Home for Troubled Hearts

John 14:1-6

As we come to John 14, we come to one of the most beloved chapters in the Bible. Right up there with Psalm 23, Luke 15, and Romans 8, many Christians say that their favorite chapter in all of the scriptures is the one we are going to be contemplating over the next several weeks.

The reason for this becomes obvious as we read the headings that various translations of the Bible precede this chapter with: “Jesus Comforts His Disciples,” “Comfort for Troubled Hearts,” and “Hope for Troubled Hearts.” It’s obvious that these captions come from the first verse of the chapter: “Let Not Your Hearts Be Troubled” (John 14:1).

Now, it’s no wonder their hearts are troubled. To fully appreciate why, we need to take a peek at the preceding chapter where Jesus is speaking:

Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer. And as I told the Jewish leaders, you will search for me, but you can’t come where I am going. So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” [Peter isn’t interested in talking about loving one another, he’s more interested in Jesus going away, so] Simon Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?” And Jesus replied, “You can’t go with me now, but you will follow me later.” “But why can’t I come now, Lord?” he asked. “I’m ready to die for you.” Jesus answered, “Die for me? I tell you the truth, Peter—before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me (John 13:33-38).

All of them, to be sure, Peter the most, but all of them are befuddled and bewildered and suffering from what psychologists would call today ‘separation anxiety;’ that is being separated from someone you have come to love. They have all left their lives in Galilee to be with the most amazing and marvelous person they have ever encountered. Now He says, “I am going away, and sorry but you guys can’t come along.”

Peter speaks for them all as he expresses his desire to remain with Jesus: “Why can’t I go? I’ll do anything if you’ll let me come with You. Can’t you see that I am so devoted to You, totally sold out that I am ready to give my life for You and Your cause.”

“Oh yeah, Peter, will you really lay down your life for me? The truth is, in less than 12 hours you will deny you even know Me.”

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Sabbath Rest

Deuteronomy 5:1-5, 12-15
Mark 2:23-28

Is it safe for me to assume that all of us knows what it’s like to ride a bicycle? Can I also assume that there was a time when your bike tires were a little low? You ever wonder where that air went. You know you didn’t let it out; it just went, somewhere, somehow. And so you had to get out a hand pump and re-inflate them? And if we didn’t want to take the time or energy to do so we soon discovered that it takes more exertion to pedal with low air pressure.

Life can be like a low bike tire. We don’t purposefully take air out … it just sort of leaves. Rough day at work? Hissssssssssss (that’s the sound of air leaking). Have to work overtime? Hissssssssssss. Too many e-mails to answer? Hissssssssssss. Too much information overload. Hissssssssssss. And just as it’s harder to pedal with flat tires, it’s not as easy to live well when air leaks out of our lives.

Modern life just has a way of deflating us, of sucking the air out of life.

For many, OUR WORK is sucking the life out of us.

Americans are working longer weeks than ever. “The Center for American Progress reports that 86% of men and 67% of women now work more than 40 hours a week. Add to that how many check work e-mail at home and over the weekend and it’s not hard to imagine the toll this takes on family and one’s personal life. Working overtime is associated with poorer perceived general health, increased injury rates, more illnesses, and increased mortality. Two recent studies have linked long work hours to a higher risk of depression. We are skipping vacations to boot. After 10 years of service, the average German gets 20 days of paid vacation, the English, 28, and the Finns, 30, Americans, 15. And we’re not even taking them. 1

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Raggedness to Righteousness

Jeremiah 23:5-8
Matthew 1:18-23
Romans 4:1-5

Have you noticed that with the passing of the years we are urged to purchase ever more extravagant, and therefore, expensive Christmas gifts? Can anyone remember a time when you would turn on the television and be encouraged to buy a woman an item of clothing or a hairdryer, and a drill or set of sockets for the man of the house? Now we see that commercial where the husband brings his wife out of the house to see two brand new $30,000 his and hers full-size pick-up trucks sitting there with Christmas bows attached.

Which brings up the question: ‘What is the greatest Christmas gift you have ever received?’ And how do you measure it as the greatest gift? By its monetary or sentimental value?

