#149 (03/10/04)
Live Life At Its Best

The Message

By: Robert A. Schuller

Special Guest

She is the President and CEO of the Save the Planet Holdings. She led Mitchell’s Gourmet Foods from 1998 to 2003 and Luan Mitchell now Halter, she’s got another wonderful, wonderful husband, has reached the pinnacle of success by being named Canada’s number one female entrepreneur for three years. That is, that’s a record. She serves on several outside boards including Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy school of government women’s leadership board. As entrepreneur, corporate executive, philanthropist and mother, her story is riveting.

Armin Salzmann
He is the pastor of Christ Church in Augsburg, Germany. He produces a television program, which highlights church activity. He was introduced to the Hour of Power and since then he has headed up the effort and he has broken Germany open for the Hour of Power.

Special Music

“Joyful, Joyful...”
" God, Make My Life a Happy Song "
"I Would be True"

“Anthem of Unity”
CCA CHORUS – “Swingin’ With the Animals”
"Lord, You Have Been Our Dwelling Place"


Acticle of The Message

This morning I am continuing a series of messages with my father entitled, "Live Life at Its Best." As we go through this series, we are looking at some of the great verses of the Bible where we receive the promises of God's gifts to us. In Galatians, St. Paul's testimony is that through his new faith in Jesus Christ, Paul is experiencing, "The fruits of the Spirit ..

love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control." (Galatians 5:22)

You and I, as believers, can also enjoy these same wonderful gifts. Last week my father spoke about love and in that spirit of love that God gives, we discover the gift of joy. What a gift! Question: Are you a joyful person? What is this kind of joy that St. Paul writes about?

It is the same joy that Jesus Christ talks about in John 15. He tells His followers: "I have told you this, so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete." (John 15:11)

What does Jesus Christ mean with the phrase, "I have told you this ..."? We understand when we read the preceding verses: "... As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in My love. If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love just as I have obeyed My Fathers command and remain in His love. ..." (John 15:9-10)

Find Complete Joy

(1) Open up to Jesus' love.
(2) Obey His commandments.
(3) Overcome the negatives in life.

We live in a world where there is so much confusion about what real joy is, and often joy is confused with happiness. Happiness is quite different from joy. Happiness is that which takes place in our lives as a result of circumstances so happiness goes up and down. Happiness is here today and gone tomorrow. If you get the right report, then you're happy. And if you get wrong news, then you're not happy. The complete joy that Jesus Christ gives is much deeper than that.

Complete joy transcends happiness, this kind of joy comes from the inside out and it comes from opening our hearts to allow the love of God through Jesus Christ into our hearts and life changes from depression to Joy. "May My joy be in you, that your joy may be complete," is the promise Jesus Christ gives to each of us.

There was a young man who came to this Cathedral only to play basketball in our Family Life Center gymnasium. That's all he was interested in. He joined the basketball team and came to play basketball often, but we didn't know that he always carried a side arm with him. It wasn't licensed. He played his basketball games and every time when he played basketball, he carried his gun with him. But a few weeks turned into months and he discovered something here that totally revolutionized his life. This is what he wrote about what happened:

"Their faces radiated joy and I realized that I was different from them. I wanted what they had. Then it happened. It was an evening that I will never forget. My thoughts reflected on my daily life experiences and I began to think about God's love. The words that I heard from the other men seemed to touch me and very simply, I surrendered myself to God. I felt total freedom and my soul was renewed. I was aware of the gun hidden in my clothes and I told God that I would never use it again. I returned home a different person. I shared with my wife what had happened and she could not hold back her happiness. It was God's answer to her prayers. Our home was in ruins, but God came and rebuilt it."

Then he signed his name.

Across the globe, in much the same way, God's love transformed another young man named Armin Salzmann living in Augsburg, Germany. This is his story.

"I was a taxi driver in my hometown where there was a large Army base. The soldiers gave me a package of marijuana and cocaine. 'Can you deliver this to this address? And they gave me five hundred German marks a lot of money. I said, 'Sure I can do that,' because taxis were never checked by the police. So I earned a lot of money, and became very rich. At one time I owned five cars and a huge house. For years I lived literally with one foot in jail because of my illegal and criminal behavior, but because of my money I always had contacts who helped me out of the difficult situations. I wore a gun all the time because I feared for my safety. I never would stand in the middle of the room, but always with my back against a wall, facing the door. I was so used to criminal behavior I never trusted anyone.

It was a very scary way to live. Then on Christmas, someone gave me a book about Jesus. I was not interested in this Jesus, but I had time so I opened this book. It was a story about a soldier who fought in the World War II and he found peace in the middle of all the fighting by reading the Bible. And I said, 'aha, thats what I want ... peace' ...so I started reading the Bible.

