16. The Mystery of Potential

Reading Plan

One passage per day for a whole week, based on the sermon:

  1. MONDAY: Genesis 1:1-2; 2:5-7 (spirit = breath)
  2. TUESDAY: Luke 5:1-11
  3. WEDNESDAY: 1 Kings 19:1-21
  4. THURSDAY: 2 Kings 2:1-25
  5. FRIDAY: 1 John 3:1-24 (spirit = breath)
  6. SATURDAY: 2 Kings 13:10-25
  7. SUNDAY: John 3:1-21 (spirit = breath = wind)

eGroup Discussion Questions – Great for personal reflection, too!

Sermon Notes ⤵️

The Mystery of Potential

Pastor Steven’s message centered on a passage from Ecclesiastes 11, verses 5-6:

5 As you do not know the path of the wind,
or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb,
so you cannot understand the work of God,
the Maker of all things.
6 Sow your seed in the morning,
and at evening let your hands not be idle,
for you do not know which will succeed,
whether this or that,
or whether both will do equally well.

Ecclesiastes 11:5-6, NIV, emphasis mine

If this passage sounds familiar, it was also used a few weeks ago in The Blessing of Both.

The Process of Potential

The commonality between birth (Verse 5) and seed planting (Verse 6) is there is a process for fertilization.

Spirit of God = Breath of God (Verse 5 “wind” – Hebrew ruach)
Anything that God breathes on comes to life. God breathes on dust to form Adam in Genesis 2:7:

Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

Genesis 2:7, NIV

It’s important we receive what God breathes.

The Patience of Potential

Pastor Steven shares a story about how a baseball scout said his son (little league) had potential. He essentially asks, though not explicitly, “Major League potential?” And the scout replies, “It’s too soon to tell.”

We live in an age of instant validation.
The issue isn’t that things happen too slow, but that we’re not consistent.
(e.g., not getting enough likes on Instagram, giving up at the gym after a month)

It’s too soon to tell how God is going to work when he hasn’t finished working yet.

The only way for potential to be realized is for process to be embraced.

Sometimes the loudest are the first to leave. (Pastor Steven tells a story about a woman at a sports game who cheers really loud for the first three quarters but leaves in the fourth.)

The measure of how impactful a sermon is: Not how loud people “Amen” but how lives are changed during the week.

Jesus tells Peter to throw his nets on the other side of the boat (Luke 5:4-7): the potential was always there.

This sermon could also have been called “The Misery of Potential” because “potential” is called potential because it hasn’t been realized yet.

The Planting of Potential

You can’t see potential just by looking at a seed.
The only way to know its potential is to plant it.

Is your potential planted?

There are things inside of us but they won’t be shown until they are sown.
Until the seed is sacrificed you’ll never know what was in it.
Sometimes we fail not for lack of potential but lack of process.

So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him.

1 Kings 19:19, NIV

When we find the prophet Elisha (the successor to Elijah) in 1 Kings 19:19 — he was working the ground.
Sometimes God is plowing the ground of our lives even if we’re trying to pray the discomfort away.

Pastor Steven shares a story about getting a brand new iPad when they first came out. Another man on a flight asked him what he was going to use it for, and he said “to preach sermons.” The man replied, “What else?” And when he couldn’t come up with a good answer, the man said, “You’re not using it to its full potential.”

Seeds don’t go into the ground to die, they go in to multiply.

Elijah’s cloak/mantle being thrown around Elisha = the potential for miracles [Nick: This act signifies that Elijah is “passing the torch,” as it were, to Elisha.]

God is throwing something your way today.

Elisha doesn’t appear again until 2 Kings 2, 13 years later. [Nick: This is 5 chapters later, and various sources put it at different amounts of years: I found one source that put it as short as 7-8 years. In any case, it’s a long time.]

Potential is proven when it is planted.

Releasing Potential

Before you can receive anything, you have to release something.
The first step is to release. (The sower releases the seed.)
This is for all of us who are control freaks.

Let it go
Watch it grow

Sometimes we try to produce something that God didn’t put inside of us.

Pastor Steven shares a story about his barber, Fly Ty, and how Fly Ty was using Jay Z as his measure of success. He wanted to feel so small—he focused on someone else instead of what God was doing in his life.

You are not Jay Z.
You are not Beyoncé.
But you are Destiny’s child.

Don’t judge significance by the size of the seed.
Let go of what is “supposed to” be.

Peter got the haul of a lifetime while he was rolling his eyes. The attitude you have while planting doesn’t matter. (Luke 5:4-7 again)

The Position of Potential

The seed has to remain.
“Sow important”

Peter – Got out of the boat but also abandoned Jesus. (Matthew 14:29, Matthew 26:56)
John – Stayed in the boat but also stayed with Jesus to the cross. (John 19:25-27)

What is around the seed determines what comes out of the seed.
You can have good things in you, but if there’s bad stuff around you, it won’t take root.

Some of you need to hear that it’s NOT that there isn’t anything good inside of you, but you’re not planted in good soil.

Get some good soil around you.
It’s important to stay in the good soil even when it’s uncomfortable.

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

1 John 3:2, NIV, emphasis mine

We are God’s children now.
But we are still in the process of becoming like Christ.

Elisha had to wait 13 years for the miracles to start happening.
Most of us wouldn’t last 13 days.

You don’t know what’s in you… it’s too soon to tell.
Don’t give up on the process.
Nothing is wasted if God is in it.

When Elisha was taking over as prophet in place of Elijah, he asked for a “double portion” of Elijah’s spirit. (2 Kings 2:9)

Elijah performed 8 miracles.
Before Elisha died, he performed
15 miracles.

20 Elisha died and was buried. Now Moabite raiders used to enter the country every spring. 21 Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb. When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet.

2 Kings 13:20-21, NIV

The attack always comes right before the harvest. (Verse 20)

Elisha’s last miracles happened after he died: he still had one more miracle in his bones. (Verse 21)

With that final miracle, God used Elisha for 16, twice as many as Elijah. He did in fact receive a double portion of Elijah’s spirit.

Jesus wasn’t buried in a grave; he was buried in a garden.

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