#228 (09/04/06)
Intimacy with God

The Message

By: Robert A. Schuller

Special Guest

I never in my life expected to have as my guest to this pulpit the daughter of the founder of CBS, William Paley. Kate has a very, very interesting with a powerful story.

Special Music

" Joyful, Joyful.. "
" From All Who Dwell Below the Skies "
" Challenge Us, O God Our Father "
" Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) "

" Refuge and Strength "
CCA CHILDREN’S CHORUS - "Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive"


The Message

I want to continue sharing with you the different people of the Bible that Bill Hybels spoke to us about at my Senior Pastor installation. He said, "Pray like the prophet Jeremiah." He said, "Pray that Robert will lead and preach with the emotional authenticity of an Old Testament man named Jeremiah. Jeremiah was a leader that God gave a very difficult assignment to. Jeremiah had the emotional authenticity and the inner spiritual bravery to bare his soul to the God he loved. All great leaders must develop this kind of safety and intimacy with God." So, I ask you to pray for me that my relationship with God will continue to grow closer and the intimacy that I have with Him will remain afire and alive.

Here are just a few words from Jeremiah. In the very first chapter we have the call of Jeremiah and I think it's a beautiful understanding of the intimacy that he had with God. "The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah saying,
"Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.
Before you were born, I set you apart.
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.
Ah, sovereign Lord, Jeremiah said, I do not know how to speak,
I am only a child. But the Lord said,
do not say I am only a child,
you must go to every one I send to you
and say whatever I command you.
Do not be afraid of them for I am with you
and will rescue you declares the Lord.
Then the Lord reached out His hand
and touched his mouth and said to him,
now I have put My words in your mouth.
See today, I appoint you over the nations
and kingdoms to uproot and tear down,
to destroy and over throw,
to build and to plant."

And Jeremiah began his ministry. It is the only account in the entire Bible where we read that God touched someone. God reached out and touched him. That's intimacy. Intimacy is touch.

This morning when I greeted my father I gave him a big hug and I did what I do often. I kissed his cheek. When I saw my son, I did the same thing to him. I do that a lot, I hugged him and I kissed his cheek. I'll do that to family members; but typically, when I greet someone who is not a family member, I will just shake their hand. That's typical. So, I'll greet my family members differently. But then my wife, I kiss her differently. That is true intimacy. It is interesting to realize the Bible says that Adam knew Eve. It doesn't say he had sex with Eve. He knew Eve. That is intimacy. Intimacy is knowledge.

John Calvin, one of the great reformers of the sixteenth century, in his Institutes of the Christian Religion said (I'm, paraphrasing here) ˇV "If you want to know God, come to know yourself. And if you want to know yourself, come to know God." The discovery of personhood, of self, leads us to intimacy with God and the intimacy of learning about God leads us to more intimacy with ourselves and the knowledge of ourselves. This is intimacy, it is knowledge. It is touch. It is the realization of God's immense presence in our lives.

I want to take you back to this calling of Jeremiah. I have a very similar calling of that sort. Jeremiah was afraid to speak, and he was called as a very young man. I too was called as a very young man; in fact I don't remember having anything except the calling to go into the ministry and to be a preacher. Yet as I entered seminary, I was stricken with the most amazing fear you could possible imagine. My fear was to talk in front of people and if you haven't figured out that might be a problem if you're called to be a minister and you're afraid to talk in front of people, that is a big problem! My fear was so severe that I would not raise my hand in class and answer a question, even though I might know the answer. I didn't want to be called on, I was afraid. I was even afraid to share my name if I was in a small group of people.

When I was still in college, I was asked to preach my first sermon in a small little Nazarene church in Springfield, Missouri. As I was preparing my message, I called my father, and said, "Dad, how do you do this preaching thing?" He said, "Well don't make the same mistake I made, Robert." I said, "What's that?" He replied, "Well my first sermon, I figured I'd speak for twenty minutes, so I would have twenty points, and I would speak for a minute on each point. Well, I only got through the first four points." So, I continued to prepare my sermon and I outlined four points. When it came time for me to deliver the sermon, I started and four minutes later I was done! I still don't understand it, but the congregation loved it, they thought it was just the greatest sermon they had ever heard, all four minutes of it; they were out the back door before I said, Amen!

I entered seminary with this tremendous fear, and my first year in seminary I was asked to speak to a group of ladies in the Crystal Cathedral, there was about 300 of them meeting together for a dinner. I will never forget the peace that came over me as I stood in front of that group of women. It was a warmth, it was a peace, and it was the touch of God. I knew that He had taken away my fear, and for the first time the thoughts that I had created in my mind, went from my mind to my lips, and not to my knees! I was able to share what God had called me to share and from that day forward I have been called to be what God has called me to be, to be the pastor of this church and to be His spokesman for the world and to the nations.

