#234 (21/05/06)
Be Free To Succeed

The Message

By: Robert A. Schuller

Special Guest

Truett Cathy is one of the most amazing men I’ve ever met. And his son is my guest here this morning but let me tell you, a very devout Christian and he believes that on Sunday you don’t work. He was going to start a chain of food stores, but he wouldn’t open on Sunday. Can you imagine what problems he ran into with people who ran shopping malls? Leasing land to build a restaurant but he told the man who owned the restaurant, I’m not going to be open on Sunday. And he dared to face that. He believed God would bless it and boy has God blessed it.

Special Music

" Joyful, Joyful.. "
" To God be the Glory "
"My Hope is Built on Nothing Less"

" Crown Him with Many Crowns "
CCA CHORUS – “Benedictus & Alleluia”

RANDALL BILLS - "Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring"

The Message

Since my installation as Senior Pastor on January 22 I have been teaching about prayer because I believe prayer is the key to intimacy with God. For the last few weeks we have been talking about the Lord's Prayer, specifically in which we have learned how to pray. That is what Jesus was doing when He gave us His prayer. The disciples had asked Him, "Lord, teach us to pray." He taught us to:

1.       Recognize our relationship with God. We say, "Our Father," and from there we let God know that we realize who He is. We realize His power and His ability to answer our prayers and to do all things.

2.       Thank Him for giving us our daily needs and our spiritual needs.

I'm convinced that as people pray our nation becomes stronger that people become connected with God, that families are mended and healing takes place in America and in souls and in lives. That is what we pray today. We pray we will experience the healing power, the emotional and the spiritual power of God. When we pray the next phase of the Lord's Prayer, "Lead us not in temptation, but deliver us from evil," the first thought that comes to mind are probably the same thoughts that Norman Peale had as a young man. As a young man, when he was going through adolescence, he would see a pretty girl, and he'd start thinking thoughts he didn't think he should be thinking. He wanted to go into the ministry so he was rather concerned that he was having these thoughts. He went to his father, who himself was a minister, and he said, "Dad, I've got a problem. I see these pretty girls and I think these thoughts I shouldn't be thinking." His Dad said, "Well son, you can't stop the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your ear." A picture is worth a 1,000 words isn't it? When we read the words that Christ taught us to pray, "Lead us not into temptation," at first glance that is what we think of. But the truth is the nests are never built in our hair unless it is a symptom of a deeper struggle. The birds fly over our head, oh yes, but they don't build a nest in our hair until we are wounded and we try and find a way to heal our hurt through our dysfunction. In our dysfunction we find ways to start listening to the lies.

Our dysfunction comes in so many ways. Sexual addition, alcohol and drugs, controlling, compulsive clinging, organizing, over working, overspending, spending money we don't have, building up debt, need I go on? The list goes on and on and on. Out of our wounded ness, the symptoms of our dysfunction take place and the love we were seeking isn't there. The wounds remain because we're trying to deal with the symptoms rather than dealing with the problem and the core issues. The core issues are lead us not into the temptation, yet we think this is going to make you feel superior, this is going to make you feel worth while, this is going to give you intimacy, this is going to give you love, this is going to make you feel good and we listen to those lies and we allow the birds to make a nest in our hair. Today our prayer is, "Lead us not into temptation." Don't listen to the lies, the lies that say the cure for our wounded ness is found in the dysfunction, when the cure for our wounded ness is truly found in the promises of Jesus Christ. The truth is found in these words and these are all straight from the Bible: "You are God's child; you have been redeemed and forgiven; you cannot be separated from the love of God. You have not been given a spirit of fear but you have been given a spirit of power and love and a sound mind. You are the salt and the light of the earth. You have been chosen and been appointed to bear fruit, you are God's workmanship; you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you." These are the promises and the reality that we find in the scripture of the Bible upon which we can rely. So when you hear those words, those lies that say this is how you find satisfaction, this is how you find love, this is how you find self esteem, as dysfunctional things that you know are not scriptural, that you know God does not want you to do, you can pray this prayer that leads to healing: "Don't allow me to listen to those lies Lord, but help me to hear the truth of the positive gospel of your message that gives me hope and self esteem and good news through Jesus Christ who comes and heals and brings me hope and joy and goodness."

"Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, Oh Lord." We see circumstances and troubles and tough times come into our lives sometimes because we've allowed the birds to nest in our hair and sometimes because it just is and happens. The bible says that the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike. Bad things happen to everybody, not just bad people, not just good people, but bad times come upon everybody. What happens to people with a strong heart that has been founded upon the rock of Jesus Christ? What happens to people who have built themselves upon a foundation of the love of God? They have the ability to take these circumstances, this evil if you will, and turn those circumstances into good. Because we realize in all things in all ways, God is blessing us. Not maybe He will bless us, not He has blessed us, not going to bless us sometime in the future, but in all things and in all times in all ways, God is blessing us!

