#294 Our God Is Still Very Much Alive (15/07/07)

The Message

By: Robert H. Schuller

Special Guest

He is one of the most inspiring entrepreneurs in the world. Chris was a child prodigy with tremendous potential, but a challenging set of circumstances left him a homeless man with his toddler son. His true-life story was told in the blockbuster film, “The Pursuit of Happyness” starring Will Smith. Today, Chris is the CEO of the Gardner and Rich Company, a multi million-dollar brokerage in New York, Chicago and San Francisco. Chris attributes the trials he has overcome and his successes to his deep faith in Jesus Christ.

Special Music

"Joyful, Joyful..”
" This is My Father’s World "
" In the Cross of Christ I Glory "

“ Halleluja ”

MARK SCHULTZ – “Everything to Me”
MARK SCHULTZ – “Walking Her Home”

The Message

I'm dedicating today's message to all of the graduates.  To all of you, I wish you my heartiest congratulations.  And I'm including my family in that category.  Three of my grandchildren graduate from middle school this year and one grandson graduates from high school and enters Hope College in Holland, Michigan next year, which is my alma mater and my son's.


One of my five children this Sunday will be hooded for her earned doctorate from University of California at Irvine in education.  And with that degree from that school, she could have a great career anywhere but she's committing her life to bringing more effective education to the children and young people in this church through the Academy and Sunday school.  She is writing curriculum focused on the Positive Christian Faith.


Also, seven grandchildren are university students, so I'm looking forward to more graduations in the future.  Because of our positive Christian messages they are living out the faith.  They are motivated to set goals and make them happen.


So now to all of the graduates, you picked up some knowledge along the way, but what is more important than knowledge?  You will need wisdom to face your future.  The educational system in the western world and in the United States has been focused on knowledge, based on facts.  But, wisdom has been the focus in the educational systems more in the Middle East and in the Far East, out of which Jesus came.


So I want to focus on the wisdom of belief in God.  When I was in high school, people believed in God more than they do today, and professors taught about their belief in God more in the university than they do today.  So you may wonder if God is dying out in human history and the answer is my sermon title of the morning: Our God is still very much alive.


Michael Faraday was a world renowned English chemist, physicist.* You may have studied about him.  He spent his life theorizing and speculating, building "thought structures" all his life.  Thought structures are, how to use logic, how to use the mind.  In 1867 as he was dying, a friend came to visit him and asked Faraday, "What are your speculations now?"  "Speculations?"  Repeated Faraday.  "Speculations?  I have none!  Thank God.  I am not resting my dying head upon speculations.  I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day."  (Words of St. Paul, Second Timothy 1:12).


"I know whom I have believed."  Graduates, who are you going to believe in your life?  You will hear a lot of ideas from negative thinkers and positive thinkers.  From atheists and from theists, from unbelievers and believers.  Do you know whom to believe?  Read again the conviction of that great scientist, Faraday: "I know whom I have believed!"  That will make all the difference in your entire life.  Who are you going to believe?  You can't believe in yourself completely.  You can't begin to even touch some of the areas of speculation, thinking or study.  I'm amazed at books being written by people who pride themselves at being scientists but really have not studied theology and the history of thought.


I want you to make a commitment in this morning's message, "I know whom I have believed."  Study your Bible so you can say, "I Know!"


Decision making is easy if you know the options.  "Possibility thinking," (or "alternative thinking,") is the freedom to choose the kind of person you want to become.  Make a decision based on what holds the greatest possibilities of improving your life, the kind of a person whose personality will bring joy to your world.  After 50 years of studying this, I can tell you negative thinkers don't develop happy wrinkles in their faces.  Positive thinking generates a different kind of personality that ultimately leads to happy living.


In my study of psychology at Hope College I learned quickly that cynicism, skepticism and negative thinking do not generate great dreams, hopes, and happiness.  You eventually become cynical.


