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Potential Is A Dirty Word

Sun, 05/18/2014 - 9:37pm -- Rob
Years ago, I'd spend time during lunch hours playing games of cribbage (a card game that includes a wooden scoreboard) with co-workers.  The purpose of the game was to outscore one's opponent by reaching a specific point total at the end of the board.
Inevitably, as the game was played, someone would receive a hand that had potential to become a very high-scoring hand.  One thing was needed to help the hand reach its full potential- the draw of a specific card or cards to transform the hand from no, or a few points, into a potential game-changer.
Latent Potential
Let's define a couple of terms before we continue:
Latent existing but not yet developed or manifest; hidden; concealed.

Potential- (Adjective) having or showing the capacity to become or develop into something in the future.  (Noun)- latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness.

Experienced players are aware that the game-changing card is seldom drawn.  In fact, it's so true that sometimes some of us would look at our cards and simply say, "Potential is a dirty word."  We knew that we stood a much greater chance of missing out on the fulfillment of that potential than seeing it fulfilled.  But when the right card was drawn; look out!  The game was about to quickly change!

You don't need to play a card game to know that the word, potential, is a dirty word in Christian circles too.  We all have potential.  It's already within us.  The main difference is that our potential isn't reached based on a chance draw or circumstance.  Jesus Christ placed His potential within us prior to when we even began to know or follow Him!

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. - Ephesians 2:1-10

It is humbling to know that God has placed within each Christ follower the potential to be, and do things, far beyond our own abilities and comprehension. 
Wait.  Beyond our own abilities and comprehension?
Is it possible that we're missing out on fulfilling or maximizing our full potential? 


Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”  This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. - Haggai 1:5-7

While these words were originally directed to the house of Judah and the remnant (Read the rest of Haggai 1), they are applicable to us today.
What Haggai describes sounds similar to a person who is busy; a person who fills their time with many activities, distractions, and desires (many may be good things, even).  Busy; but always striving for fulfillment in the accomplishment of something else.  So busy that God gets a few minutes out of a day; is asked to bless the man-made attempts to accomplish the rest of the day's events or activities, but He's mostly left in the background of the daily planner/schedule.  Have we given careful thought that we're too busy for God; that our busyness may hinder our ability to fulfill God's potential within us each day?
There seems a great lack in the church today of Christ-followers being and doing the extraordinary.  I'm not referring to people who create great man-made displays and presentations that attract many; verbally giving credit to God, but secretly stealing His glory for themselves.  No, I'm referring to Christ-followers fully yielding and humbling themselves (their motives, schedules, priorities, thoughts, dreams; everything) for God's complete use- anytime or anywhere.  Christ-followers doing so- so that the Holy Spirit may fully fill them, speak to and through them, moment-by-moment; accomplishing the good works which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).
Sounds impossible right? 
It is if we're only trying to fulfill our potential in our flesh.
Our Potential Game Changer
 However, as it is written:

“What no eye has seen,
    what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”—
    the things God has prepared for those who love him—

10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. 14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16 for,

“Who has known the mind of the Lord
    so as to instruct him?”

But we have the mind of Christ.  1 Corinthians 2:9-16

If you're reading this, and you've never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior; the Holy Spirit is not living in you yet.  The Holy Spirit may be beckoning you to accept Jesus, but if you haven't done so by faith, the Holy Spirit does not dwell within you.  He will if you pray to receive Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior (feel free to use these words, or similar ones that express your own heart or belief in Jesus). 

Jesus, you are God and I am not.  Thank you for living a perfect, sinless, life.  I have sinned against you and others.  Forgive me of my sins. Change me from who I am now into who you want me to become- like you.  Thank you for taking all my sins upon you to the cross; forever separating me from them- and providing a way for me to be in a personal relationship with God the Father.  You rose from the dead so that I may have eternal life.  Thank you for writing my name in the book of life.  Fill me with your Holy Spirit, so that I may begin to learn and hear your voice; guiding me in all things by your Word, Spirit, and other Spirit-filled Christians.  I thank you in Jesus name, Amen.

Christ-followers; we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us.  So why is He only a potential game changer?

Moment-by-moment of each day, we decide whether to trust the Holy Spirit to guide us or to do it ourselves.  Moment-by-moment, we decide whether to seek the Holy Spirit's direction or to figure the matter out on our own.  Moment-by-moment, we decide whether to follow the Holy Spirit's promptings to do or avoid something (maybe outside of our design or plan) or go it alone and likely pass on a God-sized result for a human-sized one instead (if we don't miss out on the opportunity altogether!).

When we operate in our own strength, wisdom, intelligence, or claim anything God has given us to be our own; we settle for latent potential and miss out on witnessing God's completeness and abilities displayed in and through our lives. 

When we operate in the Holy Spirit, the fulfillment of our potential is unlimited in Christ.  We're able to do and be extraordinary- for His glory alone!

Give careful thought to your ways.  How are you treating your potential this very moment?