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God's Cure for Heart Trouble

Christ waits to bring salvation to those who are eagerly waiting for him.

From the editor

Greg Laurie is known for his straightforward, down-to-earth teaching style. This sermon showcases that ability in spades. Watch closely as he begins the sermon by addressing the fear we have as humans in both humorous and serious ways, making sure everyone in the audience feels they have a place in the text. Watch as he then tackles a series of topics that are incredibly offensive to the world at large, but does so in a humble, loving manner. Watch as he knows just the right moment to add an illustration that allows a bit of breathing room for the listener. Finally, watch as he does a masterful job of outlining the steps for conversion.


After reading a Time magazine cover story on the topic of fear, I discovered that there are a lot of fears I didn't even know existed. These are actual phobias that some Americans have: kathisophobia—the fear of sitting; ablutophobia—the fear of bathing; dentophobia—fear of dentists; cyclophobia—the fear of bicycles; alektorophobia—the fear of chickens; arachibutyrophobia—the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth; automatonophobia—the fear of ventriloquist dummies; peladophobia—the fear of baldness or bald people; and finally, phobophobia—the fear of phobias.

There are a lot of things that worry us and fill us with stress. Life is filled with troubles. Job 5:7 says, "Man is born unto trouble."

Life is filled with many disappointments. Maybe you had certain goals set for yourself as a younger man or woman, and you have not reached those goals. Maybe you wanted to be a better person, but you fell short. Maybe you wanted to be more successful, but you have had many failures. Maybe you wanted to be loved, but often people are indifferent toward you.

Circumstances are a source of trouble. Maybe you've had some bad news recently—you've been laid off. Maybe you have some kind of illness. Maybe there are problems at home right now.

I want to share with you the words Jesus gave 2,000 years ago to stressed-out, agitated people—God's cure for heart trouble:

Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. 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 unto 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 don't know where you are going, and how can we know the way?" Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through me.

Why were the disciples afraid when Jesus offered these words to them? It was because he had just dropped a number of bombshells on them. He had just revealed that he was going to be betrayed by one of the Twelve. He had also told them that Simon Peter, regarded as the ringleader of the disciples, would deny him. Then he gave the worst news of all: he was going to leave them.

They did not understand that Jesus came to this earth with the express purpose of going to the cross, dying for the sin of the world, and then rising from the dead. They thought he was going to establish an earthly kingdom. When he said, "I'm going to leave you," it freaked them out. This is why Jesus went on to say, "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." He's saying: When it seems like your world is falling apart and darkness is going to overtake you, don't let your heart be troubled.

Jesus offers them three reasons why they didn't have to be worried, and I think the same principles apply to us in our agitated, stress-filled world today.

We need to take God at his word.

Jesus' first cure for heart trouble was to take God at his word. Jesus says in verse 1: "Believe in me." When you become a Christian—when you admit to God that you're a sinner and ask Jesus Christ to come into your heart to be your Savior and Lord—God takes residence inside you and begins to reveal to you his plan for your life. There are no more accidents. You are not merely a victim of fate, hoping that your luck does not run out. Now you are a child of God, under his divine protection. And the good news is, the word "oops" is not in God's vocabulary. God has given us the user's manual of life.

I love gadgets—I visit all the gadget websites, and I read all the gadget magazines. I want to know about the new digital camera that has even more megapixels than the last one. I want more storage; I want more memory; I want a faster CPU. I like all that stuff. But here's the problem: I hate to read manuals. In the same way, we run off and never read the user's manual for life—the Bible. God has told us how to live, what the purpose of life is, and, most importantly, how to go to heaven. The Bible tells me there are certain things I should not do, and it tells me there are certain things I should do if I want to live a life that is full and meaningful. If God tells you not to do something, it's for your own good. The Bible says, "No good thing will [God] withhold from those that walk uprightly." He tells you what to do to live a life that will have meaning and purpose.

The Bible says, "All Scripture is inspired by God." It's useful to teach us what is true and make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out. It teaches us to do what is right. It is God's way of preparing us in every way for every good thing that God wants us to do. So why should I not be freaking out right now, filled with stress and agitation and fear? God's Word is true!

We need to trust we are going to heaven.

The second reason you don't have to have a troubled heart is you're going to heaven. Jesus says in verse 2: "In my Father's house are many mansions." Now, this is only true for the person who has put their faith in Jesus Christ. I know that when I die, I will go to heaven. That's not a boast. I'm not better than anyone in this room right now—but I am better off, if you haven't put your faith in Christ. I'm just one beggar telling another beggar where to find food. Because I have put my faith in Jesus, I know that when I die, I will go to heaven.

This is a promise given to me and every person who has put their faith in Christ. When I die, I'll go immediately into the presence of the Lord. No matter what happens to you on this earth as a Christian, it pales when compared with this great hope. Second Corinthians 4:17 says, "Our present troubles are quite small and won't last very long, yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever." We don't look at the troubles we see right now, but we look forward to what we will have that is not yet seen. The troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys that come will last forever.

