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Reaching Your Full Potential

Joshua 17:12-18


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There are 3 people sitting in your seat right now.  [not a fat joke!]  There’s the person you are today.  Then there’s the person you could be for evil.  And then there is the complete person you could be for God.  Who will you be tomorrow?  A year from now?  When you die?  To go backward would be foolish.  To remain the same would be very tempting.  But we must charge forward or we’ll never realize our full potential that God left us here to become for His glory!


The mediocre men of Manasseh did not fully possess their land.


The 12 tribes of Israel were each divided a portion of the land to take control of, but Manasseh did not, for several reasons:


1.     Incomplete Obedience.

This will keep you from being all you can be.

v. 12-13   ‘utterly’ = ‘completely’.  Don’t do it halfway.  Incomplete obedience is also known as disobedience.  This is true when it comes to our faithfulness-to God, to our spouse, to church.  We come back to town this week and several comment about some who were also gone.  I say, Oh, I didn’t know they were traveling, and they say, no, they weren’t gone, YOU were.  How sad.  Let’s follow the Lord!


This is true of our tithe.  All or nothing, when you are here and make up when you are away.  When it’s easy and when it hurts.  Anything less than complete obedience and you might as well keep it because you’re gonna need it w/out God’s blessing being on your finances!


Complete victory is what our commander has charged us with, not just being satisfied w/ mediocrity.  No backing up, no backing down, no compromise!


Douglas MacArthur is a true American hero.  The second greatest tragedy of our nation is that he never sat in the White House.  The first greatest is that Clinton did!  MacArthur said, “In war there is no substitute for victory.”  But there is an alternative, which is defeat.


Manasseh was comfortable to let a few Canaanites stay in the land.  They didn’t take God literally or seriously and they didn’t obey if they were the exception to God’s rule.  Maybe they had a better idea and God would understand? 


What are the Canaanites in your land?  What is inhabiting your heart, your home, and God wants you to drive it out?


·       The Canaanites they favored, or tried to use—v. 13—‘Tribute’ = ‘tax’.  They tried to make slaves out of them.  They wanted to make them be a blessing to them. 


Ill.—a family in Texas once acquired a lion cub, and they made a pet out of it.  They lived in an apartment building.  They had a new baby boy and set up a nursery.  One morning they crossed the hall to visit a neighbor as the baby slept in the crib.  The cub had the freedom to roam.  They heard a blood curdling scream, and they rushed in to find the lion cub had bitten several of the fingers off their baby.  Today that boy is grown up and walking around w/out several of his fingers because his parents thought they could tame a wild animal.

    What is your pet sin?  Someday it will rise up and devour something precious in your life.


So, what sin is there in your life and you are trying to tame it and keep it around?  To use to your advantage?  Compromise with?  You think, I can handle this.  [That’s what Manasseh thought.]  You think, this won’t hurt anybody. [That’s what Manasseh thought.]  The devil may have you so warped and perverted in your thinking that you think you are actually better off because of that sin you hold on to.  “I’m better off holding on to this...after all, this relaxes me and helps dispel my nervous energy.  This helps me cope.”


No slave to alcohol, drugs, sex, porn or otherwise ever became that way w/out first saying, I can handle this.  I can quit anytime I want to.  You may think you’ve made a slave out of that sin, but in no time it will make a slave out of you.


The Canaanites they favored...


·       The Canaanites they feared—v. 16—these they didn’t think they could drive out.

But for the child of God there should not be one sin that has dominion over you.  Don’t roll over on this one.  Don’t give up!  Don’t tell me you have a family predisposition to it, that your daddy and your g’pa had it too.  That may be, because we all have the ‘sin gene’, but somebody must break the cycle!


I’m not talking about sinless perfection, but sin habits.  There’s a difference between falling in the mud and wallowing in it. 


No sin, no matter how powerful it is, can stand against the power of God, if we rely on that power.

