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A Theology for Messy Lives - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig
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June 2, 2024 6:00 am

A Theology for Messy Lives - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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June 2, 2024 6:00 am

Life can be pretty messy sometimes: plans fail, people leave, money diminishes, and taxes rise. There are plenty of reasons to be troubled these days but there are better reasons not to be! Life was about to get real messy for those disciples around that Jerusalem dinner table. At times like that, there are some basic instructions we need to fall back on so our hearts inside us won't be swallowed up by the mess around us.


We can't afford to make theology a mere discussion. You see, for people in a mess, for people in a crisis, for people suffering, theology is much more than a sermon or a class or a chapter in a book or a discussion topic.

It's a lifeline. We need the kind of truth that will haul us out of the mess and place us into the capable arms of a powerful and loving God. We need the kind of truth that, when we feel like stopping, gives us the courage to keep going. And we have it. Welcome to Connect with Skip Weekend Edition.

I think we all remember that wonderful scene from the movie Mary Poppins, where she snapped her fingers and all the items in the playroom jumped back into place. And as wonderful as it would be to have that ability, it just isn't a reality in any of our lives. But as we'll see today, every believer has access to a person with that ability. And John chapter 14 is the place you'll want to open up to in your Bibles, as Skip Heitzig begins.

The name of this message this morning is simple. It's a theology for messy lives. And if you're thinking, oh no, he's going to get down on slobs, slobby people, disorganized people. Or if you're thinking, rats, I should have brought my teenage son for this service today.

His closet looks like a war zone. That's probably what this message is about. None of the above are true. Here's the deal. Life can be a mess. And it can mess us up. And it can challenge our theology.

I really got the title from something I read in a book by Charles Colson called Loving God, an excellent book. He writes, life is not a book. Life isn't logical or sensible or orderly. Life is a mess most of the time. And theology must be lived in the midst of that mess.

I want to talk about that mess today, a little bit about the mess that we find ourselves in in life. For the disciples in that upper room, listening to Jesus that night that we're reading, life was starting to become a mess to them. Understand that to them, they were so excited about this event in Jerusalem, Jesus coming up to Jerusalem, their hopes had risen.

Now they had fallen. When Jesus came up to Jerusalem and raised Lazarus from the dead, they were on an all-time high. And then a few days later, when he rode that donkey into Jerusalem, and the crowd was shouting in great acclamation, Hosanna, Hosanna, their hopes shot to the very highest pinnacle. They thought, this is it. He's going to establish the kingdom.

We're going to get positions of authority in the kingdom. But then their hopes fell. When, as he entered Jerusalem, he started talking death talk. He said, unless a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone. He started talking about his own death, predicting his own death. Then they got to the Passover itself, the upper room. He started talking more about death talk. He started talking more about being betrayed by one of them and his soon impending death. And all of those thoughts are filling their minds. They're distracting these disciples.

Life is a mess. Thoughts like, what if? What if Jesus does die?

What if this is the end of all that we have come to know and believe these last three and a half years? What if this is it? If you're a parent, you recognize the name Shel Silverstein. He was a child's author, poet. He wrote a little work called, What If, about addressing children's fears.

It goes like this. Last night, while I lay thinking here, some what ifs crawled inside my ear and pranced and partied all night long and sang their same old what if song. What if they've closed the swimming pool? What if I'm dumb in school? What if I get beat up? What if there's poison in my cup? What if I start to cry? What if I just get sick and die?

What if I flunk that test? What if green hair grows on my chest? What if nobody likes me? What if a bolt of lightning strikes me? What if I don't grow taller? What if my head starts getting smaller? What if the fish won't bite? What if the wind tears up my kite? What if they start a war? What if my parents get divorced? What if the bus is late?

What if my teeth don't grow in straight? What if I tear my pants? What if I never learn to dance? Everything seems swell, and then the nighttime what ifs strike again.

I bet you've all had a case of what ifs. What if I lose my job? What if I lose my home? What if I get sick? What if this economy gets worse? What if the gas prices go higher and I can't put gas in my Hummer?

What a bummer. We can't afford to make theology a mere discussion. You see, for people in a You see, for people in a mess, for people in a crisis, for people suffering, theology is much more than a sermon or a class or a chapter in a book or a discussion topic.

It's a lifeline. We need the kind of truth that will haul us out of the mess and place us into the capable arms of a powerful and loving God. We need the kind of truth that when we feel like stopping gives us the courage to keep going, and we have it.

Chapter 14 verses one through six. Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God. Believe also in me. In my father's house are many mansions.

If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you, and 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. And where I go, you know, and the way you know. Thomas said to him, Lord, we do not know where you are going, and how can we know the way? Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life.

No one comes to the Father except through me. You might say this is Jesus' cure for heart trouble. Let not your hearts be troubled. There's a few principles about this I want to talk about, a few principles about a messy life. Number one, messy lives should be controlled. Messy lives should be controlled.

