualify you if you come to Jesus. None of these circumstances change the fact that God loves you, God has called you and God has a plan and purpose for your life!
It doesn't mean you can keep behaving badly, so don't bother asking Him to lead you if you're determined to wander off the path He sets for you and do your own rebellious thing. But if you're willing to listen, learn, and obey, starting today, you are definitely not disqualified from reaching your destiny in God.
We all need to ask God repeatedly and frequently, “What did You create me to do and be? What have You planned and purposed for me?”
1 Corinthians 2:9
But, as it is written,
“No eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—
THE FIVE PILLARS OF POTENTIAL
The Bible offers us 5 key pillars to help us understand how we can see our potential in Christ realised…
1. EVERY PERSON HAS POTENTIAL
Every person has potential—no matter how much you may have achieved already, or messed up so far, and no matter how old you are. There’s still more God has for you to be and do to fulfil your full potential in Christ!
2. EVERY PERSON HAS BEEN CREATED TO BRING GOD GLORY
Every person has been created to bring God glory. How do we accomplish that? By being the people He made us to be individually and then collectively as His church. We also bring Him glory by fulfilling His purposes for us on earth.
3. WE ALL NEED GOD’S HELP
No one can reach his potential without the Father’s help, whatever our God-given talents and gifts.
4. WE MUST FACTOR IN THE SPIRITUAL DIMENSION
No person can reach her potential without factoring in the spiritual dimension associated with it. God has not only created you with the gifts and talents to do His work on this earth, but He also has created you with the desires, dreams, and disposition to become a person with whom He enjoys fellowship and spiritual intimacy. Part of your potential lies in who God made you to be, not only in what He created you to do.
5. ONLY GOD KNOWS THE LIMIT OF YOUR POTENTIAL
Only He knows the limits of your full potential in Christ. You are finite and do not have the ability to fathom all that God has purposed for you. No one can fully understand the depths of His love, the help that He desires to give, or the blessings and rewards that He has prepared.
WHAT YOU SEE ISN’T WHAT YOU GET
A person may reach the pinnacle of a profession or be lauded as the best in the world at a particular sport, skill, or craft. He may rank at the top of any number of the world’s scales or criteria of evaluation. You may look at certain people and admire them, or even want to be them!
But unless this person factors God into their life, seeking to love and serve Him wholeheartedly, they will never reached their full potential. They might maximise their outward abilities but, as CS Lewis said, there's a God shaped vacuum within them.
My example Pastoring.
YOUR POTENTIAL INCLUDES ATTRIBUTES, ABILITIES AND ATTITUDE
The full potential God sees in you includes both abilities, attributes and attitudes.
Your attributes are your character traits—they are the real “you” that exists, regardless of external circumstances. They are the you you carry around with you. They are the “you” that shows up no matter where you go or with whom you associate.
The Bible gives us a very good description of the character that God desires to see in each of us. The apostle Paul wrote that it is the Father’s purpose to conform us to the image of His Son Jesus, so that we might reflect Christ’s nature and character to the world around us.
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
That character is summarised in another of Paul’s writings as being marked by “love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, [and] self-control” (Gal. 5:22–23).
These are not attributes that we can produce on our own. They develop in us as we say “no” to temptation and the flesh and “yes” to the Holy Spirit living and working in us. The Spirit matures us into the fullness of Christ’s character. He generates in us the awareness, ability, and courage to live out a new life marked by godliness.
They are the fruit of a life led by the Holy Spirit and educated to God.
You cannot reach full potential in Christ for your attributes apart from God.
The same is true for your abilities. You may think that by exercising, practicing, or pursuing education and training, you can reach the fullness of your God-given abilities.
In truth, however, you cannot. The Lord gives you opportunities for developing your talents and gifts. He orchestrates your life to put you into the company of the right teachers, encouragers, and yes, even competitors—all of whom have a role in pushing you to achieve your full potential.
