Monday, April 21, 2008

Let Not Your Hearts Be Troubled

Remember when you got married, when it was all fun and games? You were in love, you felt good, someone depending on you to take care of them.

Then kids show up. Now there’s less time. Certainly less money.

Then the job goes away. And with it, your pride. Ok, you’ll start over. You get a “do over,” a chance to follow a dream that maybe got sidetracked when the kids came along – or a dream you never knew you had.

Things are looking up.

Then your spouse gets sick. It’s bad. Things have to change completely. You have to take on more responsibility while your spouse recovers from surgery and therapy.

Hey, you didn’t sign up for this! You wanted a happy, fulfilling future!

Then life happened.

Now what are you going to do?

What are you going to do?

You need to make a decision. You need to make a choice.

This isn’t a game. This is real life.

This is the way it is.

This is the truth of the matter.

This is the life you are called to live.

Take a look at John 14 with me.

Jesus promises to “go and prepare” a place for us. Thomas hears one word, “go.”

Go? Where are you going? How can we follow you?

Jesus backs up His claim by equating Himself with the Father. Philip hears a word that piques his interest, “Father.”

“Show us the Father!”

I get the impression that Thomas and Philip are still thinking this whole “Jesus” thing is a game. Things are going well. The popularity of Jesus is at an all-time high and they are part of inner circle. Great “signs” are happening – people are being cured, the hungry are getting fed, the dead are rising to life.

But Jesus puts a stop to this. This isn’t a game, guys! This is real life and it’s about to get serious. Since Adam and Eve bit into that fruit, the plan has been moving unstoppably to this moment in Thomas and Philip’s lives. Jesus is about to die for their – and our – sin.

And this is good news. Because Jesus’ death means we can now begin to live. Really live.

Recently eight children were baptized on one Sunday at Redeemer. It was great, right? Sure it was.

But this is just the beginning. They have begun a new life. A life with God. A life in God.

It won’t be easy. That’s why their baptisms were just the beginning, not the end. Life is going to happen – in all its glory and in all its pain (here on earth). We’re going to need Christ to show us the way, to tell us the truth, to give us the Life.

What we need to do is step out in faith.

And Jesus tells us – as we step out in faith – “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me.”

I know you’re scared. Life is scary. How can we make the next mortgage payment? How can I afford to send my son to camp this year? How can we make ends meet in our school ministry? How will I be able to live and raise these kids if my spouse isn’t around? What will happen if we have to move? These are all honest questions. They are hard questions.

These are life questions.

Truly, our lives depend on the answers we get, don’t’ they?

“Let not your hearts be troubled.”

I know you’re scared. But you can get through this. You can live. You can live again. Because the one we follow knows exactly what we are going through. He’s faced it all – even that gaping hole of a grave! He’s “been there, done that.” And he is the rock that doesn’t move! Life is an unstoppable force. But life meets its match in the immovable object that is the Rock, Jesus Christ our risen Lord and Savior!

So what happens now? What are you going to do?

We’ve got some questions to answer, don’t we. In our families. In our lives. In our church.

“Let not your hearts be troubled.”

That’s what Jesus said. Then some twelve or so hours later, He’s dead!

“Let not your hearts be troubled.” This is inextricably connected to the death of Christ. And here’s how. Jesus’ death takes away what brings us trouble! His death is our life. His death removes our sin. His rising from the dead gives us His power to live.

Jesus’ death and resurrection gives us our identity.

“What is your identity is Christ? Before you make one more choice in life, you need to be aware of that identify, and you want it to be strong—just as past winner of Olympic gold medals know that they will forever be identified as Olympic gold medalists. This explains why these fabulous athletes devote years and years of training to a ten-second sprint, a two-minute floor exercise, or a five-minute program in figure skating. Who they are and what they want to become fuels the desire to sacrifice in training.

It is also why a man will practice all his life to perfect the art of playing a violin, knowing that he might one day sit in a row with other violinists on a world-class stage and play a piece of music written by someone else centuries ago. Being a violinist is his identity.

Intuitively, we know that to perform anything at a world-class level means that we cannot have a divided-heart commitment. And yet many people, who understand what it takes to succeed in sport or business or the arts, are perfectly content to go through life with diluted or marginal spiritual outcomes.

Why? Because of fear. [Every Man God's Man, Stephen Arterburn, Kenny Luck, Mike Yorkey, 2003, page 24]

“Let not your hearts be troubled.”

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