Faithlife Sermons

Pursuit of the Father

Notes & Transcripts


Pursuit of the Father

Planting a Potential Garden


There was an old man lived alone in Idaho.   He wanted to dig his potato garden, but it was backbreaking work, and his son, Bubba, who used to help him, was in prison.  The old man mentioned it in a letter he sent to his son by saying, “I’m not sure exactly what to do son.  I’m just getting too old to be digging up the garden anymore.   It looks like I won’t be able to plant that garden this year after all.”

A few days later, the old man who lived in Idaho received a short letter from his son, “Dad, For heaven’s sake, don’t dig up that garden that’s where I buried the bodies!”  Sure enough, cause you know they check the mail in prison.   At 4 a.m. the next morning, a crew of police officers, and the FBI arrived to search for the bodies.   After digging for hours, they gave up and apologized to the old man and left.

That same day the old man received another letter from his son.
“Dear Dad, under these circumstances, that’s the best I can do, go ahead and plant your potatoes now.”

            Sometimes we are just like that dirt that stands in the way of experiencing a beautiful garden.   But breaking through that dirt is backbreaking work.  We’ve got a lot of potential but have yet to grow the fruit that we were created to produce.

            Jesus as a young boy was also at this pivotal point in his life.   He was beginning to understand his potential but hadn’t quite gotten to the point yet where he was realizing the fruit of his God given potential.   That’s what we want to address today.   Scripture gives us guidelines on becoming all that God wants us to be.   I mean think about it, if I walked up to most people on the street and said to them, “if you will do just a few things I can guarantee you that you will become all that God wants you to be” they’d be a fool not to jump at the chance.  The rich young ruler didn’t jump at the chance he walked away sad and Judas sold out for 30 pieces of silver.   I’m here to tell you, many are just that, fools.  The Bible tells us in Proverbs 1:7, “...Fools despise wisdom and instruction.”  Proverbs 18:2 goes on to say that, “A fool does not delight in understanding, But only in revealing his own mind.” 

Here on these pages are God’s wisdom and instruction yet many are following their own guidelines, on their way to what they think is God’s best for their life, that’s foolishness.  There’s only one thing worse than not realizing your God given potential and that’s an unwillingness to go to God to get it.  That’s what we want to address today how to live out your God given potential.  We’re going to be looking at Luke chapter 2 verses 46 through 52 but before we read there I want you to keep this thought in mind;

Our God given potential is in the Life of Jesus Christ

Read. Luke 2:46-52


Each year Joseph and Mary celebrated Passover by traveling back to Jerusalem as was required of all males in Israel.  As a matter of fact, the law stated that adult males and their families must attend three feasts.  They were Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles.   Joseph, being a righteous, law abiding Jew, obeyed the tradition of his forefathers.  So each year they would commemorate the Destroyer passing over the homes of the Israelites, freeing them from Pharaoh, hence the name Passover celebration.  Three times a year in fact Mary and Joseph made this trek back to Jerusalem celebrating these 3 feasts.

            Jesus had been going to Jerusalem with his parents for years he already knew the ritual the routine and the meaning behind it.  Typically Nazarene families went to this 7 day Passover celebration as a caravan of families making the 2500 ft ascent to Jerusalem.  Easily the boy Jesus was not missed as they departed to return back home to Galilee.  His parents probably figured he was with other family members.  Mary figured Jesus wasn’t in the front of the caravan with her because he was entering that age of manhood.  Joseph wasn’t concerned about his whereabouts in the rear of the caravan because he figured Jesus was with mom.  After a days journey home they realized that the Son of God whom they’re responsible for is missing, you’d be in shock too.

            So we begin in verse 46 where Jesus’ parents have found him in the Temple. 

Jesus has arrived at an age where he is ready to open a new chapter in his life.  Before this time it was his parents who were responsible for teaching him the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament.  There’s a shift, if you will, not away from his father Joseph, but to a new dynamic in his life.  Jesus was now identifying with who he was and had a desire to be responsible for his own growth. 

Joseph and Mary had been responsible for the boy Jesus as every parent is to their children but now that he was crossing from adolescence into manhood it was his responsibility to pursue his spiritual growth.  Like every Jewish boy Jesus began learning the Torah around the age of four.  Usually around the age of 12 or 13 they had it memorized.  When a Jewish boy had memorized the Torah they were allowed to attend the Passover as a male with his family and dialogue with other adult males in matters of the Torah.

In Jewish families we call this pivotal point in life the bar mitzvah.  Jesus was “coming of age” he was now a “son of the law” which is the meaning of bar mitzvah. 

I hope you are pursuing the things that God has for you.  We’re going to see how Jesus goes about his own pursuit of the Father.  What better model to learn from than the very Son of God himself. 

            Jesus grew as a child just like you and I did.  Unlike you and I Jesus grew without having sinned while taking on the limitation we possess; the flesh.  Jesus dealt with desires, emotions, hurt, pain and hunger just like we do but he would never suffer separation from His Father like we have in our sin, until He bore our sins.  That is why we praise Him today because he did all that so that we might live with Him in eternity and experience Him on earth.  One of the reason’s  we can even talk about our attainable God given potential is because we are redeemed.  If you have trusted Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior you have a thrilling possibility for reaching your God given potential.  Redemption was a familiar term in NT times because of the familiar slave market.  Often times someone would take pity by purchasing a slave, only to set them free, this is where we get the word redemption from.  This is what Jesus did for us on a cross.  He purchased us out of the hands of Satan, taking pity on us knowing that the price would be death on a cross.  I hope today you will realize your God given potential is in the life of Jesus Christ.

