by: Robert A. Schuller
Well you know
when I was in high school; my father told a story that
I remember to this day. You know different stories you
hear can be very impacting. And this story was obviously
very impacting to me because gosh it was 15 years ago
that I heard that story, at least. At least. Maybe double
that, almost. But I was sitting in the Arboretum which
is the old church and I listened to my father tell this
story and it was about a little boy who built a boat.
And I pictured in my mind a great big sailboat and this
kid went and he manufactured this boat, he polished the
hull, had it all painted and spent weeks and months building
this boat until it was just right. And then he took it
down to the river to sail his boat. And as he put it in
the water, he watched with great dismay as this boat;
first he jumped up with glee because the boat sailed so
good but then when he couldn’t run along the shore
fast enough to catch it, his glee turned to sorrow as
he watched his boat just sail off into the distance, never
to be seen again.
Well some time later, he was downtown with his mother
and he’s walking past the toy store and there in
the window of this toy store is this magnificent beautiful
boat and his eyes popped out of his head, he couldn’t
believe it. It was his boat! In the window of the toy
store! Somebody had found it, taken it to the toy store,
sold it to them and they were so impressed by this boat
that they stuck it in the front window with a for sale
sign on it. So he went marching into there and goes excuse
me sir, that’s my boat. And he goes, I’m sorry
son, you have to buy that boat before it’s your
boat. He says no, no, you don’t understand. I made
that boat with my hands. That’s my boat in the window!
And he said son I don’t know whether you built that
boat or not, but I bought that boat. And that boat is
mine but I’d love to sell it to you, it’s
in the window. All you have to do is get the right amount
of money and you come back here and that boat is all yours.
And this little boy was very discouraged because he didn’t
have any money.
So he went and he worked himself to the bones, saving
all of his nickels and dimes and dollars, whatever he
could until he finally had enough money. He went running
back to the toy store and he bought his boat back. And
he held on to that boat and he walked out of that store
saying you’re my boat, you’re my boat, you’re
my boat. You’re twice my boat! First you’re
my boat because I made you. Secondly you’re my boat
because I bought you.
And that’s the way God looks at every single one
of us. You’re twice His boat. First because He made
you. He made you just the way you are with all the beautiful
characteristics that you have. Every tweak and nuance,
every idiosyncrasy and gift that you have is part of what
God wanted you to have because God made you that way.
And then God sent His Son Jesus Christ as a baby. He sent
Him into this world so that whoever believes in Him will
experience the joy of His grace. And God buys you back
and you’re God’s twice over first because
He made you, then because He bought you.
There’s a text I wish to read this morning. It’s
from Ephesians it’s, gosh it’s one of my favorite
verses. I’ve got a ton of favorite verses but this
is one I’m sure you’re all familiar with:
“It is by grace that you have been saved, through
faith and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift of
God. Not by works so that no one can boast. For we are
God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do
good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.
For it is by grace that we have been saved.” I can’t
tell you how often I’ve shared the gospel with people
in a conversational form and in a manner and one of the
questions that I’ve been asked numerous times is
saved from what? You ever heard that question? You ever
been asked that question if you’re talking about
the gospel? Saved from what? And you know the traditional
answer to that question is well you’re saved from
hell and you’re saved from damnation and fire and
it is the traditional answer that we have when we say
we have been saved by grace. We are saved. And the answer
is true. But I would say in addition to that, the answer
is incomplete because we have to remember that God’s
grace casts a big net. His grace is all encompassing.
One of the first miracles that Jesus did after He rose
from the grave, was He appeared before the apostles and
the apostles are out there fishing and they’ve been
out there all night and they haven’t caught a thing
and He yells to them and says ‘cast your net on
the other side.’ And when they do they cast their
net and they pull in such an incredible harvest of fish
that they practically break their nets. And I believe
it is an example of what Christ does in our world today.
He casts a huge net and His nets are full with the grace
of His redeeming love.
One of the things we’ve doing for many years now
is we’ve been distributing a little card. I keep
it with me in my money clip here. Here it is: my ticket
to heaven. How many people here have a ticket to heaven?
There’s one, there’s another, there’s
a few of you have a ticket. There’s one sticking
up in the air. How many people have a ticket to heaven?
There’s quite a few of you but there’s more
of you who don’t have a ticket to heaven. Well this
is just a little something that we’ve printed a
long time ago, probably two, three years ago. Which simply
says this: “Anyone who comes to Me I will in no
way cast out, Jesus Christ.” And underneath that
you simply sign it to say you accept it. And that’s
the ticket to heaven. A very simple little piece of plastic.
All it costs is about 50 cents to send this little piece
of plastic out, and when we do we ask people to send a
donation and most people do and we have sent out literally
thousands of these.
And this past
week we were talking about different budget cuts that
we may have to enter into because we’re having some
financial struggles and this was brought up that well
you know, it cost us about $15,000 last year to print
and distribute these tickets to heaven. Do you think we
should cut it out of the budget? And guess what I said:
What’d I say? What did I say? We’re going
to keep distributing tickets to heaven, is that a good
idea? We want people to realize that God casts a big net
and I want to encourage people to get one of these. You
can go online, you can order one. We’ll send it
to you. And if you want to send us a contribution you
can. It doesn’t matter. We want to send you tickets
to heaven. We have sent out thousands of these and we’ll
continue to send out thousands of these because God casts
a big net. But I think we’re far more than just
saved from separation from God, from hell.
