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Encountering God's Provision, Part 2

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD
The Truth Network Radio
November 5, 2020 7:00 am

Encountering God's Provision, Part 2

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD

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November 5, 2020 7:00 am

Can we count on God to provide for our needs? Absolutely. Can we count on him to do it on our timeline? Dr. Tony Evans says, probably not. Join him as he reveals what often accounts for the delay and how we can learn to be more confident in a crisis.

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J.D. Greear

When God wants to provide, it will often be at a point of your deepest inconvenience. Dr. Tony Evans says that's when we're most likely to recognize where our help is really coming from. Am I going to believe God or am I going to believe my circumstances?

Because you will often be trapped between the two. 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. Can we count on God to provide for our needs? Absolutely. Can we count on Him to do it on our timetable?

Dr. Evans is probably not. Let's join him as he talks about what often accounts for the delay. Today, I want you to experience an encounter with God and His provision in 1 Kings 17. Beginning in verse 8, this is what we read, Then the word of the Lord came to him, that is, Elijah, saying, Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you. So he arose and he went to Zarephath, and when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, Please, get me a little water and a jar that I might drink. And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, Please give me a piece of bread in your hand. But she said, As the Lord your God lives, I have no bread, only a handful of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar. And behold, I am gathering a few sticks, that I might go in and prepare for me and my son that we may eat it and die. Then Elijah said to her, Do not fear, go do as you have said, but make me a little bread cake from it first.

And bring it out to me, and afterwards you may make one for yourself and for your son. For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The bowl of flour shall not be exhausted, nor shall the jar of oil be empty until the day that the Lord sends rain on the face of the earth. So she went and did according to the word of Elijah, and she and he and her household ate for many days. The bowl of flour was not exhausted, nor did the jar of oil become empty according to the word of the Lord, which he spoke through Elijah. Here is one of the great stories in Scripture of God's provision. There are a number of reasons why God allows His people to be in circumstances where provision is lacking.

In this particular chapter, it was because of the sin of idolatry. God tells Elijah, Go to this woman and she's going to feed you. Now she don't even have enough to feed herself, but you go to this woman and she's going to feed you. If I could ever get this principle into our heads, I know you hear me say it a lot, I'm going to say it again today and I'm going to say it a number of times today, because if you ever get it, your whole life changes. And the principle that you've heard a million times is you only have one source. There it is.

As simple as that sounds, it is a life transforming process. You do not have multiple sources. Anything outside of God is a resource, not a source.

It's merely a vehicle. The grocery store is not your source. Menus is not your source.

Tom Thumb is not your source. Kroger's is not your source. It's merely a resource you go to. They don't make the food.

They sell you the food. It's not your source. It's a channel through which you get something.

It's not the origination of the something you get. Over and over again, the Bible declares that God is your only source. In Psalm 104 verses 10 to 17, God says, The animals only eat because I feed them. The birds only eat because I feed them. And people only eat because I feed them. God declares, I am your source.

I am your starting point. So watch this. Whenever you treat a resource as though it is the source, you have now made your resource an idol. So God commands Elijah and he tells him, now I have a widow for you. And I want you to go, and I have commanded her to feed you. So he's already gone ahead of Elijah and set him up so he could get something to eat.

So Elijah goes to Zarephath. So let me just pause there. He didn't just say, Amen. Hallelujah. Praise the Lord. Isn't God good all the time? All the time God's good?

No. He obeyed. You see, a lot of us want to see God's provision without our obedience.

We want God to provide first and then we might obey. No, he wouldn't see the provision until he did the obedience. So he goes to Zarephath, not a comfortable place to be.

It was the Baal seat, the seat of idolatry. But he fulfills God's command and he sees the widow. He tells the widow, give me some water and a piece of bread.

Stay with me now. Here's the widow's response in verse 12. But she said, that ought to tell you something right there, but. She said, to put it in everyday English, let's get real. Come on, man.

Let's get real. She says, I have no bread, only a handful of flour in a bowl and a little in a jar. And I am gathering a few sticks that I might go in, prepare for me and my son that we may eat and die. When God wants to provide, it will often be at a point of your deepest inconvenience. It will often be at a point where you don't even know how you're going to take care of you.

How are you going to do something with this? It will often be at a point when you are at the bottom. You will feel like you're caught in a catch-22. God says, I've already commanded the widow.

The widow is saying, let's get practical. How can God's command be real in my circumstances? You will feel trapped between what God says and what you see. He brought the word of God, which God had already told him that he had given to her, and she now has to make a choice. She has to decide, am I going to believe God or am I going to believe my circumstances? Because you will often be trapped between the two.

And this leads to a staggering principle. Often when God wants to do something for you, he will ask something from you first. That's why the prophet says, give to me first. Why, if you need something, would God ask you to give something that you yourself need?

