Potential

The following is a lesson I shared at our church, where I’m a staff member. I felt like sharing it with you as well.

Isaiah 40:3-5
3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:
5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

Potential means existing in possibility : capable of development into actuality. It’s a word that illustrates that something is possible, not impossible. Everyone wants to do the impossible. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe in The Lord doing what is impossible for you and I to do. I believe in The Lord doing through us what is impossible for us to do. But to be grammatically accurate, which is not something I’m often accused of, I don’t expect to see God doing what is for Him impossible. The reason for that? Because the Scripture says, “With God All Things Are Possible.”

Our impossible is His practice. It’s routine for Him to do what’s not even feasible for us to do. However, not only is He a Miraculous God, He is a Meticulous God. He sets forth a plan and lays the groundwork for the future. Case in point, before He ever needed the burning bush, He ensured that someone planted it on the backside of the desert.

The word Potential illustrates this point. It’s not a word that means accidental, or chance. It comes from the Latin word for power, it means that it has the possibility of making something happen. One definition says potential means it’s capable of development into actuality. I think I can becomes I did it! A blueprint completed means there is now a building where there was nothing.

It’s not guaranteed that it will happen, that depends on the individual, whether he or she live up to their potential, but the possibility exists. We know that The Lord always lives up to His potential, but what about us? What about the times in our lives where we could have done this, or could have done that? Whether we failed or succeeded, we had the potential to succeed.

Pastor preached the Message on Enabled, God enables us to accomplish something. It’s possible, through Him, for us to fulfill our potential. Tonight I want to talk to you about the potential of a place called the desert and the potential of a person called John the Baptist.

The two are inseparable, you can’t have one without the other. The Desert didn’t mean to the Jews what it means to you and I. When we think of Desert, we think of a barren wasteland. To the Jews, the words Desert and Wilderness can be interchangeable.

In Luke chapter one, the word for Desert is the Greek word Eremos. One of it’s meanings is an uncultivated region fit for pasturage. Not a lifeless mass of sand, but a land that, when cultivated can flourish. In other words, it has potential. It also means wilderness, a lonely region, and when applied to people, it means deserted by others, deprived of the aid and protection of others, especially friends. I thought this was interesting, it is used of a flock deserted by a shepherd, or a woman neglected by her husband.

“The Jews have an observation of many things coming from the wilderness;
“the law came from the wilderness; the tabernacle from the wilderness; the sanhedrim from the wilderness; the priesthood from the wilderness; the office of the Levites from the wilderness; the kingdom from the wilderness; and all the good gifts which God gave to Israel were from the wilderness.”

What is the Desert or Wilderness then? Tonight, I would like you to think of it base of operations. Not your Ministry in the sense of what you do, but where you do it. That’s not just here at POM, it’s part of it, but not all. Point Of Mercy isn’t just about Sunday and Wednesday. Those are important days, but they’re only two days. Your journey is what you make it. The Lord never intended for the Wilderness to be miserable.

The Desert of The Bible contained cities, villages, towns. John was not the hermit that pictures have made him out to be. Commentators believe that the city of his birth was Hebron. It went back to Caleb and became a city of the Priests.

John’s Dad was a Priest, his Mom was from a Priest’s family. The Word calls her a daughter of Aaron, meaning her background is in Ministry. He was educated about the Scriptures.

I’ve got to stop seeing Church as something we do and realize it’s who I am. I don’t just mean in the Spiritual sense. I know that are bodies are the Temple of The Holy Ghost, but do we act like it? Too many times when I get up on Monday morning, I’m thinking about getting through the day. Shouldn’t I be thinking of how I’m going to share The Lord Jesus that day?

You see, God sent them through the Wilderness to get to the Promised Land. It wasn’t there final destination either, but there were things that they had to do while they were in the Desert. If they spent all their focus on the future, they would never have received the Law or built the Tabernacle. We are a fast paced culture and society, we spend our lives worried about getting things done. We’re so interested in arriving, that we neglect the journey.

