Strengthened in God’s Presence (1 June 2008)

The Message

By: Dr. Robert A Schuller

Special Guest

Tommy Hollenstein

Special Music

Joyful, Joyful
A Mighty Fortress
O Bless the Lord, My Soul
How Firm a Foundation

Solo/ Anthem
Breath of Life
Beth GroombrIdge – When Answers Aren’t Enough
Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

The Message

Today I’m going to be preaching from the book of Isaiah, which is a fabulous book in the bible. One of the things about Isaiah is that the book of Isaiah is actually divided into two sections. You have the section of judgment and you have the section of comfort. There happens to be 66 chapters in the book of Isaiah. Now, here’s an interesting thought. The bible has 66 books in it. The bible has two sections; you have the Old Testament and the New Testament. Some people refer to it as the book of judgment and the book of comfort. Isaiah has 66 chapters in it. You have 39 chapters in the book of judgment and 27 chapters in the book of comfort. In the Old Testament you have 39 chapters in the Old Testament and 27 chapters in the New Testament. The book of Isaiah mirrors the whole bible. It’s a reflection of what it is.

So contained within these fabulous words we come to this point where we read Isaiah 41:10 which are the words I want to share with you today. And here’s what it says: “So do not fear for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Powerful words for us today. Words that follow the previous words in the passages and the promises I shared with you from weeks past. 
Only two weeks ago I shared with you the words, “I have not given you a spirit of fear but of power and love and a sound mind.” And last week we discovered that we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. So today we take the next step of discovering that He does not want us to fear nor to be dismayed.

It’s kind of a challenging thing to do in our society and in our world today, especially when you go to the gas pump. Has anyone here noticed the price of gas going up a little bit? I was shocked! I went to the gas station the other day and the price of gas was over $4.00 a gallon! Its insanity and it just keeps going up. In fact my wife and I decided; we have made the decision that we are going to examine and find out what it’s going to take for us; we’re going to take the bus from our home to the Crystal Cathedral. That’s what we’re going to do. Now, we’re going to leave tomorrow and I think I’ll be here in time for next week. You know unfortunately the mass transit system in southern California isn’t all that user friendly. At least I haven’t discovered it to be that way for myself. And some of you may have discovered that it works for you, but I haven’t found out if it works for me yet or not, but we’re going to try it and we’re going to actually give it a whirl and see how long it takes for me to get to work. In fact I’m going to do it Thursday. There’s a bus station right outside in front of my house. Donna and I are going to walk down to the bus station and we’re going to get on the bus and see if we can get here before we have to leave. I don’t know, I have absolutely no idea what we’re in store for but we’re going to figure it out. Why? It’s to handle and deal with this fear and this dismay of fuel prices. 

I have a friend of mine who was laid off this week. You know what else I did this past week? I paid taxes. I wrote a check and had to send in my taxes. How about health issues? Is there anyone here who struggles, and challenge and has fears with their health today? About our health care system? Do you have fears and anxiety about your family, your children, your parents, your brothers, sisters, cousins?

You know our fears and our dismay goes on and on and on. But the reason we fall into this trap of fear and dismay is because we have the wrong paradigm and the wrong glasses and the wrong understanding of who we are. Not until we come to the realization that we are children of God. That we are spiritual beings on our human journey as opposed to human beings with spiritual experiences. Until we realize we are spiritual beings, we’re going to continue in this cycle of fear and dismay because as human beings we have a lot to fear, but as spiritual beings we have absolutely nothing to fear. 

The bible is very clear, God is very clear. Here He says specifically, “Do not fear for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you.” And it’s that clear. God says He will strengthen us. Later in the New Testament it says in 4:13, Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. And we can look at examples, examples like Tommy. Here is a man who embraces his handicap and today is creating amazing world-renowned art.

Henry Faucet’s another man who embraced his fears. In 1858 at the age of 25 he was hunting with his father and his father accidentally shot him in the face, a shotgun. He survived but he lost his eyes in the process. Now, it took him a while to recuperate and to recover and in the process of recovering and dealing with the loss of his eyesight he witnessed the grief his father felt. Could you imagine? Accidentally shooting one of your own children and blinding one of your own children? Hurting one of your own children? That’s the last thing a parent ever wants to do is hurt their own child. And his father did this. And in his anguish, he wished he was dead. He just wanted to go home and be with the Lord.

And Henry saw the anguish of his father and trying to comfort his father, what he did is he decided to start thinking positive thoughts and sharing positive thoughts with his father. So he would go in and say hey dad it’s not that bad, you know its just eyesight. I can finish my schooling by having somebody read to me and I can compose my essays by dictation. Somebody can write it down for me. I can get through this, its just eyes. I’m still here, my face is still here. My body is still alive, it’s just my eyes. And in the process of trying to uplift his father he uplifted himself. By speaking positive thoughts to himself, he started thinking positive thoughts. By trying to encourage his father, he started realizing that he didn’t have a handicap. He just had to find a different way to deal with it. And five years later he became the professor of political economy at Cambridge. Another two years later he was elected to parliament and by 1880 he became the post-master general of the United Kingdom. 

