Let me start off by saying that all people are different but all people are the same. You and I are different but we’re the same. We’re really different in just the small things: ages, sex, race, fashions, life experiences. So, we’re different in those areas but we’re the same in the big areas because our Creator created each one of us in His own image. And so we all want the same things. We’re all asking the same questions no matter what our background is. There are four basic questions that every heart asks. It doesn’t matter what your background or your life experience is. These questions are just encoded into us. It’s part of what it means to be a human being. And when you understand what these four questions are, it will take you a long way to understanding yourself. What your heart wants. Why you do what you do. And when you understand these four questions, it’ll help you understand other people, the other people in your life. Why they do what they do. What they really want. Your loved ones who live in your home. Your neighbors. The people at work. And when you really understand what it is they’re seeking after and you understand the answer, you’ll be able to really, really help them. Everybody struggles with these questions and has to find the answers. Even Jesus’ twelve apostles that had just spent three years with Him, even they wrestled with these four questions. And so on the last night of Jesus’ life when He was about to leave them and He was preparing them to be successful after He left, He gave them the four answers to these four questions and that’s where we’re going to start. We’re going to start in John 14:1.
“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.”
Do not let your heart be troubled. Now, what’s a troubled heart? It’s an anxious heart. It’s a heart that’s filled with worry. It’s a heart that’s unsettled, that’s unsatisfied, that’s unfulfilled. It’s a heart that has more questions than answers. Have you ever experienced a trouble heart? Maybe you live with a troubled heart all the time. Have you ever been kept up at night because of a troubled heart? Now, everybody seeks peace and fulfillment. And everybody asks the question: How can I find it? How can I find peace in my heart? On this very night, in verse 27, just a few verses later in the chapter, Jesus is going to say this, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you.” Jesus’ peace is the antidote to a troubled heart. Can I say that again? The peace Jesus gives us is the antidote to a troubled heart. Now, Jesus, of course, was a Jew and that meant that when Jesus used the word “peace”, (it’s peace in the Greek in the Bible, He spoke Aramaic), He had the understanding of a Jew that is the Hebrew word. What is the Hebrew word for peace? Shalom. Shalom doesn’t just mean the absence of conflict. Shalom is a word that means wholeness, it means well-being, it means tranquility, it means fulfillment. It means all those things. It’s what the whole world is seeking after. Now, when people don’t have that peace in their heart, then they’re always seeking to distract themselves. When we don’t have shalom, then we’re forever trying to find ways to distract ourselves from the troubled heart. And so people begin to misuse anything: drugs, alcohol, shopping, sex. We can get addicted to anything. Sports. Anything to take our mind and distract us from that lack of peace. And I did it myself. When I was a young person, you know I misused alcohol. I was an alcoholic. I misused other things. I had really bad choices and it was all in an effort to distract my troubled heart until I discovered the secret. Jesus said, “Believe in God, believe also in Me.” Now here’s the first question.
What should I believe?
That’s the first question. We’re going to go over four questions every heart seeks. Four questions to escape a troubled heart. The first question: What should I believe? Here’s the second most important part: What can I put my faith and trust in? This is the first and most important question of them all because it’s a question everybody has to ask. Because it’s impossible to live without faith. Because one thing that we all know is that we are not self-sufficient. We are dependent creatures. We did not bring ourselves into the world. We cannot determine the day of our death… I mean, we can’t extend it beyond that. We don’t know what tomorrow brings. We don’t know what next year brings. We can’t control situations. And so, we know that we need to put our faith in something outside of ourselves. We need to reach out to something that we can put our faith into. And if we get this question wrong… the question: What will I put my trust in? What am I going to trust in life?…. if we get that wrong, we’ll get the other three questions wrong. How many of you know that when you put your faith in the wrong thing, it comes with a very high price? How many of you guys know that’s true? We have a lot of people with hearts that are troubled in our world. The National Institute of Health said that at any one time in America, 18% of the people have an anxiety disorder. Ten percent of the people suffer from clinical depression. And I know that life’s complicated but I just want to talk in the big picture. In the big picture, Jesus just says to us, “Believe in God, believe also in Me.” And I wonder for most of us, how much of what’s going on inside of us that’s wrong, how much of our problems around us wouldn’t be solved if we would just take these words, “Believe in God, believe also in Me”? How much of life goes wrong and how many troubles do we have because we simply don’t put total trust in Jesus and follow His way?
