Sunday, May 10, 2015 am                                            Perfection 2015 Index


Spiritual growth
Reaching Your Full Potential


In our continued study of going on to perfection, last Sunday we began to address the subject of spiritual growth.  We established the need for growth and noted some things we can do to promote growth.  Our emphasis was on desire and diligence as well as noting the various qualities described in 2 Peter 1:5-11.  As we continue to examine spiritual growth, we want to notice some more attitudes that will help promote this growth.  Today we want to talk about reaching your potential as a Christian.

 I.                    Potential

a.        Defined – (adj) having or showing the capacity to become or develop into something in the future.
(n) latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness.[1]

b.       We hear much in our society today about reaching your full potential.  The point is to fully develop and become the best at whatever you are doing in a particular area (or in general).  
There is great concern today in society with indifference and lack-luster performance.  So many are content just to get by and do just enough.  In many respects this has led to a society of mediocrity.   And much of it is the product of various influences within our society – lack of accountability, lack of absolute moral integrity, etc.   As is typically the case, such often finds itself in the church. 

c.        While the Bible never uses the word “potential” we see the idea throughout, both by examples and instructions as we shall see.  As Christians, just getting by is not our standard.  And it may keep us out of heaven.  We need to excel at what we do.  So let’s talk about the need to reach our potential.

d.       The opposite of reaching your full potential would include attributes such as – quitting before you finish, complacency (indifference), apathy, mediocrity, laziness, lukewarm, etc.  All of these are addressed in scripture as well, and they do NOT describe the disposition of the godly.  For example:
 - Quitting before you finish the race (1 Cor. 9:24, 27)
 - Falling short (Heb. 12:25 – fall short of the grace of God)
 - Laodicea – Rev. 3:14-19 – the lukewarm church.  They had failed to reach their full potential. 
- 2 Timothy 4:10 – Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica…

 II.                  Our Spiritual Potential in the Bible.

a.        Examples of potential

                                                   i.      Jeremiah called -  Jeremiah 1:6-8, “Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” Then said I: “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.” But the Lord said to me: “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ For you shall go to all to whom I send you, And whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, For I am with you to deliver you,” says the Lord.” (Jeremiah 1:4–8)
When the LORD came to Jeremiah and commissioned him, Jeremiah thought he was unworthy (as did many of the prophets).  The LORD quickly corrected him and told him he COULD do it.

                                                  ii.      Moses called to lead Israel – We have addressed his excuses.  Consider Exodus 4:10-12, “Then Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” So the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.”” The LORD does not let him get away with that.

                                                iii.      Nehemiah – after return from Babylonian captivity, the city stays in ruins for decades (about 90 years).  Nehemiah comes and surveys the damage and motivates the people to get to work.  As a result, the people rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem in 52 days (Neh. 6:15).  This, in spite of obstacles and criticisms.  One reason for this is, “the people had a mind to work” (Neh. 4:6).

                                                iv.      When Jesus sent out His apostles – Luke 9:1-5, as Jesus sends out His apostles He tells them to take nothing with them.  I am convinced the reason for this was to give them confidence that God was with them and so that they would realize that they COULD accomplish His will.  Lk. 9:10 records how they return and told of all they had done.  Jesus was helping them to see their potential. 
When He spoke to them of “the faith of a mustard seed” He was addressing their potential (Matt. 17:20).  This passage came after some had failed to cast out a demon.  Jesus said it was because of THEIR unbelief.

