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How to REACH YOUR FULL POTENTIAL for GODWhat You Must Learn From The Bold Confrontations Of Christ
By Charles F. Stanley
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2009 Charles F. Stanley
All right reserved.
Chapter OneDo You Want God's Best?
I awoke suddenly one morning about three o'clock. I had been soundly and deeply asleep. But in an instant, I was sitting up in my bed wide awake with this question burning in my spirit:
Do you want to reach your full potential?
I have experienced similar encounters in the past and have come to recognize that when something like this happens, God is trying to get my attention. More importantly, He is about to impart to me something I need to know or something I need to preach.
Immediately I replied, "Yes, Lord!"
I didn't hesitate or ponder the question. Without a doubt I want to be and to do all that God has created me to be and to do! That is my deepest heart's desire.
I reached for the pad of paper and pencil that I keep by my bedside for just such words from the Lord, switched on the light, and began to write as He spoke into my spirit. If you truly want to reach your full potential, you must have a clean heart, a clear mind, a balanced schedule. Within a matter of minutes, I had completely outlined the content of the bookyou are holding in your hands.
Then I turned off the light and fell back into a sound, restful sleep knowing that I had heard directly from God.
When morning came, I got down on my knees and prayed about the words that the Lord had given me during the night. I knew with certainty that I was to preach His message-a message not only for me, but also for the entire body of Christ.
I could hardly wait for Sunday to arrive so I could launch into this wonderfully rich area of the Father's concern-reaching your God-given potential.
The truth is, many people are not pursuing their potential. They are not factoring God into their decision-making or into their goal setting. They cannot clearly and succinctly say what they believe to be the Lord's foremost purpose and plan for their lives. They will stare at you blankly if you ask, "What do you believe is God's will for you? Why do you believe He created you? What is the Father leading you to do next in your life?"
Let me assure you at this book's outset of several great truths:
First, God has a will, plan, and purpose for your life individually and personally. He has a broad will, plan, and purpose for all of mankind, and He has specifically designed you and equipped you to fulfill a portion of that bigger will, plan, and purpose. You are not here by accident. You are not on this earth merely to live a certain number of years, months, and days, and then die. You are here to accomplish a job that God assigned to you from eternity past.
Second, your heavenly Father has already embedded into you all of the gifts and talents you need to complete the work that He has assigned, prepared, and provided for you to do. God has already embedded into you all of the raw material necessary for you to come into a relationship with Him and to develop the character of His Son, Jesus Christ. Your job is to discover the talents that God has placed in you, to develop them, and to begin to use them as the Lord brings opportunities for service or ministry.
Third, nobody can be who you are, nobody can replace you, and nobody else on this earth is capable of fulfilling the Father's plan for you. Nobody else can do the work He has gifted you to do, know the people He is leading you to know, or offer the praise and prayer that He is giving voice to. You must be and do what God made you to be and do.
Fourth, you must establish firm commitments in various areas of your life in order to pursue and begin to reach your God-given potential. It doesn't unfold accidentally or automatically. The pursuit of your unique potential and purpose requires you to seek God's very specific help in very specific areas of your life.
The question I ask you at the outset of this book is the same question the Lord asked me:
"Do you want to reach your full potential?"
If your answer is yes, then this is His message for you.
Chapter TwoDon't Settle for Less
Are you excited about your life?
Or do you feel as if you are merely existing?
Are you moving with confidence toward a desired goal?
Or do you feel as if you are drifting along from day to day without any sense of purpose or direction?
Perhaps there was a time when you were excited about your life, but now the excitement has faded, and you are asking, What has happened to me? Why am I so apathetic about my life? What happened to my inner drive?
People have said to me, "When I look at my life and the way the world is today, I just don't see much to be excited about."
Some think about their vocations or jobs and say, "I can't go any higher, do any better, or go any farther. I can't do more than I'm doing right now."
Others feel as if their lives have gone stale. Perhaps their marriages aren't as dynamic as they once were, or they have lost all interest in hobbies and activities that once gave them pleasure.
Some people tell me that they feel inadequate or unprepared for the future.
