Positive Power of One - Message (07/12/03)
By: Robert H. Schuller
We continue these series
of sermons with the title "The awesome power of one message."
The power of one message. Oh-ho. And at Christmas there are lots
of messages. They come by television. They come by radio. They
come by Christmas cards. And some.. I got one that was I thought
cute. It said, "Christmas is a weird time. When else would
you sit in a chair in the living room looking at a dead tree,
eating candy out of old socks?"
Many of you sitting
down there were changed, forever, permanently, by one message.
It came across. Your heart was open. You were receptive. You said
yes. You were strangely, deeply moved, maybe converted, maybe
born again, surly one message did it. That's the history of the
world. Nations have been moved by one message, hopefully by good
men like Winston Churchill and only last week, England put out
a poll to find out who is the most admired Englishman in their
history. Number one was Winston Churchill. And I lived through
the second world war and I heard his speeches. In my mind he was
unsurpassed as an inspirational powerful speaker. And the message
that I'll never forget, the most powerful, awesome single message
to come out of that second world war was his message when he said,
"Never give up, never give up. Never, never, never give up."
As a student of speech
you can understand I've studied and heard a lot of speeches in
my life. But this morning I want to call your attention to what
I think is probably the single most awesome power speech ever
delivered in the world. It's short and it's in the Bible. And
I find it in Saint Luke chapter two, here are the words: "There
were in the same country shepherds living in the fields keeping
watch over their flock by night. And behold an angel of the Lord
appeared to them and they were greatly afraid." Then here
comes the speech. Here comes the sermon. Here comes the most powerful,
awesome message ever delivered. "Do not be afraid."
Wow. A sermon on fear is always in place.
Today is no exception.
In this country terror is only one of the fears that torment people,
other's, financial fears, other's moral and spiritual fears of
the year with some of the things that are happening. Do not be
afraid. Yes you can ask questions. Yes you can try to say what
can I do to help? But "do not be afraid for behold I bring
you good news." Oh, I love good news. Don't you? "Good
news of great joy" great joy for all people. "Good news
of great joy."
I heard the story the
other day, it's a take off of the footprints story. I like this
one, I think even better than the original. A little boy now grown
up, with God is looking down to see his two large footprints.
And he says, "God, those are yours. Inside those footprints
are two little footprints." Oh, he said, "those are
my footprints when I was a child." God said "yes."
"I walked with
you." "Yes." "My father and mother prayed
with me and told me to walk with You." "Yes." "In
your footsteps. Oh and then the next footprints, the little feet
are a little larger. Oh I'm still with you. And then they're the
size of teenagers." And the little boy says "I'm still
right in your footsteps." God says "yes."
And then they continue
until suddenly his footprints fill God's footprints. And he said
"yes, yes I obeyed you. I was Yours." Then the next
footprints are empty. His footprints are not in God's footprints
and God's footprints are here and then they go there, they're
going there, they're going there. And the young man says "God,
what happened to me? Where are my footprints? Why aren't they
in Your footprints?" God said, "don't you remember?
That's when I lifted you up and we danced with joy. That's where
My footprints lead and you went with me all the way."
"Fear not, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall
be to all people for there is born to you this day in the city
of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord." Wow. The word
Savior, now stop and think. All of the great literature ever written
whether it's by William Shakespeare or you name the author. Only
as it refers to Jesus Christ can you find global literature that
honors the Savior Jesus Christ. It's biblical. It's our Christian
faith. It's who we are. Think who we are. Who are we? We are followers
of Jesus Christ. Are our lives are different. Yes, we get cancer
like secular people do. But the healing's are far more abundant
to those who have faith.
I remember today a
little girl I went to call on in the hospital and she's in a fetal
position, no hair on the top of her head, not long to live. Today
I think she's a teenager in very good health, completely in remission.
It's phenomenal. And I could think of another girl just like it,
and then anther one. It is an amazing thing. We are blessed people.
Listen, you who follow Jesus Christ, we are people blessed with
hope, with faith, with joy. "Do not be afraid for behold
I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all"
what? "To all people." It's open to all. "For there
is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ
Now that, I submit,
is probably the most awesome message ever delivered and that power
of that one message changed history. You cannot imagine, nor can
I, how this world would be had Christ never been born. I mean,
sure you can look at the wars, you can look at the sins, you can
look at the disappointments, you can look at all the negatives.
You do that! Go ahead. If it'll make you happy, go ahead. I look
for the positives. And it was the Christian faith that introduced
hospitals, it introduced medical care at its best and finest because
it brought the heart of Jesus into it. You look at the history
of the Christian faith and it brought education. It brought the
great wonders out of which today we enjoy the benefits. Christianity
brought a set of human values that was the basis of our Constitution
of the United States of America. We have never been an official
Christian nation but there is no nation on planet earth where
the human values for the most part that were written into law
were inspired by the Christian faith. It is fantastic.
You know I've focused a lot in my lifetime studying psychology.
