Shaken Week 2: Crisis of Faith
Well, good afternoon to everybody, and also to those who watch via the internet and the mobile app. We’re in a five-week series called “Shaken.” And the whole idea, to bring everybody in case you’re new or maybe you missed last week because this is week number two of the series. I just want everybody to feel like they’re up to speed. We’re dealing with these areas in our lives where just our world’s rocked. When we have just had a gut punch to the stomach, and we just don’t know how to make sense out of everything. I mean, our world is just rocked. We are shaken, and we just don’t know how to even get through those times because it’s just so incredibly tough.
And so, what I’d like to say is if you weren’t here or you missed last week, I don’t normally suggest doing this because every sermon I do, whether it’s in a series or not, stands on its own, but I would highly suggest, if you could find the time, to go back and watch that first series if you in fact missed it. Because last week what we did is we talked about the lenses that we need to look through when our world is shaken. We talked about the lens of “Why,” which is really a lens of knowledge. We want to why things are going on in our life. Why God’s allowing this. Why God’s doing this. And that’s not the best way to look at circumstances in our life when we’re shaken.
The better question to ask is “What,” and that is a statement of faith. God, what is it that You want me to see? What is that You want me to learn? What is it that You want me to get from this? So, I would suggest that you go back and listen. Now, if you’re new here and you’d go, “We didn’t like anything that you said,” you probably aren’t going to go watch the first message. But if you did, then please avail yourself. You can go on our website. Gracesarasota.com, or you can go onto the mobile app. Any mobile store on your phone, if you type in Grace Sarasota, our mobile app will download, and then you can watch that.
All that being said, what we’re going to do for the next four weeks, after we established the lenses that we’re going to look through for moving from “why” to “what,” the next four weeks I’m going to deal with what I consider to be the four greatest areas of crisis in our lives when we’re shaken. In other words, like, if I were to talk about literature and I said a love story, there are thousands of love stories that you could put underneath that heading. I’ve got four headings that I think are the most major things that happen to us. They’re the most debilitating things that happen to us when our world is shaken, or they’re the things that cause the greatest earthquake in our life. And I think this’ll be great, because at the end of the day what I’m trying to do is equip everybody to be able to handle these situations.
When life hits us hard, even as Christians, we’re not given the ability to just lay down and do nothing. We’re told in the Bible that when all Hell is breaking loose in our life, we’re still to be people that shine like lights. It doesn’t me we don’t have emotion. It doesn’t mean we don’t have questions. It doesn’t mean any of that stuff. It doesn’t mean that we stop being human. But we’re still supposed to be lights.
And what I’ve found, and I think you’ll agree with me, is that many Christians, when their life is shaken, don’t look that much different than a non-Christian, and that’s not what it should be like. And hopefully, over the next four weeks now, we will continue to develop this so that you have some tools for your toolbox that will help you out in your life. Sound like a great plan? I hope it does. I hope everybody’s got a buy in, and you’re listening.
Now, here’s the deal, many of us, if not all of us, have had that moment in our life where life just took our feet out from underneath us. I mean, we just got rocked. And if you have not experienced that in your life, I can assure you that you know somebody who has. And when those moments happen, and when those difficulties come, and when life throws us those curveballs that just trip us up, and we just find ourselves totally buckled under life, we start asking questions. And those questions, we don’t always share with everybody else, but those questions are real questions. And as your pastor, I get to hear them more than you get to hear them. And some of those questions are really tough.
Some of those questions are this, “Is there really a God? I mean, Chip you don’t understand what’s happened to me. You don’t understand the earthquake that has happened in my life. You don’t understand how difficult this situation is. And what I need to know is I need to know is there really even a God? Because if there’s a really God what’s going on? I mean, I thought He was all powerful. I thought He loved. Is there really a God?”
And maybe when you got shaken, maybe when you got the gut punch in life, maybe you didn’t go there. But some people do. Maybe you went here. Maybe you went, “Does God even care?” Maybe you said, “I’m not willing to give up on God. I believe He exists, but I’m not even sure He cares anymore. I’m not even sure He knows what’s going on.”