We had the privilege of listening and hearing Dan Cathy here in the Cathedral this morning. His father established a tremendous business with Chick-fil-A. He established it out of brokenness. It was in the lowest time in his life where the whole idea of Chick-fil-A came to him. He had two restaurants and his partner who was his brother. Within a very short period of time his brother was killed, so he lost not only his brother but he lost his partner in business. Not long after that one of the two restaurants burned down and he didn't even have insurance to re-build it. So he was without his partner, he was in grief for his brother, he was struggling to make ends meet, and he had to have some surgery. Then he found out he was allergic to the anesthesia. He almost died in the operating room. Within a few weeks he had to go back in for more surgery and he was bedridden at a time when the business required more attention than ever. It was during this time of distress the idea of Chick-fil-A was born. If it were not for him being still in the presence of God, his mind would never have opened up to the creativity and the joy and the promise God was bestowing upon him. Instead of saying, "poor me," he said, "God what blessings do you have for me today?" God revealed his blessings.

So, our prayer, "lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil," is a prayer of healing; emotional and spiritual healing allowing God's spirit to come and touch our soul and our spirit and reveal to us it is Jesus Christ and His grace and His love and His forgiveness that makes us whole today. Deliver us from evil.

John was 11 years old when he became an apprentice on his father's slave ship. The year was 1736 and as John became a teen he became the most uncouth of men. He abused the slave women on the ship, he had absolutely no morals, and no ethics, whatsoever. By the time he was 17 years old even his own father could no longer tolerate him. His friends didn't like him, his father didn't like him. So, they forced him into the British Navy with hopes and expectations that maybe the Navy could straighten him out. He abandoned the Navy, was arrested and ultimately sold to a slave trader in Sierra Leon; who then gave him to his mistress and for over a year she abused him and she whipped him and used him as an object of satisfaction. He was finally able to escape that imprisonment and found himself on a British ship and there he was given a book. The book was a means for him to pass the time as they made their way from Africa to Britain. As he read this book he discovered there was a story about Jesus Christ. It was a story about redemption and healing and hope. It was a story that shared with people about how they could renew their spirit. He didn't give it much thought, but he did think, "If it is true, well so be it, but it's not for me." The next night, March 10, 1748, a storm hit their ship and this is what he wrote in his memoirs.

"I went to bed in my usual indifference. I was awakened by a violent sea that broke on me. Much of it came down below and filled the cabin where I lay. This alarm was followed by a cry the ship was going down. We had immediate recourse to the pumps but the water increased against all of our efforts. Almost every passing wave broke over our heads. I expected that every time the vessel descended into the sea she would rise no more. I dreaded death now and my heart foreboding the worse if the scriptures to which I had long since opposed were true."

The ship survived and he survived. He came out of that storm, not just the physical storm of a battleship against the waves, but a spiritual battle for himself against giving himself to Jesus Christ. He gave himself to Jesus Christ, only a man from this wretched state could've written the beloved song we all know:

"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me; I once was lost, but now I'm found, was blind but now see." (Words, John Newton íV 1779)

There's no one, no one who is too bad to come in and there's no one too good to stay away and so the Crystal Cathedral has big doors and it has lots of windows and we invite everybody to come and to experience the presence and the grace and the healing of Jesus Christ. Don't follow the temptations to run away. Don't follow the temptation that says it won't work, don't follow the temptation that says you can go on living your sinful life and it's not going to make a difference and you're not going to feel any consequences, don't follow those lies. Listen to the truth. The truth is the amazing grace of Jesus Christ who loves every single one of us, who created every single one of us in His image who knows us all by name, who knows how many hairs are on your head, who gave his life for you so that you might have ever lasting life. No greater love has a man but to give his life for his friends. Jesus gave his life for you. Today, I ask you to allow Jesus to come and bring healing into your soul and into your mind. I ask you to follow that call today and to say, "Yes," to Jesus Christ and thank Him for saving you today. Will you pray with me right now?

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you, that You have snatched us from the evil one, that You have delivered us from evil and today we no longer follow the temptations that hold us back, but we move forward in faith knowing the truth. We know you created us and we are yours. We thank you God for forgiving our sins, for making us whole and bringing healing and hope and joy and goodness into our lives as we walk and we follow your path today. Thank you Lord Jesus. Amen.

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