I want to explain that. You'll notice something as the chapter begins. It's a commandment. It's in the imperative. Notice, let not your heart be troubled.

In the original language, it's a present passive imperative or a commandment. And here's the idea. The idea isn't don't ever start worrying or don't ever start being troubled.

The idea is that they should stop something already going on. I know you're already troubled. I know you know life is messy. Stop being troubled. Get a grip.

That's the idea. It's an imperative. It's a commandment. The Wiest translation puts it this way and I think it's the best of all.

Let not your heart continue to be agitated. Now there's a word I want you to be aware of and I hope by now you'll recognize it. We've already covered it twice. It's the word troubled and it's the Greek word terrazzo. I hope you recognize that because we've covered it twice so far in John.

You remember when Jesus was there at the pool there at the pool of Bethesda and there was that man lame from birth waiting for the moving of the water, the troubling of the water, the agitation of the water. The word is terrazzo. It means to be stirred up or agitated. Do you also remember when Jesus said to his disciples a couple chapters back he said, now my soul is troubled, agitated, stirred up, terrazzo.

Same word here. Let not your heart be terrazzo, agitated, stirred up, troubled. That's a command.

Now follow me. Since it's a command, trouble, worry, being overwhelmed, a response to the mess can be controlled. Here's the principle.

I never want you to forget it. Whenever God gives a command, he gives the built-in capability to keep the command. God would never give you a command you can't keep. He would never say, for instance, jump over the moon.

You can't do that. If God ever gives a command, there's a built-in capability to follow through and do it. So if Jesus says get a grip, it's because a grip can be gotten.

And the point is simple. As a Christian, you have the power to control your thought life here described as your heart and not allow your mind and heart to become overwhelmed by the mess. There's lots of scripture about that.

Here's just a few, a sampling. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 10, bring every thought into the captivity to the obedience of Christ. Here's another one, Romans 12. Don't be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the what? Renewing of your mind.

Another one, 1 Peter 1 verse 13. Gird up the loins of your mind. You ever read that and said, what on earth does that mean? Gird up the loins of your mind. It's an old way of saying this.

The New Living Translation renders it. Think clearly and exercise self-control. See, Jesus knew what these guys were thinking, that they were all confused and all bent out of shape and life was getting really messy for them, but he also knew that within a few hours when he would be arrested and then crucified, life was about to get a whole lot messier for them. So what he's telling them is you don't have to let this ruin you guys. You don't have to become swallowed up by it and overwhelmed by it.

Let not your heart be troubled. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, they report that the most commonly reported mental health issue in our country is anxiety. According to their stats, 13 million Americans spend the better part of their day feeling anxious.

13 million Americans. In other words, they're not managing the mess. The mess is managing them. Let not your heart be troubled. So I think that Christians should be the most realistic people around. We're to be realists. We're not to be idealists. We're not to be pessimists. We're to be realists. Now, an idealist sees life in an ideal situation through rose-colored glasses.

Everything's supposed to be perfect. They live in a make-believe world and they're very dangerous people, by the way, because when life doesn't go according to their plan, they quickly fold, they cave, they short-circuit. On the other extreme is the pessimist. Always negative, always bad. The world is really, really, really bad and Satan's everywhere behind that bush, behind this pulpit, under the piano.

Bind it, bind him, do everything. Everything's negative and bad. Most people go into a donut shop and they see donuts. Pessimists go into a donut shop and see holes.

You know the type. We're supposed to be realistic. And a realist looks at the world and says, I get it.

I get it. It's a fallen world. It's a sin-scarred world. This is a mess. But there's a God who has answers and resources. So I'm going to deal with the mess in that way through that lens.

And the realist will learn to move on from that. I heard about a woman whose husband died and she called the newspaper to place an obituary. She's a very simple lady in a very simple town. The editor said, what should I write? She said, just write these three words.

Bernie is dead. The editor didn't know what to say. He said, well, ma'am, for $25, you can write six words.

You've only used half the allotment. She said, OK. Write, Bernie is dead. Toyota for sale.

It's pretty pragmatic, isn't it? I can't do anything about Bernie. He's dead. I can do something, however, about the Toyota that's left. That's for sale. It might sound a little crude, but that woman is very realistic. Jesus is saying, look, I know you guys are already troubled.

Stop that, get a grip, and move on. That's realistic. Though there are many reasons to be troubled in this world, there are many more reasons not to be. Let's consider those reasons. It brings us to the second principle.

If the first principle is messy lives should be controlled, the second one is that messy lives must have a cure. And here's what I love about Jesus. He doesn't just say, stop that. He tells us why.

He gives us reasons for it. You may remember back in the 80s, that song by Bobby McFerrin that was very popular. In every life, there is some trouble. When you worry, you make it double. So, don't worry, be happy. It was such a catchy tune. We love that.

