Sunday Sermon: ‘Confident Christians in a Chaotic World’ part a

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A few weeks ago I began to pray about what I would preach to you on the first Sunday of the New Year. As I prayed and considered many passages of scripture, the Lord laid upon my heart a verse from John 14.

John 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

You might wonder why I chose this verse as my primary text for a New Year’s message. I’ll tell you why. We live in a world filled with trouble.

I. A World Filled with Trouble

Near the end of the year USAToday online posted a little video they entitled – ‘2015: A Year of Global Turmoil.’ In this video they highlighted some of the major events that occurred during this past year. The threat of terrorism has become one of the leading stories in the news these days. Groups such as ISIS and Al Qaeda have dominated the headlines. In recent days there was the killings in Paris and San Bernardina California. There was the shooting down of a Russian airliner that killed over 200 people. But in addition to terrorism, there is also turmoil and trouble from disasters such as a massive earthquake in Nepal that killed thousands and flooding in India that killed many as well. There’s also the global crisis of tens of thousands of Syrian refugees who are fleeing from their country and seeking a safe place to live somewhere in the world. Then there’s the debt crisis such as the one in Greece. There are so many tragic events occurring throughout the world today that we can’t keep up with them and we’re slowly becoming numb.

During a day of trouble Jesus said to His disciples –

John 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

 A. The Disciples’ Trouble

Why did Jesus tell His disciples to not be troubled? It was because they were troubled and what’s more, they were going to be troubled even more before it everything was done.

 1. Jesus was Going to Jerusalem to be Crucified 

On one previous occasion Jesus had told them that they were going to Jerusalem and that He would be handed over to the religious leaders who would arrest Him, beat Him, and then have Him crucified. To fully appreciate how this might have affected the disciples, think for a moment what the word ‘crucifixion’ meant to them. Crucifixion was at that time the most horrible form of death known to mankind. It was death by torture. Jesus had also referred to them taking up their cross and dying as well. Would you be troubled if your leader told you that He was going to die and that you were going to die also? Sure you would.

 2. Jesus was Going Away and They Couldn’t Follow 

What’s more, Jesus told them that He was going away and that they couldn’t follow Him.

John 13:33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come…

Jesus also spoke about His resurrection and returning to His Father, but the thought of Him dying on a cross and their being left alone rang so loud in their ears that they would hear or think of anything else.

 B. Our Trouble

What about you and me? Do we have any trouble? Perhaps we’re not worrying about the possibility of crucifixion, but in many of our lives that are problems so big that we have a difficult time focusing on anything else. “What’s going to happen to me or someone in my family?” “How are we going to survive this?” “What does the future hold in store for us?” Some people look at a New Year with anticipation and excitement. Others look at it with fear and worry.

How should we respond to trouble and turmoil? There are several options:

1) We can long for what we might call the ‘good old days’ which aren’t going to return.

2) We can try to run and hide from it, or ignore it, but that will work only until the tragedy somehow touches our lives in some dramatic way.

3) We can become angry and try to rise up and retaliate.

What should we do? How should we respond to our world today? Perhaps the question we should be asking is – ‘How would God have us respond?’  What is God’s plan for His children in our world filled with turmoil and trouble? I believe that Jesus would say to us the same thing He said to His disciples during theirr day of trouble.

John 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

 II. A Word of Trust

In contrast to a world filled with trouble is Christ’s encouragement for us to trust. That’s what Jesus meant when He used the word ‘believe.’

John 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

 A. Believe = Trust

The word ‘believe’ is the same word often translated as ‘faith.’ If you study the biblical word faith you will discover that it has a very rich and important meaning. It’s one of those words that keeps going deeper and deeper.

 1. On the surface, the word faith simply means to believe that something is true. That’s why it’s often translated as ‘believe.’

2. But then as you dig a little deeper your find that it also means to be persuaded that something is true. You don’t just think it’s true; you know beyond any shadow of a doubt that it’s true. You’re totally confident that it is true.

3. But then as you deeper even deeper into the word you discover that this confidence affects the way you live. At its deepest level the word ‘faith’ means to comply with or to obey. That’s what Jesus meant when He told His disciples to believe in Him. “Trust Me” He was saying to them. Have a faith in Me that is so real that it will overcome the temptation for you to be afraid and to worry, and that will enable you to do what I am going to command you to do.

