#240 (02/07/06)
Release Your Guilt, Revive Your Gratitude

The Message

By: Robert A. Schuller

Special Guest

RUTH GRAHAM
She is the daughter of the reverend Billy Graham, Ruth Graham. Ruth was here about a year ago to share with us her testimony of faith through her joys and sorrows and today she’s here to share with us from her latest book that she wrote entitled, “A Legacy of Faith: things I learned from My Father.”

Special Music

Hymn
" Joyful, Joyful.. "
" I Sing the Mighty Power of God "
" Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us "

Anthem
" Twenty-Third Psalm "
“How Lovely Are Thy Dwellings”

Solo
NATALIE GRANT - "Breathe on Me”
MATT MAHER - “Welcome to Life”

The Message

I am sure you have been hearing, as I have, a lot about the DaVinci Code. It is a novel written by Dan Brown, currently the #1 selling book in the fiction section of your bookstores because it's all about fiction. When I talk with people, I share with them that my calling is not about a DaVinci Code or about fiction, but my calling is about the divinity code and Jesus Christ.

The divinity code is real; the divinity code is that Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried.  He rose from the grave, He is alive today and lives in the hearts and the minds of people who call upon Him and invite them into their being.  He performs miracles and He is real.  You won't find the bible in the fiction section of your bookstore!

Twelve men lived and died proclaiming the truth of Jesus Christ, and I too would die for the reality of the divinity code today. I believe in it with all of my heart.  We find the divinity code throughout the Bible where we also read the beautiful piece of scripture called the 23rd Psalm.  And what do we read in the 23rd Psalm?  We read, "The Lord is my Shepherd." What did Jesus say about himself?  He said, "I am the Good Shepherd." What does that mean?  If we go back and we look at this passage of scripture it says, "The Lord is my Shepherd, He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His namesake."  I like the way the modern translation says it, "He helps me do what honors him the most."

The 23rd Psalm.  Today there are people who are going through some tough times, who are really struggling with life and self dignity and respect.  Recently when I was in Washington, DC I met with Diane Feinstein, the Senator of California. She asked me "What is the biggest struggle you see in people?  I said without pause or question, "Self-esteem; people struggle with self esteem and when people do not have a firm understanding of who Jesus Christ is, they struggle with self esteem. Because of that the way they treat people becomes distorted and manipulated and doesn't become what Jesus Christ told us to do."

What did Jesus tell us to do?  It was very simple he said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all of your mind; and then love others as you love yourself."  It starts by coming to a full realization of who we are as individuals and people; where we can look in the mirror and we can see the person that Christ sees and we can allow the beauty that we find through Christ to flow through us to love others and to recognize and to love our God. 

"The Lord is my Shepherd; he leads me in the paths of righteousness."  What does that mean?  He leads me in the paths of righteousness? 

I used to struggle with terrible feelings of guilt. I couldn't get away from it. When I first entered the ministry, I didn't know how to balance my time. I didn't know how to feel comfortable balancing my family life with my work life. As a result, I'd go to the church and teach classes in the evening and I knew my family was at home and my kids were working on their homework and I would feel guilty for not being at home helping them with their homework.  On Saturday's when they were doing things and I needed to be preparing my messages, I felt guilty because I was preparing my messages and not spending time with them. Then when I would spend time with them I felt like I should be spending time writing and doing other things for the gospel of Jesus Christ, doing what God called me to do. So I always felt guilty whether I was spending time with my family and relaxing or I felt guilty if I was at church and if I was working.  I couldn't get away from the guilt no matter what I did. It was a horrible thing.  It wasn't peace; it was just this gnawing guilt that followed me everywhere I went. 

I'll never forget the day that I sat down with Dr. Gerald Jampolsky. I met with him and he explained how the grace of Jesus Christ comes in and it takes away the guilt and you can allow the peace of Christ's forgiveness to flow through you.  He explained you can never be perfect, that Christ doesn't expect you to be perfect, that you can just be and that Christ loves you just the way you are.

It was the most freeing experience of my life.  Guilt is something that has a way of manipulating itself into our minds and into our hearts and sometimes the guilt is justified.  There are things we have done that we are ashamed of, there are things we should've done that we didn't.

One of the things you don't know about my wife is that she's very playful.  She enjoys having a good time and when she was flying home from her trip from Shreveport, Louisiana, she decided to have some fun.  She was a flight attendant for many years with Continental Airlines and they happened to be on Continental Airlines flying back from Shreveport, Louisiana. She started talking to one of the flight attendants and decided that she was going to have some fun and she said, "Would you mind if I served some of the meals and beverages to the group of 20 ladies who are on our trip traveling with me?"  He thought it would be fun so he gave her his apron. Donna pushed the cart down the aisle serving the refreshments and all the ladies in her group laughed and had great fun with her. They had a good time but what was interesting is that everybody else just looked at her and was not very pleasant. They didn't think it was funny.  Some of the passengers would even look at her. Donna couldn't believe how rude people were.