Deep down inside, we're all longing for a place we have never been. C. S. Lewis called this the "inconsolable longing." He wrote:

There have been times when I think we do not desire heaven; but more often I find myself wondering whether, in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else … . It is the secret signature of each soul, the incommunicable and unappeasable want, the thing we desired before we met our wives or made our friends or chose our work, and which we will still desire on our deathbed, when the mind no longer knows wife or friend or work.

We long for something more. There's a sense in us that there's more to this life.

Revisiting my illustration of gadgets, they're so cool when you first get them, aren't they? You think, Oh, this is so hot. This is the latest, newest thing. Then your buddy comes along, and he's got a newer gadget that just came out. All of a sudden, your gadget is not so cool. We always think, Oh, if I just had this, I know I would be happy. If I were married to this woman, or this man, or if I lived in this house, or if I drove this car, or if I had this position—then I would be happy. But then you find yourself in that position—you get the car, the person, or whatever it is—and you say, "Well, I don't know. Maybe it's this other thing … " We're always searching, because we were hardwired to know God. We were hardwired to know that there's more to life. Animals don't sit around and contemplate the meaning of life. My dog doesn't lie in the backyard and think: What is the meaning of my life? I tried everything this world has to offer—chasing cats, drinking toilet water, eating road kill—but nothing fills the void. My dog doesn't think stuff like that. But people think about it all the time.

We need to remember that Jesus is coming back.

The third reason you don't have to have a troubled heart is because Jesus Christ is coming back again.

Newspapers have a certain type they save only for mega-events. Interestingly, this type is called "Second Coming" type. They used it when President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, when Pearl Harbor was bombed, and on September 12, the day after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. It's the kind of type that grabs you by the throat and it says, "Read me!" They don't call it "big news" type or "major event" type; they call it Second Coming type, because there is no bigger event than the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

The Second Coming is closer than we may realize. Jesus says, "I will come and receive you unto myself." Notice that he doesn't say he's going to take you. Christ will be coming back for those who are watching and waiting. The Bible says in Hebrew 9:28 that he will come again, but not to deal with our sins. This time, he will come and bring salvation to those who are eagerly waiting for him. 

Are you ready for the return of Jesus? The Bible says he will come in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and we will be "caught up to meet the Lord in the air. And so shall we ever be with the Lord." Jesus said: "Two will be in a field. One will be taken and the other left. Two will be in a bed. One will be taken and the other left." He's speaking of that moment when he comes for his people. Will you be ready to meet the Lord? You're either going to get right, or you're going to get left.

Jesus says, "Where I go you know, and the way you know." I think the Lord said things all the time that the disciples did not get, and I think this is one of those instances. "Where I go you know, and the way you know." All the disciples were probably nodding and saying, "Absolutely!" But not Thomas! Thomas said: Excuse me, but I have a question. We don't know where you're going, and we don't know the way.

Aren't you glad Thomas asked that question? He was saying, "What are you talking about, Lord? What do you mean you're going somewhere, and we know the way?" I'm glad Thomas asked that question, because it caused our Lord to respond: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me."

This is one of the most controversial aspects of our faith, because we are saying that Jesus is the only way to a relationship with God. Some people don't believe that. A Barna poll revealed that half of all Americans believe if a person is generally good and does enough good things for others during their life, they will earn a place in heaven. That's a nice thought, but it is not what the Bible says. Let me also respond with a question: Whose definition of good are we going to use? If you operate by this concept, as 54 percent of Americans do, that means you have to do more good deeds in your life than bad deeds. Do you honestly think you have done more good than bad? I would suggest that you have not! You fall short of the very standard to which you hold.

The fact of the matter is, that is not the standard God will judge us by. One sin is enough to keep you out of heaven. The Bible says that if you offend in one point of the law, you're guilty of all of it. That means that every one of us in this room has sinned over and over again.

What is sin? Sin means to cross a line, to trespass. You've seen the signs at the park: "Do Not Trespass" or "Don't Step on the Grass." Sin is like crossing a line you're not supposed to cross. The word also means "to fall short of." God has set a high standard for all of humanity—absolute perfection—and not one of us measures up to that standard. We all fall short. You might say, "Greg, if that's true, how will I ever get right with God?" Answer: You won't—apart from Jesus Christ. 

God loved you so much that he sent his Son 2,000 years ago. Jesus was more than a good man. He was the God-man, fully God and fully man. He was born in a manger in Bethlehem, lived a perfect life, died the perfect death, rose again from the dead three days later, and now stands at the door of your life. He knocks and says, "If you will hear my voice and open the door, I will come in." You might say: "I don't like that, Greg. That's so narrow in its approach. It's so bigoted. You can't say that." But for me to say anything less than that would not be truthful on my part.

