It's exciting to have a great mix of people here in our church. Add to this. It's pretty amazing when you think of all the differences represented here in this socio-political, economically diverse, multi-generational group that we all share this one thing in common. What's the one thing? We do we all have in common? We do not like to see someone who is hurting. When the people of First Congregational-UCC in Harford see someone who is sad, we want to take their pain away.
You know this. You cannot take someone's pain away, but there is One who can! And His name is Jesus.
For the child of God, there is so much hope to be found in John 14:1-3. We often overlook these verses though. Some tragic events have taken place in the lives of Jesus and His disciples. If you read a little further, you find this is only the beginning of many troubles that are to come. Often overshadowed by the glorious promise of Heaven is the fact that the disciples are grieved. Their hearts are "troubled."
These guys were in the middle of a literal storm not that long ago. You know the storm I am talking about. The wind was blowing. The waves were crashing. Water was filling the boat and the disciples were consumed with fear. While all of this was going on, Jesus was asleep in the back of the boat. They woke Him and said, "Master, do you not care that we are sinking here?" Jesus, who had to have been as wet as they were, meandered over to the edge of the boat and said, "Peace, be still." And behold, the winds ceased and there was a great calm.
In our text today, these same followers are in the middle of a great spiritual and emotional storm. Once again Jesus speaks peace! He looks to His disciples and says, "Let not your hearts be troubled."
You may or may not have been in a boat recently, but you may be experiencing a troubled heart. Through these verses, I'll show that there is help for a troubled heart.
I would like to begin in verse one by examining the source of a troubled heart. In this world, we all encounter and endure troubles. Jesus tells us this is the case. But He also tells us that through Him we will have peace. John 16:33 says, "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."
To fully comprehend the trouble the disciples are experiencing here, let's look back to the events of John 13. In the first few verses of John 13, the Lord wraps a towel around His waist and begins to wash His disciple's feet. Shortly after He finishes this, He reveals the fact that one of them will betray Him. This devastates these men and they begin to ponder, "Who could this be?" Eventually, it becomes clear that Judas is the one. This must have been devastating to these men. Judas...he...he is one of them! He had been with them from the beginning. They had spent years together. They had a friendship, a bond. The eleven even trusted Judas to manage the money, which, as we all know, is a big deal.
And while he was still with them, while going through the motions and putting up a good front, Judas had already gone behind their back and had made arrangements with the enemies of Christ to betray Him for thirty pieces of silver.
The disciples make this clear for all of us. In this life, we all have troubles. Many of you are facing great difficulty as we speak. But if we are honest with ourselves, most of our problems in the moment are small compared to what Peter, James, John and the rest of the disciples were dealing with. Think of it. The disciple's hearts were not troubled because of a rebellious child. Their problem was not a rainy Saturday and they really had planned to get out there and mow the lawn because in NE Pennsylvania, May IS Mower Month. Their problem was not that it was eleventh hour—literally past 11 AM—and they had not yet called their Mother on Mother's Day. They pitched all that they owned so they were not stressing over bills they could not pay. They were not focused on the declining economy. They were not concerned because of a bad report from the doctor.
I am not making light of any of these troubles, but the disciples were extremely distressed over this thought: being separated from their Master. They longed to be with Jesus and did not want to be away from Him.
Maybe you are "troubled spiritually." You may not realize it, but your troubled heart may come from the fact that you, too, are away from your Master. But the difference between you and the disciples is the fact that you have made a conscious choice to be away from Him. And this distance has brought trouble into your life. I want you to understand that Jesus sees your trouble and He cares!
Notice Jesus' sympathy for a troubled heart. The words "let not your heart be troubled" show us that Jesus knew of their trouble. The words also show us that He cared about their heartaches. In fact, He cared enough to address it and to speak comfort to them! These men had just learned that their Lord, Savior, Master and Friend was going to die. So, um...yes...their hearts were "troubled!"
At this moment, the Lord's disciples were experiencing fear, uncertainty, distress, grief, and sadness. But Jesus loved them and He began to speak words of comfort and encouragement. He told them of a greater plan. He spoke of a brighter day and a better place. He also gave them the promise of "another comforter" (the Holy Spirit). And He assured them that they would see Him again. Get this. It is His desire to encourage them. It is His desire to strengthen them.
His desire is the same for you. If you are here today and you have a troubled heart, Jesus cares about you! And Jesus is the only one who can help your troubled heart. Down in verse 18, Jesus gives the disciples a promise. And this promise applies to us as much as it did them. Notice this. John 14:18 I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you. Simply stated, Jesus CARES ABOUT YOUR TROUBLED HEART!!!
We encounter individuals who are hurting, and, being who we are, we have sympathy and compassion for them. We would do anything we could to help them, but we do not have the power or the resources to solve their problem. Jesus has all the power and resources at His disposal!!
So what is the solution for your troubled heart? TURN TO JESUS. For help with your troubled heart, turn to the one who knows more about your hurt than you do—Jesus. For help with your troubled heart, turn to Jesus.
It doesn't end there. There is a second step in this solution for your troubled heart. TRUST IN JESUS. For the disciple's troubled hearts to be comforted, for them to have peace, they had to trust in Jesus. Hear our first verse in today's scripture again. "Don't let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me."
