#208 (20/11/05)
Faith: The Seeds for Success

The Message

By: Robert A. Schuller

Special Guest

Her brother in law is Dr. Phil, an American treasure, one of the greatest personalities to come along and help improve America with values and virtues and courtesy acts. So, she’s written a book , it’s called “A Random Act,” Cindi Broaddus, forward by Dr. Phil.

Special Music

" I Will Sing of the Mercies of the Lord Forever "
" Psalm 42 (sung in Dutch) "
"We Build a New Tomorrow"

RALPH VAN MANEN - "We Lift Your Name on High"
NOORTJE VAN MIDDELKOOP – “Now Thank we All our God”

The Message

Today, I want to share with you a little bit about one of the most powerful women in the history of mankind; someone who in the scriptures is referred to as a woman of faith. She's not the kind of woman you'd necessarily expect to be a tremendous woman of faith.  She's not one of the saints of the church.  In fact, she is a prostitute.  But in spite of that, she is recognized as truly one of the greatest people of faith of all time. Paul, the author of the book of Hebrews begins in Hebrews 11:1 by saying, "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen."  Paul continues by listing a litany of men who have truly been the pillars of faith throughout the history of the Bible and he begins with the son of Adam and Eve. He says, "By faith Abel presented a sacrifice to God.  By faith, Enoch ascended to heaven without death.  By faith, Noah built an ark.  By faith, Abraham obeyed and followed God's call.  By faith, Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau. By faith, Jacob blessed Joseph's son. By faith, Moses' parents put him in a basket.  By faith, Moses discarded the treasures and left Egypt.  By faith, the children of God crossed the Red Sea.  By faith, the walls of Jericho fell.  By faith, the prostitute Rahab saved her family.  The only woman mentioned in the hall of fame of faith is Rahab. 

Who is this woman?  What did she do?  What happened?  If you go back and you read the second chapter of Joshua, the account is there.  There we see that Joshua is getting ready to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land, across the Jordan River. Before he leads all of the Israelites into this land that he knows nothing of, he sends two spies and these spies are sent specifically to Jericho and there in Jericho they meet Rahab.  The word is out quite soon that there are two spies in Jericho and the king sends his men to go arrest these spies and they go to Rahab's house. Rahab lies and tells the kings' men that the spies have left the city and they better run out of the city immediately and go find them. Meanwhile she has hidden the spies on her rooftop. The kings' men go chasing after them out of the city and the gates are locked. With that she makes a deal with the spies. She says, "I know your God.  I have heard about His miracles.  I understand that He is not only the God in heaven but He is also the God on earth. I want you to save my family as I have saved you.  I want you to save my family, and if you do, I will help you get out of the city."  The agreement was if she would hang a red cord in her window to identify the fact that this was her house, she would be saved.  She did this and she and her family's lives were spared.  To this day we recognize Rahab as one of the most tremendous people of faith.

Why?  What did she do that was so demonstrative of faith?  She put her life on the line in the belief of God.  She put her life on the line with the understanding that God truly is the God of heaven and earth. She was totally and completely committed and that's what faith is all about.  Faith is about commitment.  Commitment is ham and eggs.  You know about ham and eggs.  The chicken contributes, the pig is committed! Commitment means you put your life on the line, you do whatever is committed, there's no going back, and the bridges are burned.  That is faith. It is what Rahab did.  She put her life on the line.  She just heard about this thing called God.  She heard about the reputation of what God does.  And with this limited amount of knowledge, she became one hundred percent committed.  No turning back.

Today, there are people who continue to put their life on the line and make a commitment to a reality.  Many of you are familiar with the name Linda Fuller.  In the early 70's Linda and her husband were having difficulties.  She was going to school; her husband was working in his business.  They soon became very successful and at the same time their marriage and family was falling apart.  They made a commitment to each other and they recommitted themselves to Jesus Christ. What they did from that point on is absolutely phenomenal.  It is a commitment of faith like no other.  They believed God was calling them to do something different and to help impoverished people. They sold everything they had and in 1973 they moved to Zaire, lived there for 3 years building homes for people.  Today Zaire is known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  They spent 3 years there and they realized that what they were doing there, helping these poor people find shelter, could be done here in the United States.  In 1976 they started an organization you know of, Habitat for Humanity. That is faith, total and complete commitment to an idea, to a vision, to a dream, to the calling that God has given you.  What happens when we receive this commitment and this calling is often like what happened to the people in Jericho.  Fear melts away our courage, from the inside out we just melt away.  What we have to hold on to is the reality of the promises of God. 

We don't have to be melted with fear;
when we can be forged with faith.

When the heat comes we can realize that God is in the process of doing some of the greatest work He has ever done in our lives.  Out of the ashes and out of the despair and out of the heat come the strongest tools of God. 

In James 2:25 we read these words. "In the same way was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?  As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead."  God has called us to do something and if all we can do and all we can think about is nothing then let me give you one thing you can do.  I know you can do this.  You can pray. 

Many of you know my son Robbie.  Robbie is a pastor here at the church while he's attending Fuller Theological Seminary.  When he was very young he was very afraid of the dark and when it was time for him to go to bed he was really scared.  So we got a little picture of Jesus and we hung it on a wall so that when he lay in bed he saw the face of Jesus.  We told him, "when you get scared you just look at that picture and you remember that Jesus is always with you and you don't have to be afraid."  That worked pretty well.  Then he said, "Daddy, do you think you can stay here with me too?"  So I would get a pillow and I would lay my pillow next to his bed on the floor and I would just lay there and try not to fall asleep with him. Then once he was asleep I would sneak out of his room.  What gave my children confidence, which forged their hearts was the presence, the presence of Jesus, the presence of a parent, the presence of someone they trusted. Today we need to put our trust in Jesus Christ.

Rahab put her trust in a scarlet piece of cloth that she hung from the window of her house and that was the sign that this was the family that was not to be touched when Jericho was invaded.  And her family was spared. 

So today we have an opportunity to plant the seeds of success with faith.  It is truly an act of faith; we are going to take a seed, a thought, and an idea, something that says we have heard just like Rahab did. We are going to take this thought, and plant it in the souls of our being. We are going to allow that seed to germinate.  It is the grace and the love of God for each and every single one of us.  Because what happens in us is far more important than what happens to us.  Today we are going to recommit ourselves to Jesus Christ, to His love, and recommit ourselves to faith and follow Jesus Christ wherever He leads.  We are going to follow Him because we know that we know, that we know, that we know, that we know, that we know His promises are true, His promises are real and His promises are for us. Would you join me in a prayer?

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You that You are a God who comes to save, that You came to save us, that You came to give us life and give it to us abundantly.  And so, O Lord, as we commit ourselves to You, body, mind and spirit, all we are, all we've ever been and everything we'll ever be, we commit to You.  An act of faith.  And, so take our faith, O Lord, and shape it and mold it that we truly will see the seeds of success grow in our hearts and our lives and in our families. We pray the fear we have within us will be eradicated and washed away, and our commitments will continue to grow as we put our faith in You. As the fears melt away we pray we will be forged with faith. We thank You, Lord, for everything.  Amen. 

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