Faithlife Sermons

When God Seems Inattentive

When God Doesn't Make Sense  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 3 views

There are times when we pray and it doesn't seem like God is listening. We hear stories where things work out for others. Often times people who are not faithful are blessed while others who are faithful do not receive a simular blessing. We may be wondering, "Why do we pray?" Just because God is silent doesn't meant God is absent. You don't have to understand the plan to trust God's purpose. God's purpose will be fulled but it may not come the way we would plan in our own heart. We cannot interpret God's goodness through our circumstances. We interpret our circumstances through the goodness of God.

Notes & Transcripts
Sermon Tone Analysis
A
D
F
J
S
Emotion
A
C
T
Language
O
C
E
A
E
Social
View more →

Focus Scripture

Focus Scripture Slides Here

2 When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”

4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

Confused?

Confused?

Is there chaos in your life? Do you ever feel overwhelmed by work, life or maybe your relationships or lack thereof? Is this something new? Maybe, maybe not!? We all fell confused from time to time.
Life doesn’t always go the way we expect, and we pray to God for help and guidance. But sometimes it seems like even though we pray with faith, God doesn’t do what we've asked. We seek Him, but don’t feel His presence. We go through pain, but our cries for relief seem to go unanswered.  Sometimes, our lives just don't make sense.  (1)
Try to think back to the first time you felt confused? Remember how you felt. Did you feel paralyzed? Maybe there were so many thing coming into your mind, you just didn’t know what to do.

Orientation

When God Doesn’t Make Sense Slide Here
This morning we begin a new three week worship series entitled “When God Doesn’t Make Sense”. It is based on a series taught by Pastor Craig Groeschel and the teachings of Andy Stanley. As pastors, we often share ideas, and even resources from time to time in order to make each other’s live a little easier. I am planning to introduce a new series after this one in which we will be praying and exploring the power of prayer on a very personal level through a book entitled “The Circle Maker” written by Mark Batterson. I will be preaching on this book but would like to invite you to consider leading or participating in a small group discussion on it too. People do not have to be a part of this congregation because the focus in on the larger community too.
The reason we will be going through this book as a congregation is due to a few things. First, we are a new church plant. Yes our doors opened here about three years ago but due to a series of unfortunate circumstances, we are starting over with a new pastor and even for the most part new people. We may look like a three year old church but we are really newly born and just like newborns we are in a process of discovering ourselves as a community of faith. Like a new baby, our eyesight isn’t very clear. We are still wailing about in an uncontrolled manner as we discover these things we call hands and feet. This book will help us start that discovery process. By praying individually and together as small groups for our families, our church and the communities and people with which we interact day to day. The objective is to listen and claim the promises, pursue the God-sized dreams and seize the God-ordained opportunities that God has planted and scattered within us for these areas of our lives. So please prayerfully consider being a facilitator or active participant in this conversation as we learn to draw prayer circles around our family, jobs, problems and goals.
Before starting this next series, it seemed wise to lay some groundwork to prepare us for what lies ahead. I realize that prayer does not come easy for all of us. In fact, some of us, struggle with the subject of prayer. So, I thought we could explore what prayer is and some of the hazards we often run into when we have an active prayer life because it isn’t uncommon for us to have questions which can cause us to stumble. Doubts and questions can start to fill our thoughts and minds, causing us to stumble in our faith. Even John the Baptist who was one of the greatest religious leaders of the first century had moments of doubt and one of those moments is recorded in our Scripture passage today.

Confused?

