Comfort for an Anxious Heart
Hope in Christ Bible Church 5/14/17
Please open your Bible to John 14.
This section is filled with encouragement for those whose lives are often filled with challenges.
We know the pain of shattered dreams, the heartbreak of losing loved ones, and the hurt of broken relationships.
On top of these we feel the pressure of everyday life- deadlines and disappointments, frustration and failure.
These troubles pound our lives like incessant waves crash upon the shoreline.
There’s the fear of man, the fear of the future, and the fear of circumstances that begin to get a stranglehold on our lives
And all too quickly we are left filled with worry and anxiety.
The National Institute of Mental Health tells us that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults. Every year more than $42 billion dollars is spent by the U.S. population seeking to cope with anxiety. There are phobias, panic disorder, and what now has been termed GAD. Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America asserts that the cause of such worry and anxiety is bad brain chemistry.
So they any other acclaimed “experts” prescribe all kinds of anxiety remedies:
Try a concoction of antidepressants, cognitive behavior therapy, exotic herbs, or join a support group.
And now there’s telamental intervention- that’s online therapy for those too afraid to leave home.
Now, here’s the scary part. I discovered how the director of the leading federal institute for research on mental disorders (NIMH), Joshua Gordon, reached some of his conclusions about people’s anxiety.
Gordon studied the neural activity in the brains of…you guessed it… mice! And from that he derived his conclusions
Oh there’s a better way to figure out and deal with an anxious heart. That’s God’s way not man’s!
Well, there’s such joy giving news awaiting us in God’s message to us. So much soul strengthening for heavy hearts.
John 14:1–3 “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”
Oh what life-giving words that breathe fresh joy and comfort to our souls.
We find profound comfort for our troubled hearts here as Christ:
Proves His trustworthiness
Prepares a place for us and
Promises to return to get us
Christ’s opening call in verse 1 sets the tone for what follows:
“Do not let your heart be troubled.”
Remember, our Lord has just been talking to Peter.
Yet now He says “your” (plural in the original) heart. He is talking to the entire group of the 11 faithful disciples there in the Upper Room.
And He exposes their pitiful condition- they have troubled hearts!
And so the sense of what He is telling them is, “Stop being troubled. Don’t go on like this.”
The expression “troubled” Christ uses (tarasso) pictures strong inward agitation; turmoil. They have been shaken violently like leaves on a tree in a storm.
These adult men, most former fishermen, are overwhelmed and confused.
It’s as if their whole world has been rocked.
Why? Because of the announcements they had just heard from Christ.
Three that struck like thunderbolts into their world: Christ told them:
– “I am going to be leaving you.”
– “One of you will betray Me- then Judas the traitor walks out of the room.”
“And Peter your strong spokesman is going to cave in to fear and deny He even knows me- three times!
So much disturbing news. No doubt, this is the most trying time the disciples have ever faced.
They are left with a lump in their throat thinking- “It’s not supposed to end this way. Jesus, we thought You as the Messiah were going to crush sin and rule the world. Yet the whole thing is unraveling. What’s going on?”
So you see, their hopes and dreams have been shattered.
It’s at this very time, Christ looks them in the eye and tells them there’s no need to be afraid. No need to panic. Why not?
The first comfort He gives them.
1. He proves He is trustworthy v. 1
Jesus tells them, “believe in God, believe also in Me.”
There’s such tremendous truth here. But you have to bear with a 30 second biblical grammar lesson to savor it.
In the Greek language, the present tense indicative is identical in form to the present tense imperative.
And you think “Thanks, that helped a lot!”
Well, if you have a study Bible, look and you should find a note keyed to the first “believe” in verse 1.
What does it say? “You believe in God.” That’s indicative. It indicates what those disciples were doing- believing in God.
The context of what Christ is saying suggests that’s the way we should take it.
Those disciples were faithful Jews that believed in God. And watch now, Jesus is saying, “Men, you must also believe in Me.”
No, not just believe that I am here in front of you. You must fully trust in Me.”
Friends, this is nothing short of Christ claiming to be fully worthy of their faith as is God. It’s a claim to deity.
You see, those disciples had been with Christ 24/7 for the last 3 years. They had seen and heard God in a body before them every day.
Peter himself had made that great confession when Christ said, “Who do you say that I am?” God put in the apostle’s mind this great declaration: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” In other words, Jesus, you are the divine messiah.
So Christ is saying, “That’s who I am.” And that’s how you are to trust Me- as God!
Remember, faith is only as good as its object.
Imagine getting into a large airplane for a trip. And as you hear the preflight instructions, the pilot makes a peculiar announcement.
