Believe It! See It! – Part 1 (10 Feb 2008)

The Message

By: Robert A. Schuller

Special Guest

Bryan Johnston

Special Music

Joyful, Joyful
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty/Great is Thy Faithfulness
Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us

Solo/ Anthem
With Wings as Eagles
Jeannette Bayardelle – Try Again
I Want Jesus to Walk with M

The Message

Message by: Robert A. Schuller

I want to share with you one of my favorite verses. It’s been the guiding light of my life. It’s Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen. When I stop and think about this verse today I can’t help but think about the response that John Wesley had to this verse when asked about it. He said, “Many times have I thought, many times have I spoke, many times have I wrote upon these words and yet there appears to be a depth in them which I am in no wise able to fathom. Faith is in one sense of the word a divine conviction of God and of the things of God. It is of divine conviction of the invisible and eternal world.”
I feel that way when I talk about faith and talk about hope and talk about the conviction of things unseen and that’s what faith is. I know there are many of you who have already written your goals for 2008. I know a lot of people like to refer to them as your New Years resolutions. I don’t like to necessarily use the word resolution. I suppose it’s fine but I like the idea of a New Years goals because I think more in terms of accomplishing something instead of just getting over something. I like the idea of accomplishing things. Now there are people here who have some new years goals for two thousand and eight? A few of you have. I typically will right a long list of goals. It may be twenty of them and when I get to the end of ‘07 and periodically throughout the year I’ll stop and take a look and see well how am I doing? And sometimes I’m doing pretty good but a lot of them I’m not doing all that well. In fact I’ll tell you this much my grade school teachers, if they were going to give me a grade on my new years resolutions every year would say you flunked. Because I rarely get more than forty to fifty percent of my new years resolutions or my new years goals accomplished.

Does that mean I’m a failure? I don’t think so. Does it mean you’re a failure if you only accomplish half of your goals? I don’t think so. But unfortunately we carry these tapes that were given to us as children where hey you have to be in the seventy percent to pass. And you have to have an eighty percent to be good. And you have to have a ninety percent or better to be excellent. And life simply isn’t that way. If you only accomplish one or two great things in your entire life that’s actually enough. And you can be a failure at everything else and nobody cares. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for.

What are our hopes, what are our dreams, what are our aspirations? What would you do if you knew you could not fail? I was in a parking garage recently and as I got ready to leave the parking garage I drove around and realized there weren’t any attendants in the garage and I didn’t know how to get out. There’s gates at every single exit and finally it dawned on me, I wonder if these are those automatic gates? Do you know what I’m talking about? There’s the gates you have to drive up to them and they’ll just stay closed until you get close enough, and once you get close enough then all of a sudden magically the gate just knows you’re there and it just opens. Isn’t that a great feeling when you drive up to those gates? Feels so good, watch this, wa-la. And they just open.

Sometimes in life some of our goals just fall open and it works. And sometimes our prayers are answered in such a way and sometimes the struggles that we’re dealing with, God takes care of them.

This past year my daughter, my oldest daughter Angie, came to my wife and I and said do you know what? I really want a man in my life. Can you believe that? So Angie what do want that for? She says well I want to have children. I go well then you want a man in your life, I can understand that. And she’s a professional. She works in a church in Texas near Dallas and she’s a professional counselor there, she heads up their counseling center and she said you know I’m really ready to get married, but I just haven’t been able to find the right guy. I want you to pray that I can find the right guy. And so we said okay we’ll pray that the right guy will come along.

And in September of this year I met a gentleman who lived in Texas. He was here actually in the cathedral. And I shook his hand and God told me you’re shaking the hand of your future son-in-law. I’ve got to tell you I’ve never had that before. It was really strange. And he introduced me to his parents and I shook their hands and I hear, you’re shaking the hands of your future in laws. It was a very strange feeling. I didn’t do anything with it until much later Donna tells me that she had talked with him and said he’s got to call my daughter in Dallas. Because he lived in Dallas, he’s a professional. And she lives in Dallas they can get together and who knows?
So I kind of dismissed that whole thing until Angie calls me up and she says dad you won’t believe it. This guy calls me up and he wants to take me on a date. He said that you told him to call me! She says I looked him up online and he looks like a computer nerd or something. And we said Angie he’s tall, he’s handsome, he’s really good, he’s nice; just go out with him, I mean, what have you got to lose? You get a dinner out of the deal you know? It’s no big deal, just go out with him. You’ve got nothing to lose.

Well when she, in fact she hadn’t even agreed to go out, but when I heard that he had called her I turned to my wife Donna and she’ll verify what I’m saying, and my son Bobby and his wife Hannah. I had three witnesses. they hadn’t even met yet. And I said I’ve got to tell you guys something. God told me and I’ve never done this before, so it’s not like this is the twentieth time I’ve said this okay? This has never happened before. I said God told me that he’s going to be my future son-in-law and I just want to tell you this because otherwise if I tell you after the fact no one will ever believe me. They’ll think I’m making this whole thing up; I need witnesses. And you three are my witnesses.

