#168 (13/02/05)
Don’t Throw Away Tomorrow Part III

The Message

By: Robert A.Schuller

Special Guest

He lost his sight at the age of 13 but he never lost his faith. Erik has climbed the 7 continental peaks of the world’s largest mountains and that includes Mount Everest. He’s a devoted husband and father. Erik just returned from Tibet where he led 6 blind Tibetan teenagers to a 23,000-foot peak just north of Everest in an event called “Climbing Blind: Tibet Expedition.” He has released a new book, “Touch the Top of the World.”

Special Music

" Joyful, Joyful.."
" He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands "
" We Build a New Tomorrow "

" Blow Ye the Trumpet "
" Beautiful River "

NATALIE LEONARD - "The Story of God’s Love"

Acticle of The Message

Recently, I was in Jerusalem, and what an unbelievable experience that was, to be able to go to Bethlehem, and actually put our hands on the place where Christ was born. There is a little star on the floor and we could see the place where the Christ child lay. We went to Nazareth and we saw the home of Jesus, we went to Capernaum where Jesus had his ministry and to the Jordan River where he was baptized. We also went to Jerusalem, to the Mount of Olives and Mount Zion, and the upper room. We walked the footsteps of Jesus. We walked the Via Della Rosa. We saw the way of the cross. We saw where He was crucified. We saw where He was buried. But his body was gone. The tomb was empty. There weren't any bones. There was nothing there and to this day, no one has ever found a single solitary trace of the body of Jesus Christ. I wonder why?

It is said it is because He rose from the grave, that He sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty and from there he judges the living and the dead. Do you know what? I believe that. I believe it because I know it to be true. I have felt the presence of Jesus in my own life. When that happens, do you know what that's called? It is called an epiphany, where the Almighty comes and reveals himself to you and you have a divine encounter with God, an epiphany.

Here is the epiphany I want you to have today. The epiphany I want you to receive is to open your eyes, to open your ears and to open your heart to embrace your tomorrows. We embrace our tomorrows, by opening our hearts and experiencing Jesus. Jesus went up to an area called Caesarea Philippi and he asked his disciples:

"Who do people say the Son of Man is?" And they replied, "Some say John the Baptist, and others say Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." And Jesus said but what about you? Who do you say I am? And Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon, Bar-Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ. (Matthew 16: 13-20)

We need to open our eyes and see the Messenger, see Jesus Christ. When we look at the prophets of the world we see that they carry a message and in Judaism there were many prophets and in Islam we see the prophet Mohammad and in Christianity we see Jesus. But the uniqueness about Christianity is that Jesus is not only the Messenger, he is himself the Message.  Jesus said, "I am the Word." In Jesus Christ the Word was made flesh. The Messenger became the Message and that's what epiphany is all about, where we understand and realize and open up our eyes and we come to an understanding of who Jesus is. Beyond that, we also open our ears and we hear His message.

How do we embrace our tomorrow? We embrace it with open eyes to see Jesus Christ and what His message is all about; with open ears to hear His message that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God; and open our hearts to allow His Spirit to come, to penetrate our hearts and open us up to the reality of who He is. Epiphany is the realization of understanding that Jesus Christ was more than just a prophet, that Jesus Christ was the Son of the living God. Peter recognized it. His name was Simon Bar Jonah. When Peter recognized the fact that Jesus Christ was more than the Messenger and that Christ was actually the Message, Jesus said to him, "Simon Bar Jonah, Simon son of Jonah, you are petros," which means rock. That is the Greek translation of rock -- petros. Christ said to Peter, "You are rock and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell will never prevail against it." An epiphany is a time for us to be able to realize that we can see the message in the Messenger. We can look into the face of Jesus and say, 'here is the Christ, the Son of the living God.' When we do that we receive this incredible gift from Jesus and He looks at every single one of us and he says, 'you are rock, and upon this rock I will build my church.' It is not just a single point in time but it is an epiphany that takes place every time we recognize that Jesus is the Message, and Jesus Christ, the Word, was made flesh.

When I was in Jerusalem recently, you may recall that I addressed you from there. Through the terrific, incredible wonders of modern technology I was able to talk to all of you from Jerusalem. It is an incredible place. The most incredible thing for me was to actually stand in the place where Jesus lived, where he was born, where he walked, where he taught us how to love everybody, where he taught us to embrace those who are imprisoned, and to care for those who are unloved. Today I want you to open your eyes and your ears and your hearts to the unloved, to embrace all humanity. While I was in Jerusalem I went to a place called the Holocaust Museum. There we saw the tribute to the 6.5 million Jews who were killed by Nazi Germany. I have often wondered, how could this atrocity have taken place and how could the church sit back and look at what took place and not do anything about it? I started studying what took place in Germany with the relationship with the churches. Hitler was very involved in the church. He used the church and manipulated the church to accomplish his means and his ends. Here are some of the things that Hitler said in his speeches. He said, "The national government will maintain and defend the foundation on which the power of our nation rests. It will offer strong protection to Christianity as the very basis of our collected morality." And Hitler went on to say, "Today Christians stand at the head of Germany. I pledge that I will never tie myself to parties who want to destroy Christianity. We want to fill our culture again with the Christian spirit. We want to burn out all of the recent immoral developments in literature, in theater and in the press. In short, we want to burn out the poison of immorality which has entered into our whole life and culture as a result of liberal excess during the past few years." In January 1933, Hitler appointed Ludwig Mueller, who was the leader of the German Christians, to create a state church called The Great Evangelical Church, and in September they had 20,000 German Christians gather in the Berlin Sports Palace and there they affirmed their allegiance to Hitler as the leader of their church. Unbelievable! But there was a small band of men and women, theologians and pastors, who could see through this charade, who could see past this curtain that Hitler had placed in front of their eyes and could see the truth of the gospel message of who Jesus is -- a God who loves, a God who cares, a God who embraces all. They put together a group and on May 29,1934, in Barman, Germany, this small group of men gathered together and Carl Barth wrote a declaration which has since been called 'The Barman Declaration,' which established what Christianity was all about. Today those groups of churches in Germany are known as The Confessing Churches and they confess who Jesus Christ is and it is a wonderful statement. Martin Niemoeller preached a sermon later entitled "Christ is My Fuehrer," and he spent time in Dachau prison for that sermon. Most of the members of that Confessing Church were arrested and spent time in the concentration camps, and many of them died for their faith.

God has called us to love everybody. He has called us to feed His sheep, and as long as we embrace our future with open eyes, open ears, and an open heart, our future will be bright and beautiful and full of joy and the promise of the Good News of Jesus Christ. Will we have problems and struggles? Yes, you can count on it. The rain falls on the just and the unjust alike. The only difference is that we know our future. Our profession of Jesus Christ gives us the knowledge and the understanding that when God calls us home, we know exactly where we are going. We are thankful to God for His Message and His Messenger wrapped up in one, Jesus Christ.

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you that your word is proclaimed, that you are the Word, that you are the Message, that today we come as your servants and your children. So touch our hearts with the reality of your goodness. Open our ears that we might hear your message. Open our eyes that we might see who you are. Now we love you, Lord, and we praise your name. Amen.

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