Confused Slide Here
Let me ask you this question. Is there chaos in your life? Do you ever feel overwhelmed by work, life or maybe your relationships or lack thereof seem insurmountable? Is this something new? Maybe, maybe not!? The truth is we all feel confused or overwhelmed from time to time.
Life doesn’t always go the way we expect Slide here
Life doesn’t always go the way we expect, and we pray to God’s for help and guidance. But sometimes it seems like even though we pray with faith, God doesn’t do what we've asked. We seek Him, but don’t feel His presence. We go through pain, but our cries for relief seem to go unanswered.  Sometimes, our lives just don't make sense.  (1)
John the Baptist, was a powerful and very influential leader during the time that Jesus walked as living breathing man here on earth. In fact, in resent year scholars have really dwelt deeply analyzing how people wrote about John the Baptist in relation to Jesus and have come to realize that John was so influential that they argue for the significance of Jesus as one who is worthy to take his place as a teacher. So, powerful was John the Baptizer that his protesting against his marriage to Herodias placed his authority at great risk.
Herod Antipas had divorced his first wife, Phaselis, daughter of King Aretas of Nabataea. It seems he had gone to visit his brother Philip and became infatuated with Philip’s wife Herodias. She divorces Philip in order to marry Antipas. As public figures who represented the people of Isreal, this violation of their God given laws only inflamed the tempers of people of the nation. As son of Herod the Great, a man greatly respected not only by Isreal but also by Rome and other surrounding rulers and nations. As Herod’s sons, Phillip and Antipas were use to a great deal of freedom. However, they ruled at the pleasure of the Roman emperor, Caligula. Any uprising or rebellion would place them in watchful eye of Rome who were always quick to deal with any problems.
This marriage was unlawful in the eyes of the people and as a spiritual leader we shouldn’t be surprised that John would encourage Antipas to repent and challenge the legitimacy of this marriage. Herod knew that the people loved John but having him roaming about stirring up the people with his protests and pleas put Antipas at great peril. Herodias wanted Antipas to put him to death but Antipas has great respect for John or at least for the powerful influence he had over the people. So, instead he had him arrested which achieved the goal of getting John out of the sight of the general populace. When John is arrested, Jesus come to Galilee preaching the gospel and many who who had been following John turned to following Jesus. Despite the tension, Herod continues to protect John from Herodias until one day Herodias gets the upper hand on Antipas.
In , it is written that King Herod is greatly distressed because he makes an open oath to the daughter of Herodias that she could “Ask him for anything she wanted, and he would give it to her”. This was his birthday and he had given his word in front of his dinner guest so his integrity was being pushed to the test among those who still supported him. A young girl who didn’t know what to ask for, turns to her mother for advice on what she should request who instructs her to as for the “head of John the Baptist”. Backed into a corner, Herod sends and executioner with orders to fulfill the request.
At some point while John is in prison, he hears that Jesus is preaching in the area and he sends his own disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is come, or should we expect someone else?”
John has been languishing in prison for a cause. I have know doubt that he was praying while in that prison. He had earlier pointed to Jesus as being the Messiah that the people were expecting, the “one who is coming”. John must have had some preconceived notions of what Jesus’ ministry was going to look like because when things were not unfolding the way he had been hoping. John had lived a life of great discipline and poverty wearing uncomfortable camel hair and eating locusts bean pods and honey, an devout ascetic lifestyle. He has no doubt heard Jewish reports that Jesus is eating with sinners and accusations by Jewish authorities that he is a glutton and drunkard, charges which were intended to diminish Jesus’ authority. He starts to have doubts and send his own disciple to question Jesus as to whether he had made a mistake. John the Baptist is confused.
Insert Image of Distressed Man Here
Try to think back to the first time you felt confused? Remember how you felt. Did you feel paralyzed? Maybe there were so many thing coming into your mind, you just didn’t know what to do. I know I find myself wondering and feeling that way a lot these days when I see the events in the world today. It is a rare day, that I don’t watch the news and think, “Where is God in the midst of this chaos, violence and tension?” I remember God’s promises and I pray but the things that happen in this world don’t seem to make any sense. It can sometime seem like we are praying but God just isn’t listening. How many of you have prayed and it didn’t seem as if anyone was listening? Would you raise your hands and make me feel better in knowing that I am not alone in feeling that way at times?
Insert “Why do we Pray” Slide here

Why Do We Pray?

Praying Hands Here
Conversation and listening go hand in hand. Having a conversation and listening are foundational elements of any relationship. If we don’t talk or spend time with our spouse. If we don’t talk or spend time with our children. Or if the only time we have a conversation or listen to them is when there is a problem. It is often times a sure sign that our emotional connection is in need of some attention, time and care. Daily conversation is essential to keeping and maintaining an intimate connection. When we are heard and when we listen to another, we honor and are honored with their time and attention. As we share our thoughts, ideas and feeling respect and trust are forged and mutual decision making becomes easier and more effective because we are known and we know them.
Prayer is a conversation. It is a conversation with God the Triune God. If our prayers sound more like a grocery list or your Christmas wishlist. It is a sure sign that something is out of order. How would you feel if the only time someone spoke to you was when they wanted something or if the dialogue only involved you listening to the other person without them taking the time to listen to you? You wouldn’t feel very valued or loved would you. You would probably think some bad things about that person wouldn’t you?
Christians pray because we have been taught to pray about anything and everything. We are taught that prayer pleases God and Jesus teaches us not only to pray by example but also instructs us in how to pray. He prays first thing in the morning. He prays at the end of the day. He prays alone and he prays with others. We are also taught that often times we don’t receive help because we don’t ask for help.
We pray for lots of reasons don’t we! We pray to change our circumstances. We pray hoping to change God’s mind. We pray when we need answers to our questions or the strength to make it through hardships. Would you have conversations like this with people you don’t know. God created us for relationship not just with each other but primarily to have a relationship with us. When we pray, especially for specific requests, we pray with trust and hope that our prayers will be answered and we will receive what we have asked.

