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Why? - Week 1

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"One hundred thirty-two to electric; let's see, ninety four to Cable. Cell phone bill, oh my goodness, two hundred and fifty-six dollars! How am I going to pay for this? God, I can really use you right now!" Hey, welcome today to all of our LifeChurches and our Network Church family, those of you at Church Online; I'm really excited today, as we're starting a brand new series called, "Why". And let me tell you what we're going to do, over the next four weeks, we are going to wrestle with some of the most commonly asked why questions about God. Because the truth is, there's so many people I believe, that aren't fully trusting God or aren't giving their lives to God because they still have some questions as to why or why God doesn't do certain things. And so, let me tell you where we're going to go over the next few weeks, and it might help you to know who you can invite to bring and experience these teachings. Next week is my favorite of the four weeks. We are going to talk about, "Why Didn't God Answer my Prayer". Chances are you've prayed for something, or someone you know who really believed that God was going to do it, they sought after God, and then when God didn't do it, a lot of times they feel very, very let down. "Why Didn't God Answer my Prayer?" The third week, on Easter weekend, we're going to talk about what may be the most commonly asked question in the history of the world, "Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?". Where is God when life doesn't seem fair? And we'll deal with that on Easter weekend. Then the fourth weekend we're going to talk about, "Why Would God Use Someone Like Me?" With all of my doubts, all of my insecurities, all the sinful things I've done in my life, why would God use someone like me? Now, I just want to say going into this that I will not be able to clearly and definitively answer all of these questions, but what I want to do is provide Biblical context so that in your Life Groups, in your family, as you get together and talk it over, we'll be talking not based on our opinions or our thoughts, or what somebody said, but instead we'll be talking about these questions based on the truth of God's Word. And even though I can't answer these questions definitively, we know One who can and we'll take these questions to our God. So today we're starting with the question, "Why Don't I always feel the presence of God?" If you're a Christian, chances are sometime you've probably asked, "Why don't I feel God right now?" If you're not a Christian, that may not be a question you've ever asked; but for those of us who are we wonder, "Why don't I always feel the presence of God?" So to start this week, I want to ask the question and I'd love for all of you at all of our different churches to participate, how many of you who are Christians would say that at some point in your life you really believe you've felt the presence of God? Would you just raise your hands up right now? All over the place, a lot of hands are going up. Let me get a little more specific, how many of you would say that already today, whether you're at Church Online, LifeChurch or a Network Church, already today you've sensed the presence of God in church? Would you raise your hands? Most hands up, some hands aren't. So, the question that I would ask is, if you didn't feel God's presence today, whose fault is it? Is it your fault because you weren't tuned in and you weren't ready and you weren't prayed up? Is it God's fault because God said, 'I'm going to show 80% of the people my presence, but not those 20%, especially that guy over there because I don't like the way he did his hair today! I'm not going to reveal!' Or is it the worship pastor's fault because he picked songs that you don't know? And everybody knows you can't worship to those rock and roll songs, to rock and roll songs, can't worship to those rock and roll songs! Whose fault is it? And besides, how do you know if you really felt the presence of God? How do you know? I asked some people this week, "If you've felt the presence of God, how do you know when you feel God's presence?" Well, some people say things like, "Well, I just got a tingly sensation!" Others said, "You know, I was overcome with emotion and I just kind of cry in a responsive worship to what I believe is the presence of God." One person said, "I just kind of get this warm sensation!" And the reality is that beyond a shadow of a doubt that God can give you any of those feelings and infinitely more feelings than we can ever even describe. But the truth also is, even though God can make you feel tingly, so can sitting next to your girlfriend in a movie theatre, right? Even though God can make you cry, so can cutting onions! Again right? Just as God can give you a warm sensation, so can going to the bathroom in a swimming pool! Can somebody say, "Amen!"