Sometimes God has to let you get down long enough before he makes himself located. Dr. Tony Evans talks about God's purpose behind our problems.
He wants to know that you want him and not just want his stuff. 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. When your only options are bad ones, and there doesn't seem to be any way out of the circumstances you're facing, Dr. Evans says God may have you exactly where he wants you.
Why? Let's find out as we join him for today's lesson. In 2nd Chronicles 15, we're told in verse 3, for many days Israel was without the true God, without a teaching priest, and without law. Verse 5 says, in those times there was no peace to him who went out or to him who came in, for many disturbances afflicted all the inhabitants of the lands. Nation was crushed by nation and city by city, for God troubled them with every kind of distress.
It says there was no peace to him who went in or to him who came out. No peace means they were living in conflict. There was conflict. It says city rose up against city and nation rose up against nation. There was cultural conflict. We'll say city, urban conflict, racial conflict, community and police conflict, on and on in our cities where safety is a big issue. There's conflict.
Then it says nation rose up against nation. International conflict. Right now Washington can't get along with Washington. The Democrats and Republicans are at each other's throats. There is conflict.
And it just subsides for a while and it bounces back, on and on and on. Personal conflict, family conflict, cultural conflict, on and on and on and on and on. And many disturbances, it says, affected all the inhabitants of the land. You and I are affected by not only what's happening with us, but what happens to others that affect us. Many disturbances. That was the situation.
Ah, but here's where it gets interesting. The end of verse 6 says, for God troubled them. For God troubled them with their distresses. End of verse 6.
Now wait a minute. I would have thought with all that chaos, it would have said the devil troubled them. I would have thought with all this confusion, verse 6 would end by saying the devil troubled them with every kind of distress, but it says God troubled them. So now we're gonna mess with your thinking a little bit, because a lot of things you're blaming on the devil is God. There was no peace, the family disintegration, conflict, urban conflict, international conflict, and God says, if you're gonna blame somebody, blame me.
See, a lot of us are blaming the wrong person, because here's how it works in the world. If God is your problem, only God is your solution. If God is the cause, only God is the cure.
You say, but wait a minute. How can all this evil be given over to God? Because God uses the devil to carry out his dirty work. Because even the devil is not the devil. The devil is God's devil, because the devil can only do what God allows him to do. So even if the devil is messing with you, it's by divine permission. For God troubled them with every kind of distress.
Let me put it another way. The spiritual always precedes the natural. The spiritual governs the natural. The heavenly determines the earthly. So if you have an issue on earth that has been caused by heaven, trying to solve it on earth is a waste of time. If it's an issue on earth caused by heaven, God troubled them, then you need heaven to come to earth to fix the issue on earth that heaven is responsible for, even if it's a problem because they were living in distress.
What most people do is spend all their time on earth trying to fix earth when the problem didn't originate in earth or on earth. For God troubled them with every kind of distress. Or as I like to say, everything visible and physical is preceded by something invisible and spiritual. So if you want to fix the visible and physical, you must address the invisible and spiritual that is the root of the visible and physical that you are needing to address. For God troubled them with every kind of distress.
He gives three reasons in verse three for this calamity. For many days, that is for an extended period of time, Israel was without the true God. Israel was not without religion. Israel was not without church attendance. Israel was not without choir singing. Israel was not without religious programming. It says Israel was without the true God.
The key word is the word true. They kept the name of God. They kept praying to God.
They kept religious activity. They were doing all of that without the true God. So evidently you can have church without God. Evidently you can have choirs without God, preachers without God, programs without God. Because they carried on their religious activity but without the true God.
Everybody attended church but God. The biblical word for a false God is idol. That's the biblical word for a false God. An idol is any noun, person, place, thing, or thought that you look to as your source. An idol is any person, place, thing, or thought that becomes your source.
You look to it first for your solutions. Then that thing you look to first as your source is now your God. And God can't be second. He can't. He don't know how to be second.
He don't know how to be number two. So anything that becomes your source is your God. They didn't have the true God but they had religion. Now in third-world countries we would condemn their idolatry. They may worship trees or rocks or nature, the Sun.
We would condemn that. But in the West we have designer idols. We don't worship trees and rocks.
