Message – Walking in Your Own Shoes – Part II (25/11/07)

The Message

By: Robert A. Schuller

Special Guest

Rev. Billy Graham

Special Music

Joyful, Joyful
Rejoice the Lord is King Medley
Trust and Obey
Mighty Fortress
Prologue in Heaven

Choir-Ca Chorus– Light Up the World with a Song

Nicol Sponberg- Love will bring you

The Message

Message by: Robert A. Schuller

Yeah, we’ve been going through a series of messages entitled, “Walking in Your Own Shoes” because November 1st this book comes out. This is the actual copy, it is the first one. It’s not in bookstores yet. It’s at the distribution center currently and its being shipped to the different book stores across the nation. It’s entitled “Walking in Your Own Shoes,” and the subtitle is what I really want to point to today is “Discover God’s direction for your life.” That’s the subtitle. And a lot of books, I would say maybe most books you can really get the true message of the title when you look at the subtitles. Because walking in our own shoes is an important thing for us to do. In fact its so important that not only are we talking about this intangibility, this concept, this philosophy of walking in our own shoes, we’re also putting some meat on those bones into creating a tangible message and the tangible things we are doing is we are collecting shoes for children.

I know last week many people brought shoes; in fact we collected two thousand, two hundred pair of shoes last week alone. Isn’t that spectacular? So we’re going to continue to collect shoes, new shoes, and we’re giving them to children. So whatever you can do to help us collect shoes, that is spectacular and if you don’t have the means to buy a pair of shoes and give them and you wish us to do that, you can send us a contribution and we’ll do that for you because it’s our hope to fill this truck. You’ve seen the truck out there with shoes for kids. If you look inside, there’s two thousand, as of yesterday, I should say, there was two thousand two hundred pair of shoes in there. I don’t know how many people brought shoes this morning but we’re going to fill that truck. So if you have a membership with a service club like Rotary or Kiwanis or Soroptimist or something of that nature, maybe you can encourage them to help us fill this truck with shoes because it’s a lot of shoes. So again, thank you for bringing shoes and helping us put shoes on children’s feet. That’s really important for us.

Talking about shoes, do you know what I did? I was looking at my closet and I found the oldest pair of shoes in my closet. This happens to be the oldest pair of shoes I own. These are literally my shoes. If you notice, the soles are pretty good. That’s because I haven’t walked very much in these shoes. I have had these shoes for 35 years. Can you believe it? These are not walking shoes. Does anyone recognize what kind of a shoe this is? Does anyone know what kind of a shoe this is? If you know, say so. What is it? Boxing, yeah, they are boxing shoes but also wrestling shoes. I bought them originally for wrestling because I was a wrestler in high school, and I bought these for wrestling and that’s why the soles are in perfect shape, because you walk on a pad, you never walk on asphalt or anywhere else, you’re just walking on the wrestling mats. And as a result, those soles stay really good in spite of the fact that I would jump rope incessantly. It’s what you do when you box and you wrestle. I could jump rope oh really, really good. In fact to this day, I can jump rope as good as I ever could. I can jump rope, I’ll bet you a thousand times without missing a single beat. I can go the triples, I can do the crosses, I can do it all and I never miss a beat. I’ll bet I can do it for a half hour, 45 minutes, and never miss a beat as long as I don’t have a rope in my hands. You know?

And in many ways, that’s kind of the way our life can be. The passage I want to give you to remember today is this. The very first verse in Psalm 127, it says this: “If the Lord does not build the house, the builder’s labor in vain.” Isn’t that a powerful verse? “If the Lord does not build the house, the builder’s labor in vain.” Its vanity, it’s for nothing. It’s jumping rope without a rope. You’re not jumping rope at all. You’re pretending to jump rope. If you’re building your life without God, you’re not living; you’re merely existing. That’s why the subtitle of the book is discovering God’s direction for your life. Putting God into the handiwork of whatever you’re doing so that all of your labor is not in vain, its not for vanity, its not just lost, its not just disappeared in the air in your labor. But it has value, it has meaning, it has substance, it has reality.

In 1848 the President of the United States James Polk started a project. It was a monument to the very first president of the United States. And the project began and 25 years later, it was completed. It’s an obelisk. It rises five hundred and fifty five feet in the air. That is five thousand, one hundred and twenty five inches. It is and remains and will be unless there is act of congress, the highest structure to ever be built in Washington DC. We know it as the Washington Monument. It overshadows the entire city.

I remember the first time I went up there, my father and I went to Washington DC and we stood in line, and we waited a long time to get on the elevator and we took that elevator up to the very top and from there you can look around and you can see for miles and miles and miles. That’s the Washington Monument. When those laborers completed that project of building this incredible architectural landmark, they put an aluminum cap on the very top and on that cap is inscribed seven letters. The letters spell these words: Laus Deo. L-a-u-s D-e-o. They’re Latin. And those seven letters and those words is this: Praise be to God! And those words shadow under the highest structures in the capital of this country. I don’t know about you, but that makes me very proud. It does, it makes me very proud. That our forefathers, from the beginning have built this country and this nation, founded upon God. That’s important. It’s important for us to realize that what’s taking place in this country is a country that truly witnesses and realizes the hand of God and the need for God.