And many of us ask this question, even though we talked last week that it’s a question that we shouldn’t ask, we still ask it. “Why did this happen? Why did I lose my spouse? Why did cancer come in my life? Why’s the world so terrible? Why is all this going on?” And here’s what I’ve found, these questions that we start asking that are real tough questions in our life, we get there in one of three ways.
The first one is this one: When Jesus doesn’t match up with what we expect Him to be. I can’t tell you how many people have left church because what they were taught about Jesus didn’t measure up in their life. They were told, “If you’ll train your kids this way, if you’ll do this with your kids, if you raise them in church this way, then what they’ll turn out to be is great Christians.” And their kid teenage son died in a car accident, drunk. And they say, “I’m out. Jesus didn’t meet the expectation that I had.”
Some of you have been in church and they told you, “You’re sick. All you need to do is come down front and we’ll pray for you and you’re going to get healed. And if you don’t get healed it’s because of a lack of faith. But if you really had faith God will absolutely, one hundred percent, heal you.” And you didn’t get healed. And Jesus didn’t meet your expectation, and you were out.
Some of you have had bondage in your life, or maybe it’s finances, or whatever. And somebody came in and said, “If you’ll do this, and give this way, and follow this cadence then everything will be alright. God will meet your needs.” And it didn’t happen for you, and you said I’m out. I’m done. Jesus has not meet the expectation that you taught me. Chip, you’re a preacher, and you taught me certain things about Jesus, or somebody else that did what you did taught me certain things about Jesus, and it didn’t measure up to my life, and now I’ve got questions. Is He really there? Does He even exist? Is everything that I’ve ever believed, is it a lie?
Some of us get there the second way. It’s when there’s a long delay in something that we feel like that God should do for us. It’s taking too long. Next thing you know, you’re going, “Is He even there?”
Some of you have had marriages that you go, “Hey, I believe God wants to restore my marriage,” but it’s been years. And then you start going, “Does He even care? Does He even exist? What is going on?”
Some of you are maybe looking for a spouse, and you’re going, “This is taking forever. Why is God doing this to me? What is going on? Does He even know that I’m there?”
Some of us have had things that we feel like God spoke to us. That you’re going to go out and do this. Or you’re going to be called to this. Or this is what you’re going to do. And then the money didn’t come. Or the school didn’t happen. Or something. And the next thing you know we’re doing, “Does God even know I exist? Does He even care about me? Is He even real?”
Most of us get there through the third one, which is when an unsuspected bad event happens. When you lose a child at two years old. When you go through a divorce that you never expected. When you look on T.V. and see things that you go, “How in the world could anybody do that to a person?” And then, the questions start coming.
“Is there really a God? Does He even know who I am? Does He care anymore? What is going on?”
And where you find yourself at that moment when you’re shaken is you find yourself at a crisis of faith. And a crisis of faith is one of the most debilitating things that can happen in the life of a Christian. It is absolutely imperative that we learn what to do when we’re there, because if you’ve not been there, I would pray that you never get there, but my suspicion is that you will get there. At some point something will happen where you go, “Does God know? Does He care? Does He think about me?”
Now, that being said, most of you’re in with me. You’re going, “That’s true. I know exactly what you’re talking about.” This is real and raw right now. That’s why it’s so quiet in here, because everybody’s going, “I know. I’m there.” Yeah. Some of you are like going, “I’m there right now. Do you got like a videotape at my house, or something?” Okay, listen. Here’s what I do as your pastor, When I know that I’m going to speak on a subject like this, I start asking the question, “Is there something in the Bible, is there a place in the Bible that I can go that I can help everybody with? Is there something that we can get from Scripture so that we can overcome these things when they happen in our lives?” Because they will happen. There will be questions.
