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Sunday, August 6, 2017

Stop Faking It




This is the manuscript of the sermon that I preached at Church of Divine Guidance, Los Angeles, CA August 6, 2017. To hear audio click or touch the YouTube player at then end of the manuscript.

Don't Fake The Funk

Stop faking, it.  It's okay.  You can say anything to the Lord anytime you feel like it, and in any way you feel like it.  Now that doesn't mean that you can be disrespectful.   Don’t ever forget that He is God and He can, like like our parents use to say, “I brought you into this world and I can take you out, and make another one just like you”.  What I mean is that you can be real with God, He won't come down on you for telling Him how you really feel.  He is always open and real with you and he wants you to be real with Him.  He's your friend and he loves you.  When you have a true friend you can talk to them about anything, anytime, and pour out your soul to them.  So let’s be real with God in our conversations with Him.  Our prayers should be conversations where we talk to our friend and He talks to us and we are both open with each other.


When we learned to pray as children our prayers were what we heard adults say. “Lord I thank  you for this food we are  about to receive may it nourish our bodies in Jesus name Amen” “Now I lay me down to sleep I pray the lord my soul to keep, if I should die before I wake I pray the Lord my soul to take, God bless mother, and father, bless my brother, etc., etc”. Our parents or grandparents told us we could ask God for anything so we did, especially at birthday and Christmas time. We would ask Him for anything, even things, that we know now He would never do, like killing that bully that chased us home every day.  Mike Jr. said that He even prayed that   the school would blow up so he wouldn't have to take a test.  The point is that we didn't struggle with trying to figure out what to say and how to say it.  


When we were kids, when we fell down and skinned our knee we ran to our parents crying because we knew they would make it better.  We cried when we were disappointed, or angry, or sad, and sometimes when we were happy.  As we got older and more mature all that changed, and now we’re all grown up.  We don’t cry so much and we try reasoning our way out of hurts and problems.  We don’t want our parents, family or friends to think we can’t handle things ourselves.  It’s the same way in our relationship with God.  All of a sudden we are big boys and girls we don’t want to appear helpless.  


So now we copy the prayers we hear in church, or on the Prayer Line, or television, in made by people we think really have God’s ear.  Suddenly we think that we have to come to God in a different way now that we are all grown up.   


That's why I smile when I hear children or new believers pray.  I love the way they stumble over their words and share everything without trying to please anyone or pretend to have it all together. There is an authenticity and a rawness to their prayers.


There is a word that we see a lot in the Bible, and  that word is lament, which is a passionate expression of grief or sorrow.  Moaning, crying, sobbing, weeping are synonyms of lament.  It can be something that is shown physically or can be felt emotionally and not shown outwardly.  When someone laments in prayer we say that they are crying out to God. They are unfiltered, and unedited prayers.  But as we mature it’s like we have forgotten how to come to God as innocent children.  We have forgotten how to cry out.  


What we do most times is fake it.  There is an old expression that some of you will remember. That expression is “don’t fake the funk”.  The Urban Dictionary says that to “fake the funk” is to be fake or to not keep it real, to pretend to be in the know; to pretend to be fly;


In other words we  hide how we really feel.  Stop “faking the funk” and be real with God.  We should let  our real emotions show in our conversations with Him.  After all He has emotions and He doesn’t deny them, or hide them from us.  


He gets angry


Psalm 7:11 (NLT)11  God is an honest judge. He is angry with the wicked every day.  


He experiences grief


Genesis 6:6 (NLT)6  So the LORD was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart.


Ephesians 4:30 (NLT)30  And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.


He is jealous for our love


Exodus 34:14 (NLT)14  You must worship no other gods, for the LORD, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you.
He shows His impatience


Judges 10:16 (NLT)16  Then the Israelites put aside their foreign gods and served the LORD. And he was grieved


The Risk of Being Real
Our friendship with God deepens when we risk being open and honest as we talk with Him.   Let’s stop “faking the funk”,
                                                                   
Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)11  For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Christians like to quote this scripture when things get a little tough but if we’re honest, when they don’t turn around right away it seems that God’s plans were not prospering you at all; in fact, it feels like they’re hurting you. What is He trying to do? Make you tough? Make you stronger? How were these plans bringing you hope? Where is all this peace and prosperity He promised?
When we become convinced that God is really our friend, we can talk to Him about what we’re feeling.  We can ask Him those questions.
Hebrews 4:16 (NLT)16  So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.


