On Sunday, July 15, 2018, Cheryl’s brother Harry and sister-in-law Carol joined us at Eastside Presbyterian Church — in part, because we are proud of our church and the people who make up this body of Christ in Greenville. Lead Pastor Mark Auffarth preached another provocative message. If you would like to read my summary of Mark’s sermon, “What Troubles Your Heart?” please read on. . . .
“What Troubles Your Heart?”
From the “Who Is This Jesus?” Sermon Series
By The Rev. Dr. Mark Auffarth, Lead Pastor
Eastside Presbyterian Church
Greenville, South Carolina
Sunday, July 15, 2018
Quote of the Week:
“The Word we study has to be the Word we pray. My personal experience of the relentless tenderness of God came not from exegetes, theologians, and spiritual writers, but from sitting still in the presence of the living Word and beseeching Him to help me understand with my head and heart His written Word. Sheer scholarship alone cannot reveal to us the gospel of grace. We must never allow the authority of books, institutions, or leaders to replace the authority of ‘knowing’ Jesus Christ personally and directly. When the religious views of others interpose between us and the primary experience of Jesus as the Christ, we become unconvicted and unpersuasive travel agents handing out brochures to places we have never visited.” (Brennan Manning, in The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out)
Passage of the Week:
1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God;[a] believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?[b] 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.”[c] 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
a John 14:1 Or You believe in God
b John 14:2 Or In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you
c John 14:4 Some manuscripts Where I am going you know, and the way you know
[English Standard Version (ESV)]
Summary of and Editorializing by Bob Stouffer (All errors are mine alone.)
We’re going to look at just a few verses at the beginning of John today. These are some of the best and well known verses of the Bible.
So how’s your heart this morning? Are you troubled? Perhaps you had a fight with your spouse on the way to church. You screamed at each other on the way, and then, when you were greeted by someone here, you acted as though everything was fine. Perhaps your child is struggling, so you’re struggling. Maybe you’re focused on all of the troubling news of the world. There are so many reasons to be troubled.
But Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”
Is that a message just for the disciples, or is that a message to all of us?
Why would He have made this comment to His disciples? Their hearts were troubled. Jesus was always calm. He ministered with compassion. He was not troubled. Yet, here, He said they were troubled. He had told them He was going away. Where was He going? Someone would betray Him. “Is it I?” They all must have asked. Peter would deny him three times before He was crucified. He said, “Let not your heart be troubled,” even though their worlds would be rocked.
Isn’t that how it is with all of us today? We have troubles. Life is difficult. The most underlined verse of the Kindle Bible is “. . .do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6, English Standard Version)
Do not be anxious about anything. Why? People are troubled. Suicide rates are rising. The culture is busy. No wonder we are not at peace.
What’s interesting is our solutions are not really working. More money doesn’t take our trouble away. We get busier. We’re after something, which only makes our situations worse. We don’t have time.
Chuck Swindoll has talked about busyness ruining relationships. Our calendars are filled, but our families are fractured. Churches have programs for everyone, but we’re only busy, not transforming. How are you dealing with your troubled soul?
Jesus’ answer is in Chapter 14. “Let not your heart be troubled.” He gives reasons why our hearts should not be troubled.
The first reason? We should trust God. The word, trust, is ambiguous here in the Greek. There are implications to that ambiguity. We have options. “Trust in God” and “Trust in Jesus.” Or “Trust in God,” and, because of that trust in Him, trust in Jesus.” The disciples had been with Him for 3 years. They had seen Him perform miracle after miracle. He told them that He and His Father were one. But their hearts were troubled, even though they were in the presence of the one who had performed these miracles.
When times get tough, we have trouble trusting. A Baptist minister once said that there is no situation he could get into that God could not get him out of. Once, the pastor was piloting a plane, and he was in a nosedive. The plane was out of control, and the instructor was not helping him. The minister corrected the problem. He was upset at the instructor, who told him, “There is not one situation which I can’t get you out of.”
Trust God. Don’t let your heart be troubled. Trust Jesus. Things would get back. But He said, trust me. Trust me. Trust me.
JESUS IS PREPARING A PLACE FOR YOU!
The second reason for not allowing our hearts to be troubled is that Jesus is going to prepare a place for us, that we might also be where He is. God is inviting us into His house. That’s a promise to His people.
Tim Keller once gave an analogy. Two women of the same age, socioeconomic status, educational level, and disposition were given identical work. The work was boring. There was one difference between the two women, though. The first woman received 30,000. The second woman made $30,000,000. The first woman said to the second woman, “Isn’t this insane? How boring!” The second woman says, “No, I whistle while I work!” She had significant hope for the future.
We are irrefutably hope-based people. Our hope? We have a home. Jesus is preparing a place for you. Does that resonate with you? That resonates with me.
There is not a more famous movie than The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy clicks her heels at the end. “There’s no place like home.” She ends up in Kansas. She ends up in her sweet spot. She wanted to get home. We all long to be home, where we’re loved, where we feel at rest, where we can experience peace.
Did you see the movie, Lion. An Indian boy was with his brother, looking for spare change. The boy went into an empty train. He woke up 1,500 miles away in Calcutta. He was eventually adopted and raised in Tasmania. But he wanted to get home. He approximated the distance he spent on the train and tracked down the roof of his home on Google Earth! He recognized his roof! He was able to find his home. He reconnected with his mother. True story. He wanted to be home.
Wanting home is in our DNA. We disagree about how we can “get home.” We have a deep longing. The Romantics dreamed for a better place; that’s why I identify with them. We long for a place where everything and everyone is at rest. We wake up and believe everything is right with the world. Do you long for that?
We make decisions about what will bring us peace and joy and rest. But we never seem to find it. Why not? We’ve been duped. We’ve been told we can find it right here on earth. Whatever you’re pining for will make life so much better. It’s just a longing for home. But we’re not home yet.
C.S. Lewis once said that we were made for another world.
Longings are powerful.
What are we longing for? We’re longing for home. Some of you wish your spouse would treat you better. Maybe you confused that longing for longing to be home. We want better jobs, for our kids to be close by, for a rebellious child to turn to Jesus. We’re longing for home.
The next time you’re trapped in your struggle with lust, remember you have distorted your desire to be home. Pornography will not satisfy. The longing is a powerful thing. Recognize what we’re longing for.
Jesus tells us, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in me. And I will tell you what will make your life right.”
I looked in Revelation 21. John the author, saw the holy city. God would live with His people. God would wipe tears, death, crying, and pain away. God will make everything new. Jesus is there. God makes things new. It’s not about what we’re going to get. It’s that Jesus is there!
He was troubled, so we wouldn’t have to be. He endured the wrath of God. He died. Do you see what a Savior we have? This Savior is eminently trustworthy. He is preparing a place for you. What do we have to be troubled with? We will never face the wrath of God. Our sins are forgiven — past, present, and future. They’re gone! We will not suffer the wrath of God on our lives, because Jesus bore it all on the cross.
The future is bright! We get to go home. And that makes all of the difference today.
C.S. Lewis pointed out that the most effective Christians in this world are the ones who hope for the best in the next world.
Do we trust?
It’s the Gospel.
And the Gospel changes everything.