Well, the good news is there is. There’s a great example of someone who had a crisis of faith in the Bible, but you probably wouldn’t suspect that person. Because most of us, you know, we think that some people got it all together. Man, you know, they know the Bible. Man, they know God. I mean, people say all the time, “You know, it must be so good to be a pastor, and know the Bible like you do. I bet you never have any issues.” Man, you don’t want to get up in this head of mine, man. I’m telling you, you’d leave this church in a minute if you could get up in this place. It is nasty up in my head, because, see, I got to think through all the things that you all have to go through. I got to think through all the doubts, all the problems, all the issues. You don’t want to get in my head, okay? I promise.
People say, “Oh man, that person could never have a crisis of faith.” Not true. Everybody can. We sometimes create a spiritual cast system like, “This person’s better.” No. No. No. Everybody does, because the person that I’m going to mention to you who had a crisis of faith, you would not think would have a crisis of faith, because this was somebody who really had it going on. And that person was John the Baptist.
Some of you are thinking, “Alright! He was a Baptist.” No, he wasn’t a Baptist. He wasn’t a Presbyterian or a Methodist. He was John the Baptizer, okay? Nothing against Baptist people. I love them and all that good stuff. In fact, I was baptized in the Baptist church, but he was John the Baptist because he was a baptizer.
Okay, let’s look at John the Baptist here, and let’s unload a little bit, unpack a little bit, about his life. He had a miraculous birth. I mean, Zachariah and Elizabeth could not conceive. They couldn’t conceive, and God sends an angel in to Zachariah while he’s doing his priestly ministries in Jerusalem. During that time he was supposed to be a priest God speaks to him and says, “You’re going to have a child.” He didn’t believe it, but it doesn’t nullify the fact that he’s going to have a child.
They have a child, and they know that this child is going to be the forerunner of the Messiah. Imagine growing up as a kid and your mom and dad saying, “You don’t understand. We were old. We couldn’t have children. There’s no way we could have had you. God spoke to your dad and you were born, and you were called to do something great.” Imagine that. Imagine growing up with that. It would be a burden in one way, but it would also be like “wow” in one way.
So, John the Baptist gets older, goes out in the wilderness, and he is a holiness preacher. If you ever grew up in a holiness preaching church, I can assure you it wasn’t like John the Baptist. He was a holiness preacher. I mean, he did stuff like, “Man, God’s going to lay the axe to the root the tree and chop it down and throw it in the fire.”
People were like, “Whoa. Man, this guy is strong.” I mean, they knew he was strong. This guy was preaching fire. Out there doing that, people are coming. He’s baptizing people. People are repenting. People are coming to faith. People are realizing what’s going on. And then one day Jesus shows up.
John looks at him and he goes, “I know who You are. Guys, I can’t even unloose this man’s sandals. This is the Lamb of God that take away the sins of the world.”
And as he baptizes Jesus, he hears, from Heaven, “This is My beloved Son in whom I’m well pleased.” Not only that, he sees a dove come down, or something like a dove, and land on Jesus. He has a moment. I mean, a moment. Everything he’s ever been working towards is right there, and he gets the full on experience. Voices, and signs, and everything. And then Jesus goes on His way.
John the Baptist is expecting Jesus to be the Messiah. He’s going to bring the winnowing fork. He’s bringing the Holy Spirit in fire. He’s bringing holiness. John the Baptist knows exactly what Jesus is going to do. He’s going to come in power and might, and He’s going to scatter God’s enemies.
Does anybody remember the song, “Let God arise and His enemies be scattered?” We used to sing that back in the old church I grew up in. We were crazy. We were a bunch of carnal kids. We would sing, “Let God arise. Let His enemies be splattered,” instead of scattered. I’m confessing my sins here to you.
Anyway, he just knows that Jesus is going to come in holiness. He’s going to set up the Kingdom. He’s going to overthrow Rome. All of Gods enemies are going to be splattered. All of that good stuff, and then He goes on His way.