? It doesn't mean you've done it that just means you agree, because everybody knows that if you do it the water will turn blue next to you! At least that's what they told me when I was growing up! How do you know if you actually have experienced the presence of God or not? If you're taking notes, let's start off today with this thought: If you don't always feel God's presence; understand, you are not alone. If you don't always feel God's presence, you are not alone. In fact, there are so many different verses in the Bible. I picked one from Psalm 88:13-14, when the Psalmist said to God: But I cry to you for help, O Lord; in the morning my prayer comes before you... Verse 14, the Psalmist said: Why... Everybody say, why! Say it again, all of our churches; one, two, three: Why, O Lord, do you reject me and hide your face from me? In other words, "Why can't I feel you God? Where are you when I need you? I don't sense that you're near God, why is it that I can't feel your presence?" Today, let's wrestle with that question. And again, I won't be able to say specifically for every one of you, here's exactly why; but what I want to do is raise five different Biblical possibilities as to why you might not feel the presence of God. The first reason if you're taking notes, why don't I always feel God? Well maybe for some of you: 1. Maybe you are over sensationalizing the presence of God. You're looking for something really big and dramatic and some kind of massive sign from God. You know, "God, if this is really you, may a camel walk into my room right now so I'll know that you're leading me to do this!" And this isn't uncommon. In fact, you can see it in the New Testament when the crowds of people were pressing into Jesus and they basically ask Him, 'What do want from us?' And Jesus said, 'Well, I just want you to believe in me. I want you to believe.' And in John 6:30, the crowd asked Him, 'Okay, you want us to believe': "What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you?" And they asked Jesus: "What will you do?" I believe so often that a lot of people are over sensationalizing, "I want to feel God's presence! Oh God, do something big, help me see it!" You know, shake the room, give me, you know, the Drano voice! Those of you who are my age, you may remember the Drano commercials, you know, 'This is God!' Speaking audibly and we want something really, really big! In fact for me, when I was a brand new Christian, I think I was over sensationalizing the presence of God. I was maybe 20-years or so of age and I went to my first charismatic church. Now, for those of you that aren't from the church world, that may not mean much to you, but a charismatic church is a church where people are really excited about God! It's like, I don't know if you've ever been to one, some of you, a lot of times people speak in tongues and they're jumping up and down, and some of them have their own little dance, they do this kind of little thing and it's like everybody drank two cans of Red Bull before they came to church! How many of you know what I'm talking about? Have you ever seen that before? And I was very intrigued by this, there was something about their excitement and I'd never experienced anything like that in my Methodist Church where we sang verses one, two and four of Hymns! And that's what I remember! And so, I came in and the pastor spoke this message and it was like God was speaking directly to me from God's Word. I mean, it was like I was the only one in the room. And at the end of the sermon, the pastor said, "If you don't know for certain that God has forgiven you of all of your sins, come forward now!" I was still feeling guilty about all of the stuff that I'd done, so I was like, "Oh, this is me..." And I came up to the front and I thought, "I'm going to be the only guy up here!" What I didn't realize is there were about 30 other loser-sinners up there with me that weren't sure where they stood! And the pastor came up to me, because I was the very first one, and he said, "Young man, you're not sure that God has forgiven you? What I want you to do is lift your hands!" And I was like, "Okay, okay!" And he said, "In the name of Jesus you are forgiven!" And when he said forgiven, he stepped forward and he banged my hands really, really hard. So hard that I almost fell over! And he looked at me as if to say, you know, kind of like almost surprised that I didn't fall over, and he said, "Lift up your hands again!" I lift them up and I thought, "I'm not stupid! He wants to high five again!" I catch on and he said, "Be forgiven!" And when he did, I step forward and I high-fived him back really hard and almost knocked him over! Well, he kind of looked at me funny and went on to the next person. And when they raised their hands and he hit them, they fell to the ground! And so did the next person, and next person, and he'd go by, he'd touch them, look at them, blow on them and they're all falling down! And I walked down and I go, "Well wait a minute, maybe God didn't touch me! All of these other people were like fish flopping on the floor and why didn't I feel the presence of God?" What's funny is that just moments before that, God had clearly spoken directly to