God’s word says that He hears the prayers of the righteous.


Proverbs 15:8 (NLT)8  The LORD detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but he delights in the prayers of the upright.
Proverbs 15:29 (NLT)29  The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayers of the righteous.


One of the things that we “fake the funk” is the  misconception that we have to be perfect. We “fake the funk” by pretending to have our lives in order, smiling and saying all the right things. We’re ashamed to admit our shortcomings to God.  We don’t really buy into the fact that when Jesus becomes our personal Lord and Savior,  God forgave us and sees us as righteous.  


We are righteous because of Jesus.


God sees us a completely righteous because of our faith in Jesus.
Romans 3:21-26 (NLT)21  But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago.22  We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.23  For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.24  Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.25  For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past,26  for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.


When we “fake the funk” we are really doubting Jesus’ work of salvation on the cross, and we somehow believe that we still have to prove something to God.  We are depending on ourselves and our own righteousness which don’t amount to a hill of beans.


Isaiah 64:6 (NLT)6  We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.


We need to get it in our heads that we don’t have to be perfect because Jesus is perfect.  When we realize this we can passionately seek Him, obey Him, and confess and repent when we miss the mark then we will stop “faking the funk”  


This is something that is in the book that the Sunday morning Adult Bible Study Group is in right now on being a prayer warrior; “Don’t let the enemy tell you that you have no right to pray and expect God to answer because you are imperfect or you’ve failed.  They are the words from the enemy of your soul wanting to discourage, demean, and destroy you. If you have unconfessed sin in your life, then confess it with a repentant heart before God. Other than that, whenever the enemy tries to discourage you from praying, deliberately thank God that your authority in prayer does not depend on your being perfect. It is because of what Jesus perfectly accomplished on the cross and He is perfect. When the enemy tries to bring you down, bring him down”.


We can look to Jesus as our example of being open.  He expressed a full range of emotions, positive ones like joy, love, and compassion and some we would consider negative like, anger, indignation, and impatience.


John 11:32-35 (NLT)32  When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”33  When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled.34  “Where have you put him?” he asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.”35  Then Jesus wept.
What emotions does He display? - anger, sorrow,
Luke 7:11-15 (NLT)11  Soon afterward Jesus went with his disciples to the village of Nain, and a large crowd followed him.12  A funeral procession was coming out as he approached the village gate. The young man who had died was a widow’s only son, and a large crowd from the village was with her.13  When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. “Don’t cry!” he said.14  Then he walked over to the coffin and touched it, and the bearers stopped. “Young man,” he said, “I tell you, get up.”15  Then the dead boy sat up and began to talk! And Jesus gave him back to his mother.


What emotions does He display?- compassion
Luke 10:17-22 (NLT)17  When the seventy-two disciples returned, they joyfully reported to him, “Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!”18  “Yes,” he told them, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning!19  Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you.20  But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.”21  At that same time Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and he said, “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way.
What emotions does He display? - joy
Luke 19:41-44 (NLT)41  But as they came closer to Jerusalem and Jesus saw the city ahead, he began to weep.42  “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes.43  Before long your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side.44  They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not accept your opportunity for salvation.”


What emotions does He display? - sorrow


John 2:12-17 (NLT)12  After the wedding he went to Capernaum for a few days with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples.13  It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem.14  In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money.
15  Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables.16  Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!”17  Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.”


 What emotions does He display? - anger
Matthew 26:36-46 (NLT)36  Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.”
37  He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed.38  He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”39  He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”40  Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour?41  Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”42  Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.”43  When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open.44  So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again.45  Then he came to the disciples and said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But look—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.46  Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”


In this passage Jesus shows a range of emotions sorrow, frustration, impatience, and fear.


Jesus didn’t ignore His emotions or keep them hidden, He shared Himself openly.  That’s what He wants us to do.  Stop “faking the funk”
I know it’s not alway easy.  In life we struggle with sin, injustice, pain, and temptation.  These things arouse feelings that aren’t comfortable.  It’s risky to be honest when we feel isolated, guilty, irritated, intimidated, ashamed, angry, inadequate, rejected, or worthless.
We may be hesitant to open up because, in the past we’ve gotten negative responses from people.  One of the typical things we hear when we open up about how we feel is, “this too shall pass” (which isn’t in the bible by the way).  Once you open up and get that kind  of response you are not likely to open up again.  


