Planting Seeds of Greatness (13 Apr 2008)

The Message

By: Robert A. Schuller

Special Guest

John Tesh

Special Music

Joyful, Joyful
Medley – Hand in Hand now Walk
O Master, Let me Walk with Thee

Solo/ Anthem
Amazing Grace

The Message

Well this past week, I did something I’ve wanted to do for several years; in fact I tried to do it last year and I actually got about a fourth of the way there and I hurt my back, and I had to stop and come back and spent a few weeks laying on my back while my back got better. It was terrible. But this year, I succeeded in one of my bucket lists. I have a bucket list and I’ve accomplished some of those things on my bucket list, but this week I took another one down, and that was to go and see the gray whales, where they give birth in Scammon’s Lagoon. From here, in Southern California, it’s a car ride. You hop in a car and you drive south oh over 600 miles. It’s about five hundred and some miles south of the border to a little town called Guerrero Negro. Guerrero Negro means black warrior. And it was named that after the ship that discovered Scammon’s Lagoon and the captain of the ship was captain Charles Scammon’s and therefore it’s Scammon’s Lagoon and the town that is built there at Scammon’s Lagoon is the Black Warrior which in Spanish again is Guerrero Negro.

So we drove from our home here in Southern California down to Guerrero Negro which is halfway down Baja Peninsula on highway one, cause they’ve got a lot of highways on Baja, and all one of them and we drove down there, so you can’t get lost and we went out and we saw the gray whales. Amazing things. It reminded me of how God works in this world.

When Scammon’s found that lagoon, he basically decimated the gray whale population to the point where the Boston Globe in November 1857 had this headline. This is a true headline. “World to go dark! Whale blubber scarce.” That was a true headline. Now here’s a fascinating point. That same year, the kerosene lamp was invented and whale blubber, which lit the lamps around the world, was replaced with kerosene. And 20 years later, Edison invents the light bulb.

It’s amazing how life has its twists and its turns. How suddenly feel like we’re down to nothing and there’s absolutely no where to go and something comes along and turns the lights on. And life is renewed.

I want to read a scripture passage today, it’s a parable actually, some teachings from Jesus Christ. It’s a parable I think many of you may be familiar with. It’s called the parable of the sower and Jesus is telling this parable, a story, and here’s what He says. A farmer went out to sow his seed and as he scattered the seeds, some fell among the path and the birds came and ate it up, and some fell on the rocky places where it did not have much soil and it sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow, but when the sun came out, the plants were scorched and they withered because they had no roots. Other seed fell among thorns which grew up and chocked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil where it produced a crop, a hundred sixty or thirty times what was sown. Listen then to what the parable of the sower means, said Jesus. When anyone hears the message of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed along the path. The one that receives the seed that fell on the rocky places, the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy but since he has no roots he lasts only a short time. When trouble and persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. The one who receives the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of his life and the deceitfulness of wealth chokes it, making it unfruitful. But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understand it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.

I’ve read this parable and this interpretation of the parable many times. And what I want to give you today is a thought, something to think about. Because what I believe is that every single one of us, or every single man in this parable, that the kingdom of God comes to us, into our hearts, into our minds, into our thoughts, into our reality, into our life and at times its like the seed that is thrown on the rocky path. It just doesn’t take any root. And sometimes it’s like the soil where it has shallow roots but is quickly chocked out. But sometimes it sinks deep and it produces a harvest and I believe this is a description of our minds, that how our minds work from day to day because we are not on a steady plateau of constantly being productive people. And so today I want to help you discover a way to be able to take the seeds that are planted within our minds and our hearts and our souls, by God Himself, and create the soil that will produce a healthy harvest that will be tremendous and people will see the reward of it.

So first of all, I want us to feed our minds with the positive reality of the kingdom of God. In order for our minds to be healthy soil, we need to go out and plow the soil. I don’t know how many of you have ever spent any time on a farm but I actually spent many of my summers on my uncle’s farm. My father’s brother was named Henry, it was his older brother and my parents would often travel during the summer and they sent me to his farm to help him out because I was a young teen and could help on the farm. It was like an old McDonald’s farm, let me see he had chickens, pigs, cows, geese, ducks, a horse, lets see what else did he have? It was wonderful. And it was really a kick, I’ll tell you.

And what’s important for us to realize is that there is seed when it’s planted in good soil, it will grow and it will produce incredible yields. And as we prepare our minds for the instructions that God has for us, for the direction, for the leadership, for the realization of His love for us, we too will produce some of the greatest harvest’ that our minds and our thoughts could ever perceive.

There is an old tale, an Indian tale, an American Indian tale that talks about the struggle within. The tale goes that there is a good dog, who wants to do good and there is a bad dog on our other side who wants to do bad. And sometimes the good dog within our lives seems to be winning the battle and sometimes the bad dog in our lives seems to be winning the battle. And with that, the chief, as he tells the story, will pause and wait for one of the braves to finally raise his hand and say who wins the battle? With which he gives the answer: the one you feed. And when you take care of the good dog, when you care for the soil of your mind and your heart and your body and the opportunities that God gives to you, those things will reproduce and multiply as we cultivate and care for the good things that God continues to give to us every single moment of every single day. But you have to tend the fields.

When I was living on my uncle’s farm, it was more than once that we’d walk the bean fields. Anyone here know what I’m talking about, walking the bean fields? Some of you know what walking bean fields is, oh yeah. You go out there and have a machete in hand, I don’t know if they call it a machete but that’s what we call it here in Southern California, we call it machetes and you walk through and all you do is whack the weeds at the bottom and you get rid of the weeds. And then you look out over the rows and you can see okay there’s the rows I’ve completed, because there’s no weeds sticking above the beans, and there’s the rows that still need to be done because you can see the weeds sticking up above the rows. And you walk the bean fields. And it’s so much fun. Oh, I tell you, it’s just a kick walking bean fields. But it makes a difference. You get a bigger harvest.