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.
So, trust in the Lord with ALL of your heart, not with part of your heart. Don’t trust in the Lord with a divided heart. Don’t trust in the Lord with a doubting heart. But trust in the Lord completely. And then it says, “Do not lean on your own understanding.” Now, what does that mean if you do not lean on your own understanding? What that means is that you don’t have to understand everything before you can obey. See, a lot of people, they can’t do it the Lord’s way because they don’t understand. “If I obey God, how’s this going to turn out? I don’t see it. I don’t get it. I can’t trust it.” And they can’t obey until they can see.
If you have to understand before you can obey, you don’t have real faith so you can never have real peace.
Because what happens is whenever you face a situation and you can’t understand how it’s going to work out, you can’t understand how obeying God could ever make this work out right, then you will not obey and therefore your life will be filled with compromise and turmoil and trouble, not peace. This brings us to the second question. The first question is so important: Where do I put my trust? What am I going to trust in? Now, Jesus had told them in the previous chapter, the same night, chapter 13 is the same night, and He told them that He was going to die. He’d be leaving them. And so the second question is about death.
“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”
So, the second question is about death.
What about death? What happens when I die?
The National Institute of Health tells us that 68% of the population has an overwhelming fear of death. Most of us fear death. And because we fear death, what do we do? We try to never think about it. We try to never talk about it or think about it. We do anything we can to push it out of our mind. I remember when I was 22 I had to renew my driver’s license. I had to go back down there and renew it. And after the process was over, she handed me my license and she gave me a sticker to put on the back of it. And that was a donor card. At that time they were stickers. And you just had to go and fill out which of your organs you were willing to give up after your death. I was not yet a Christian. I was 22. She said, “Do you want to donate your organs after death?” Well, I thought, “I’m not going to need them anymore. And I’m a good person so, of course.” She gave it to me. I took it to the table in the back of the room there at the DMV. I put it down to fill it out. Pen in this hand. And I froze. All I had to do was check several boxes and sign it. And I couldn’t move. I froze. I could not put that pen to that piece of paper because that made death real. And I did everything I could to escape from ever thinking about death. So, after a few moments, I put that on the back of my license. I thought, “I’ll fill it out later.” Stuck it in my wallet. I did not fill it out until I was 23 and was a Christian. And then you can face death because it looks all different when Jesus is your Savior. Listen, the fear of death is a main underlying cause of panic attacks. The fear of death manifests itself in physical, in psychological and in behavioral maladies and problems. The fear of death is the granddaddy of all fears. The fear of death is like this background noise that never stops. It’s always on. And we do everything we can to try to not hear it but it’s always there and it’s always coming up in so many different ways in our life.
Now, why do we fear death so much? Because we fear death so much, we lie to ourselves about it. And probably the first and greatest lie is this materialistic evolution. What a whopper. Everything that we see came out of nowhere for no reason with no design and no purpose and it all came out of just billions of accidents that just happened to work out just right. That’s the biggest whopper that’s ever been told in the history of the earth. Everything just came out of nowhere for no reason with no design and no plan and no help, and yet, look how good it turned out. And yet people are willing to believe it. Why? Because if there’s no Creator then when you die, you won’t have to face Him. You’ll never have to give accountability for anything in your life. You just cease to exist.
Another lie that we like to tell ourselves, those people in the New Age type movement, we like to believe the lie of reincarnation. That you never really die, you just keep coming back and back and back. By the way, can I tell you that that doesn’t sound like good news to me. I went around once. I want something better. I’m looking for eternal rest. I’m looking for eternal joy. I’m looking for a reward. But anyway, the idea that you never really have to deal with death because you never really die, you just keep coming back. But the Bible says in Hebrews 9:27 that it’s appointed for each of us to die once and then comes the judgment.