14 And this is the boldness we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the requests made of him.

Embed
14 And this is the boldness we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the requests made of him.
Insert When God Doesn’t Make Sense Slide

When God Doesn’t Answer Our Prayer?

So many times we hear stories where God answers the prayers of someone in big dramatic ways. Our friends pray and are blessed with a great job, a new love interest, a wonderful marriage, or a financial windfall comes their way. Meanwhile you may be praying and praying and pleading with God but nothing seems to change.
You might be like John living a guiltless life, admired by many and following all the rules. You might be thinking why is it that my friends who aren’t as devoted to God are being blessed but here I am faithfully serving the Lord and thinking.
Where is God in all this? Where is God when life doesn't seem to make sense. What do you do when God seems inattentive? What do you do when you're praying and God doesn't seem to hear your prayer? What do you do when you pray and God seems silent? (1)
Do we feel that God isn’t paying attention?
Do we feel God owes us?
Do we feel unloved?
If this is resonating with you, then you might want to write this down to remind you. Are you ready? “Just because God is silent doesn’t mean God is absent or not listening”. Let me say that again, “Just because God is silent doesn’t mean God is absent or not listening”.
Do we feel confused?
Let’s read our Focus Scripture for today together. It comes from . You will also find it in your bulletin this morning. It says this.
Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

Things that can help our confusion when we are low on trust.

We often times fall into this same trap. We want our plans to be fulfilled. We want OUR desires to prevail but God is not inclined to step outside of God’s own will especially if it will derail the ultimate end of God’s story.
John desired to live. John planed to fulfill his purpose a destiny of preparing the way for the Lord. He was afraid that his life would end and even worse he would fail to achieve the call on his life. What if he had gotten it wrong? What if Jesus wasn’t “the One”?
Many Americans fall prey to a false gospel. It is a gospel that believes that if I pray and seek the Lord. God has promised to give me everything that my heart desires. I will get that promotion. I will get that new house. God will heal me of my illness. It makes me very uncomfortable when I hear people preaching this gospel in Jesus’ name because it is a false belief that can have devistating impact on the life of people. God gives according to and in alignment with God’s will and purpose. Not according to our own. Yes, God does answer and bless us. Yes, God does want to bless us but not at the expense of a right relationship with Godself. Not at the expense of everyone else. In fact, I believe that God doesn’t answer our prayers sometimes to set the record straight.
As John sat in that cell, Jesus sends back a message to John saying in effect. No John! You were not wrong. I am the one who was sent.
“Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”
These were the expected signs of a Messiah’s arrival. Jesus was affirming John and comforting his anxieties but the one thing he didn’t say was. Yes, John your life will be spared. You will be set free.
Sometimes our plans and our desires do not line up with God’s purpose and plans for our lives. I’m sorry! I know that this message may not be comforting to some of you. But, sometimes what we believe and hope for doesn’t always make sense to us now but when we look back or other bear witness to our life and it isn’t for us to understand now. Yet, God’s purpose, love and faithfulness is revealed later in ways we could not possibly understand. Just because God is silent doesn’t mean God is absent. Just because you don’t hear him or feel that holy presence doesn’t mean that God isn’t there.
WE DO NOT INTERPRET THE GOODNESS OF GOD THROUGH OUR CIRCUMSTANCES. WE INTERPRET OUR CIRCUMSTANCES THROUGH THE GOODNESS OF GOD. GOD IS STILL GOD. GOD IS ALWAYS GOOD…WE DON’T HAVE TO UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING (AND OUR TRUST IN GOD SHOULD NOT BE DEPENDENT UPON GETTING WHAT WE WANT OR DESIRE.) OUR FAITH IS IN GOD’S PLANS AND GOD’S PURPOSE WHOSE WAYS ARE HIGHER AND WISER THAN MINE OR YOURS.
I AM NOT THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE AND NEITHER ARE YOU. WE ARE HERE TO SERVE GOD AND GLORIFY GOD THROUGH THE WITNESS OF JESUS CHRIST. EVEN JESUS SUFFERED, DIED AND WAS REFUSED THE REQUEST TO “REMOVE THE CUP OF SUFFERING”. “YET NOT MY WILL GOD BUT YOURS BE DONE.”
There are times when your plans and prayers will not go as you think they will or should. Many are the plans in man’s heart but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Don’t put your faith in your plans! Trust God’s purpose. Never interpret God’s goodness through your circumstances. Interpret your circumstances through the lens of God’s purpose. (1)
Let us pray!
(1) Groeschel, Craig [https://open.life.church/resources/2233-when-god-doesn-t-make-sense, Sept 8, 2018]
Related Media
Related Sermons