Let me use an analogy. Let's say you're on a plane to Hawaii. You're taxiing down the runway. You've got your seatbelt on. You've turned off your electronic devices. You then hear the voice of the pilot as you're beginning your ascent: "Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to flight 1492 with service to Honolulu, Hawaii. Our cruising altitude will be 32,000 feet, and we'll be showing a movie." You think, That sounds good. But then you heard the pilot make this statement: "By the way, folks, I'm not so sure about this whole fuel thing. I see that the gauge indicates we don't have enough fuel to reach our destination, but don't worry about it. I feel really good about this. I have all these navigation devices, but I'm not going to use any of them. I feel that's too narrow and bigoted. Folks, I believe that all roads lead to Hawaii. By the way, I'm very sincere about this." You would think, We have a lunatic in the cockpit!

Or what about a surgeon who didn't want to go and get the proper training. You wouldn't want him operating on you. But in the most important issue of all—where we're going to spend eternity—we'll take this loose view: "I think as long as a person is sincere and believes something with all of their heart, that's good enough." But it isn't. We all fall short of God's glory. We all need his forgiveness, and Jesus offers it to you right now.

How to get right with God

How do I get right with God? How can I know I'll go to heaven when I die? How can I fill this hole in my heart that I've tried to fill with things, with experiences, with relationships, with accomplishments, or even morality or religion or a good education?

First of all, I have to admit I'm a sinner. I've already pointed out that the Bible says all have sinned. I can't blame my behavior on other people. I shouldn't say, "The reason I'm this way is because my mother or father was this way." I just need to admit: "I am a sinner."

Second, I need to realize that Jesus Christ died on the cross for me. No one took the life of Jesus. He willingly laid it down for us. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life." Jesus said, "Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." Two thousand years ago, Jesus went to the cross and voluntarily died for us. He came to pay a debt he did not owe, because we owed a debt we could not pay. It wasn't nails that held Jesus to that cross; it was his love for you and for me. He died for us, because there was no other way for you or me to get right with God.

Third, I need to repent of my sin. The Bible says God has commanded people everywhere to repent. What does that mean? To repent means to change your direction. If I'm going one way, I need to do a U-turn in life and go the other way. If I've been going away from God, it's time to go toward God.

The fourth step is to receive Christ into my life. Being a Christian is not merely reading the Bible or going to church or even believing a creed—though it includes all of that. Being a Christian is a relationship. Jesus must come and live inside of me. Is Christ living inside of you right now? The Bible says, "For as many as received him, he gave them the power to become sons of God." There has to come a moment in your life when you say: "God, I'm sorry for my sin. Come and be my Savior. Be my Lord. Be my friend."

The fifth step is to commit to Christ publicly. Everyone that Jesus called was called openly and publicly. He said, "If you will acknowledge me before people, I will acknowledge you before my Father and the angels in heaven." He added, "If you deny me before people, I'll deny you before the Father and the angels."

Finally, I must do it now. The Bible says, "Today is the day of salvation." Here's the thing: every time you hear the gospel and say no to it, your heart gets a little bit harder. The Bible says, "He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy." That verse is saying: If you hear it and you don't respond to it in the affirmative, your heart can get a little tougher, a little more calloused.


Some of you are sensing that tug deep inside. You're thinking: I need to do this. I want to do this. Do it! Don't let anything or anyone keep you back from Jesus Christ. You can walk out with your sin forgiven. You can leave knowing that you'll go to heaven when you die. You'll know that you'll be ready for the Lord's return.

For your reflection:

Personal growth: How has this sermon fed your own soul?

Skill growth: What did this sermon teach you about how to preach?

Exegesis and exposition: Highlight the paragraphs in this sermon that helped you better understand Scripture. How does the sermon model ways you could provide helpful biblical exposition for your hearers?

Theological Ideas: What biblical principles in this sermon would you like to develop in a sermon? How would you adapt these ideas to reflect your own understanding of Scripture, the Christian life, and the unique message that God is putting on your heart?

Outline: How would you improve on this outline by changing the wording, or by adding or subtracting points?

Application: What is the main application of this sermon? What is the main application of the message you sense God wants you to bring to your hearers?

Illustrations: Which illustrations in this sermon would relate well with your hearers? Which cannot be used with your hearers, but they suggest illustrations that could work with your hearers?

Credit: Do you plan to use the content of this sermon to a degree that obligates you to give credit? If so, when and how will you do it? (For help on what may require credit, see "Plagiarism, Schmagiarism")

Greg Laurie is founder and pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California, featured speaker on the national radio broadcast "A New Beginning." He is evangelist for Harvest Crusades and author of Why Believe (Tyndale).

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Sermon Outline:


I want to share with you the words Jesus gave 2,000 years ago to stressed-out, agitated people—God's cure for heart trouble caused by pain and stress.

I. We need to take God at his word.

II. We need to trust we are going to heaven.

III. We need to remember that Jesus is coming back.

IV. How to get right with God


You can walk out with your sin forgiven, knowing that you'll go to heaven when you die or when Christ returns.