#267 Unlocking God’s Blessings Part I (07/01/07)

The Message

By: Robert A. Schuller

Special Guest

NICKY CRUZ
As the notorious leader of the violent Mau Maus gang, Nicky Cruz once stalked the streets of New York City. Today, Nicky travels the world taking a message of hope and salvation to broken young people. Nicky’s true story became a best seller and a motion picture in 1969 entitled, “The Cross and the Switchblade” and the forty years that have passed since moving to Christ, Nicky has reached out to thousands of inner city gang members as he speaks to their need from his own experience.

Special Music

Hymn
" Joyful, Joyful.. "
" When Morning Guilds the Skies "
" In Thanksgiving, Let us Praise Him "

Anthem
" A Mighty Fortress is Our God "
" Ain’t Got Time to Die ”

Solo
RUSS LEE – “I Smile”
RUSS LEE – “Love is a Cross”

The Message

A few weeks ago we had a prayer Sunday here at the Crystal Cathedral. We invited people to come forward and share their prayer requests. I made a commitment to pray for everybody who came that day and gave us a prayer card. I also committed to signing all the prayer cards.  This week I fulfilled that pledge. I held every single one of those prayer cards in my hand and I prayed for every single name. I read every name, prayed for every single one and signed them all. In addition to that, I prayed for about three hundred people who requested prayer online. We have a terrific prayer community on line. You can go to our website: http://www.hourofpower.org/ and you can read about and participate in our prayer community. I prayed for about three hundred people on the prayer community. All totaled, I prayed for about two thousand people this week. Isn't that amazing? Two thousand people requested prayer!

There were two requests that kept coming up over and over again. I didn't keep score because that's not important to me. However, it seemed to me, the most frequent prayer requests were health issues and finance issues. Isn't that interesting? Many people are definitely struggling with finances. When you read the Bible you discover that Jesus cares about our finances. He talks about finances a lot. There are many scriptures that talk about how to deal with our finances.

Jesus said, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 19:24) As a result of that there are many people who believe that you cannot be rich and enter the kingdom of heaven. They say, "Oh it's impossible for a camel to go through the eye of a needle." They pick up a sewing needle and they say, "How can a camel get through this?"

I have traveled a lot to the Holy Land, and I've done lots of archeological studies. In fact my major in college was ancient civilization, which incorporated a lot of archeology. One of the things I discovered is that the eye of a needle is not the needle of a sewing needle as we know sewing needles today. If you go to an ancient city, it will always be surrounded by a huge wall. Those huge walls are there to protect the city from invading armies.  Those cities have huge, giant gates. Those gates primarily remain closed all the time. Within those huge gates, which are opened only for special occasions, they have the gate which is open to allow normal pedestrian traffic to come and go. It is a small door within the big gate.  It's not unusual for it to have a board across the bottom so it's more like a window. So a pedestrian would literally have to step through, and then on either side as he's stepping through, are the guards of the city with their swords drawn.  In such manner they protect the city and they control the traffic that comes in and out. Horses don't go riding through there. But it is possible for a horse to maneuver his way through that little gate. It is possible for a camel to maneuver his way through that gate. It is not impossible. It is not simple, but it is possible.

Those words are spoken very profoundly by Jesus Christ when He says it is harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven, than it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. What He is telling us is that it is very difficult for rich men and women to enter the kingdom of Heaven. Why is it difficult for rich people to enter the Kingdom of Heaven?

Jesus says later in the scriptures, "To whom much is given, much will be required." (Luke 12:48) If we look at our country today and who we are as a nation, we realize that almost every single person in America today is rich by world standards. We do have a poverty level, every country does. The UN, and the World Bank have established various poverty levels for various nations. It depends upon the nation whether or not you are the poverty level. Extreme poverty, which is worldwide, is considered income of a dollar a day or less. That is considered extreme poverty in the world today. A dollar a day or less. How many people are there in the world today that live in that position? In 1990, there were 740 million people who fit that category. The goal of the UN and the World Bank is to cut that in half by the year 2015. If they are successful, there will be 360 million people at that extreme poverty level ten years from now.

How rich do you feel? How many people think they might be very rich from the world standpoint? I think I am talking to a lot of people who would consider themselves very rich by poverty standards of the world. If that's the case, this scripture speaks to you, "It is harder for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven then it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle." Those words are intended for us, ladies and gentlemen. Those words are intended for us, which means the next words are also intended for us, "To whom much is given much will be required." So there are extreme requirements for us because God has blessed us so much.

What does he expect from us? He expects us to simply do what He asks. He doesn't expect a lot, He just expects us to do what he asks. He doesn't ask for a lot. 1) He asks us first of all to be willing to give of our soul and our spirit. To give of who we are to Him so that we first and foremost recognize the fact that we are His child. He created us. 2) He wants us to give thanks to Him in all circumstances. So often it is easy for us to think "Oh, if only I had that or that" and it's never enough! I believe God wants us to stop and be thankful for what we do have, instead of simply complaining about that which we don't have. I promise you that 99.9 percent of people could think of something more they want. The bathroom needs to be painted, the car needs new tires. Am I right? We have all been there. We can always think of something more we want.

God wants us to stop and thank Him for what we do have. 3)He wants us to give financially. He doesn't want us to give everything. He doesn't want us to give out of our excess, He doesn't want us to give when we have more then we know what to do with. He wants us to give from our poverty. Because the same time we recognize that we're rich, we also recognize that we're poor.

Money and wealth is all relative. God doesn't wait until we have excess to bless us. He wants us to bless Him out of our poverty. No matter where we are, no matter what kind of bills we have to pay, He wants us to trust in Him and put our faith in Him. It's not higher mathematics. It's really quite simple. Ten percent. He says, "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it." (Malachi 3:10)

The important word there is blessings. Remember that it is blessings. It's not showers of money. Because if you can't be happy in your poverty, you can't be happy in your wealth.  Everyone knows that money doesn't buy happiness. Money helps but you cannot use it to buy happiness. If you need more finances, I mean really need, than God will supply the necessary finances. He is true to His Word; He says in scripture, "I will supply your every need." The Bible is true!

The important thing for us today, is to be able to recognize the calling that God has given to us. We need to recognize the talents and the gifts He has given to us.

I have something here I want to read to you from Paul Bryant, the football coach for the University of Alabama. Here's what he said. "There are four types of football players. There are players who have ability and know it. There are players who have ability and don't know it. There are players who don't have ability and know it. And there are those who don't have the ability but don't know it." Later on he said, "The player that makes you the proudest is the one who isn't good enough to play, but it means so much to him, and he puts so much into it, that he does it anyway!"

That is where we are today.  You have the ability and you don't know it.  You can do it if you decided to do it. Paul Bryant concludes the quote by saying, "The ones who have the ability and don't use it are the ones who eat your guts out."  That is a modern way of saying "It is harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle."

How many people today have been blessed with the ability and they don't use it? To whom much is given, much will be required. When we trust God, and we live the way He has called us to live, then we learn to give back. So we need to learn to give back, we need to realize we have to use the blessings that God has given to us. Use the money, and love people. Never the other way around. Never use people, and love money.

Dear Heavenly Father we thank you for giving us the ability, the determination, the will and the strength to give out of our poverty. When we learn this wonderful principle, we will truly realize how rich we are. We thank you God for your blessings, for your touch, for your joy, for your hope, for our future and for your goodness. We love you Lord and we praise your name. Amen.


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