“We are trying something new today. This 500 ton jet is propelled by rubber bands not engines. So sit back now and enjoy the flight.”
Listen, all the faith in the world in rubberbands isn’t going to get that plane into the air!
So too, you trust in anyone or anything but Christ and it just won’t fly. It will let you down. But Christ never will.
You see. He is the only reliable object of faith. That makes Him the only trustworthy source of comfort.
Now keep in mind. Jesus is hours away from the agony of the cross. He knows the hellish horrors that await Him as He would be made sin for us.
Think about it. If there is anyone who should have been given encouragement and comfort, it was Jesus. Yet instead, He is the one who is giving all the support.
They offer no comfort for Christ. Yet they receive great comfort from Christ!
We hear echoes of Isaiah 61:1 which points to Christ: “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me… to bind up the brokenhearted.”
Well here’s the point where comfort comes home to the heavy heart.
It’s when we see Christ for all He is, God, and trust in Him. It’s casting the weight of your soul on Christ. That, friends, is the only remedy for a worry-filled heart. Keep on trusting Christ alone. Turn the eyes of your anxious heart on Jesus and trust Him to see you through.
Friend, in your every circumstance, Christ is worthy of your trust. He is your Creator, your, Sustainer, your Redeemer, your Shepherd.
He is your Friend that sticks closer than a brother.
So when you become acutely aware of your weakness, what to do? Realize Jesus is the power of God who is with you. And trust Him.
When you get into a fix and don’t know what to do, look to Christ the very wisdom of God.
And you feel all alone in what you are wrestling with remember our Lord’s promised comfort to His people in Isaiah 51:12. Listen to these consoling words: “I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies and of the son of man who is made like grass?”
When you begin to fear the unknown, recall Jesus knows all that’s coming your way. And He is the same refuge for you yesterday, today, yes and forever (Heb. 13:8).
And at times you may feel others don’t care
tell yourself the truth- Jesus really does!
That’s why Peter later writes, you are to be “ casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7–8
Followers of Christ, faith is getting your eyes off the lions in your life and on to the Lord.
Do you remember what happened after Daniel was thrown into the den of lions?
They ate him for lunch, right?
We read the following. Daniel 6:23 “Then the king was very pleased and gave orders for Daniel to be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den and no injury whatever was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.
Remember therefore, child of God, look to the Lord in faith and He will deliver you from the lions in your life.
We ought to also picture trusting God as taking your eyes off the waves as Peter learned and on to our strong Savior!
Listen to the declaration King David makes after being trampled all day by his enemies
“When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?” Psalm 56:3–4
And later in Psalm 62:8 He then calls us to the same: “Trust in Him at all times, O
people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us!”
And the inspired writer of the book of Hebrews (13:6) declares with great confidence, “THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL
NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?”
Now that’s the heart of trust that always crushes anxiety.
For you can’t trust in the Lord and be worrying at the same time. For trusting in Him is saying, “Lord, I’m not going to worry about this deal since You have it under control. I will let you take care of it!”
Friends, don’t just keep hoping your bad circumstances will change. Instead, hope in Christ in the midst of it all, and enjoy His comfort to your soul.
Christ gives is second reason His followers are to take heart.
2. He is preparing a better place for them.
Notice in verse 2 what Christ says about our eternal home:
“In My Father’s house are many… what?”
The Bible I grew up using translated it as “mansions.” And I remember seeing artist’s renderings of gigantic heavenly mansions in Sunday school lessons. And some of you remember singing the old hymn, “I’ve got a mansion just over the hill top, right?
From that idea, some have actually taught that if you are faithful to the Lord, you get the Heavenly Hilton, the ultimate place, the mega mansion. But if you didn’t do so well on earth, then you get a little Days Inn set up.
But here’s the thing. When Tyndale translated the Bible into English in 1526 the word “mansion” meant a lodging or place to dwell.
Here’s what Christ is describing in these “dwelling places.” That term comes from one of John’s favorite verbs: to abide.
So we shouldn’t picture individual palatial residences but accommodations where God’s children abide in one great house of many different rooms.
In Christ’s day when a Jewish son married, he would often add a room on to his father’s house.
In time, the large house would become a compound where the extended family would live together.
We can picture Christ as the bridegroom bringing the church His bride home to live with Him forever.
So our Lord is telling us here that Heaven is a spacious home with lots of room for all God’s children to live.
You can be sure, there will be breathtaking beauty in the dwelling place Christ is preparing for us.
The Greeks and Romans had their villas with beautiful terraces, lovely gardens, and trees and flowers with flowing water.
