Have you ever felt like God has lost track of you? Maybe you feel like God doesn’t seem to care about your problems. Or maybe God is being unfair with you? And because God doesn’t seem to care, we struggle going to God. Why would I go to a God who doesn’t care? That doesn’t make sense.
We may have concluded that there is no joy in God. God doesn’t refresh my soul. God is an empty attempt to find joy. We then begin to look to everything else in this world, our church, our friends, anything to find that satisfaction we can’t get from God.
The Prophet Isaiah:
27 Why would you ever complain, …or, whine, …saying, “GOD has lost track of me. He doesn’t care what happens to me”? 28 Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening? GOD doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything, inside and out.
29 He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. 30 For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. 31 But those who wait upon GOD get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind. MSG Isaiah 40:27-31
Scripture says, those who wait on God get fresh strength. That means when your heart and emotions are tired, worn out and defeated, you can do something about it. You can hang out with God and He will, over time, transform your heart and emotions. God is your source of energy, peace and hope.
Quick point: Only God can do that. Only God can put God inside of you.
When God entered earth in the form of Jesus, He talked about this:
28 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. 29 Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. 30 Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” MSG Matthew 11:28-30
Jesus promises that our hearts can rest and heal. Again, that means your heart and emotions are tired, worn out and defeated, there is something you can do about it. If you hang out with God, your heart and emotions, over time, can be transformed. You can have energy, peace and hope.
Remember: Only God can do that. Only God can put God inside of you.
Later in scripture Paul wrote this:
For God took the sinless Christ and poured into him our sins. Then, in exchange, he poured God’s goodness into us! TLB 2 Corinthians 5:21
When we accept Jesus into our lives, God pours the goodness of Jesus into us. In another translation of the Bible, it says ‘righteousness.’ That’s is unbelievable. Please stop and think about that. Regardless of how you feel, regardless of what others say about you, as a disciple of Jesus, God pours the goodness and righteousness of God into you.
Remember: Only God can do that. Only God can put God inside of you.
Let’s quickly recap what these scriptures are telling us. God promises us fresh strength as we walk through life. God promises that our hearts can rest and heal as we spend time with Him. God will daily pour the goodness and righteousness of Jesus into us as we live every day.
Please hear me tell you something very, very, important. Nobody and nothing in this world can do what God can do. The primary source of life, energy, joy and passion in your soul, is God. Only God can do that. Only God can transform your heart and emotions. Only God can put God in you.
Because of that, we believe that Jesus meets our needs. That’s the seventh thing that we believe. Jesus meets our needs, and, the local church is a place that should empower Christians to reach people far from God. That means, several things.
First, that means, the primary source of life, energy, joy and passion for your soul can only be found in a personal relationship with Christ. I can’t over state that.
When the Holy Spirit controls our lives he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. TLB Galatians 5:22-23
Again, only God can produce love, joy, peace, etc. in you. Do you see that part… he will produce? You can’t do it. People can’t do that. Nothing from this earth can do that. You can’t read a book about love and then grit your teeth in hopes you will produce more love in you.
Think about that for second. No earthly relationship can do what only God can do. Not a church. Not a pastor. Not friends. Not your job, nothing.
Nothing from this world like a new house or car can do what God can do. Not success or achievement. Not having the right statues. Not being in on the ‘in’ crowd. Nothing, nothing, nothing from this world can do that.
Jesus meets our needs. That means, the primary source of life, energy, joy and passion for your soul can only be found in a personal relationship with Christ.
That means, if we are not in a life-giving relationship with Jesus, we may expect too much from others and we are building ourselves up for disappointment.
Jesus taught how we are supposed to treat people:
31 Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! 32 If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. 33 If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. 34 If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that. MSG Luke 6:31-34
In our ordinary relationships at work, school, friends, church etc., many people make a big mistake. We focus and expect others to take the initiative to love us. That’s not what Jesus taught. He said, I want you to engage every relationship by doing one thing; take the initiative to love others. Most people I know who struggle with friendships focus on and expect other to love them and they feel lonely. They are waiting for others to love them and make them feel special. Most people I know who seem to have many friends, they simply love people. And they don’t feel lonely.
Five ways to know your expectations of others might be too high.
#1. I focus on how others impact me and I struggle to think how I am impacting others.
#2. I need others to like me for me to feel good about myself.
#3. It’s comfortable for to me talk to people but rarely, if at all, do I go to God in prayer.
