Believing and not Believing
I’m Not Feeling It
May 14, 2017
Have you ever heard of Morris Albert? I’m sure most of you have, even if you can’t think of who and what he’s famous for! Listen to the first line of his most popular song from my Sophomore year in high school . . . 1974 ~
SONG – FEELINGS
I can see some heads nodding. Brings back some good old memories. Well, that’s what we’re talking about today. Feelings . . . and what happens if I’m not feeling it?
We’re in part 3 of a 4 part series looking at our struggles with faith. Often times it occurs when we have a distorted view of God. While people are rejecting God, it’s not a whole-hearted rejection, because they don’t have a good understanding of who God really is. We struggle between believing and not believing all at the same time.
In the first week, we looked at the fact that God is not an on demand God. He’s not a genie, whom we could rub His belly and be granted 3 prayers requests and poof, we get what we want. Last week, we looked at the God of rules, wondering if God was a cosmic kill-joy. And next week, we’ll look at the heart of God. The God who seems to be distant and not caring.
Part of our struggle is wanting to believe in God, but not feeling Him. How do you believe in a God you can’t see, you don’t hear him speak audibly, and you can’t touch?
Have you ever been there? You want to experience God, you long to experience His presence, but nothing! God give me a sign! Nothing! God touch me, heal me! Help me to know you really are real! Nothing! Silence!
I guarantee many of us have been there and gone through this. Maybe you’re right there right now. You want to believe, but you’re not feeling it, you’re not feeling or experiencing God.
Then, you always know someone . . . someone who is that annoying person who feels God everywhere. They start conversations with “I was talking to God and God said this to me – – – – I went to the mall and I prayed and God gave me the perfect parking space. My spouse got a raise. My child overslept for their job interview and they still got the job! Oh, God is so good.”
You’re like, “I went to mall and couldn’t get a parking space and walked ½ mile in the rain. My spouse got layed off and my child can’t get a job. Where is God in my life?” Right? I don’t feel God. Is God really real?
Think about it. How do you know you felt God? What do you say? I got goosebumps or the hair on the back of my neck stood straight up! Maybe you cried during worship . . . or you felt at peace. How do you know?
Now – – – some of you would say, yes, that’s what happens! But, I want to push you a little bit because you might have a tingly feeling with God.
But can’t you have a tingly . . . goosebumps . . . teary eyed experience elsewhere?
Maybe you watch something on tv that moves you! Ever happen. I want to show you an old, old commercial that always made me teary eyed. It wasn’t God, but it was real emotion. I was feeling it. It’s not a great quality video, but you’ll get it.
VIDEO – BELL COMMERCIAL
That was always a tear jerker for me. Not sure why! It just always was. You better call your mom or the woman in your life and say you love her!
Maybe you hear a song and you get a peaceful feeling. Maybe you take a bubble bath and put on some music and you get all peaceful. I don’t know. I’m kind of being sarcastic, but how do you know? How do you know who you’re feeling?
Let me ask you this, if you didn’t feel God today in church, whose fault was it? Think about that. Was it God’s fault? Like God’s looking at you going, “I didn’t like your attitude this week, so I’ll be with everyone else, but not you.”
Is it God’s fault? Is it your fault? Like your spiritual antenna wasn’t up? Was it George’s fault! Nothing like getting thrown under the bus! Was it my fault! Whose fault is it? What do you do if you don’t feel God?
Hopefully I can show you that the presence of God is so much bigger than our feelings. If you don’t always feel God’s presence, you are not alone. I’ll share some stories from the Bible and words from an amazing Christian author that may help us realize we don’t always feel the presence of God.
Listen to the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 88 ~
1 O Lord, God of my salvation, I cry out day and night before you.
2 Let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry!
3 For my soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to Sheol.
9 Every day I call upon you, O Lord; I spread out my hands to you.
13 But I, O Lord, cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you.
14 O Lord, why do you cast my soul away? Why do you hide your face from me?
Now listen to these words from Psalm 77 ~
7 “Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable?
8 Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time?
9 Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?”
WOW!! Can you believe God even allowed these verses to be in His Bible! It’s His love story to us, and this is in it! What great and powerful words to help us see not everything was rosy for those who followed God.
Basically, they were both saying – – – Lord, I can’t see you, I can’t feel you, you seem totally distant from me, you’ve deserted me, where are you Lord? I’m crying out to you . . . and I’m not feeling you! I’m not all tingly!
In Psalm 13:1-2, David poured his heart out to God ~
1 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
This is the same guy who said in Psalm 23, “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” Why? “For you are with me.”
It wasn’t always I feel you with me.
And think about Jesus, who walked in the most intimate fellowship with God ends up on a cross. He became sin for us. When Jesus became sin and died for our sins, God is so holy, He couldn’t look upon this. The world is going dark as Jesus gave His life for you and I. He looks up in His most desperate moment and cries out, “Eloi, eloi, lema sabachthani.” My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Jesus, God’s son, in His greatest moment of brokenness, and He’s crying out to God . . . where are you, Daddy!?!?!
If you don’t always feel the presence of God, you’re not alone. Let’s look at some possible reason why!
Maybe you’re doing what the disciples did in John 6. You want God to give you that obvious sign! Lord, tell me, show me, hit me . . . just do something to give me a sign that you’re here.
In John 6, listen to the disciples ~
30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform?