I know a pastor who was leading a Christmas celebration at a nursing home and asked the residents to share their greatest Christmas gift. After all who wanted to share theirs, he told about his greatest Christmas gift that he received when he was seven years old. Early on Christmas Eve, his mother took him and his brother out for a treat. It was her way of getting both of them out of their 5th-floor apartment in the Bronx so their father could prepare for later on. As they climbed the stairs back to the apartment, the shrill sound of a whistle filled the hallway. “What was that and where did it come from?” he asked his brother. Their pace quickened and a second burst of the whistle could be heard. They burst into the apartment and there was their father playing engineer with the biggest Lionel train they had ever laid their eyes on. It was magnificent, so unexpected, so wonderful! 50 years later, that pastor still has that train set and cherishes it more than any other material gift he has ever received.

In three days, people all over the globe will open millions of gifts. Some of them will be greatly prized and appreciated by the recipients. However; many will be the wrong size, or the wrong color, or the wrong item and thus will begin the annual migration of gift receivers returning to stores to exchange or return their undesired gifts.

The good news is there is a gift that is perfect in every way for it will never wear out, never break or need repairing or replacing or repurchasing! It is a gift that is appropriate for anyone from grandmas and grandpas to small children and everyone in between. It makes no difference if it’s a boy or girl, man or woman. I am speaking today about THE GIFT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS!

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Christmas Was Made for Times Such as These

Isaiah 8:20 – 9:26-7
John 1:1-5
I Peter 1:3-9

During World War II, a woman named Anne took her two little children to Texas to be with her parents over Christmas because her husband was stationed in Europe. As they prepared for Christmas by putting up a Christmas tree and lights, they almost put aside the worry of the war. Then one week before Christmas they got that dreaded knock on the door and the terrible news that her husband had been killed. She had to tell her children their daddy wouldn’t be coming for Christmas ever. And then Anne went upstairs threw herself on her bed and began to weep. Her mother and father debated and finally decided it would be best to take down the Christmas tree, lights and the other decorations. But when Anne finally came out of her room a couple of hours later, she asked, “Why did you guys put Christmas away?”

Her mother said, “Anne, we’re all so broken-hearted, your father and I decided this is no time for Christmas.”

And Anne said, “Oh, no mother, please put the tree and lights back up again, Christmas was made for times such as these.”

Indeed, Christmas was made for times such as these, for with the coming of Christ, a new hope was born. A new hope that is rooted in the 5th verse of John’s magnificent prologue “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it” (John 1:5).

Don’t you love how the Bible is so honest, it doesn’t sugar coat life; it acknowledges darkness.

Even in the midst of that first Christmas; it tells of a man who lost his ability to speak when he didn’t believe the angel who told him his “mature” wife was with child. It tells of a humble carpenter who nearly put his betrothed away because she was with child he did not father. It tells of a pregnant woman almost to full-term making a laborious journey to register for a census in Bethlehem. It tells of a mad king killing infants two years old and under in order to protect his throne.

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Left Behind? May It Never Be!

Matthew 24

Before I had made a faith decision for Christ, I had a dream of being left behind. In my dream, I dreamed I had awakened, I got up out of bed, noticing that my wife had already gotten up. I walked down the hall peeking in the bedrooms, no kids in sight. They must be in the living room watching television; but no, nobody in the living room, this was strange I wonder where they are. In the dining room, no; kitchen, no. In the garage; both cars were there, so where were they? The house was quiet and felt eerily empty.

And then I heard a faint noise, seemed to be coming from outside in the backyard. Went to the patio doors hoping to get a glimpse of someone in my family. And there they were, but they were in a line with other people; dressed in blue robes, moving slowly forward, holding candles and singing. Instinctively I somehow knew that they were going to be with God, and I was not. And I just wanted to be with them, so I ran down the steps of the deck and began to run across the yard to join them, but was stopped in my tracks by an invisible barrier that prevented me from joining them in their pilgrimage. And I started to yell, “Hey, wait for me, I want to go with you!” But they didn’t seem to hear me, so I started screaming, “Wait for me!” However, the barrier that was preventing me from going to them was also apparently a sound barrier. Something inside told me that was the last time I was going to see them and I watched helplessly as they moved on and disappeared out of my sight. The strangest thing about that dream was I was a professing atheist at the time and yet I knew that they had gone to be with the Lord while I had been left behind.

Matthew 24 is one of several Bible passages that clue us in to the fact that somehow, someway, someday the Lord Jesus is going to make another grand entrance.