1 Corinthians 10:13
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.


Favoring sin, fearing sin—this will keep us from reaching our full potential.  You can’t keep company w/ Canaanites and expect to escape unharmed.  It’s incomplete obedience.

Ill.—preacher picked up a drunk, staggering along the road, and took him home.  The drunk invited him in to meet his wife.  “Why?”  he asked.  “Because I want her to see what kind of company I’m keeping!”

        Don’t keep company w/ Canaanites.


1.     Incomplete obedience...


2.     Arrogant pride.

v. 14        ‘a great people.’  Unbelievable.  They are not only unwilling to obey in the land they are given, but now they are asking for more.  For one thing, they were sharing the land, so it was tight of their own doing.  But the bigger problem is their pride.  They don’t see themselves as they really are.  Most of us don’t.  Often we have an inflated opinion of ourselves.


“If you think that you are what you ought to be then you my friend, never will be.


The Apostle Paul was perhaps the greatest NT Christian of all time, and partly because he never saw himself that having arrived.

Philippians 3:13
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before...

Here’s a man who could boast that he had seen the third heaven, who was responsible for establishing churches in Asia Minor and into Europe which would eventually bring it all to us in America.  He could say, “Hey, I wrote more books of the Bible than anyone, Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians, Timothy, Titus, and maybe Hebrews!”  But he didn’t say that.  He said rather, “I have a long way to go.”  He said, “I’m the chief of sinners.”


Are you satisfied w/ your Christian life the way it is?  This is not the final goal, there’s higher ground to gain!


·       Pride is a deceptive sin—usually the proud don’t realize it.  They go around talking about how humble they are!

Ill.—one preacher wrote a sermon on humility but never could find a crowd big enough to preach it to!

Ill.—a church gave one member a medal for humility, then took it away the next week because he wore it!


Remember the story of the Pharisee and the, the Publican?  One was proud and the other was humble.  And the proud one actually said, thank you Lord that I’m not like this guy over here.  He left dignified, but the humble Publican left justified. 

Too many people leave our services each week dignified, when they could have left justified, but pride kept them from coming down the aisle!

So, aren’t you glad you aren’t like that Pharisee!!


Ill.--Vince Lombardi recounted the days when everyone wanted his autograph, everywhere he went he was asked for it.  One day in a diner he saw a little boy approaching him from a nearby booth.  He got his pen out and said to the boy, sure, no problem, at which time the boy said thanks, grabbed his ketchup bottle, and returned to his table!


Pride is a very deceptive sin...


·       Pride is a deadly sin.

Proverbs 29:23
A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.

Proverbs 11:2
When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.

Proverbs 16:18
Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

The children of Manasseh said, give us more!  But they had not possessed the land they already had.


Here’s God’s solution to both of their problems—incomplete obedience and arrogant pride...

v. 17-18   “Do what you are supposed to do w/ what I’ve already given to you!”


Don’t ask God for more of anything if you aren’t doing right by what He’s already given you.  Some want more understanding of the Bible but they don’t obey what parts they do understand.  Some want more money but aren’t faithful in little.  And they wouldn’t be if they had a million dollars.  They say if they won the lottery they’d tithe.  How dumb do I look? [don’t answer that!]  I was born at night but it wasn’t last night!  Some want to know God’s will for the future but they haven’t sought to obey what God has showed them thus far.  So why should He give us more? 


The people of Manasseh were like a dog chasing a car...they wouldn’t know what to do if they caught it!


God told them to clear the trees, which stands for clutter.  This makes me think of our schedules today, always doing what’s urgent, and not what’s important.  Controlled by technology instead of us controlling it.  Serving our toys and gadgets instead of them serving us. 


Next they have to get rid of the corruption, the Canaanites.  Clear the clutter and then the corruption.  The order makes sense.  Because worship should always come before work.  Worship and then you’ll see clearly to do the work at hand.  Then you can reach your full potential!


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