Summary: How do you respond to God's discipline?
Are you living up to your full potential? Raise your hand and stand up if you think you’re living up to your full potential because I want to make sure you are a good target. I have snipers in the sound booth!—Just kidding!
It’s a nasty question isn’t it? I mean if you say that you are living up to your potential and we all look at you and go, “that’s your full potential?!” things are going to get a little uncomfortable. But if you say that you aren’t living up to your full potential, then the question becomes, why not?
Maybe we should back up a bit and ask: How do you even know what your full potential is? After all, what do I mean by full potential? Am I talking in academic terms? Am I talking in financial terms? Am I talking about gifts and talents? Am I talking about faith?
Actually, when you think about it, as a Christian you can never say that you are living up to your full potential because your full potential isn’t self-contained. You also have to factor in the power of God at work in you. God extends our natural potentials. Our potentials are tied to God’s potential so how can we ever say that we are living up to our full potential? We can’t! So perhaps a better question would be: Are you growing in your potential? Where there is life there is growth. Where there is faith there is growth.
The question that gets to the heart of the matter is: Are you wasting your potential? This is a far more important question to ask ourselves and the answer is found in how open and honest we are with God.
Please turn with me to 1 Samuel 31
As you turn there let me give you a bit of background. 1 Samuel records the beginning of the monarchy in Israel. Samuel was the last judge of Israel, as well as being a prophet and a priest. Samuel was the full-meal- deal but, as he got older and his kids showed themselves to be less than trustworthy to follow in their father’s footsteps, the people decide that they want to be like the nations around them and have their own king. Samuel doesn’t like the idea but God tells Samuel that since the Israelites didn’t like having Him as their king, Samuel should go ahead and give the people what they want.
Shortly after this, God hand-picked the very first king of Israel. His name was Saul. In 1 Samuel 10:24, the Prophet Samuel said to all the people about Saul, “This is the man that God has chosen as your king. No one in all Israel is his equal!” (NLT) According to God, Saul was THE man, the cream of the crop, the top of the heap. No one was his equal.
If you read chapter 10 of 1 Samuel, you’ll get a wonderful picture of Saul. He stood head and shoulders above everyone else, and he was good looking to boot! He was the Brad Pit of kings. But, more than that, you will see that he was humble and shy. He didn’t feel up to God’s calling and even hid when it was time for God to reveal him as king. And, beginning in verse 9 we read: “As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul's heart . . . 10 When they arrived at Gibeah, a procession of prophets met him; the Spirit of God came upon him in power, and he joined in their prophesying.” (1 Samuel 10:9-10)
These verses tell us that God’s Spirit came upon Saul and God changed his heart. So, Saul had a personal, life-changing experience with God. Saul prophesied, he spoke the very Words of God and knew in a compellingly powerful way that God was real, and that God had chosen him. And, after Saul makes his first public appearance as king, we read in verse 26 that “When Saul returned to his home at Gibeah, a band of men whose hearts God had touched became his constant companions.”
So Saul had the looks and the stature of a king. He had the humility and teachaibility of a servant. He was anointed and changed by God and given God’s council. And finally, he was given a group of friends, who were also equally full of God’s wisdom. Saul, the first king, also had the first small accountability group! He didn’t have to make all the decision on his own. He had the help of Godly friends to keep him in line and give him support. Sounds like the perfect king and the perfect setup for success doesn’t it?
As Saul began his career as King, he was an immediate success. When God’s people were threatened by King Nahash of Ammon, Saul shows able strength and faith and the Israelites win the war. Everything was off to a good start. But now, let’s skip ahead to chapter 31.