me through His Word. And yet, because something fancy didn't happen to me, I started to question, "Did I really experience God?" I don't know about you, but there may be some of you, that you're still waiting for the camel to come in the door. And sometimes God's presence will knock you down, other times it may just calm you with a peace that goes beyond our human ability to even understand. Why don't I always feel God's presence? Maybe for some of you, you are over sensationalizing it. The second thing is, maybe for some of you: 2. Maybe you're simply distracted. God is with you, but you're distracted and not experiencing Him. Luke 10:38-40 is honestly the most powerful verses in all of Scripture to illustrate this. Scripture says: As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him... To Jesus, verse 39: She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what He said... Jesus was in the house, Mary was enjoying His presence. But Martha, verse 40, is like so many of us, what does Scripture say? But Martha was what? Help me out somebody: But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. Jesus was right there and yet, she was distracted and missed the moment of enjoying His presence. The reality is, for so many Christians today, they're often distracted by doing the work of God, and they miss the presence of God. They're so busy doing that they're not being in His presence. They're so busy doing the work of God they miss the presence of God. And the reality is, you don't have to just be serving God to be distracted, you can be distracted by so many things today. I know people who can't go four minutes without updating their Facebook status, like, "Oh hang on, I just sneezed! Oh hang on, now I'm about to wipe my snot!" Seriously, it's not just that but it's, "Oh man, I've got to get the kids to soccer and the other ones to dance!" and "We're out of butter at the house!" and "I've got to cut the yard!" and "Oh, but we need oil for the lawn mower!" and "I've got to sign up for the LifeKIDS director thing!" and "This floor is shiny!" Sorry, I just got distracted! Thanks for working with me! Anyway, maybe you're simply distracted. God is with you and you're missing His presence. The third thing if you're taking notes is this, and this isn't quite so much fun, but: 3. Maybe your heart has hardened. Why don't I always feel the presence of God? Maybe your heart has grown harder to the things of God. I can't tell you how many people I know that at one time were very tender and sensitive to God. And yet, something happened and their heart has grown cold to the things of God. In fact, in Matthew 13, Jesus had just taught on what was known as the parable of the sower, and then He went and quoted the Old Testament Prophet Isaiah and says this in Matthew 13:14-15 and He said: You will be ever be hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but not perceiving... He said: For this people's heart has... Has what everybody? Their hearts have become: ...calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they've closed their eyes. I don't know how this might play out for some of you, but for a lot of you there may have been a time where you really were close to God and then something happened. Maybe you prayed for something and said, "God, I believe you're going to do this." And then, God didn't do what you thought and you're like, "Well, forget God!" and you hardened your heart toward God. Or maybe you that God was leading you to do something, He was prompting you and so you took a step of faith. And when you took that step of faith it didn't work out the way you thought it would and you're like, "Oh well, God must not be speaking to me, or I can't understand Him anyway." Or, "He's not trustworthy!" and so you're heart hardened to the things of God. Or, I don't know how many times I've met people who were close to God at one time and then, some Christian did something that wasn't Christ-like. Or they got hurt by a church, or a religious organization and they're like, "Oh well then God, because of what they did forget you!" Why don't I always feel the presence of God? Well, it could be that my heart has grown calloused or harder to God because of something that happened in life. Here's another reason if you're taking notes, "Why don't I always feel God?" Maybe you've built a wall of sin. You've built a wall of sin that hinders your intimacy with God. Look at Isaiah 59:1-2, God says: Listen! The Lord is not too weak to save you... I love this picture: ...and He is not becoming deaf. He can hear you when you call. But, there's a problem... What's the problem? The problem is: ...your sins have... Done what? Your sins have: ...cut you off from God. There's a problem. He can hear you, but your sins have cut you off from God. Now, let me be really carful and really clear here. If you're a Christian and you sin, you're still a Christian. Just because you sin doesn't mean you're out of the game, you're covered by the blood that Jesus shed on the cross for you; your past sins, your present sins, and your future sins. But the