Well they kept going out and they kept going out and they kept going out and New Years Eve, the top of the mark of the Mark Hopkins Hotel, as the fireworks were displayed over a perfectly clear sky, he got down on his knees and he proposed to my daughter. Isn’t that wonderful?

Sometimes we pray about something and it’s like those automatic gates where all we have to do is drive up to the gate and the gates will open, you know? It’s really wonderful when that happens. But how often don’t we pray and we drive up to the automatic gate and it doesn’t open? Cause it’s not an automatic gate. And sometimes we have to get out and we have to push the gate open. Sometimes there’s a lock on the gate.

I remember as a young man driving around my uncle’s farm in his tractor and we drove up to this one gate and there was a chain around it with a pad lock on it. And I said, Uncle Henry is that a combination lock? He goes nope. I go is that a key lock? And he goes yep. I said do you have the key? He goes, nope. I said how are we going to get in there? Not a problem. He walked up to the gate, grabbed the lock and simply pulled the lock and right behind the lock came the whole chain rattling around the gate and he held up the lock with this chain hanging on it. He goes it’s my Dutch lock. We’re Dutch so you can say that. He says I’ve never once had anyone even try to open this gate so I don’t even lock it. It’s too much hassle. All you do is come and you take it off. The lock is there, everybody thinks it’s locked then nobody even tries. All you have to do is try and you can get in.

And how many times in life don’t we come up to a gate and there’s a Dutch lock on the gate? And we just assume that’s it. That’s the way it is. Certain paradigms that we’ve grown up with, certain philosophies, thoughts, concepts which have just enchained us into a certain way of thinking and we can’t think what do they call it? Out of the box. I was chained into a paradigm of wellness for years that kept me trapped in sickness. I had constant sinus infections. One right after another. I would get my sinus infection, I would go to the doctor, he’d give me a prescription, I’d take my prescription for ten days, my sinus infection would clear up, I’d be clear for a week or two then I’d start snuffling again and get the bronchitis and the congestion and three weeks later be back in the doctors office again. He’d give me another prescription, I’d take the prescription and it was a constant cycle. And I was on this constant cycle of antibiotics, sinus infections, nasal sprays and that’s the way I was just going to live the rest of my life. And every Christmas for years, I’d be talking like this. I mean it was really miserable. And then I got a new paradigm of wellness, which really says that if you build your immune system your body won’t get sick in the first place! And instead of fighting the disease with antibiotics I built my immune system instead and I got rid of that cycle of sickness and it has been years. I don’t know how many years since I’ve had a sinus infection. Years. A different paradigm. I had a Dutch lock keeping me out of wellness and health. All I had to do was break my thinking and go forward and open the gate and I was free.

And then there are times in our life when we face these doors that just are locked solid. You’re not getting through those gates. You’re not going to get through there. I study at Rancho Capistrano a few miles south of here. I’ve got my library there and I go there on Sunday mornings. I usually get there around five a.m. and it has a combination lock on it and so I go there and I put the combination, open the lock and I drive through the gate. Piece of cake. The only problem is that week they had changed the combination to the lock for security purposes and they forgot to tell me. So I get to the gate at five a.m. and the gate is locked. And I wasn’t going through that gate. I knew that somebody would be arriving probably around six thirty or seven to start doing some of the things that need to be done there so I decided that what I would do is just simply sit in my car and pray, and think, and get ready emotionally and spiritually. Because the time would come when I knew that the gate would open. I just had to be patient and wait. So I did. And eventually somebody came along and they knew the new combination and they opened the gate and I went to my study.

Sometimes life is that way. Sometimes that’s just what God wants us to do. We do everything we can, we try as hard as we can to get through the locks and get through the gates, but for some reason, maybe it’s beyond our imaginations to figure out why, but for some reason God wants us to bloom right there where we’re planted. We can’t answer the questions, we can’t really explain why, we just know. So what we have to do, throughout life, is simply to feed our faith. And as we continue to feed our faith, our doubts begin to starve. So there’s different ways to do that. I read the devotionals every morning. If you don’t have a good devotional, please go online, we’ll e-mail you one. You can simply sign up for our daily e-mail devotional. It will be mailed to you. Just open up your e-mail and you read your devotional. Watch the Hour of Power every Sunday or Saturday night. Get involved with other people, get involved in another church where you can surround yourself with support and read positive books and in this way, what you do is you feed your faith. As you feed your faith, your doubt will starve.

An atheist came to a Quaker and asked the Quaker, have you ever seen God? Have you ever smelled God? Have you ever felt God? And yet you say you have a God. And the Quaker looked at the atheist and he said hast thou ever seen thy brain? Hast thou ever felt thy brain? Hast thou ever smelled thy brain? And thou sayest thou hast a brain? As we continue to feed our faith, our doubts begin to starve and as we approach the obstacles in life and the challenges that we face, we find that the gates open in different ways. Sometimes you just drive up to them and they automatically open. Sometimes you have to get out of the car and unlock. Sometimes it’s the Dutch lock where you just take it off and you drive through and sometimes you just stay there and make the best of the situation. The fact is that as we continue to believe it, believe that we can accomplish the thing that God wants us to accomplish, that with His help we can say to that mountain move and you will see it move.

If you believe it, you will see it. It starts with faith. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen.”

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