 B. Jesus – “Trust in Me”

 1. Faith that Gives Us Rest During Your Turmoil

Rather than let the events that were about to happen shake them and throw them into a state of panic, Jesus wanted the disciples to trust Him. Believe in Me means – trust Me.

We read from the book of Isaiah –

Isaiah 26:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

One translation says – “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you…” Another translation says – “You will keep in perfect peace the mind that is dependent upon You.” Another translation says – “You will keep in perfect peace the one whose mind remains focused on you.”

The though is, the way to find peace during a time of trouble is to have our focused set upon something that is greater than our trouble. Peter walked on the stormy waves as long as he stayed focused on Jesus. But the moment he took his focus off of Jesus and placed it upon the waves, he began to sink.

 2. Faith That Enables us to Rise Above Your Turmoil

Jesus wanted His disciples to rest during the turmoil, but even more so – to rise above the turmoil. The Bible teaches us very clearly that God is not shaken nor surprised by what is happening. Though our world today seems like it’s out of control, in reality it’s under God’s control. God knows where everything is headed and He not only has a plan, He has a timetable for fulfilling His plan.

Many of us think that God should just bring all of this to an end and close the book. Yet the Bible tells us why God hasn’t. The Bible says that God is being patient in His judgment because He is trying to give as many people as possible the opportunity to be saved before it is too late.

The other day Tammy asked me what my goals were for the New Year. I think that I can condense my New Year’s Resolutions down into two objectives:

a. I want to mature more as a believer and become more like Christ. That’s something I pray about every morning. “Lord, help me today to be your man in my home, at the church and in the world.”

b. I want God to use me more to help bring others to Him. Whether it’s sharing the gospel with someone who isn’t saved, or encouraging someone who is saved to walk closer to the Lord, I want to be used by God to draw others closer to Him. My goal for 2016 is that I will walk closer to God and that He will help me to help you to walk closer to Him as well.

I believe that Jesus not only wanted to reassure His disciples that He was still in control and that He would still take care of them, I believe He also wanted to challenge them to look beyond their immediate trouble and to focus upon God’s great plan for using them to help save the world. I say that because that’s exactly what happened.

We all know that the disciples did struggle for a while. There was a time when they were overwhelmed with the crucifixion and the fear of what might happen to them. But as the story of the gospels comes to a close, the book of Acts begins. Some have called it the ‘Acts of the Apostles’ and others have called it the ‘Acts of the Holy Spirit as He Lived and Worked Through the Apostles.’ Shortly after the book of Acts begins, we find Peter boldly preaching a message that enables three thousand men to be saved.

When Jesus said, ‘Trust in Me’, He was not only telling them to trust Him that He would take them through the storm; He was also telling them to trust Him that He would take them beyond the storm. Jesus was looking past their immediate circumstances into the future where God would empower them to do some great and mighty things. In just a few verses the Lord said –

John 14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. 13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

III. Trust Jesus for What?

As Jesus encouraged them to trust Him, He reminded them of three very important truths.

John 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. 4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.

5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? 6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

A. Truth #1 – Trust Me for Your Salvation

Please note that Jesus did not say:

– “I have come to show you a way.”

– or “I have come to give you a way to follow.”

That’s what some think. They think that Jesus was a good man who came to show us how to live a better life so that we can make ourselves worthy of heaven. That’s not what Jesus said.Jesus did not say, “I have come to show you a way.” Jesus said, “I am the way.” Why did Jesus say that He was the one and only exclusive way to God and heaven? It all has to do with His death on the cross.

All the other religions of the world teach men that they must do something in order to make themselves worthy of heaven. All the other religions teach men how to earn their way to heaven. Yet none of these religions ever give people a sense of peace and confidence about their relationship with God. Even the best of those who try to find God in this way are always wondering if they have done enough or if their finally ‘good enough.’ When is enough – enough to make someone worthy of spending eternity in heaven?

In contrast, the Bible gives us this word of confidence and assurance.

1 John 5:11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life – is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son – hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. 13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

The person who has put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior, has eternal life. The person who hasn’t trusted in Christ as their Savior, doesn’t have eternal life. It’s just that simple.

Many of you have placed your trust in Jesus to be your Savior and it gives you peace and comfort, even in times of trouble. I try as much as possible to go by the hospital and read some scripture and have a prayer with people who are about to experience some serious surgery. Very often I hear some of you say – “I’m at peace no matter what happens.” They’re not saying – “I want to die” or “I hope this goes bad.” They’re saying that even if don’t wake up in this world, they’re at peace because they know that they’re going to wake up in heaven. What a blessing it must be for those who close their eyes in this world of trouble and open them up in a world of eternal goodness and blessing.

