“Reaching Our Potential in Christ”
Dale Carnegie wrote the book titled “How to Win Friends and Influence people.” It was an overnight success selling over 15 million copies. Dale Carnegie was a master at identifying people with great potential. He was once asked by a news reporter how he had managed to hire 43 men who were all millionaires. He said well it’s simple, none of them were millionaires when I hired them. All of them became millionaires while they were working for me. They wanted to know well how did you know they had the potential to become wealthy? He said you find potential the same way you find gold. Several tons of dirt must be moved to get one ounce of gold. But you don’t go into the mine looking for dirt......you go in looking for gold. You look for potential.
Discovering and living out our potential is the same way today. You may have heard of the young boy who was drawing a picture...his parents asked him what he was drawing. He said well I’m drawing a picture of God. They said well you can’t do that. He said well why not. And they said well no one knows what God looks like. He said well they will when I’m finished.
Now we could ask the writer of this passage. What are you drawing here: what are you picturing? He says I have here a picture of a believer who has reached his fullest potential in life. That is something every one of us desire to achieve. But people will look at you and say well you can’t do that...no one knows what that looks like but he says well they will when I am done writing down this scripture.
So let me ask you two questions this morning…. have you discovered your full potential in Christ? (2) If you haven’t do you want to? Most believers settle for mediocre lives. We can be very average people; we can be an average church. But I believe God has so something better for all of us. We do not serve an average God.
Now look with me at some ways the apostles reached their potential. First of all the Bible tells us that they constantly spoke to God. v. 14. One of the cornerstones of the early church was prayer. Without it the church could not have been established. Look at the variety of people who were in this group. Eleven men are named here in v. 13. There were women, we don’t know how many. Mary the mother of Jesus was there and also his brothers were there. The Bible tells us that Jesus had brothers and sisters. That may be new to you. Four brothers are named. The Bible tells us he had sisters. But we do not know their names or how many. But what we do see here is that all of these are focused on two things (1) They are focused on Jesus and
(2) They are focused on the common goal of building the church. I have said for several weeks now that one of the things that will quickly keep us from reaching our potential in the church is division. When a group of people are working together and they come from different backgrounds---they are not exactly alike...they can be easily divided. They don’t know the same things, they don’t think the same way and so there is a strong opportunity for division. One group might even begin to think they are superior to another. There were all kinds of opportunities for this to happen. Look at what was happening…
* one group stands up and says hey, we are the brothers of Jesus. We were raised in the same home. We’re special.
* John was there. He could have reminded everyone that he was chosen by Jesus to care for his mother Mary. Right at the foot of the cross, Jesus chose him.
* Mary was even there. She could have said look I’m his mother. I rocked Jesus to sleep at night--I raised him—I took care of the Savior.
But none of this happened. Pride was set aside for the sake of something greater. They managed to work together. How could they do that? Well it was never about them...it was always about Jesus. Whether they were leader or follower they supported each other.
You see they not only believed in Jesus,
they also believed in each another.
One version says they were all in one accord, the version I am using says they were joined together constantly...the Greek NT says they were of one passion. Their passion was Jesus.
To reach our potential Jesus must be our focus.
There are several applications here. They were not just together in one location, they were together in their thinking....their beliefs. Now will all of us in the church think alike? Absolutely not. As I have been saying we are very different people. But it is a necessity in the NT church that we think alike on the things that matter. How do we find salvation? Through faith in Christ. Is Jesus God or just a man? He’s God. Is the Bible inspired by God or just the ramblings of men. Does the Bible have errors? Absolutely not. On these things you see we must agree for the church to reach her potential. We must be of one mind. We must be of one passion.
In marriage two people come from very different families and they come together in a physical union but not always in a spiritual union. They don’t share the same passion for Christ and unfortunately division can take place. And when division starts , growth stops. This is why the scripture says we are not to be unequally yoked in marriage. Believers are to marry believers and they are to worship and grow together to reach their fullest potential. The church likewise is a family.
In a marriage we can look at this is a 3 sided relationship. Look at this triangle. Here is the man and then the woman and here is God. If one, let’s say the woman is growing in Christ, the closer she gets to God she actually moves away from her husband. But when both are growing in Christ they not only grow closer to Christ they grow closer to one another. That is God’s plan for us.
Here were 120 people... pretty close to the number we have here today. They are given one job, just one---take the gospel to the entire world. Let that sink in. It’s a huge assignment. That is why they had to work together. The early disciples had to learn how to do that effectively. This was new to them but it is exactly what Jesus had been preparing them for. To reach our potential the Bible reminds us of a principle here: prayer is a necessity, not an option. The church cannot reach its potential without a vibrant prayer life. You cannot find your potential in Christ without prayer and the church can never reach its potential without it. We must be connected with something bigger than we are.
You see prayer is both the thermometer of the church and the thermostat also. When someone is sick the first thing a doctor does is stick a thermometer in their mouth. By doing so they are able to tell whether that person is healthy or not. You can tell whether a church is healthy or not based on how much the people pray.
But it is also the thermostat of the church. The thermostat is used to control/adjust the temperature. It will make the spiritual temperature of the church go up or down depending on how much the people pray.
In this passage we also get a clear picture of a man who wasted his potential. His name was Judas. Heard of him? Chosen as one of the 12 disciples to sit at the feet of Jesus for 3 years, watch as he healed people, performed one miracle after another. To learn the scripture from the one who inspired it. To get wisdom from the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and Judas wasted his opportunity. He could have stood in the same ranks as John, Peter, Paul and all the others. He could have left a strong legacy just as they did. But he wasted it. Parents today still name their children after the disciples. Peter, John, James, Matthew. But not Judas. Who would name their child Judas? It would be like naming your child Adolf or Jezebel. We don’t do that.
His potential was completely wasted and Judas finally realized it. So he sold Jesus. He sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Wasn’t even gold. We really don’t know what it was worth but we do know it was enough to purchase a field because that it was he did with the money. The Bible also tells us that it where Judas died. Quite descriptive. Hung himself. Apparently the material he used likely his robe broke and he fell headfirst causing his intestines spill out. Isn’t that nice right before lunch. In fact you wonder why was Luke so explicit. The only reason I can come up with is that he meant to be. He wanted to make it plain. He wanted us to understand the ugly truth that it is a despicable thing to waste our lives. To do anything other than live life to the fullest is a waste of the gift God has placed in us.
Judas took the 30 pieces and bought a field and he died and was buried in that very place. The book of Psalms prophesied in fact 1000 years before this that “his place would be deserted and they were not to let anyone else dwell there and then that another would take his place of leadership.
God is most pleased when we live to our potential but when we run in the other direction there will be someone who can take our place, the place we were intended to have in history.
There were 120 believers. There were about 4 million Jews in Palestine at this time. That is 1 out of every 33,000 people who were believers. Yet they changed their world and ours. God has an awesome plan for you and he has a plan for this church. I do not want to miss any of it.
I think it would be safe to say that the greatest untapped resource you and I have is our potential. Our potential is God’s gift to us, and what we do with it is our gift to him. The only true measure of success is the difference between what we might have been and what we have become. That space in the middle is where we find success.
You see there is not one of us who is not capable of doing more than we are doing. For several weeks now I have been asking all of you to look ahead…to look ahead to what God has for this church and for you. Every person here has much more potential than you are currently using. Do you agree? Whether you are 9, 19, 49 or 90, you still have room to grow. To grow there is one thing we must do…focus on the future. Because that is where our potential is.
One way to measure success…here it is…it is the difference between what God intended for us to be and what we actually become. Success comes for us when we reach our full potential in Christ.