#298 The Power of the Cross Part III (12/08/07)

The Message

By: Robert A. Schuller

Special Guest

EDUARDO VERASTEGU
IHe is one of Mexico’s finest actors, Eduardo Verastegui. He’s had a successful career as a Latino actor, and has appeared in the American hit series CSI Miami. He’s been listed in the People magazine of Mexico, the 50 most beautiful people. But Eduardo wanted more; he wanted a life of purpose and meaning. And now with a newfound relationship with Jesus Christ, he set out to produce and star, that’s produce and star in one of the most outstanding independent films of 2006. It’s a film called “Bella.” And it’ll be out in August and you’ll all see it. It’s a modern day story of the prodigal son celebrating life, family and redemption.

Special Music

Hymn
" Joyful, Joyful.. "
" Rise Up, O Church of God "
" In the Cross of Christ I Glory
"" Blest be the Tie that Binds "

Anthem
" I Want Jesus to Walk with Me "
" All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name "

Solo
CCA CHORUS - "Music in You"

The Message

I have been talking for the last few weeks about the power of the cross. The first week we talked about the power of the cross and what it symbolizes, in that it symbolizes our faith, our hope and our love. Last week I continued to talk about what the cross means to us and how it symbolizes our guilt, our grace and our gratitude for all that Christ does for us. Today I am going to continue by simply expressing how the cross is a symbol of our past, our present and our future. It begins with the full understanding and realization of where our past was before and without the cross of Jesus Christ. The Bible says we must die to sin and become alive in Christ. We must realize that without Christ, we are offered nothing but death and destruction. We see that in everything we experience. It is the second rule of thermodynamics: entropy. It says that everything basically is in process of decay. Isn’t that depressing? I mean it is very depressing when you stop and think about it. What happens when you buy a new car? As soon as you start driving it, it starts to fall apart. The tires begin to wear out, the windshield wipers wear out, you can polish that car every single day and I promise you by the time it has a hundred thousand miles on it, it will not look good. The seats are going to wear out and there is no way you can keep that car in pristine condition.

There is an asteroid heading to planet earth, maybe some of you have heard about it. It is due to arrive here in the year 2026. According to astrophysicists, they think we actually are going to receive a second moon. If this asteroid does what they thinks it will do, it will suddenly enter our atmosphere but not close enough to fall into the planet earth; but, instead will be thrown into circulation and pulled into the gravity of earth and continue to rotate just like a moon and we’ll have another moon! What is fascinating about this asteroid is that when it circles around planet earth it is a young moon and therefore it will not be a sphere like our current moon. However, over a few billion years, it will turn into a sphere. Do you know why? It is another rule of life that people don’t understand, in fact scientists can’t explain it, and they just know it is there. It is called gravity. In a billion years or maybe less, that asteroid will become a sphere just like our current moon; just like planet earth. Maybe you’ve noticed that gravity has a way of taking things and destroying them.

Entropy continues to tear things apart. From a physical perspective, there is nothing available on planet earth but death and destruction. That’s it, period. Nothing more. That’s our past. Listen to these words from Jesus Christ: “For whoever wishes to save his life, shall lose it. But whoever loses his life for My sake, shall save it.” (Matthew 16:25) So the only reversal in this total destruction of existence that we live in is found in the cross of Jesus Christ. Our past becomes the past and our future becomes the future when we die to sin and become alive in Christ. Our past.

Our present. The cross is our present. It gives us the ability to live for Christ and Christ alone. Hear these words: “But may it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world. But I am a new creation. Not of flesh and blood but a creation of spirit.” Through this spirit, we discover the reality of the newness of God. We die to our sin. It is a daily process that we go to and God continues to reveal to us the sin that we find ourselves in.

This passage I just read talked about boasting. There are people who boast about things other than their cross of Jesus Christ. When we live in a physical world, our boasting becomes those things that we acquire; things such as a new car, a new piece of jewelry. Our boasting becomes the things we acquire or the things we do. It’s like the man who was recognized for his great achievements in humility and was given an award as such and a medal, but he quickly lost his medal because he wore it! Humility and boasting are found not in things we acquire, or things we do, but are found in the cross of Jesus Christ.

