#163 (09/01/05)
Commandments of Thankful Living

The Message

By: Robert H.Schuller

Special Guest

He is a successful businessman best known for building the "Sweet Shop Fudge Love Chocolate Factory.” Whew. It’s in Fort Worth, Texas, which has become one of the largest hand dipped chocolate factories in America. Today, Byrd is owner of the Byrd Group where he helps small companies turn around their businesses. He has also put his entrepreneurial skills to work as a founding board member of the Christian schools in Mexico, which houses and instructs 350 students from impoverished areas. Bill has captured his tools of leadership in this wonderful new book “Sweet Success - Twelve Proven Habits of Winning Leaders.”

Special Music

" Joyful, Joyful.."
" Count Your Blessings "
" Now Thank We All Our God "

" Let the Alleluias Resound "

WARREN BARFIELD - "Somewhere Tonight"
WARREN BARFIELD - "Oh Lord, You’re Beautiful"
WARREN BARFIELD - “Whisper to Me”

Acticle of The Message

I speak fluently only one language - English, but whenever I am visiting a non-English speaking country, I always learn one word and that is the word: THANKS! Merci ... Gracias ... Danke ... Arigato. I have discovered that this one word alone will work wonders. It will open doors. It will establish relationships. It will be the first tender thread upon which can be woven a cable of affection and trust. Learn the power of the word THANKS!

Rudyard Kipling was one of those authors who was very successful in his lifetime. A British newspaper criticized him, ridiculed him and called him a mercenary. They said, "He is now writing just for the money. One word of Rudyard Kipling today is worth a hundred dollars."

Shortly after the release of the unkind article, a reporter approached Kipling at a gathering and said, "So, you're worth a hundred dollars a word. Here's a hundred dollars. Give me a word." Then he handed him a paper and pencil.

Kipling took the hundred dollars, put in his pocket, and on the paper, he wrote one word: Thanks!

Yes, if a criticism or unkindness causes you to slip, stumble and slide into discouragement, then lift your mood back up by giving thanks to God ALWAYS for ALL things.

This ministry is totally committed to one specific, focused objective, to lift the hearts of people who are disappointed and in danger of being discouraged. If we don't allow ourselves to control our reactions, then the negative emotion of discouragement can quickly follow a disappointment.

But what can we do to keep from becoming discouraged in the face of the recurring disappointments in life? We need to develop the daily habit to exercise the Ten Commandments for thankful living.
In the Bible, St. Paul says, "Be thankful always for everything." (Ephesians 5:20)

Lois Wendell was my secretary, a devoted worker, through many difficult early years of our growing ministry. She became like a sister to Arvella and me. Late one evening Lois telephoned. She had worked through the day, but had left early to go to the doctor. Now I heard her faltering voice at the other end of the phone. She said, "Bob, I received some bad news today. The doctor tells me I have cancer."

I could hear she was struggling to keep from crying so I said, "Hang up, Lois, I'll be right over."

I got in my car and drove to her home in West Garden Grove. She met me at the door. I walked in and my first words were, "Let's pray." I proceeded to pray a most unusual prayer. Lois quoted it often and shared how much it helped her through her battle with cancer that took her life years later. She reminded me, every sentence began with a THANK YOU:

"Thank You, God, that they've discovered it early. Thank You that we're living in America where there are all kinds of potential treatments available. Thank You that Lois has a faith that can carry her through. And I thank You, that she has a husband and children who love and support her. And I thank you, God, that You are hearing and answering this prayer. Hallelujah. Amen."

Through the months that became years, Lois bravely fought her battle. She asked us to pray that God would allow her to live to see her two sons, eight and ten, grow up. And God answered that prayer. During the last months, the chemotherapy made her so ill. She was really too ill and weak to come to work, but she was there every day answering the phone and typing my letters. The Lord had given her a calling to help our ministry. The last year Lois continued to work until Christmas, then a few days later Arvella and I stood beside her bed as she slipped into Gods arms.

Be thankful to God always for everything. I'm seventy-eight years old and it still shocks me to say that I have never had anything happen in my life, including tragedies, near disasters, that did not turn out to be blessings in disguise. I reached a point many years ago where I intuitively, instinctively impulsively, and I think very intelligently, start my prayers with simple thanksgiving. Be thankful for all things. Exercise the ten commandments for thankful living.

#1 Be thankful for prayers answered, known and unknown.

Yes, take time to think about all the prayers God has answered for you in the past. Some of these prayers that have been answered are prayers that you didnt pray. Others were praying for you ... friends, parents, grandparents. Maybe you sat on your grandpa or your grandmas knee and they were praying for you. Ill tell you something about prayer: Prayers are seeds ... and they can last a long, long time. One day, given the right environment, they sprout.

I remember my first trip to Cairo, Egypt. In the museum, you can see kernels of wheat that were taken from King Tut's tomb. That tomb pre-dates Jesus Christ by centuries. They took some of these kernels of wheat and they sprouted! They are not dead! Just because they didnt sprout doesnt mean they are dead. Gods delays are not Gods denials.