            Luke is the only Gospel that gives us a glimpse of the childhood of Jesus and he chooses to show us this tiny portion of His life.  Why?  I believe its because it was that pivotal time in every boys life when he gets to a “rite of passage”.   When he crosses from adolescence to manhood.  In our country we don’t have a cultural tradition that symbolizes this important step a boy takes into becoming a man.  I think we should.  I believe we desperately need to show young men that they are no longer children but will be held responsible for all the things that their parents have taught them.  We need rituals and traditions like these in our families, not empty meaningless ones but reminders of who we are supposed to be.  Paul sums it up like this in 1 Corinthians 13:11

  “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.”

Walk to Manhood

One of the aboriginal tribes in Australia has a rite of passage from boyhood to manhood called a “walkabout.” A boy coming to puberty is sent into the jungle for six weeks without food, shelter, or weapons. During this time, he must test all of the survival skills he has learned during childhood.   He must also be creative when he meets the unexpected.  One mistake and he is dead.  If, however, he survives to walk out of the jungle, he returns to a celebration that honors him as a man, a hunter, and a warrior.

            Jesus shows us how to walk out of the jungle of separation from the Lord by first planting God’s Word in his heart.  Verse 46 tells us He was in the Temple, sitting with the teachers, listening and asking questions.  Jesus wasn’t just being spoon-fed at the temple he had engaged God’s Word and was actively pursuing an answer to the Spirit of God within him.  Jesus was increasing his capacity to hear from his Father in heaven by spending time with people that had already been engaged in the matters of God.  Do you remember your teachers in school when they would say to you, “no question is a bad question”?  Did you ever notice that the student who asked the questions wasn’t the one who didn’t have a clue, he was the student who inevitably got the most out of the material?  Jesus was that kid and He’s asking us today to stop being passive learners but erect an approach in our program so that we can become effectual doers, the Word says in James 1:25, “this man will be blessed in what he does”!   

When we get to a place where we need answers to our questions about God we are walking out of the jungle and into our Godly potential.  We need to actively plant God’s Word in our hearts because when we aren’t planting something else is and its leaving our garden empty, dry and useless.  To get seed to grow on that soil is going to be backbreaking work but God wants to grow his Word in your heart because He’s given you His Son.  That’s why God say’s to the disciples and he’s saying to us now through Matthew 17:5,  “This is my Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him!” And so Jesus is in the Temple listening to the teachers and I urge you to listen as well.

So the life of Jesus shows us first to actively plant God’s Word in our heart and finally He teaches us to live God’s Word out in our life.

            Some of us define manhood living out statements like, “I pay the bills in this house, I put the food on the table, it’s my time I’m gonna do what I want, you can’t tell me what to do, I’m a man.”  That’s not a man that’s one dimensional living; it centers around you and nobody else but you.  A man with godly potential acknowledges he has responsibilities and obligations to people who are dependent upon him that he must respond to in a loving manner because God wants to place him as the head of a family. 

In this short passage Jesus sits himself before the teachers because he knows in order to fulfill the scriptures he’s going to have to learn to place himself under someone else’s authority. 

            When we begin to define ourselves apart from the people involved in our lives our lives will run amuck and we will never reach our potential.  It isn’t what we’ve accomplished that says who we are its us humbly acknowledging who we are not.  If Jesus himself understood the necessity of placing himself under someone what does that say about us?  Whom have you sought to place yourself under that you might glean from their godly wisdom, understanding and witness?  Jesus himself was defined not only by the company he chose as a young boy but more importantly whom He placed himself in subjection to.  Verse 51 reads in the NIV reads, “...he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them...” 


You can grow on your own but in the midst of someone who has talked it and walked it your growth will not only be quicker but richer.  When you recognize the fruit in someone else’s spiritual garden God has just given you eyes to see how to live God out in your life.  Yes, even the Son of Man recognized he couldn’t fulfill his Father’s desires on his own.  Who are you willing to sit amongst?  Whose spiritual garden are you growing off of on your way to realizing God’s potential for your life?  Jesus was hanging out and questioning teachers who were in a place that Jesus the boy aspired to be.  When you recognize people who have already been through the battles, surrendered to his word, been summered and wintered through trials, stood firm through the storms of life when you desire to gain an understanding of their testimonial you are in the pursuit of the Father

Here’s What I want you to do;

1.      Plant God’s Word in your Heart; You can grow on your own yes but not at a rate necessary if you aren’t engaging people who have already been where you need to go and have a harvest of fruit to show for it.

2.      Live God’s Word out in Your Life;  Approach God’s instruction and wisdom as instruction’s for your life that you plan to implement immediately.

Here’s what I want you to know;

You’ll realize God’s potential in your life as you continually give your life over to Him!  He can only grow what you give him.


I come to you this morning with a heavy heart.  This week I lost a dear friend and former teammate.  Orlando Bobo was more than just that though he was a brother in Christ who actively lived out his faith in the Lord, unashamedly.  You see Orlando was the guy I watched when I committed my life to the Lord and needed to see what this Christian thing was all about.  One training camp I switched roommates so I could watch him.  Every morning Orlando would get out of bed at the crack of dawn, roll onto 2 ice bags and immediately open his Bible reading. 

Every morning without fail I watched him do the same thing over and over.  What Orlando didn’t realize then was that I was watching him and after he would leave the room I would do the same. 

Live out your faith unashamedly you never know how God may potentially use you to save a life a family a marriage and use you to change the outlook of heaven!

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