reality is, if you continue living with unrepentant sin; in other words, you're just sinning and you're not sorry and you're not turning away from it that is going to negatively affect the potential of intimacy with God. Let me explain it this way, my wife Amy is with me at church in this service. If I sinned against Amy, would we still be married? The answer is yes! Would we be as close if I continue to sin against her? The answer is no! Imagine that I tell a big whopping lie. Well, you might as well put a brick in between me and her. Then, let's say that I talk down to her, put another brick. Let's say I'm verbally abusive to her, another brick. Let's say I'm continually disrespectful to her, another brick. Let's say I look lustfully at some girl that walks by, I'm like, "Well, check that thing out!" Okay, put four bricks up there! Now, if I sinned against her are we still married? Yes, but if I'm not apologizing and turning from it, what am I doing? I'm building a wall of sin. Maybe the reason you don't feel God like you could is because you're not confessing and turning from the sin that separates us from a Holy God. And then finally, why don't I always feel God? Well, here's the big thing for so many people, and I believe this with all of my heart: Maybe you don't know God. Maybe you don't know Him. Maybe you honestly don't know Him. Because there are so many people who know about God, but don't know God. And there's a huge difference between having a head knowledge of God and having a heart relationship with God. Jesus said it plainly, He said in John 7:28-29, He said about His Father, 'You don't know Him, you don't know my Dad, you don't know my Father: You don't know Him, but I know Him because I'm from Him and He sent Me. God wants us not to know about Him but to know Him, and maybe the reason you don't feel the presence of God is because you don't really know Him. Now, we've talked a lot about feelings, do you feel. And let me just be real clear about something. You may not always feel God's presence. It's going to take faith to believe in Him even when you don't feel Him. And the good news is faith is pleasing to God. If you always felt His presence, then you wouldn't need faith, and Scripture says without faith it's impossible to please God. So, walking with God is never about our feelings, what do we feel and what do we not feel; it's always about our faith. And what I want to do today, I hope as I close this message out, is build your faith in God and His presence with three presence promises. This is the most important part of all that we're going to talk about today. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, these promises are true, they're always true; they're true of God and they're true for you. If you're taking notes the first one is this: 1. You need to understand that you will find God when you seek God. And this is such good news. You want to know Him, you want to experience Him? If you seek Him you will find Him. Scripture says in Jeremiah 29:13-14: You will seek me... And what somebody? You will seek me: ...and find me when you seek me with... What? Scripture says with: ...all your heart. Not some of it, but all of your heart: I will be found by you, declares the LORD... When you seek God, God delights in revealing Himself to you, so much that He wanted you to know Him, He sent Jesus to reveal His heart, His nature; so you could not just know about Him, but know Him intimately. When Jesus rose from the dead, God sent the Holy Spirit who would dwell in you and you can experience the presence of God when you seek Him. Not as kind of a side gig, or a hobby, or a little add on to your life, but a whole life, full-on heart pursuit of the Creator of the universe. And if you seek Him like that, He loves to reveal Himself to you. God's not playing hide-and-seek; He's not like, 'Hey, come and find me! You're getting closer!' Watch this, I'm going to try to fake out my camera guy! Did I do it? Did I do it? I got you! See, he's hard to fake out! He's fast! God's not going, 'Hey, come find me, you're getting warm! Wait, wait, wait, colder, ice, ice, warmer, warmer, fire, fire!' God's not doing that! When you seek Him, He wants to reveal Himself to you. Now, some of you may honestly ask the question, "How do I seek God? What does that mean?" And I don't want to assume anything; I want to be as simple and upfront as I can. How do I seek God? Well, one of the easiest ways to seek God is just to open up His Word daily and get to know Him. "Why don't I always feel the presence of God?" Maybe you haven't been communing with God through His Word. Daily I take our YouVersion Bible App and I read through the whole Bible every single year. And so, daily I've got four or five little chunks of Scripture that I read, and daily I seek God through His Word. You can also seek God through prayer. You may say, "I'm not sure how to pray." You just talk to God like you would a friend. You tell Him how you feel about Him, you ask for His guidance, you talk to Him about your day; you just talk to God like a friend, and you're