Prelude
~ Teri Lynn Barnaby

“The Cure For Heart Trouble”

~ CRE Caleb Jones

Caleb Jones is a Certified Ruling Elder at Littlefield Presbyterian Church in Dearborn, Michigan. Caleb is a Master of Divinity graduate of Ecumenical Theological Seminary.

Which of God’s ‘Do Not’ commandments would you say is the most difficult for you to obey? Perhaps you would say, “The commandment, ‘Do not lie’ is most difficult because when I’m in a tight spot and I can twist the truth just a little, it seems harmless.” You might say, “The commandment not to covet is really difficult to obey in a materialistic society. If somebody I know gets richer or they achieve a status that I want for myself, it’s hard not to be jealous of them.” Perhaps you might point to Jesus’ command not to lust as one being very difficult to obey in a sensual society. 

Indeed, there are many difficult commandments. I think one of the hardest commandments to obey is: “Do not let your heart be troubled” (John 14:1a). There’s so much to be troubled about: pandemics, potential war and terrorist attack, political corruption, crime and violence, and economic pressure. On top of the various national and international troubles, there are many “what if?” scenarios. What if I get sick? What if I’m in an accident? What if my spouse leaves me? What if one of my children gets sick? What if I lose my job? What if I lose my friends or family? All this and much more can bring heart trouble.

Today, if you have trouble in your heart and you’re feeling confused, concerned, and overwhelmed, I have some good news. In John 14, Jesus’ disciples felt the very same way. Just put yourself in that upper room just one chapter before. The disciples had just been arguing about who would be greatest in the kingdom when Jesus began to wash their feet. After this uncomfortable moment, Jesus gave them the command to love one another; love through action, love by receiving love, and loving the unlovable and then told them that one of them would betray him. As this chapter starts, Jesus has just predicted that Peter would deny him three times. However, the events of chapter 13 undoubtedly left the disciples feeling uneasy and embarrassed. After all, they’ve just been shown that they’re not the spiritual giants they thought they were. Their pretensions and pride have been exposed.

And now in chapter 14, just a few hours before Jesus goes to the cross, He issues a difficult command to His disciples: “Do not let your heart be troubled.” This phrase is a present tense imperative that can be translated: “Stop being troubled!” This implies that the disciples are already anxious. This command also suggests that a troubling heart is something to be conquered. Jesus gives the cure for a troubled heart in 14: “believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” Yep, that’s the cure, BELIEF … no more, no less. Jesus knows that many disciples who believe in Him for salvation struggle to believe in Him in the course of their day-to-day lives. As a result, many disciples suffer unnecessarily. So Jesus says: You must believe that I will never leave you. You must believe I will never stop praying for you. You must believe in My sympathy. You must believe in the comfort of the Holy Spirit that I will give you. When (not if) you have a troubling heart, it is simple belief in the right object, Jesus Christ, that will sustain you. 

That’s why Jesus ends this passage with the words: “Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” Jesus is giving them the cure they need. He is showing them that the life of discipleship is much simpler than they can imagine. 

These disciples have been with him for three years; they’ve seen the miracles and heard the teachings. Jesus says that they’ve got everything in their hands; they know the way.

Almost before Jesus could get the words out of His mouth, Philip has heart trouble, when he says: “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied?” (14:8). Jesus doesn’t hesitate to ease his troubled heart. Have I been with you all this time and you still do not know me. He declares, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” 

The disciples, like most of us, have a hard time believing it’s that simple. Simply believe in Jesus Christ and love him and that’s it? Jesus says, “you heard my words and you saw my works — believe based off of that.” Jesus is the life that is given to us by virtue of our access to God. Put simply, Jesus is the only way a person can have a relationship with God and spend eternity in heaven. It’s the same for us today — we have a record of Jesus’ words and a record of Jesus’ works — these are the basis of our belief. 

I know, someone sitting here right now is asking: Can it really be so simple to cure a troubled heart?

John helps us out in a very surprising way; showing us what can happen after the cure. In 14:12, Jesus says, “Very, truly, I tell you, the one who believes in Me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these; because I am going to the Father.” Jesus proclaims that His disciples will perform even “greater works” then He has. That’s quite a statement, right? I don’t recall the disciples turning water into wine, feeding thousands, or raising anyone from the dead. Hence, the “greater works” here do not refer to greater in degree, but greater in the sense of extent and effect.

As to extent, Christ’s ministry was limited to Palestine, but through the body of Christ – the church, His work went out not just in Judea, Samaria, and Galilee, but to the farthest parts of the world (Acts 1:8). As to effect, multitudes from all over the world would come to believe in Christ and be placed into the church. When we examine the early chapters of Acts we find that from a numerical standpoint, the works of Peter and the other disciples surpass those of Jesus in a single day – the day of Pentecost. All of this occurs through Jesus’ power because He goes to the Father. 

