#136 (04/07/04)
Parables for Everyday Living Part VII

The Message

By: Robert H. Schuller

Special Guest

Ronald Reagan passed away of Alzheimer ’s disease. Maria who is First Lady of California, who’s married to Arnold Schwarzenegger. She has a book entitled, “What’s Happening to Grandpa?” It’s her fourth book, and it’s on the New York Times best seller list and it’s marvelous. It’s a book for every parent to read to a child to teach children what Alzheimer's is. They hear about it and they will hear about it and they need to know what it is. And they need to hear it from a positive perspective.

Special Music

" Joyful, Joyful.. "
" I Will Sing of the Mercies of the Lord Forever "
" God Make My Life a Happy Song "
" Come, Christians, Join to Sing "

CHERUB CHOIR - "God Said It"
“Clap Your Hands!”

ELIZABETH STEFANKO & CCA CHORUS - "We Can Make a Difference"

Acticle of The Message

My father and I are continuing our series on "Parables for Everyday Living" which Jesus told to His followers as He taught them to live life abundantly and eternally. Today I want to share and explain a little bit about the "Parable of the Great Banquet." This is an incredible story Jesus told, which gives us tremendous insight into life in the kingdom of God.

First, let me give you the setting. Jesus is in an unusual place for Him. He is actually having dinner with the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. He is usually not sitting down to dinner with them, but Jesus is usually found in the homes of the common people, like you and me. Now the discussions are heavy and the questions are many. It is evident that there is much disagreement and suspicion among these learned religious leaders about this itinerant preacher, Jesus Christ.

Then Jesus tells this parable. Luke records this so descriptively in Chapter 14:16 to 24. A man is preparing a banquet, an incredible feast. So, he sends out his invitations to all of his friends and his family. But the word comes back to him that several are not coming to his house for his dinner. He is really upset, because the excuses they give are really "bum" excuses.

One friend says, "Sorry, I bought a piece of land and I've got to go look at it." How many people buy real estate without looking at it? Another invited guest replies, "I've just bought some oxen so I have to go check them out." It is the same kind of excuse. Who buys a car without trying it out? Well, on rare occasions you do. Can you believe I did? I bought a car, sight unseen, off the internet and had it shipped out from Pennsylvania. My family and friends really ridiculed me for it, but I was lucky, it worked. Thank God.

The third invited guest replies, "I just got married." Of the three lame excuses, his was the most important. With all of his guests saying they could not come to his banquet, the host has a problem. The food has been prepared, so he tells his servants to "go out and invite the lame, the poor and the blind and bring them in and fill my house so that the banquet will not go to waste, and the food will be eaten. They will have enough to eat. They will not need to beg for any food tonight."

So the servants did what the Master ordered, and then came back and said "Master, there is still room in the house. There is still more food." Then the Master said, "Go into the byways, the alleys, and the highways and invite them. Bring them in, anyone who wants to come."

One of the great quotes I read this week while I was preparing this message was one by David Wilkinson, the pastor of Moorpark Presbyterian Church. He said, "Religions says, "do". Jesus says, "it is done." Religion tells the sinner "to do, go and pay." That is the meaning, the purpose and the explanation of this entire parable. The Pharisees were all about doing, paying, and going. Jesus is about being. He goes to the very core and the heart of who we are, and He calls out to us to come. He wants us to respond with a positive answer. I have to ask what kind of excuses are we giving? Because today we give many lame excuses to God and to His church.

Last night here in this cathedral, I was sharing and talking with a group of people who came here to pray on Worldwide Cancer Prayer Day. Each year, for the past 7 years on this day, I have been praying for families and victims of cancer. Last night as I was sat here, preparing to pray, a dear friend of mine whom I hadn't seen for several years, came and sat right next to me. I was shocked. I was so surprised to see him. His name is Bill Austin. As Bill came to sit next to me, he put his arm around me, saying, "Hi Robert, how are you?" I said, "Bill, what are you doing here?" He said, "I came here because God told me to come here and see you."
I said, "how did you know I'd be here? I'm not here on Saturdays." He said, "well I wasn't sure, but I just thought I might run in to you. I didn't know, but God told me to come, so I hopped in my car and I drove over here."

I interviewed him some years ago here in the Crystal Cathedral. Bill Austin makes hearing aids and has nearly a hundred factories around the world in almost 20 countries. He made the hearing aids for Ronald Reagan. He makes hearing aids for many famous people in the world. He has made most hearing aids for every person who needs one. I couldn't believe that Bill, who has 4,000 employees, personally came rather than sending some of his employees to come and give me a message. I said to him, "Bill, you give people more than physical hearing. You give them spiritual hearing."

He replied, "you know what I am doing; you understand what I am all about. I want to give people a spiritual message that they can hear the loving voice of God, and have dignity." He said, "a terrible thing happens when children cannot hear. They are cut off from society. They feel like they are less of a human being. They don't feel like God loves them anymore." He continued, "Today I gave hearing aids to a whole bus load of inner city kids who came down to our factory. I worked all day long giving hearing aids away. When they arrived, before they got off the bus, I went on the bus and through their hearing instructor and sign language, I asked them "do you know why you are here? One of the kids raised his hand; he says, "yeah, we're here today to get hearing aids." Bill said, "no, you are here today because God loves you. I wouldn't be here giving you all hearing aids if I didn't know that God loves me, and I want you to know that God loves you too." Before they received their physical hearing, I wanted them to open their spiritual ears and hear about the incredible love that God has for them." And with that kind welcome, the children and young people got off the busses and started receiving their hearing aids, and Bill Austin fit every single one of them.

