#309 Message - Know God (28/10/07)

The Message

By: Robert A. Schuller

Special Guest

Ali Landry and Alejandro Gomez Montevere

Ali Landry is an actress, a model, and former Miss USA. Her husband, Alejandro, a writer and director. They had made a Christian movie – BELLA, a film that celebrates life, family and a love story that goes beyond romance. This movie won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival.

Special Music

"Joyful, Joyful..”
Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise
We Are God’s People

It is Well With My Soul

Piano Solo –
Roger Williams – “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”
Roger Williams – “Miserlou”

The Message

Message by: Robert A. Schuller

Well I have had a very rewarding summer. It’s been one that was full of projects and rewarding projects at that. I finished my manuscript on my new book entitled “Walking in Your Own Shoes.” And that manuscript will be out in November, or I should say the book will be out in November. The manuscript is done. I finished it and so I spent the month of June working on that manuscript.

And then in August, I had a wonderful time in August, I tackled a new project. What I did is I actually went through the entire Bible, highlighting all of the positive, inspiring, motivating verses that lift my life and I highlighted the entire Bible doing that in August. It’s the first time I’ve sat down and I would call it power through the Bible because we’re going to have a Bible available for you this coming summer, entitled, “The Power for Life Bible.” And so you’ll be excited to see about all the different ways that the Bible can be used to ignite the power in your life and really have an impact of changing your life for good.

And then the third thing we did this summer was we really examined and redefined who we are as a church. We would include the staff and the leaders of this church, met together numerous hours, hours upon hour upon hour. In fact it’s a project that started over a year ago and we finally narrowed it down this summer to three words. And they’re important words. And they’re words you need to know. This ministry boils down to these three words: know, love and serve. Powerful words. Know, Love and Serve. That’s what it’s all about, know love and serve. Know God, Love People and Serve the world.

That’s what we’re all about; that’s what we do. And it’s amazing that it took us so long to come up with something so real and so beautiful at the same time. It starts to take light when you start reading the Bible. You know, at the very beginning I’m reading the Bible and guess what I read: the very beginning of Genesis it says that Adam knew Eve. That’s a big word. It doesn’t say that Adam had sexual intercourse with Eve. Shallow words. It was a deep word, an intimate word, a word that expressed who we are through Christ. Adam knew Eve. When you stop and you look at the word “to know” one of the things that I remembered as I was reading through the Bible was St. Paul, in fact St. Paul wrote about a third of the New Testament. In his travels, he comes to Athens. He says, “I even found an altar with the inscription to an unknown God.” Isn’t that fascinating? Here he is in one of the most beautiful cities in the entire world and this is a city upon which the Parthenon rests and overshadows everything. Even to this day, the Parthenon overshadows the entire city of Athens. Parthenon was the temple to Athena. And it was in this city that St. Paul recognized that they even had a temple set up to the unknown God. Because the Greek mythology is the beginning of a pantheon of gods. You have Zeus and Neptune and Athena and Mars and Achilles and the list goes on and on and on. All you have to do is go and study your Greek mythology to get a brief description of all of the different Greek gods.

But then there’s the God, an unknown God. I look at our society today and most people have a temple to an unknown god. It’s a temple in their mind, it’s a temple in their heart, but it’s a temple to an unknown god. Because what we know is that in America, 97% of the people in America believe in God. Only 3% profess to be atheists. And I can’t tell you how often I’ve met with atheists and when I talk with them, I find out that they think they’re atheists, but they’re really agnostics. Now an agnostic, the difference between an atheist and an agnostic is an atheist is someone who is convinced, they are as convinced that God does not exist as I am convinced that He does. That is an atheist, someone who is convinced, totally and completely convinced that God does not exist. An agnostic is someone who’s going you know, I think He might exist, I’m not sure. I don’t know if there’s a God or if there isn’t a God. And most atheists that I have talked to are really agnostics and they don’t even know the difference between an atheist and an agnostic. What we do know is that the human nature of man is really to believe in a God.

It was the scholar George Beasley Murray, he was a professor at the International Baptist Theological Seminary in Switzerland. He was educated in London, he had several different parishes throughout the second World War, he was in London helping people get through that turmoil. And in his teachings, he says “the deepest yearning of the human race is to know God.” This is what human kind seeks through its religions. It seeks to know God. And as a race that seeks to know God, we have established a temple within ourselves, within our minds, within our homes, within our society and our fabric of which we live, a temple to an unknown God. And it is to this that Paul comes and addresses the Athenians. Because I want to introduce you today to the knowledge of God.

There’s a few things that we know. One of the things we know about is that people believe, and I believe this, that in what’s called general revelation, that God reveals Himself in a general way through nature. The Psalms, if you read through the Psalms, you talk about the heavens declare the glory of God. And we can look at the beauty of nature, we can see the handiwork of God within creation, and we can know that God exists. We can know. But with that can easily become misperceptions and suddenly we have again this unknown God. For instance, there isn’t a culture on planet earth that has ever existed that hasn’t had a desire to know God. And so they have, throughout history, looked at nature. And if you look at primitive tribes who don’t know any better, who haven’t been taught and don’t understand how things work, aren’t scientifically trained, they deduce that every time a child died, that summer they had bumper crops. And therefore God demands sacrifices. And you have primitive tribes growing up sacrificing children so that they could have bumper crops cause nature tells us so. To this day, clerics who routinely conclude that natural disasters and death, such as tsunami’s, tornados, earthquakes, etc., are judgments from an angry, vengeful, wrathful God. And it’s a misperception of nature revealing God to us. What nature does is a fabulous job of revealing the magnitude of God.

