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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Bobby Schuller » Bobby Schuller - Hope Is For Noobs

Bobby Schuller - Hope Is For Noobs

Bobby Schuller - Hope Is For Noobs

So, welcome. We're so glad you're here. Welcome to Shepherd's Grove, welcome to the "Hour of Power" if you're watching online. No matter who you are, we're so glad you're here. Would you stand with us? We're gonna say this creed together as we do every week. Hold your hands out like this as a way of receiving from the Holy Spirit. Lets say this together. I'm not what I do. I'm not what I have. I'm not what people say about me. I am the beloved of God. It's who I am. No one can take it from me. I don't have to worry. I don't have to hurry. I can trust my friend Jesus and share his love with the world. Today is the first Sunday of Advent, and traditionally in the Reformed Church and many other Christian churches you follow a pattern of themes for each day, and it coincides with the Advent candle wreath.

Today is the Sunday of hope. Today's sermon is entitled "Hope is for Noobs". Do you know what a noob is? A newbie, a novice, a rookie, a beginner, a greenhorn, a neophyte. Any others? It's for beginners. It's for newbies. Hope is for people that are new to the faith. Hope is for people that have an excuse to not trust God. Hope is for people who have not studied the Word. Hope is for people that think, maybe I'll try it on. But if you've been a believer for many years and you can say, when I was in that dark place, God answered my prayer, or when I was in that difficult time, God brought me through, God expects more than hope from you. He expects some faith, that you really trust that he is good, and he'll bring you through, and he'll do what he said he would do.

So, there's something that happens in life where once God reaches your hopes enough times, he wants you to start really stepping out in faith. So, a great example of that in the Bible is when the Hebrew people are brought out of Pharaoh's land and they come to the Red Sea, God just parts it for them, right? And they walk through it, it's this amazing miracle. But remember what happens the next time they get to a body of water, the Jordan River? This time God doesn't part it for them first. He tells them to step in the water, and as they step it will part, and they have to believe him. You have to believe him. And so, as they step into the water, that's when it parts.

See, because he's expecting them to trust that he will do what he did before, but he wants more faith from them, he wants them to stretch themselves, he wants them to go farther than where they were before. I think that's what God wants for us, is that when we walk in his life and we see him answer prayers and do things for us, he expects more from us than hope. He expects from us faith. And, my friend, faith is actions. Faith without actions is dead, meaning it's not faith. It's not faith.

In the West we have this real problem called the knowing-doing gap. You know what that means? Means that we study things, we go to class, there are lots of people today who are getting Master's degrees in things, but they've never really done anything. They have these lofty educations and these amazing courses and all this hard work that they put into learning, but they've not done anything with it. They haven't built a building or created an organization or designed a great policy.

All they've done is kept taking more classes, and I'm convinced that many of my colleagues when I was in graduate school were there because they were afraid of life. They were afraid of actually putting into practice what they've learned. As a disciple of Jesus, don't let that happen to you. Be educated, learn, and study, but remember that the purpose of education is praxis, applying what you know, applying what you've learned in real life, stepping out in faith. I will say something that's not very Presbyterian of me, but, you know, we reformed people, we love education, we believe in educated clergy, and boy do we depend on our creeds and confessions, and we should. But I will tell you, your faith is not measured by what you affirm. Your faith is measured by what you do.

All those creeds and confessions, maybe when you were a kid you took catechism or you took some of these courses or Bible study classes, they're all intended to get you to do something different that you weren't doing before. If we believe these things, something should change in the way we behave and live life. God wants us to be doers of the Word, not just hearers. He wants us to believe and enact the kind of life that we hope for rather than just hoping it'll come around. And I know, my friend, you are a person of faith, and I want you to know I believe in you.

You say, "Bobby, you don't understand. I can't do it". Can I just tell you something? I agree with you. I can't do it either. It's not you who's doing it, it's God in you. It's you trusting and believing that God really is in me and that these things he's calling me to do, well, I can't do it by myself, but we can do it together. If it's a kind of dream and kind of thing that only God can do, that's the perfect kind of thing to pursue, because then who gets the glory? Well, the Lord does, and your faith continues to grow, and you continue to depend on him.

