“LET NOT YOUR HEART BE TROUBLED”
Sermon by Dr. J. Frank Norris
It seems to me that I am conducting more funerals today than any other time before, large numbers who are not members of this congregation, and I am always glad if I can be of any service to people in sorrow, regardless of what church they belong or no church. Among the numbers of funerals conducted last week was a good and great woman, who two Sundays ago today was present in this congregation, now she has gone to her reward. When I went into the chapel the other day I was asked to let the little daughter of this woman repeat the last Scripture that her mother taught her. This was a very unusual request for such an occasion. I said, “I will be very glad to do it,” and she did. I want her to give you that Scripture this morning and see if you will not get a new meaning of it like I did the other day, when she, standing by her mother’s casket, repeated the 14th chapter of John.
BETTY JEAN BIRTCIEL (eight years of age repeated the 14th chapter of John).
What would the world be without the promise of the House, the mansions on the other side? “If in this life only,” born as we are with the hopes and aspirations and longings and desires that have never been satisfied in this world – if to live, then find there is no life beyond, better that we had never been born. All the wealth of the world fails to satisfy. Drink the cup of pleasure to the last dregs, and still not satisfied.
This word that you just heard came from the lips of our blessed Lord as He was coming under the shadow of Gethsemane and Calvary. The two chapters before He has been unfolding to His Disciples how that He must die. Their hearts were filled with sorrow and breaking, and now in his last address, recorded in the Gospel of John, going through the 14, 15, 16 and 17 chapters, for the hour of his sorrow, Gethsemane and crucifixion had come. Then He says, as only God can speak, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me!”
If time would permit we could discourse at length on “trouble,” and why troubles come. A man who had perhaps more than his share of trouble said, “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.”
“We are consumed” – says David – “by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled.”
Again says the Word, “Lord, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong; thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled.”
Again says this great soul, “I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long.”
Again he says, “Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak.”
Spoke one of the greatest men that ever lived, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair.”
Oh, how much strength and comfort we find in these words of our Lord when he said, “Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.”
Jeremiah said that there will come a time of trouble, “Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble”-that is the time of Tribulation that shall come on earth”but he shall be saved out of it.”
Jesus tells us Matthew 24:21, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no nor ever shall be.”
Daniel in his glorious, remarkable prophecy says, “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time; and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that
shall be found written in the book.”
Millions of devout men and women today are wondering, have we come to that time. Tonight I shall discuss at length the question rising in the hearts of men today – the whole world believes the year 1933 will be a climax one way or the other way. What will it mean, revolution, war, or will the storm suddenly cease, or will it increase? Only God in heaven knows. We witnessed the death of three Presidents killed by the President’s office, Woodrow Wilson, Harding, and now Calvin Coolidge, and soon there will be the present man as he goes out. A friend of mine and I were together in the White House a few months ago, and he commented on how in only three years President Hoover has the face of Gethsemane.
The big issue in life is not to avoid trouble, but how do you meet it. There is the issue. If you think you are going to avoid trouble you have been born in the wrong world. How do you meet it? That’s the issue. There are those who pine away, and there are those who run from it. God give us grace to meet it. That’s the faith of a Christian. All the world takes off their hats to Mrs. Coolidge. She is not cold, her heart bleeds. But what self-possession!
As I stood the other day beside the casket of the mother of this dear child, my prayer was, “Give us that simple faith.”
Sometimes people think they have had more trouble than anybody. No, you haven’t. That’s selfish. Forget it. You think of the other man’s troubles some and you will forget some of your own.
Death is a great sorrow. The last enemy of the race, the worst enemy. Man has invented many things, he has discovered the secrets of God’s creation on land and under the sea, but he has never been able to discover that force – the secret that can stay the grim monster of death. How shall we meet it? We die not as the pagan. Not that we do not sorrow, but we sorrow not, as the Word of Scripture says, as those who have no hope. There is an infinite difference in sorrowing with hope and sorrowing without hope. I feel very sorry for people that don’t know how to meet their sorrows. Say it is a weakness-then God pity the weakness. “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away” – What are you going to do Job? He said, “I am going to sing, blessed be the name of the Lord!”
