#264 (17/12/06)
Christmas Honors the Common Person

The Message

By: Robert H. Schuller

Special Guest

My guest this morning is an ESPN College Football analyst and former NCAA football coach. He has established himself as a respected communicator and leader in the sports world. The Coach Gottfried is also becoming well known as a passionate and inspirational speaker, keynoting the Fellowship of Christian Athlete events and team building seminars. Coach Gottfried shares biblical truths and values with humor and antidotal material for over 20 years of coaching and sports broadcasting experience. His non-profit organization, “Team Focus,” was designed for young men without a father at home to better influence their lives with Christian values.

Special Music

" O Come, All Ye Faithful "
" Hark! The Herald Angels Sing "
" Joy to the World "

" O Holy Night "
CCA CHORUS – “Born, Born in Bethlehem”

RYAN LISACK - "What Child is This?"

The Message

You know I come from Iowa and it was there when I first heard the story many years ago and I’ve told it a few times. There was a Christmas pageant in the country church, that we’ve done the Glory of Christmas which is our view of a Christian pageant. A little bigger than the one we had in the country church. But there was a boy named Howard in there and he was big and awkward and kind of made fun of a lot. He had a part in the pageant, he had the part of the innkeeper and he had only one line to learn and that was “sorry, there is no room in the inn.” And he rehearsed it and rehearsed it and almost messed it up in a couple of rehearsals. And no, he was told, there is no room in the inn. Get your line right. It’s the set up for the whole pageant.

So the thing that happened, it’s true, and when it happened in real life and there he is on stage and the people are watching. And Mary and Joseph come and Joseph says I need a room for my wife. Now is his line and he looked at Mary, she was so pretty and she looked like she was in pain, and he felt so sorry for her because he’d have to tell her there’s no room. And out of his mouth came the words, oh, come on in, you can have my room. Isn’t that wonderful?
Which reminds me of a cartoon I saw many years ago: It’s Mary on the donkey, heavy with child, Joseph leading. There on the hill finally is Bethlehem, their destination. And she talks like a good Jewish momma, which she will soon be, and she says, ‘you mean, I’m pregnant, God knows how, and you haven’t made any reservations?’

Well let’s come back to innkeeper. He gets all the rough treatment you know, the kind of guy he was, very unfair. Preachers, Sunday school teachers, biblical interpreters have put a bum rap on him for too many years.

This message today I’m honoring the innkeeper. Great guy. After all Joseph didn’t make reservations. I’m honoring the innkeeper. He was given no expectation that a pregnant woman would be at his door. Yes, here was the Son of God coming in the womb of Mary, coming unexpected, now having to deal with an impossibility that he’s stuck with and has to tell her there’s no room. They come to him and create a crisis and he gets a bad rap for it. But he says, I’ll tell you what I can do. I’ve got a place, it’s a stable, actually. He didn’t know it, but I think all this was set up by God Almighty, because God had a better idea. Ho! The stable, it’s a lot better for a pregnant woman to deliver a baby than an inn that’s filled with the roughians, traveling men, drinking too much, leering at the women, no privacy there. And if there’s ever a time a woman needs privacy it’s when the baby is coming from her womb.

God had a better idea and my testimony is, after my life time of service, is every time something doesn’t happen the way I’d planned, something else happens and God always has a better idea. Amazing. You know what’s really happening at Christmas time? Phenomenal! Hear me clear, listen. God is honoring a commonplace, a stable, a common person, Mary, the common parent, Joseph, the common profession, a carpenter becomes a father. A common profession is honored, the shepherds. The farmers are the first people to whom the announcement is made. I’m proud of that. I was born and raised on a farm and I’ve seen a lot of people and you know really don’t honor the farmer.

Oh, God, at Christmas time is bringing glory and honor to the common person, the common profession, the common place, the common parent. Wow! And that’s the whole trend of the gospel is for Christ to come and honor the simple person, probably at the bottom of the social or cultural or economic level.

This fabulous building was built by people who gave $20.00. That’s what built the Crystal Cathedral. Every window bought by somebody who gave $20.00 a month for about 24 months. Christ honors the common person. You know I think it was Lincoln who said God must love the common people because he made so many of them. But God is honoring the common person because they’re the only ones who can bring His kingdom on Planet Earth. He needs billions of people, and He has them. People who’ll become followers of Jesus Christ. Wow! The innkeeper, we salute you.

Well, obviously, the stable’s a better place than an inn crowded with drunken people. The stable, first of all, was empty of other humans and she could cry in her virginal, youthful pain and nobody would hear her cry. She could groan without men leering at her or laughing at her. She would at least have straw under her which is more than she would have had in the inn, yes. And most important, this was a warm place and it’s cold and there’s no furnace, there’s no heater, no electricity, no gas in the inn. Its cold, but the stable, filled with cows, I’m born on a farm. I milked cows when I was five years old, and in Iowa it gets pretty cold and you can almost freeze going from the house to the cattle barn to milk the cows but when you got in the barn it was warm. For the cows with their huge nostrils would breathe in the cold air, hold it a bit in their lung, and breathe it out warm, steamy, comfortable. It was warm in the stable. It was quiet in the stable.

