I’m one of the ministers here and have been hanging around for 54 years. Hallelujah, right! I’m still alive. And my biggest job has been to exercise my faith. How big is your faith? Is it big enough for God to fit in? The question is how big is your God? What is the life span of your God? We are here as we are every week to grow in spirit so that we become the persons God wants us to be.
One of my favorite stories I choose to tell again this morning, this man is fishing off a pier. He would catch a fish, he would pick up a broken ruler, broken at the ten inch mark and he would measure the fish and if it was ten inches or less, he’d throw it in the bucket. If he caught the fish and it was over ten inches, he threw it back.
Well a silent watcher observed this, thought the fisherman was crazy. Finally he asked, “why do you throw the big ones away and keep the little ones.” The fisherman answered, “my frying pan is only ten inches wide.” Now we laugh at that. But the good news is, we commit the same mistake again and again in life. Ideas come plunging into our consciousness. We don’t ask for them. Yes, sometimes we do but mostly we have living brains that can receive ideas and concepts and beliefs and impressions. And some are small enough so they’re safe. No danger of failure there. So we embrace them. But some of the ideas are too big and therefore too dangerous. And so we let them go. We throw them back to wherever they came from, even if it may have been from God.
So life’s a matter of measuring and managing ideas that come into your brain. And so God’s challenge is to stretch our thinking! To get us to think bigger than we are! He does this by reminding us that the worst that happens if we think too big is we may fail and failure is no sin but the lack of faith is. So we have to learn to dream the dream. Dear God, give me the courage to grab hold of the dream You have for my life. Dream is bigger than I am, and if I go for it, I may fail. But dear God, the biggest failure is if I don’t have the faith to try. Don’t let me be fearful so that I’ll be too scared to reach out for something bigger than I am. Try to search out the things God has for your life today.
The longer I live, the more astonished I am at how God takes simple people like me and you and give us positive thoughts that are shocking. Job chapter 11, verse 7 and 8, “Can you search out the deep things of God?” He has deep things for you. “Can you find out the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens.” Wow. Don’t limit, first, the life span of God. We tend to think in terms of God’s working in our lives in our own life span, but when we utter our last breath, God is not finished with what we have done while we were alive. No we prayed prayers, and those prayers are still on the throne of God.
Yes, and we have done good works and they don’t die when we pass away. Our lives are eternal, not only souls floating and feasting in heaven, but they’re eternal and what happens in the lives we have touched in our lifespan on planet earth. Is your frying pan big enough for God to fit in? Think bigger than you’ve ever thought before.
I just returned from a two week visit to China. I was there in contact four years ago and made connections that with the leadership of the secular state, and later the vice president of the secular state was here and we had dinner together, but he would say to me later, “I like your spirit, Robert Schuller. I like your spirit,” even though he was an atheist. And then when he planned another trip here, he asked if I could be the chairman of the welcome committee, which I was honored to do. And then when he invited me to come and visit key people in mainland China, and when he offered to pay all the expenses, I said yes.
So it’s four years ago when I made my first trip to those secular leaders in Beijing. There was such a focus on technology, and science, and money, and a very indifferent, even hostile attitude toward Christianity among the leaders. Now I was invited back four years later where every other automobile in the crowded bumper to bumper traffic, here’s a large Mercedes and here the all glass sky scrapers glistening in the sun. The great shopping malls. This is communist China? Wow. All of the commercial structures lined the highways. Unbelievable - the great economic growth of wealth and technology. However, the same government leaders that I met four years ago are now different. Now they’re very concerned not because of money or wealth, but because of the quote spirit of the land. They use the words the heart and soul of the people is empty. Empty. All of the material things they could want still a deep dissatisfaction.
So today’s there’s an interest in the teachings of Jesus. One of my atheist communist leader friends said to me, “I do like your heart.” And another communist leader, who is a Confucius scholar said, he was reading the Old and New Testament of our bible to find out what it had. Still another high ranking official in the communist government told me privately in broken English, that he was a secret believer and now is attending a bible class. Wow.
So God is at work in China and the top leadership there is concerned. They’re concerned that the country can have money and wealth and material possessions, but not have a soul. What’s a nation if it has power but doesn’t have a soul, I heard them ask. So they decided to set up a special event, at Fujian Province to discuss the soul of the nation. Their frying pan is getting bigger, big enough to make room for God.