But never forget that it is God who gives you the mental and physical energy to pursue the development of your talents and gifts. He is the One who provides your next heartbeat, your next breath, your next idea, and your next awareness of what is still possible. And God gives you the opportunities for displaying and using your talents and gifts in ways that came and will produce true growth.
I attended University and graduated with a B. Optom. I had studied the eyes, the brain, visual performance and function, lenses, contacts lenses and so on. I had applied for a got a job.
My first day in the job I was terrified. All this knowledge, but I did not know diddly squat about the real world, the real visual needs of real people. Until the theory and knowledge was applied in the real world, I wasn't very useful! Learning is completed with application.
Would you rather see an experienced doctor, or a new graduate who might know more theory?
The Christian life was never intended to be a matter of book learning or head knowledge. If Christianity is going to work, it must work in real life, with real people facing real problems.
God wants us to live out the life He created and intends for us to live. The Bible tells us repeatedly to get knowledge and understanding. But then it challenges us to pursue wisdom, which is the application of knowledge and understanding in real-world situations according to God’s commandments and principles.
Look at Solomon’s prayer as he became king…
2 Chronicles 1:10
Give me now wisdom and knowledge to go out and come in before this people, for who can govern this people of yours, which is so great?”
IMPROVE YOUR SERVE
But we must take a step beyond the mere application of what we know to discover your full potential in Christ—that step is service. Our abilities are truly challenged when we manifest them in ways that genuinely serve, bless and help other people.
1 Peter 4:10
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace:
I sing… I have for years. I use to sing in bands, I was asked to join many bands. I could have maybe been famous as a singer, maybe not. But singing, as much as I love it, as much as I enjoy it and have talent for it, is nothing compared to singing for Jesus. When I turned away from bands and towards what God had for me, it was then I saw my true potential being realised. When the opportunity comes to use my voice and skills as a musician for purposes that are truly evangelistic or worship-oriented, it was then that the fullness of my potential began to be realised from the Father’s perspective.
And here's the crazy thing.. I wanted to sing before big crowds (don't we all), and through my ministry and serving Bill Newman I have realised and fulfilled that dream. I have sung before tens of thousands more than I ever would have in a pub band!
Only God provides those genuine opportunities for service, then rewards them with His presence.
Skills or abilities that are used in real-world situations for true service to the Lord give an added dimension to the word purpose. At this point, a person truly experiences fulfilment and joy.
God has also placed within you the attitudes that will drive you to develop the right attributes that bring Him glory.
Yes, at times your attitudes might be marred, scarred or worthy of being barred. They might make you duck, they might run amok, or they might just plain suck, but deep down, whether you're currently, half hearted, hard hearted, broken hearted or wear your heart on your sleeve, God has given you attitudes. The right attitudes!
2 Timothy 1:6-7
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Yes, the Father has placed within you the aptitudes that can be trained and moulded into the right abilities that bring Him glory. And what you may see as a character flaw, in His hands can become your greatest strength!
Your timidity can be developed into patience and greater trust in Him. Your stubbornness can become the fruit of long suffering and faithfulness. Your anger can give rise to godly zeal. Your past hurts can provide valuable wisdom and experience to help you minister to others.
But always remember, it is God who works throughout your entire life to bring you to the fullness of your attributes and your abilities, your aptitudes and your attitudes. You cannot do it in your own strength. You can only do it in God’s strength and supply.
It was once said, "Only one life, twill soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last!”
That is the reason I say with boldness: Only God knows your potential, and only God can help you fulfil it. God sees not what others see, but He sees deeper, He sees the hidden potential your boss, your husband, even your mum does not see! He sees your full potential in Christ
EMBRACE THE POSSIBILITIES
God not only has a plan in effect for your entire life—His plan goes on to future generations, all the way into eternity. God sees ahead what we can't!
Do you think the apostle Paul, locked up in a Roman prison, trying to communicate with a few of the churches and people he loved, do you think he knew that what he wrote would affects millions of people 2,000 years later?
There’s no way to know how many people your life will influence. You don’t know who is watching, listening, or learning from you. Your kids? Your friends? Maybe even your pastor? It’s impossible to know for certain what those you influence will do, who they will influence, or how they will affect the world.