Please connect with us on our church Facebook page if you have a computer. I ask this because I can reach you through the week, and now I am going to connect what I sent this past Friday. It's a part of Charles Stanley's daily devotional.
On the Sea of Galilee, the optimal time of the day for fishing had passed hours earlier, so the fishermen were now cleaning their nets along the shore. But at the request of an itinerant preacher, one lowered his into the water. The reward for Peter's trust was a record-breaking—and net-breaking—catch. See, Peter wouldn't receive his blessings—in this case the fish, until he trusted Jesus. For a troubled heart, turn to Jesus and trust in Jesus.
I have a true story from Sam Yapa who came to the United States to attend a small state college. You'll hear through Sam's words that Jesus actually turned to him so that Sam could trust in our Savior. These are Sam's words.
"I planned to go on to medical school. My first year of college was perfect. I was getting great grades, I had a girlfriend and lots of friends...
"I knew plenty of Christians. In fact, I read the Bible often, just so I could argue with Christians. I wanted to know what they believed so I could break down their reasons for believing. For example, my biophysics professor was a Christian. He would tell me about the miracles in his life, the ways he supposedly saw God's work in the world. But I thought he was way off. I'd argue with him, and try to convince him he was foolish to believe in Jesus. His faith was a joke to me.
"...[Then came] my junior year of college. Everything...started to fall apart. My girlfriend broke up with me, I ran out of money and I had to drop out of school.... I thought about going back to my family in Sri Lanka, but I didn't want to face them when I'd failed so miserably.
"One night, I sat in the college library, trying to come up with ways to get out of my situation. The only solution that seemed "reasonable" was suicide. But as I sat there thinking of the best way to kill myself, I heard a voice say, "Have you ever asked me for help?" I looked around and couldn't see anyone. I thought I was going crazy. Then I heard the voice say, "I'm Jesus, and I'm right here next to you."
"I know this sounds strange. Believe me, I was pretty freaked out by it, too. But I honestly heard Jesus talking to me. As I listened, I felt something I'd never experienced before.
"I felt filled up, not hollow and empty. I knew that what was happening to me was real. I wanted to talk to someone, but I didn't know who. Suddenly I felt God urging me to go see my biophysics professor. That's right, the same guy I'd been arguing with all year.
"I walked across campus to the science building and found him working in his office. As I walked in, he said, "I'm so glad you're here...." We talked a long time. I told him how empty my life had become. I told him what I'd experienced in the library. As he talked to me about Jesus' power to change lives, I knew I was ready to follow Jesus. He prayed with me. That was the day I became a Christian.
"After that, things started to change. God provided just what I needed, like a rent-free place to stay. But it wasn't just my situation, it was my heart that was really changing. I wasn't worried about the future because I had what didn't have before."
I stop Sam's story here because you heard him say this: his heart was changing. His troubled heart had changed to a healthy heart.
Here's the deal. To get help for a troubled heart, turn to and trust in Jesus.
The disciples had to turn to and trust in Jesus. With his fishing net, Peter had to turn to and trust in Jesus. And Sam's biophysics teacher? Think about it. That teacher turned to and trusted in Jesus. Yes, there's a part of Sam's story we did not hear. It's what Sam's biophysics teacher did. Certainly, he saw Sam's troubled heart, and he prayed.
Jesus has the greatest compassion for you. Jesus knows you. Jesus knows your aches. Jesus knows your pains. Jesus knows your heart, even when troubled.
You may be like Sam and have a troubled heart today. You may be like Sam's teacher and you know someone who has a troubled heart today. Whether you're like Sam or his teacher, do this now in silent prayer: turn to and trust in Jesus.
In a book called America on Six Rubles a Day by Russian Yakov Smirnoff. "Coming from the Soviet Union," says Yakov, "I was not prepared for the incredible variety of products available in American grocery stores. While on my first shopping trip, I saw powdered milk--you just add water, and you get milk. Then I saw powdered orange juice--you just add water, and you get orange juice. And then I saw baby powder--I thought to myself, 'What a country!'" Sorry, Yakov, it's not that easy. It's not that easy to bear children, and it is not that easy to raise them.
Jesus replied, "All who love me will do what I say" John 14:23
Do you love Jesus? I'm sure you do. Do you think Jesus likes to hear you say, "I love you?"
I know He does. But he likes it even better when you show Him that you love Him. How do youdo that? He told us how. He said, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teachings." The Bible is full of things that Jesus taught us. You show him that you love him by obeying his teaching.
How can you show your mother that you love her? Well, I made up a list of what I think might be the top ten ways to show your mother that you love her.
10. Make your bed
9. Pick up your clothes
8. Keep your room clean
7. Take out the trash
6. Help her fix dinner
5. Set the table
4. Help with the dishes
3. Don't mess with your brothers or sisters
2. Give your mom your time not for what you want to do but with what she wants to do with you
And the #1 way to show your mother that you love her is....
1. Obey her when she tells you to do something
So remember, your mom likes to hear you say, "I love you," but she likes it even more when you show her that you love her. When you leave here today, don't forget to tell your mom that you love her, but more important, show her that you love her. As we worship today, tell Jesus that you love him, but more important, remember to show him that you love him by doing the things that he taught us.
Dear Lord, we have come to your house today to say, "I love you." Help us to go out of here today and show you that we love you by obeying your teachings. Amen.