Be All That You Can Be!

Bible Book: Isaiah  44 : 1-3
Subject: Men, Christian
Introduction

What does God have planned for my life? I am not talking about specifics at this point. I am speaking generally when I ask that question. What does God want for me? I didn’t ask what God expects from me or what He wants from me. I asked, “What does God want FOR me?” This is a critical question because it carries an important thought that I want you to get deep down inside your heart and mind. This is the thought – God is FOR you. Sometimes I think people get the sense that God is out to get them. The opposite is true. Listen to what Paul wrote in Romans 8:31-32, “What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all-how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” NIV God spared not His own Son in redeeming you. How would He withhold any good thing from you? You have love from above! God loves you and He is for you. So, what is it that God wants FOR you? He wants you to be all that you can be! That doesn’t mean He wants you to have all you want to have, for that may not be best for you. He wants the best for you.

When I read Isaiah 44:1-3, I see a progression of possibilities. In this passage God is speaking of the nation of Israel.

Today is Baptist Men's Day across the Southern Baptist Convention. Though this message will be especially pertinent to men, it will also apply to everyone. Regarding men, I was interested in what one woman said some time ago about her husband. Asked to describe her husband she said, "He is 40 around the chest, 42 around the waist, 98 around the golf course and as nuisance around the house!"

If that dear lady thought her husband was a nuisance, she should have had to see him through God's eyes. There has never been a time in the history of the church when godly men were more needed than today. The picture of manhood as being a beer-guzzling, woman battering, condom carrying, vulgarity spewing, family deserting good-ole-boy must be sickening to the God. God is looking for some knee-bowing, Christ-exalting, woman honoring, family-loving, church-attending men in whom His Spirit resides and reigns!

But, the Lord is not only looking for a few good men; He is looking for young people, men and women, senior adults and people of all ages to “Be The Best You Can Be.”

Jesus said that those who were thirsty for righteousness would have their thirst quenched. Jesus is our righteousness, and a proper soul-thirst is a thirst for the fullness of Christ in our hearts and lives. I want you to turn with me to an Old Testament passage as I speak today to the men in our church. I am speaking today on “The Thirsty Man.” I wonder how many men in this room today are really thirsty for God? I now there are some men here who are thirsty for pleasure. There are some men here thirsty with lust. There are some men here thirsty for money. There are some men here thirsty for success and power. But, how many men in this room are really thirsty for God?

Turn to Isaiah 44:1-3 and look at a passage that will reveal a trice-fold division of manhood. In essence, there are three kinds of men in this room today. The Lord spoke in Isaiah 44:1-3 to the nation of Israel. In doing so, he used the name of an Old Testament man as a representative of the people. I want us to think about that man – the man was Jacob. The first two names the Lord uses are names directly related to Jacob. The later is a figurative name never applied to Jacob directly as far as we know. But, the name is symbolic of the very apex of manhood. The desire of God is that the men who know Him walk with Him in daily communion and disciplined conduct. Lets look at the three names in this passage and identify who we are – and just perhaps we will come to a decision that we don’t like the man we are and that we are ready to become “The Thirsty Man.”

In our passage today God unveiled his plan for godly manhood. Note in each name a revelation of God's view of us and his vision for us as men.

I. The Selfish Man - Jacob

Jacob was a conniving, scheming, egocentric individual. In spiritual terms, he was carnal and worldly. He tricked his father into giving him the blessing which belonged to his brother Esau. He had already caught his brother in a weak moment and traded him a bowl of soup for the family birthright. He thought he could do things himself. God visited him at Bethel but Jacob still had some growing to do. In essence, until Jacob's name was changed to Israel, until he wrestled with the angel on his second journey to Bethel, he remained somewhat carnal.

Many Christian men in our day are exactly where Jacob was in his day. They are selfish and immature.