And I think
the message is far more profound when we realize that
there’s something that takes place when we accept
the grace of Jesus Christ. We are saved from our negative
thinking. And it is negative thinking that just continues
to demoralize us as individuals, as people, as a nation,
as a community. The demoralization talking says I’m
not good enough. I’m not rich enough. I’m
not slim enough. I’m not whatever it is. And you
can get into this enormous enough-ness thinking where
I’m never enough, I’m not good enough, I’m
not happy enough, and the grace of Jesus Christ redeems
us from this negative thinking so we can understand the
beauty and the reality of who we are in Christ Jesus.
And we can get away from the lies that hold us back from
being all we are. The lie says that hah, I am a sinner
because I sin. And that is a lie. You may not even recognize
it as a lie and you may not recognize it until I tell
you the truth and the truth is that you are a saint who
still sins, but you are a saint. You have been redeemed
by God. You have been surrounded with His grace. You’ve
been purchased by Him and you are a saint. The lies are
that my identity comes from whatever I can do. The things
that I have done make me who I am. And that is a lie.
The truth is that your identity comes from God and what
God has done for you. That is the truth. The lie is that
my behavior tells me what to believe about myself. And
the truth is that your belief about yourself determines
your behavior. Negative thinking is eradicated when we
accept and realize this beautiful promise of Jesus Christ
that through His grace we are redeemed.
But then I’d
go on one more thing and we are saved from what? I would
take it maybe a little different and say we are saved
for what. What are we saved for? We have been saved for
a purpose and for a reason. God has given us His grace
and redeemed us so that we can be empowered and strengthened
and motivated and inspired to be the people that God has
called us to be. To do what God has called us to do. And
to aspire to that which He has envisioned for our lives.
in Oslo Sweden, the Nobel Peace Prize was presented to
a gentlemen from Bangladesh. His name is Mohammed Yunus.
Do you know what he does? He loans small amounts of money
to extremely impoverished people. That’s all he
does. He’ll loan two, three hundred dollars, sometimes
even a hundred dollars to someone. And as far as they’re
concerned, it’s a years worth of salary. And it
gives them the ability to be able to get out of the trap
that they have found themselves in, and to free themselves
from this financial bondage and give them the ability
to be what they’ve been called to be. And for this
he has received the Nobel Peace Prize.
are many people who are doing this. That they can get
out of that extreme poverty situation. Now extreme poverty,
I’m talking about the 800 million people in this
world who live on less than $350 a year. And you loan
somebody who makes that much money $300, and it’s
an enormous sum of money. And they can go and I was listening
to one illustration of a young woman who said she was
able to go and buy a sewing machine and now she can sew
clothes and she’s now making money and earning a
living to be able to get an education for her children.
We are called
by God for a purpose, for a reason. We were created by
Him with special talents and gifts and abilities. We have
been saved by Him to be able to use these talents in a
way that’s going to glorify His name. But, let us
remember these words: We are God’s workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus to do good works, but we are not
saved by our good works, we are saved by His grace, a
gift given to us because of His enormous love for every
single human being on planet earth, He gives it to us.
And that’s why we’re going to continue to
give away our tickets to heaven. We have a gentleman who
found his purpose for living. He writes to us and he asks
for a thousand tickets to heaven at a time. I’m
questioning whether he cuts those up and gets a new one
every day just to make sure it’s good. And so we
contacted him to find out what in the world do you want
with a thousand tickets to heaven? He says well I’m
giving them away. I’m going to the prisons and I’m
giving them to people in prison.
God casts a
huge net, a net which reaches out and redeems His people
and saves them, not only from hell, but He saves them
from their negative thoughts which demoralize and tears
us down. And He gives us the positive thoughts. Then in
addition to that, He saves us so that we can be the people
He’s called us to be.
A few weeks
ago my wife and I were in Landstuhl Germany and we were
praying for some of the troops that were there and the
other people who had been injured in Afghanistan or Iraq
and flown to this medical center in Germany. We met a
gentleman there who was from SriLanka and he had literally
had his arm blown off but sewn back on. You could see
the stitches going clear around his arm. And he was sitting
there saying you know I was blown up not once but three
times. I was involved; there were three mines there that
went off all around me, three separate occasions. And
I’m still alive! He said I know why I’m alive.
I’m alive because Jesus Christ bought me with His
grace. And Jesus Christ wants me to go home and share
it with my family because they don’t know who Jesus
is. They don’t know what Christmas is all about.
And so I’m going to get well and I’m going
to go home and I’m going to tell my family why I’m
was born 2000 years ago. And He’s casting His nets
today and He’s bringing in an incredible catch.
A catch of hope and joy. A catch of peace and goodwill.
A catch of brothers and sisters from every corner of this
globe. And He’s redeeming our minds with positive
thoughts and good works.