But then there is the next step in coming to know God beyond general revelation and that’s in the philosophical approach to know God. We all know about all of our favorite stars and celebrities. We know about them. You could pick up any tabloid and you can.. or Sports Illustrated if you’re a sports fan, and you can go and you can read the articles about them but you don’t know them. You don’t know what makes them cry. You don’t know what makes them laugh.

I want to do an experiment here. If anyone in here has been married for five years, you don’t still have to be married, your husband can or spouse can be dead and buried, but if any time in your lifetime, you’ve been married for five years, would you stand up? Wherever you are, would you stand up. If you’ve been married any time in your life for a period of five years, or more, just stand up. Oh man, I don’t want to make anyone feel bad if you’re still sitting. But yeah, you can stand too, oh we got a lot of the choir standing, the orchestra is standing, we’ve got people standing all over this place. Now here’s the illustration: you remember the day you got married, I know you do. You know.. don’t forget that. If you do, you should probably sit down now before we go any further. Dad, you can stand up, you remember your wedding. You’re just having fun with me, I know. Okay, that’s a good one though, I like that. Now here’s how you get to sit down. You remember what you knew about your spouse the day you got married, five years later did you know the person you were married to better than the day you were married? If so, you may sit down. There’s always an exception or two. You may still sit down. The point is this, the illustration is this: with rare exception, its one thing to know about an individual, it’s an entirely different thing to know a person.

How do we know God? To know God we must know Jesus. And its that simple. It really is that simple. Jesus said, “Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father.” He has said, “The Father and I are one. The Father is in Me and I am in the Father.” In order to know God, we must know Jesus. “In the beginning was the word,” that’s Jesus Christ, “and the word was with God and the word was God and He was with God in the beginning. Through Him, all things were made. Without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life and that life was the light of men. Before Abraham was, said Jesus, I am.” That’s the name that God gave to Moses, I am. Only God, we read throughout the Old Testament, only God could feed the people in the wilderness. Only God could raise the dead, only God could control the weather, only God could forgive sins. And guess what: Jesus did every single one of these things over and over again. God weeps over the loss of life. Did you know that? It’s not judgment when bad things happen. Jesus makes it perfectly clear that its not judgment when bad things happen. How do I know this? Because all we have to do is look at the life of Jesus, and when Jesus lost His friend Lazarus, the Bible reads, “He wept.” And when God loses one of His precious children, He weeps. God is moved with compassion at suffering. When He sees suffering in this world, He is moved to compassion and how do I know this? I know this because Jesus had pity on the hungry and the hurting, and the orphaned and the widowed. God has chosen to make Himself known to us through Jesus Christ as our Savior and our Lord.

How many people know the name Tommy Dorsey? The jazz trumpeter, Tommy Dorsey, right? He died about, I think in the middle 50’s, ’56 about 51 years old. He was a band leader and stuff. How many people here realize that there’s another man who was a musician who was considered the father of gospel, by many, and his name is Tommy Dorsey. I tell you all this because Tommy Dorsey, in 1932, he was 32 years old, and he was getting ready to do a gospel concert in St. Louis. His wife was pregnant, in fact she was in her 9th month, and they were living in Chicago in a little apartment. And when he got ready to leave, he felt really bad, he looked out at his wife sleeping there and he thought to himself, I should be here with her. But at the same time, he felt compelled to go to St. Louis and to do the concert.

Well he went and did the concert, and as he was there in St. Louis, somebody handed him a telegram. For those of you under the age of 30, don’t know what a telegram is, think of it this way: a telegram is a text message. And the way you send the text message is you go to a particular house in the neighborhood and you give them $50 and they send the text message to the person by courier. Okay that’s what it is.

So he’s in his concert, people are praising God, worshipping God and he gets this text message, this telegram and on it are the most grievous words he could possibly hear. Your wife is dead. And he’s singing and praising God, and suddenly he’s weeping and in total agony. And he makes his way back to Chicago in his Model A, and he finds out that he has a son. But before the night is over, he loses his son and goes into tremendous depression. Really questioning is there really such a thing as God? I thought I knew God, but I’m not so sure anymore. He came out of the jazz world and he’s thinking maybe I’ll go back into the jazz world and keep playing jazz.

And he went and he sat at a piano and his hands just went over the keys and this melody came out and out of his heart came these words out of agony and defeat, “Precious Lord, take my hand. Lead me on, let me stand. I’m tired, I’m weak, I’m worn. Through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light, take my hand precious Lord, lead me home.” That’s Tommy Dorsey. And with that we discovered that God reaches out and touches us when we grieve, as He grieves with us.

And God reaches out and He rejoices with us when we rejoice. And God reaches out and He embraces us when we need to feel that touch. And when it’s time to go He takes us home. Precious Lord, take me home. Take me home.

Dear Heavenly Father we want to grow in our knowledge of who You are. We want to grow with You as You embrace us in Your arms. And so today we want to stand with You at the altar and we want to make our vows to You as You have already made Your vows to us. For You love this world so much that You gave Your only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish. And so we vow to You oh Lord to follow You in every way we can, to put aside the idols of the unknown God. And worship our known God. The God of Love. So touch our hearts, fill us with Your presence, and guide us in Your way, and lead us always. We will follow, Amen.

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