Still others say that they feel plagued by their lives-stuck in their circumstances, wondering, What's it all about? What is my life worth? What happened to my joy?
There are reasons we feel stuck, discouraged, or adrift.
There are reasons people lose their enthusiasm for life.
There are reasons God's people lose their hope, their sense of purpose, and their joy.
There are reasons life becomes just one long bore.
In my opinion, the foremost reasons are: (1) people have lost sight of who God made them to be and what He designed them to do; and (2) as a result, people are not actively, intentionally, and purposefully pursuing what the Father has planned for them.
If you truly want to pursue and reach your full potential, then you must face up to these two truths:
Truth #1: God has placed more within you than you realize.
Truth #2: You likely have settled for the life you have now.
ARE YOU LIVING A SETTLED-FOR LIFE?
Through the years, I have met countless people who are living what I call a "settled-for life." Someplace along the journey, they became complacent and content in their circumstances. They settled for what they believed was adequate or satisfactory.
A friend reminded me recently that several decades ago, children in the earliest grades of school were given one of three marks for their achievement: outstanding, satisfactory, or unsatisfactory. Children frequently compared their results, telling how many O's and S's they had received from their teacher. They never bragged, of course, about any U's. For most children, getting an S for satisfactory was just that-satisfactory.
S might also stand for settled for. If a student becomes content with a satisfactory effort, he will rarely apply himself to earn an O for outstanding.
The same is true in life. If a person becomes content with what is average, minimally acceptable, or satisfactory, she will rarely exert the effort or work toward something that is truly excellent or outstanding.
In the vast majority of cases, the longer a person remains satisfied with a string of S marks in her life, the more she becomes complacent about life. Going through the motions to achieve satisfactory results becomes the norm.
Eventually the person who has settled for a settled-for life may actually feel threatened by challenges to achieve, have, or experience more than what is presently the reality of her life. Ultimately she turns her back on her future and refuses to hope for more, seek more, or pursue more.
If that is where you are today, I encourage you to begin to see yourself the way God sees you. When you look at yourself through His eyes, you will no longer rest on the satisfactory marks of your settled-for life.
HOW GOD SEES YOU
You may be asking, "Well, how does God see me?"
Your heavenly Father sees you through eyes of love and forgiveness. He sees where you are, but more importantly, He sees the person He made you to be. God sees all the awesome potential and possibilities He created you to fulfill.
And if you are willing to discover and align yourself with His plan and purpose for you, He will bless you more than you could ever imagine. God promises to bless you with life at its best. He sees the restored joy, peace, and sense of accomplishment that He wants in your life.
Psalm 139 is a wonderful passage that speaks about the way the Father sees us.
For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them (vv. 13-16).
These verses from God's Word speak of three important truths about the way He sees you.
1. You Are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
In God's eyes, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Other translations of this verse from the earliest versions of the Bible use the words "awesomely wonderful." That's what the Father says about you. He has made you in a way that is awesome.
In the first chapter of Genesis, God says again and again that what He made is "good." Everything the Creator made was, at the outset, perfect in its form and in its function. It was beautiful, ordered, and magnificently connected to all other aspects of creation. It worked exactly as He intended it to work.
But after the fall, both form and function became warped. Each of us was born into a sinful world that isn't always beautiful and doesn't always work well or harmoniously. Nevertheless-and this is a vital point for you to understand-God said about your creation, "It is good." the Father made you for good purposes, and He made you with the potential to be perfected by His Spirit.
Does this mean that God will make you into the most beautiful woman or most handsome man on the earth? No. Rather, it means that He desires to engage in the process of transforming you from the inside out so that you are continually being molded into the most God-beloved, Christ-honoring, Spirit-yielded person you can ever be.
It also means that He is working all situations and circumstances for your good so that you can perform the functions He has equipped and enabled you to accomplish or complete during your lifetime.
God has an awesome, wonderful plan for you. The prophet Jeremiah explained it this way: "I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope" (Jer. 29:11). The Lord has a great plan for you and created you to accomplish it in His name.
