#233 (14/05/06)
Achieve your Maximum Potential

The Message

By: Robert A. Schuller

Special Guest

New York Times best selling author, Joyce Meyer. Her television program is broadcast into two thirds of the globe, her radio program airs on hundreds of stations worldwide, last year she was selected by Time Magazine as one of the top 25 evangelical leaders in America, and today she shares her practical faith-based steps to enjoying the life that God has planned for each of us. And her latest book, “Look Great, Feel Great: 12 Keys to Enjoying a Healthy Life Now,” is tremendous.

Special Music

" Joyful, Joyful.. "
" Crown Him With Many Crowns "
"My Hope is Built on Nothing Less"

" DOROTHY BENHAM - "His Eye is on the Sparrow "
INDIANA WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY CHORALE – “My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord”

PIANO SOLO – ROGER WILLIAMS – “In the Garden/He Arose”

The Message

The Lord's Prayer begins with "Our Father."  It's our relationship with God.  "Our Father," recognizing who He is in relationship to us.  The next part of the phrase continues:  "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.  Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."  In this part of the phrase we recognize the power of God. We call upon God and when we call upon Him, we recognize that He has the power to answer our prayers. 

Today I want to take us to that place where many of us start praying and it is no wonder we start praying there.  There's a lot of hurting people. When you hurt you just simply cry out in pain, at least I do. Unfortunately, during my lifetime I have hit my thumb with a hammer. When we are hurting, we cry out in pain and we just say, "Help Lord," and we immediately bypass our relationship, bypass recognizing who God is and His ability to answer our prayers and we jump right into petition. 

Today we are going to talk about petition. How do we petition God?  In the Lord's Prayer, which we find in Matthew 6, the apostles came to Jesus and said "Jesus, teach us to pray."  And Jesus gave us the Lord's Prayer.  In this prayer, He tells us "Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." (Matthew 6:11-12) The petitions begins by simply asking.

In chapter 7 of Matthew, Jesus continues on and says, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)  God never gives us something that is going to tear us down and break us apart but He gives us something that will build us up and create hope and joy. 

I like the song written by Garth Brooks entitled "Unanswered Prayers." It says, "I thank God for unanswered prayers.  Remember when you're talking to the man upstairs, just because He doesn't answer, doesn't mean He don't care.  Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers."

So God gives and He answers our prayers but He answers us and gives us only that which is going to make us better, stronger, more capable individuals so that we can indeed achieve our full maximum potential.  It begins with "Give us this day our daily bread."  Lord, fulfill our physical needs.  We have physical needs with physical realities because we are physical people who cannot survive without bread and water and clothing and shelter.  These are physical realities in which we live. We pray that God will indeed fulfill our physical needs.  And as we pray, God does.  In this same, wonderful sermon given by Jesus he says, "Look at the sparrows. They neither toil nor spin, and yet your Heavenly Father cares for them, oh ye of little faith." (Matthew 6:26)  Why do you worry? God will care for your needs, and He will give you what you need. 

I remember as a young pastor, pastoring a young fledgling church in San Juan Capistrano, and I received a vision to go and help a small community in Mexico that was devastated by Hurricane Gilbert.  I hopped on an airplane with my wife and we flew for days on this little plane that was supplied by Missionary Aviation Fellowship. It was a bush plane, a single engine plane and it just putted along. When we landed in this community we saw the devastation and we discovered what needed to take place to rebuild the area. We came back and our church raised about $30,000 and we combined that with some other contributions we received from other churches and World Vision and we re-built the entire community of La Carbonera, Mexico.  In the process of our church raising that $30,000, it represented about 15 percent of the church's budget at that time.  It was a big sacrifice for us to make. We went $30,000 in debt, with bills piling up, because what happened in our congregation was people didn't add to their contributions, they just shifted their contributions. I prayed and I said, "God, You led us down this path, we need you to help us out."  I mean it was really, really tough. One Sunday morning, one of the members of our church, a young man by the name of Mark came up to me and he and his wife had a very frugal life and a simple business and he came up to me and he said, "Robert, Carol and I had a little windfall, and we would like to make a gift to the church."  I said, "That's wonderful."  He said, "Is there any special projects you have?" As soon as he said special projects, I thought of our mission project.  Then at the same time I thought of the huge debt we had for the church and I said, "Mark, I have to be honest with you.  More than anything else, we need money for the church to be able to pay its bills; we are $30,000 in debt right now.  We can't pay our bills. If you can give anything to help us pay our bills, that'd be the greatest thing you could do."  He just shook his head, walked in to the church and sat down with his wife.  After the church service, he and his wife Carol came up to me and handed me a check. Whenever someone gives me a check, I just fold it up and I put it in my pocket and I say thank you. You cannot win by looking at the check, ever.  If it's too small and you look disappointed, that's not good!  If it is too big and you start jumping up and down, that's not good either!  So you can't win by looking at a check; I always just fold it up, I put it in my pocket and it doesn't matter the amount of the check.  What matters is that it comes from a human being who cares and gives it out of love and sincerity for the kingdom of God. It doesn't matter if it's a penny or if it's a million dollars. It doesn't matter to God.

