#276 (11/03/07)
Step up to a Better You: Ask and Receive

The Message

By: Robert A. Schuller

Special Guest

Over 15 months ago, New Orleans was devastated by hurricane Katrina. And thousands of people were left stranded and homeless and today these families are still struggling to rebuild their homes and their lives. You may remember just weeks after Katrina’s devastation; we were honored to hear from two survivors, Rory and Angela Martin. Rory rode out the storm in their hometown of New Orleans while his wife Angela was in California visiting their daughter. Rory and Angela are back to share with us their life and what it’s like today and how through prayer they’re making it through.

Special Music

" Joyful, Joyful.. "
" For the Beauty of the Earth "
“ Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us ”
“ Take My Life and Make it New ”

" I Want Jesus to Walk with Me "

ANGELA MARTIN – “Just Have a Little Talk with Jesus”
DAVID PHELPS – “Gentle Savior”

The Message

I’ve been going through the 12 steps and we’re going through them in six weeks. And today we’re looking at steps six and seven. And the 12 steps are a recovery tool that recovery centers and people have used for centuries. They were started by Alcoholics Anonymous and people throughout the decades have continued to use them.

What are the 12 steps? Let me share them with you. Step number one says, “I will admit that I am powerless over my addictions and that my life is unmanageable.” “I will acknowledge that God is greater than I and that He can bring restoration to my life.” “I will turn my life over to God.” Those are the first three steps. I started this series with a message entitled, “I can’t, He can, Let Him.” Those are the first three steps. If you haven’t heard it, go to our website and listen to it.

Then we went last week, we dealt with steps four and five which is, “I will make a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself,” and “I will admit to God, myself and another human being the exact nature of my wrongs.”

This morning, we’re looking at steps six and seven. Number six says “I will make myself entirely ready to have God remove any defects from my character, and bring about the necessary changes in my life.” And finally seven says, “I will humbly ask God to remove my shortcomings.” Steps six and seven.

Step six is an interesting step because it isn’t an action step. You aren’t asked to do anything. What your goal is in step six is to find out where you are personally and spiritually in your life. It’s a self examination, a reflection. It’s looking in the mirror and saying this is who I am, this is where I am, and only once you discover who and where you are, can you discover God’s path and where He wants to take you. It’s one of those ironic things, in order to give somebody directions how to get from point A to B, you have to know where point A is. You have to know where you are if you’re going to know where you’re going. I’ve used this illustration often and that is the illustration of being out in the middle of the Pacific. And when you’re in the middle of the ocean and you see the same thing: Water, water and more water. And somehow you have to figure out where you are before you can decide how to get home. And not until you’ve figured out your coordinates of where you’re located can you take your compass out and find the course in order to get home. It’s the reality of it.

Step number six is where we find out where we are. Who are we as a person? What character defects do I have that continue to throw me into the addictive behavior that entangles me and holds me back? It’s a series of questions we begin to ask ourselves like do you really want to change? Do we really want to make a difference in our lives, or do we just want to stay the same and maintain the same behavior we have. In the New Testament, in the Bible, we read these words: “Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up!” That’s what James tells us, the brother of Jesus says to us. “Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up.”

I can’t help but immediately think of the words of Isaiah 40, when I hear lift you up, “He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles. They’ll run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.”

The first question we have to ask ourselves is do we really want to change? Do we really want to give God a chance? Another question we have to ourselves is do you know that self will is not enough to change our behavior? We’ve been raised in American culture, where self will we can do anything. And in many respects, when it comes to building a building or it comes to doing things as far as our businesses are concerned, self will is very, very effective. But on the other hand, self will often gets in the way of our humility. It’s one of those paradoxes of life where we have confidence and assurance on one hand, that’s the strong side of that character, but every strength is also a weakness and the weakness to assurance and confidence is pride and arrogance. We have to learn to know when we’re being prideful and arrogant, as opposed to being confident and self assured.

