Small Group Questionswhy sermon series

Why Don’t I Always Feel God? 

Introduction:

We are in week 3 of a sermon series entitled “Why?” This series looks at some pretty hard questions. These “why” questions get at the deepest longings of our hearts. This week we explore the question: Why don’t I always feel the presence of God?

Bottom Line: If you don’t always feel God’s presence, you are not alone.

Something To Talk About:

Have you ever felt the presence of God at some point in your life?  Did you feel the presence of God this morning?  If not, whose fault is it?  Was it your fault?  Maybe you were not tuned in enough. Or maybe it was God’s fault.  God didn’t like what you were doing today.  In this week’s message we give you the following possible reasons why you might not feel God’s presence. Each one begins with “maybe.”

  1. Maybe you are over sensationalizing it: You’re looking for the big and the dramatic. In John 6:30 the crowd is looking for Jesus to do something sensational: “Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do?” They wanted something big, but Jesus wouldn’t give it to them.  He rightly understood that a spectacle doesn’t necessarily produce transformed hearts. There is no magical formula. We are all individuals and God relates to us each in a unique way. And since we are emotional beings, we may be over sensationalizing it. You want to know God. You want to feel it, yet you’re looking for the audible voice. Let me just tell you this: God doesn’t always reveal himself that way. There are times where you may feel Him. There are times where you may not. If we expect something monumental or some other sensational thing, we may just miss the quiet presence of God.
  2. Maybe you’re simply distracted: Maybe you don’t feel God’s presence because you are focused on other things or other people. Jesus went over to some friend’s house and Martha couldn’t stop doing work to hang out with him.  Meanwhile, her sister Mary sat at Jesus’ feet listening. Martha got upset that Mary wasn’t helping, especially given the social taboos against women sitting with the men.  So Martha complained to Jesus, but Jesus had other ideas. Luke 10:41-42 tells us, “But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Some of us are seriously distracted by all kinds of things.  Perhaps the biggest distraction is technology.  There is nothing like Facebook to keep our minds focused from one thing to the next. Then there is the spouse and the kids that are continual distractions. Maybe you don’t feel God’s presence because you’re too distracted.
  3. Maybe your heart has hardened: Jesus quotes the prophet Isaiah when he says: Matthew 13:14-15  With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says: ‘‘When you hear what I say, you will not understand. When you see what I do, you will not comprehend. For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes—so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.’The problem then is not in a God who no longer wants to have fellowship with us. Rather, the problem is within us. When we have hardened our hearts against God, and we realize that we are in a mess, we find ourselves in a dilemma. We may know that our only hope is to seek God, but our hearts are persistent in trying to keep us at a distance from God. So, what then is the antidote for a heart condition such as this? God can heal any heart once we recognize our disobedience and repent of our sins. But true repentance is more than simply a resolution, it is manifested in a changed life. 
  4. You will find God when you seek God: Deuteronomy 4:29 tells us “But from there you will search again for the Lord your God. And if you search for him with all your heart and soul, you will find him.” The Lord encourages us to seek Him with all our heart and all our soul. If we do pursue Him with everything within us, He promises that we will find Him. I imagine this to be similar to a child’s game of hide and seek. Someone would count to them while the others scamper off into another part of the house to find a place in which to hide. While the searching part of the game was always fun, it was the finding part that was the real climax. As adults, we would choose a hiding place that was not too hard. We wanted to be found because the fun is in being found. I think it is the same way in our relationship with God. When He calls us to search for Him, He never hides Himself so well that He cannot be found.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Have you ever asked God, “Where are you?” Have you ever felt like the world was against you and God was distant and silent? If so, what was it like for you to endure that particular storm in your life? What happens to the way you “feel” about God when you are reminded about the “truth” of God?
  2. How do you most often experience God? How do you think you’ve come to experience God this way?
  3. “It isn’t a matter of achieving God’s presence, but surrendering to God’s presence that is already within the Christian.” Do you agree with that statement? Why or why not?
  4. Is anything making it difficult for you to see God’s presence in your life? Is there something you need to stop or start?
  5. What are some of the subtle ways God reveals Himself to you? What are some of the most effective ways you’ve found of seeking God?
  6. Read Jeremiah 29:13-14, John 14:16-17, and Acts 17:27. These verses show us how we can feel God’s presence in our lives daily. How different do you think your life would be if you felt God’s presence daily?
  7. What changes will you make in your life so that you can begin to experience God daily?

Take one thing home with you:

What does God’s presence feel like? What does that friend mean when he or she says, “I felt God’s presence this week in a special way.” There are others who hear someone say something like that and they don’t get it, they don’t understand. It makes them wonder if I’m really getting all this God stuff or are am I doing something wrong. I want to feel God’s presence, but since I don’t I must be a weak, immature Christian. 

The fact is you are never alone. God promised to never leave you nor forsake you. It may seem like you are alone, that you cannot sense His presence. But it is at these times that you must choose to believe that He is there. You must believe that He is there solely based on the fact that the Bible says it.