Well, then John the Baptist gets wind of something. You know, we sometimes think that back then they didn’t have the stuff that we got going on today. We read the periodicals and go, “How in the world could anybody do something like that. How could they say something like that? How could they do any of that stuff.” It’s not just our world. Back in the first century, Herod Antipas is the guy that is over Jerusalem, and Herod goes to Rome to see his brother. Now, his brother, Phillip, has married his niece. That’s crazy. Marries his niece. But it’s even better. Herod goes to Rome. He likes his niece. Steals his brother’s wife and marries her, and brings her back to Jerusalem. You want scandal? That’s like National Inquirer right there, buddy. We think that we’re the only world that gets this stuff.
So, John the Baptist gets wind of that, and he’s like, he’s a holiness preacher, he’s like, “No. No. No. No. That’s not the way it works, man. This is a sin, is what this is. This is wrong. This is not right.”
Well, Herodias, which is the niece of Herod Antipas, she’s like, “I don’t like this guy.” She’s the one that has just been married to the other guy, the other brother. Now she’s married to the next brother. She’s like, “I don’t like this guy, what he’s saying. You need to go arrest him.” So, Herod goes and arrests John, throws him in prison in a place called Machaerus.
Now, if you’ve been to Israel, maybe you know the geography, but Machaerus is way down by the Dead Sea, in the southern part, and it’s in the desert. And Herod had built this big fortress, the remains are still there today of this palace that he had, but in the palace he had a dungeon. He takes John down to the dungeon, and when you were arrested like that and put in the dungeon the only way you would eat is like - they didn’t feed you. The only way you ate was if somebody brought you food.
So, John was down there, just rotting away, and we know it was somewhere between 12 and 18 months that John was rotting in prison.
Now, I don’t know what you think, but he had the Jesus moment and everything else. He gets thrown in prison, this is what Matthew tells us, because Matthew walks us slowly into Johns crisis of faith.
It says, “When He…” – That’s Jesus. Matthew 4:12. – “When He heard (Jesus heard) that John had been arrested He…” – …sent Him a note. No. He went and visited Him. No. He sent Him an edible arrangement. They didn’t have them back then. None of that. No. It says, – “…He withdrew into Galilee.”
Galilee’s in the northern part. It’s where the lake is. John’s in the desert. Jesus is hanging out on the lake doing some water skiing, and hanging out at the lake. John the Baptist is like, “What’s going on here. I’m in prison. Jesus has withdrawn to Galilee.”
Well, his disciples have come to take care of him, obviously, and there’s questions going on. I mean, John’s like, “I’m in prison. This is the Messiah. I shouldn’t be in prison this long. I shouldn’t be hanging out here this long. I mean, at some point Jesus is going to do His thing. What’s going on? What’s going on? What’s going on?”
So, his disciples come to Him in Matthew 9, Johns disciples, and they walk up to Jesus in Matthew 9. This is the disciples of John, obviously they’ve been talking with John. Obviously they’ve been having some conversation with John, came to Him, that’s Jesus, and they said, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples don’t.” You know, Jesus, we’re not trying to be mean. We don’t have a bone to pick with you, but we sort of do. Because this is all about holiness. This is all about living right. You know axe stuff. Remember the axe stuff. The axe to the tree, and the fire stuff. All of that stuff. Yeah, part of that’s like living holy. Part of that’s fasting. Part of that’s getting really close to God, and you guys are like feasting. So, can You, maybe give us an understanding, because You’re not quite in that checkmark box of what we think. Because You’re not fasting. Can you tell us a little about this?
Jesus goes on in this passage to say, “Hey, listen, while I’m here we’re going to feast. One day I’m going to be gone, and we’ll fast. But what we’re not going to do is put old wine in new wineskins.”
They’re like, “What? You’re calling us old wine? You’re going to be gone? What’s the deal?” They leave. Now, obviously they go back to John, because they come back to Jesus again in Matthew 11. It says, “Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ he sent word by his disciples.”
Now, it’s important to understand this. John has heard in prison, because people have come and visit him. And what he’s heard about, specifically are the deeds. They’ve come back, and they’re like, “John, I know you’re in prison, and I know that head thing. You know? I know it’s sort of tough, but, dude, we don’t want to fire you up, but He’s hanging out with prostitutes. And He’s eating with tax collectors. He’s not quite living up to the holy thing, dude. He’s not quite at our level.”