Paul, as he saw the shadow of the executioner’s axe coming into his dark little Roman cell says to Timothy, “One more word, the time! The time! of my departure” – literally it means loosening of anchor on the shore of earth to put out into the sea of eternity – the time has come, what does he say, as he gives one farewell glance? “I have finished my course, I have fought a good fight, I have kept the faith.” What else Paul? Why he says, “I am ready henceforth, farewell to earth, henceforth there is laid up for me a crown” – He saw Caesar coming up the Appian way, leading in triumph, princes and queens, chained to his chariot wheels. He saw the long lines of trophies – Paul says, “Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown” – Not a crown that adorns the brow of a Caesar, “but a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge gives to me”-and I am so glad he didn’t stop there, “and not to me only”-Who else Paul?-but to all that love his appearing.”
There are some things here in this Scripture, I just confess to you I never saw before – that child, when I heard her repeat it, I felt like I had never seen it. You know you study the Scripture, and it is like David in the war with the Philistines when he said, “Oh, for a drink of water from the well in Bethlehem, by the gate.” When he was a shepherd lad he drank the cool waters from the well at the gate in the old home in Bethlehem, now he says, “I am in battle, I am distressed, I am thirsty, I am oppressed, O, for a drink of water from the well of Bethlehem, that is by the gate.”
So we come back today, and in the words of Isaiah, “We draw water from the wells of salvation.”
When it comes to these precious truths of the Scripture, like that child learned from her sainted mother, and we go over it every day, and we find new experiences, we see new glories, like we behold the seven primary colors in the rainbow across the bosom of the storm – we see new and glorious things God has given us in His revelation to man.
Why we should not be troubled.
First: Because we believe in God. How this whole world in this time of crisis needs to come back to its faith in God. Three-fourths of the world is right now on the verge of war – if there ever was a time when the world needs to stop and think of God, that time is now, and the reason why we have come to these times is because the nations of the earth have forgotten God and there is no fear of God before their eyes.
They have built for themselves, like ancient Babylon, gods of gold, silver, brass, iron and stone. They have turned their backs on, and blasphemed the God that created the heavens and the earth. Thou shalt have no other gods before me” needs to be written over the door of every home today in America. We need again to join with Israel’s hosts on the banks of the Red Sea after the bodies of the dead Egyptians had washed ashore, and sing, “Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O Lord, has dashed in pieces the enemy. And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee: thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble. Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?”
Oh, how we need to listen again to Isaiah when he said to Israel: O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength, lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth. Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speaketh, O Israel, My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God? Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.”
A companion Scripture is Paul in the eleventh chapter of Romans, as he surveyed God’s eternal, unchangeable purpose in creation and redemption, he cries out and says, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen.”
Therefore, Jesus says, “Let not your heart be troubled.” Why? “Ye believe in God.”
The second reason why the heart should not be troubled if you believe in God, “Believe also in me.” “Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father.” “If you want to know God,” He says, “see me.” The key verse of the Gospel of John is the twentieth chapter and thirty-first verse, “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” That you might believe in my Divinity; that ye might believe in me who had Mary for mother, and God for Father; that ye might believe in me, the only one who ever lived a sinless life; that ye might believe in me who can heal all manner of diseases; that ye might believe in me who is able to quiet the storm on the sea; that ye might believe in me who can raise the dead; that ye might believe in me who hath power on earth to forgive sins; that ye might believe in me who hath power to lay down my life and take it up again; that ye might believe in me who was in the darkness of the tomb for three days, and burst asunder the bars of death and rose in triumph, victory and glory.” Therefore, believe in Him, He is our great High Priest. He is the sum of all things. “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.”
Therefore He says, “Let not your heart be troubled,” believe in Him as the only and coming King. Paul, writing to Timothy, says, “Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom. be honour and power everlasting. Amen.”
“Let not your heart be troubled.” Let troubles come, come as they do and as they will. Let the clouds come and the storms sweep, as Paul said for fourteen days the storm raged day and night, and they never saw a star. What are you going to do? Stand by His Word, hear Him speak, Let not your heart be troubled.” Why? God still lives, and Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Therefore,
“Whenever the clouds of sorrow roll,
And trials whelm the mind –
When faint with grief, thy wearied soul
No joys on earth can find –
Then lift thy voice to God on high,
Dry up the trembling tear,
And hush the low, complaining sigh:
Fear not,’ thy God is near.