So, faith in action is super important. Too often we want to say, well, God responds to Christian claims, or God responds to whatever label you put on yourself. But the Bible is full of examples of the way God blesses people who don't believe all the right things, but just trust him and have faith. Isn't that interesting? That rubs me the wrong way. How about you? Well, it should. Should show you that God cares a lot about faith, faith. So, if you have two people who are terrified of flying, and the first one affirms planes and says, "I know planes are safe. I trust in the pilot. I believe in the statistics in the engineering. I know if I get on that plane, I will be perfectly safe, but I'm still afraid, so I'm not gonna do it".

And then the second person says, "I have my doubts about that pilot. Has he been drinking? And I'm not sure about that plane. It looks a little rickety". But she still got on that plane. Who has faith? Tell me, who has faith? The one who says it, or the one who does it? The one who does it. Faith without action is meaningless. God's asking you today, do something. I remember once I had a sermon that was called, "Do Stuff". Do stuff. So, there are two stories where God responds to faith even though the doctrine was wrong. So, the first that I'm mentioning today, a widow in Zarephath. So, many of us know this story.

If you have your Bibles, you can follow along with me in 1 Kings chapter 17. There was a terrible drought in the land, and everybody because of drought was not only thirsty, but people didn't have food. The farms were dried up, cattle were dying. It says, "Sometime later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land, and the word of the Lord came to him," came to Elijah, "and said, 'Go to Zarephath faith in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.'" Okay, a couple of things here. A widow in the Bronze Age in the ancient world was basically saying probably a homeless person, right? Somebody's calling. It's the Lord. Look, a widow, a widow is like basically means a person who will be begging.

So, one of the things about a faith like Judaism is they had provisions in the law to care for widows, but in those days outside in the pagan faiths, a widow and her son were like beggars usually. So, it's already interesting that he says, I'm gonna pick a homeless person to supply you with all your food and everything you need. And then the funnier thing is, "I've directed a widow there to supply you with the food". The widow doesn't even know. Makes it sound like the Lord told the widow. She doesn't even know. "So he," Elijah, "went to Zarephath, and when he came to the town gate," town gate is where you beg, "a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, 'Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?' As she's going to get it, he called, 'Oh, and bring me please a piece of bread.' She says to him, 'As surely as the Lord your God lives,'" everybody say, your God.

What does that mean? Not my God. She probably is a Baal worshiper. "She replied, 'I don't have any bread. I don't have any bread at all. Only a little handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I'm gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and for my son that we may eat it and die.'" What does that mean? Have you ever been really hungry? Like, out on a fishing boat for hours and you haven't eaten? But really, have you been days without food? It is a scary feeling and a horrible feeling. The only thing I can think of that would be worse than that is if you had a little baby, a little son or daughter, little child, who was starving, and you're starving, and your child needs food, and there's nothing you can do to help them.

What a horrible feeling that would be, horrible. So, she has just this little, like, just enough to make, like, a little pancake, right? Just a little thing for her and her son to split, eat, and then die of starvation. And this guy has, use a Jewish word here, the chutzpah, the chutzpah to say, give it to me. Give it to me. So, "Elijah says to her, 'Don't be afraid.'" That's the number one command in the Bible, most mentioned command in the Bible, by the way. They say it, it's in there 365 times, once for every day of the year. "'Don't be afraid. Go home and do as you've said, but first make me a small loaf of bread.'" I love it. Make it for me first, give me the bread, "'And then after that you can make something for yourself and your son.'"

Chutzpah, man, it's there. "'For this is what the Lord the God of Israel says: "The jar of flour will not be used up, and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land".' And she went away and did as Elijah told her. So, there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and for her family, for the jar of flour was not used up, and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord". Look, she has all the wrong doctrines, she's the poorest person in the town, and it's such a God thing to say. I'm gonna use the person that has less than nothing to give you everything you need. He said it to her one time, and something sparked in her heart, and she believed.

