The Love that Embraced the World

The Message

By: Robert A. Schuller

Special Guest

Mike Rich & Oscar Isaac

Special Music

O Come, All Ye Faithful
O Holy Night
Angels We Have Heard on High
Joy to the World
Come, O Long Expected Jesus

Nichole Nordeman - I Will Believe
Nichole Nordeman - If

The Message

Message by: Robert A. Schuller

What I like that? Wow, that’s interesting. What am I going to do with this? Well, this is, I guess, technically I guess it’s a paddle, but you know we can.. it could also be an oar if it didn’t have this end on the end. But I’ll tell you what I’m going to do; I’m going to do something a little strange here. I’m going to pass this around. I want everyone to put their hands on it and just pass it down the aisle, just pass it down that aisle and when it gets to the end, then pass it down this way and we’re going to just pass this thing all the way through the Crystal Cathedral and everyone can put their hands on this paddle or this oar, whichever you want to refer to it. There you go, get it across the aisle there. And when it gets through this section we’ll move it over there and when it gets through there someone will carry it upstairs to the balconies and the choir loft and we’ll see if we can’t get this thing completely through the congregation before the morning is over. I think we can, I really think we can.

How many have ever felt like you’ve just continued to strain and work and you’ve done everything you’ve can and for some reason it seems like you’re just swimming upstream. Anyone ever felt that way about a project you’re doing? Or something you’re trying to accomplish, you’re doing what you know God has called you to do and it feels like you just can’t get anywhere. You ever feel that way? I sometimes feel that way as a pastor.

You know we had a couple thousand people come here, children to see the Glory of Christmas. We do that every year, we invite children from around the neighborhood to come here and they’ll come from as far as way as almost a hundred miles to come and see the Glory of Christmas, for free here during the day. And they come and Jim Poit our executive pastor shared with me yesterday that there was a young child who came and saw the Glory of Christmas and afterwards looked at one of the other children and said, “But what.. but what was the story of Christmas? It didn’t have anything to say about Christmas.” For this child, Christmas was about Santa Claus and snowmen and Rudolph, the red nosed reindeer and presents and Christmas trees and he didn’t see any of those things. What does the Glory of Christmas have to do with Christmas? What does the birth of a child have to do with Christmas?

I believe we have a tremendous need in our society today to educate our children about the historical reality of what Christmas is all about. I believe that. I have a fear that we are raising a bunch of naïve, uneducated children who do not understand the basic historical significance of what Christianity has had in the world for centuries and will have for centuries in the future and do not have the common basic understanding of simple Christian philosophies and thoughts and I think that can probably true across the board as far as Jewish faith and Muslim faiths and other faiths. All of which have had tremendous impact upon society and in our community and our world today.

Yesterday I had a seventh grade teacher who shared with me that she goes and even though she’s in a public school, in Sacramento California, she teaches her seventh grade children, about the true meaning of Christmas; what Christmas is all about. She says it’s in the curriculum. It’s in the seventh grade curriculum in education. And I can do that and she does. And I want to encourage teachers everywhere listening to my voice to not allow our children to grow up without knowing what Christmas really is. Because we all know that Santa is a byproduct. And that Christmas is really about a little baby who was born two thousand years ago and marks the beginning of the greatest event in history.

The message this morning is the love that embraced the world and that love is the love of God. “For God so loved the world,” the Bible tells us, “that He sent His only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but will have everlasting life.” That is the message of Christmas: “For God so loved the world.” And we often get confused as to what the world is. And in some cultures the world is everything other than us. It’s the concept of we have the salvation and we have the joy and we have the message and everybody else is the world. And it’s across the board. If you look at the Muslim faith today, the Jihads would say we are the Jihads and we are fighting against the world, everybody who is not us. And throughout history various denominations have said the same thing. And probably without exception. The reformed faith I know did that of which we are a member, the Catholic faith, the Mormons, the Lutherans; it goes basically across the board. The world is people other than us. If you’re not us, you’re of the world.