And John hears of these deeds. He hears what Jesus is doing. He hears that Jesus got a disciple, one of them is a zealot that likes to kill Roman people. And one of them is a tax collector that collects tax for Rome. They’re like, “Dude, this guy, He’s rogue. He’s not quite that axe thing, and the fire thing. It’s more like feast, and wildness, and debauchery.”
So, John hears about the deeds of Christ, and here’s the word he sends to Jesus by his disciples. “Are You the one who is to come, or shall we look for somebody else?”
See, rotting away in Machaerus for 18 months will do this to you. This is the man that stood in the water with Jesus. This is the man that heard the voice of the Father. This is the man that saw the dove, or something like a dove, land on Jesus. And now he’s asking the question, in prison, in Machaerus, listening to all the things that Jesus is doing that isn’t matching up to what he thinks a Messiah should do, and now he’s asking the question, “Hey, are you really the One, or should we look for somebody else?”
He’s having a crisis of faith. He’s not sure which end is up. His world has been rocked. John the Baptist.
Jesus answered them, his disciples. He says, “Go and tell John what you hear and see.” He doesn’t even answer John. He says, “You go tell him what you hear and see.” Doesn’t even answer him. Says, “Go tell him what you hear and see. The blind receive their sight. The lame walk. The lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear. The dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.” Go tell John that I’m doing a lot of good things for a lot of other people.
“But what about me?”
“Go tell John what I’m doing for everybody else. That’s what I want you to go tell him.”
And that doesn’t meet Johns qualifications for a Messiah, because a Messiah came with power. He wasn’t a healer. In Johns mind the Messiah came with power. All these things, it’s like, “Goodness gracious. Go tell John what you hear and see. I’m doing a lot of good things for a lot of people. And make sure you tell him this, because “here’s the One right here. And blessed is the one who is not offended by Me.”
“Blessed is the one who doesn’t expect Me to look just the way they expect Me to be and then gets offended by it, or stumbles over it, or trips over it. Just because I don’t fit in that box, just because I don’t fit in they way your checkmarks are, blessed is the one who’s not offended in Me. Blessed is the one that doesn’t give up when all Hell comes in their way, and they’re trying to figure out what’s going on, and how does this work. Blessed is the one who doesn’t stumble because I don’t look the way they thought.”
Now, this is a section where we normally just pause for a moment and go, “Whoa, man, that was a pretty incredible story. What do I do with that? Man, that’s a good story, but I’m not sure I want to walk out of here right now, because I need something more than that. Because that’s like, wow, I mean I got something, but I’m not sure what it was that I got.” So, this is normally what we call the “take home” section. Where we try to say, “Okay, let’s bridge the story that we read in the Bible to today, to you and me, so that we can go home with something practical.”
Well, because we’re moving in this series from asking “why” to asking “what” we’re going to do, for this series, we’re going to call this the “what.” In other words, when our life is shaken, when we have a crisis of faith, when we’re going through all kinds of difficulties, and we don’t have any answers for stuff, what is it that God wants us to learn? What is it that God wants us to see? What is it that God wants us to do? What is it that God wants us to minister out of? What? What? What?
So, that being said, get out your sheets of paper. Get your pads out, your phones, take notes or whatever. These are the things that I want you to take home with you, and carry with you, because this is the practical side.
First thing that we want to learn, the “what.” When we’re at the bottom of the barrel, and we’re asking the questions, “God do You even care about me? Are You even there? Are You even the One? Has everything I believe been a lie.” First thing that we need to understand, the “what,” is this. God is beyond our capacity to fully grasp in a way that meets our satisfaction.