When dark temptations spread their snares
And earth with charms allures,
And when thy soul oppressed with fears,
The world’s assault endures,
Then let Thy Father’s friendly voice
Thy fainting spirit cheer,
And bid thy trembling heart rejoice:
Fear not,’ thy God is near.
And when the final hour shall come,
That calls thee to thy rest,
To dwell within the heavenly home,
A welcome, joyful trust
Be calm; though Jordan’s waves may roll,
No ills shall meet thee there;
Angels shall whisper in thy soul
Fear not,’ thy God is near.”
The third reason we should not be troubled – I am just taking this Scripture that is so familiar, yet how little we know it. The first reason, Ye “believe in God,” second, you believe in Christ the Son of God, now the third reason, “In my Father’s house are many mansions.” Earth has never seen a palace or mansion that can compare with our mansions on high. The other day when the only living ex-president passed from this earth and went to his reward, you saw again the picture of the White House – thirty men, supposed to be our greatest, have gone through the walls of that magnificent mansion. Oh, what historic palaces the earth has seen. The Kaiser of Germany had thirty-two palaces, not only in Germany but far away in other lands.
My friends, these palaces are not to be compared to the mansions which are reserved for them that love Him. You know there is another thing, no mortgage can ever be foreclosed on mansions in the sky. Nobody’s home in heaven can be sold for taxes. Another thing, beloved, we will not have any repair bills there. Why? For they are the mansions prepared by the Creator of the Universe!
Another reason, our hearts should not be troubled – let the words of our Lord speak, “I go to prepare a place for you.” Now if God prepares a place it will be perfect. It will have everything in it. Who says He will prepare it, “I” – “I am the Lord God Almighty.” He says, “I will prepare a place.” Heaven is a place, not a state or condition, but a place just as real as Fort Worth, Texas, minus sin and death. A place where there will never be a funeral procession seen going down the streets of the New Jerusalem. “Where is heaven?” somebody asks. I will tell you where it is, Jesus says, “Where I am” – wherever He is is heaven. There is no darkness there. There is no sickness there. He raised the sick from their beds while on earth. There will be no funerals there. He broke up every one He attended while He was on earth. Where He is, is heaven. My friends, it is going to be right here on this old earth, cursed with thorns and thistles, and stained with the blood of marching armies, and blighted with poverty, filled with the cry of the widow and orphan, but thank God, we are going to have a new earth! We are going to reign right here on this earth, where they had the saloon once, and they may bring it back again, but thanks be unto God we will have a new earth that will be the home of God’s people. The Scriptures tell us, without question, debate or doubt, that we shall reign with Him on the earth! Beloved, when we come back to this earth, there are some places I want to go. I want to go back to Birmingham to the place where I told you about the saddest Christmas I ever spent, because of an unfortunate drunken father, where a little mother wept her soul out – but he was saved by the grace of God, and we will need all eternity to tell the story of redeeming love! Heaven will be our home and then it will be on earth, and earth will be the “where I am.” Heaven is a prepared place. Prepared with everything we need. That is what it means. It is the greatest of all provisions. Oh, friends, today, when the old father and mother reach a great age, and are leaning on the staff, take them in your home and love them, and care for them. A friend of mine not long ago told me about his mother who lived to be over ninety years of age–he said she wanted to live by herself, and he built a home for her in his yard. She said, “I want to be by myself, you can come to see me.” And she stayed in the little home, until at last God sent His angels and said, “Mother, come on home.” He said, “you know, sometimes I go out at the midnight hour, to the spot where mother and I used to sit alone, and I go back over the time when I was a child, and how I saw mother bend over the wash tub, and sing of heaven while she scrubbed, and I reach out and turn back the hands of time and become once again a barefooted boy, as I heard her read out of God’s Word and sing the old songs.” Oh, he says, “Those times are gone, but, thanks be unto God, she will be here again, not in a home I prepared for her in the back yard, not in some earthly dwelling, but in mansions prepared by the hand of God, that shall never, never, never grow old!” (Shoutings.)