seeking Him. You can also seek God in worship. I have my little Pandora App on my phone and I worship with Kari Jobe station and with Gunger, when I'm working out and when I'm driving. And it makes what's a normal part of the day a Spirit-directed act of worship and seeking God. And I'm telling you, He wants to reveal Himself to you. For example, does anybody have like an old school radio here? Anybody have like an old school radio? Anybody have an old school radio? Oh, Pastor Chris has one, wow! What a coincidence! How did that happen? It's almost like it was planned! Now, for those of you who are like under 20, this is a radio! And this is called an antenna! I know, we have to make sure everybody's with us! Now this, if you don't know, there are radio waves all over this room right now, all over the room right, everywhere right? But, we don't hear them because why? We're not tuned in, but if I turn this on, we're going to pray that there's no like, skanky music on! We're going to just turn it on and see, we're going to turn it on. There, okay, I need something else! Let me just see if I can get something else, let's see. I've got to get something else. Okay, let's see what else we can find, we can find some country maybe. Anybody like country music? Does anybody like country? Turn it off, we'll turn it off! We're not going to do country! How many of you like country? It's off. How many of you like country? God can set you free! You can be healed from that! Now, God is here if you'll just put your antenna up. Some of you, you need the grace of God; put your antenna up, it's there. Some of you, you need the comfort of God; put your antenna up, it's there. Some of you, you're in a hard place and you need the peace of God; put your antenna up, just experience the peace of God. Just put your antenna up, seek Him, and He will reveal Himself to you. The good news is, you will find God if you seek God with all of your heart. I'm telling you church, seek Him, and seek Him. Seek Him and seek Him. The next thing if you're taking notes is this: 2. You can do life with God's presence. You can do life with God's presence. God's presence isn't just, "Hey, I went to church and I sang some songs". Here's what Jesus said about this, He said in John 14:16, He said: And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor, who will never... What somebody? He will never: ...leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world at large cannot receive Him... Why? Their antenna is not up: ...because they aren't looking for Him and they don't recognize Him. But you... Who are Christians: do... Why? ...because He lives... He lives where? Where does God live? He lives: ...with you now and later He will be... Where? Later He will be: you. And guess where you are? You're in the later. You are in the part where the Holy Spirit dwells inside of you. And that means you don't have to go to church to be with God, God is inside of you and you can do life with Him. That means, when you wake up in the morning it can be, "Hello God! What do you have today?" When you're driving to work and looking at the sunrise like, "God, that's cool! You're showing off again!" When you walk into work and your boss is grumpy, "Oh God, give me the ability to love my boss today!" And all day long you're talking to God; you're doing life with His presence because He dwells within you. You will find Him if you seek Him. You can do life with Him. And the third thing is, and this is the most important thing is this: 3. You can experience God now at this moment. Here, right now, beyond a shadow of a doubt, you can experience God right now. I love Acts 17. In the first verse, it's not in your notes, but the first verse says: God made the world and everything in it. The reason He did it, Scripture says, is because He doesn't live in temples built by hands. He made everything in it. When is the last time you've looked at creation and have just gone, "Wow!" Because it's so amazing, God made the world and everything in it. Why? Verse 27 says this: God did this so that men... Would do what? Men would seek Him and perhaps reach out to Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. God did all of this, why? So we would seek Him, to know Him, in a relationship with Him because He is not far from us. He is a relational God who loves you and wants to be loved back. That's why the bottom line and here's the most important thing of this whole message, is this: It doesn't really matter what I feel, if I feel God's presence. More than me feeling Him, I want Him to feel me. I want Him to feel my heart, my adoration, my praise, my worship, my obedience, because ultimately all of this is not about me, it's all about Him. And so, whether I feel Him, I will worship Him. Whether I don't feel His presence, I will worship Him. No matter what I feel, I want Him to feel my heart, my adoration, my longing to know Him. And the good news is, He's not playing hide-and-seek, when I seek Him with all of my heart, He will reveal Himself to me, because He is a loving God who loves for us to know Him. If