#227 (02/04/06)
Courage to Fulfill Your Destiny

The Message

By: Robert A. Schuller

Special Guest

JENNIFER SANDS
Her husband was one of the young men that was killed in 9/11, in Tower One. Her reaction, her response, words led her and where she’s at today is a powerful story, it’s phenomenal.

Special Music

Hymn
" Joyful, Joyful.. "
" Have Faith in God "

Anthem
LYCOMING COLLEGE TOUR CHOIR - "His Voice as the Sound"
LYCOMING COLLEGE TOUR CHOIR - "And the People Said Amen"
LYCOMING COLLEGE TOUR CHOIR - "Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel?"

Solo
KEN MEDEMA – “Moses”
KEN MEDEMA – “Improvisation”

The Message

On January 22, 2006 when I was installed as the Senior Pastor of this church and Bill Hybels preached a message on prayer, he challenged all of us to pray. He talked to us about several characters that appear in the bible from whom we should pattern our prayers. Today, I want to share with you the words of Bill Hybels when he said, "We can pray that Robert would lead with the courage of Esther who said, 'I will do God's bidding and if I perish I perish.'"  And he went on to say, "Because some things are worth dying for."  If you want to read the story of Esther it is in the Old Testament. It is a wonderful story of an event that took place in history, about 500 years before Christ was born. There came a time where Esther had to really put everything on the line.  The 4th chapter of Esther beginning with verse 12 says:

When Esther's words were reported to Mordecai, her cousin, he sent back this answer; 'do not think because you are in the king's house you alone of all the Jews will escape.  For if you remain in silence at this time relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place and you and your father's family will perish.  Who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this.'  Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai her cousin, 'Go gather together all the Jews who are in Susa and fast for me.  Do not eat or drink for 3 days, night or day, I and my maids will fast as you do.  When this is done I will go to the king, even though it is against the law and if I perish, I perish.'  So Mordecai went away and carried out all Esther's instructions. (Esther 4:12-17)

Now let me give you a little background.  Esther is a Jew.  She is queen to King Xerxes of Persia who was by all accounts the strongest king of his day and remained so until Alexander the Great overcame that empire.  She became the queen and one of the prime ministers came along and decided that they were going to exterminate all the Jews.  Can you believe it?  There have been numerous times throughout history where people have tried to exterminate the people of God and this is one more time.  The queen has kept her identity secret; nobody knows she is a Jew, except for her cousin Mordecai.  So now she has an opportunity to put her life on the line and save her race or remain silent and hope that somehow, someway she can keep her identity a secret.

When we read these words and we look at her life, we discover the prayer that we have been challenged to pray. The challenge from Bill Hybels was this: "that we could pray that your leader, Robert Anthony Schuller, being installed as the Senior Pastor of this church would lead with the courage of Esther, being willing if required to put his life on the line in order to save this church, this congregation, thousands of lives and the race of Jesus Christ. That's our prayer."  To be quite honest, that is my prayer for you today. I have no doubt whatsoever that my life is not worth the value of the lives of people who need to hear this message on the Hour of Power.  I would gladly give my life to sustain the ministry of this church.  Because I know that the power of this ministry is a penetrating, life changing, hope delivering message that has the ability to do far more good than anything on planet earth today.  It begins by realizing who we are in Christ Jesus.  Esther had to come to the realization of who she was; not only was she a queen but she was also a Jew; that she was in a particular position where she could have influence to make a difference in society and save her entire race. 

When you examine your life and you look at the different circumstances and situations you've gone through in your life, every single one of us without exception has a uniqueness which has put us in a position where we have a destiny that we can fulfill if we have the courage and say, "Okay, Lord, if it's your will let me go." Then we can go.  But, like Esther we need some assurances.  Here is the assurance I have for you today.  These are the words of God and I'm quoting from Genesis.  He says, "I will bless you.  I will make your name great and you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse and all the people on earth will be blessed through you."  Those are the words of God for us today, and it is imperative for us to realize that God is in process of blessing us every moment of every day.

Know who you are and as you know who you are you can seize the opportunities in all of the obstacles of life because God is in process of blessing you which means everything that happens to you is in some way a blessing.  That doesn't mean we are going to go through life without pain, in fact I can guarantee you will have pain in life no matter what you do.  The bible also says that the rain falls on the just and the unjust.  It doesn't matter how good a Christian you are; it doesn't matter how good of a person you are; it doesn't matter how bright you are, how smart you are, how good looking you are, how rich you are; you will suffer struggles and pain.  But every single one of us can take that pain and we can learn to receive the blessings of God in bountiful ways beyond our imagination. We can turn our pain into gain. 

Corrie Ten Boom was an example of another time in history where people tried to exterminate the people of God. Corrie Ten Boom was a woman who tried to help the Jews escape the hands of Hitler.  She was a Dutch woman in Amsterdam and she helped with the Underground Railroad and helped people hide and find their way out of Europe. She was ultimately captured along with the rest of her family and she was the only one who survived.  She went on to become a tremendous teacher of the church and there was a book written about her story and her testimony called "The Hiding Place."  In fact there was a movie made by the Billy Graham Association by the same title.  What a wonderful, spiritual giant she was. 