So I didn't look at the check, I put it in my pocket and Carol said, "Robert, look at that check."  I said, "Carol, thank you so much. I know this is a wonderful gift from you and we appreciate it very much."  She said, "Robert, look at that check." I looked at it and it was for $30,000.  Exactly what we needed to get out of our debt.  I was stunned. I said, "Did somebody die?" They said, "No, no, we just had a little windfall." I thought to myself, God must have answered some prayers in their life. 

It took me weeks to discover that they had bought a lottery ticket. They had decided if they won anything, they would pledge to give ten percent of it to the church.  Now, remember when they came to me I had told them we were $30,000 in debt.  Mark later told me that $30,000 was exactly ten percent of their winnings. It was a sign from God!

Why do we worry?  Everything belongs to God.  Why do we worry?  "Oh ye of little faith.  Ask and you'll receive, seek and you will find, knock and the doors will be opened. The Lord's Prayer says, "Give us this day our daily bread." God gives us the bread and the sustenance and fulfills our needs.  Immediately following that, the prayer continues, "forgive us our debts, as we forgive those who sin against us," who trespass against us; our debtors.  So it begins with our physical needs and immediately moves right into our spiritual needs.  As individuals we have tremendous spiritual need. I have to ask God to forgive me constantly.  Forgive me for not having enough confidence in the power of God who created me, just the way I am, for a purpose and for a reason. When we criticize ourselves we criticize God because God created us just the way we are. When we cannot love ourselves, we cannot love God.

My father wrote a book, "Self Love: The New Reformation" and Clement Stone, one of the true industrialists of the 20th century, made a donation so that book could be sent to every single pastor in the United States of America, and he did that, he gave that book away. That movement started a ripple that has now basically changed the theology and the Christian church from the understanding of John Calvin, which says, "We are insufficient human beings." 

We are children of God.  We can love ourselves and only by loving ourselves are we capable of fulfilling the great commission that God has given to us, "to love others as you love yourself."

So, it becomes critical for us to constantly ask God's forgiveness because we receive a constant bombardment of negative criticisms upon ourselves. We are never rich enough, we are never good looking enough, we're never strong enough, we're never thin enough, fat enough, tall enough, short enough, and it doesn't matter. We're never enough. No matter how much you have, no matter how much you do, it will never be enough.  Because you will never find your comfort in life by looking on the outside, you only find it on the inside.

We are members of a denomination that has a historical background which goes back hundreds of years. In the 16th century, there was an educational tool that we written in a German town called Heidelberg and the educational tool is called The Heidelberg Catechism. Catechism is just a fancy word for saying instruction manual.  So it is the Heidelberg Christian Education tool. It is a series of questions and then there's an answer that follows. The first question in The Heidelberg Catechism is:  "What is your only comfort in life and death?"  Your only comfort in life.  Do you know what it is?  That I belong! That is how the answer starts. "That I belong body and soul in life and in death, not to myself but to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ who at the cost at His own blood has fully paid for all of my sins and has completely freed me from the dominion of the devil; that he protects me so well that without the will of my Father in heaven, not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, that everything must fit His purpose for my salvation.  Therefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me wholeheartedly willing, and ready from now on to live for Him." [2]

Spiritually, Christ comes and answers our prayer of forgiveness and allows us then to have the strength to forgive others. If you look at the life of Christ and His teaching, we see that Jesus always exemplified His word so what comes out of His mouth you see in His actions. You see it in His teaching.  One day there was five thousand people on the hillsides.  They had come from all different regions. They were hungry and they had no food and so He gathered all the food that was available, all they found were five loaves and two small fish. Jesus started dividing the bread. He divided the fish and He divided the bread and passed it out to His apostles and they passed it out to all the people and they kept passing it, everybody was fed and everybody ate and everybody received to the point they were full; and, when they were all full, there were still 12 baskets of food left over.  "Give us this day our daily bread" and God fulfills His promise, Jesus fulfills His promise that there is no one reading this who has to be hungry today.  You'll be fed spiritually, enriched and nourished with the grace of Jesus Christ.

Today, I ask you to accept the gift of Christ. Thank God for making you the way you are, not the way you think you need to be or the way you want to be or the way you should be or could be, but the way you are.  Exactly the way you are.  It's a prayer in which we say thank You God for today.  It is our way of saying forgive me for putting myself down. Forgive me Lord for not having enough faith in You to realize that when challenges come, You will provide a way of escape. Yes Lord, I don't have to worry.  You care for the birds of the field, how much more don't You care for me.  So receive your nourishment now.  Accept the grace of Jesus Christ right now and pray with me. 

Oh God, I thank You, that You are filling my heart and my soul with Your presence, with Your reality, with Your goodness, with Your grace and so give me the faith, oh Lord, to believe in You. When I fail, as surely I will, forgive me my sins and allow me to open my heart and be gracious to others and forgive those who have sinned against me. I thank You Lord for fulfilling my every need, I love You, Amen.

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