We have American idols. Let me look at some of the idols that we have that have replaced the true God. We got the idol of all, let's see, race. Where my color trumps God. Where people get offended when you correct their blackness with the Bible. When folk get offended when you correct their whiteness with the Bible.
Because their race is more important than God's rules. Where they wind up worshiping black being beautiful or white being right rather than both having to be biblical. Whenever your race is your source of your ultimate identity, your race is an idol and you are a false worshiper. Politics is a designer idol. Where you think God rides the backs of a donkey or an elephant. Politics is a designer idol when you're more Democrat than God. When you're more Republican than God. In Ezekiel 43 God says how dare you bring the throne of your king and set it next to my throne.
Like we are equals. When God speaks, elephants got to sit down and duckies got to back up. It's okay to be a Democrat. It's okay to be a Republican as long as the Bible can overrule either or both.
God has spoken on this issue and the party must adjust, not the kingdom of God. Why were they worshiping a false God? Well verse 3 tells us, because the second thing that tells us is there was not a teaching priest.
There was no teaching priest. It didn't say there were no preachers. He just said they weren't talking about nothing.
They were talking smack. Says because the priests weren't teaching they didn't know who the true God was. The purpose of the declaration of God's word is to tell you what God says not endorse what you think. You don't know enough to think when God is spoken.
You adjusted what he says not what you think. We have people who are tampering with the Word of God and ultimately it's because there are not enough people in the pulpit who are declaring thus say on the Lord. They're giving you human opinions. My opinion, nobody's opinion when it conflicts with God is to be considered as truth. The Bible says let God be true and every man a liar. But because the pulpits got raggedy when it came to proclaiming the Word of God the people were raggedy when it came to their view of God. God has been dumbed down in the culture because he's dumbed down in the church. A lot of these problems that we have in our culture is because the church, Christians, have not risen to the occasion to be what God has called us to be and it's just showing up in the public square.
So what is our responsibility as leaders or even friends? Dr. Evans will tell us when he comes back in a moment to continue this first lesson in a series called Igniting Kingdom Prayer. This two volume 12 message collection will teach you how to pray with the power that can move mountains, solve problems, heal relationships, and even change God's mind. Contact us today and get your own copy of this complete audio series on CD or instantly downloadable mp3s along with our thanks when you make a contribution to help keep Tony's teaching coming your way on this station. Get a copy today when you visit tonyevans.org or reach out to our Resource Center for some in-person help at 1-800-800-3222.
That's 1-800-800-3222. Dr. Evans will be back right after this. It's one of God's great masterpieces Alaska and this coming August 6 to 13 you can experience this unspoiled paradise with Tony Evans and the Urban Alternative on a cruise that will pamper you with luxurious accommodations, incredible meals, and a large variety of leisure experiences. Bask in the wonder of God's magnificent creativity on full display and delight in God's Word as you learn from Dr. Evans and other gifted teachers.
Those dates are August 6 to 13 so book your trip today because rooms are filling up quick. Reserve your spot at tonyevans.org. If your life is falling apart, you're in personal distress, then my responsibility, a leader's responsibility, even another believer's responsibility, is to take the Word, show you what God says about whatever you're dealing with, then give you practical steps to apply what God said, then ask the Holy Spirit to take your practical steps of obedience based on what God said to bring change in your life. If you came to me with your family and your family's falling apart, I'm supposed to take the Word, another leader will believe it's supposed to take the Word, show you what God says about what you're dealing with in your family, give you practical steps to implement what God said about what you're dealing with, then ask the Holy Spirit to take your obedience to what God says and bring about change in your home. If a group of church leaders come to me, say my church is falling apart, I'm supposed to take the Bible, show what God says about whatever the cause of the church falling apart, give practical steps for applying the Word of God to whatever the situation is, then ask the Holy Spirit to take the obedience based on his Word and bring about unity, harmony, and benefit to the church.
What happens if your nation is falling apart? You don't change books. You take the same book, since the Bible says God created government, and you show them the cause based on the Word of God of what the nation is. By the way, all these issues, immigration, and all these issues we deal with, the Bible has answers to all of them. All of those issues we're dealing with, the Bible, and the thing is, the Bible has simple answers to them, answers you could do quickly, answers that don't cost an arm and a leg. The Bible's got all these answers, but because folks change books, they have to have all these long meetings to try to come up with solutions.