I’ll tell you another thing that people like to think about and believe in in order to deal with this fear of death is these near-death experiences. Now, oftentimes and the more popular ones, it talks about people dying and going towards this light and it’s warm and it’s affirming and it’s beautiful and they’re just moving towards this light and then all of a sudden they’re drawn back into their body. And of course, scientists and doctors, they’re not sure: is this something that they’re really experiencing or is this just some physiological thing that takes place in the brain, you know, seeing this light has to do with the chemistry and the neurology of the brain as it begins to shut down? Nobody knows. By the way, you know there’s a lot of other near-death experiences that don’t involve the lights and warmth. I don’t know if you know that. They don’t get printed up but they involve darkness and fear and lostness and even hell. But anyway, let’s just take a look at these light things. Let’s say there is a warm light that you’re going towards and it emanates love. Well, what happens if that light is God and when you get to God, who is love, who is light, who is warmth, He does just what the Bible says: He judges you and He casts you into the outer darkness? But the point is, we don’t really have to take the testimony of people that have been dead for 30 seconds or two minutes or five minutes because we have the testimony of someone that was in the grave for three days. A person who just happened to feed 5,000 people with a few loaves of bread, who walked on the water, who raised the dead, who in fact lived in eternity before He came to earth and died and was in the grave for three days. And His testimony is that there is life after death, there is a heaven, there is a hell and that He has gone forth and prepared a place for us. And we don’t have to be afraid of it anymore.
Now, why do we fear death so much? The reason is its ultimate loss of control. It means when you die you lose everything you’re familiar with, everything you possess, the people that you love and you lose total control. And part of the human condition of being these dependent creatures is that we fear whatever we can’t control. And death is the ultimate loss of control. And so that’s why it’s the ultimate fear. So, let me ask you a question. The big question is if we’re not in control, is anybody in control? And happily the answer is: Yes, God is in control. Jesus is in control. And He’s told us He’s gone ahead of us, He’ll come back and take us, and He’s prepared a place for us so we don’t need to be afraid. That’s why I could fill out that card after I became a Christian. The next verse gives us the third question. Remember, Jesus had just told them He’s preparing a place after they die.
”And you know the way where I am going.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?”
Now, Jesus had just affirmed them and comforted them about what happens after death. And now Thomas says, “Okay, but how do we get from here to there? How do we live on this planet until we go to be with You?” That is the third question.
How should I live?
What path is the one to take? What values should I have? What choices should I make as I face all the important decisions of life.? Like… career, or marriage, or what should my major be, or how should I raise my kids? What is the path to peace and happiness? How should I live? Everyone is looking for the pathway to happiness. And the tragedy of our culture is that our cultural elites… I mean, our educators, our professors, our entertainers, politicians, have removed for most people the signs on the road to life that used to guide people and protect people. And now they’ve removed those signs and so so many people are wandering around lost and aimless, especially our young people, with no clear direction. They don’t even know what the rules are. They don’t even understand what the game is. They don’t even know what they’re trying to win or how to play the game. A while ago, I read a newspaper article about two young people who had committed suicide. They had a suicide pact. And they had left a suicide note. It only had eight words on that note. Here’s the suicide note. “We are going to kill ourselves. So what?” Really, they didn’t have any direction or purpose. “We are going to kill ourselves. So what?” I want to tell you that you support something called Youth Venture and it’s largely a mentoring program. And the very first book that we take these young people through (95% of them are non-churched background), the first book is called, “So what? Who cares?” because that’s the great question young people are asking. Why does it matter? What is the point? Why should I try? When so many around me aren’t trying, why should I try? So, the first three lessons takes them through and tells them why it matters, why life is a gift, why they are loved, why they are chosen, what the rules of the game are and how to succeed. People are desperate for direction on how to live.
I did some research and the number I kept getting was that about 25% of Americans consult the horoscope at least semi-regularly. Do you know that almost every major newspaper in America has a horoscope because people are looking for direction? Over 2 billion dollars a year are spent on psychics and psychic hotlines because people want to know: How do I live? What choices should I make? So, Jesus answers the question, “How should I live?” in verse five and six.
Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
Listen, people want a map but what you get is a guide. People want a map where they can get it and it tells them what life’s all about and everything and then they can go, “Okay, God, I got it from here. Check with you after eternity. Don’t need you anymore.” But you don’t get a map, you get a guide, a living guide. His name is Jesus.
