The Heart of God!

BELIEVING and not BELIEVING
Heartless God
May 21, 2017

We’re in the final part of a four-part series I called Believing and not Believing. Our focus has been to look at obstacles, beliefs which are incorrect which ultimately lead us away from believing in God, even while we do believe.

We’ve talked about rejecting the true God, because at times we have a distorted image of God. In week one we looked at what I call the genie God. God’s got to do what I want. Rub God’s belly with my prayer requests and poof, I’ve got my wish. That God does not exist. In week 2, we talked about the God being a cosmic killjoy. I want to believe in God but there are too many rules. Jesus made it simple, by telling us to love. Last week, we talked about feelings. I want to believe in God but I don’t feel Him. That’s also a distorted view, since we can’t base everything on our feelings. Always having to feel God isn’t who God really is.
Today I want to talk about what may be the most commonly embraced distorted view of God and that’s when we question whether God cares, does He have a heart.

It can be a struggle because as we’ve talked, our prayers are sincere. I’m not talking about your favorite team winning. I’m talking about healings, physical, emotional, and spiritual. We invade the throne room of God. We pray without ceasing. We fast, we read, we pray – – we do all we should do to get God’s attention. We really have the faith of a mustard seed and believe God can and will bring healing . . . then nothing!

Then add to our distress, the senseless killings, the drugs, the theivery . . . the overall nastiness of humanity . . . Not to mention the stories of young children brutalized . . . and we wonder where’s God at in all of this. Doesn’t He care? Where’s God’s heart in all of this?

If you’ve ever felt like that, you’re not the only person. You’re not the only one at all. In fact, a lot of times when people read stories in the Bible, they look at these Bible characters and think, “they had all of the faith and strength in the world.” Nothing could be further from the truth. They were very real people that experienced very real emotions just like all of us. You can go down the list.

David, in the Old Testament, a man after God’s own heart, cries out again and again, “Where are you, God? Why don’t you hear my prayers? Why don’t you do something? My enemies are after me. God, are you even listening?”

Read Job! This is how Job is described in Job 1:1 ~
1 There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job,

and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. – Job 1:1

If there was a saint, he was one. Yet, satan believes Job worships God, only because God has protected him. So, satan attacks him . . . killing all of his livestock, then, all of his kids are killed, then his health takes a hit. He’s got boils all over his body. His friends blame him for all the bad which has happened to him. It’s God paying him back for his sinfulness. Great friends! . His wife looks at him and says, “Well, Job, why don’t you just curse God and die?” How’s that for needing some marriage therapy at your lowest moment? “Honey, just die. It’d be so much better.” Where’s your heart, O God?” This doesn’t seem fair.

We can add a bunch of the prophets . . . like Jeremiah, Hosea and Elijah.

In the New Testament, look at John the Baptist. He was Jesus’ cousin. John’s job was to prepare the way for Jesus. That’s his purpose in life. He devoted his life to saying, “Jesus is coming. Get ready. Repent of your sins. Be baptized. Jesus is coming.” People start to follow him. “Don’t follow me. Follow Jesus.” He’s humble. He says, “I’m unworthy to untie his shoes. I shouldn’t baptize Him . . . He’s the one.” Then John the Baptist gets arrested for doing the right thing.

He’s in prison and I can only imagine what he’s thinking. I’m Jesus’ cousin. I know what He can do, He’s going to get me out of here. If not, He’ll send His angels to break off the chains and I’ll be free.”

John waits and finally sends some of his followers to Jesus and they asked Jesus ~
3 “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”

It’s like John is asking, “Jesus, I thought you were coming to get me! What happened, don’t you care?”

If you’ve ever been at the place where you wanted to believe but it didn’t seem like God cared, you’re not the only one. Maybe you feel like one of these folks I’ve mentioned, and for the rest of our time I want to try to relieve your burdens a little to help you see and proclaim . . . yes, God has a heart . . . and you need His heart!

When God doesn’t seem fair, remember, God always has a purpose in your pain. Even when you’re hurting, God is still working. It’s usually difficult if not impossible to see in the midst of your personal storm. I don’t know what it might be. Someone may have let you down. There may be someone you’ve recently lost. It could be a broken relationship. Someone took advantage of you. You prayed for someone and they still died. Someone lied and gossiped about you. It could be life just isn’t going your way. It could be an inconvenient sore throat, or a flat tire on the way to a job interview – – – it could be a number of different circumstances

Whenever you’re hurting, however personal it feels, remember God has a purpose. He’s using the difficult times to do something in you. Listen to what Peter says. Peter went through a lot of difficult times and this is what he said in 1 Peter 1:6-9~
6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,

7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith — more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire —

may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

8 Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him,

you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,

9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Those are powerful words from Peter. If we go back to verse 6, notice what he said
6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,

Basically, even though you are going through trials right now, they are not going to last, but you rejoice in the midst of them. These trials, these things which don’t make total sense, they will show that your faith is genuine. God’s taking your roots even deeper. He says, “It is being tested as a fire tests and purifies gold. Though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. When your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”

God has a purpose. God is doing something. God is in the middle of it. Even though you don’t understand it, God is using it to strengthen you. When you run toward Him, your spiritual roots grow even deeper. God can use the pain to help you grow more in the person you are called to be.