A new couple moved in next door and became the object of interest to a neighbor. One evening the lady who had lived in the community for years said to her husband, "Have you noticed the Jones family next door? He is so considerate of her. He brings her flowers. He brings her candy. He kisses her every evening when he comes home. Why don't you do that?"

To which the husband replied, "But, honey, I hardly know the woman!"

Some men have to hit over the head with a 2 by 4 before they understand that they are to look beyond themselves. Jacob was just such a man. There are men in this service of worship today who are backslidden because you have never learned to turn things over to God. You have never realized that your own efforts for getting what you want are keeping you from that which God has stored up for you.

I pray that we as Christian men might not be willing to remain in the selfish, carnal, Jacob stage of life.

II. The Spiritual Man - Israel

Jacob came to Bethel a second time as recorded in the Book of Genesis. There he prayed and was visited by an angel. He wrestled with the angel and would not let go of the heavenly visitor until he was blessed. I do not understand all that happened or all that it means, but I do know that it meant he was never the same again.

God changed his name and from that day forward he was called Israel. From that day forward he walked with a limp, the result of his struggle with the angel. His name was changed, his walk was changed, his life was changed.

Jacob came to this moment when he came to the end of himself. Up until this time Jacob thought he could handle whatever came his way. As he approached home and the frightening reality that he had to face the brother whom he had cheated many years before, Jacob was forced to his knees in a way deeper than ever before in his life. The self-made man suddenly threw himself down before God in total abandonment.

I tell you this, there is never a time more wonderful for a man than when he acknowledges the extremity of his own abilities. As he resigns his own strength, he finds the strength of God. That is why Paul could say that he was strongest when he was the weakest!

It would be wonderful today if God could touch some men in this service and bring them to a Bethel experience. It would change the way people speak of us. It would change the way we walk and talk. It would create in us a deeper love for God and for others.

III. The Saintly Man - Jeshurun

Philippians 3:12

A. There is a Divine Pattern To Realize

God saw in Judah something Judah could not see. When the Lord called Judah by the name Jeshurun, meaning righteous one, the nation was anything but righteous. Wickedness had reached the point of demanding judgment. The Lord was just before showering that deserved judgment upon them through the oncoming Babylonians. Yet, He still referred to Judah as Jeshurun. Why? Why did He thus identify His people when they were so distant from His description? It was because that was the goal He had for them. That was the destiny which they were throwing into the dust. God had created His people to be Jeshurun, a righteous nation. Had they but sought to become what He patterned them to be, they would have acheived it!

My dear Christian man, God has a Jeshurun pattern for you. Paul spoke of this in Ephesians 3:12f. Paul shared that God had saved him and called him for a purpose and a goal which he, Paul, had not yet experienced. Paul was a mighty Christian, but he knew that there was a divine pattern laid out for him which he had not yet appropriated.

O, that every believer, man and woman could see this reality. We settle for less than God meant for us to be. Churches do the same thing. Ministries do likewise. God has great plans for us. When we settle for what we have, we get no more. When we agree in heart that God has more for us, we take the beginning step toward finding that something more!

B. There is a Determined Pursuit To Exercise

Paul said that he was living his Christian life like an athlete in a race. He was striving to push himself forward to reach the pattern which God had for him! He was so resolute concerning this that he said, "This one thing I do!" How many men here today can say that you have narrowed your life to the point that your one goal is to strive to be all that God means for you to be?!

Read Hebrews 12:1. We must lay aside the weight that does so easily besets us and run with patience the race that is set before us.

C. There is a Decisive Principle To Utilize

Exactly how do we realize the pattern and exercise the pursuit of God's Jeshurun ideal for us? Look to Jesus! Hebrews 12:2. In Philippians the word meaning "look to the prize" speaks of a watchman. That is like our Watchman Prayer Ministry. High calling means an upward calling. God is calling us to a higher standard than ever before! We must turn our eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

Extra Illustrations:
A few Good Men

At the Post Office in Upland, CA I found a challenge from the Lord. It was a Marine advertisement with a picture of a fine, handsome young man. Uncle Sam is looking for a FEW GOOD MEN. The brochure read ‑‑ "Join now go laer... These options go on a first come, first served basis to qualified individuals. Not everybody's going to like that, but we're not looking for everybody. Just a few good men with ambition, brains, energy, and determination. Men who won't let life push them around. Men who, in the tradition of the Marine Corps, set a goal and go after it."

