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Encountering the Power of God, Part 1

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD
The Truth Network Radio
October 29, 2020 8:00 am

Encountering the Power of God, Part 1

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD

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October 29, 2020 8:00 am

People often say theyd believe in God if they could see him face to face. In this lesson, Dr. Tony Evans will tell us the story of one man who had a personal encounter with the Lord and what lessons we can learn from his experience.

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The one thing about a dilemma is you don't see an exit. Dr. Tony Evans says the middle of a crisis is the perfect place to encounter the power of the Lord. When God is ready to move you to a new spiritual experience with Him, He will regularly do it in the midst of a conflict. This is The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, author, speaker, senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, and president of The Urban Alternative. We expect God to be the one who gets us out of trouble, not the one who gets us into it. But today Dr. Evans will take us to Exodus chapter 13 for a look at why sometimes that's exactly what happens.

Let's join him. After church one day, a mother asked her son, What did your Sunday school teacher teach you today in Sunday school? He said, Well, Mama, the Sunday school teacher taught us about Israel crossing the Red Sea. She said, Well, what did the teacher say about Israel crossing the Red Sea? He said, Well, it was like this. Israel built a bridge over the Red Sea. They got in buses and crossed over the bridge. Then when the Egyptians came after them, God sent some F-16 fighters and dropped bombs on them so that they were destroyed.

The mother said, Come on now. Your teacher couldn't have explained Israel crossing the Red Sea like that. To what she said, Well, if you had heard what she said, you wouldn't have believed it either. Because the reality is this is one of those stories that are unbelievable. We're talking about divine encounters, how to encounter God by experience, not merely by information. You can go to church for years and never have an encounter.

That is an experience with the living and true God. Yet God wants to have an encounter with you, me, and us, individually and collectively. Encounters with God typically come in the context of contradictions. Encounter with God typically comes when you are facing conflict. Encounter with God typically does not happen when things are normal, but when things are out of kilter. When there is something happening that does not make sense. So if you are facing something or will face something that does not make sense, it's contradictory.

It's conflicting. Then you could be well positioned for what I'm calling a divine encounter. Today I want to look at an encounter with God's power. And this encounter with God's power comes in the context of a dilemma. A dilemma is a situation where there is no clear answer. A dilemma is a scenario where in any direction you look, there is confusion.

Dilemmas have a lot of nicknames. Some people call a dilemma being in a jam. Other people call a dilemma being in a catch-22. Some people call a dilemma being in a predicament. Others call a dilemma being in a pickle.

Others call it being up a creek. Others call it being in a dilemma being up a tree. Some call it being in a dilemma being in a corner. Others call it being in a dilemma being in a dead-end situation. Still others call it being in a dilemma having your back up against the wall. And others simply say, I'm between a rock and a hard place. I have a good friend who simply calls being in a dilemma being in a trick bag. Just being in a deal where it's a no-win situation. So a dilemma is when you're in a no-win situation. Anybody here ever been in a dilemma? It's no-win. I mean, any direction that you look in is a lose-lose.

You're in a dilemma. The most noted story in Israel's history, the crossing of the Red Sea, which was its biggest celebrated miracle, happened when they were simultaneously in a dilemma. The most celebrated story, the one that's repeated over and over and over in the Old Testament, is the story of the crossing of the Red Sea. It's repeated in the New Testament when the author of Hebrews talks about the great hall of faith. In Hebrews chapter 6, he says that without faith it's impossible to please God in verse 6.

Then he comes in verse 29 and he says, By faith Israel crossed the Red Sea and the Egyptian army was destroyed. And so this is no small deal. But what I want you to catch today is that they had their divine encounter with God's problem in the context of a dilemma.

A catch-22, a trick bag, a no-win situation. So I want to prepare you today for an encounter with God, but I also want to prepare you for a dilemma that provides the context for that encounter. Now, the background to this is very clear. Moses has come through the ten plagues and he's now leading the children of Israel out of Egypt. Pharaoh has responded now finally to Moses' call to let my people go.

And so the people now are on their way out from slavery to freedom. They're excited, they're looking forward, they've been told that there's this promised land, this purpose of God that God is going to take them to, and things are looking rosy. As they leave, on their way out it says in verse 17 of chapter 13 that God did not leave them by way of the land of the Philistines even though it was near. I want you to catch verse 18, hence God led them.

So watch this. Their dilemma is going to come about when God is leading them. Their dilemma is going to happen when they're in the will of God. Their dilemma is going to occur when they're being obedient because it says God was leading them. Not only was God leading them into what would be a dilemma, it says God led them the long way around. He did not lead them in the short distance. You know, it's frustrating when God doesn't know a direct route.