You can learn a lot about peoples' joys in life by looking at their trophy case. At another visit with Bill, he showed me one of his trophies. It was the cheapest, oldest hearing aid that I ever saw in my life. It was all patched and glued together. It looked kind of like one of those antique vases that have been reconstructed after an archeological dig.

I said to him, "Why is this old hearing aid so important to you?" He replied, "a young man came into our factory with this hearing aid and it was nothing more than a bunch of pieces. It was a mess, completely destroyed. The young man asked, "can you fix my mother's hearing aid, please? I said, "no we can't fix that one, we'll just have to fit her for a new one. He said, "I'm afraid we don't have time for that, you see my mother is dying. There are things we want to tell her and that she wants to tell us, but we can’t communicate because she can't hear anything. It just so happened that my son was standing there behind the counter that day and he said, "Let me try, I'll see what I can do." He put it back together. He filled all the cracks and the pieces with glue and he just patched this thing together until it worked, and he made it work.

The young man picked it up a couple of hours later and came back a few days later to tell me how he put it in his mother's ear, and it was like suddenly she was alive again. She got a twinkle in her eye, she smiled, and she was happy and she started eating her food that the nursing home staff had sent to her. Then her son took a bite of her hot dog and she asked, "is that your hot dog, or mine? "Ah, it's yours, mom." "I thought so." And she ate her entire meal and they had an opportunity to share some things that were really important to share.

After she finished her meal she said, you know. "I'd like to go see the sun. I think it's a pretty day today. So, her son wheeled her out by the front window and as she sat there and looked out of the window, she said, "oh, it is a beautiful day today. Look at the sun. It's a beautiful day today. It's a beautiful day today." Her eyes rolled back, she dropped her head and she died, peacefully. Her son brought the hearing aid back to Bill, and that is Bill's trophy.

1) Open spiritual ears, then beyond spiritual ears we need to develop spiritual character. Now what is spiritual character?

In 1946 Don Seibert accepted a job to go up to sing and play with his band up to a lake resort in Northern New York. It just so happened that the weather that summer was not very good. All of the reservations cancelled because it was too cold and too wet. As a result, the resort could not afford to pay him and his band anymore, and told them that they were going to have to let them go. So two of the band members left right away, but Don hung around the resort because he had a commitment. He had also signed a rental agreement to lease a place for his band members and himself and he was obligated to that lease. But, one after another, the band members left, then the last band member came to Don and said, "you know, you have got to watch out for number one and I need to do that, so I'm going ... I'll see ya", and he left. So, Don was left paying the rent all by himself. He worked at extra side jobs working extra hard at all kinds of jobs. Finally by October his lease had expired, but he still owed one hundred and fifty dollars. So Don continued to work at other odd jobs until he was able to pay the total one hundred and fifty dollars. That was a lot of money back in 1946.

At the end of the summer, he went back to Chicago and that Fall, Don got a job in J.C. Penney selling shoes. It wasn’t long before the character of his personhood rose through the corporation and Don was promoted to manager, then district manager. Don ultimately became the Chairman of the Board of the nationally known chain of J.C. Penney stores.

2) Develop Spiritual Character. Character takes place when we do what we say we are going to do. So when you receive an invitation to come to the banquet of God, do you say, "yes, I will be there." Then at the last minute you decide, "I have to go check on that real estate instead. You receive the call from God and you say, "I’ll be there." Then all of a sudden you say, "do you know what? Something else has come up, I just cannot make it right now."

Character is when we do what we say we are going to do. We make it happen

1) Open Spiritual ears
2) Develop character action
3) Know eternal peace.

God is calling. He's calling you and He's calling me. When we respond to that call and we allow the Holy Spirit of God to develop that character within us and we to do what we say we are going to do, an unbelievable, beautiful experience takes place.

This past week the town called Laguna Beach has been mourning the loss of two young students. Their parents are both teachers in the high school. Saturday night there was an automobile accident and they were both tragically killed. They were devoted Christians. One was an Eagle Scout. The other went on mission trips. This past week there was a memorial service for these two young students at the Presbyterian Church in Laguna Beach. The church was packed one and a half hours before the service started. The overflow in the basement was packed; also the fellowship hall, and the courtyard in the middle of the church. Thousands upon thousands of people came to mourn the loss of these two young outstanding men. As we sat there, we recognized the incredible life that God had given to each of them. We recognized the fact they both had this incredible peace because they were both dedicated, wonderful Christians.

They had just returned from a mission trip. They were devoted to their church, and now the outpouring of God's love was evident. People could feel and witness the fact that these two young men are now enjoying the great banquet of God.

The parable says that there is still room, to go out everywhere and bring people to the banquet and to enjoy the feast. This is the call we hear today, "Come." It is not a religion, but it is a relationship with Jesus Christ. It is not based upon "doing this" and "doing that." No, the invitation is based upon receiving and accepting the gift that God has for you.

I invite you today to accept the invitation of Jesus to "Come." "Come to the table." "Come to the feast." "Come and experience the beauty and the wonder of God’s grace and God’s love for you."

1) Open spiritual ears
2) Develop spiritual character
3) Enjoy eternal peace.

Pray with me:

Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You that You are a great, glorious and wonderful God. That as I come before You, You will open my ears, You will open my heart, You will touch me with Your peace. Transform me into the person that You have called me to be. So allow Your Holy presence and Spirit to touch me where I need that touch the most. We love you Lord. Amen

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