Be thankful for prayers answered: known and unknown.

#2 Be thankful for habits, broken or avoided

Think about how blessed you really are. Thank God that you are not addicted to one of the many destructive addictions such as alcohol, heroin, cocaine, or if you are, be thankful that these addictions can and will be broken starting now. Thank God for the support groups available that stand ready to help with these life crushing addictions.

#3 Be thankful for sins forgiven, both public and private

We all have committed sins that people know about and sins that nobody knows about and may never discover, but are known only to you, your conscience and your God. So no matter what it is, you can be happy if you can go to bed at night, put your head on the pillow and know that you have no guilt.

According to the polls, the favorite hymn of many Christians is, "What A Friend We Have In Jesus." Perhaps that is because the last line says, "All our sins and griefs to bear. What a privilege to carry everything to Him in prayer."

#4 Be thankful for healings, seen and unseen

You can see scars. You can recall the surgery. There are these known and obvious symbols of healing. But pause and think a minute of all the hidden hurts, the unrevealed wounds, the quiet, secret torturing memories that you carried with you. Then there was that moment when God touched you and healed you of your hurt. This church is a place where hurts are healed.

#5 Be thankful for the storms of your life that have blown out,
blown over or passed you by and never touched you.

Give thanks to God for all the narrow escapes youll never know about. You and I will never know how often our lives have been spared, how close we came to being at the intersection when the accident happened and we could have been involved. You will never know in your life, what infectious germs touched your body but never took root and you never became ill! Yes, thank God for storms which blew out, blew over, passed us by and never touched us.

#6 Be thankful for friends, old and new

How lonely life would be without friends. And take time to remember old friends, especially if youre down and discouraged. Take time and write on a piece of paper the friends that have meant the most to you in your life. Go back to your childhood: who was the little girl or the little boy you walked to school with? Who was your favorite teacher? Who was the favorite friend on your block? Who was the schoolmate? Think of all these friends, the old ones, the present ones, the new ones, and then stop and think: "Some of the best friends in your life, you havent even met yet!"

Today, tomorrow, this week, this year you are going to meet new people for the first time. I predict that some of the best friends youll ever meet are still waiting to be met.

#7 Be thankful for impossibilities that become possibilities

It is so easy to forget past blessings. We can get so blinded by something that isnt happening today that we focus on the unanswered prayers instead of the answered prayers. We look at what weve lost instead of what we have left. We get hung up on our failures instead of our triumphs, our successes and our achievements. Say with St. Paul: "[your name], be thankful always for all things."

Think of the impossibilities that became possibilities. I do that when I stand in this Cathedral and remember how this fantastic building was just one great big, wild, impossible idea! Engineers told me, "You cant build a building out of glass that big in an earthquake zone." But we did build this all glass cathedral and it has survived some pretty good shakes. Thank God for impossibilities that became possibilities.

#8 Be thankful for gifts, given and received

Pause and think about the gifts youve received, but most of all, thank God for the joy of giving. Each time in our ministry when I call on members of the church who are shut in, I am the one who is blessed. I visit them and give them an uplifting, encouraging thought. In the process, I discovered that it really is true: it is impossible to give of yourself without receiving something immediately. "Give, and it shall be given back to you ... running over will be put into your lap ..." (Luke 6:38)

I learned that from my mother who even in the tough years growing up in the depression in Iowa, would pick apples from the tree, peel them, and make an apple pie. It cost her only a few cents. She would bring the delicious apple pie to somebody in the community that either just had a baby, lost a husband or was sick in bed.

Thank God for gifts given and for gifts received.

#9 Be thankful for the possibilities that God put WITHIN you

There are possibilities within each of us that have been discovered and developed, but there are others that remain undiscovered and undeveloped. So, be thankful for possibilities that are blossoming. Be thankful that the world hasnt seen the best of you yet. If youre not happy with what you see, stick around. God is still at work in you.

#10 Be thankful for hope that springs eternal and never dies

If you visit the Crystal Cathedral gardens, you will see a Norfolk pine tree. If you walk up to the Norfolk pine, you will see a granite plaque that reads, "A gift to the Crystal Cathedral Congregation in the year 2007, by the Keenagers (our senior citizens) Class of 1987. They planted it with a twenty-year goal, to be tall enough to become the Christmas tree for our 2007 Christmas Eve Candlelight Services. That will happen in only three years.

Talking to those senior citizens, who were real possibility thinkers, I said, "Do you know what it means to plant a tree? When you plant a tree, it means you have faith in tomorrow."

Are you disappointed or discouraged today? Dont turn the TV set off. Dont close the book. Dont walk out of the movie ... the story isnt over yet. Give your story a happy ending. Thank God for the hope that springs eternal. Because of Jesus Christ, we know that life has no end.

"... Whoever believes in Him has eternal life." (John 3:15)

God will always have the last word, and it will be beautiful! Hallelujah.

Prayer: Thank you, God, that we can give thanks in everything, for all things. You are our God and we praise You. Help us, Father, to exercise the ten commandments of thankful living, and may we be thankful always for all things and in all circumstances! Amen!

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