She needed her own food. Because God wants to know whether you trust his word. He wants to know, are you talking smack or do you really believe that when I say I'm going to do something, I'm going to do it, and to demonstrate whether you have faith and you're not just woofing and talking noise like you have faith, I am going to ask you to do something first, and the something I'm going to ask you to do first is in the realm of your own need. She needs food, so what does God ask her to give up?

Food. This principle is over and over in scripture. Proverbs 11 25 says, he that waters will himself be watered. The Bible says over and over again, Deuteronomy 24 19, God responds to our response. Luke 6 38, give and it, the thing you give will be given back to you.

Press down flowing over. A lot of people love that verse who don't do anything with it. God will regularly require a response of faith in the very area of which your own need. Galatians 6 8, sow and reap. You only reap what you sow.

You don't plant corn and get potatoes. God wants faith to be demonstrated, not just to be discussed. And he often will allow you to get to the bottom, one meal left, one day left before he comes through. When Dr. Evans continues our message in just a moment, he'll tell us about a crisis point of his own and how the Lord got him through it. First, though, check into getting a copy of Tony's brand new book called Kingdom Encounters. It builds on what he's been teaching us recently, giving you new insights into how to take your relationship with God from something you know to something you experience. You'll learn how on-fire Christians get lit up in the first place and how they keep burning even during hard times. For a limited time, we're making this life-changing book available, along with CDs and instant digital downloads of all eight full-length messages in Tony's current teaching series, Divine Encounters.

They're both yours with our thanks when you make a contribution to help us keep Tony's teaching on this station. We don't want you to miss out, so contact us right away to get the details and make the arrangements by visiting or call us day or night at 1-800-800-3222 and get some in-person help from one of our resource team members. I'll have our contact information for you again after Part 2 of today's lesson and this.

Whether you're facing a decision or a dilemma, it's smart to ask, What would Jesus do? But first you have to know what Jesus did and what God has to say about the situations you face. Well, if building your biblical foundation is your goal, the help you need is as close as your computer or mobile device, thanks to the Tony Evans Training Center. It's packed with online courses covering core concepts of the faith and in-depth Scripture studies you can work through any time you want at any pace you want. Along the way you'll explore key teachings and learn how to apply them in real-world situations. There's lots of exclusive content from Tony to keep you interested and motivated and an online forum where you can ask questions, get answers, and collaborate with other students. It's almost like having a seminary on your smartphone.

Visit today and connect with the Tony Evans Training Center where you can explore the kingdom anytime, anywhere. When I was in seminary, we had gotten to a point where it didn't look like we were going to make it financially. I worked part-time and going to school, we made a commitment for Sister Evans to be at home, to be with the kids during that early childhood season, and it just wasn't working. So we got to the point where I had to decide whether I would drop out of school and get a full-time job because supporting the family comes first. So we sat down at the table and I said, if this doesn't get reversed by Friday, then I'll drop out of school, get a job, and maybe we can pick it up later because first things first. But we got till Friday. Then I asked Sister Evans, I said, what would you ask God for, for Him to do for us to keep moving forward in school?

What would you ask Him to do? She said, we desperately need right now $500. If we got $500, then we can make it to the end of the month, we can maybe then move from there.

But right now we're in such a crisis that we desperately need $500. So that was the situation. I go to class and then I go to my mailbox. In the mailbox is an envelope. I pull the envelope out of the mailbox. There is no name on the envelope but my name, Tony Evans. I open the envelope and inside the envelope are five $100 bills and a note. The note simply said, God told me to give you this with no name.

I didn't know who it was. All I know is there's an envelope and a note God told me on Friday. It was put in because I had gone to my mailbox on Thursday. So it was put in on Friday for Friday. When I brought it home, Sister Evans broke out in tears. She just started crying. But on that last second of the last day when there were no options left, God showed me what He can do. So because I have that memory, I can face this new challenge because I remember that He is my source.

Many of us are blocking what God wants to do because we're either worshipping our resource, which is idolatry, not passing the test through a tangible thing that God has told you to do that you don't think you can do. I'm at the gas station. It was on one of those cold days. It's freezing out there. There's this homeless gentleman, and he looked a little really sincerely homeless.

I try to vet those things because there's a lot of games out there, too. So he said, please, sir, for a few dollars to get something to eat and drink, something hot to drink. And so I'm pumping gas while he's asking me this. I said, okay, it's real. I'm not just talking because you want some drugs and you want some, you know. So I went through that.

He said, oh, no, no, no. And then I had my little test I do. I said, so you're willing for me to take you to get something to eat and not just give you money to eat?

Because that way you can tell whether they're really into whether the issue is food or not. So he said, oh, yeah, you mean you can take me. So I said, okay, I'll tell you what. After I pump gas, I use my credit card to pump gas, I look at my wallet and there's a $100 bill. It's a $100 bill in my wallet. So I've got to get changed. So follow this now.

True story. So I'm going to help the guy. I'm going to give him $10. I'm going to give him $15. Look like he's authentic, hungry.

It's freezing out there. You know, so my heart goes out. And that's one of the things you look for. Does your heart go out to a situation?

