Sometimes I Forget to Stay Calm

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Funny how it never rains in Beijing when American presidents arrive for high-profile visits

It’s no coincidence

Military meteorologists in China seed the clouds and empty them of their moisture in advance

The weather is tailor-made for the occasion

Using an arsenal of rockets, artillery, and aircraft, Chinese scientists blast the clouds right out of the sky

“We can turn a cloudy day into a dry and sunny one,” boasts Miam Donglian of the Beijing weather bureau

That is nothing to what is already on the drawing board

Weather modification is a rapidly developing technology, spurred on by billion-dollar investments in climate change and global warming

It’s the new science, and its ramifications are not lost on military planners

Governments around the world are developing what may be the most underreported arms race on earth: weather warfare

A University of Ottawa professor (Michel Chossudovsky) in The Ecologist warned that:

“The world’s weather can now be modified as part of a new generation of sophisticated electromagnet weapons. Both the US and Russia have developed capabilities to manipulate the climate for military use … Weather manipulation is the pre-emptive weapon par excellence. It can be directed against enemy countries or ‘friendly nations’ without their knowledge, used to destabilize economies, ecosystems, and agriculture. It can also trigger havoc in financial and commodity markets.” 

Then you add to this the current concern that the Covid variants might be with us forever and that we will need to learn to live with Covid in its various mutations as a world-wide disease for many decades to come (won’t be wiped out like polio and some common childhood diseases)

The financial stress people are feeling as Covid, for many people, changed the way we do life and make a living

Pondering just these two amazing developments a few weeks ago I feel like we are either hurtling into the age of science fiction or stepping into the pages of the book of Revelation

The last book of the Bible indicated that catastrophic disruptions in earth’s meteorological patterns will wreak havoc on the world during the Great Tribulation

But here is what the Holy Spirit wants us to know:

As we wait the Lord’s return, the atmospherics of your heart and mine should be calm

The Bible says we have a God who calms the storm and a Saviour who rebukes the wind and waves so they are calm (Psalm 107:29; Luke 8:24)

The Bible directs us to stay calm…

The writer of Psalm 131 said, “Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul.”

Proverbs 17:27 tells us that a person of understanding has a calm spirit

In Isaiah 7:4 (NIV), the Lord tells us, “Be careful, keep calm, and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart.”

And yet, “Sometimes I Forget to Stay Calm”

CALM is an interesting word that is known more for what it is not:

      • Fear
      • Anxiety
      • Worry
      • Agitation
      • Turbulence
      • Panic attacks

But CALM does require some kind of storm or we would never notice it

Calm compared to what?

The weather world gave us the word in the first place

It means wind that is moving one mile per hour or less

The Beaufort Scale has “Calm” at one end and “Hurricane” at the other —- extreme opposites

So the Lord said to me a few months ago:

Take a moment and evaluate your own life.

As you attempt to move through these chaotic days, where would the Beaufort Scale register the winds of your soul?

As I ponder these things and more…

      • The stress people live under due to the pace of life
      • The number of people addicted to prescription drugs
      • The serious issue of obesity in children and adults
      • The epidemic of misinformation spreading worldwide

Jesus speaks loudly into this current world in which we find ourselves:

“Let not your heart be troubled…” (John 14:1)

He would not have said these calming words unless His followers needed them

Their hearts were troubled – and He knows that ours are too

Some people believe – and teach – that when you accept Christ you will receive a Get Out of Stress Free card and live in a “Walt Disney happy ever after world”

To be honest, when I became a believer, I picked up a few new problems I didn’t have before I met Jesus

And Jesus never promised us that everything would be great, terrific, and wonderful

He did warn us that troubles would follow us and that obedience to Him would actually increase our persecution levels

But He is also the One who said:

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, emphasis added)

Jesus Himself felt pressure and stress

He was distressed as He watched Mary weep over the death of her brother Lazarus

He “groaned in the spirit and was troubled” (John 11:33)

As He contemplated the cross, He felt genuine anxiety (John 12:27)

As He waited for Judas to betray Him, He was troubled (John 13:21)

He is a high priest who can “sympathize with our weaknesses” (Hebrews 4:15)

As the death of Jesus nears, His disciples begin to be anxious about their life situations, and Jesus comforts them with these words:

John 14:1-6 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 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. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

So “Sometimes I forget to Stay Calm” (I forget to receive His comfort) and, when that happens, I try to return to these words of Jesus

Jesus didn’t say these words as He stood beside a Galilean stream on a sunny day, without a care in the world

He said them as He stood near the jaws of hell itself

Jesus didn’t speak them from the all-protective shelter of His Father’s arms

He sat with His frightened disciples in the Upper Room, preparing for the worst of humanity and the silence of Heaven

His words were, “Let not your heart be troubled” and then He gave them…

      • Some things to believe
      • Some things to hold on to
      • Some things that would bring calm in the midst of the coming storm – and all future storms

He asked them to put their trust in four things — Trust is faith in action

Four things that He promised would provide courage and renewed strength for their troubled hearts

And which can and will continue to do just that for us in these troubled and chaotic times

1> JESUS ASKS US TO BELIEVE IN A PERSON

When a child is afraid during the night, who but a parent can provide comfort?