John’s journey started before he was ever born. You know the story, the Angel appears to Zachariah in the Temple. Can you imagine being eight years old and being told your going to be the Prophet of The Messiah? No pressure right! If I were him I’d be thinking, how will I know The Messiah? Apparently John had asked because the Scripture said …

John 1:33
33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.

John was a Priest’s son, his friends were probably Priest’s kids, his entire early life probably revolved around the Priesthood. Then his Dad sets down and tells him, “Son, you’re not going to be a Priest. You’re going to be a Prophet, but not just any Prophet, the Prophet Of The Highest.”

What would you have done? “Dad, all I know is what I’ve seen you do. You’re a Priest, how am I going to learn to be a Prophet? What do I do? How do I do it?” Zacharias may not have been an Elijah, but had been used by God to Prophesy his son’s calling. He was equipped to explain to his son how to feel a role that, to the extent John did, he would never play. Zacharias was of the course of Abia.

To give you a little history lesson, when David was King, he separated the Priests into 24 courses, each of a different family. When Judah went into captivity, only four of those families came back.

The Rabbins teach, that four courses came up from the captivity, Jedaiah, Harim, Pashur, and Immer; the prophets that were among them stood up, and divided them, and appointed four and twenty lots, and put them into a box: Jedaiah came and took his lot, and the lot of his companions, six; Harim came and took his lot, and the lot of his companions, six; and so Pashur and Immer: and so the prophets that were among them taught, that if Jehoiarib, the first course, came up from captivity, he should not drive away Jedaiah out of his place; but Jedaiah should be the principal, and Jehoiarib an appendix to him.”

Now, though the course of Abia did not return from captivity, yet its order and name were retained as the rest of the courses, being divided between these four by whom they were supplied; and therefore Zacharias is not said to be of the posterity of Abia, but of his course.

“Our family was called to fill a Ministry that we weren’t connected to. We are accustomed to serving where we’re needed, and son, God needs you for something very special!” His parents must have shared with him what the Angel said and the future that The Lord had prepared for him. But I have a question …

Luke 1:39 – 43
39 And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of
Juda;
40 And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.
41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:
42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed [art] thou among women, and blessed [is] the fruit of thy womb.
43 And whence [is] this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

John 1: 29 – 33
29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him,and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
1:30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.
31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.
32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.
33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.

My question is, did Elizabeth never share this part of the story with John? The commentators mention that John was from Hebron and he probably did not know The Lord Jesus, his cousin by sight. They lived in different cities, Joseph and Mary had fled to Egypt for a time. Surely they saw each other at Passover and the Festivals.

Whether they did or not isn’t really important. Obviously The Lord kept this particular knowledge from John because He wanted to confirm to John through the vision. I bring it up though to make a point. Elizabeth had an amazing revelation from God, but it looks like she didn’t share all of it with her son. There’s no question that she raised him up the right way, but this, albeit through Divine intention, was missing.

What are we leaving out? It’s one thing to say my Momma could pray. It’s another to say, my Mother taught me how to pray. We skip over a line of Scripture in the story of The Lord’s Prayer. Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. John didn’t leave things out. His Disciples didn’t just see him pray, they learned how.

When the Jews had questions for John, he had answers. How did he know what he did? He had spent time in prayer. It may be old fashioned, but you are never going to fulfill your potential in God without a prayer life. There’s simply no way around it. Why? It’s about relationship. Just like us, John’s whole Ministry was about relationship. He was Called to prepare men’s relationship with God and each other.

Malachi 4:5, 6
5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:
6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

Isaiah 40:3-5
3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:
5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

The with God part is obvious, but what about the with each other aspect of it. Why did God want John to do that? More is revealed when Gabriel tells Zacharias about John’s calling.