I love the end of this passage. It fits right into our theme over the past weeks.

8 Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him,

you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,

9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Isn’t this what we’ve been talking about? Though you don’t see God, even though you can’t feel Him, you still believe in Him, and you – – – catch this – – – you rejoice with joy which is inexpressable and filled with glory!! That’s what happens when we are so connected to God. Even in the midst of pain and suffering. And we get the outcome of our faith . . . salvation!! Eternity with God . . . where there is no pain, no suffering, total celebration!
The second thing that I hope you’ll remember is this. God is always present in your pain. He has a purpose and He is present when you are hurting. I love the first and last verses of Psalm 46 ~

1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,

3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

What a great reminder that God is with us in every situation. We don’t have to fear, even when it seems like the earth is giving way, the mountains are moved into the sea, the waters are roaring and the mountains quake. In the end, the psalmist reminds us with this thought ~

11 The Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. – Psalm 46:1-3, 11

A reminder that the God of the heavenly armies is with us, our God is our fortress! He is the One we need!

Then we come to Paul. You can’ forget this guy. Paul used to hate Christians. He was part of a group of Jews who put Jewish Christians to death. The people hated Paul, the were afraid of him. Then he met Jesus and Paul was radically transformed. He became super passionate on fire for Jesus and taught and started churches and wrote lots of the New Testament.

If anyone should get a break, it should be Paul. But he gets this thing he calls a thorn. Listen to what Paul said ~

7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations,

a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.

We don’t know what this thorn was. We just know it caused a great deal of suffering in Paul’s life. Paul cried out to God ~

8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.

He pleads with God in the same ways in which we have pleaded with God about our lives. You know if God’s going to heal anybody, He’s going to heal the guy who suffered, who’s been beaten and left for dead, who’s been shipwrecked for Jesus, snake bitten, whipped so many times that his back is scarred beyond measure, a guy who’s given his life to serve Christ and the church.

God’s going to heal Paul.

So, God looks at Paul and says this to him ~
9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Paul asked, pleaded with God to change his situation. Heal me God! Heal my kids! Take this pain away, God! And God looks at Paul, and us and says, “My grace is sufficient for you!”

Not what we asked for is it!? God I asked for healing? God says, I know, but really what you need is me, not healing!

This is something that you can not explain. It’s something that you can only experience. It’s something that you can never ever tell someone else. This is how God helped me through. You can’t put words on it. When you’ve been there and you’ve experienced his presence, when he’s carried you when you couldn’t make it on your own, when he lifted you through your doubts, when he sustains you when you’re aching in pain, when he comforted you when you didn’t want to get up another day, when he gave you the hope to move forward when you didn’t know if you could go on, you can testify there are times when he is enough, there are times when his grace is enough.

Paul responds to God with these words ~
. . . 9 Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.

For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

It almost sounds like crazy talk from Paul. “Ok, God, I delight in weaknesses, I delight in insults, I delight in hardships, I delight in persecutions, I delight in difficulties for when I am weak, then I am strong. When I am weak, your strength, Lord, is made perfect in me. When I can’t get on another day, I know You will be there to carry me.”

I know some of you are still going to be saying, “ok, good stuff, but I’m still not feeling it!” But that goes back to last week, when we’re not always going to feel God! We’re not always going to get what we want! Unfortunately, life doesn’t always work out that way for us. As much as we may wish it would, it doesn’t. We can’t pray for a perfect, warm, sunny, dry vacation, while the farmer is praying for overcast and rain for their crops! Well, we can pray all we want, but God’s got the plan. And it doesn’t always work out the way we want it to, as noble as our requests might be.

Here’s the bottom line, some of you right now, you take that selfie. You know what I mean? It’s a picture at a single moment in time. You look at your life right now, right where you are now – – –

And you may have every right to say, “I don’t like it. I don’t understand it. This moment in time, this doesn’t seem fair.” Most of us can take any 10 year period of time in our lives . . . and we’re going to have seasons in our lives where we can shout out ~ “I don’t get it, I didn’t choose that, that’s not what I asked for, I never wanted that! WHY! WHY! I don’t get it!” Yet, over that same 10 year period, when we look back, we can say “God was with me during that. He was strong for me during that. He carried me here. He lifted me up over there! He provided for me! I could never have done that on my own! I never would have chosen that path, yet God was there for me!”

In many respects, that is the beauty and power of longevity in faith. We see bad things, we experience bad things . . . but we’ve learned to trust that God will be there in all of our seasons, the good and the bad!

God has a heart for you. Life will not always go the way we want it to. But God loves you . . . He is a God of love. He proved it when He sent His Son to leave the perfection and power of heaven . . . to come to this place called planet Earth and live, suffer and die! He did that for you. He did it so you could have reconciliation with Him, so you could find forgiveness through Him and you could ultimately find peace through His power.

I’m going to finish off next week talking more about God’s heart! There’s just too much to say. Next week I’ll shock you with one of the things I say, I know I will, but you’ll have to come back to hear me say what I won’t say today!

Take this promise with you . . . no matter what happens . . . His grace is sufficient! He will always be with you . . . today, tomorrow, forever! He’s not going to fail you, He’s not going to forsake you! He’s your constant presence, because He has a heart for you!

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