The young adults have a thing they call “the mic drop.” They say that when you say something that’s really good you just drop the mic and you walk off stage. This is a mic drop, because, listen to me and lean in here, we all so desperately want to hold God in our hand and know exactly every little thing. You see it on Facebook all the time. “No way somebody could be a Christian and do this. Now way the could be and do that. No way God could do…” Because they’ve got God in their hand. They’ve got it all right there in their hand. They know God. Everything about Him. They’ve got all the checkmarks. Got all the stuff. He’s just right there.
Let me tell you something in love, as your pastor. Listen to me. This is really important. When you have God in your hand in such a way that you could fully explain Him, what you have in your hand is an idol. You have an idol, because God is beyond our capacity.
Now, here’s the deal, see, I teach theology. So, I don’t get up here and say, “Hey, let me tell you about what I know.” I teach it. So, I get some credit for the fact that somebody believes in me enough to put me in front of people to let me teach them things about theology. Here’s the deal, listen to me. I don’t know anything. You’re like, “Whoa.” I don’t know anything.
Now, at 22, I knew it all, man. I had the big gun, the Bible gun. “Kaboom. You’re wrong. Kaboom. You’re wrong. I got you here. Boom. Romans 9. Kaboom. I got you that. O yeah. Kaboom. Ephesians 2.” I mean I got everybody. I had it all figured out. Then life happens, and I realized I don’t have it figured out.
You say, “Well, what do you know?” Jesus loves me. This I know, for the Bible tells me so. That’s what I know. I know that God came in the form of Jesus and died on the cross. And three days later literally got up, and one day He’s returning. Much more than that, I don’t know. I got ideas. I got opinions, but I’ve realized that I don’t know. And God is beyond our capacity to fully grasp.
In my theology classes, at the beginning of the first theology class, because I teach two of them, at the beginning of the very first one, first day in, I always say this statement, “God is the subject of our inquiry. He’s never the object of it.” And what I mean is, “You can’t put God under a microscope and start looking at Him.” He’s infinite. You can study the subject, but you can’t study the object. And when we are in a crisis of faith we have to remember we are never going to figure God out completely to where we can get Him into our hands and understand everything that’s going on.
Secondly, God isn’t put off by our questions. Often times when we’re in the middle of a crisis of faith, I grew up in a tradition that said, “When you’re going through Hell the last thing you want to do is ask questions, because you’ve got doubt, and God won’t work with you with doubt.” Let me tell you something. That’s bull. The nemesis of faith is not doubt. It’s unbelief. All faith has an element of doubt to it, or else it would be knowledge. Unbelief is different.
God’s not put off by our questions. He doesn’t say, when John comes and asks questions, He didn’t say, “You tell that guy he’s a bad, terrible dude. Horrible guy.” He’s not put off by that. You know what the most read book in the Bible is, across the board. Across all Christians in all the world. It’s the Book of Psalms. Do you know why? Because they’re real and they’re raw. And we read them, and we go, “Man, I can relate.”
Because you’ve read those Psalms. “God, get Your enemies. Kill them. Strike them down.” You’re like, “Yeah, go God. Rambo.” Get some Sly Stallone on them, you know?
“God, what’s going on? How come…” You’re like, “I get this. I understand.” Because it’s real and raw. God is never put off by our questions. He’s never, ever, ever put off when we bring our care, and cast our care and anxiety on Him.
But. But since God isn’t put off by our questions, and this is the third point, we shouldn’t be put off with His answers or lack thereof. That’s another mic drop. Kaboom. That’s good preaching, Chip. Y’all are just like ready to go to lunch.
Anyway, the deal is, we shouldn’t be put off with His answers, or when He doesn’t answer us.
Fourthly, this is important. We need others. John the Baptist hold up in prison, the man who hears from God, the prophet of God that speaks for God. Guess how he gets his word from God. Through somebody else. They bring something to him from Jesus. You need others.
When you’re going through a crisis don’t think that you’re going to be the only one that hears from God. He may speak through other people. You need people in your life.