I wonder how many times we become so self-absorbed with our own problems and frustrations and hurts, we become rude to people who are serving us.  It's easy for us to think, "Well they're getting paid for doing a job and they're supposed to be able to handle the rudeness." 

Well, I don't think that's good enough.  I think Christ wants us to be an example of who He is and to put a smile on our face and to allow His love to shine through us and uplift and motivate and inspire people who are serving us. 

I have a dear friend who was actually a guest in this pulpit a few years ago. His name is Foster Friess. Foster is a terrific and beautiful example of uplifting and encouraging people who serve.  I've traveled with him and I've seen him and I've watched him.  For example, to the valet who comes to pick up his car, he reaches out with the biggest warmest smile and says, "Oh you're so good, I know you're terrific at this."  He just makes that valet feel like a million bucks.  I have seen him treat a hostess or a waiter or waitress in the same manner.  It's absolutely the most beautiful testimony of Jesus Christ living in a human, because he loves everybody.

That is what Christ has called us to do, to love everybody.  What happens is we get self absorbed with the tasks at hand, oh I have to get these papers written, I have to get these reports done, and somebody offers you a glass of water, and how do you respond? Do you politely and sincerely acknowledge and accept the offer? Or, do you even glance up to acknowledge the offer? Are you rude to the person offering you a glass of water? 

The good news is that Christ and His amazing grace and love and forgiveness says, I love you anyway.  He wraps his arms around you and he takes us just the way we are; that is the grace of Jesus Christ. 

He just asks us to come to Him in sincerity and in truth and ask for forgiveness. I like the word sincere.  The history of the word comes from the Greek, Sine Cera, which actually literally means "without wax."  Picture ancient Greece 2000 years ago and here they are carving one of these spectacular marble statues and they have this statue that is absolutely done to perfection and all of a sudden the chisel slips and puts a scar right across her shin. So what would they do? They would get some wax and fill it in with the wax. Then, you take it to the market and you sell it quick. People would buy it and put it in their home. Then the sun comes out and the wax melts and the owner comes home from work and he sees his beautiful statue and he sees the scars across the shins and he gets mad at the gardener for destroying his statue.  The word sincere, it means without wax.  Just the way we are.  Real. Sine Cera.  God wants us to come before Him and say, "Cleanse me, Lord, take away the wax, the falsehoods.  Allow me to see the failures that I have and cleanse me oh lord and accept me just the way that I am." 

Saint Paul, in his letter to the Romans, said it this way: "Therefore since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. What God demonstrates His own love for us in this?  While we were still sinners Christ died for us."  That is the grace, which is the promise, that is the reality of the divinity code of Jesus Christ who came that we might have life and have it abundantly.  He came that we might be able to see the reality and the goodness of God in our hearts; that as we come to love ourselves we can love others.  You talk about grace, we talk about forgiveness of sins and we realize that the Muslim faith and the Jewish faith looks at the Christian faith and the main criticism of the Christian faith is that we have what they consider a license to sin.  Because you can go and you can sin all you want and then all you do is you say ok Lord cleanse me and then He will cleanse you and it's a license to sin so you can do anything you want. 

It doesn't work that way.  I believe what happens is when we come sincerely before Christ and He reveals the sinful nature that is within us, and we ask Him to forgive our sins, He is true to forgive our sins. From the inside out He produces healing so that we no longer have a desire to do the evil things; but, instead the desire is for good and out of gratefulness and out of love and appreciation for all that God has done for us we do good things.  We make positive impacts in this world; we fly across the nation to build homes for someone we've never met.  We go to extreme lengths to feed the poor; we do what it takes to be the living Christ in society. 

"The Lord is my Shepherd; he leads me in the paths of righteousness for namesake."  When I hear the words, "his namesake," do you know what I think of? I always think of the healing of the man born blind that we find in the Gospel of John, chapter 9.  Jesus is walking with the apostles and they see this man who has been blind since birth and no one has ever been healed who has been born blind.  And they stop and the say, "Master, did this man or his parents sin that he was born blind?  Jesus said, "Neither one, this man, nor his parents sinned.  But he was born blind so that the glory of God might be revealed." He made some mud with his salvia and he put the mud on the maníŽs eyes and he told him to go wash them and he went and he washed and he went back seeing.  Seeing.  "That the glory of God might be revealed." Why does God allow bad things to happen to us, why does God continue to forgive us? So that the glory of God might be revealed.

Next week we're going to look at the passage of scripture that shares with us, "He leads us through the valleys." He doesn't dump us in the valleys he leads us through and so I want to invite you to pray with me today the prayer, "Cleanse me Lord," and be prepared to take the journey through the valleys to that promise land next week.

Dear Heavenly Father,

We thank you for being a God that continues to touch hearts and minds with the reality of your goodness and your love.  We pray that as we fall short of all you have in store for our lives that we'll come to you as honest, open people and sincerely confess our sins so you will come and wrap us with your loving arms and accept us just the way we are.  So we thank you that while we were yet sinners, you died for us. Today out of gratitude for all that you've done, we reach out and love others.  So cleanse us Lord, and help us to see the beautiful face in everyone we meet this week.  We love you.  Amen.


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