The child will cling to Mommy or Daddy and begin to feel calm

That’s how it is with Jesus

His comfort begins with His very identity -who He is

“Let not your heart be troubled,” He tells us, “You believe in God, believe also in Me” (John 14:1)

He is God so He comforts

To have your heart not troubled (anxious, worried, uptight) we need to recognize that Jesus is God and God has everything in control

I first realized this many years ago when I read:

John 14:16 KJV “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever…”

So if the Holy Spirit is ‘another Comforter’ then Jesus must be the original Comforter

The people of Judea believed in only one God

The center of their faith was expressed in the Shema:

Deuteronomy 6:4-5 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

These Jewish followers of Jesus had been trained since infancy to love God exclusively

Now Jesus was telling them something shocking: 

He wanted them to believe in Him in the exact same way — because He was God’s Son … really God in human form

If the divine nature of Jesus is, at times, difficult for us to understand, you can imagine how the disciples would have struggled to wrap their minds around such an idea

In fact, it wasn’t until after His resurrection that they began to truly process what He was telling them here in our passage

Jesus was asking men who had been schooled in the Hebrew Scriptures to expand their faith in their heavenly Father to include His Son, their earthly teacher

Not just God the Father but God the Son

Calling upon His full authority as the Lord of heaven and earth, He said “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30)

The point Jesus was making: To believe in what I say, you must believe in who I am

The point I am making: To live with inner calm and the peace of God that is beyond understanding we have to believe in a person – Jesus

Not believe in a doctrine, a teaching, a creed, a theology – Believe in a person

And, believe in who He is – God in human flesh – whose words are true and whose words release life in those who receive them

He is God and can / does calm storms!

Natural storms

Inner life storms 

2> JESUS ASKS US TO BELIEVE IN A PLACE

Now Jesus goes on and tells His disciples, “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” (John 14:2 NKJV)

Jesus is going away and the disciples are shattered, broken-hearted

And wondering why He is leaving them and what they are going to do without Him

Jesus answers the “why” question…

He is leaving because there is work to do planning for the reunion that will happen when His disciples join Him in heaven

He is encouraging His disciples to think of the wonderful future He is planning and “building” for them in heaven

He is asking His followers to believe in a REAL place

The Scriptures include many synonyms for heaven and decent descriptions of heaven

      • We know  it is vast
      • We know it is beautiful
      • We know it is wonderful, beyond all imagining
      • It is called a ‘country’ which is more beautiful than anything here on earth
      • It is seen as a city – built and perfected by the architect of this universe
      • Jesus calls it a Kingdom – the realm of a powerful king

Heaven is real and we need to be careful because Hollywood and the media have, in many ways, reduced heaven to a stereotype

 

It has become something trivial and unimportant

Yet the idea of heaven and Jesus going before us to prepare a place for us …

    • Gives us hope even in the storms of life
    • Guides our aspirations and dreams
    • Soothes and comforts our hearts when we lose a loved one
    • Helps us to realize that we are not mundane or insignificant – we are children of the Kingdom and bound for heaven – it is real and it is home!

But Jesus’ description of heaven is my favourite: “My Father’s house”

Many of us who grew up on the KJV are familiar with the phrase “many mansions”

Newer translations substitute something like “many rooms” or “many dwelling places”

The reason: the word “mansions” is now associated with the homes of millionaires

Originally the Greek word meant a ‘simple dwelling place’

Jesus is actually saying, “In My Father’s house are many rooms”

BUT, please don’t think we will all be tenants of a large boarding house, with cramped quarters and a shared bathroom down the hall

Heaven is the infinite expanse of God’s glory — it is perfection, and the idea of a mansion is actually more than appropriate and was a decent translation of what Jesus was saying

Most importantly, this place, “My Father’s house, is a home…

Home is an important concept in the life of a human being as most of the important aspects of our lives take place in a home

Jesus is saying that our ultimate dwelling place for all eternity is heaven where you will have a place of your own that you will call your home

Ecclesiastes 3:11 “God has set eternity in our hearts” and that is heaven, our ultimate home

A side note:

A house is not a home any more than the church is a building

A true home is an intangible thing, composed of love, relationships, and peace

So, no matter what your “house” in heaven looks like it will be ‘home’ and precious to us because the presence of the Lord will be there

And we will experience love, healthy relationships, and peace

To experience ‘calm’ and not forget to be ‘calm’ we need to be doing as Jesus asks of us…

1> JESUS ASKS US TO BELIEVE IN A PERSON

2> JESUS ASKS US TO BELIEVE IN A PLACE 

3> JESUS ASKS US TO BELIEVE IN A PROMISE

A wonderful aspect of the Bible is its many promises made to born again believers

When God makes a promise, it is our rock – our guarantee – our assurance

Jesus, in the Scripture we are looking at, comforts us with this promise:

“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” (John 14:3)

Some people interpret this as a description of what happens when we die

The problem is that we have no specific scriptural support for the idea of Jesus returning for each believer at death

Luke 16:22 suggests that the angels handle that task

This verse is certainly a description of the triumphant return of Christ – the Second Coming

Our comfort is in looking forward to His return, when He will take us way from all the problems and heartbreaks of this life

That is the promise that He asks us to believe in – that Jesus came and died on the cross because He desires to spend eternity with us

That is the promise that He asks us to believe – that He will return to take us with Him into heaven to spend eternity with us 

How much different would our lives be if we could only begin to embrace the truth that the God of heaven desires to spend eternity with us!