But what Jesus Christ and what God is sharing with us is that we are the world. Every single one of us have sinned, will sin and fall short of the glory of God and need to come to God in repentance on a regular basis.

I’m hesitating because in my notes, in my plans I was going to share how I was arrogant, really arrogant this past week. The fact of the matter is some of you are going to laugh at it and its not really meant to be a laughing matter because it really is arrogant. The arrogance was as I literally said these words and I don’t mean this to be sacrilegious because what I’m talking about is really true. And that I was really arrogant. What I said was, and I know you’re going to laugh and its ok to laugh because I’ve prefaced it so you can. And the words I said were, “UCLA can never beat USC.” I literally said, “Hell could freeze over” as well. I said those words, arrogance! Its arrogant, it really is.

And no matter how much we try to live and be the people that God wants us to be, we fail. And in our failure what we do is we have a tendency to think and become actually more arrogant. The arrogance is that our sin is so great that God cannot forgive us. That was revealed to me just recently by a woman I met, I was at a wedding a couple weeks ago and I sat next to this woman at the dinner and she says, “I have to share something with you.” She said, “I was suffered with guilt for years.” She said, “My husband, before we were married, I had an affair with him. And we broke up our relationship and a year or so later he was divorced from his wife and we met, we got married,” and she said, “I spent the first year or two of our marriage feeling like I had a great big scarlet letter A on my back and everywhere I went I felt like I was living with and I knew I was living with this guilt of adultery. She said, I continued to live with this until one day a pastor friend of mine said to me, “You suffer from one of two things: either you don’t believe or you’re arrogant. You either don’t believe that the grace of Jesus Christ is big enough to forgive you, or you’re too arrogant to think, you’re so arrogant that you think your sin is too big for God to forgive.” She said, “I started to ball like a baby. I cried, I cried for about two days, because he spoke the truth to me and I realized that God’s grace was big enough to cover even the darkest of sins and that my sin was not too big for God and that God’s grace was truly bigger than anything I could’ve done.” She said, “It changed my life. Changed my life.”

“For God so loved the world.” That means God so loved you and me just the way we are with all of our insufficiencies, with all of our struggles and our pain. With all of the sin and the discomfort that we go through on a daily basis, God is there to wrap us and embrace us with His love, “For God so loved the world that He gave us His Son.” A child, a baby, He Himself extended Himself into the form of a human being so that He could come and give us the truth of the beauty and the love of His grace.

I want to read a scripture to you today. The scripture I’m going to read is from Mark chapter 6. And in Mark 6 we read these words: “Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of Him to Bethesda while He dismissed the crowd. And after leaving the crowd He went up on the mountainside to pray. When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake and He was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars because the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night He went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass them, but when they saw Him walking on the lake, they thought He was a ghost. Then they cried out because they saw Him and were terrified. Immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take courage, it is I. Do not fear.’ Then He climbed into the boat. He was in the boat with them and then the wind died down and they were completely amazed.” If you were to read the account in John’s gospel, it says the boat immediately reached its destination. Isn’t that encouraging? But it doesn’t take place until Jesus Christ came into the boat.

Here’s the disciples straining at the oars working as hard as they can, fighting against the wind and the waves and they’re not getting anywhere. And then they invite Jesus Christ into the boat. They cry out to Him ‘Jesus Christ, get in our boat’ and as soon as Jesus Christ got in the boat, the winds were calmed and they reached their destination. They were at the other side that fast.

And today, God wants to come into the very center of your heart and your soul and your mind and your life. The storms are raging. You’re at work trying to get something done. You’re straining at the oars and it’s not moving. Life isn’t working. Relationship problems, addiction problems, financial problems, health problems, the list goes on and on and on. I know because I continue to pray for our community and for our church. This week I prayed for over a hundred and fifty people who requested prayer. I prayed for every single one. We have a prayer community and we have a few thousand people in this prayer community. And you can go online and you can sign up for this prayer community, you can ask for prayer, you can ask me to pray for you, you can write a prayer request and if you do, I’ll read your prayer request and I’ll respond to you. I’ve done every single one; I’ll continue to do that. And I’ve read the prayer requests that people have and the challenges that people face. It’s amazing what some of the things people are dealing with today. Let me share a couple of them with you.