Luke 1:16, 17
16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.
17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

The commentators have different opinions. One says that John’s preaching should restore harmony in families. But Lu 1:16, 17 substitutes for “the heart of the children to the fathers,” “the disobedient to the wisdom of the just,” implying that the reconciliation to be effected was that between the unbelieving disobedient children and the believing ancestors.

After John announced The Lord Jesus, he didn’t stop. He kept on Preaching, Baptizing, and Telling about Jesus! When they tried to make John jealous of Jesus, he stopped them.

John 3:29
29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.

John didn’t get offended because his Ministry was changing. For two reasons, one, he saw the big picture, this isn’t about you or me, it’s about The Kingdom. Second, he had a relationship with God. I won’t get offended at my friend because my methods have to change or because I’m not in the spotlight. It was never about my glory, it’s about His. While I’m at it, God isn’t ego driven, He isn’t about His glory because He needs praise. His glory changes lives, my glory only makes my head bigger.

When John’s Disciples went and told The Lord that John had died, Jesus went back to the Desert. John and Jesus both knew, once you have gone from Potential to Actual in one goal, go on to the next. That’s why as Pastor says, “We rest but never stop.” You celebrate what God has done, start working on what God is doing now, and prepare for what’s next.

Matthew 14:10-15
10 And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison.
11 And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother.
12 And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus.
13 When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities. 14 And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.
15 And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals.

Finally in the book of Acts we see Philip doing the same thing that John had done. Standing in the Desert, quoting the Prophet Isaiah, and telling someone about Jesus. Our methods will change but what will never change is this. You will always see Point Of Mercy standing in the Desert of Potential, quoting the Prophet Isaiah, and telling people about Jesus.

Acts 8:26 – 36
26 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.
27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,
28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.
29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.
30 And Philip ran thither to [him,] and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?
31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.
32 The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:
33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.
34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?
35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

Unexpected Blessings

I’m sitting at Starbucks on a Friday afternoon. No, it’s not a vacation day, it’s a work day. Unexpectedly, I was able to leave early. There is no special reason, at least that my supervisor would pinpoint. I could though, it’s been a stressful week.
It’s been a good week, but it’s had it’s twists and turns. I think The Lord saw that I could use a little downtime. God amazes me at times, even over the smallest thing, He shows me how much He cares.
You see, one of my weaknesses is that I worry too much. I shouldn’t, and I’m working on it, but I have that tendency. I needed a few quiet minutes away, and without expecting it, He blessed me with a few hours.
Sometimes, all you need is a little time. What we do with that time makes all the difference. Yesterday, I was stressed, but talking to The Lord about it helped. He gave me an acronym yesterday for Stress.

S eek
T imes of
R efreshing,
E ncamped in the
S avior’s
S trong arms

If we Stress the right things, we’ll be less stressed! God isn’t saying that we won’t have problems. As a matter of fact, He said the opposite.

John 16:33

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

The Lord said, “I warned you that there would be trouble. This way, you can stay calm in the midst of trouble. The reason you can is this, I have already overcame any trial you will face.”
We forget, or ignore that, in those times when we panic. My Dad used to tell me, “The main thing, is to keep the main thing, the main thing. The main thing is, don’t get excited.” In other words, if I will take a minute and trust God, then I won’t stress.
It’s not a matter of whether or not I’ll be ok. God already said that we’ll be ok. The only question is, how much are we going to trust Him along the way?
I can either stay calm and be an example to others of what God wants me to do. Or, I can hyper ventilate and hear Him say, “See that guy? Don’t act like him!”
I want to be an example of what a Christian should be, and not what they shouldn’t be.
So, hopefully, the next time you see me in a storm, it will be like the Apostle Paul at the time of shipwreck. I want to either swim to shore, or calmly hold on to a piece of the ship, as I float to land. I don’t want to force God to keep me from drowning in a foot of water.
If you’re hurting, scared, frustrated, or weary, let me encourage you today. Steal away and talk to the Master. Prayer still lifts burdens. It does so because it puts you in the presence of the Burden Bearer, and He continually hands out Unexpected Blessings!