I went to a bookshop. The lady said, 'Start with the New Testament because the whole Bible is too much for you, young man.' So I said, 'Ok.' I started the New Testament and found out that this is a very crazy book because it shows God in a totally different way in my thinking about God. And if this Jesus is really God, I have to change my mind about God. Not only that, the book gave me a lot of confident peace. I felt surrounded by security when I was reading the Bible. A week later I found out that I was happy in the morning. I never was this happy. My behavior changed. Normally in the morning I was angry with myself, with anybody, but this time I woke up in the morning I was so happy I was singing a song. Then the people around me told me, 'Armin, what's going on? You have a new girlfriend? Or you have a new job? What's with you." I said, 'No, I'm happy. I don't know what's going on with me. Something is in me.'

I felt a new happiness and joy in me so then I found out that I seemed to be the only one in the whole world to believe in God. So it was very hard for me, but after two years I found a Protestant pastor who was preaching about the same Bible verse I was reading in the morning. So he became my mentor and he helped me to find a small group of believers who acted as real Christians."

Today, Armin Salzmann is a pastor of Christ Church in Augsburg, Germany and he produces our Hour of Power television program and just three weeks ago was able to get Hour of Power on a major network in Germany, similar to ABC or Fox Network here.

Find Complete Joy

(1) Open up to Jesus' love.
(2) Obey His commandments.
(3) Overcome the negatives in life.

Complete joy comes from the inside out as we understand and realize God's love for us. Then when we accept God's love and we know that we need to make small changes to live up to Christ's commands. That scares some people. It's scary because they think, "I can't do this" ... "I can't be that." But the commands of Christ are given to us to guide us to joyful relationships.

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all of the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 22:37-40)

The little boy dug a hole in his backyard. His neighbor came by and saw him as he was filling up the hole. So the neighbor stopped to ask, "Son, what are you doing?" The little boy answered, "Oh, I buried my goldfish." "Well, that sure is a big hole for a goldfish." And the little boy said, "That's because it's inside your cat."

God calls us to love our neighbors ... not to get even with them. Rather He tells us to reach out and to "do unto others as we would have them do unto us." Joy is never found through revenge. But joy is found through the true beauty of "loving our neighbors as we love ourselves."

How do we find complete joy: (1) Open to Jesus' love. (2) Obey His commands and then, (3) Overcome the negatives.

"Joy in this world is always in spite of something. It is defiant nevertheless." ... to quote Carl Barth. Defy the negatives. Don't allow them to impact our lives, but hold onto the positive Good News that we have in Jesus Christ.

Alan Loy McGinnis wrote this about the late Rose Kennedy in his book, The Power of Optimism. [1]

"At age 93, Rose Kennedy is being interviewed by a magazine reporter. By this time four of her nine children have died violently. Another daughter, Rosemary, has been severely retarded all her life, and will soon be gone. Mrs. Kennedy has outlived her husband long enough to have seen his rather prolific and unscrupulous life told and retold in the press. She's an old lady hit by tragedies again and again. When the reporter asks about all this, Rose Kennedy says slowly, "I have always believed that God never gives a cross to bear larger than we can carry. And I have always believed that no matter what, God wants us to be happy. He doesn't want us to be sad. Birds sing after a storm and why shouldn't we?"

We do face storms in life and go through the tragedies of circumstances that would tear down our happiness, but it cannot penetrate our joy when it is grounded in the love of Jesus Christ. Life on planet earth will have its challenges, its frustrations, its disappointments, its hurts, its pain, but at the same time we have that beautiful promise of Jesus Christ, "I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."

St. Paul was in chains, in prison, and in those chains he wrote to the church in Philippi, "Rejoice, rejoice in the Lord always." (Philippians 4:4) Yes, even when we are in the toughest of circumstances, we need to hear those words and experience the true joy that comes from realizing that our joy comes from Jesus Christ. It is a cycle of faith, love and joy. It is the success cycle to living life at its best.

Today, say, "Jesus I want to experience that joy, the same joy that the young basketball player and Armin Salzmann experienced. I want to experience the same joy that Rose Kennedy experienced. I want to experience the same joy that millions of other people have experienced." Allow the love of Jesus Christ to touch your heart this morning, right now. Pray with me, will you?

O Lord, I thank You that You are a God who wants to create a joyful echo in my heart. I love you Lord, and I want to give my life and heart to You, in faith, knowing that Your love will fill my heart with Your Holy Spirit and I'll experience complete joy. I love You Lord. Amen.

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