And it wasn't just reflected on what she said, it was reflected in what she did. Imagine that sacrifice, giving your starving child's bread first to the man of God, believing because it was the Word of God that it would be true, that you would have everything you need. What faith. That is something that makes me...I just know God responds to faith, and an action like that is incredibly brave, wow, incredibly brave. She was an outsider. She wasn't a Jew. She didn't know the Lord. But she had faith. Boy, did she believe in him after that. Another story, another Gentile, Naaman the Syrian. Naaman was a great general for the king of Aram, and he had leprosy, covered in bandages, suffering all the time, never getting well, trying all sorts of things. Obviously an influential, probably wealthy man, can't find a cure to leprosy.

And there was an Israeli girl, a servant who said to him, "My Lord, if you go to my home in Samaria and Israel, there's a man there who can heal you, a man of God". And she said, "You should go, he'll heal you". And so, this commander goes to his king, the king of Aram, and says, "I've heard there's a man who can heal me in Israel. Can I go"? They're neighbors, you know? So, there's always a little tension. And the king says, "Absolutely, you can go. I will send you a hall pass, a letter. You can give that letter to the king of Israel. Tell him you're here with my permission, and bring this, you know, menagerie of animals and gifts and such to him as a peace offering". So, he goes and comes to the court of the king of Israel, and he says, "I've heard that you can heal leprosy. Here's all this stuff, here's a letter for my king. Now what"?

And the king looks at the man, and he tears his robes. You know what that means in Jewish culture when you tear your shirt or tear your robes? It's what happens when the worst thing you can think of happens to you, the loss of a child, losing everything, your business goes bankrupt, you tear the shirt, it's tearing. It's like a reflection of what's happening in your heart, just torn. Why would the king of Israel do that? He says, "I believe", in history we call it a casus belli when another nation is trying to cook up a reason to go to war. He says, "You sent this guy to me, and now if I don't heal him, you're going to declare war on us, and you're gonna, blah, blah, blah". And so, this king just starts freaking out. You ever do that in your life? Something happens, and it just triggers, and you just start spinning your wheels and you tear your robe.

And Elisha, hearing this, sends to the king and says, "Why did you tear your ropes? Send the man to me. Why, why would you tear your robes? Do we not serve the God of Israel who can heal this man"? And maybe God's even saying that to you right now. When bad things happen, it's so easy to catastrophize something and tear your robes. And God is saying, "Why would you tear your robe"? The story is not over yet for you, my friend. It's not over yet. The best part of your story is yet to come. Don't tear your robes. Don't give up. God is saying, "I can do anything, even heal a man of leprosy". And so, the king of Israel sends this man, Naaman, to Elijah, and this commander, you know, had some ego problems. And so, the prophet doesn't even meet him. He just sends out a messenger, and the messenger says to him, Go wash in the Jordan River seven times, and you'll be healed.

So, like, Elisha is just like, I'm kinda too busy. And Naaman gets so angry, it says he's enraged. I think it's because, this is just Bobby Schuller, okay? I don't know, but I think it's because I read in one of the studies on this that it's a common practice to wash yourself seven times in a holy river. So, he says, "Are not the rivers of Damascus even better than this silly old river"? You know, the ones in, "Why would I go into the Jordan"? And, enraged, he begins to march, and clearly, so, it's like a two month, this is the Jordan, by the way. Beautiful picture, isn't it? The real Jordan in Israel. Naaman, enraged, because to walk away, all this planning, all this work, and it's, like, just another snake oil salesman. And one of the servants says, "My Lord, why wouldn't you just try it"? She says, this is very clever. "If he'd given you something really hard, you would have done it".

You know, something hard would be, like, hang from the bridge by your toes for two days, or, you know, don't eat for a month. Or, like, he would give you something really hard like that, you would have done it, but because it was the simple thing, you won't do it. And so, even though his heart was wrong, he believed all the wrong stuff, he still, and it took convincing from some random girl hen pecking him to do it, he did it. That was enough for God. Think about that. Had the wrong heart, the wrong motive, the wrong everything, but he still did what was right, and God was able to use that. That's faith. And so, he goes into the water, and he's healed, and he becomes a worshiper of God. But the thing we need to see here in both these stories is everything about the stories is wrong. They're not Jewish, they're not any of these things, but they do, they hear the Word of God, and they do it. And that is enough for God.