31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
Give us a sign God! God did this miracle. There’s bread from heaven. Do something like that. Give us some sense that God is really with us.
Notwithstanding the fact that Jesus healed people, turned water into wine, raised the dead, walked on water. But maybe you could give us a sign! Are we any different than the disciples who saw Jesus first hand. Maybe you want God to prove He exists.
Let me just tell you – – – God doesn’t always reveal himself that way. There are times where you may feel Him. There are times when you may not.
We have to understand feelings are not evidence of the presence of God or lack of presence of God. Feelings are not the only evidence that God is with us. There are some of you, you’re looking for that loving feeling! You want to feel tingly, goose pimpley. Sometimes it’s a quiet whisper, sometimes, there is silence too.
Some people may not feel God’s presence because your heart has hardened. You were close to God at one point and now your heart is not soft to the things of God.
Jesus was quoting the prophet Isaiah in Matthew 13:15 – when Jesus said ~
15 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’
Do you see what Jesus was saying? THEIR HEART HAS GROWN DULL. That means at one time their heart was not dull, their heart was sharp, passionate, ready. Now, their heart has grown dull. Their ears can barely hear . . . their eyes have closed . . . but here’s the promise . . .
But . . . and that’s a huge but . . . if they open their eyes, open their ears and understand with their hearts, turning back to God, God would bring healing!!
Maybe, just maybe, some of you are in this category. Maybe you’ve allowed your heart to grow cold to the things of God. Understand, the main cause of a hardened heart – – – is sin. Sin will always separate us from God. When we sin against God, that doesn’t mean God doesn’t love us and we’re not a Christian? Obviously not. You sin against God and you’re a follower of Jesus, you’re still a follower of Jesus. What happens is the sin breaks the intimacy with God.
For example, when someone breaks your trust. They lie or steal or cheat or do whatever they do, it breaks the bond of trust. You lose that intimacy that you once shared in that relationship. The same is true when we sin against God.
When we live with ongoing sin, and continue to live in it and we’re not repenting before God, saying, “God, forgive me and help me to defeat this sin issue. When we’re not dealing with it, over time, it’s like plaque on our heart. It grows hard. Suddenly, we can’t sense God’s presence.
Imagine this: it’s super, super cold out. It’s 30 below zero. You have to go outside, and if you put on the most amazing thermal hat, ski masks, a scarf, full body long underwear, the best winter coat, big thick ski pants, wool socks, great boots and gloves with warmers in them. Now, you walk outside . . . what do you not feel? You don’t feel cold. It is cold, but you don’t feel cold. Why? Because something is separating you from what’s really there.
In the same way, when we continue to let sin rule in our life, it’s not that God’s not there, but there’s something separating us from feeling the intimacy and the warmth of God’s presence.
Some of you may say, “I’m not doing some of the big sins.” That’s great, but I’m not sure God prioritizes our big ones and little ones. They’re all sins. Too many of us learn to live with sins . . . thinking “it’s not a big deal.”
I’m not going to go through the list, if I did you would not make Mother’s Day dinner! We need to check our heart. Too many times, our heart has become filled with sin issues, the little ones, but the little ones add up and separate us from God.
That’s when we come to God and ask God to forgive us, to cleanse and purify us. We see that in 1 John 1:9, when John tells us ~
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9
This is also what David prayed in Psalm 51. After his affair with Bathsheba, when he had her husband killed, he prayed ~
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. – Psalm 51
John tells us and David echos that same prayer. Forgive me! Cleanse me! Purify me! Purge that sin out of me! That’s what God desires from you and I.
Maybe, you don’t feel the presence of God because you’ve got sin that’s blocking the reality that he’s already there. He’s still with you.
I don’t always feel God. Some could be you’re over sensationalizing it. Some it might be your heart has grown harder.
Those are just two of many possible reasons why we don’t feel or experience the presence of God in our lives.
I believe a major component in all of this is the fact that we’re a pretty fickle people. We’re a society that loves to compare ourselves to others. God blessed us yesterday, but someone today seems to be getting a better deal than we received. So, while we were thrilled yesterday, today, we’re not quite as happy. Actually, we’re pretty angry. That’s another aspect of hardening our hearts.
Yet, here’s the truth, and understand this and I don’t say this tritely . . . Jesus told us ~
31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,
32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. – John 8:31-32
We know the truth, and that truth does set us free. The reality is the Father sent His Son, Jesus to suffer and die for you, so that you could experience the power of grace, reconciliation, redemption, and forgiveness . . . all in this world. You could live the life God wants you to live, the abundant life, filled with His glory and power.
But you must say YES to Jesus. You must embrace a relationship with Him first, then you seek to honor and glorify Him. Ultimately, we believe, because God sent Jesus into the world, and because of the words of Jesus, that He will not abandon us. He will not run out on us. He will be with us to the very end of the ages. Which means as long as you are alive, as long as you have said YES to Jesus, He will be with you. He is your Lord, your Savior.
Maybe you’re not feeling God right now. There’s a reason, maybe it’s you, maybe God is helping you to grow through a season in your life in which you are being pruned, so that you can have even greater growth.
Because it’s not happening your way . . . don’t give up, don’t give in to what the world says! Trust God is with you! Joshua 1:9 is a great verse to end with, as God tells us
9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.
Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9
Now change it to make it personal!!
9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.
Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord MY God is with ME wherever I go.” – Joshua 1:9