There was a story told about the Vietnam War and a pilot was shot down. He was shot down just on the other side of the enemy lines, kind of in enemy territory. And of course, he was hiding and he was afraid. How could he escape detection? How could he figure out to get back to his side? And all of a sudden, he heard this rustling and a Vietnamese villager came into the clearing where he was. And after sizing him up, the pilot realized that he was friendly, that he was someone that supported the Americans. And so he asked the villager, “How do I get back to my side? What’s the way?” And in broken English, the villager said, “I’m the way. Follow me.” And he began to cut a path with his machete and took him back to the American side. That’s what Jesus says, “All the questions you have in life: How do I live? What decisions should I make?” He says, “I am the way.” His teachings and His example is the way. You see, the Bible is like a compass. It’s full of the teachings and the examples of Jesus as well as the other prophets and it will always point you to true north. It will always give you the bearings as you’re trying to figure out how to make your way. And then He gave us the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit is like GPS because the Holy Spirit is always with us. The Holy Spirit is always ready to bring a course correction: turn around, for a quarter mile, make a right. The Holy Spirit always knows where we are. The Holy Spirit is always whispering to us. So, if you want to know how to live, how to make the right choices in life, how to have the right values, then my question to you is, do you regularly study and read the Bible? And, are you growing in your ability to walk in the Spirit, to live a life where day by day you’re looking towards God, you’re asking the Holy Spirit to guide you? Because that’s what you get. You get a guide, not just a map. Let’s go to the fourth question. The answer to the fourth question is in verse eight. You get the answer before you get the question.
Philip said to Him, (knowing that Jesus was going to leave), “Lord, show us the Father , and it is enough for us.”
“Show us the Father and it is enough for us.” You see, the disciples had spent three years watching Jesus carefully. They saw that He was a man of total confidence. He was a man who was at peace with Himself and with everyone else around Him. He was a man that lived a lifestyle of love. Not only giving love but somehow receiving love so that He always seemed at peace and filled up. And they watched this man and they thought, “What makes Him so different from anyone else we’ve ever met? What is His secret?” And then after watching Him for a while, they decided they knew what it was. His secret, what made Him so different from anyone else they met, was the relationship He had with God in which God was His Father. And so when Jesus is leaving, Philip says this, “Show us the Father, the way You know the Father, and that will be enough. We won’t need anything else. We’ll be fine after You leave us. If You’ll just show us the Father, it will be enough.” When does anybody else say it’s enough? Does a rich person ever say, “No, thank you. I’ve got all the money I need.” Does a person who’s seeking power or popularity ever say, “No, I don’t need any more power. I don’t need any more popularity.” Does an alcoholic ever say, “Man, that last drink was really good. I don’t think I’ll ever take another drink as long as I live. That’s enough.” Where else in life does anybody ever say, “I don’t need anymore. It’s enough.” But Philip had watched Jesus and so he knew if he could just know the Father the way Jesus did, that would be the only thing that would ever be enough. He would never have to be a slave to anything else. Show us the Father and that will be enough. And that’s the answer to the fourth question. And the fourth question that every heart asks is this.
Where can I find love that doesn’t fail? Where can I find acceptance?
Where can I find total acceptance? Where can I really belong? Do you know that people will do almost anything not to feel alone, not to feel isolated, not to feel rejected, not to feel ignored or disconnected? And Jesus said that He was the key to experiencing this love that comes from the Father. Because he had said, “Show us the Father”…
Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” 23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, (here’s the test, this is the only really test there is if someone loves Jesus, it’s not what they say, here’s the test) he will keep My word; (that’s the test if you love Jesus, do you follow His word?) and My Father will love him, (“if you follow My teachings and you love Me…”) and We (“both Myself and My Father”) will come to him and make Our abode with him.”
“We’ll live with that person. We’ll live in that person.” Jesus said, “If you love Me and follow My teachings, you can have a continuing experience of the Father’s love and acceptance. Do you know that people act out of two basic motivations? There are two basic motivations that motivate why people do what they do. The first one is people act in order to get love or get acceptance. And the second great motivator in life is people act out of love. They act out because they know they are loved, because they’re secure in love. Most of what people do they do to gain acceptance or love or to belong. And each day you and I are tempted to lie, to exaggerate, to boast, even to steal in order to be accepted and loved. But the other great motivator is love. When you act out of a heart that’s filled with love and you feel secure in love. And love is a powerful motivator. It is a powerful motivator. And it’s why people that have never been able to change in their life after they receive Jesus and accept His love are able to make the most profound changes in their life. I changed profoundly when I found Christ. I was as lost as a white goose in a snowstorm. When I got saved, I was an alcoholic and my whole life changed when I experienced that love. It’s why people can change after they get saved when they never could change before. Because when you’re filled with love and you feel fulfilled and you’re full of gratitude, it motivates you to act different and do good. See, only God is big enough to satisfy. Only His love is perfect enough because He made us for Himself. A lot of you have heard of Augustine, one of the greatest fathers in all of church history. He still affects the church and theology today, many years later. But perhaps his most famous quote is a prayer that he wrote down to God. It said, “O God, You have made us for yourself and our heart is forever restless until it finds its rest in You.” Listen to what Jesus says.