And fifthly, it’s in the struggle that many times our faith is actually confirmed. See, faith is an idea until it’s tested. When it goes through the grinder it becomes real. It’s in the struggle that we see, “I really believe this.” It’s in the struggle that I realize I really am one of Gods kids. It’s in the struggle that we realize, “Man, I’m in this thing. I really am.” But without the struggle we don’t know that.
And so, when you say, “Hey, when all Hell breaks through in my life, what is it that I’m supposed to do? I’m not going to ask ‘why.’ I’m going to ask ‘what.’ What is it that I’m supposed to learn?” Those five things.
However, this is the deal, I’ve been doing something here lately where I take it one more step. Some of you ever gone four wheeling? I grew up on a farm. I like four wheeling. You put that thing in low range in the mud and dig yourself out. Sometimes you’ve got to get in low range. Okay, this has been called “Pastor Chips Real World, Down Home Talk,” or whatever. I renamed it for this weekend. This is “The Terrific Treasure Trove of Noetic Nuggets.” For everybody, in case you go what’s that? A.K.A. “Some good stuff when life is tough.” Okay? Does that sound good? That’s what this is.
This is like the next level deep that everybody can get a hold of some stuff. Listen in. This is really the good stuff right here.
First one: Our grasp of God is not nearly as significant as understand His grasp on us.
I’ll just stop right there. I mean, hear this. We want so desperately to exhaust God, tell everybody all the things that they’re wrong. You’ve met them. The person that knows everything about everything. They know nothing, trust me, because I was that person.
What’s more important is to understand His grasp on you and me when we’re going through difficulties. To know that nothing can separate you and me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. That no one can take you out of the hand of the Father. That nobody gets lost that is given to Jesus by the Father. Understanding His grasp on us is huge.
Secondly, just because we don’t feel it doesn’t mean it isn’t true. We’re such a feeling people right now. Everything is about feeling. I learned this word from the young adults. They taught me. It’s called “the feels.” I didn’t know what “the feels” were. I’m going to tell you what “the feels” are. “The feels” are like a deep, deep emotions. It’s like, “Man, he’s got ‘the feels’ about that subject.” I’m like, okay.
We’re so based on emotions, and so when we don’t “feels” God, you know? When He’s not there. Let me explain this to you, because there’s this really important lane in here. Every single one of you, and you listening by the internet and the mobile app, you know this, too. Every single one of us, we know that there was a God. We knew He was there. We know all that stuff, but we decided, maybe it was a weekend, or maybe it was a month, or maybe it was a year, or maybe it was a cruise, or maybe it was a flight somewhere, we were going to sin. That’s what we were going to do. I mean, we were going to sin. We knew God was there, but we just push Him out, because, man, I’m going. I got sin crammed up under my seats, and in my glove box, and in my cabin. I got it all, man. I’m going for it, man. I’m going for it.
And at that point, it’s not like you’re on a cruise ship doing the double fisted, “Woohoo.” You know that picture that you’ve got on Facebook that you don’t want anybody to see. Now, you’ve got the thing on your chest where you painted something on there. You know. Whatever. It wasn’t like when you were there on that Carnival Cruise line you went down and said, “Let me turn on the radio. Turn on some Joy FM, because I want to feel God right now.” But just because you didn’t feel Him, and you pushed Him out, doesn’t mean He wasn’t there. Just because you don’t feel it doesn’t mean it isn’t true.
Jesus knew where John the Baptist was, and He knows the same about you. John the Baptist didn’t know, but Jesus knew.
Now, this is the best part of the message. I want you to lean in here. I want you to really focus. I don’t care how much your stomach has got ahold of you at this point, and all you can think of is Chili’s, or whatever it is that you like. Or First Watch, or any of that stuff. I want you to listen here.
In this story of John the Baptist, we hear words that John the Baptist never got to hear. He never heard them. He died in Machaerus. Never heard these words, but we get to hear them. And I want you to hear them, because they matter when you’re going through a crisis.
The disciples of John have come and said, “Jesus, are you the one?”
He says, “Go back and tell him what you’ve seen and heard.”
Matthew says, “As they went away (those disciples) Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John.”
