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Monday, January 30, 2017

Faith & Feelings.

"In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete" (John 16:23-24).

For those whose main argument of faith is that it is something you can't see, touch, or experience with any of the five senses, are not taking into account another power of invisible and "senseless" proportions. Feelings. Feelings cannot be seen, but the evidence of feelings can be more obvious than words necessary to explain. Feelings are so powerful that they can be confused with reason, overtake wisdom, and drect decisions in a flash. Feelings have been long-time accused accomplices to people of faith, with the accusation that faith is nothing more than feelings. Yet on the flip-side of the coin, feelings haev been a great adversary to idea and the power of faith. Faith stands when feelings would rather sit, crouch, or run away. Faith's power is its ability to be strong in the presence or the absence of feelings.

Jesus addresses this idea with His closest friends. He speaks of the day when He will "go away" and they will look and not be able to find Him. He knows that they are not mentally or emotionally prepared for such a day. As deep as they have learned, there still existed a shallowness of understanding that would be taken over by feelings. "In that day you will no longer ask me anything." Jesus, physically, would not be there and therefore they would have no way of asking Him anything, as far as they understood. Their faith in Him  and their dependence on prayer would be shaken by feelings of grief, disappointment, anger, fear, and discouragement that would seek to overwhelm their focus to stand. Jesus implores them to "ask in My name," and that "...your joy will be complete."

Feelings cannot be trusted to have such a power over your life to the point where you would stop praying because your faith was separated from your feelings. For your faith to be authentic and strong, it has to be able and willing to stand on its own. A faith that is dependent on being able to feel cannot be verified as being faith at all. There are many who do not pray, worship, serve, or give because their feelings are not there to confirm the "conviction" of their faith. Their feelings become their primary source of confirmation and affirmation. If the feelings are there, fine. If they are absent, the decision is final. As Jesus taught, pray and ask "...in My name." He appeals to what they know more than what they might feel. "Name" means character, rank, authority, and reputation. He's charging them to face the feelings with both their faith and the facts. 

So, in like manner, pray and ask based on what you have seen in the character of Jesus. Pray and live according to the heart of Christ. Pray and tap into the authority and the rank of the King of kings. Your feelings are real and you cannot deny their existence. But don't give them an authority in your life that is greater than the faith you have in the REALITY of Jesus. His Name is great. His authority is unbeatable. His rank is unstoppable. His character is untouchable. His reputation is unshakeable. When the feelings are there, enjoy them in your relationship with God. He created them. He created you. They will converge. But when the feelings seem like distant memories or when they become so real they seem like great enemies, keep your focus on the faith that you have in the Name of Jesus. Let your faith act you into a feeling, knowing that your feelings may not always feel you into the faith. When you can't see Him and when you can't feel Him, you can still know that He is there. Pray.

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