Listen, one other reason why our hearts should not be troubled. I must be brief. Why should we not be troubled? Let Jesus speak. Oh, God, help us to listen to im. Why Lord? Why? “I will come again.” Let Satan rage, let troubles come, let war clouds hang low, Jesus shouts over every battlefield, over every raging storm, “I will come again!” “I will come again!” Seven times in these six verses Jesus uses the personal pronoun “I.” What does He say? “I would have told you.” “I go to prepare a place for you.” “If I go and prepare a place for you” – “I will come again” – “Where I am” – “Where I go ye know” – “I am the way.”
The whole world is asking what next? What of this year? What of tomorrow? Only one voice has ever been able to answer that question. I love to think of Him who is the same yesterday, today and forever, with whom there is no change or variableness, or shadow of turning, God who is from everlasting to everlasting, God who was, God who is, and God who is to come, with whom there is no past, present or future tense, God who knows the future as well as the past. God who knows the end of all things. He says, I will come again!”
My friends, that will be the only solution of the distress of this old bloody world. Thank God when He comes it will be solved. I must hasten – I want to leave this word. He will not only come again, but what else? “Receive you unto myself.” “Receive you unto myself!”
I saw a long line standing outside one of the royal palaces in Europe – everybody was in line just to get a peep at the royal party as it passed by and get a little nod from the king – I thought what foolishness-thanks be unto God when the royal line of the saved, past, present and future, go marching through the pearly gates, there won’t be just one peep, one view, but what? We will be “forever with the Lord!” That’s why David said, “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness!”
That’s why old Job said – and Job had a depression too – what did he say? “I am going to quit the church?” No. His wife said, “Curse God and die.” Did he do it? No. He said, “I will trust in His name.” But Job, you have lost your fortune. “It does not make any difference, I will trust in Him.” But Job, you don’t have any friends left.” “It doesn’t make any difference.” But Job, you are covered with boils, a most loathsome disease – now what have you got to say? Now, here is what he said, “I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.” This earth where he had shed his tears” – And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh” – not in this present body, but in another glorified body that shall never die – “shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.”
That’s why John says, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” What else, John? “Beloved, now” – Now! Now! This present time – “are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”
Therefore, “Let not your heart be troubled, because I will come again, and receive you unto myself.”
How do we know the way? “Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?” A perfectly natural question. How tenderly Jesus answered Thomas. “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
Thirty-one years ago my wife and I took a little trip over in North Carolina. We went to see the Biltmore Estate which they said cost eleven million dollars. That is too much money for anybody to place in a home. We went out in a tallyho, there were six couples along. We came to the big iron gate in front of the house, and there was a big uniformed, high chested officer with a long billy there right in front of us saying, “Drive out of the way.” The fellow sat there and argued – he said, “Turn out of the way.” Well, I began to feel a little nervous about it. He said, “Move out of the way and let these other folks come on up.” Finally that tallyho turned around – they had about as many in it as we had. I looked at the driver, he didn’t seem to be much disturbed – I reached over and said, “Why did they turn those folks back?” He said, “They didn’t have any pass.”
My friends, I have a pass! I have a pass, and that pass is signed in the blood of Jesus Christ! It is signed by the God of the universe, and it is sealed by the power of the Triune God, and the devil can’t get it either, and my name is recorded up there, and when the hour comes, and the silver cord is broken, my pass will carry me clear over Jordan, and I will pass through the gates! (Shoutings.)
Oh, this child will see her mother, and mother will see her child.
“From Thee, O God, our joys shall rise,
And run eternal rounds,
Beyond the limits of the skies,
And all created bounds.
The holy triumphs of our souls
Shall death itself outbrave,
Leave dull mortality behind,
And fly beyond the grave.
There, where our blessed Saviour reigns,
In heaven’s unmeasured space,
We’ll spend a long eternity
In pleasure and in praise.”
Let us stand. Let every head be bowed. Oh, Lord God, in these closing moments, subdue our hearts, help us to turn away from the crash and noise of this world, and listen, listen! to our Lord’s words, “Let not your heart be troubled, ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions.” Oh, for that mansion, that house not made with hands; help us to have a song in the night time; joy in the midst of our tears; help us to fight the good fight, of a good soldier; help us to be heroic men and women for Christ, until the time of the setting sun has come and we go out to meet our loved ones whom we have lost for awhile!
How many here want to come this morning, accepting Christ as your personal Saviour, and uniting with the church. (Many came.)