It’s one of the four traditional themes of advent; last week Proclamation; next week, Hope, the Sunday before Christmas, Love, and today Preparation. Preparation for the first and second coming of Christ.

When was the last time you thought about, or anyone reminded you about the Second coming of Christ? In the midst of all our Christmas preparations, that aspect of Christmas often is forgotten.

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Thank You Lord

Matthew 6:19-21
II Corinthians 8:1-9, 9:11b-15

Two men were stranded on a desert island. One, who seemed cheerful and upbeat was wealthy; the other was nervous and dispirited. He said to the first man, “Why are you so upbeat? Your money is not going to do you any good on this God-forsaken island. We’re both going to probably die here and you know darn well you can’t take it with you when you go!”

“Cheer up,” replied the first man, “We’ll be just fine.”

“What makes you so sure?”

“Because I tithe and I know it’s only a matter of time until my pastor finds me!”

Two weeks ago, my goal was to get us thinking about ‘money.’ I challenged all of us to consider whether or not money is, for us, an idol. We asked ourselves the question Jesus asked Simon Peter “Do you love Me more than these?” where we saw the ‘these’ referred to Peter’s friends, boats and nets, in other words, his ability to make money. I posed the question in the words of a song, “Do we love Jesus ‘more than anything, more than worldly wealth’?” We saw that Jesus gives us a clear choice in the matter: Who or what gets first place in our lives? God or money? We talked about the signs that indicate we might be in danger of putting money first over our relationship with God.

Last week: I began with the following three statements: “Money is a tool. Money is a tool that God has entrusted to us. Money is a tool that God has entrusted to us to use for His glory.”

I shared with the Biblical solution that brings peace to the Christian’s life because it also honors God: the 10/10/80 Plan; whereby we give the first 10% of our income to God, the second 10% goes into our own interest bearing savings account and then we live on the 80%.

And we saw in II Corinthians 9:7 that Paul encourages all of us to think these things through, make a decision about how much we want to give and then just do it, week in and week out.

If you missed either of those two messages, I highly encourage you to go to our website, plug in your headphones and give a listen.

With that as a reminder of where we have been, let’s hear the scripture reading for the day.

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No Dissonance Here, Please

Proverbs 21:20
Luke 16:13-15
II Corinthians 9:6-15

Before I read today’s scripture, I would like to do a little review of last week.

My goal last week was to get us thinking about ‘money.’

I challenged all of us to consider whether or not money is, for us, an idol.

We asked ourselves the question Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Do you love Me more than these?” where we saw the ‘these’ referred to Peter’s friends, boats and nets, in other words, his ability to make money.

I posed the question in the words of a song, “Do we love Jesus ‘more than anything, more than worldly wealth’?”

We saw that Jesus gives us a clear choice in the matter: Who or what gets first place in our lives? God or money?

And we talked about the signs that indicate we might be in danger of putting money first over our relationship with God.

If you missed that message, I highly encourage you to go to, plug in your headphones and give a listen.

I hope that message you got you to thinking about this subject. For I told you last week that today I would point us in the direction of dethroning money in order to give God His rightful place on the throne.

After all, “God is holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty.” 1 and because He is, “It Is the Cry of Our Hearts to Follow Him.” 2

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More than Anything?

John 21:15-17

“More than anything, more than anything, I love you Jesus, more than anything.” 1

I don’t know about you but I have a very difficult time singing that song. It makes me examine whether or not I really do love Jesus more than . . . anything. More than I loved spending the day yesterday with family and friends in Columbus tailgating the Ohio State game? Maybe if I really loved Jesus more, I would have spent the day reading the Bible, or maybe I should have given the gas and food money to missionaries.

Every time I sing that song and question how much I love Jesus, I think of John 21 where Jesus asked Simon Peter a similar question about how much he loved Jesus.

After breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”
“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.
Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”
“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.
A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.

If Jesus had asked me the question He asked Peter, I too would have evaded His question with my answer, “Lord, you know I love you?” For did you notice that the question was not “Do you love Me?” If that would have been the question, it would be a no-brainer, all of us would say with Peter “You know I love You.”

But the question was, “Do you love Me more than these?” And the question is, what are the ‘these’ Jesus refers to?

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Leadership Sunday

This week, members of CrossPointe’s Leadership Team shared their thoughts on the importance of worship.

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