                                                  v.      The word of God, the gospel - Hebrews 4:12, Rom. 1:16.  While not a person, this demonstrates the idea of potential.   These passages show what the gospel is capable of doing.

b.       1 Timothy 4:14-16 – do not neglect the gift that is in you.  2 Timothy 1:6, “Therefore, I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you…”  Paul is telling Timothy you have potential, use it.  2 Timothy 4:5 he is told, “do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

c.        Matthew 25:14-30 - Parable of the talents is perhaps one of the best illustrations of this.  Each servant was given talents according to his ability (25:15).  2-3 developed their talents adequately and were praised.  The one talent servant failed to do what he could and was condemned as wicked and lazy (25:26).  One observation to make here is, we ALL have “talents”, are we developing ALL of our talents to the best of our ability.  While not directly addressed here, I wonder about a 3 talent servant who only uses 2 of them!   Is he pleasing to God? 

d.       Romans 12 :4-8, Gifts according to your ability. In this text, Paul speaks of each of us having “a measure of faith”.  While they are different for each one, we are all important.
He uses the analogy of a body (cf. 1 Cor. 12:12-27) with varying functions.
He then notes, “having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them…”  (12:6)  What is good about this list of “gifts” is that most are not miraculous.
Peter said in 1 Peter 4:10,   As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
The point is, you have abilities use them – i.e. develop them to their full potential!

e.       Eph. 4:13 - In this text (4:11-16), leaders are “given” to teach us and equip us for our work.  The goal is “till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;” We strive to reach a point where we are grounded and not easily swayed and so that we can effectively produce growth in the body.

Eph. 4:7, leading up to this, Paul says (similar to our previous point),   But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” (Ephesians 4:7)

f.         Phil. 3:4-5, Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Paul speaks of his continued pressing onward so that he can reach the goal.   He is doing everything he can (using his full potential) so that he will succeed in the end.

g.        What you do, do with all your might – Eccl. 9:10, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.

Also Colossians 3:23, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,   Again, we are called upon to use our FULL potential (“heartily”, “with all your might”)

h.       Mark 4:24-25 – “Then He said to them, “Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given. For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.”  In this text we are reminded that God takes note of the degree of efforts we put forth.

i.         Finally, Mark 14:8 – A woman anoints Jesus with costly oil and is criticized.  Jesus says, “Let her alone…she has done what she could.” 
Mark 12:42, earlier that week Jesus observed those putting money into the treasury.  He sees a widow who give just 2 mites ( a very small amount).  Jesus notes she gave more than all who have given into the treasury because in poverty she gave what she had.  She gave her best and her all. 

j.         So we can certainly see, the idea of reaching our full potential is addressed in scripture.   

 III.                How do I reach my spiritual potential?

a.        Grow spiritually (last week).  Not just growing, but growing as we ought to.  Again, “By this time you ought to be teachers”.  The idea of spiritual growth is fully developing the abilities you do have. 
Heb. 5:12-14 – they were rebuked for their failure to mature as they ought to.

b.       Honest examination – 2 Corinthians 13:5.  Don’t settle for where you are at now, move forward.  Many of us fail to reach our potential because we under valuate ourselves as incapable.  Much of the time this has to do with our lack of real zeal for Him. 

c.        Remove obstacles – Heb. 12:1-2, tells us to lay aside the weights and sins that entrap us as we run the race of life.  Be determined you are not going to let obstacles get in your way.   They will come!  Don’t let them define who you are.

Trust in God – continually let us remind ourselves it is about Him.  We do the work and let Him deal with the results (1 Cor. 3:5-8).   He is greater than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)
Matt. 19:26,  with God all things are possible. 
Phil. 4:13, I can do all things through Christ…  NOTE: This is not a miraculous intervention, but a trust that moves you in the direction you need to go;
2 Cor. 3:5, Our sufficiency is from God.

Heb. 13:20-21, “Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

d.       Think positively – with the above point, we need to believe we can be successful serving Him.  We must believe we can keep His commandments.  More in the next 2 lessons

e.       Resolve that you are going to give Him your best – accept nothing less.  Rom. 12:1 – are you a living sacrifice for Him?  Cf. Malachi 1:8.

f.         Get to work – you will not reach your full potential without actually implementing what you know you need to do and further developing what you need to improve.   Eph. 2:10,  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Titus 2:14, “who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.


And thus we can see the need to reach our full potential.  As you examine your life, are you where you ought to be right now?  If not, today is the day to change that.  Our theme for this year can be summarized in this directive: “Get to work”.  If there is any way we can help, let us.

[1] Google search, “potential”