"I know whom I have believed."  Make that your commitment today.  No human being who ever lived can hold greater hopes for you than Jesus Christ.  That's something for you to know, not speculate about.  So choose to become a believer.  Our God is still very much alive.


Of all of the reading I've done in my study this week, the physicists more than any other science group believe in a Supreme Being.


Another great physicist, George Earl Davis said, "Since we cannot prove the existence or non-existence of God, then the best we can do is to make intelligent inferences from what we know.  Such an inference, which cannot be logically attacked on the basis of any knowledge available to us is this:  "No material thing can create itself." **


I didn't make a note of it but one of the scientists said, "It takes a little philosophy to say I believe in God.  But it takes an act of God to make it real."  That's why we come to church week after week, to make God real to us.  Yes, our God is very much alive.


God still guides.


He made you.  You didn't choose to be born.  He gave to you and to no other creature on planet earth, a brain that can think, a heart that can have feelings, a mind that can collect memories to give you the guidance you need.  God guides us through good times and bad times, through hurts and through hardships giving us hope for tomorrow.  Through tears and through pleasures He guides. 


Through prayer, ideas come into your brain that you didn't ask God to send there.  He chooses to send you these ideas without first asking you.  Now that's a fact.  Yes, God still guides.


Closed doors and open doors


God guides through closed doors.  You think it's terrible when the door closes or what you thought was the best idea you ever had but it just never seemed to work out.  Closed doors.  But God had another plan for you, He had a plan to bring you to this point in your life. Now He has a diversionary strategy for you where He'll open other doors and you'll find that He has a better plan for your future.  Our God is a positive God, an affirming God.  God opens other doors to make your dreams come true.  Seek His guidance, whatever you do, whatever education you pursue.  Pray and you will be astonished at how God will guide you today or tomorrow.  Yes, our God still guides.


          Our God still provides.


When I graduated from seminary in 1950, I was called to a little church in Chicago, Illinois, and I would be there for four and a half years before I was called to come to start a new church in California and I came here.  But one of the members in that little Chicago church became a close friend, Asa Skinner.  He's no longer living, but Asa had had a bad accident, and needed risky brain surgery.  When he was well enough to come home from the hospital, I visited him and I asked his wife, "How is Asa doing?" 


"Oh", she replied, "He's doing wonderful.  He's out in the garden, sitting in a chair.  He asked for his binoculars."


I said, "What is he doing with binoculars?"  "I don't know," she said. 


I went out to the garden and said, "Hi Asa!" 


"Shhh.  Don't scare him away," Asa answered.  He continued, "I'm shocked at the life that's out here.  I've seen bugs, and other living creatures.  I don't know what to call them, bugs or insects or ¡Kit's fascinating.  And birds." He said, "I didn't know we had so many birds around here.  I thought they had all died out, but Bob, when I see all the bugs, the birds and I don't know what little creatures are all under the grass, but it tells me something: God is still alive!" 


And Asa said it with such emotion and such power of volume that I've never forgotten it.  The longer you look at all the life around you, the more you see God alive anywhere in the world.


That's a Wow.  God guides, and He provides.


Our God still Abides.


We have in our kitchen a glass cornered wall where we look out into our garden.  Many years ago, my brother sent me a gift.  It was a little bird house.  The country church where he and I grew up had an old, old barn, over a hundred years old. And that was where people tied up their horses when they came to church.  And then when cars replaced horses, the horse barn was torn down and replaced with a parking lot. 


Well, my brother, Henry asked for some of those 100 year old boards, aged and beautiful.  He said, "I'll make something out of the old boards."  Then about four years ago, he telephoned and said, "I'm sending you a birdhouse.  It is special." 


So we got the birdhouse... it is little, with one tiny hole, and a little stick for the birds to sit on.  Where did we hang the birdhouse?  Well, right outside our kitchen window there's a four by four foot wooden post that holds an old school bell. 


So I said to Arvella, "We'll hammer it on that post."  So the birdhouse is only about three feet from the edge of our kitchen table.  Maybe that's why birds have never used it year after year.