there's a reason, maybe God is showing you today why you may not be feeling His presence, let's deal with whatever that is; sin or a hard heart, or whatever it is, and then let's seek Him. Because when you seek Him you will find Him. Father, I pray in the name of Jesus that Your Spirit would work in our lives because God, right now we are in Your presence. As you're praying today at all of our different churches, there may be so many of you who would just say very honestly, I want more of His presence. There could be any number of different reasons why you may not be experiencing Him right now, maybe you've been distracted, maybe you're over sensationalizing it, maybe your heart has grown harder to it, maybe you don't know Him. You say, "I want to know Him even more, I want to do life with Him." At all of our churches, those of you who would say, "You know, I really do, I want to put Him first, I want to seek Him, I want to sense His presence so I can do His will. I want even more of God's presence." If that's you, would you just lift up your hands right now, just all over the place, I would honestly hope every Christian's hand would be up in the air. God, I thank you today for those who desire even more of you. God I pray that Your Spirit would reveal Your heart to us as we seek You. God, I pray that we would be a church full of people that desire to know You, to know Your heart, to know Your will, to know Your voice and to glorify You in all that we do. And God, I thank you that as we do seek You, You will reveal Yourself to us. And God, we won't be the same because we've been in Your presence. God, reveal Yourself to us as we seek to know you and to do Your perfect will. As you keep praying today at all of our different churches, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there are many of you here that you know a little something about God, some of you maybe less than you think, but you really do, you know something about God. But you are going to recognize very clearly, you don't know Him personally. And let me just say as clearly as I can, just because you're in a church doesn't mean you know God. Just because you got baptized when you were a baby doesn't mean you know God. Just because you got confirmed doesn't mean you know God. Just because you try to do good things doesn't mean you know God. Just because you consider yourself a spiritual person doesn't mean you have a relationship with God. And right now there are a lot of you that if you just were really, really honest you would say, "No, I don't know Him personally." As you're feeling drawn to Him today you may say, "You know I want to, but I've still got to clean my life up, I've still got so many things that are wrong." And I need to just tell you that you can never, ever be good enough to earn an audience with God. Our sin separates us from a Holy God. That's why God sent Jesus, who was without sin, to become sin for us on the cross, to shed His blood and to be raised again, so that anyone who calls on His name would be saved, would be forgiven. When you call on God, every sin that you've ever committed will be forgiven by God. You'll be filled with the Holy Spirit of God, you'll have access to God, you can know Him and do life with Him. At all of our different churches, there are those of you, today is the day everything changes. You know it, you can sense it, it's time for you to know God. Call on His name today. As you do, He'll forgive every sin and He will make you new. All of our churches, you'd say, "That's my prayer, I want to know Him, I want to know Him; not about, I want to know Him. Jesus, save me, I give you my life, make me new." If that's your prayer today, would you lift your hands high right now? Just lift them up high all over the place and say, "Yes! That's me!" Right back there, both of you back there and up here close, praise God for you. And right back over here, my goodness, all six of you over here in this section, almost this whole row! Both of you right here, praise God for you all. Right back over here, "I want to know Him!" Up here close, "Yes!" Church Online, you click right below me. Right back over here in this section, right up here, all three of you together. Man, is this amazing or what? Way back over here, thank you God! Right back over here. Others of you today, call on Him! "Yes, I want to know You Jesus! Save me!" Right back over here toward the back. Would you all just pray aloud with those around you? Pray heavenly Father, save me from my sins, make me new. I believe Jesus died for me so I could live for You. Fill me with Your Spirit so I could serve You for the rest of my life. My life is not my own, I give it to You. In Jesus' name I pray. LifeChurch, would you go crazy worshiping God, welcoming those born into His family!

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Duration: 35 minutes and 40 seconds
Country: United States
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Posted by: lifechurchopen on Mar 28, 2012

Why? - Week 1 - Craig Groeschel -

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