I love the song, but it frustrated me because he never told why. You know, to somebody suffering, to just slap them on the back and go, don't worry, be happy, doesn't really help the person. If, however, you give the person concrete reasons why not, then it makes sense. Here's a question I have for you. How does what you believe affect your life in the mess? Does your faith really matter? You can always tell what a person's faith is whenever they're in a mess. What they really believe comes to the surface when things are bad.

When things are good, it's one thing. When things are bad, what they really believe is tested. A. W. Tozer said, the difference between a great Christian life and any other kind lies in the quality of our spiritual concepts. What we think about God, what we believe about God. What are we to think when we're in a mess? What are we to believe? Well, first of all, we're to think about who we know, and we're to think about where we'll go.

Let's learn to frame the mess by those two concepts, who we know, where we'll go. Notice what Jesus says also in verse one. Let not your heart be troubled, first reason. You believe in God, believe also in me.

It would be better to state it this way. You trust God, trust also in me. Jesus knew these God followers, these disciples of his were about to enter into the trial of their lives as they were to watch the one they loved, Christ himself, be betrayed, be crucified, and be put into tomb. And he says to them, at such a time as this, think back to who you know. You believe God, you trust God, trust also in me. Now think about it. These disciples had no reason not to trust Jesus.

They've been with him for three and a half years. Who was it in Galilee when thousands of people needed food and there was no food? Who was it that multiplied the bread and the fish? It wasn't them. It was Jesus. Who was it when the storm came up on the Sea of Galilee that calmed the sea and saved the day? It wasn't them. It was Jesus. Who was it at a funeral raised the dead guy, Lazarus, from the dead and brought hope to that family and that city?

It was Jesus. They have seen him. They've been with him. You trust God, trust also in me.

They have every reason to trust him. But at that point in that upper room, they didn't have the big picture. Think about that. You and I today have more reason to trust God, to trust Christ, than those disciples had on the other side of the cross in that upper room that night.

You ever think about that? In that upper room that night, the disciples didn't understand that the crucifixion would mean salvation for people. We do. That night, the disciples didn't understand that the cross would be followed by a resurrection where Jesus would conquer death itself and offer that hope to millions of people afterwards. They didn't get that.

We do. So here we are after the cross. We get the big picture. They didn't get the big picture.

It's easy for us if we could step into that upper room and go, John, Peter, you guys, get a grip. Don't let your hearts be troubled, man. But now think about your life right now in whatever mess you find yourself in.

You, too, don't have the big picture. He does. You don't. So your natural instinct would be not to, I say, I know God. I know Christ. He's trustworthy.

I know Him. It's going to be okay. Our instinct is to be like the guy who was walking near the edge of the Grand Canyon a little too close, and he fell off into that huge chasm. His body hit a bush hanging off the side. He grabbed it, and he called out, is anybody up there? Is anybody up there? A voice came out of heaven.

It's a powerful, strong voice. Yes, I'm here. Oh, well, could you save me?

Yes, I can. Well, Lord, save me. Do you believe, said the voice. Oh, yes, Lord, I believe. I believe. Do you have faith?

Oh, I have great faith, strong faith. And then the voice said, then just let go, and it'll be okay. And after one tense moment, the man said, is there anybody else up there? There comes a point in our mess when we have to let go and really believe that Romans 828 thing that says we know that all things work together for good to those who love the Lord and are the called according to His purpose. Let go.

Is there anybody else up there? Trust. Trust is what stops tension. Faith is what stops fear. Worship is what abates worry. That's what it looks like when we truly trust and put a theology to the test, and we can completely in Christ. Well, that's where we'll pause today.

And that was just part one of the message of Theology for Messy Lives. The conclusion is coming up tomorrow. And here in just a moment, I'll tell you how you can get a copy of today's teaching. But for now, let's go to our resource center. The Holy Spirit bestows many different spiritual gifts on believers like prophecy, healing, miracle working, and more. And each gift shares a common purpose to edify others. Here's Pastor Skip Heitzig explaining the best way to use our spiritual gifts. I think man's greatest capacity is to be a channel from which the Holy Spirit flows into us, but then out from us, as Jesus said, like torrents of living waters. Dive into this month's Connect with Skip Heitzig resource to discover who the Holy Spirit is and deepen your understanding of how and why he gives spiritual gifts to believers. He comes on us to give us his empowering.

He has something he wants us to do, a task he wants us to perform. The complete expound Holy Spirit teaching series is our thanks for your gift of $50 or more to help this ministry continue reaching a lost world. Plus, we'll include a copy of Bring the Rain, Skip's book on Expositional Teaching. Call 800-922-1888 or give online securely at slash offer. If you'd like a copy of today's message, you can find it at, or you can call us and order one at 1-800-922-1888. Each copy is just $4 plus shipping. We'll continue through our series Believe 879 with more from the Gospel of John next time, so I hope you can join us right here in Connect with Skip weekend edition, a presentation of Connection Communications. Connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-06-02 06:07:54 / 2024-06-02 06:16:16 / 8

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