Because there are plenty of needs and you can't take care of them all. But my heart went out that this was real. So I go into the store at the gas station.

It's really interesting. I go and I said, sir, would you give me to get my receipt for the gas? I said, would you give me change for $100?

It has never happened to me before. He pulls out his cash register and he says, I am so sorry. I don't have any change. I said, you got to be kidding me. How are you going to be a store and you don't have change? He says, I can't break $100. I can't, you know, it's just the way things have been going.

I don't have any change. So now me and God, we got to have a little discussion. We got to talk about this. Now, God, is this you?

Is this you? Because I don't want to miss you, but also. So I'm debating. I walk back out.

It's freezing outside. I walk back out. And I said, OK, God, it's obvious this is what you want me to do. And so I gave the guy $100 bill.

And I said, I want you to I want you to use this for what you said you're going to use it for. At first glance, he only saw one zero. He thought he had a ten. And then it dawned on him that there were two zeros because of the way he looked. He looked and turned away, said thanks. And he looked again and he did that. I said, can I pray for you?

He said, yeah. Yeah, pray for me. Pray for me all day. We can fast and pray today. I mean, he was serious in his his pomposity.

I mean, he was really expressing himself. Yeah, pray for me. So I prayed for him. You know, gave him a little witness. But the experience I got out of it was God allowed that thing to happen in a way because he wanted me to do something more than I had originally intended. And what I am trying to say to us is God has a myriad of ways of creating encounters. So that as we become vehicles of blessing, he feels more comfortable blessing. That's what it means when the scripture says it's more blessed to give than to receive.

The only reason, the reason why it's more blessed is the bigger the conduit, you become the bigger container you're able to receive. Elijah says during verse 13, do not be afraid because when you're in a situation where you need God to provide and then he's asking you to do something that you don't understand, you get scared. He says, don't be afraid. He knew the woman was afraid to do what God said do because it didn't make sense to do it. You need somebody in your life who's going to move you to God when you don't feel like going that way. You need somebody in your life who is spiritual enough to know what God is doing when you can't see it, even though they can show you from the Bible because it says it. You need somebody in your life, and unfortunately today, too many Christians limit themselves to their five senses. So they don't live in the spiritual.

They only live in the five senses of the visible and the physical so they never get to see what an encounter with God feels like. And it says, when she let her faith overcome her feeling, she did, verse 15, according to the word of Elijah, which was based on the word of God, and she and her household ate for many days. The bowl of flour was not exhausted, nor did the jar of oil become empty according to the word of the Lord, which he spoke through Elijah. In other words, God stretched it. He took the little that was there and he stretched it until the natural could take over again, until it rained again. God knows how to, come on, some of you got grandmothers who knew how to stretch it, how to take a little and just stretch it and make it go further and further and further and further. All through the Bible, there are stories of God stretching it, water from a rock that wouldn't stop until enough water for the people came out.

God knows how to stretch it, stretch it, stretch it until the natural inclinations begin to set in. The point of this passage is for you to experience and encounter God as your provider. But before you can experience him as provider, the Bible says it's vital for you to experience him as Savior.

The first step in that process is to realize there's no way you can be good enough to make it to heaven on your own, and that Jesus' sacrifice on the cross is the only way to bridge the gap between human failure and divine forgiveness. If you've never made that connection, visit today and follow the link that says Jesus. There, Tony will explain everything you need to know about what it means to be a real Christian and how to start a brand-new life. That's is also the place to go to take advantage of the special resource package I mentioned earlier in the program, all eight lessons in Tony's current series, Divine Encounters, plus his brand-new book, Kingdom Encounters, which digs even deeper into how you can have a real-life experience with the Lord even when he feels far away.

This double resource bundle is our gift to you when you make a contribution to help keep this listener-supported program coming your way. Just visit today to get the details and make the arrangements. And while you're there, take a moment to browse through our huge collection of resources and sign up for Tony's free weekly e-mail devotional. Again, that's Or call our 24-hour resource center at 1-800-800-3222.

That's 1-800-800-3222. Hostility toward Christians is becoming more and more common in our society that supposedly values tolerance. Well, tomorrow, Dr. Evans will tell us a Bible story that has some uncomfortable similarities to our shifting culture. But right now, he's back to boil down today's lesson to one vital principle to keep in mind. You only have one source. Everything else is a resource.

If you ever flip that and make that your modus operandi, how you roll, if you ever operate this way, you are free. Because when a resource goes left on you, you can say, okay, God, what's next? Because you're my source.

You're the one taking care of me. So my eyes are on you, not just what resources are operating today. Praise God for the bank, but it ain't my source. Praise God for the job, but it ain't my source. So the idea is for God to be your source and let him choose what resource he wants to use today. May God help you individually in your family and us collectively to have one source so that we can encounter him in the challenges of life. The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans is brought to you by The Urban Alternative and is made possible by the generous contributions of listeners like you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-30 04:03:47 / 2024-01-30 04:12:39 / 9

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