You know, I’ve traveled around the world quite a bit and I only speak one language fluently and that’s English. I speak another language falteringly and that’s Holland Dutch, which was spoken in my home. And so what I’ve done is at least try to translate a couple of important words. And whatever country I go to I’ve learned the word “thanks.”
I’ve learned the word thanks in I think all the languages of the countries where I go. (SPEAKS FRENCH) (SPEAKS GERMAN) (SPEAK DUTCH) Dutch. (SPEAKS RUSSIAN) Russian. (SPEAKS JAPANESE) Japanese. (SPEAKS KOREAN) Very good. Well let’s get into the sermon.
You can live a happy life if you’ll learn to practice thanksgiving and thanks-living all the time. And it’s been in something I’ve been addicted to starting out as a child, a happy family. So a great father and a great mother. Brothers and sisters. The great church, country church I went to every Sunday. Boy, I’ve come from a wonderful family, from a wonderful faith. And I got a calling to a great profession. I called by God to be one of His. Boy I’ve had a lot of reasons to be thanks, thankful. Thanksgiving! It’s fantastic! Get into the habit of thanks-living and you will do wonders to your own health of body. Blood pressure, emotional system, mental system, the psychological life that you live. This sermon today could transform people, believe me. I have received a couple of billion letters the last 35 years on global television and I keep hearing “you saved my life.” Why? We put joy back into the human being.
You know, I was reading about Rudyard Kipling, who was one of the most successful writers in England, and it’s amazing how very successful people often are victims of criticism from jealous people. At any rate an article was written about him at the peak of his power and said, “Rudyard Kipling today is purely a mercenary creature. It’s all money. It’s been calculated that one word written by Kipling is worth a hundred dollars.” And there was a party not long after that and one of the cynical reporters said, “I hear you’re worth a hundred dollars a word.” Handed him a piece of paper and a pen and said “give me one of your words. Here’s a hundred dollars.” Kipling took the money, put it in his pocket and wrote “thanks.” It’s a great word.
I wrote a line that I don’t really have time to elaborate on, but there are people that live in a high latitude. They really live high lives. I do. It’s because they’re emotionally healthy and happy. And I wrote a line, “Gratitude is the attitude that elevates the latitude.” Really true. It’s really quite a profound. Gratitude is the attitude that elevates the latitude. Oh, so if you ever go though down times and some of you listening today aren’t laughing too much because you’re in a pit.
There was funeral last week and some of you are still grieving too long for a funeral that was held a year ago, or 3 years, or five years ago. And some of you are down because of financial reverses. How do you keep up in down times? Get into the habit of living, thanks-living every day. Start the morning by saying thank you. And if you don’t want to get up in the morning and you hate the thought of going to work, let me give you some advice.
Walk outdoors; look at the sky and say, thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Keep saying it out loud, not in a whisper. Thank you! The neighbors will think you flipped, but anyway it really works. You have to give it to yourself to make yourself realize that you have so many reasons for being thankful.
I remember my secretary I had longest probably was Lois Wendell way back in the early days of this church. And she served me so faithfully. And I’ll never forget the night she called and she’d gone to work, left, I was at work. I left. She stopped at her doctor on the way home. Then she called me from the house. She said, “Bob” and I could hear she was crying “I’ve got cancer.” Oh, I was shocked. “I’ll be right over Lois.” I got in my car and drove. She was alone with her Kleenex, crying. Her two little boys were playing in the back yard. Her husband was still at work. And I came into the house and I said, “let’s pray.” Blurted it right out. No niceties. Just let’s pray. And I didn’t plan this. It happened. I think it was a gift of God’s Holy Spirit.
She reminded me later that every sentence I prayed started with thank You. “Thank You, God that they’ve discovered it and we can work on it. Thank You, God, for a doctor that we can trust. Thank You, God, that we’re living in America where they’re therapies available. And thank You, God, that she’s got a husband who can encourage her. And thank You, God that she’s got a faith and goes to church. Thank You, God that You’re listening. Thank You that You will plan her tomorrow and all of her tomorrows. Thank You, God. Thank You. Thank you. Thank you.”
In tough times the way to pray is to start every sentence with a thank you. And you do this by looking at what you have. You don’t look at what you’ve lost. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. But you say how can you be thankful all the time?
Years ago, let me share something with you. Years ago I wrote “The 10 Commandments of Thankful Living.” The first commandment: Be thankful for prayers answered, known and unknown. Every single moment you are living in an answered prayer. You are alive. People have prayed for you. And these prayers didn’t start today or yesterday. They started when you were born. And they’re being answered yet today, known and unknown. We don’t know everybody that’s prayed for us. I look around my life and my world and my work and my witness as prayers. I am what I am a good man, because people have prayed for me. Whew. Be thank.
Second commandment: Be thankful for habits, good ones that you have and bad ones that you’ve broken, or been protected from. An awful lot of people here this morning go to AA. Boy you could be thankful. Oh.
