#213 (25/12/05)
A Gifts Worth Giving: Faith Penetrates

The Message

By: Robert H. Schuller

Special Guest

My guest today is a friend. Known him for many, many years and I've had the honor of being his guest on his show many times. And maybe about a year ago, he said, "I'm putting together a book with Rabbi Irwin Katsoff called "Powerful Prayers" and he honored me by inviting me to write the forward. So they sent me the manuscript and I read it. If you're an agnostic, this book is for you because Larry King has contacted and interviewed the most powerful people in the world. You know he is the world's only live talk-in show and no matter where you go in the world, Larry King is there. And I want to tell all of you who are watching this program in what, 200 countries, you know Larry King, so probably this is the first guest I've had on this show where all of those who worship with us anywhere in the world, will recognize the face.

Special Music

" O Come, All Ye Faithful "
" Joy to the World "

” O Holy Night ”

RANDY TRAVIS - "Baptism"
RANDY TRAVIS - "Silent Night"

The Message

Now I・m going to just call your attention to the scenes that come across our minds and we celebrate Christmas. Well, look at the people. There・s a woman and a man and the woman is on a donkey, and she・s about to bring forth a child. Mary and Joseph. Then entering the scene, as a Christmas unfolds, it・s the angels. Then the shepherds and the Wisemen come in. The last person to enter the last act in the last scene of this whole Christmas celebration time, who is it? Not angels. Not shepherds. Not Wisemen. But one old man who is in the temple in Jerusalem.

And this is a gorgeous temple. This Crystal Cathedral is nothing, nothing compared to the size and the scale and the marble and the elegance and the richness of the temple in Jerusalem. Jesus enters there 8 days old. And through the crowded city and into that crowded elaborate temple there enters a young woman, probably 16, 17, 18 years old and she・s carrying a tiny little baby for the circumcision. And she・s accompanied by her husband. The foster father of this Son of God.  They come into the temple, from across the huge space there・s one old man and he has never seen them before, but he makes a hasty approach, because he has been inspired by the Holy Spirit to know that this is the Messiah that is coming. His name is Simeon; you read it in St. Luke chapter 2 verses 29 and 30.

And Simeon has been a student of the prophecies, of the faith.  The prophesies contained a promise of God that someday God will come out of the unseen silence and come down like a human being. And we can see His face and feel His touch and relate to Him. This will be the Messiah.

And this Simeon for some reason has been praying and believing and believing and believing and believing that he will see this Messiah in his lifetime. And now this young mother, father and the Baby come into the temple and he is struck instantly that・s the Messiah. Wow. My prayer has been answered. Fantastic. And he comes and he holds and blesses the baby. And then he looks up and he says now Lord let Your servant depart in peace. I have seen the Son of God. 

Why is Simeon the wrap-up scene in this whole Christmas story? Tell you why it・s a wrap-up scene. Because it sums up what the life of this Jesus is all about. Jesus is coming to bring us a new faith. Wow. And Simeon was one who lived it. Practiced it the great faith.

And if you・re watching today and you don・t know much about our faith let me tell you what it is. I・ll give you 4 simple words. You can remember them. This faith that Jesus brings is a simple faith. A comment on that. It・s a saving faith. I・ll come back to that. It・s a soaring faith. Wow. And it・s a finally very satisfying faith. Yeah. A simple faith.

What is this simple faith that Jesus came to teach us? It・s this. There is a God.  Behind the twinkling stars.  There is a God. And now this God is coming to this earth to show in a human being what He, the God・s heart is really like. It・s a God of love and mercy and encouragement. 

And secondly it・s a saving faith. It・s interesting that when Jesus used the word, referring to being saved translated saved in the New Testament. The first times He・s using it; it has no reference at all to hell versus heaven. In other words getting saved so you don・t go to heaven and now go to hell. First time He uses it, it is always in turning the human being into a whole person. And so essentially what it means, first of all to be saved is to get in connected with God so that you can be a whole person.

You are not a whole person if you're dominated by doubt and unbelief. You are not a whole person if you do not have a positive mental attitude.  Call it faith, but that・s what you need. Only the person who lives in the dimension of faith is a whole person. You are not an emotionally healthy human person if you do not have a strong capacity to live by faith. First of all get saved from your own guilt and separation from God. God came to earth in Jesus to save us from our sins.

The faith, it・s a simple faith. It・s a saving faith. And then it becomes a soaring faith. We get connected with God. And when we connect with God He gives us passions, He gives us dreams.

