#288 (03/06/07)
Be Content In All Things

The Message

By: Robert A. Schuller

Special Guest

HILARY GRIFFITH
This past year she competed in the Miss America 2000 pageant hosted by Mario Lopez and was the first runner up for the quality of life award. Hilary is an accomplished pageant winner and singer. In many ways, she had a normal childhood until her life was forever changed; November 9, 2004, raped in her apartment while attending Arizona State University. It is amazing how many beautiful young people today never escape high school without carrying some horrific memories, and this church specializes in trying to help people overcome, to apply forgiveness and to find a new dream that can help cover their hurt.

Special Music

Hymn
" Joyful, Joyful.."
" To God be the Glory "
“ His Eye is on the Sparrow ”

Anthem
" The Mighty Power of God”
Solo
VIVIAN FAN - "Prelude VII (What the Wind of the West Saw"
DANIEL RODRIGUEZ – “Immortal, Invisible”

The Message

I will begin today by quoting a scripture from the Book of James,

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers,
whenever you face trials of many kinds
because you know that the testing of
your faith develops perseverance." (James 1:2)

James continues later in the chapter,

"Blessed is him who perseveres under trial
because when he has stood the test,
he will receive the crown of life that God has
promised those who love him." (James 1:12)

Don't be deceived, my dear brothers,
every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of heavenly lights." (James 1:16)

God allows things to happen. He allows them to happen so that we can have the opportunity to experience the joy and the blessings of realizing the fullness of God's love for us and remind ourselves that we are alive and that we are real and that we are not robots. We can feel love. We can experience the exercise of faith and we can experience the test of God upon our lives. In the Bible in the book of Philippians 4:11 & 13 says, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. Because I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." I look at the troubles and the circumstances that people face every day and I realize there is a message that we need to hear. That message is: the rain falls upon the just and the unjust alike, that everybody goes through tough times. We all face the challenges and the struggles and the tough times of life. No one is exempt. The fact of the matter is, when we stand on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ, He uses these trials and these circumstances to make us better people than we would ever be without them.

I can think of one such instance with a woman who was a guest here in this pulpit. Her name is Laura Wilkinson. Laura Wilkinson had spent her life with the hope and the dream of someday being an Olympic diver. She thought her entire world crashed when she was doing a dive and her foot hit the board and broke in three places. Six months before the Olympics and her foot was shattered! Her life was shattered as far as she was concerned. But then she read these words: "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances because I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." And so can you! For the next two months, she couldn't walk on her foot, she couldn't dive, and she couldn't do a thing. She held on to those promises and she practiced her diving in her mind, and that's all she could do. The amazing thing is she made it to the Olympics. I'll never forget in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, watching the diving competition. It caught my attention because I saw this woman walking up a ladder, thirty feet in the air. She limped up the ladder and when she got to the top of the ladder, I saw her take a shoe off and throw it down to her coach. It got my attention. All of a sudden this young woman limped to the edge and stood on the side of that platform and made a spectacular dive. She went from 8th place to 3rd place. She put the pressure on everybody. So much pressure that the Chinese, who had the first place locked up, turned in bad scores. The Canadians turned in some bad scores, all of a sudden just like that, she moved into first place with a one point margin and two dives left.

Her next dive was an inward two and a half somersault and that was the dive where she had crushed her foot. I could hear her quoting the words, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. If I win or I lose, I am content. Because I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  She stood at the edge of that platform and she did a perfect dive. I'll never forget her jumping on top of her coach over and over again when they announced that she had won the gold medal and she said over and over again on the news, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me; I do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

The scriptures, everywhere we look, point to the comfort of God's hand in our lives, that even though we live in a world of sorrow and grief, even though we live in a world of sin and evil, even though we live in a world that surrounds us with troubles and tough times, we can rest in the assurance and the conviction that God is at our side.

One of the most popular and understood and preached about passages of scripture takes place in John chapter three. It is the story of Jesus and Nicodemus. Jesus says to Nicodemus, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the spirit."  Many people have memorized the following Bible verse. If you haven't, I would encourage you to do so. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. That whoever believes in Him will not perish but will have everlasting life." The scripture continues, "Light has come into the world but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil, hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed, but whoever lives by the truth comes into the light so that it may be seen plainly, that what he has done has been done through God." And then it says, "After this, Jesus and His disciples went out into the countryside, where He spent time with them and baptized. Now John also was baptizing because there were so many people constantly coming to be baptized."

People are afraid to come into the light of God's grace. They are afraid their sins will be exposed and the greatest sin I see is the fear and the doubt and the lack of conviction that, "All things will work together for good to those who love God, who are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28) Today God is calling us back into faith. To trust Him and to believe in His words, to realize that no matter what the circumstances, we can be content because, "We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us." (Philippians 4:13)

Today it is time for us to understand and realize that God wants to come and make us whole, complete, beautiful people. He can take the pain and the sorrow and He can use it and shape it to make us into the people that He wants us to be.

Recently, I have been traveling around the nation speaking and talking with some of the people who are members of our church around the world. I traveled to Florida, and Atlanta. I was having a meeting with about 60 people on one of the days. I was talking with them about what happened here on Palm Sunday when Evel Knievel spoke and we baptized many people. All of a sudden somebody raised their hand and they said, "Can I be baptized?" I replied, "Yes, is there anyone else who wants to be baptized?" People raised their hands and they said, "I'd like to be baptized." Others said, "I've been baptized before but can I be baptized again?" I replied, "Absolutely!" I baptized 20 people that night. The next night, I baptized again and the next night I baptized again. I've come to the realization that there are people who want to come and experience the presence of Christ through baptism. The scripture says, "I will sprinkle clean water on you and you will be clean. And I will cleanse you from your impurities and from all your idols, and I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. And I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh and I will put My spirit in you." (Ezekiel 36:25-27)

I encourage you today to invite Christ into your heart. Experience His joy and peace in your life. I invite you to experience the presence of God, confess your sins, confess your love, confess your trust in Jesus Christ; and say yes to Him!

Pray with me:

Lord, we thank You for this time. We thank You for this opportunity that we have to put our faith and our trust in You. When we go through difficult, heart wrenching times, give us the faith, oh Lord, to trust You and to love You. Amen.


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