Then I said to her, "If there's a bird that fits in that little hole, how is he ever going to find it?" 


This past month my wife excitedly said, "I saw a bird go in the birdhouse."


Wow!  That's news!  I don't know what the headline was that day.  But the headline in our home was a little bird went into the birdhouse!  He found it and he was able to get into that little hole.  And then another one joined him.  And they have lived there for awhile serenading us each day with their cheerful song.  They fly out and get food somewhere.  They are so busy.  It is phenomenal. 


One day we recently observed that there was sense of life inside the birdhouse.  Wow!  We are going to have some babies.  I can't tell you this past month how much this experience enriched my life; watching these tiny birds find a home, build a nest, lay their eggs and watch the eggs hatched into little ones. 


But this week when I came home, Mrs. Schuller said, "Oh, bad news.  One of the little baby birds climbed out and fell down."


But she said, "I couldn't leave it out of the nest.  So at the risk of not doing the right thing, I did pick it up and slipped the baby bird back through the tiny hole of the birdhouse."


Well, several days later, we saw it was still alive as the two baby birds stuck their necks out of the hole at the same time, (tight squeeze.)  But they both wanted the food the mother bird was providing.  There is more activity going on there than in our Orange County traffic exchange.  I observe that God is in it all¡KGod in nature¡Kin the birds, in the bugs.  And most of all, in you!  "You are even more important than the birds," (Matthew 6:26), Jesus said.  You are more important than the sparrow.  (By the way, we discovered the tiny little bird is a wren.) 


 Our God is still very much alive.


God guides, God provides, and God always abides, even when you wonder where He is, you are surrounded with Him right now.


Finally, Our God hides you.


He covers you.  He protects you.  More than you and I will ever know, we are being protected from so much wrong living in our world today.  What kind of ideas come into our minds through our eyes, through ears, through people using obscene language? God hides us from a lot of bad experiences you don't even know about.  And most importantly, God hides our shame.  No shame!  That's where the cross comes in.  That's why the cross has been the symbol for Christianity for over two thousand years on planet Earth. 


There is one room on this property where I have been the only one that will ever go in.  What is it?  It's the cross that towers high above the Tower of Hope.  When we planned our campus I announced a plan for a 25-story tower 250 feet high."  But when it came time to build it, the city laws would not allow a building more than 160 feet high.  The newspaper had already reported that I had announced the Tower of Hope was going to be 250 feet high.  I did not want to be criticized for being untruthful, and not doing what I promised.  So I said to the architect, "Make a cross ninety feet high, then we will live up to our promises." 


He said "it's impossible to make a ninety foot cross, it will start trembling in a high wind, and crack the tower walls." 


A few days later, he called to say, "We could design the cross with the last 12 feet of the cross four feet wide instead of only three feet wide." 


"Yes, that¡¦s okay.  Make it," was my reply.


When the cross was finished, it was delivered and lifted by a large crane to the top of the tower.  Then I went to the top of the tower and saw the cross on its side waiting, ready to be lifted and secured in place.  When the workers took a break for lunch, I found myself alone.  I knelt on my hands and knees to look inside.  I moved a little further inside to get a better look and found myself inside the cross! 


There I prayed, "Dear God, when this cross is lifted high by the end of this day, may this cross be seen by millions in the years to come.  May the people who see this cross lighted at night, from their hospital rooms and from their cars out on the freeways, turn to You.  May the cross lead them to You, Jesus Christ! 


That prayer from inside the cross still goes out to the world.  And God keeps answering that prayer!  Many see the cross and they come here.  And it is the beginning of faith in Jesus Christ.


Come to the cross and find Jesus with His arms out inviting you to come and be a believer.   No more speculation!  "I know whom I believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day!"  (2 Timothy 1:12)  Hallelujah!  Amen!


(1)  * The Evidence of God in an Expanding Universe © 1958 by John Monsama, Putnam's Sons.


(2)   ** IBID

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