But I’m not talking to them today, I’m talking to you. How big is your faith frying pan? Meanwhile, Hong Kong, the Hour of Power ministry is strong. And I don’t know how many thousands of people listening to me today are listening from their homes in places in Hong Kong. And you’re wondering what Jesus Christ brought to the world that when nothing, His passing left the greatest faith on planet earth, Christianity. What did it have? I want you to hear the bible verse again, which you heard many times from me. “God is able to exceedingly, abundantly all that we ask, seek or think.” So don’t limit God today.
And my message to whoever is listening anywhere in the world, in English or in a translation I say to you, don’t limit God. With Him, all things are possible.
In scripture, we have an interesting story. One afternoon, Jesus spoke from the shore of Galilee and great crowds pressed in on Him to hear His message. He noticed Peter and another fisherman washing their nets nearby. Stepping into an empty boat, Jesus asked Peter to push out in the water so I can address the crowds from the boat. Peter agreed. Then when He finished talking, Jesus said to Peter, now go out to where the water is deeper and catch some fish. But Jesus, Peter said, I’ve toiled all night and caught nothing. Powerful words. I’ve been a fisherman all my life. And I know what its like to toil all night and catch nothing. You begin to wonder are there any fish left? Well Peter toiled all night, no results. When he heard these words: launch out into the deep, and let down your nets, Peter did as he was told. Suddenly he felt not just the weight of the net in his hand but a heavier weight and then heavier, the weight of a catch of fish. Yes, all Jesus said to him, start over again. Well what do you do when you’ve toiled on a project or an idea or a plan and caught nothing? What does Jesus say? He looks at you with your empty net. He doesn’t say sorry. He simply says start over again! Time after time, when you think you should quit, there aren’t any more fish there, the season has passed. All you hear Him say is start over again. First you look out for your worst enemy and that’s the person you look in the mirror every morning because that’s the only person who can defeat you. Yes.
Start over again but listen to advice that comes from positive thinking experts. You know there are experts, negative thinking experts, positive thinking experts and you’ve heard me say it: the greatest enemy in your life is the negative thinking expert! Look out for positive thinking experts who will say well let’s start over again but this time with, when. Yes the truth is we tend and disappoint upon times to kind of think there are no other fish in the sea. And we’re not catching any. And there may not be many tomorrows for you. God only knows how many tomorrows there are for you, and all you need is one tomorrow that will change your eternity.
Now, do not limit God. Do not limit the size of God, the power of God, the number of persons that God has on His team around the world. And any one of them would be enough to help you through your most difficult times. Don’t limit the size of God’s dream and the phone may ring, a letter may come, you may read something in the paper and a powerful idea emerges in your consciousness. It is God coming to you. But don’t limit the size of God. It is His unlimited, with over a billion people who are believers on planet earth. Don’t limit the life of your dream. If you think it’s dead or dying and isn’t going anywhere, God’s dreams have no life spans. Keep believing. Wow.
I like the story; a judge was campaigning for reelection and was turning on his record of integrity. He was a distinguished, honorable gentleman of no small charity and his opponent was introducing a vicious and smearing, unfair campaign against him. What could he do? At a news conference, a reporter stood and asked him, your honor, do you know what your opponent is saying about you? Would you care a comment, please? The judge looked at his campaign counselors and the chairman of the committee, then he looked at his audience and said calmly, well, when I was a boy, I had a dog. And every time the moon was full, the old hound dog would howl and bark at the things he saw in the bright face of the moon. We never did sleep well in full moons. He would bark and howl at the moon all night long. Then he said thank you, and sat down. Well the campaign chairman stood up and said that’s beside the point, sir. You haven’t answered your critics. The judge replied, I just did. When the dog barked at the moon, the moon kept right on shining. I don’t intend to say anything back to my critics. I’m going to keep right on shining, quietly and calmly like the moon. And that takes courage. And that’s where we need God.
How big is your frying pan? Are you facing death? Enormous tragedy financially or physically? Remember this bible verse, Proverbs 28, verse 1: “The godly are as bold as lions.” Be brave. “God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that you ask, seek or think.” Yes. Dare to dream the impossible dream. Dare to hold on to the hopes, the highest ones that ever possessed you and give God a chance to continue to bless you with a surprising tomorrow, amen.