#106 The 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 the Lord."

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 Lord." Wow.
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 the Lord."

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.


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