Facing down an all-too-familiar feeling

Trouble, deep trouble, gut-wrenching, paralyzing anxiety is surely in your not-too-distant future. Everyone encounters this dreadful emotion – even Jesus. This is the 3rd blog post in which we are considering Jesus’ field-tested approach to dealing with trouble. (Find the previous 2 on my webpage – hopeforkip.com)

Jesus is familiar with the fearful feeling. He has faced turmoil and gut-wrenching anxiety just as we do. His strategy to overcome fear is revealed in John 14.1 – 6.

Previously we considered the two-pronged approach he advises: i1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me…” In other words, Control your emotions by faith in God’s good providence and God’s redemption in Jesus. Next, look up – focus on the bigger picture.

Last time, we reflected on 3 of the 5 golden insights which Jesus gave us. They each inform us about heaven. Here are the final 2.

Heaven is a promised place.

v. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. These words are statements of fact and should be regarded as promises which Jesus intends to keep. Jesus did go and prepare a place for us and we look forward to his return. I will come again….

Jesus will return and when he does, he will return in glory and triumph. The “Palm Sunday” triumphal entry into Jerusalem prefigures this glorious return of Jesus, as King.

Paul speaks of him in Philippians 2.9: Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. When Jesus comes again, he will be recognized for who he is – the LORD of all.

Now look at v. 3 I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. King Jesus wants us to be with him! After going away to prepare a place for us, he will return and take us to be with him.

Heaven is an exclusive place. V. 6

Let me explain what I mean. I have already extended Jesus’ invitation to you. It is yours for the taking. Jesus sincerely and freely offers you forgiveness and pardon for all your sins. His invitation is extended to everyone. So, in that sense, it is not exclusive. God welcomes everyone to come to him, through faith in Jesus Christ. Further, God commands you to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus! But as you know, not everyone accepts this advice.

Heaven, however, is exclusive in the sense that there is only one condition to enter. That is, Jesus must be your only hope and reason for heaven. He says this in the most emphatic terms in v. 6. Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Several years ago, I had a casual conversation with a Roman Catholic priest, who had just returned from a trip to Jerusalem. He declared that Jerusalem was the spiritual center of the world. He was greatly impressed by the architecture of different religious faiths. He remarked, “it was inspiring to see Jews, Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Episcopal, other professing Christians, even Muslims interacting together.” He went on to say that it didn’t matter which road you took because they all lead to God anyway.

I responded: Jesus, the Son of God, says that he is the way, the only way to the Father. “No one comes to the Father except through me,” said Jesus. To this, the priest replied, “Jesus did have his moments, didn’t he?”

But the original Greek is even more emphatic. Here is my literal translation: I myself am the way, and the truth and the life. No one is coming to the Father if not through me. Thus, the only basis for anyone to receive all the wonderful benefits we have discussed, and much, much more, is through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Entrance into the holy presence of God is exclusively through Jesus Christ.

This glorious teaching of Jesus regarding heaven has a very practical application. Do you remember where we started? We were considering how to handle the gut-wrenching issues of life. What should you do when your world caves in?

Your cell phone rings – you get the news and it is not good. As the details unfold, you realize that there is nothing you can do to help. Or perhaps you have been living with this situation for quite some time and there is a turn for the worse. The news seems all bad. You feel like there is no way out. You lose hope. The muscles in your stomach tighten, your insides churn. You feel sick and confused. Your mind is racing but you are unable to think clearly.

Trouble is coming! You can count on it. You cannot avoid it. You will face real and deep trouble. Jesus identifies it as heart trouble. This kind of trouble causes turmoil and anguish.

Jesus’ remedy for heart problems: do not let your hearts be troubled. Lean on him and focus on your glorious future with him. Think about your future in heaven. This is much easier to say than to do. Scholar and pastor James M. Boice counsels that “we take ourselves in hand by a deliberate exercise of mind, strengthen our faith in God. We are to think of him and so overcome trouble by reminding ourselves of the power and promises of God and by trusting in him.”

Control your emotions by faith in God’s providence and in God’s redemption Jesus. Rehearse and review your sure and glorious future in heaven. Heaven is your home; it is where you are accepted and secure. Heaven is the enjoyment of God’s presence. It has been prepared for you by Jesus because he loves you and wants you to be with him. Heaven is what you long for; so, keep it in mind.

4 thoughts on “Facing down an all-too-familiar feeling

  1. Powerfully Clear Message!!! What A Future Lies Ahead. Undeserved, But, Will Be Enjoyed For Eternity!!!

  2. Kip, what do you think that priest meant when he said Jesus had his moments? Was it a flip answer to put you off?

    1. He obviously wanted to close the conversation, As he went to get another beer! He obviously didn’t believe Jesus was the way, That is the only way. Thanks.

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