Innkeeper, we salute you. The common profession, an innkeeper. The common profession, Joseph a carpenter. The common occupation, a farmer, shepherds in the field. Christmas honors the common person. God can use the person with the million dollars but He needs more than a million dollars, He needs billions of human beings in all colors of skin, in all languages, all over Planet Earth because every single being on Planet Earth has the capacity to imagine the reality of Christ being born 2,000 years ago. And God needs each person. Wow!

When God came to Bethlehem everybody was surprised. The farmer in the field. The innkeeper and the innkeeper never realized what goodness he did. He thought he was giving them the least when actually he was giving them the best. And it’s with you and with me. We sometimes do something or give something and are someone and we think we’re not doing much but, O God we’re used by Him in ways we do not know. Wow!

So Christ came to Bethlehem unexpected, to an impossible situatin in a crisis. And guess what: That’s how God is coming to you who are listening to me now. God is coming. He wants to be born again today in your heart, in your soul and a lot of people listening to me understand that but you know what they say, they say, sorry, no, don’t really have time to go to church which is a way of saying no room in the inn. Or someone says oh well, I have some problems with Jesus and church and faith and all that stuff. No room in the inn. Then probably there’s a crisis and in a crisis it happens a lot. Their child is run over by a car and I’m look at somebody now and they had no faith, never went to church and I got the call. I’m a pastor. God came to them in a tragedy. He didn’t cause it but He came to them when they needed Him desperately and they found their faith in Him. Wow!

God is coming to people here and around the world, millions who hear these words. God’s coming to you. I don’t know how. I don’t know where you are. Maybe it’s a dream and you don’t dare to dream. You don’t dare to take a chance at trying, you might fail. And you know what? The single thing that holds people back is the fear of failure. And what happened to me 48 years ago was the line given to me by Norman Peale, who would later become my best friend: “I’d rather attempt to do something great and fail, than attempt to do nothing and succeed.” Wow!

So, God is coming to you. In your fear of failure He’s coming to you and He’s saying try it, believe me. The only failure you can be sure of is if you don’t dare to try. Where are you? God is coming to you. Probably this morning, maybe you’ve been a nice guy or a nice woman and this Jesus thing, that’s nice, He’s a wonderful person but you don’t know much more about Him. But I’ll tell you, God’s knocking at your door. And He says I want to come in. And you probably say, no time, sorry, there is no room in my inn. I’m full with lots of other stuff. I don’t have time to think about Jesus or read a bible or go to church, sorry. God will come to you. Give Him the best that you have. Give Him your doubting heart. Give Him your doubting heart and guess what? You’ll come out of it with a faith that’s so strong you can’t believe it.

This week I found myself in an unusual situation where I had to deal with four men and they were interested in trying to do some gardening work for me, weeds and trees and stuff. And the leader of them was a very nice guy. He says you’re that Dr. Schuller on television? I said, yeah, but don’t hold that against me. And he said I watch you all the time. And he said my dad won’t believe it. My dad’s back there, let’s call him. His dad came and he said, now in Spanish, he explained to his father that I was on television, his father, oh. And then his brother and the brother watched me on television even though they couldn’t speak English too well. And then he introduced me to the fourth man in the party. A young man with very thick hair and he said, my dad’s a Christian, my brother’s a Christian, I am, we’re all born again Catholic Christians. I said, wonderful. Well he said, this guy over here, works for me a few years but he’s not a Christian. He doesn’t follow Jesus and he’s into bad stuff. And lo and behold I found myself talking to the guy without a faith and the leader comes back to me and he says, you know, Dr. Schuller, whatever happens with our relationship with you, I want your blessing. All of us need your blessing. I do, my father does and my brother does, but most of all this guy here and this guy over here is kind of sheepish. I said, most of all him? And he says yeah.

I looked at him and said what’s your name? He said, name’s Mark. You haven’t accepted Christ. You’re into other stuff like drugs? I said, you want a blessing? What? I said, you want a blessing? I guess so. What’s a blessing? I said kneel down here in front of me. What? Yeah, get on your knees right in front of me. He got in front and he looked up and I said, dear Jesus Christ, he doesn’t know You. He needs Your blessing. And then the guy’s eyes start filling with water and then I said, dear Jesus, come into his heart, come into his life. Are You doing it, Jesus? I can’t do it for You. And then the kid starts to cry and the water streams down and I said, will you pray after me? Yeah. His boss, wow! Can’t believe what he’s seeing. The father, the brother can’t believe what they’re seeing. I said just pray after me. Dear Jesus, dear Jesus, I’ve really messed my life up. I’ve really messed my life up. Now the tears are flowing down. Jesus, I need you. Jesus, I need You. I need You, Jesus. Come into my heart, come into my heart. Amen. Then he jumps up and hugs me. Now my cheek is all wet.

Jesus comes unexpectedly, unpredictably, without advance reservations and you can open the door and say, come on in. You can have my room. Let’s pray.

Lord, great things are happening. You’re alive. So I pray, O Lord, that doors that are closed because they’re too busy will be opening now and that people will repeat after me, dear Jesus, dear Jesus, I need You, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross, for being my Savior. What a Christmas gift I’m getting. Thank You. Amen.

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