Herod’s palaces in Jerusalem, in Jericho, and in Tiberias featured such natural beauty.
So too heaven will have spectacular beauty that far surpasses Eden’s garden. John even describes in Revelation a crystal clear river
flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.
We are also told that in our heavenly home, there will be transparent streets of gold, stunning walls of jasper, and foundation stones of massive jewels.
And we will see the 12 gates of the city, each one a gigantic pearl.
But let me tell you. We aren’t going to stand there and say, “O what beautiful jewels and pearly gates.” And we won’t lay spread eagle on the streets saying, “I just love this gold!”
No, we will be enthralled with all that these reflect- the blazing beauty of heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ. For the Light of the world becomes the light of heaven!
It is there we will see our Savior who died and rose for us. Then we will praise and worship Him for His greatness and glory and grace to us in salvation.
You need to read about your future home Christian in Revelation 21. Listen now to the great glory of it all.
Revelation 21:22–23 I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.
And then we read the crowning apex of it all, what you and I, children of God will experience. Revelation 22:4 “And they shall see His face.”
That’s the face of Christ who loves us and gave His life for us. And He will bring us all the way home to Heaven to fellowship with Him and worship Him forever!
That’s your great heavenly hope child of God. And that’s what you need to look forward to during your short pilgrimage on earth.
Do you see the comfort Christ is giving to those disciples and to you?
The reason I am going is to prepare for you to be with Me forever. “It’s you,” He says, “I have in mind.” Your spending eternity in My heavenly residence!
And Christ clarifies (v.2), “If it were not so, I would have told you.”
In other words, “I wouldn’t have lead you to believe something wonderful if it wasn’t so.
You see, Christ would not have invited all His followers to live in His Father’s heavenly house if there wasn’t room for them.
As a sidebar, John writing in Revelation 21:16 gives us the measurements of the New Jerusalem.
Its length, width, and height are each 1,500 miles. That means heaven is a great cube.
And by the way, one engineer calculated 1,500 miles cubed would equal 2.25 million square miles. That’s enormous. To give you a comparison, the state of Michigan is not even 100,000 square miles! So there will be more than enough space for all the redeemed of history to fit.
And friends, the goal of heaven isn’t going to be to get away from everyone in your own secluded space. Rather, it is to be with the
family of God around the throne of Christ the Lamb!
Christ gives comfort in Him being worthy to be trusted, preparing a place for us, and now
3. Christ promises to return for us v. 3
Look at the words that pulsate with hope there in verse 3.
“If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”
Christ knows the hardest days of the disciples’ lives begin the next day when He goes to Calvary.
He knows how much they dreaded the thought of Him being gone from them.
So He tells them what they can already look forward to: His soon return.
And in this, to use Paul’s words from II Cor. 1:5, “our comfort [that] is abundant through Christ.”
I want you to see how it works.
There is a sequence that Christ disciples are to anticipate.
First, on the comfort time line, Christ says, “I must leave.” Second, “I’m preparing your eternal home for you.” And third, “Then I will come again for you.”
So the guarantee works like this. As soon as you see the first one happen, my going, you can be sure the next will follow. I’ll go to heaven. And after that, I will return again for you.”
Well, when will Christ’s promised coming happen?
Some see this as Christ appearing to the disciples after His resurrection.
Others take it as when Christ gives them His Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
Yet it best pictures Christ’s coming for His church- that’s the rapture. For it’s then when Christ will “receive [us] His followers to Himself.”
That’s the great day we as Christ’s church anticipate.
1 Thessalonians 4:16–18 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.
And then Paul adds, (v. 18) “Therefore comfort one another with these words!”
It’s like this. Christ comforts us with the certainty of His soon coming. And He calls us to comfort one another with that soon awaited day.
Christian, that’s the day of our homegoing That’s when Christ will bring us to be with Him forever.
O I pray you live for that day. That you affirm in your life, “I prefer to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” II Cor. 5:8
Look again at the heart of heaven in verse 3. Christ says, “I will receive you to Myself.”
This pictures the warmest, wide-armed “welcome home” from Christ to us!
Did you notice the goal Christ gives in His return for those disciples and for each of us disciples?
He says, “that where I am, there you may be also.”
In other words, “I want you to be with me in my presence. I want you with Me forever.”
And that Christian is the place of fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore- in the personal presence of Jesus Christ!
For remember, it’s master who says, “Well done, good and faithful slave… enter the joy of your master.” Mat. 25:21
Friends, the master in that parable represents Christ. And this gives us wonderful insight into heaven. You see, it’s not that we will be joyful when we arrive in heaven. It’s much deeper than that.