What I love most about verse 12 in the midst of a discussion of a troubled heart is that as difficult as your troubles and trials are right now, know that the you can still accomplish God’s eternal purpose. When everything that could go wrong seems to be going wrong and your heart is hurting, please know that the gates of hell will not prevail against you and God’s kingdom will advance. As difficult as your heart troubles are, they are temporary. 2 Cor 4:16-18 says, “So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.” God assures you that as you take your eyes off your own troubles and focus on Christ’s work, you will be strengthened. Believing leads to seeing, specifically seeing God work in and through you and God’s people.

We know that Jesus was, and is still today, the living Son of God. We know that He descended from His heavenly home to walk the face of this earth in an earthly body prepared by God. We know that while He was here He healed the sick and He raised the dead. He fed the hungry and He even taught those who wanted to learn God’s Word. And We even know that after his earthly mission was accomplished He climbed up on Calvary’s cross and took the weight of the world upon His shoulders, and He hung down His head and died. Then, He took the sting out of death and the victory out of the grave when He rose from the dead with all power in His hand.

All of this shows the power and significance of the life of Jesus. But we as Christians must understand that while Jesus walked upon the face of this earth, it was not His own personal heavenly power that He used to accomplish this great work.

Jesus was stripped of all His heavenly power when He came down here to this place called earth. But the key is He still knew where His power came from. Jesus never wavered from His belief in His heavenly Father.

Jesus said, “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.” When we have heart trouble we need to stop using God like a magic genie who grants our wishes. God is not a vending machine where you stick in your request and pull out your prize.

Stop living your life based on what you tell God, instead of what God tells you. If you want to cure your troubled heart, the prescription is BELIEF. 

This belief arms us and strengthens us for the present and secures us for the future. It enables us to carry out our calling. That calling is a “present priesthood”: Yes, you and I are called to be priests. In our Epistle reading of 1 Peter 2, Peter says that we are being built up “to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

When sickness comes – Believe Jesus!

When death comes – Believe Jesus!

When the bottom falls out of life – Believe Jesus!

When the answers to your prayers are delayed – Believe Jesus!

When you are ridiculed for your faith – Believe Jesus!

When you are looking at a hopeless situation – Believe Jesus!

There was a little old lady who would come out every morning on the steps of her front porch, raise her arms to the sky and shout, “Praise the Lord!”. One day an atheist moved into the house next door. Over time he became irritated at the little old lady. Every morning he would step out onto his front porch and yell after her, “There is no Lord”.

Time passed, and the two of them carried on that way every day. One morning in the middle of winter, the little old lady stepped onto her front porch and shouted, “Praise the Lord! Lord, I have no food and I am starving. Please provide for me!” 

The next morning, she stepped out onto her porch and there were two huge bags of groceries sitting there. “Praise the Lord!” she cried out. “He has provided groceries for me!” The atheist jumped out of the hedges and shouted, “There is no Lord. I bought those groceries!”

The little old lady threw her arms into the air and shouted, “Praise the Lord! He has provided me with groceries, and He made the devil pay for them!

Faced with a problematic future, the disciples wanted more than a promise. They wanted times and places. They wanted a clear set of directions so they would know how to navigate whatever might come. Jesus, however, simply offers them a promise and His presence.

Viral pandemics create uncertainty. We are not sure where we are in this timeline. We are not sure how we will recover. The way forward is hard. We want some assurance of where we are going, how we will get there, and precisely what will happen along the way. But, today, Jesus answers our prayers and supplies our need not with specific details. Instead, He calls us to believe in Him. He is the way, and the truth, and the life. 

When we come to Jesus, we discover God meeting us no matter how twisted our souls may be. There’s absolutely nothing you’ve done that prevents you from coming to God. You will never be bad enough where God’s grace isn’t sufficient and you will never be good enough where God’s grace isn’t sufficient.

Bring your troubled heart to Jesus and trust Him to take care of it for God’s glory! Embrace Him, His blood and His resurrection as your only hope of a cure. Trust Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and let not your heart be troubled.

Hymn #97 Blessed Gift of Motherhood
~ StarrCross

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Why Can’t All God’s Children Get Along
~StarrCross
God be With You Till We Meet Again
~Teri Lynn Barnaby

And may the Lord bless you and keep you, may the Lord be kind and gracious unto you, may the Lord make His face to shine upon you, and grant you His peace; today and forevermore. Amen

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