But no, you don't change books. You show them what God says about what's wrong in the nation. You give them practical steps to implement what God says in the nation. You ask the Holy Spirit to take their obedience and to bring about change in the nation, because God knows how to do that in a whole nation when folks pay attention to what he says and begin to implement that. But what we got is a generation of folk who change books. They use this book for some things, they use human understanding for other things, they use popular opinion for other things, and they wind up living in distress. The Bible has become, for many people like the Queen of England, she's got position but no power. So we'll carry it, we'll hold it up, we'll put it on our phones, but it doesn't have authority.
And trust me, God's not gonna skip the church house to fix the White House if he can't even get his people to pay attention. And then sometimes, it's not that we deny the word, it's just that we mix it. The Bible says, you do nullify my word with your tradition. When you start adding stuff that I didn't add, or taking away stuff, in fact the book of Revelation closes with a curse. Cursed is anyone who adds to this word or who takes away from it. When we try to mix human opinion with divine revelation, you just invited a curse.
So I'm trying to help you understand how the word works. The third thing it says is there was no law. There was no law. You see, when there's no true God, no teaching priests, there are no rules. People make up their own rules.
You see, they either have no rules or they have their own made-up rules. You know, people come up with their own, you know, they walk around saying, I know my truth. You know your truth. No, it's either truth or it's not truth. One and one equals two. One and one equals two when you feel it, and when you don't feel it. One and one equals two. One and one equals two when you like it, and one and one equals two when you don't like it. I don't care how long you've been raised to believe one and one equals three, because there's a mathematical axiomatic reality that one and one will always be two, because that's just the way it is.
So when it comes to studying math, you have to adjust your mathematical formula to the stated axiom of what one and one equals. Okay, Shelton, where are you? Are you over there, Shelton? I want you to go to the keyboard. Now I want you to play, I want you to push C. Everybody hear what C sounds like? That's C right there, right?
Okay, do it again. I want to hear C. Okay, now here's what I want you to press. Press a Christian C. Wait a minute.
Okay, let's start again. Press C. Okay, now press a Christian C, but it's the same thing. That's because truth doesn't adjust. If you're a natural C, it's still truth.
It's C. If you're a Christian, it's still C, because if it comes from God, it's truth, no matter whether you're a Christian or not, because God has absolute standards by which reality is measured. We want to adjust truth. We want to make truth relevant. It's okay to be relevant as long as you're not changing truth. And truth is whatever God says on any subject about what he speaks.
That's truth. So if God says it, that is the word about it. Science just has to catch up, which they keep doing because they keep telling you, you can't eat this, but now you can't eat that.
Don't drink coffee now, you can't even call your own. Says there was no law, there was no standard, and in postmodernity, postmodernism, that is the essence of postmodernism. Postmodernism, which is the core of today, simply says there are no absolute truths.
You just make it up as you go along. So marriage is what you say it is. How you were born is not who you are. So you got a whole new classification, which means you got a whole generation of children who are gonna be raised confused.
Because even if you thought you knew who you were, you get around the wrong folk long enough and they'll confuse you about who you are. So you see, this thing is a big deal, and the tragedy is that we have teaching priests who are acquiescing to it. We have members in churches who go around and say, well I don't think it's all that bad. No, no, we're not talking about what you think, we're talking about what God says.
Talking about what God says. Now having said that, I don't want to sound like we're without compassion. We ought to be compassionate. We ought to grow people and work with people. But it's compassion without compromise. It's not just compassion with compromise, it's compassion without compromise, because people need to be taught and led and guided and helped. But you don't dumb down God's standard, and you certainly don't dumb down God's standard for money, for popularity, for notoriety.
No rules, wrong rules, your own rules, no standard. Was there a solution? Now that you understand how the world works, the spiritual governs it. If God has caused it, you don't know anybody who can fix it, unless it's God using that person. Verse 4 gives us a solution, because verse 4 says, but in their distress, they turn to the Lord God of Israel.
They sought Him, and He let them find Him. Key word, distress. In their distress, they turn to the Lord God of Israel. That's the same word of verse 6.