#4. I keep a mental list of what others do for me and what I do for them. Then I treat others the way they treat me. It’s a tit for tat way of living.
#5. I am waiting for others to engage me the way I want.
We believe, Jesus meets our needs. The primary source of life, energy, joy and passion for your soul can only be found in a personal relationship with Christ. That means, if we are not in a life-giving relationship with Jesus, not only might we expect too much from people, we may expect too much from pastors to be a source of life for our souls. When we do that, we are building ourselves up for disappointment. Jesus died for your sins, your pastor didn’t.
17 Be responsive to your pastoral leaders. Listen to their counsel. They are alert to the condition of your lives and work under the strict supervision of God. Contribute to the joy of their leadership, not its drudgery. Why would you want to make things harder for them? MSG Hebrews 13:17
Three ways to know, your expectations of your pastor might be too high.
#1. I expect them to be Jesus to me. Serve my needs. Focus on my needs and never let me down. They need to create and follow through on every idea I have.
#2. I expect my pastor to get on my agenda while at the same time, I will not get on God’s agenda.
#3. I don’t view my pastor as a person with real struggles, past wounds and future dreams. I just assume life is easy for them.
Let me give you 5 statics about Pastors in America. 70% of pastors say they have a lower self-esteem now than when they entered ministry. 70% constantly fight depression. 50% feel so discouraged that they would leave their ministry if they could, but can’t find another job. 80% believe their pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families and 33% said it was an outright hazard. 80% of ministry spouses feel left out and unappreciated in their church.
Source: David Ross and Rick Blackmon’s “Soul Care for Servants” workshop reported the results of their Fuller Institute of Church Growth research study in 1991 and other surveys in 2005 and 2006. And, Francis A Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development research studies in 1998 and 2006.
We believe that Jesus meets our needs. The primary source of life, energy, joy and passion for your soul can only be found in a personal relationship with Christ. That means, if we are not in a life-giving relationship with Jesus, we may expect too much from others and from our pastors. We also may expect that the things of this world will be a source of life for our souls. If you believe that, you are building yourself up for disappointment.
The Apostle John wrote:
15 Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. 16 Practically everything that goes on in the world- wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important – has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. 17 The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out – but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity. MSG 1 John 2:15-17
If we are walking through this world and think, I need success, popularity, accomplishment, a new house or car, new clothes, etc. you will become disappointed. Here is what older people know that younger people don’t want to be true. When you find what you are looking for in this world, it won’t satisfy you, you will want more. There will never be enough money. There will never be the perfect house, perfect job, perfect community, perfect spouse. Whatever you have, you will always want more.
And, whatever you get, it will give you temporary joy. The new boat, you will have to have it repaired. The house, you will have to fix it up someday. The marriage, you will need to engage your spouse to keep your marriage hot. The better job, you must understand, they pay you more because they expect more from you. You want to be popular in High School? Many of the popular kids would sell their soul to be popular, it’s not worth it.
Four ways to know, your expectations of this world might be too high.
#1. I appear busy and overwhelmed so that others will notice me. Appearing to be busy is almost like a badge of honor. It gives me the excuse to not have priorities and just be able to do what I want.
#2. I believe happiness is found in having things, new things, better things.
#3. I believe security in this life is money, power, status and good health.
#4. Don’t tell anyone but, I don’t think God is relevant to my day to day life.
We believe Jesus meets our needs. The primary source of life, energy, joy and passion for your soul can only be found in a personal relationship with Christ. Only God can put God in you. Only God can transform your heart and emotions. Only God. No one and nothing from this world can do that for you. People can temporarily help you but only God can transform you. Getting something new in this world can temporarily help you but only God can transform you.
Here is where Christians, disciples of Jesus, can get really messed up. We tend to ignore our relationship with Jesus. We aren’t tapping into the primary source of life, energy, joy and passion for our soul and it leaves us to expect way too much from others, way too much our pastor, way too much form our church and way too much from this world.
We jump from relationship to relationship looking for a best friend. We jump from church to church, pastor to pastor looking for them to meet all our needs. We jump job to job, house to house, toy to toy looking for long-term joy.
What happens when we live like this? We are empty inside. We are easily offended because people just don’t meet our expectations. We feel tired and lonely. We think the Christian life is disappointing.
Those who wait upon GOD get fresh strength. MSG Isaiah 40:27-31
At some point, we have to deal with the truth. Only God can put God in you. Only God can transform your heart and emotions.
How long will you wait on God to give you fresh strength?