Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: You can meet your full potential in Christ but you will have to go through some purification to become what He wants you to be.

How would you like to reach your full potential? Plenty of people, gurus, companies, books, and even our own military want to help you with that. The Army’s motto says exactly that, “Be all you can be in the Army.” How often do you look in the mirror and wish something would change in your life? How often do you reflect on yourself and wish you were better at this or that? Some of us wish we were smarter while others wish we had better social skills. Some wish we were more spiritual while others wish they had better control of their lives. The media doesn’t help as it bombards little girls with ridiculous expectations of how they are to look. They show men as dumb goofs who have no clue and dominating women who just can’t be skinny enough for their husbands. No one looks good enough today. How can we reach any real potential in a world with such pathetic values?

We should understand it isn’t the strongest, smartest, or best looking people who win. For instance, “Even if you never earned a college degree, don’t worry, you’re in good company. Irving Berlin, for instance, only had two years of formal schooling. He never learned how to read music. When he composed his songs, he would hum the melody and a musical secretary would write down the notes. He became one of the greatest songwriters the country has ever known.” (Bits and Pieces, December 13th, 1990) The smartest men don’t always win wars as well. “General Mark Clark was one of the great heroes of WWII. He led the Salerno invasion that Winston Churchill said was "the most daring amphibious operation we have launched, or which, I think, has ever been launched on a similar scale in war." At the time Clark was promoted to Lt. General, he was the youngest man of that rank in the U.S. Army. He graduated from West Point in 1917. At the top of his class? Nope. He was 111th from the top in a class of 139!” ( Ibid.)

If we do not need to be the fastest, smartest, strongest, or luckiest then how can we possibly find and fulfill our full potential. Turn in your Bibles to Malachi 3:1-6. Here God makes a promise and declaration to the people of Israel who have been scattered across the whole world. This book was the last book written in the Old Testament until the appearance of Christ over 400 years later. God had a plan during this time to send someone to help Israel grow to their full potential. That same person can help you and I grow to our full potential. You can fulfill your potential through God’s messenger and fire, so that you will not be consumed. Let’s learn today how we can better live up to the potential that God has given all of us.

In Comparison to Christ – (3:1-2a)

“Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the Lord of hosts. “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears?”

God promises to send two messengers here in this passage; one will “clear the way before Him” and the other will be the messenger of the covenant. The clearer will be none-other than John the Baptist who called all people to repentance before Christ’s earthly ministry began. This would make the second messenger Christ himself who brought to us the new covenant. The old covenant required the death of an animal to remove sin from our lives but the new covenant only required the death of Christ himself, once and for all. Christ has already come according to us but Malachi was written 400 years before Christ. They would be expecting a savior and messiah and yet this text says “Who can stand or endure Christ’s coming?” Why? Because Christ came and lived a perfect life even though he was tempted just as we are tempted. His life stood as a direct contrast to the way mankind lives. No one can stand in front of purity and holiness without being convicted of their sins.

“Once, as an experiment, the great scientist Isaac Newton stared at the image of the sun reflected in a mirror. The brightness burned into his retina, and he suffered temporary blindness. Even after he hid for three days behind closed shutters, still the bright spot would not fade from his vision. "I used all means to divert my imagination from the sun," he writes, "But if I thought upon him I presently saw his picture though I was in the dark." If he had stared a few minutes longer, Newton might have permanently lost all vision. The chemical receptors that govern eyesight cannot withstand the full force of unfiltered sunlight. There is a parable in Isaac Newton’s experiment, and it helps illustrate what the Israelites ultimately learned from the wilderness wanderings. They had attempted to live with the Lord of the Universe visibly present in their midst; but, in the end, out of all the thousands who had so gladly fled Egypt, only two survived God’s Presence. If you can barely endure candlelight, how can you gaze at the sun?” (Philip Yancey, Disappointment With God, Zondervan, p. 74.)

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