God caused their distress. Verse 4 says, but in their distress, they turn to the Lord God, which means God will let it get bad enough long enough till you wake up. He'll let us get addicted. He'll let us get into all the consequences of our sins. He won't let you go down and down and down and down till the only way you can look is up.
He won't let anybody fix it, any money be able to get you out of it. He will let the distress go down. But in their distress, when things got deep enough, bad enough, long enough, it says they called on, here it is, the Lord God.
Oh, watch this now. Elohim is power. That's in the beginning, Elohim created the heavens and the earth. That's power. Yahweh or Jehovah is relationship. See, everybody wants Elohim. So we're gonna be praying all year for Elohim. Show us your power.
Show us your power. But not everybody wants Jehovah. See, everybody wants God's power, but not everybody wants God's relationship. And you can't get the power if you don't want the relationship. You don't want intimacy, but you want deliverance. You don't want closeness, but you want blessing financially. You don't want closeness, but you want God to get you out of this situation. When they wanted a relationship, draw near, then they got access to power.
So don't just think you can go to God and say, show me your power while you do not pursue a relationship. When they return to the Lord God, He let them find Him. When our kids were small, from time to time, we would play hide and seek. When they were really small, they couldn't find me. They couldn't find me because I could hide, you know, in a way that they couldn't locate me. And then after a while, they would get like really frustrated because they're looking, they're looking, they can't find me. When they got like really frustrated and wanted to quit, wanted to give up, and I'd hear them, come on daddy, come on, where are you? I'd make a little noise or I'd ruffle something. I'd give them a clue to where I was.
In other words, when they got down enough, I'd make myself locatable. Sometimes God has to let you get down long enough before He makes himself locatable. So you say, I'm struggling and I can't find Him. Oh, God wants you to look a little harder, but I'm struggling.
I can't find Him. That's because He wants you to go a little deeper, because He wants to know that you want Him and not just want His stuff. See, a lot of folk go to church to give God stuff, but who don't want the God who gives it. Dr. Evans will come back in a moment with a humorous personal story that illustrates how God uses stress to draw us closer to Him. First though, don't forget you can get all 12 lessons from Tony's two-volume audio series, Igniting Kingdom Prayer. They're yours as our thank-you gift when you make a donation to help keep this listener-supported teaching coming your way each day. Make the arrangements today by calling 1-800-800-3222 or visit TonyEvans.org where you can sign up for Tony's free weekly email devotional and browse through our huge collection of helpful books and other biblical resources.
That's TonyEvans.org or by phone at 1-800-800-3222. Throughout history, there are certain things that haven't changed. One of those is that people still need the Lord, today as much as ever. Dr. Evans believes when we share kindness with one another, we're doing both a good thing and a godly thing that helps point those around us to God's kingdom.
We encourage you to look for opportunities to be His ambassador through your deliberate acts of kindness each day. Well, coming up next time, if God already knows everything, why would He ever have reason to change His mind? We'll find out as Dr. Evans takes a look at when and why the Lord chooses to be flexible. Right now though, he's back to wrap up today's message with a humorous story from his younger days.
So, God created his stress. I told you about, you know, Sister Evans, when I met her and she was not responding at the rate to which I was accustomed. Her girlfriend was moving a little slow, so I had to help her sister out. So in Baltimore, there's this amusement park called Win Oaks Amusement Park. It had a roller coaster that did this, but the roller coaster would like go out to the end like it was gonna jump off and turn real quick. I said, give me two tickets. We got on the roller coaster for two. The wilder the ride got, the closer she got. By the time the ride was over, you thought only one person got on it. Why did I buy two tickets? I bought two tickets to create the stress, because I knew the worst things got the closer she'd get. Sometimes God has to put us on a roller coaster ride so that we move over, and we slide over, and we get a little closer, and we get a little closer. So if you're in distress, don't let that drive you away, draw you near, closer, so that you're like Jacob and say, I'm not gonna let you go until you answer me. When you do that, when you get close and want to live for Him, want to please Him, want to honor Him, want to exalt Him, want to draw near to Him, then heaven opens up and He lets you find Him. 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 / 2023-05-20 11:16:49 / 2023-05-20 11:26:39 / 10