Summary: God’s desire for us to live by faith not by our feelings, when we live by faith we live on the promises, but when we live according to our feelings we end up living in an emotional prison held captive by our emotions.
EMOTIONS - a persons response to living situations.
INTRO: Have you ever had anyone tell you; "well I’ve tried going to church, reading my Bible, and praying but I just DON’T FEEL ANYTHING"? So they just give up on trying to get right with God. There are also some wonderful Christian people who really struggle in their faith because they operate according to their feelings. When they feel God moving or see Him doing some wonderful thing in their life they are on top of the mountain "SUPER CHRISTIANS". But in the everyday drag of life they easily get weighed down with feelings of disappointment and dryness in their faith, because they fail to see God moving. God’s desire for us to live by faith not by our feelings, when we live by faith we live on the promises, but when we live according to our feelings we end up living in an emotional prison held captive by our emotions.
1. OUR MOODS, FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS CAN LEAD US AWAY FROM TRUSTING GOD.
In Genesis chapter fifteen one of Abraham’s greatest desires was to have an heir, but Abraham didn’t have any children. So God made him a promise.
4Then the word of the LORD came to him: "This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir." 5 He took him outside and said, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars--if indeed you can count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be." 6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
Although Abraham believed the Lord nothing in his immediate future changed as far as his wife conceiving. Then the days turn into weeks, which turn into, months, which turn into 10 years, and still no child. This takes us to chapter sixteen of Genesis were we find Sarah in her mid 70’s and Abraham in his mid 80’s barley holding on to a 10 year old promise. Time seemed to be running out on our aging patriarch and his wife. Silence is difficult to deal with. During these times we often strain too hard to read between the lines and in effect read something that isn’t there.
16:1Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; 2so she said to Abram, "The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her."
Abram agreed to what Sarai said.
This is where Sarah begins to read between the lines. She might have felt the promise wasn’t for her, or maybe she had done something wrong that caused God to go back on His promise. It’s easy to criticize Sarah for her failure to trust God until to we look at how she responds to the silence (maybe you can relate).
Sarah responds with a GOOD IDEA. She will give her maidservant to her husband to bear "her" children. Notice in verse two that Sarah uses the word "I". God’s plan was not for Sarah to build a family, or for Hagar to provide the children, but for God to provide the children.
Illust: I was a member of a small country church with a membership of about 100. Our average Sunday morning attendance was about 50. Our pastor believed that God’s desire was for ALL our church members to be active. So he had a good idea to remove all the members from the church membership role that didn’t attend church for three months. So the church sent out letters to all the church members informing them of the intent of the church. This was to be fair warning to all who hadn’t been actively attending with the understand that all church members would begin attending again. And with not surprise to me and some of the other church members this "GOOD IDEA" backfired. Those who received the notice from the church were deeply hurt and offended, and instead of pulling them back into the church it proved to drive them farther away. This was about 9 years ago and to my knowledge none of the people who were removed from the church role have ever attended church since. And the little thriving country church I was a member of went down hill fast from there with nothing but hard times since. Was it God’s will for all the members to be active in church? Sure. But the most important thing for the church is for those who are active to be focused on their personal relationships with God first. If that’s not right then nothing is going to be right, and no one will be able to force the work of the Holy Spirit. Instead of working to glorify God we were working to judge and condemn our church family.