When I look through the Biblical characters and one of the people I see who perfected this was David. God loved David and just look at the confidence and the assurance he had to go and stand before this giant Goliath and slay his Goliath was an enormous thing to do. But our strength is also our weakness. And we look at the adultery that he participated in, we look at the murder that he participated in, and then when he came to the realization and he saw what he had done, he fell before the Lord in his humility and he allowed his arrogance and his pride to be stripped away, to receive the forgiveness and the grace of Christ.

Step six is where we no longer look at ourselves, and look at our self will as the ability to do everything. You know, it’s hard for us to do this. We are entertained with figures like James Bond and Jack Bower. And suddenly we think we can do anything. But step six tells us that we must be entirely ready to have God remove our defects of character, not us. We’re not the ones who have the ability to make the change at this level and this point. And we have to allow God to step in and make a difference. And that goes against our character. It goes against this whole self made man, this whole self will that we have to make a difference, and to simply let God.

Another question is are you ready to relinquish your self destructive nature? Are you ready for the change? It’s hard for us to really understand it until we recognize how we pray. Anyone here need more patience? Anyone? Nobody? A few people? I know I always need more patience. I’m very impatient. I’m sitting at the light and I just get so anxious waiting for these lights to change, they never change fast enough. I get impatient waiting for my coffee to warm up. I stick my coffee in the microwave; set it on for a minute and it’s like that is the longest minute in the world, waiting for my coffee to warm up. Anybody here share any of these impatient tactics? Okay, now you’re being honest. Okay, now you’re looking in the mirror. Now you’re getting to the root of what this is all about. Of what six is all about, where we suddenly discover who we are as a person.

Now, if you’re dealing with impatience, most of us will immediately pray ‘Dear God, I want to be more patient!’ And what does that tell us? That tells us that we know how to get patience and we’re going to discover a way to get more patience. It’s the self will, it’s suddenly the James Bond and the Jack Bower guy, doing everything himself and changing the world and saving the world. But the facts are that we can’t save ourselves. But God can. And God will when we learn how to pray. And the prayer isn’t ‘Dear God I want to be more patient,’ but the prayer is a prayer of confession. ‘Dear God, I am impatient.’ It’s that simple. ‘Dear God, I am an imperfect human being.’ ‘Dear God, I need Your healing power in my life.’ ‘Dear God, I need You to give me patience because I can’t find patience and do patience on my own. And I need You.’

Step six is self reflective. It’s discovering who we are, it’s discovering our shortcomings, our failures, it’s coming to the point of saying I can’t, He can, I will let Him. God enter my soul and make me whole. And then we have to ask the question are we entirely ready to have God remove our defects of character? There’s lots of different defects, you know, I mentioned impatience, there’s isolation where we shun people and push people away. There’s abandonment where we just walk away from people. There’s this repressed anger where we don’t let people know we’re angry but it’s burning inside. We have this need to seek approval from others and just constantly be approved by others. There’s care taking where we just have the need to take care of others. There’s this controlling behavior where we’re okay as long as we’re in control. There’s fear of abandonment, fear of authority. There’s our feelings that we freeze because we can’t let people know how we really feel. There’s the feelings of a lack of self esteem, low self esteem. There’s the overdeveloped sense of responsibility where everything that happens is my fault. I have to be responsible for everything. There’s sexual disorders where we just aren’t appropriate. There’s character defects in us all.
And so in our prayers, we come before God and we say ‘Oh Lord, I am full of pride and arrogance. Please remove this pride and this arrogance from my life and lead me and guide me in the way that You have for my life.’ That’s step six.

Step seven is where we humbly ask God to remove these shortcomings. Where we get down on our knees and we pray ‘Oh Lord, forgive me for I have failed and I have sinned. I am impatient, I am arrogant, I’m prideful and I need You to remove these shortcomings from my life today.’ And we discover that the power of God has the power to do miracles and to bring forth within us the character of confidence and assurance that God wants for our lives. And He puts that wind under our wings as we humble ourselves before the Lord. And He lifts you up.
Today is a time for us to come and to ask; to ask God and He will hear our prayers. The Bible says, “Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and the doors will be opened.” And that’s what Christ wants us to do and that’s what step number seven is all about, and that’s what this church service today is all about.

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