These are words that John never got to hear. He died in prison without hearing these words, but you and I get to hear them. And this is what Jesus said about John the Baptist. He said, “Hey, all you guys out there! Everybody here. “What did you go out into the wilderness to see?” What was it? Do you remember? Remember John? What’d you go to see? Did you go to see “…a reed shaken by the wind?” Somebody that every time his emotions got ahold of him he went one way or the other?
You and I know that John’s in Machaerus, and he is doing a little shaking. Jesus looks at the crowd and says, “Did you go to see a reed shaken by the wind? Oh, no. No. You know you saw a man that was resolute in what he believed. You know that you saw a man that believed. You know you saw the real deal out there. He wasn’t a reed shaken in the wind. So then what did you go to see? If it wasn’t a reed shaken in the wind, what’d you see? What’d you see?
“Did you see a man dressed in soft clothing? Did you see a man that had all the nice linens, and the high thread counts, and all of that stuff? Is that who you saw?” He says, “No. Because those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. Kings wear those soft clothing. Kings are the ones that wear the fine linen.” Oh, but, oh, but, oh. Listen. On Herod’s coins, he had reeds. And Herod lived in a palace with soft clothing. And John was in a kings’ palace right now in prison.
Jesus is saying, “If you only knew that the man who looked like he had it all together, he’s the one that’s shaken by the wind. He’s the one in soft clothing. But the man that’s in the dungeon is somebody that’s great. Somebody that’s awesome, and somebody, in just a few days, is going to really walk in the Kings’ house.”
He says, “Oh no. So what then did you go to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you he was much more than a prophet. Among those born of women (and that includes My mom, Jesus would say) there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist.”
What does Jesus speak over you and me, when we’re struggling with a crisis of faith? He speaks words of life over you and me. He speaks words of destiny over you and me. He speaks words of belief over you and me.
John never got to hear those words, but you and I do. So, what do you do when everything falls apart? You ask the “what.” You read the story, and even though you may have some moments where you do shake, you realize that your God is greater than all of the things that you can make Him out to be. And it’s in that moment that you have hope. And it’s in that moment that people see the hope in you, and they want what you and I have. And that’s living out a crisis of faith in a shaken world as a believer.
Dear Heavenly Father, I just ask, right now, for Your glory and for Your honor. That you would just give us a pause here right now. Lord, I believe that somebody in this service is going, “Man, I’m trying to live my life without God. I’m just trying to do everything without God, but I know that I need God in my life. I’m seeing it. I’m feeling it right now.”
If that’s you, right now at your chair, just say, “God, I need You in my life. I’m trying to live my life my way, and not Your way. I’m sorry. I need You in my life, God. I need You to come into my life. I need You.”
If you prayed that prayer, find somebody after church. Me, or a pastor, or somebody in a “Shaken” shirt, and say, “Hey, I prayed that prayer, and I really want to move forward in my relationship with God.”
Some of you in here today are right in the middle of a crisis. And God, what I pray for You to do for them is to let them hear the words that You spoke over John the Baptist, and let those words be spoken over them today. That they are Your children, and even if they’re having a Machaerus moment and wondering what’s going on, let them rise up with faith right now. And let them know that even though they may not understand it, may not quite grasp it, it doesn’t make a difference. That You know where they’re at, and that You have a plan and a purpose.
And then, Lord, for those that are here today that have life by the tail, and life is going fantastic. Lord, I pray that they would truly take what they’ve learned today and put it in their toolbox for when their day comes. That they’ll stand strong and be people of hope.
So, Lord, I pray that as we walk out of here today, that You would watch over us and protect us. That you would lead and guide us. That I’d pray, God, that You’d bring us back safely when we meet again here at Grace. Help us to be that light that You’ve called us to be as the church here in Lakewood Ranch, to Sarasota and Bradenton. And God, help us to be people that even when our faith is shaken that we apply the truths that we’ve learned today in a way that we still have hope, and other people see it in us.
We thank You for it in Jesus, and everybody said, “Amen.”