The only handicap we have is the handicap that we have between our two ears. It is the thoughts that get into our mind, the negative thoughts that come and tear us down and says you can’t do that, you’re blind, you can’t do that you’re a cripple, you can’t do that because you’re not good enough. And these fears continue to weigh us down and hold us back from being the people God has called us to be. And the scripture is very true. “Do not fear, do not be dismayed. I will strengthen,” you says the Lord of hosts, the King of kings. I will help you, He says. 

In Romans 8:28 we read that “All things work together for good to those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” And when I read these words that God’s going to help us, I don’t think that God is going to come and actually move the mountains for us. He’s not going to come and give us our eyesight back. He’s not going to necessarily come and help us to walk again. What He is going to do is help us conquer the negative thoughts which hold us back. He’s going to give us wisdom, He’s going to give us knowledge, He’s going to give us new paradigms with which to see the world to act and to move and to change the things because of the different ideas that come into our minds in which to handle the problems that we face today. And that’s the way God helps us 99.9% of the time. Once in a while God does decide that He’s going to do something dramatic and do a miracle and you see people walk on water. It happens. They’re miracles and that’s why they’re miracles. But what God gives to every single one of us constantly, what He promises to do is to help us and if it means that we need to do a miracle then so be it. But most of us are not suffering from a lack of anything more than a lack of positive ideas. 

Case in point: how many people here think we have a problem with our health care system? Anyone here? You know I studied health for five years. Seriously studied health. I had a radio show where I interviewed wellness professionals and leading edge doctors, PhDs and researchers and MD’s and you name it. I did that five days a week for five years for an hour a day. Live radio show. I would interview the person for about a half hour and then I would open up the phone lines and if I didn’t ask them the right questions somebody would ask the question for me. It was an amazing education. 

Now what I learned through that whole thing is that our paradigm of health and wellness in America seriously has to change. And I wrote a book. I wrote it in 2000 it came out on Possibility Living: Add years to your life and life to your years with God’s health plan. And I shared things in there which were way ahead of their time. And today, every time I hear a news article they come out with something that I shared eight years ago. I mean it was just way ahead of its time. And the fact is that we’re not going to solve our health care system by simply dumping more money into it. It’s not going to happen. We already spend more money than any country in the world on our healthcare. And we’re listed as number 37 in industrialized nations according to the world health organization. So dumping money into our health care system isn’t going to fix it. What is going to fix it, what is going to help us is for us to get a paradigm shift within us to understand health and wellness; take responsibility for ourselves and make a difference personally. God will help you. It’s a promise. He’ll give you ideas and thoughts and paradigms that you never knew before. So “Do not fear for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” I will uphold you. 

John 15 says, “Whatever you ask in My name the Father will give you.” Whatever you ask. And the fact is that God wants to uphold you. You know whenever I hear that word uphold with His right hand I think of the old song, He’s got the whole world in His hands, He’s got the whole world in His hands; He’s got the whole world in His hands. He’s got the whole world in His hands. He’s got you and me sister in His hands, He’s got you and me sister in His hands, He’s got you and me sister in His hands. He’s got the whole world in His hands. We can go on and on you know? That song goes on and on. There’s a lot of verses to it but you’ve all heard that song haven’t you? It’s a great, great song and it’s so true. He’s got the whole world in His hands. And that means you and that means you and that means me. And He’ll uphold us. He’ll keep us from falling. He’ll never let us fail and He’ll be there for us. He does it in mysterious ways. 

There was a nurse who led the serviceman to the bedside of a dying man and as he came in the nurse woke up this man and she said your son is here. She tried to shake him a little bit, it took her a while to wake him up because he was so sedated and he finally woke up and he said oh my son is here. And he held his hand and this marine sat there and held this man’s hand for hour after hour. And the nurse would come along and say you know you probably need a little break I can sit in there for you. But he wouldn’t do it. He would not leave this man’s side. And by day break the man’s body had shut down and he passed away. And the nurse came in to share her condolences with this young marine and she said I’m so sorry your father passed away. And the marine said, no, no it’s not my father. I have no idea who that man is. Who is he? Why did you bring me in here? I had come here to get a tour of the hospital. And God used him to hold the hand of this man while he died because he needed his son next to his side and he died thinking his son was there and this marine, knowing that, would not leave his side for anything. And God touched the marine and God touched the dying man. 

And God does those kinds of things. He comes in and He moves and He shapes and He touches our lives in such a way where by giving we receive. And by receiving God gives. “Do not fear for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with My right hand, My righteous right hand.” And that word righteous is a wonderful word for all of us. And the reason it’s so wonderful for all of is the fact that God, in spite of the fact of our sins, in spite of the fact that we don’t deserve it, God is there being righteous, forgiving and loving. That in spite of all of our short comings and all of our failures it doesn’t matter for us because we cannot earn this promise and we cannot earn this tremendous gift from God. It is His righteousness. His love for us that over shadows everything we can do to separate us from His love.

So “Do not fear for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and I will help you. I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” And so oh God we hold on to Your promises. We embrace Your truth. We live with the assurance and the understanding that You are there for us, strengthening us, helping us, upholding us and so we have nothing to fear because You are our God.


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