It's frustrating when God has to go from A to F to come back to C to wind up at X to take me to T. Why can't God just do a straight line and take me from here to there with all of the zig-zagging of my life in between? So they're in the will of God, but God did not take them on the near route. He took them on the long route. So they're in the will of God taking a longer than normal journey for where God is taking them. Not only that, but God was going before them, verse 21 of chapter 13 says, in a pillar of trial by day and a pillar of fire by night. He's walking with them in every step of the way, and when they are doing this zig-zag through the wilderness, it says in chapter 14, Pharaoh will say to the sons of Israel, verse 3, they are wandering aimlessly in the land and the wilderness has shut them in.

In other words, they don't look like they know what they're doing. Pharaoh says they're wandering aimlessly. No, they're just going in circles.

Where do you think they're going? And the wilderness will shut them in. In other words, those folks are on their way to a cul-de-sac. To shut in means there's no way out. I live in a cul-de-sac. That means you can drive in, but you can't go through.

The only way out of where I live is the route you came in. So when he says, and the wilderness shall shut them in, they're going to be in a no-win situation that they can't get out of without coming back toward us. And it says, and God was leading them.

He was leading them into a cul-de-sac, or what you and I would call a trap. See, a lot of us figure God wouldn't do that. Oh, God does do that. And the reason God does that is because only in those contexts will you see that He's God. Because the one thing about a dilemma is you can't get out of it. The one thing about a dilemma is you don't see an exit, and every direction you look in is a trap. When God is ready to move you to a new spiritual experience with Him, He will regularly do it in the midst of a contradiction and a conflict.

And that is their scenario. Dr. Evans will have some biblical advice about how to cope with the Red Sea situations in your life when he returns in a moment with more of today's lesson. Right now, though, I'd like to give you the chance to be among the first to get Tony's brand-new book, Kingdom Encounters. It explores the unique ways you can move beyond just reading about God to actually experiencing Him, especially when you feel alone, abandoned, or when life seems to be closing in around you.

There's nothing like being fully connected to Christ. And to help you reach that goal, we'd like you to have this brand-new resource, along with full-length CDs and instant digital downloads of all eight messages in Tony's current teaching series, Divine Encounters. Both of these powerful resources are yours as our thank-you gift when you make a contribution in support of Tony's ministry. We are a completely listener-supported ministry, so your faithfulness is the only way we can keep bringing you this broadcast each day. As always, you can make all the arrangements at TonyEvans.org, or call us at 1-800-800-3222.

That's 1-800-800-3222. Well, Dr. Evans, we'll come back with more of today's lesson right after this. Far too many of us want to throw in the towel before we've thrown up the prayers. Dr. Tony Evans says Christians have a habit of underusing or overlooking our most valuable spiritual resource. Grace is available, but only at the throne, and you can only approach the throne through prayer. You can deepen your connection with the Lord through our in-depth course on Kingdom Prayer at the Tony Evans Training Center. You'll discover how God has wired the world to work by prayer and experience for yourself how it connects heaven with earth and time with eternity.

You'll not only gain a new understanding and appreciation for prayer, you'll actually pray in transforming ways you've never experienced before. The course is intense, but you can work through it at your own pace and get all the help you need through our online forum. And, of course, there's custom content from Tony not available anywhere else. Connect with the Tony Evans Training Center at tonyevans.org. It's like having a seminary on your smartphone or other device.

Start today, tonyevans.org. Romans chapter 15 verse 4 says that the Old Testament was written to give us instruction and examples to give us in the New Testament days hope. So the story of the Red Sea is designed to give you hope for your Red Sea. The story of the Red Sea is to try to give you hope for your trap scenario. The story of the Red Sea is designed to give you perspective in the situation you don't see an exit sign for in your life.

They were written for our instruction. But not only that. God is leading them so they're in God's will.

They're zigzagging so they don't quite know, you know, why God has taken us the long way around. Then He leads us to a place where we are trapped because we are shut in because He's leading us to the Red Sea and the only thing that's out there is water. On top of all that, verse 4 says of chapter 14, thus I will harden Pharaoh's heart and he will chase after them. To harden the heart means to make you more rebellious than you already were. To harden the heart means to make you meaner than you already were. To harden the heart is to make you worse than you already were. I think the verse says, and God hardened Pharaoh's heart. This is when the boss gets meaner, the mate gets meaner, the circumstance becomes more negative, and God made it happen. God hardened Pharaoh's heart so that Pharaoh would chase them.