Here’s one: We enjoy your faith building sermons on TV every week. My wife’s name is Deborah. She’s a beautiful person and has been legally blind for several years. Your sermons have given her strength to become a piano concerto and teacher with 27 students. We feel that our faith has kept us strong. Would you please pray for us?

Listen to this prayer request. The English isn’t very good, but you’ll know why in just a minute. We begin a new business in gas station. We need much prayer, as much bondages around from people. This request is from India. Much trouble arise from nothing at all. We are planning to open shortly. Pray for us and its success.

How about this one: After an adulterous affair I’m separated from my children. I ended the affair after reading your book, “Getting Through What You’re Going Through.” I gained the strength to walk away. Now I need to continue strength to reunite with my sons. I’m alone and feel depressed but my faith has kept me away from the darkness. I am walking in the light now. Please pray for my emotional health and for reuniting with my children soon. Thank you.

I can go on reading forever. People have needs and challenges. This ministry has needs and challenges. We have been managing this ministry successfully, very successfully for 35 years, for 55 years the church, and the Hour of Power and the ministry for 35 years. And after 35 years of sending letters to our faithful supporters, we know what’s going to happen when we send a letter financially. You know, I’ve discovered something this week about my wife. She and I have something different and I just discovered it, just this past week. She loves to read all the mail. Do you know what I mean by all the mail? I get a stack of mail about this tall every day. And she likes to go through every single piece and read it all. She loves the mail. Do you know what I do? I go and get that same stack of mail out of the mailbox and I go to the trashcan. Straight to the trash can, I go flump, flump, flump, flump, bill, flump, flump, flump, Christmas card, flump, flump, flump, okay. And then I take in three pieces of mail and I hand it to her and she says, where’s the mail? I says right there. No, where’s the mail? Well I threw a bunch of stuff in the trashcan. You what? And she runs out there and she pulls it out and she reads her mail. How many people like to throw it away? How many people love to read it? Look at there. You see people love to read the mail. I didn’t even know that was possible. I didn’t know that it was possible that people love to read all the mail. I should have. I should have known that but I didn’t. Now I know it. Now we all know it! We’re all in the same boat together; we all have the same information.

And it’s time for us to ask Jesus Christ to get in the boat so He’ll calm the storm. So that we can reach our destinations and we can present the good news of Jesus Christ to everybody. So that when children come here in the future, they won’t ask ‘what does that have to do with Christmas anyway?’ But they’ll know.

The oar is going through the congregation. Where is it now? Where is it? Is it up in the balcony? It’s up in the balcony. Who has it? Why don’t you bring it down now. Whoever is holding it right now, what’s your name? What is it? Hector, why don’t you bring the oar down here. You’re good and strong, you can come up and down the stairs a couple of times. Why don’t you bring that oar down here. We all put our hands on the oar. And the Bible says that the apostles were all together in the boat. And they were rowing and they weren’t getting anywhere until Jesus came and came into the boat with them.

Christmas is all about Jesus. Christmas is all about God loving the world and embracing the world with His love. Jesus wants to come into our lives today and embrace us. Thank you, Hector. Thank you Hector, appreciate it. Give a round of applause to Hector. Boy, he delivered the goods.

Today we’re going to pray. I’m begging you to join me in prayer that God will carry us through this thing together, because I can’t do it alone, with all the effort that I put in it, it won’t make a dent. And you can’t do it alone in all the effort you put in either. But if we all work together, with Christ in the center of the boat, He’s going to calm the storms and He’s going to carry us through and together we can succeed.

Dear Heavenly Father, You’re a powerful, wonderful God who continues to touch hearts and minds with Your grace and Your love. So we thank You for the life that You’re breathing within our souls and our minds and our hearts this very moment, we thank You. We give You praise and we give You honor and glory, Amen.

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