In II Chronicles we read, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray, says the Lord, then I will hear their prayers, I will forgive their sins and I will heal their land.” Here’s the question I have for you: here’s the question. Is your labor done in the hand and the will of God? So that what you do is not there for yourself but for the kingdom of God. Are we kingdom builders, or are we individual builders. Can we look beyond ourselves and discover God’s direction for our life so that we become part of the greater whole, or are we simply looking out for ourselves, looking inwardly and making sure that whatever we do is going to make me better.
Greek mythology takes a look at, and understands this and many of you are familiar with the understanding of narcissists, from which we get the word narcissistic. Those of you who plant gardens, you know that narcissists very well because it’s a beautiful flower. It’s probably one of the most beautiful flowers you can plant in your gardens. But narcissism comes from the word narcissists, which is the name of one of the Greek gods who fell in love with himself and his image, and as a result of that, couldn’t get beyond it and it killed him. Not until we can get beyond narcissism to understanding that there is more to life than ourselves, can we possibly understand the direction that God has for our lives.

Because our text this morning is one that we need to remember, take to heart and take with us on a daily basis so that everything we do is done for the glory of God. “If the Lord does not build His house, the laborers labor in vain.” Maybe a better way to or another way to present this question is to ask it this way. When you go to work tomorrow morning, are you going to work or are you fulfilling God’s destiny for your life? Now what we might realize is that its one in the same thing as far as the physical labor is concerned, its one in the same thing. The difference is strictly a perception in our minds and in our hearts. If you’re going to work and doing a job, you’re going to work and doing a job. On the other hand, you can wake up in the morning and you can say I’m not going to go to work and do a job; I’m going to go to my destiny and fulfill my calling. And then you get out of bed and you do the exact same things but with a different frame of mind and a different concept and a different reality. And you’re living for God with Him being the laborer and allowing Him to give you the direction and the guidance and fulfillment that you wish to desire for your life. It’s walking in your own shoes.

The very first book of the Bible is a book that most people are familiar with, in fact I think it is probably the most commonly read book in the Bible because many people have the good intentions of reading the Bible and never get past the first chapter. Therefore, I think it is the number one read chapter in the Bible: Genesis. I see a bunch of people laughing. Is that a confession? And what’s interesting about the book of Genesis is that the last 13 chapters, about 15% of the very first book in the Bible deals with one man by the name of Joseph. Joseph was one of 12 sons of Jacob, who we also know as Israel. If somebody says who is Jacob, he is Israel, who is Israel, he’s Jacob, they’re both the same guy. He’s got two names.

Joseph was the most favored of Israel, of Jacob. Jacob loved him more than the others, the Bible says. As a result of that, his 11 older brothers didn’t care for that very much. Maybe some of you can realize that. I mean we all, I think just about everybody thinks that mom and dad loves everyone else better than they love me. Right? That’s the way it was with Joseph and his brothers tolerated it to a certain extent until his father goes and buys him this beautiful jacket. Now clothing in the time of the Bible wasn’t what it is today. If you buy a piece of clothing, you have that the rest of your life and your entire lifetime you may have only a few pieces of clothing. I know some people are getting really depressed with that thought; I can see it in your eyes. That’s the way it was. Clothing was something that was extremely difficult to come by.

And his father gave his son this gorgeous, gorgeous jacket with long sleeves, it says in the Bible. At the same time Joseph is receiving these visions where he sees his brothers and his father and everybody around him bowing down to him. And he wasn’t too smart. He went and he shared what his vision was with his brothers. Well that got them mad enough where they decided that they were going to get rid of him and they sold him to some slave traders that were coming by. They take his jacket, they shred it up, they throw some blood on it and then they take it back to their father and say this is what we found of Joseph, the lions and the bears must have gotten him. And they thought him dead.

Well the rest of the Bible goes through Joseph’s journey from slavery to imprisonment to death row, to excess, to nothing, back to success again, and concludes with him actually becoming the second most powerful man in the entire world, second only to Pharaoh. Meanwhile there is a famine and his brothers come up to Egypt for food, and guess what they land up doing: they land up bowing before Joseph just as his vision was. And they come and they ask for forgiveness from Joseph for selling him into slavery. And here are the words I want you to hear for this, is powerful words: “And Joseph said to them, do not be afraid. Am I in the place of God? In other words can I judge you? You intended to harm me. But God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done the saving of many lives. What others have intended for harm, God intends for good.”

And as we discover the reality of God’s promises and His goodness, that when we put God in the center of everything we do, and when we allow God to build His house, this house, our bodies, our souls, our minds, our lives, the work we do is no longer in vain. Regardless of what you do tomorrow morning, regardless of what your labor is, when you put God in that labor, and you no longer decide to go to work and do a job, your labor has tremendous significance in ways you cannot possibly imagine. Because tomorrow morning, you’re going to wake up and you’re not going to go to work and do a job. You’re going to go to your destiny and you’re going to fulfill your calling and when God calls, you’re going to go. And if people are intending things for harm and they’re causing problems in your life and you come here today because you don’t know what’s going on, maybe you received news this week that you have cancer. Maybe your children have disappeared and you don’t know where they are. Maybe you’re struggling with your parents and they’re having difficulties. They’re in a nursing home. You may have buried one of them this week. Wherever God’s course takes you, remember that what others intend for harm God intends for good and He’s going to lead you and direct you and give you the desires of your heart in ways that you cannot possibly imagine because you are not doing the labor, God is.

You know there are tremendous words in this book, the Bible. And these words have tremendous power for us. And as we hold onto them, and as we realize their beauty for us, we will continue to know God in more beautiful ways. Love people in more unique circumstances and serve the world diligently.

Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You for what You’re doing today, tomorrow and always, Amen.

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