Don't you know that God is looking for a few good men! Like the Marine, He is looking for men of God with ambition, brains at His disposal, energy and determination. The Holy Spirit will use you as your will is surrendered to His gracious power.‑Pastor Steury

Worldly

In his remarkably candid "The Man Who Could Do No Wrong" (Lincoln, VA: Chosen Books, 1981), pastor Charles Blair describes his own childhood during the depression days in Oklahoma. With pain he recalls his daily task of hauling the free government‑issue milk from the local firehouse to home. As he carried the milk pail down the street, he had to endure what he felt was raw scorn from boys his own age. Out of the agony of such moments came the resolve that the day would come when he would never again carry a symbolic milk pail, which signified a feeling of worthlessness.

Blair tells the story of an unforgettable walk home from school in the company of a girl about whom he had strong feelings. Suddenly a boy with a shiny new bicycle came up beside them and offered the girl a ride. Without hesitation she hopped onto the back fender, leaving Blair behind as she and the other boy rode off together. The humiliation of that moment caused Blair to quietly resolve that someday he would have the equivalent of a shiny bicycle, that he would have the wherewithal to make impressions that would command the attentions and loyalties of others. And those resolves burned their way into his life. They became a source of the drive that subsequently, by his own account, betrayed him. He would later need to own the most attractive automobile, lead the most beautiful and largest church, and wear the most stylish of men's fashions. These things would prove that he had made it out of the Oklahoma Depression. He was not worthless; he was not poor. He could prove it. Look!

Charles Blair was running from something, and that meant that he had to run toward something. Although is drive was clothed in all sorts of impressive spiritual motives, and although his ministry was remarkably effective, down at the center was unresolved hurts of the past. Because these hurts remained a point of disorder in his private world, they came back to haunt him. They affected his choices and values and blinded him to what was really happening at a crucial moment of his life. The result? Serious disaster. Failure, embarrassment, and public humiliation.

Worldly

Recently I read a fable about a dog who loved to chase other animals. He bragged about his great running skill and said he could catch anything. Well, it wasn't long until his boastful claims were put to the test by a certain rabbit. With ease the little creature outran his barking pursuer. The other animals, watching with glee, began to laugh. The dog excused himself, however, by saying, "You forget, I was only running for fun. He was running for his life!" That does make a difference! Motivation is the most important factor in everything we do.

Nothing Left

A father and his small son strolled down the street in Chicago past the place where a skyscraper was being constructed. Glancing up, they saw men at work on a high story of the building. "Father," said the little boy, "What are those little boys doing up there?" "Those are not little boys, son. They're grown men." "But why do they look so small?" "Because they're so high," his father answered. After a pause the boy asked, "Then, Father, when they get to heaven there won't be anything left of them, will there?" It's so true. The nearer we come to Christ the less others see of us and the more they see of Christ.

Spiritual

Two natures struggle in my breast:

The one is foul, the other blest.

The "new" I love ‑‑ the "old" I hate,

The one I feed will dominate.

"Our Daily Bread"

Spiritual

High in the Alps is a monument raised in honor of a faithful guide who perished while ascending a peak to rescue a stranded tourist. Inscribed on that memorial stone are these words: HE DIED CLIMBING. A maturing, growing Christian should have the same kind of attitude, right up to the end of life.

Formula for Spiritual Success

If you want to be distressed ‑‑ look within.

If you want to be defeated ‑‑ look back.

If you want to be distracted ‑‑ look around.

If you want to be dismayed ‑‑ look ahead.

If you want to be delivered ‑‑ look up!