#311 Message – Serve the World (11/11/07)

The Message

By: Robert A. Schuller

Special Guest

Lee Strobel

Special Music

Joyful, Joyful
Rise Up, O Church of God
We Are God’s People
To God Be the Glory

How Lovely Are Thy Dwellings


The Message

Message by: Robert A. Schuller

We have been talking for the last couple weeks about really the direction of where this church is going and where we’ve come from, and what we are all about as a community and as a church. We came to the conclusion after about a year and a half of study and countless hours by our staff and key volunteers and people in this church as to exactly what this ministry is all about, and we came down to three words. Can you believe it? You can summarize this entire ministry into three words: Know, Love and Serve. That’s what it’s about. Sometimes the simple and the obvious takes a little longer to find and we’ve discovered that God wants us to know Him. And so it begins by knowing God. And then loving people. And it is completed by serving the world. So this morning, I’m going to be sharing with you a little bit about what we mean by serving the world and what it is that we are called as Christians and as individuals in this church to do, when it comes to serving the world.

You know this past summer we.. I had a very interesting summer. Not only did we discover that, but I also finished my book and put the final touches on it. It’s going to be out November 1st, it’s entitled “Walking in Your Own Shoes: Discover God’s direction for your life.” So that’s going to be available November 1st. And the other thing I did is I went and I spent the summer highlighting the Bible. I went through, I started with Genesis 1 and I highlighted what I consider the most positive, uplifting passages in the Bible and went through the whole thing. And you can almost read the highlighted sections almost like reading cliff notes, if you want to read through the Bible in a hurry. And I did that this summer and we’re going to have that Bible available next summer in the summer of ‘08; it’s the Power for Life Bible. So pay attention and listen and watch as that comes about.

Today I really want to talk about service because it’s close to my heart. It’s something that we are challenged to do by Christ Himself. It transcends who we are as individuals and people. There is nothing more important to God than to serving His people and His children. If you go and you read the Bible you will read from beginning to end the need for us to serve God, serve people and serve the world. In Matthew we read these words from Jesus: “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord when did we see You hungry and feed You? Or thirsty and give You something to drink? When did we see You a stranger and invite You in? Or needing clothes and clothes You? When did we see You sick or in prison and go and visit You? The King will reply I tell you the truth whatever you did to one of the least of these brothers of Mine you did to Me.” Service and that’s what this church is all about, it’s about service. We begin our main ministry is to serve people emotionally and spiritually. That’s where we begin. That is the foundation upon which we have taken this ministry globally and it is the visible aspect of our service to the world. We are intent on building people emotionally, so when people need hope we give them hope and when people are in despair we lift them out of despair. We give people the understanding and the realization that through Christ they can do all things. It’s positive thinking. It’s the bedrock of this ministry.

But we go beyond that. We go beyond the intangible because the spiritual world is an intangible world. But there is a place at where the intangible becomes tangible and this ministry is just as interested in the tangible as it is the intangible and that means we literally go and we feed the hungry. And we clothe those who need clothing. We do whatever we can to help the homeless. We’ve been doing it for years, and years and years. But it’s almost one of those secret things that we do. I don't know how many people realize that every single Wednesday we have a semi truck on this property and we’re distributing thousands of pounds of food. Every single Wednesday we do that right here from this campus! I don’t know how many people realize how many hundreds, maybe even thousands of wheel chairs that we have given away. My wife and I personally have gone around the world to Africa, to Russia, to Egypt and we’ve given wheelchairs away. We’ve picked up the crippled and placed them in a wheelchair. You know one of the things we did this past year is my wife went to Louisiana, Shreveport Louisiana. She took a group of people with her and she wasn’t the only one. We sent out three or four groups of people to Louisiana and we built this house. Today a family lives in it; we did it in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity. And you need to know that one of the best-kept secrets in the world is what this ministry does in its tangible manner. We feed the hungry. We’re partners in a homeless center not far from here called Isaiah’s House. And we send teams of people from this congregation to go there and to cook meals for them and to pass out things and to help them in any way we can. We’ve done it for years. We do these things around the world and it’s one of the best kept secrets that I know about in this church is all of our missions programs. We have hundreds of missions programs disseminating from this congregation. Why? Because God has called us to serve. And Jesus Christ was the perfect example of what service is all about.