2. God Knows Everything About You
The psalmist wrote, "Your eyes saw my substance." Your substance is more than your flesh. It is the sum of all your natural gifts, talents, dreams, personality, and abilities. Even before you were conceived in your mother's womb, God saw you as a whole and unique person. He made you one of a kind, and from your beginning, He saw your ending. The Lord has always known what you could be and do, because He is the One who created you.
3. God Is the Author and Finisher of Your Days
The psalmist wrote that the days of his life were "fashioned" for him. You, too, were born at a particular time and to a particular family in a particular location. He made your life a set number of years in a set environment so you could be and do all that He created you to be and do.
Every person is born into circumstances with both good and bad aspects. Each of us will encounter a degree of evil and righteousness. We all will face the realities of death and life. God created you, equipped you, and then filled you with His Holy Spirit, to face every kind of situation. With His help and guidance, these situations will transform you from death to life, evil to good, and bad to best.
Your purpose on this earth is to develop your God-given gifts, talents, and abilities to the best of your ability so you can impact the world around you for Christ. In Matthew chapter six, Jesus taught His disciples to pray:
Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. (vv. 9-10)
God has placed you in a time and location that will allow you to maximize your role in establishing His will "on earth as it is in heaven." You will do that through your prayers, your praise, your efforts to tell others about Jesus, and your work on His behalf.
If you have ever wondered why you are on this earth, understand that God has placed you here as a unique person with a unique mission aimed at establishing and extending His kingdom "on earth as it is in heaven." Your potential lies securely and completely in that purpose.
YOUR POTENTIAL LIES IN GOD'S PLANS AND PURPOSES FOR YOU
It is an awesome, eye-opening, and inspiring thing to catch a glimpse of how God is working in your life-weaving together who He made you to be with those things He has prepared you to do and experience. The threads of you as a unique individual are being intertwined with the threads of unique situations, circumstances, experiences, and relationships.
He is bringing into your path people, opportunities, challenges, and resources. He is placing in you dreams, desires, and expectations about the challenges that already are winding their way to you. He is preparing you in every way for the many opportunities that lie ahead. He is setting within you the anticipation that something purpose-filled and exhilarating is just about to emerge.
When you begin to see the wonderful, prepared future that God is unfolding before you, life will take on greater importance and purpose. You'll wake up every morning with an excitement and a desire to experience all that He has planned for you!
On the other hand, you can miss those opportunities to see God at work in your life.
You can get so bogged down and so self-satisfied in your settled-for life that when the alarm goes off, you roll over and go back to sleep. You can become so complacent and apathetic that you become blind to the fact that God has more and more and more for you to be, experience, receive, and do.
God has more ways for you to feel joy. God has more ways for you to experience His peace. God has more ways for you to encounter His beauty. God has more ideas to share with you. God has more expressions of love to shower upon you. God has an infinite supply of new mercies, new blessings, new accomplishments, new insights, and new inspirations to share with you.
As God's beloved child, you are in the hands of an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving, infinite Father who has divine plans and purposes for you-not only on this earth, but throughout eternity. There simply is no end to your potential when you serve an infinite God in an eternal heaven.
Our responsibility is to choose what He already has chosen for us. Repeatedly in His Word the Lord challenges us to "choose life." Again and again, God tells His children that He has set before us the possibilities of life. He wants us to embrace the life He has planned for us. This means that we must determine in our hearts and minds to live all our days to the utmost. We must welcome each new opportunity, grab hold of each new challenge, and face each new day with eagerness to discover what God has for us.
Furthermore, the Lord never holds before us an ordinary, mundane, merely okay, or satisfactory life. Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). An abundant life overflows with God's presence; it overflows with His love, joy, peace, hope, blessings, and power.
Are you passionate about life?
Do you deeply desire to experience all God has for you?
Do you really want His best in your finances, your job, your recreation, your hobbies, your relationships, your marriage, and your family?
Or have you settled for a settled-for life?
Excerpted from How to REACH YOUR FULL POTENTIAL for GOD by Charles F. Stanley Copyright © 2009 by Charles F. Stanley. Excerpted by permission.
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