There is this thing on the inside of you and me. It’s a tension between potential and problems. On one side of the bar we have this great potential that God has placed in side of us. Boundless potential. Unlimited potential. There’s potential on the inside of you that you can’t even imagine, that you’ve never dreamed of. Do you realize that? Don’t just be satisfied—I know we’re called to be content no matter what state we’re in—but don’t think that’s all that there is.
On one side of the scale is our potential, and on the other side we find our problems. And many times we’re more focused on our problems than our potential. I believe that every believer has a hunger on the inside of them to maximize the gifts, talents, and abilities that God has placed inside of him or her. The challenge, and I believe we’re all alike in this, is that we get caught up in an undertow, or a rip current of life that pulls away from our potential and really from being 100% obedient to God. It pulls us away from doing many of the things that God wants us to do, have, and experience. It’s because we get focused on our problems. I do it. And let me tell you, “I’ve gotten my rebuke from God, and if I’ve got mine, you’re going to get yours,” as Bishop Jakes says. When I’m focused on the problem and not God’s purpose, then we’re not allowing God to fix this. Sometimes it’s like I have Laurel and Hardy working on the inside of me, “That’s another fine mess you’ve gotten us into.”
But we get caught up in the problems and here’s one of the great challenges. You know, we face this seemingly never-ending onslaught of problems and of difficult choices, which brings us right back to point number one. It’s so easy to get focused on the problems that we oftentimes miss our potential. NOTHING can rob us of our God-given potential like focusing on the problems of daily living. And we often make choices based on the level of risk, don’t we? I do. I weigh things out. I am a man who likes my options. When someone wants me to make a decision, I’ll ask, “What are my options?” With God we have options: Do it or disobey. Do it or don’t. Oftentimes we make our choices based upon the level of risk.
I believe that God desires each and every one of us to reach our full potential and live an abundant life. That is why Jesus came according to John 10:10. And this potential does not exist merely on our human ability. There is the “God factor.” God places greater potential, greater direction, and greater calling in us than what can be seen by the natural eye. And the truth is that God—particularly in this church—is calling us to be “risk takers.” What are we supposed to do when the right choice involves a higher degree of apparent risk? So many are willing to settle for security and comfort, for the comfort that the world and worldly churches have to offer. But I’m here today to make a declaration, and it is this: A disciple, by nature, is a risk taker. If we’re not willing to take risks, then we ought not wear the title of disciple of Christ. How do you think those first disciples felt when Jesus said, “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, and cast out demons!” Yet they were willing to overcome their own insecurities, flesh, and mental attitudes and take risks in order to expand the Kingdom of God.
Think about Paul. I was reading about him again in Acts 16. When he cast the demon out of the soothsayer girl, that was a tremendous risk for him, and it got him arrested, but he did it anyway. I believe for those who are willing to obey the Lord, risks become a place of refuge, because it is through those risks that we are able to find ourselves under the shadow of the Almighty. And it’s time to give attention—not to God’s absence—but to God’s authority in our lives. God’s calling you; His calling is already upon you, and that doesn’t mean to go try and get fired from your job for preaching the Gospel. Don’t do that. God does not bless that; He blesses obedience. Just because the world calls you crazy, doesn’t mean that it’s so.
God is calling us to take some significant risks. I know that God has called this church to do great exploits for His kingdom. We’re going to get criticized; we’re going to be challenged; there are going to be obstacles. But God is not absent; He is a very present help in our time of need. And if we would be willing to step out and take the risk, then we will see the hand of the Lord move. We will see the salvation of our God demonstrated in ways we’ve never seen before. I believe the best is yet to come! I believe that with all my heart. That’s what I’m investing my life in. I’ve lived long enough to know that sometimes you have to go through some stuff to get to the end . . . to get to the fruit, and we’re getting there because THE BEST IS YET TO COME!