Come on, man. You mean to tell me God is involved in making things worse for me? He takes the anger of Pharaoh and makes him more angry, the hatred of Pharaoh and makes him hate more, the persistence of Pharaoh against Israel and makes him persist more, while he puts Israel in a trap and it says, and God was behind it all. Because when God is ready to give you a new experience with Him, He will allow you to be put into a situation that only He can get you out of. When God is ready to make this move, doesn't matter who you know, what contacts you have, how much money you possess, where you live or the car you drive, when God is ready to give you a new experience with Him, He will regularly trap you where you are. And so they find themselves in a bad scenario where God is His only option and this all takes place when they're in His will. Because when God is getting ready to let you see Him in a way you've never seen Him before, expect that you will be in a situation that you can't handle. Now if you don't know this and you got this false view of God or this limited view of God, that if something is wrong, it must be the devil. It may be if you're being outside of the will of God, but if you are seeking to live inside of the will of God, then don't ascribe to the devil what may be the hand of God. Because they're smack dab in the will of God.

He's leading them day and night. Verse 8 of chapter 14 says, The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he chased after the sons of Israel. Come on, God, why can't you just leave the people alone?

Just leave them alone. They finally got out. They've been praying to get out. You know one thing that frustrates me about God? I'm going to tell the truth and shame the devil. What frustrates me about God is he will make it look like he answered your prayer. You praising him? You raising your hand in the air like you just don't care? You all excited?

You ready to give your testimony? And then he go left on you. They finally get out of Egypt. They've been praying to get out of Egypt. He lets them out of Egypt, then he hardens Pharaoh's heart to come after them. Looks like he changed his mind. Boss tells you, you're going up in the company, the next day you get a pink slip. You finally found the person you think God's will for your life is. Turned out to be a fool. Just, just, stuff going, stuff like that. It doesn't fit.

It doesn't connect. But you're in the will of God. You are operating in the will of God. God was leading them. And he was telling the evil Pharaoh to go get him. Because unless you understand and accept the sovereignty of God, you'll be confused about what, in the words of Marvin Gaye, is going on. So now they see, they're camping by the sea in verse 9. So they can't go that way. But Pharaoh's heart has been hardened and God has said, go after them. So they can't go this way. So they're either going to drown or be slaughtered.

That's called a dilemma. There's no salute because there was no other direction to go in. As Pharaoh said, they are shut in. We got them now.

We own them. As Pharaoh drew near, verse 10, the sons of Israel looked, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them. And so the sons of Israel cried out to the Lord. Water here, Pharaoh and his chariots here, and they're closing in on the Jews, and so they are terrified. So they do what many Christians do. They cry out to God, help!

Help! While simultaneously complaining to man. Verse 11, they said to Moses, is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt saying, leave us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness. So the conflict that they are in, the Red Sea and the Egyptians, produces a spiritual conflict within them. Because on the one hand, it says they cried out on to God. But then on the other hand, it says they complained to Moses. So I'm calling on God, but I'm blaming man.

Not only that, but I'm confused, because the dilemma will confuse you. They said, did not we tell you leave us alone? We were happy being a slave in them cornfields.

We were just swing low sweet chariots. We were just happy slaves. Never mind that they had been crying out to God all the time for God to get them out of here. They said, Mo, don't they have graves back there? You bring us out here in the wilderness to die, when if we just stayed there, we could have died there as slaves. Better to be a slave alive and die there than to die out here in this wilderness. And if the truth be told, when we're caught in a dilemma, we cry out to God, but we complain to man. And we do both simultaneously. Help God, it's your fault.

Because they're in a dilemma. Dr. Evans will come back in a moment with a final piece of advice about how to deal with the dilemma successfully. First though, don't forget to request your copy of our current double resource package, Tony's new book, Kingdom Encounters, plus his current eight-message teaching series, Divine Encounters. As I mentioned, they're both yours with our thanks for your donation to keep this listener-supported program coming your way. This special offer won't be available for long, so don't wait. Visit tonyevans.org before time runs out to make the arrangements, or call our resource center at 1-800-800-3222 any time of the day or night.

That's 1-800-800-3222. When we're up against the kind of impossible circumstances we heard about today, it's perfectly natural for what we feel to contradict what we believe. But tomorrow, Dr. Evans will explain why our emotions aren't as important as what we choose to do next.

Right now though, he's back with a closing thought for today. So let me give you something you must do when you're caught in a dilemma and God Himself is confusing you. You must appeal to someone, if you cannot appeal to yourself, who has a spiritual perspective. See, if you're confused, then you're only talking to other confused people who do not share a proper view of God. Then all you're going to do is reinforce the frustration of your dilemma. If God has allowed you to be there because you're in the will of God, even though you are confused, then God alone has to give you clarity. And so even though they were complaining about Moses, only Moses could give them the proper perspective because Moses was in touch with God.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-31 21:12:25 / 2024-01-31 21:20:38 / 8

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