In the end, it is the action that proves whether or not you really believe. Do you really believe? Show me. It's not about emotions and feelings. All of us are emotional people. It's about what you do. And this, in the end, that's what defines so much of our faith. And so, it's interesting, because these are the two stories that Jesus references when he goes to his hometown and is rejected. That's why I use these two. Jesus comes from a village, it was probably about 300 people, it's a new village in Galilee called Nazareth. Nazar means a shoot, and it's a reference to one of the Advent passages we always read, "Out of the shoot of Jesse," you know?

And they believed that they were gathering people of the line of David who are descendants to live in this town, and they believed that from one of them the Messiah would come. But their belief in what the Messiah would be was not the way we see Christ as the Son of man, right? There's kind of multiple prophecies on this, and one was the most common, Son of David. That means a king, an actual theocrat, you know, that comes and reigns over, you know, as a priestly kind of religious king. That's what they pictured. They forgot about this long passage in Daniel about the Son of men who will come riding on the clouds and be at the right hand of the Father and all that stuff. And that's, remember, what Jesus, anyway, so he's in Nazareth, and he gives the sermon, and he says, "I'm the one, I'm the Messiah".

And do you remember what they say? We always get this passage confused. They go, "Isn't this Joseph and Mary's son? Don't we know his brothers and his sisters"? And then what do they say? It says, and this is in Luke. "And they spoke well of him". They were excited that they were right. That, yes, it was our guy from our town with the right label and the right blood and the right everything, oh, isn't that great? We always think that they hated him. They don't hate him until he references these stories. That's when they hate him. He looks at them and he says, "Truly, I tell you, no prophet is accepted in his hometown". Now, up to this point, he didn't perform any miracles, it says, because they didn't really have faith that he could do miracles.

"I assure you that there are many widows in Israel in Elijah's time, and the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to the widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon". Elijah was sent to a Gentile, a pagan, huh? "And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed, only Naaman the Syrian". What's he referring to? He is referring to what we affirm in our scriptures, that God does not care about our labels. God doesn't care about our education, he doesn't care if you're from Nazareth, he doesn't care if you're Jewish through and through or Christian, you've been a Christian 2,000 years, your family, none of that matters to him.

What he wants to know is, do you believe? Do you really have faith? If so, get on the plane and prove it to me. If so, stop hoping like a noob and start acting like a believer. Get out there and do something in the direction that God's called you to do. Can I tell you something? Nobody is coming. Nobody is coming to get your destiny for you. Nobody is coming to make you live a healthy life. Nobody is coming to study the Word of God for you. Nobody is coming to raise your kids right. Nobody is coming to build the life you know you were called to live. There is one person who can do that, and that person is you. God has given you all that you need to attain what you're hoping for.

Stop hoping and start acting like you really believe this stuff, and watch how God delivers. The Lord says that anyone who has the faith of a mustard seed could say to this mountain, move, and it would be cast into the sea. You know what he means by that mustard seed? He doesn't mean up here, he means here. He means here. Have some new shoes by the way, huh? He means that you do. You do what you claim to believe. He's like, "If you just took a tiny little step instead of just talking about it, you took a tiny step in the direction and kept taking little steps, you watch and see what I can do in your life". And it is good. It's so good. I feel like I'm being mean. I don't mean to be mean, I love you guys. I want you to know that there is, that God, the living Word, life, and authority of God is in your body. And we think of all the things that's wrong, he's in there.

So, I wanna encourage you, if you have a dream in your heart, just go do it. Start doing things to get closer to that thing, and you'll be grateful that you got to see God work in your life. He wants to use you. We always compare ourselves to other people, no more. God's gonna use you and do great things, so believe in it. Don't give up. Don't write the bad ending to what could be a good story. A great thing is coming.

So, Father, we thank you, we love you, and we pray that you'd give us the courage to step out of the boat and onto the water, that you'd give us the faith to hear the Word and do the Word. Lord, we love you, and we trust you, we thank you. It's in Jesus's name we pray, amen.

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