And I was reading an article recently in a professional journal
about regrets and how that this is becoming a number one down
emotional experience in human beings. It's because we have a lot
of people who are in their twenties who weren't taught by their
parents to live by the ten commandments. And we have a lot of
people in their thirties and forties who were ignored as well.
And we have a lot of boomers, fifties, who never went to Sunday
school. That mass of market is now dealing with a major, a negative
emotion called regrets: "I wish I had. I wish had. If only
I had listened. Oh, if I had only done this." And the regrets
pile up. "Why didn't I listen to my father? Why didn't I
listen to that professor? Why didn't I take that course? Why did
I drop out of school? Why did I invest in that sign?" Well
the regrets pile up. And one of the top regrets is that they neglected
their spiritual life. Yeah. They admit to it. Wow.
So what is regret?
Regret is, if it's a choice you made, then it's a sin. For many
of you your regrets should not generate guilt because it wasn't
caused by you. And normally a regret is a decision you made, you're
sorry for, and you cannot go back and correct it. And what do
you do? What does the world have to offer to people who feel guilty?
Tell me. What University can you go? What degree can you earn?
A BA, an MA, a Ph.D., an MD? What degree can you learn that will
heal you of your guilt? What University? What religion can you
buy into and they can guarantee that you will have total immunity
now from your past sins? No religion, not ours, no religion. You
can only get it from a person and His name is Jesus Christ and
He promises to forgive you.
I'll tell you, you
look at it, up until Freud, the last century, there was nothing
called Psychology or Psychiatry. Why not? Because in the world
of English speaking people and German speaking and European speaking
peoples, the Western world was under Christendom. There was the
name of Christ, the teaching of Christ. And the introduction to
Christ and Him on a cross meant they could look to Him and be
forgiven of their sins because He died for them. Wow. But then
the world began to get secular, and more secular. It was so secular
that just before the outbreak of World War II, prominent church
leaders were predicting that the church was going to die out.
But when the church looked like it was dying out, Sigmund Freud
created a substitute and he called it depth psychology. But the
best stuff that he got had been taught for centuries in the Holy
Bible, in the Psalms, in the Prophets, and in Jesus Christ. Oh
"don't be afraid. I have good news for you. There is born
to you this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the
And you know what happens. He saves us and not just from hell,
whatever that is, not just to Heaven, whatever that is. He saves
us here and now from ourselves, our selfishness, our greed, our
sins. And when He comes into a person's life, you're transformed
into goodness, preached on it last week, kindness. You become
a really fine person, yeah.
So where are you? You
know, there was a great evangelist. His name was Chappell and
he was not only a great preacher. I used to buy all of his books
and read his sermons so if I have a good sermon, once in a while
maybe it was where I got a lot of help from that old sermon of
Chappell. But anyway, he created a fiction. The story takes place
a couple of thousand years ago and there's this old man and he
calls children to him and he always tells them a story. He tells
them a story of a one night there were angels here, right in the
sky, out there in the empty fields. And there were a bunch of
shepherds and the angels said to the shepherds "fear not
for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be
to all people for there is born to you this day in the city of
David," he said, see the lights on the hill, that's the city
of David, they call it Bethlehem now. And then he said to us,
he said to the shepherds, go to Bethlehem. You'll find a little
baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
Then when he finished
the story he would look at his children and say, "I was one
of those shepherds." And the children would look at him,
but then his face would turn and his eyes would drift off into
the distance. And they could hear him say, "I was one of
those shepherds." And in a soft voice, "I was one of
those shepherds." Late in life, one of the grandchildren
said, "Why do you always stop and look out in the distance?"
"Because," he said, "I was one of those shepherds
but I didn't go to Bethlehem. Oh, the others did. They believed
it. I didn't. They thought the angel was real. I thought it was
a fantasy. I was one of those shepherds but I never saw the baby."
And he cried and he cried.
All of you are shepherds
this Christmas season. You're asked by the angel to take a look
at Jesus Christ. To go to Him, be it in Bethlehem or wherever,
and bow down before Him. The world needs Christmas. The world
needs to hear this message more than any other message - economic,
militaristic or economical. It needs to hear the message that
touches the souls of human beings and the hearts of persons and
the core of families. "Fear not. For behold, I bring you
good news of great joy which shall be to all people. For there
is born to you today in the city of David, a Savior, who's Christ
Where are you? Do you
know Jesus Christ? Have you ever approached Him closely? Have
you ever talked to Him privately and intimately? Are you afraid?
Are you doubtful? Are you cynical? I don't care where you're at,
but I know where you should go. Go to the manger and say, "Jesus
Christ, I accept the greatest message ever preached in the human
family. I accept You as my Savior. Amen."
Now O Lord, I can see
hearts opening up. I can see minds thinking about words they have
heard. I can feel that people are being changed. Some people are
having a born again experience being born into faith out of doubt;
into love out of cynicism; into kindness out of greed and selfishness;
into love. And O God, they have no idea where that path will lead
but You and I know, You and I know. Yes, You and I know that path
leads to heaven. Amen.