Listen to Jesus’ words when He prayed about that desire…

John 17:24 “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”

We need our Lord’s promise as we continue to walk the uncharted roads in front of us with all the issues we are facing and the world is facing

And remember, as tough as it may be — the devil may win an occasional battle but Jesus has already won the war

Fact: Jesus has ascended into heaven and is preparing our place

Fact: Jesus will return and take us there for all eternity – that’s a promise

Fact: That is how much He loves us

Fact: We need to learn to live life as if this promise is true (living calmly)

But, Sometimes I still forget to stay calm

Jesus says, “Believe in Me. Believe in the reality of My home. Then believe My promise

BELIEVE

For some, believing can be difficult to accept because the problems of this world (and our individual lives) are visible, tangible, and right now

But the hope and power come from an invisible reality and the only connection we have to that reality is our faith — our decision to believe

Then, when we believe and walk by faith, we can view our sorrow and setbacks in the much larger context of eternity

Then we will not forget to stay calm and live with peace

1> JESUS ASKS US TO BELIEVE IN A PERSON

2> JESUS ASKS US TO BELIEVE IN A PLACE

3> JESUS ASKS US TO BELIEVE IN A PROMISE

4> JESUS ASKS US TO BELIEVE IN A PLAN

Finally, Jesus has a plan for us to trust and it is revealed in John 14:5-6 

Thomas, always uncertain, asks Jesus, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”

Jesus answers him: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

If Jesus was leaving, Thomas wanted a map so he could follow

GPS (Global Positioning System) was not available back then

Thomas was asking, “Can’t you even leave a forwarding address?”

Jesus’ answer is surely not what Thomas was expecting to hear

Jesus says that He is the map

He is the GPS – Global Positioning Saviour

He shows the way to heaven, takes us there, and ultimately is the journey Himself

Imagine you are on a business trip and stop at a convenience store to ask directions. The cashier gets that all the time, so he fires the turns at you in rapid succession:

First right, third traffic light, dogleg left, straight at the Methodist church, then go through four or five intersections, if you see the Jiffy Burger you’ve gone too far, what you want is the second left past the old gas station…

All of this was spewed out before you got your pen out to write it down and now you have a look of despair on your face

So the cashier glances at his watch and says, “Know what? I get off in three minutes, and it’s on my way home. I’ll lead you right there myself.”

Now you’re smiling. That cashier has become the way

He not only has the directions but is the means for getting there and thus he is your new best friend

William Barclay in his commentary says that this is what Jesus does for us

“He does not tell us about the way; He is the Way.”

But Jesus says something else that many people would rather skip over or explain away

Jesus says not only that He will take us to heaven, but that He is the only one who can:

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

 

He is not saying that he is “a way” but He is saying that He is “the only way”

Jesus’ words in John 14:6 clearly teach the exclusive, one-way nature of salvation — only Jesus!

But this truth Is not isolated to one text …

Matthew 7:13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.”

Narrow gate or narrow mind? You be the judge

John 8:24 “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

Acts 4:12 “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

1 Timothy 2:5 “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.”

The Scriptures are remarkably clear on this issue:

Jesus is the one and only way

Jesus is the one and only truth

Jesus is the one and only Giver of life

If that is narrow-minded, so be it!

 

I’m happy to be narrow-minded if that is what God is because this is His truth not mine

What about the number of religions out there … 

Again, the Bible says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12) 

It is not about what seems right that counts

It’s about what IS right

The various world religions are neither different versions of the same story nor parallel steps leading skyward on some pyramid of truth where all the differences melt away

Jesus asks us to believe in the plan – His plan … the only plan

 “He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:1)

1> JESUS ASKS US TO BELIEVE IN A PERSON

2> JESUS ASKS US TO BELIEVE IN A PLACE

3> JESUS ASKS US TO BELIEVE IN A PROMISE

4> JESUS ASKS US TO BELIEVE IN A PLAN

If we do — when we do — then we will seldom if ever forget to stay calm… 

End Note — Other world religions …

Today, it seems, we have decided that to believe Jesus is the ONLY way to the Father, into heaven, and to gain eternal life is no longer politically correct.

It is, we are told, bigoted and intolerant.

According to some recent polls, a majority North Americans — 70 percent — think some non-Christian religions also provide paths to salvation.

Pollsters at Pew Research Centre were amazed to find how many respondents accredited more than one way to heaven.

Fifty-seven percent of evangelicals (born again believers) said they believed many religions can lead to eternal life.

In other words, nearly half of evangelicals in North America were left in the category of believing Jesus is not the exclusive way to heaven

Respondents to an online poll by the evangelical periodical Christianity Today indicated a similar belief pattern. Forty-one percent believe there is more than one way to heaven