I discovered this past week one of the things that I’ve been boasting about throughout my life and I need to repent. This is a time of confession. I am asking for forgiveness because I boast about the good deals I get. I love to get nice things but I don’t like to pay the full price for nice things. I’ll shop and I’ll look until I find the cheapest rock bottom price and then I buy what I need. Recently, I did that with a pair of sunglasses. We are in sunny Southern California and one of the things you need in sunny Southern California is a good pair of sunglasses. I bought the finest pair of sunglasses I could buy. Maui Jim’s. Not just any Maui Jim’s but the Kahuna Maui Jim’s, as in “big kahuna.” I bought these Maui Jim sunglasses and you have to realize that when I saw them, I fell in love with them but couldn’t afford them. I searched and found them on e-bay for almost half price! I had them for about a week and I was golfing with a friend of mine. He pulls out his Mau Jim Kahuna’s and I pull out my Maui Jim Kahuna’s and he said, “Aren’t these great glasses?” I replied “Yes, they sure are. I’ll bet I didn’t pay as much as you did for them.” So he told me what he paid for his, and I told him what I paid for mine. He replied, “That’s a great deal.”

You know God is really funny the way He humbles people. I had those glasses for about two or three weeks and yesterday I sat on them! I crushed them. I cracked the lenses. They’re gone. They’re toast. Nothing left. Our past is sin, right? Our future is forgiveness.

The present is where the cross intersects. If you think of a timeline, the past to the present, that is one timeline. The other timeline we have is our journey from birth to life with God. That is our existence, beginning with our birth, from nothing to coming to be with God forever. Where those two lines intersect, that is the present. That is where we are. It’s a journey upward. It’s a journey up to God. It’s a journey into our future. It’s a journey into who we want to be. That process and that journey is a self-discovery journey of our failures, our mistakes, and our shortcomings, and learning how to be everything that God has called us to be.

The cross is our past,

 

The cross is our present,

 

The cross is our future.

The day will come when this physical body has been overtaken, completely overtaken by gravity, by decay, by entropy, and our body will no longer breathe. The future is that we will some day come to live with Jesus Christ forever in paradise, in heaven. That is our future without exception. Regardless of how young, regardless of how old, we don’t know when that is going to be. We just know that every single living breathing human being on planet earth will someday come to that event. It’s a guarantee.

This past week I went to a funeral of a dear friend, Marion Halfacre. He was just a couple of years older than I am. His wife and his daughter were in Europe when they got the phone call saying that he had passed away. On Friday he was in his jewelry store. He has a beautiful jewelry store in Newport Beach. I talked with many of his customers and they said, “We saw him the day before he passed away.” On Saturday he had a fatal heart attack and he died. He was an usher in his church. In fact he was a head usher and one of the things he did was to make sure that all the other ushers did everything they were supposed to do. He was an excellent head usher. At his funeral, the pastor who spoke just before I did said, “We don’t know why God called Marion now and why He called him when He did.” I got up and spoke next and I said, “I think I know why God called Marion Halfacre when He did. He knew he had somebody special coming to heaven. He scoured the whole planet to find a special head usher and he found Marion. God called Marion so that he could open the gates of heaven to Ruth Graham and usher her to her home.”

We don’t know how many days we have. Every day we have is a gift from God. What we do know is when we are called home to heaven, that day will bring us to a day of paradise. There wasn’t a single time that I met with Marion where I would ask him, “How’s it going?” His response was the same every single time: “Just another beautiful day in paradise.” Isn’t that a great statement? “Just another beautiful day in paradise.”

I want to encourage you today to say that to somebody if they ask you, “How is it going? What’s happening?” Just say, “It’s just another beautiful day in paradise.”

Our journey with Christ and our future is not one of death, but it is one of life. Heaven doesn’t begin when we die, heaven begins when we accept the grace of Jesus Christ into our life, and we begin living with Christ, with God right now.

The Cross:

 

1.  It's a symbol of the past

 

2.  It's a symbol of the present

 

3.  It's a symbol of our future.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You for being a God of goodness and a God of grace. You are a God of love and faith and hope. You are a God who comes into the lives of people who call upon You. You are a God who continues to redeem and restore. We thank You Lord for all that You are doing in our lives this very moment, and forever, Amen.


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