#284 (06/05/07)
Finding Happiness from the Inside Out Part IV

The Message

By: Robert A. Schuller

Special Guest

He was born in a Christian family and he so proud of his father and mother. His dad is a pastor of a wonderful little church I think down in Louisiana in that part of the world. He does illusions. He’s going to do one for us. He rides motorcycles; no he’s not coming in on a motorcycle.

Special Music

" Joyful, Joyful.."
" Rejoice, The Lord is King "
" His Eye is on the Sparrow "

" Crown Him with Many Crowns ”
STEVE PENCE – “Go Down Moses”

The Message

Last week we talked about the sovereignty of God, how God is at work in you. We all affirmed that by saying, "God is at work in me." That is a very, very important place from which to start. When we look at happiness from the inside out, we realize that it all begins with God. God is at work in us and that represents the sovereignty of God. It is God's hand moving, shaping, and having an impact in what we do. The Bible text I am looking at today comes at life from a totally different perspective. Instead of coming out and saying God is at work in you, we hear these words:

"Forgetting what is behind and straining towards
what is ahead, I press toward the goal to win the prize."
(Philippians 3:13-14)

Suddenly we see the free will of man coming into play in our own happiness. That happiness comes from within; we have a part in it. It begins with God, with the knowledge that God is at work within us but it continues with an understanding that we have a role to play as well. "Forgetting what is behind."

You know it's easy for us to rest on our laurels. The laurels is a prize that was given in the Olympics. Two thousand years ago, the runner who ran the race, the person who accomplished the goals, he received the laurels on his head, the crown, and a crown of success.

When we hear these words "Don't rest on your laurels," what does it mean? It means don't rest on your past success. The same thing is true with our failures, "forgetting what is behind" and we can so easily look at our success or our failures and rest on the past, instead of moving forward to be the people that God has called us to be. "Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize to which God has called me."

I think we have to realize that God has called every single one of us. He has called us for a specific purpose and reason. He has entrusted us with gifts. The beautiful thing about gifts is, gifts are things that we have not earned, and they have been given to us. For instance my wife has the gift of color memory. Have you ever heard of such a thing? Color memory. She has this ability to remember colors, the exact shade that is just beyond my comprehension. I cannot for the life of me figure out how she can remember those colors. She tells me that I am color blind. I don't think I'm color blind.

One of the most important things for us to do as God's people is to start to recognize the gifts that God has given to us. That is why I started this message by saying, "God is at work in you." We have to recognize the fact that God is at work in us. That is the sovereignty of God. But at the same time we are called now to press on, striving towards what is ahead. Press on and strive towards the goal that God has revealed for me in my life.

We have been called by God, for a purpose and for a reason. God, in His sovereignty, has gifted us with the ability to fulfill the calling He has given to each and every one of us. That is the one hand. On the other hand, God has given us the free will to choose, to choose whether or not we want to strive towards that goal, to press on and to be the people that He has called us to be. That is the choice we make. He will never force us to that position. He will never actually make us do that, it is called free will. Sovereignty on one hand, free will on the other. With that comes this huge gray area of where does God's sovereignty in our life come into play, and where does our free will come into play in light of God's sovereignty? In this window is a huge area, a gray area, which I don't know where our free will ends and God's sovereignty begins. If somebody tells you that they know God's sovereignty ends right here and our free will begins right there, I can assure you, they don't have the right answer. For one thing, I think it is a moving target. I think God will, when He decides to, just come in and do things that we never anticipated. For instance, Paul, who was a devout Jew in his devotion, persecuted Christians. While he was gathering and persecuting Christians, God Himself came and struck him with blindness and spoke to him verbally saying, "Saul, Saul why are you persecuting Me?" God snatched him from that life and brought him to the life we know today.

God does that. There are times He will come and intervene. Sometimes God says, "I stand at the door and knock" and there's no doorknob on the door. "I stand at the door and knock; if you open the door I'll come in and I will sup with you." He waits for us to open the door and invite Him into our lives and into our souls. He doesn't push and we can't comprehend why God decides to do one thing with one person and something else with another person. We'll never know that answer but the answer we do know is how we are to live, with this understanding and this concept of the sovereignty of God and the free will of man. There is but one way to live where we know that all the bases are covered so that we don't get stuck in this gray doldrums of life. We live like this:

1. We pray like everything depends on God, that nothing is going to happen unless we pray, unless God steps in and God makes it happen, that's how we pray. We pray like it all depends on God.

2. Then we work like it all depends on us, like God is not going to intervene and He's not going to be there and you just work like it all depends on you.

When you pray like it all depends on God and you work like it all depends on you, you will succeed and you will become the person that God has called you to be. You will not fail, you will win the prize.

It is really fun winning prizes. Have you ever won a prize? It is fun! I have won a prize and it was a tremendous experience. At first blush people would think, "What a lucky guy he is!" In fact I get teased every time I do win something; people will say, "Well you know he's got somebody else on his side!" The fact is luck is a four-letter word. It's spelled, w-o-r-k.

Let me tell you about the one prize I won. I'm only doing this because I know it's for your edification. I was marlin fishing with some friends of mine, and we like to go and participate in these marlin tournaments. They always have a prize. It is not uncommon for us to do quite well and the reason is because marlin fishing is not luck, it's mainly skill. I had put together a team of people who knew exactly what to do. When we would see a marlin tail in the water, we had 3 baits in the water almost instantly. We knew exactly how they were going to work, and it was all because of a lot of hard work. We would get up at 4 o'clock in the morning to catch mackerel to be able to throw out to the marlin.

The one time we won the big tournament, the gold cup, which was the largest tournament on the west coast; we had been fishing for 3 days, and had not caught a thing. It was ten minutes before lines out, meaning the tournament is over. If you're not hooked up before lines are out, you're done. You reel your lines in and you go to the awards banquet and watch everybody else get the prizes. At 6:00 p.m. lines have to be out. At 5:50, with ten minutes to go, I see a marlin come out of the water. I said, "There's the fish we want!" Everybody goes to their stations, we cast out bait on this fish and we hook up, 5 minutes before lines out. Everybody else is on their radios, just shooting the breeze and I'm trying to report that I'm hooked up. I can't even report that I'm hooked up and in five minutes the tournament is going to be over.

Well, it just so happens we land that fish and we bring it into the dock. The biggest fish is first prize; the second biggest fish is second prize, etc. We bring our fish in and the team who has the biggest fish come and take a look at our fish on our swim sip, and you see their face turn white. We go to weigh our fish and guess what, they couldn't weigh it. They had to put it back on the sand and dig a bigger hole in the sand so they could get it off the ground. With that I didn't have to know how much it weighed, I knew we'd won.

It's a great feeling to get that prize, not for the money but for the trophy. The sense of accomplishment, and the fulfillment of all the hard work and the dedication and the commitment in putting a team together and making all the preparations is a great feeling. It wasn't luck; it was w-o-r-k.

That is our message from Paul today. God is at work in you. God has given you a calling. God has gifted you with wonderful skills. What are you going to do with those skills? What are you going to do with God's gift to you? Remember the scripture says, "Striving towards what is ahead, I press on to the goal, to win the prize, to which God has called me."

Dear Heavenly Father, give us the strength to keep on keeping on. Give us the ability not to rest on our laurels, but to realize that with You we can truly succeed. We thank You Lord for what You are doing in our lives, Amen.

HOP Privacy Legal  
Designed by: Ultragraphics Ltd.