Then the fourth word is it・s a satisfying faith. Ultimately you attack your dreams, like Simeon, never gave up on his dream. You know probably everybody here has something that you want to achieve before you die.  And if you don・t it・s time to do some serious thinking and praying.  So long as we are alive God has plans and work for us to do.

What is God・s plan for you?  Why are you here this morning? What is His will for your life?  Pray for it.  And when you get His will and His dream, you will know deep down in your heart that this is something God wants you to do.  It will take all the faith you can get.

You know, Rob Rowe is a pastor and he sent me this story. It・s true story. Very touching.  It was about the new pastor who came to his little church in Brooklyn. The church had been abandoned. And he had the dream of starting a new church on Christmas Eve. People would come on Christmas Eve, if they never came any other time. So he and his wife, it was October, they spent their time and they worked and they repaired it, the pews and the walls and finally on December 18 it was finished.

Little, but clean and wonderful and they were advertising Christmas Eve Candlelight Services. And on December 19 the storm struck and he saw to his shock that the whole plaster wall behind the pulpit had gotten so soaked with water and it fell and it was a big mess. And the plaster hole was about 10 feet by 8 feet.

He couldn・t have Christmas Eve Candlelight Services. It just almost destroyed him. And as he was leaving that church in despair he saw a little like a garage sale that somebody was having and he was attracted and for a moment he stopped and then he saw something that interested him, it looked nice. It was a piece of cloth. What is it? Oh, it・s a tablecloth. Oh. Handmade. And he looked at it. It was beautiful. Very beautiful. How much is it. It was cheap so he bought it. And just as he bought it he took it out and looked wow. It・s big enough. It would cover the hole behind the pulpit. Wow.

He turned around headed back to the church, by this time it started to snow. And he saw a bus pulling away from a bus stop just as an older woman running to catch it sat on the bench. She missed it. And the next bus wouldn・t come for 45 minutes. It・s a true story. So, with a new tablecloth heading for the church, he stopped and said to the woman the next bus doesn・t come for 45 minutes. She said I know. He said you can get cold. Church is right next door. Come I・m going in there. Stay warm. So she did.

        She sat in the back while he got out a ladder and he got out some hammer and nails and put that whole tablecloth out. It was beautifully crochet. There was a cross in the middle. When it was all finished you couldn・t tell there was a hole. He turned a negative into positive.

And he saw that old woman walk slowly down the side aisle and she said, :Are there any letters in the right hand corner?; He said, :Yes.; She said, :Could they be EBG?; He said, :Yes.; She said, :That・s my tablecloth. I made it. Thirty-five years ago my husband and I were very rich in Austria. And the Nazis came. And they stole all of our things and my husband said you go ahead. If you stay with me you・ll end in prison. So I went ahead and they caught me and they put me in prison. My husband, I・ve never seen again, I・m sure he died.; But she said, :That・s my tablecloth.; And the pastor said, :Well I・ll take it down and give it..;  :No, no, no, no,; she said, :Please, please leave it there.;

And so it stayed there and the church is packed for Christmas Eve and everybody said, oh the church is so beautiful. You fixed it up so nice. Oh what a nice tapestry you found for the back wall.

There was one old man that was a regular in the church from the neighborhood. And he went to the pastor, he said, :Where did you get that tablecloth?; He said, :You know there・s not another tablecloth like it. My wife made one just like that. But then the Nazis came and they took her and I guess she died, maybe in the holocaust. But I guess they took everything we had. Where did you get it?; Pastor told him.

He said, :Could there by any chance be initials in the right hand corner.; Pastor said :Yes it・s..; and he said, :EBG.; He said, :yes.; Then the pastor said, :Its Christmas Eve, you know, your wife is alive. After she saw that wouldn・t take it back, I drove her home through the snow. I know where she・s living. She・s living in Staten Island. She only came to Brooklyn to do a house-cleaning job. So how would you like to meet her?;

And Pastor drove him to Staten Island, and the old man walked three flights of creaky stairs into the arms of his beloved wife.  And pastor said, :That・s the most beautiful Christmas Eve I think I will ever see.;

Oh what a faith we have, what a Christ we have, what a God we have.  Puts things together and finally you can say Lord; now I・m ready.  Let Your servant depart in peace.  And a final question.  Very, very important.  What are you waiting for this Christmas?  Are you waiting for a new experience with God?  God is close to you.  He is here.  God is alive and He・s coming to you and you probably don・t recognize Him like who recognized that this little baby was Jesus.  Nobody!  If God were to come to the world, most people would look for super celebration not just the quiet little baby.  God is come to you.  Watch, listen and embrace Him.  Merry Christmas.

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