Jesus said:

John 14:6 …I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

 1. “I am the way”, meaning that there are not multiple ways to heaven from which we can pick and choose what works best for us. There is only one way and His name is Jesus.

2. “I am the truth” meaning that Jesus came to reveal to us God’s truth about the forgiveness of our sins and therefore everything else someone tries to tell us other than the truth about Jesus is a lie.

3. “And I am the life”, meaning that there is something special awaiting us on the other side of death. There is eternal life and a home in heaven for all those who enter through the door called Jesus.

Have you chosen to put your trust in Jesus to be your Savior? How can you do that?

1. Come to the point of realizing and admitting that you are a sinner unworthy of heaven

2. Believe that God’s Son, Jesus Christ, took your punishment when He died on the cross

3. And of your own free will, choose to trust in Him to be your Savior

B. Truth #2 – Trust Me for What Your Future Will Hold

John 14:2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

For many years I struggled with whether or not I could lose my salvation. Then one day these words began to work their way through my thinking. Jesus told the disciples that He was going to prepare a place just for them. The King James uses the word ‘mansion’, but perhaps a better translation would be – ‘places to dwell.’ Some of your translations say – ‘rooms.’ Jesus said that He was going away to prepare for them a place to spend eternity. Suppose Jesus prepared a place for someone who failed to show up. Suppose in heaven that there are some prepared rooms left vacant. That’s not going to happen. Just a short time later Jesus is going to pray to His Father –

John 17:12 …I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition… (speaking of Judas)

Jesus died for my sins and because I have placed my faith and trust in Him as my Savior, I am completely forgiven. What’s more, Jesus is preparing a place for me to dwell with Him, the Father, the Holy Spirit, and all the angels of heaven for all eternity. This world is not all there is for me. It’s only a foreign country where I have been sent to be God’s ambassador. My true home is in heaven.

Should we as Christians focus on heaven? Consider what the Apostle Paul said –

2 Corinthians 4:16 … we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are temporary transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Here’s something interesting that I discovered as I studied this passage. You men will love this. The Greek word for the word ‘look’ is ‘skopos’, from which we get the English word – scope. All of you guys know what a scope does. A scope allows you to see things far away – up close. That’s what Paul was saying. We don’t focus on the things right around us. These things aren’t our goals or desires. We focus on the things that, even though they may still be far away, we bring them up close through the eyes of faith. We cast our vision beyond your problems to the promises of God laid up for us in heaven.

 C. Truth #3 – Trust Me That I Will Return Again to Take You Home

John 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

Study the New Testament very carefully and you will discover that it was the hope and anticipation of Christ’s soon return that helped to keep the early Christians motivated to always serve their Savior. I’ll share with you but one passage –

1 John 2:28 And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.

CONCLUSION

What does 2016 hold in store for us?

For some of you, this may be your last opportunity to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior. Perhaps you’ve been struggling with this decision for quite some time. Perhaps you’ve been under conviction for a long time and afraid to do what you know you need to do. Let me encourage you by telling you that receiving Jesus Christ as your Savior is the not only the most important thing you will ever do, it is also the best thing you will ever do. It opens the door to a new life that is better than you can imagine. I would not trade the whole world for the peace it brings to my heart to know that Jesus is my Savior and that I can talk with Him about anything, at any time. The further I go in life, the more I realize just how much I need the presence of Jesus in my life. My number one goal for 2016 is to draw closer to Him and to become more like Him.

Many of you already know the Lord as your Savior, but perhaps you’re not living for Him the way you should. Perhaps life has somehow crowed itself in and it is keeping you from walking close to Christ. You remember a time when you were very close Him, but somehow you’ve drifted away. May I encourage you to come back to Him today? Don’t let what is temporary rob you another day of enjoying what is eternal.

One of the things that God has laid upon my heart for the New Year is that Twin Oaks needs to become more aggressive and intentional in our effort to reach people for Christ. 2016 needs to be the year when we see more people come to Christ than ever before in the history of this ministry. Can it happen? Is that God’s will? Jesus promised us that we can ask anything that is according to His will – and He would do it. 2016 needs to be the year that we pray and serve like never before!

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