Today when we read these words of Jeremiah, I read "Before I was formed." You need to put your name in there. So for example in my case it would read, "Before I, the Lord God Almighty formed Robert A. Schuller in the womb, I knew Robert A. Schuller." Now I want you to put your name in there, instead of mine. Then it continues, "Before Robert A. Schuller was born, I set Robert A. Schuller apart." Again, I want you to put your name in there instead of mine. Let's go to the next one. Now here's where it gets a little more difficult. You put your name in the first line, and the second line is what we have to do. In Jeremiah's case it was "I appointed Jeremiah as a prophet to the nations." In my case it's "I appointed Robert A. Schuller as a pastor to the nations." For you it may be different, but your name goes in the first one, I appointed, and you put your name in there. And then for the second part you have to discover what that one thing is you are to do. You have been created by God for a purpose and for a reason. Every single one of us was created by Him even before He formed the heavens and the seas and the earth. And He has always known and always will know what goes in that line, and it's up to us to try and figure out what it is. Let me give you a couple clues here. Here's one clue in Corinthians 12, this is what we read, "And in the church, God appointed first of all, apostles." None of us qualify for apostles, I'm sorry. The apostles were literal, physical witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. No one here is over 2000 years old; therefore none of us are apostles. But, we can be prophets. I believe my father is a prophet. Third: teachers. The scripture says, God has appointed first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, and workers of miracles. Then there are those who have the gift of healing, those who are able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of languages, are all apostles? No. Are all prophets? No. Are all teachers? No. Do all work miracles? Of course not. Do all have gifts of healing? No. Do all speak in different languages? No, of course not. Do all interpret? No; but eagerly desire the greater gifts. What are the greater gifts? Corinthians Chapter 13 says, "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge and if I have faith that can move mountains but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames but have not love, I gain nothing. Love never fails. These three remain faith, hope and love and the greatest of these is love." You love people. You follow the call of God and you love people. Love conquers all.

At this moment, the Iditarod is going on. The Iditarod is one thousand, one hundred and fifty miles long, starting approximately on the outskirts of Anchorage, Alaska and going north. It'll take over ten days for the dog to pull these sleds, these eleven hundred miles. Some of you may have seen the movie, "8 Below." My wife and I saw it the other day; a great movie.

And it reminded me of not only the Iditarod but also of "The Call of the Wild" by Jack London. You know that classic? A great book. Written a hundred years ago, really talking about dog sleds and specifically about his dog, Buck. It's a novel. Buck is really the star of the novel; but the human star is a guy by the name of John Thornton. The book starts out with Buck, who is the dog, a hundred and fifty pound cross between a St. Bernard and a German shepherd. He is a dog of incredible strength. He was living in San Francisco when he was kidnapped because of his size and his strength and taken to Alaska where they could use him to pull sleds. There he was mistreated and abused and thrown away when John Thornton found him. John loved him. He cared for him and gave him everything he needed. One day when John was in the El Dorado Saloon, he probably had a little too much to drink and he made a bet he shouldnˇ¦t have made. He bet a thousand dollars. Now this book was written in 1903. So how much is a thousand dollars worth in 1903? A lot of money! He made a bet that his dog, Buck, could pull a 1,000 pounds a distance of 100 yards on a sled from a frozen start. A normal dog would pull 500 pounds. A good dog could max out at 600 pounds. 1,000 pounds was impossible! So, John made this bet, and he even had to borrow the money to cover the bet. Finally everybody empties out of the saloon, and go out into the street in the snow and here comes this sled pulled by a team of ten dogs, piled up with 20 fifty pound sacks of flour. They unhook the ten dog team and they hook up Buck. What does John do? John goes and he grabs the face of this magnificent animal. He holds his head and puts his face in his and he says, 'as you love me Buck, as you love me.' And Buck did. And you know the story.

As we love God, as we love people, it is amazing what things begin to happen. In John we read these words: "I am the vine, you are the branches, if man remains in Me and I in him, He will bear much fruit and apart from Me, he can do nothing. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given you." As you love Me, as you love Me, love conquers all.

As we press forward with the reality of the incredible grace of Jesus Christ, we realize that we have a magnificent opportunity to be used by God to be the person that God has called us to be and to love one another as we love ourselves. It begins by loving ourselves. I have a bookmark entitled:

"Who I am in Christ." It reads:

I am a child of God.
I am Christ's Friend.
I have been justified.
I am united with the Lord (one spirit).
I am bought with a price.
I belong to God.
I am a member of Christ' body.
I am a saint.
I have been adopted as God's child.
I have access to God through the Holy Spirit.
I have been redeemed and forgiven.
I am complete in Christ.
I am free forever from condemnation.
I am assured all works together for good.
I am free from any charge against me.
I cannot be separated from the love of God.
I am established, anointed, sealed by God.
I am hidden with Christ in God.
I am confident that the good work God has begun in me, will be perfected.
I am a citizen of heaven.
I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.
I can find grace and mercy in time of need.
I am born of God; the evil one cannot touch me.

You have been created in the womb by God; from the beginning of time. "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you," said the Lord. Before you were born, I set you apart says our God. I appointed you for a special purpose to all the nations. God knows you. God touches you. And God loves you.

Dear Heavenly Father,

We thank You that this moment You are touching human hearts and souls and spirits with the reality of Your grace and Your love. So allow us, Lord, to feel Your love and allow that love to flow through our veins, that we might truly overcome any obstacle that stands between us and the dreams that You have for our lives. We love You Lord, Amen.

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