And what weeds do we have that come and try to choke out the bounty that God has within us. It’s the negative thinking that constantly wants to come along and tell us you can’t do that. You’re not strong enough, you’re not thin enough, you’re not good enough, you’re not rich enough, you’re not wise enough, you’re not connected enough, whatever it is and these negative thoughts continue to sprout in our minds. And the sad thing about these negative weedy thoughts is that weeds grow really fast. Have you ever noticed that? Weeds just spring up immediately and they’re up there and you’re going holy mackerel, I just walked that bean field yesterday. They’re not that fast, but I mean, they’re fast. But have you also noticed that they don’t last very long. They die quickly.

On the other hand, the oak tree. The oak tree takes a long time to grow. And its wood is strong and it’s hard. And it lasts for centuries. And its roots are deep. And it’s strong. And as we continue to feed the positive thoughts that God gives to us, that I have everything I need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. And as we continue to feed our positive thoughts with the wonderful words of the kingdom of God, the oak within will continue to grow. And the beauty of God’s kingdom will be revealed. But the challenge is for us to realize that one of the things we need to do is to turn those negative thoughts around into the positive reality into what they are, because every single strength, you’ve probably know what the rest of the sentence is. Your greatest strength is also your greatest weakness, right? Well let’s take it the other way around. If that’s the case, your greatest weakness is also your greatest strength. And so if you look at where you are weak, you can know from that position you have incredible opportunities.

It’s like the young man who didn’t have a left arm. And this young man wanted to do something athletic so he decided he was going to learn judo. And he went to a judo studio and he met the sensei and he started training and his instructor said I want you to learn this move. And he taught him this move. And every single day he came into the studio, he had him practicing this one judo move, period. That’s all he would practice. He did that week after week, finally after several months of coming in every day, practicing this one judo move, he said to his sensei, ‘sensei why do I only get to practice one move? Why do you have me practice this one move over and over again? How can I ever learn judo and be good in judo if I only know this one move?’ And he says, ‘you need only one move. You can do anything with this one move.’

And so he continued to submit to his teacher. And the next month he took him to a tournament and in this tournament he fought for a while and he did quite well and he actually pinned the guy, won his first match. Second one was a little more difficult but as it went along he finally did his one move again and he pinned his next opponent. Finally in the finals, it’s a very tough competition and he finally has his opportunity to use his one move and he pins him and he wins the tournament. On the way home, he’s kind of flabbergasted at his success and he talks to his instructor and he says, ‘how is it that I was able to win this tournament with only one move?’ And he says, ‘two reasons: the move I teach you is the hardest move to learn in judo. Number two reason, the only counter to that move is to grab the left arm.’ Two reasons.

Your greatest weakness is an opportunity for God to come in and give you the greatest strength you ever could imagine. And so as we continue to allow the kingdom of God’s seed to be planted within our minds, realize that some of the beauty and the goodness of God and His ideas may fall along the path and just dwindle. And others will fall in shallow soil and they’ll grow but they’ll just fade away. And others will be strangled out but there will be good seed that is planted in fertile soil. And it will succeed if you trust and obey.

Trust the master. He tells us what to do. He tells us to love one another. He tells us to pray together. He tells us to embrace one another with love. The Bible tells us that whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant. And then the greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

So the biblical perception of greatness is to be able to serve, to be able to give something back, to be able to do something for others, to be able to express love. Our greatness is found in fulfilling the command of Jesus Christ to love one another. And how do you love one another? You care for the very least of these. You become a servant and as you serve others, you find your greatness and the seeds that are sown within your mind will take root and it will grow.

Last night my parents hosted a party for my daughter. Isn’t that nice? It was an engagement party. My daughter is engaged to be married. She met her fiancé in a blind date that were set up by my wife and I. When we met him, this is the truth, we met him here inside the Cathedral. He was a guest. His name is Chris Wyatt, he’s the founder of GodTube, he came we interviewed him talking about GodTube. And my wife being the inquisitive one she is, she says where are you from? He says I’m from Dallas, oh my daughter’s from Dallas. Are you married? She noticed he didn’t have a ring on his finger. And he said no I’m not, she said well you should get together with her, you know, you’re both from California roots, you’d have somebody to talk to there, and what we didn’t know was that he had been praying the same prayer my daughter had been praying. And it was only a month or so earlier that my daughter said you know I need you to start praying that the right man for me comes into my life. And she started, she asked us to pray. What I didn’t know, she also asked my father to pray. So she had everybody praying for that.
At the same time, Chris said the same prayer, about the same time she did. When my daughter walked into the restaurant where there was going to have a 45 minute dinner, he saw and he heard God tell him this is the woman you’re to marry. And my daughter heard the same thing; this is the man you are to marry. And when I shook Chris’ hand for the very first time here in the Cathedral before he even met my daughter, I heard God tell me you are shaking the hand of your future son in law.

So last night, they stood up and they said we have an arranged marriage. We found out that we’re supposed to marry each other, now we have to get to know each other and find out if we like each other or not. And that’s what they’ve been doing. It’s called trust and obey. You trust that God’s answering your prayers at all times, in all ways, that the seed that is being planted will find root, that a harvest will be produced, that God will continue to bless you day in and day out. And then you obey, and trust and obey.

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