In Luke the apostles are arguing about who’s the greatest. They say you know who’s the greatest among us? Whose going to sit at the right hand of God and whose going to do this and whose going to do that? And Jesus shows them what greatness is all about. And Jesus in His meticulous way got up from the table, put a towel around His waist and He went and He washed their feet. Washed their feet. That’s the greatest. The one’s who get up and wash the feet. What we fail to realize is how symbolic that was because there was nothing that’s more humbling in the time of Christ than to go and to wash somebody’s feet because their streets weren’t like our streets. The donkeys and the camels and the sheep and the goats would walk up and down the streets and do what those animals do. And people walked through it. And it’s all over their feet. And Jesus comes and He washes the dung off their feet.

Who’s the greatest? The greatest among us are the ones who are willing to serve, who are willing to give, who are willing to do something more, who are willing to make this world a better place, and that’s what its all about serving the world and that’s what this ministry is all about. And you know it’s.. there’s miraculous and wonderful ways in which we can serve and just recently in fact, last year I ended up serving people in a way I never dreamt I would. It was a hard day of work. We left at midnight and I don’t think we rested until we had everything completed by noon the next day. No, five o'clock the next day so we're talking let me see twelve.. quite a few hours of non-stop labor. And we all did it, five of us went out and we all did it with joy in our faces and we paid to do it. Can you believe it? We went fishing. That’s what we did and it was one of those things where we worked hard. We left the docks at midnight so that we could be on the fishing grounds at sun up.

So we motored all night long in the dark, taking turns, shifts. One guy watches for a couple hours while somebody else gets a couple hours rest and then you do the tag team, you know, after a couple hours later you can’t stay up you tag somebody else they go up and they watch the wheel for a couple hours until you get to the fishing grounds. We got to the fishing grounds and it was one of those perfect days. The sun comes up, you can watch the sunrise and we aren’t fishing for more than a few minutes when all of a sudden everything goes wild! And we’re into this school of fish that will not stop. Big fish! Wild fish, hungry fish and we caught what we call over here dorado. In Hawaii they call it Mahi-mahi. We got, I don’t know how many. And then we caught yellow fin tuna, or what some people would know as Ahi. If you’re a sushi lover that’s the mainstay of sushi is Ahi. Well we caught them, I mean as fast as we could get the baits in the water, we’re hooked up and they’re in the fish bag. It wasn’t long, well actually we didn’t think it was long, but it was noon when we finished fishing. Our hands are exhausted from reeling in these fish. Our backs are tired and suddenly we have this fish bag that’s six feet wide, four feet tall, two feet wide full of fish. That’s a lot of fish. And we all looked at each other and we got this sinking feeling. We get to clean all these fish.

And so at noon we started heading back to the harbor and by five in the afternoon we were just putting the final filets in the gallon bags and packing it in our cooler. Now you may see coolers and other coolers, but I’ll tell you this cooler is a cooler to match all coolers. Casey would you bring that cooler out here. I want you to know this is a cooler. Now we had that sucker filled with fillets. Not fish! We’re talking fillets. Fillets of Mahi-mahi, Ahi and yellow fin. That’s some good eating. That’s a lot of good eating is what it is. Probably a hundred pounds or more of fillets. We worked our.. we worked really hard to get all of those fillets. We were tired and exhausted then we had the long drive home. By the time we pulled into the driveway and we divided up the fish we didn’t really care if we had any fish at all. So I know one guy took five pounds another guy took about five pounds. You know two or three bags and I took two or three bags. And then we had another gentleman who said do any of you want any more fish? And the thing was practically full. We didn’t even take a dent out of it. He says does anyone else want any more fish? No, no, no, no, no. He says we’ll I’ll take it then, I know what to do with it. And he took the rest of the fish. Later he told me he took it to Isaiah House, a homeless shelter.