Some of us mistakenly think God keeps track of our sins. We resist going to God because we’re afraid He’ll see and know what we’ve done — things He’ll disapprove of. But God says,
Hebrews 8:12 (NLT)12  And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”
Some of us believe God keeps a record of our good works. We chart our progress and even look to our pastors and others for the thumbs-up that our lives are acceptable to God, but here’s what the Bible says about that;
Isaiah 64:6 (NLT)6  We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.
God looks at our good deeds and sees no merit in them and no reason to keep track of them to decide whether to hear us or not;
It’s not that our actions don’t matter to God — they do. But what God actually records are our sorrows! He hears our cries and cherishes our tears:


Psalm 56:8 (NLT)8  You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.
God keeps track of our pain and struggles, but He never uses them against us. Instead, He holds our sorrows lovingly until we come to Him. God invites us to let Him into the pain we’ve been hiding.
This is the kind of relationship that God wants with us. Our tears move God to compassion toward us. In my preparation for this sermon I found this by Bible teacher and speaker Lisa Harper “Our ache accelerates Jesus’ compassion.”  Our need does not repel Him! It unleashes incredible compassion.
The prophet Isaiah tells us that by the the Messiah’s wounds we are healed, and we know that Jesus is the Messiah.


Isaiah 53:5 (NLT)5  But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.
Christ carried the pain of this world so we no longer have to. God is not the author of pain, but He can bring joy and peace in the midst of pain.
If God lets us see His emotions, then why are we resistant to admitting, to Him that we have them too.  We need to invite Him into what is really going on inside of us.  If Jesus is our example then, we should not hide how we really feel. God does not spiritualize our pain away, with saying things like this too shall pass, or denying that it exists.  God doesn't spiritualize it and neither should we.  Stop “faking the funk”


God doesn’t want us in pain in our hearts, mind, and bodies, but we often are because of Satan, this fallen world, or our own actions.  The pain often doesn’t leave us right away, but when we stop “faking the funk” and cry out  He hears - no matter what.  Here’s what He promises.  


Deuteronomy 31:6 (NLT)6  So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”


This is what the Apostle Paul said;


Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)6  Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
7  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.


This is a cry out to God.


This is the prayer of someone who was not afraid to let his friend know what he was feeling.  


Psalm 42:1-11 (NLT)1 As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.2  I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him?3  Day and night I have only tears for food, while my enemies continually taunt me, saying, “Where is this God of yours?”4  My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration!5  Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and6  my God! Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you— even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan, from the land of Mount Mizar.7  I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves and surging tides sweep over me.8  But each day the LORD pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life.9  “O God my rock,” I cry, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies?”10  Their taunts break my bones. They scoff, “Where is this God of yours?”11  Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God!


Feelings of sadness and discouragement are inevitable. This life has times of dancing and praising, but also times of deep anguish and despair. Jesus understands. In the scripture I read earlier of Jesus crying out to His Father in the Garden, please “Take this cup from me”, but even in the middle of crying out He told His Father that He wanted His Father’s will to be done.  God hears and answers prayer, even when it may seem He has forgotten you.  And because God the Son left his throne in heaven to walk the earth in human flesh, he knows and understands what you are going through on every level — physical, spiritual and emotional. So you can, in confidence put your hope in Him, knowing that you will  experience the presence of God and his goodness.
   
That takes the pressure off because it’s not about us. It’s about Him. It’s never about us. Everything we have—including our ability to pray in power—comes from God.


2 Corinthians 3:4-5 (NLT)4  We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ.5  It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own.


Our qualification comes from God.


We just have to pray as He leads us, and He leads us through His Word and by the Holy Spirit.


John 14:26 (NLT)26  But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.


Romans 8:26-27 (NLT)26  And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.27  And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.


We don't have to “fake the funk”


I know that opening ourselves up is risky because when we do we become vulnerable but we don’t have be be afraid of being vulnerable with God because it’s safe.  


God is a safe person — the safest person! — to go to when life is falling apart. He is right there to catch us every time.


God’s thoughts toward us are good, His love toward us is great, and He blesses us and draws near us even in our most broken places.


Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)11  For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.


When you stop “faking the funk” you will go from simply having a prayer life to enjoying a dynamic and exciting relationship with your Friend.  And that is always a good thing.  


Heavenly Father thank you for caring about all my problems and pains.  Help me to always cry out to you first and leave my concerns at your feet.  You know how difficult and how painful this life can be. When I am discouraged, please comfort me with your love and remind me of what’s important: which is  my future with you.  In the name of Jesus and in His authority I pray Amen.  


Sermon Audio