I had the privilege of being able to sit with her in her home.  She would teach.  I'll never forget the day she pulled out a little bottle.  I couldn't quite make out what was inside until she told me. Here's the story she told.  She said, "I was bitter and angry.  My family members were dead.  I was alone.  I was in prison.  I wanted to die.  I didn't believe in God.  I didn't think He existed.  I was angry with Him.  I felt like I just wanted life to end and I didn't even believe He existed.  And at that point I fell on my knees and I prayed and said, 'God, if you are alive, if you are real give me any sign that I might know that you are true.'"  She fell asleep praying that night and when she woke up in the morning there was a beam of light that penetrated through a crack in the walls and it went to the corner of her cell and there in that cell she saw two blades of grass and that was what was inside the bottle. Inside that small bottle were two blades of grass to remind her of the presence of God everywhere and in every situation.  Every time we turn around in the bleakest, darkest of nights God is there. He is bringing life and hope and joy; and God is there.  He is there to turn our fear and our dread into relief and assurance, to turn our sorrow and mourning into joy and celebration, to turn our destruction and devastation into restoration and victory. 

Esther gave the instructions to her cousin Mordecai to tell all the Israelites to fast and to pray because she was going to go to the king who was not allowed to rescind his decree. She was going to ask him for a favor, if there would be something he might be able to do to help stop the destruction and the persecution of the Jews. The instructions were to fast and pray.  Fasting and prayer take two things íV it's a physical action where we do something physically and we combine it with prayer which is spiritual, so it is a physical and a spiritual action in which we are called to participate.  If you are going through the most difficult times of your life today, I beg you to do something physical and spiritual that will let God know and people know that you are serious about coming out of this and that you want victory in your life today, and fasting and prayer may be the thing you need to do.  You may want to start very soon.  March 1st was Ash Wednesday.  Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent.  Lent is the time in the church calendar, 45 days where many Christians decide to do something to prepare them for Easter.  It is 45 days before Easter, that's the beginning on Ash Wednesday.  Many people decide to give something up for Lent and I think it's a good thing, a physical thing. Last year my wife and I gave up sugar and we never felt better in our life.  What a great way to give something up, to get something back in return.  I think we lost a couple pounds, I mean it was great.  If you eat sugar I would highly recommend it, and I promise you that no doctor will tell you, "you have to make sure you get your regular content of sugar." So, I think that is something everybody can do. 

Not everybody can fast and I understand that, but I would recommend giving up something of that nature where itíŽs a physical sacrifice for 45 days. Then, I would take it a step further.  My father gave me these words a long time ago, at least I heard it from him, and I am assuming they are his words.  It was,

"LENT = Let's Eliminate Negative Thinking."

Isn't that good?  "Let's eliminate negative thinking."  If we could go 45 days without thinking negative thoughts what would happen to this world in 45 days?  If we are going to eliminate negative thinking that means we are going to think positive thoughts, we are going to do positive actions. I want to encourage you for Lent to participate in positive action íV do something good for somebody.  How about something as simple as taking the grocery cart back to where it's supposed to go. 

When I'm down and when I'm really feeling low and I'm feeling far from God and I need to feel closer to God I listen to music.  I listen to the inspiring words of positive hymns.  Why don't you get a copy of our CD from Johnnie Carl's beautiful, inspiring music and give it to somebody who needs it today.  Positive music, nothing lifts the soul more.  There are so many things we can do to lend a hand of kindness, it's the season.  It's Lent, it's time to give up the negative and lift up the positive.  It's time to realize that God is in the process of doing miracles of redeeming lives, of bringing hope.  If you've read this message today and you think it's something that people need to hear then tell them to listen to the Hour of Power or go on line and listen to it on there. 

So Esther prepared herself physically and spiritually, with fasting and prayer and then she made the move from tragedy to triumph. The king wasn't able to rescind his decree but he was able to give permission to all the Israelites to take up arms and defend themselves against anyone who would try to persecute them.  So he accomplished the same thing and the greatest tragedy in history became the greatest triumph. 

I was with a dear friend of mine recently and he gave me a bronze plaque.  It says "46:10."  He told me, "I give this to my good friends and I want you to have it."  Then he told me the story of 46:10. He was a developer and he was in a business.  He was building a beautiful development; it was one of his first projects.  He had put everything he had into it, and it looked like he was going to lose it all.  He got together with a friend of his and they went up on a pinnacle rock and they prayed. As they started to pray the wind started to blow and they prayed for about 15 minutes and the wind got fierce and fiercer, the more they prayed.  When they said, "Amen," the wind stopped!  The Bible verse that was the center of their prayer was Psalm 46:10, "Be still, be still and know that I am God." There is a time in our lives when we do everything we can and then we are still and realize that it is the hand of God who directs, who leads, who lifts us up, and who gives us the strength when we need it. When Esther went before the king she was armed with only 2 things íV God and prayer. The king didn't stand a chance! As we face our troubles and our circumstances, we face our own destiny that God has given to us and we stand ready to pray and do good things today as we realize we truly are in the hands of God.  "Be still and know that I am God," and the Lord God Almighty will fill you with the peace that transforms your understanding and give you the strength to overcome the obstacles that stand between you and the destiny that God has designed for you today.  So, pray and know that our Redeemer lives!

Dear Lord, you truly are a good, a gracious, a loving God.  You touch hearts, You touch minds, You touch lives physically, emotionally and spiritually.  So it is our quest, O Lord that you will give us the courage to move forward to receive the destiny you have given to us. It is with faith and the assurance of things not seen, that we have the conviction to move forward with You, that we give you our all.  We love you, Lord.  Amen. 


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