The “joy of your master” is the joy of Christ. When we enter heaven we enter the contagious and unending joy of Christ. Now, that’s something to look forward to!
O may it be that our eager expectation won’t be just the coming sports game, the next pay check, the home improvement project, the next vacation. But that our insatiable longing will be to be home with Christ.
Do you remember what Christ says in His final words in Scripture (Rev. 22:20)? The very last recorded statement from the mouth of Christ?
He declares, “Yes, I am coming quickly.”
May that be our heart cry. May that be our consuming desire, “Amen. Come Lord Jesus!”
Few people realize that just ten hours after the attack against Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese forces began their vicious invasion of the Philippine Islands.
Following their powerful take over, General Douglas MacArthur was ordered to
leave the Philippines. That meant leaving behind 13,000 of his men outside of Manila on the island of Corregidor. And it included 76,000 sick and starving American and Filipino defenders stranded to the north in Bataan.
Among MacArthur’s last words before departing from his troops was one clear promise: “I shall return.”
Japan occupied the Philippines for over three years, killing as many as 1 million people until surrendering to the Allied Powers.
Yet before that, General MacArthur kept his promise. He returned to the Philippines Oct. 20, 1944.
And he was well-prepared for victory. It is said that by the time MacArthur returned, he knew what every Japanese lieutenant ate for breakfast and where he had his hair cut!
The Japanese Imperial Staff sent every available soldier, airplane, and naval vessel to keep their death grip on the Philippines. They even created the Kamikaze corps at this point in hopes of total supremacy.
Yet with MacArthur’s return, the U.S. and her allies won the the Battle of Leyte Gulf the biggest naval battle of World War II. And that brought freedom to that beleaguered nation.
Friends, how much greater deliverance we will have from our enemy, the flesh, and the world when Christ returns for us.
He made His promise. And He will keep that promise.
And one day as real as is life to us today, we will gaze at Christ our Lord and our Savior. And there in heaven we will enjoy the wonder of His presence forever!
O church, take to heart this great comfort. Live not for today but for what awaits you in eternity.
Twice, Paul in his letter to the discouraged Christians at Corinth tells them, “We do not lose heart (II Cor. 4:1,16).
Why not Paul? He continues (v. 17-18) “For momentary, light affliction (he says) is producing for us an eternal weight of
glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Oh that’s the divine elixir that cures a heavy heart. You see heaven with Christ puts all the hassles in life in perspective.
That’s why Paul after being kicked around so many years for Christ could say with great enthusiasm:
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Rom. 8:18
Now that’s hope for an anxious heart. That hope belongs to and should be enjoyed by every Christian.
But there’s one final question I must leave with you.
Do you have your reservation?
Not for some fine dinner, show, or concert.
No, do you have your reservation for heaven?
Is your name written in heaven ledgers, in the Lamb’s book of Life?
How do you get there? Only 1 way. The narrow way.
You must do a 180 degree about face from sin (repentance) and trust solely in Christ to rescue you from sin and hell.
That’s the heart of what we see Christ say next week in our text. Don’t miss it. Your life depends on it.
L.E Singer wrote the following powerful words of realized hope in the song, “Finally Home.”
When engulfed by the terror of the tempestuous sea, Unknown waves before you roll; At the end of doubt and peril is eternity, Though fear and conflict seize your soul. But just think of stepping on shore- And finding it Heaven! Of touching a hand-And finding it God’s! Of breathing new air-And
finding it celestial! Of waking up in glory-And finding it home!
Gracious Father, Jesus our Savior.
We long to be home with You. For we know that to be absent from the body is to be present with our Lord.
O may that reality of seeing our Savior, of worshipping Him, of being sin free in fellowship with Him fill with great joy and comfort today and every day.
God, strengthen each heart in that living hope. And use us to comfort and build up one another.
Make us we pray beacons of hope that herald the living and life-giving Christ to sinners.
And we say, “Maranatha.” Come quickly For we want to be home with you.
We thank You for this heavenly hope that is ours now and forever, amen.
Comfort for an Anxious Heart
Hope in Christ Bible Church 5/14/17
1. Christ proves He is trustworthy 1
1 Peter 5:7–8
2. Christ is preparing a better place for us 2
3. Christ promises to return for us 3
2 Corinthians 1:5
1 Thessalonians. 4:16–18
2 Corinthians 5:8
Revelation 22:20 2 Corinthians 4:1,16
How would the Lord want me to trust Him and have my hope more fixed on soon being home with Him?
Comfort for an Anxious Heart