Every person impacts history in some way—for God or for the enemy, for good or for evil. What you do and say lives on in the hearts and minds of others, to some degree, with a definite result or consequence. The decisions you make today echo throughout your life, and the life of your children and those around you!
Are you willing to line up today with God’s purpose and plan for your life and begin discovering what He still has for you to do?
Ever heard of Edward Kimbal? Most people haven't, but let me relate his story…
Kimball was a Sunday school teacher with rowdy boys in his class in the mid 1880s. He tried to win each one to Jesus individually, despite their unruly and hyper behaviour.
One young man, in particular, didn’t seem to understand what the gospel was about so Kimball went to the shoe store where he was stocking shelves and confronted him in the stock room with the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That young man’s name was Dwight L. Moody. In the stockroom on that Saturday, he received Jesus Christ as his Saviour. He became the greatest evangelist of his time, winning hundreds of thousands to Christ.
But God’s plans and purpose doesn't end there.
Moody influenced a man named FB Meyer, who in turns had a profound effect on another man’s heart, Wilbur Chapman. Chapman became an evangelist who preached to thousands also. One day, a professional baseball player had a day off and attended one of Chapman’s meetings, and thus, Billy Sunday was converted.
Billy Sunday quit baseball and became a famous evangelist, winning thousands to Christ including a young, scholarly man called Mordecai Ham, who wanted to preach the gospel also.
Ham wasn't big or famous like Billy Sunday, but one day in 1934 he visited a little Baptist church in Charlotte, North Carolina to preach a series of revival meetings. One especially tough evening he shared the gospel and called souls to repent and receive Jesus Christ, and only one awkward, lanky, country boy came forward to ask Jesus into his life that night. No big response, so he might have thought the evening a failure, but God didn't. The name of the teenage boy who responded that night… Billy Graham!
SPIRALLING DOWN OR UP?
The decision you make in church over these next few weeks will affect eternity. Failure to trust God to reach your full potential means you might be the missing link in a life changing, world altering move of God! So the choice is yours today… yes or no, life or death, in or out, move towards your full potential in Christ, or stay where you are?
Those who never discover and pursue God’s purpose for their lives very often feel disappointed, empty, and discouraged. They are frustrated, and you might be frustrated of even anxious today looking at your life. If worry and anxiety are allowed to grow unchecked, they turn into depression. And if depression is not reversed, it can turn into deep despair. This downward spiral can be devastating.
The very opposite occurs in those who wholeheartedly pursue God’s will, plan, and purpose. They feel energised, satisfied, and encouraged. They have hope and joy, even facing difficult circumstances. They ride the waves of problems and challenges, see each one not as a fear, not as a set back and not even as a hardship, but as a stepping stone to greatness!
They see life’s challenges as a golden opportunity to believe God and reach their potential, and they believe that He is using those situations and circumstances to carry them forward to a greater good and greater trust in Him. The more they experience the Lord at work in their lives, and through their lives, the more they trust God and grow in their intimacy with Him. This upward spiral continues all the way into heaven.
but it is God who executes judgment,
putting down one and lifting up another.
I once heard the story of a little girl who was walking on her toes throughout the house. When her father asked her, “Why are you walking that way?” she replied, “I’m seeing what it’s like to be a big girl.”
God has a will, plan, and purpose for your life that should keep you walking on your tiptoes! Your full potential in Christ!
He has even greater spiritual maturity for you, greater reward for you, greater joy for you, and greater success for you. And all of it, from the Lord’s perspective, is so fantastic that you cannot begin to imagine how good it will be.
What is your greatest failure? What is the thing you perceive as holding you back from truly fulfilling the commitment you made last week, to move into your full potential? Is it lack of trust? Past hurts? Fear of others, fear of financial failure, fear of the future? Were you told you'll never amount to anything? Do you feel like you'll never be good enough? Have you tried to be a better person in the past and failed?
I want you to imagine that failure, in your hands, and come and lay it at the front.