And later that same day another one of our fisherman friends calls me up and he says ‘Robert, you know I’m a little miffed. You know that guy he took all the fish. I couldn’t believe he took all the fish. He took all the fish. I mean how greedy can you get? I mean we just took a couple bags and everyone took a couple bags and he took the whole cooler. I can’t believe he took the whole cooler. What could he do with that much fish?’ And I tried to interrupt him. He went on. The more he went on the more I’m on the phone chuckling. And he went on and on talking about what in the world. And finally he said it three times: what in the world do you do with that much fish? I said ‘do you want to know?’ ‘Yeah, what does he do with that much fish anyway?’ ‘He gave it to a homeless shelter.’ I think he felt about this big. Felt about that big.

All of the sudden we realized that all of our labor and all of our good fortune meant that some people who normally don’t get the delectable best fillets of fish did. Cause God cares for His people. He wants to feed His people and even when we don’t know it we somehow have ways and means to serve God. And no matter what you do, you can use your joys, you can use your grief’s, you can use your struggles, you can use whatever you do to serve the world. And that’s what we’re all about is serving the world.

Two weeks ago I’m sharing my book with my mother, “Walking in Your Own Shoes.” And she turns to me and she says ‘you know what Robert.’ I said ‘yeah mom?’ She goes ‘if you’re going to talk about walking in your own shoes you should do something about it.’ I go ‘what do you mean? I wrote a book on it.’ She goes ‘no I mean you should do something about it.’ ‘Well what do you mean?’ She said ‘well you should get some new shoes and give away new shoes to people so they can walk in their own shoes.’ You’re kidding me. I stopped and I thought about it and you know what she’s absolutely right. I wish she’d given me more time. But here’s what I’ve done in the last two weeks. I've been in contact with Samaritans Purse, which is the organization that Billy Graham’s son Franklin heads up. And they’ve agreed to distribute the shoes for us. And I’ve discovered that there are one point five million children in the United States of America alone that are homeless. And I want to give them a pair of shoes. New shoes. Because I believe that everybody needs to walk in their own shoes.

What I’ve done is next Sunday we’ll have a semi here and I’m going to ask you next week to come back and bring a new pair of shoes so that children can have a new pair of shoes and we’re going to give away shoes and shoes and shoes. Will you do that? Will you do that? Instead of clapping I want a commitment. Because there's no commitment in clapping. Yeah everyone else is going to do it but I’m not going to do it. Yeah way to go! You know? So if you’re willing to make a commitment and bring a pair of shoes next Sunday would you please stand, just stand where you are if you’re going to make a commitment to bring a new pair of shoes next Sunday to church. Now I want you to look around and hold each other accountable next Sunday. Look whose standing and you can hold each other accountable. And if you’re, now if you don’t come next Sunday you’re really going to be held accountable. Okay? And you can sit down. Here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to have a semi here next Sunday and we’re going to collect shoes and we’re going to fill this semi with shoes. I don’t know if we’ll do it next week, but we’ll just keep doing it until that thing is full. And we’re going to give some shoes to children who need shoes.

And if you’re watching on television and you want to participate in this and help give some shoes to children, then we’ll make sure that children get shoes, okay? We’ll make sure they get some shoes, because children have the right to walk in their own shoes. You know God has called us to serve. We’re going to start with the United States and we’re going to make sure that every child who needs a new pair of shoes gets a new pair of shoes. It’s service. It’s serving the world. It’s what we’ve been called to do. Jesus lived it. He was a perfect example for us. And then He told us specifically to feed the hungry, to clothe those who need clothing. And so we will. We’ll feed the hungry, we’ll clothe the naked and we’ll give hope to those who are hopeless.

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You that we have the opportunity today to make a difference, that there are people everywhere today who are hungry. And there are those who are hungry for the reality of a spiritual hunger, that as they have the spiritual need today that they will find their needs filled to overflowing and running over. And so we thank You God for what you’re doing in the lives of people today, You’re meeting needs. We love You Lord, Amen.

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