“I will not leave you as orphans.”
Those twelve men, each and every last one of them before they met Jesus, they had felt like orphans wandering through the world. And you say to me, “How can you say that? How can you pretend to know how each of those felt?” I know because it’s the universal human condition that every person that has ever lived has felt ever since we lost hold of God in the Garden of Eden. We are like children that are lost in the mall. We’ve lost sight of our parents. Do you remember ever doing that? I have a couple of very vivid memories of when I was young and looking around and I lost my parents. And I was kind of in a low-level panic. And I looked around at all these giants and the scenery was kind of unfamiliar. And I just had to find my parents. And that’s what life is. Life is a continual search to find the one that we wandered away from in the Garden. Life’s a continual search to gain the embrace of the One who created us. The tragedy is most people do not know what they’re looking for and so they try this, they try that. They serve this idol, they serve that idol. They make this mistake. They dig themselves in this hole. All the time trying to find peace, trying to find satisfaction. And yet never really knowing what they’re looking for. They’re looking for what was lost. And the good new is He who we lost is the One that’s looking for us.
Bertrand Russell was a Nobel winning philosopher. He was raised in a Christian home but he went away to university and lost his faith and he became the leading atheist of his generation. He lived into the 70s. And years after he died, his daughter wrote trying to make sense out of his life. And here’s what she wrote. The daughter was called Catherine Tate.
“Somewhere at the bottom of his heart, in the depths of his soul, there was an empty space that once had been filled by God, and he never found anything else to put in it.”
He was a smart man. One of the smartest men of his generation. But he could never find anything to take the place of the One who made him. He never found anything else that could embrace his heart with that love and that acceptance. He never found anything over which he could say, “It is enough.” He was never at rest. Let me tell you, eating another double-double, eating ten double-doubles is not going to be able to fill the inner hunger that a person feels. They’ll never get up and be satisfied no matter how much they eat. And drugs and alcohol and gambling or sex or pornography or whatever it is people do, crazy shopping, whatever it is, achievement, all it can do is distract us for a little while. There is nothing that will fill that hole except Jesus.
(Jesus said,) “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.”
He’s saying you can find unfailing love, you can find total acceptance, you can find complete belonging when Jesus and His Father come and live in your heart, and you trust Him with all of your heart, and you don’t lean on your own understanding. Let me tell you, what the world needs right now is not for the pharmacists to come out with one more mood-altering drug. What the world needs right now is people who will live in the peace and the shalom of God through Jesus Christ. Shine that out to the world. Touch the world with that peace and that acceptance and that love. And share the gospel of Jesus Christ about the fact that we have a Savior. God knows the deepest questions of every heart. Jesus knows those questions. And Jesus knows that He is the answer to those questions. So, He says, “Do not let your heart be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in Me. I’m the one you put your total trust in.” That’s the first question, isn’t it? What can I put my trust in? Number 2: What about death? Number 3: How should I live? Number 4: Where do I find love and acceptance? Jesus says, “I am the answer. The way, the truth, the life.” Once you understand the deepest questions of your life that motivates you, and once you accept Jesus’ answer, then you will live in confidence and you will live in peace and you will live in well-being, in wholeness. And then you’ll be able to really help people because no matter how people act around you, you’ll see through the façade and you’ll know what’s really going on. You’ll know what’s motivating them. You’ll know what the real questions in their life are, what they’re really struggling with even if they don’t understand it themselves. And you’ll realize that people will act out. They’ll try to distract themselves. They’ll try to numb themselves. Buy you’ll understand the questions that God has encoded in each heart and having found the answer yourself, you’ll be able to lead them to that answer.