Third commandment: Be thankful for sins forgiven, secret and public. Oh, we’ve all committed a sin that we’ve prayed for privately and knew that Jesus was hearing us. By grace are we saved through faith that not of yourself. I’m so thankful that I do embrace personally the Christian faith. Because our faith has something; every faith has some things different from other faiths, but what we have is grace. Christianity focuses on grace. By grace are you saved, through faith that not of yourself, it is a gift of God.
Be thankful for healings. Commandment 4. Seen and unseen. Even those that are forgotten. And look at your body. Is there a scar here or a scar there? Wow. My wife and I, she’s celebrating over 20 years of healing from her cancer and her mastectomy. Scars should remind you. Wow! You’re alive. Be thankful for healings seen and unseen.
Commandment 5: Be thankful for the storms that you’ve gone through. They blown out and blown over. Passed you by, or never even touched you. You have no idea thank God for all of the accidents that didn’t happen to me today. How close were you on the freeway to what could have been an accident blowing you both away. Amazing.
Number 6: Be thankful for friends. Old ones and new ones. You know a test was made some years ago of the favorite hymn of all people and the favorite hymn is “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” All our sins and grief’s to bear. What a privilege to carry everything to Him in prayer. Be thankful for friends.
Number 7: 10 commandments for thankful living, number 7: Be thankful for impossibilities that turned into possibilities. In business. You know you forgot this. In education was it in junior high? Was it in high school? Was it in the university, post graduate work? You had such a tough time, but you got through, and you had teachers that supported you and encouraged you. Everybody listening to the sound of my voice has been blessed by God Almighty! Everybody here, I don’t care whether you’re listening in the Arabic language, or the Russian language, or the Chinese language, or the English language, everybody listening to the sound of this voice has been blessed. You are alive! Wow.
Jerry Lewis once said after his terrible heart problems. “Every time I wake up in the morning a feel like I’m a success.” You’re alive. Be thankful.
Commandment number 8: Be thankful for gifts given and received. Be thankful for the gifts you gave as much as the gifts you received. Be thankful for gifts given. Be thankful that you’ve got something to give! What you’ve got to give is, if you don’t have money, or things, you’ve got a face. You can give a smile! You can give a laugh! Oh yeah. Be thankful that God created us to be giving creatures. Generous creatures. That’s the secret of joy.
Ninth commandment: Be thankful for the possibilities God put inside of you that you haven’t discovered yet. And boy they’re there.
Number 10: Be thankful for hope that springs eternal in the human being.
Now I want to tell you, everybody listening.Everybody listening to me is going to be blessed. I don’t know when. I don’t know with what. I don’t know how. Maybe with tremendous courage and comfort when you go to the funeral. I don’t know. Maybe with a miracle of healing when you see your doctor, or in the hospital. I don’t know. But let me tell you something, many gifts are coming your way, but the time isn’t right for you to receive them.
There are some unusual trees on this property. About 17 years ago, I was talking to the Keenagers. Those are senior citizens. There’s a group of them in this church. There is a beautiful pine tree that was planted by Keenagers in 1987. It’s a Norfolk Pine and it’s the tallest of the few. And at that pine tree there is a granite plaque, which nobody reads, but it said “A gift from the Keenagers of 1987.”
In 1987 the Keenagers saw that every year at Christmas time we bring in these beautiful trees. And they’re not cheap. Well the Keenagers decided let’s us give the tree. Let’s plant one. How long will it take Dr. Schuller? They know I think in terms of 10, 20, 50, 100 years. I do. I can always be optimistic because I know there are lots of seeds that are sprouted. There are relationships that are being formed. And I’m going to enjoy the gifts maybe 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 50 years. Many of you, probably most of you have remembered this church in your will. Gifts that’ll come. Spread this faith around the world after I’m gone. It’s amazing. It’s true. It’s not a fantasy. It’s reality.
So here’s that tree about 150 feet from where I’m standing. The granite plaque says “A gift to the Crystal Cathedral Congregation, from the Keenagers of 1987.” I said plan 20 years. Isn’t that exciting? And we’re going to take the granite plaque and we’re going to put it in a special place. And we’ll have other trees planted by other classes. In 20 years the plaque will say, from the Homebuilders of 2005. And in the year 2025 it’ll be filled with lights in this place.
See what this possibility thinking does? It gives you vision It gives you a future. It gives you hope. This is not fantasy, its reality! Oh, don’t throw away tomorrow. Oh. Plant seeds that will grow tomorrow! And you can always be thankful. Always. Hey, seeds have no known lifespan. Neither do prayers.
How many prayers were prayed for you when you were born? You don’t know. How many prayers were prayed for you by a school teacher when you’re in the first grade? I don’t know! Neither do you! But everybody listening to the sound of my voice has been prayed for more times then you know. And those prayers aren’t gathering dust on the self. They’re waiting the time when God calls them to come out and give you an unexpected surprise of joy. Thank You, Lord. And everybody said, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Hallelujah. Amen.
I remember the first time I was at the Cairo Museum and because I was interested in history and when they uncovered Tut’s, King Tut’s tomb, among all of the pieces of gold they found they found a packet of seeds. Now King Tut was buried about 500 years before Jesus was born. Think of that. Two thousand five hundred years ago and the archeologists took some of these seeds and checked them out. They looked healthy. They planted them, and they sprouted! And they grew!