Who What When Where

Too often in my life, I’ve been guilty of spending too much time asking why. Why did this happen? At other times, I’ve wasted a lot of energy being concerned over how. How was I going to do this? I’ve found though, that why and how are overrated.
The two twin words don’t bring much comfort. The real productive questions are Who, When, What, and Where. The who matters, first and foremost, because of the Who that loved me enough to give His life for me, The Lord Jesus. When I spend my time and energy engaged with Who The Lord is, why and how lose their importance.
Also, the who can be, who are the loved ones around us. The people that go through our trial with us deserve our time and attention. The Lord laid out the prime example for us when He came to Earth. The Eternal God, the One who is the center of all things, spent all of His time focusing on others. If I follow His example, I’ll show those I care about that I love them more than I love myself.
In the same way, I feel my mind with whens instead of the whys. The when matters because it reminds us of the memories we have with those we love. Remember when we did this, or when God gave me that victory! Memories trump worries anytime.
What, matters in the sense of, What are your priorities? What matters to you? Struggle and tragedy are great times to re-access what we value. What can I do to make someone’s life better or easier? “What can I do to help?”, is always a greater question than, “How did this happen?” One question signals giving, the other is concerned only with receiving an explanation. There is a necessary time and a required place for how, but timing is everything. First, give them a shoulder to cry on, and worry about how later.
Last of all, the where matters. Where are you going to spend the time of your trial? Where is more a location of spirit than of body. It goes back to my priorities, I can choose to spend the time in the pit with my problem, or working for others. I encourage you today to think about the Who,What, When, and Where around you, it’s a good way to make a difference in the lives of those we serve.

A Strong Weakest Link

“You’re only as strong as your weakest link.”

It’s been said countless times, but it’s still true. The thing that you have to determine is that, with God’s help, to be the strongest weak link. It sounds strange saying it this way, so let me clarify. “Let the weak say, I am strong.” – Joel 3:10
Paul said it this way, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:10 In other words, in your weakness, draw on His strength.
There will be many times in your life and ministry where you will experience weakness. It never comes alone either. Sometimes it brings fear, other times despair. Anger and jealousy can come with it also. Those are the loud ones, and their purpose is to distract you. They don’t want you to see the temptation that is lurking in the background. Misdirection is an old tool that has destroyed many.
The thing that you have to determine is this, will you draw on your weakness, or God’s strength?Too many times, we think “I can face anything”, until we face something we can’t handle. Or, you can do what wise men and women of God have done through the centuries. If you live in His strength, then your Christian walk will be consistent throughout even the darkest times of your life.
I’ve faced serious battles in my own life. I’ve also watched dear friends and families face life and death situations successfully. All because, in the worst times of their lives, they knew something vital. In the day of battle, all your talent, your abilities won’t be enough. They knew that God has always been more than a conqueror against any foe!
Why is it so hard for us to rely on God’s strength? He told us from the beginning that we would need His strength every step of the way. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28
After all, His shoulders bore Calvary. His arms lifted the sins of the world. Mine can’t handle traffic at rush hour. Lord, help me to look to you, and not to myself. It’s the example of the Apostle Simon Peter. As long as he looked at Jesus, he could walk on the waves, but when he took his eyes off Jesus he sank. The Lord was there to save Him, He will keep us safe as well.
My only failures came when I relied on me instead of Him. When I look to Him, I am always successful. So do not let weakness discourage you. You will face it at some point, and you will need help! Let His strength bear you up and you will not fail!
This doesn’t mean you want have trials. You will, but it means you will have them, they will never have you! My hands will tremble, they will grow weak, old, and frail. That’s why I don’t trust in what I can handle. Instead I follow the words of the old song and simply, “Hold To God’s Unchanging Hands!”