Sometimes he lets stuff get through, stuff you don't like, stuff you don't want, but anything that happens to you must come through his hand first. Dr. Tony Evans says God never leaves our destiny up to random chance, and neither should we. So leave luck alone. Get you some providence so you can have confidence in the circumstances of life. 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. Dr. Evans says a lot of what we consider random events in life aren't random at all, but part of a design. Let's join him as he explores the biblical concept of providence. One of the main concepts that we should do everything we can to avoid is the concept of luck or its siblings, chance, faith, and happenstance.
We regularly use the word, and I know sometimes we use it innocently because we've heard it used so much, but unfortunately it has worked its way not only into our vocabulary but into our mentality. And so we begin to view things from a vantage point of luck. We talk about being lucky.
We talk about a lucky dog. We ask people to wish me luck. We talk about plain luck. We talk about lady luck. We talk about tough luck, good luck, bad luck, blind luck, rotten luck, lucky stars, lucky charms. We spend a lot of time on luck.
When we don't know the food that people are bringing to the event, we wind up with pot luck. Luck just shows up all over. Again, I know that often it's simply a way we're expressing ourselves, but luck, the concept, is seeing events as random things that happen that affects one's life, one's fortune, one's future, or one's lot in life. It is this inanimate force that just sort of shows up, unexpected, unanticipated, undesigned for either our benefit or our harm, good luck, bad luck.
And we embrace this as a way of operating. We often have symbols to reflect our dependency on luck, like the rabid foot hanging from the rearview mirror from the rabid who couldn't keep his own foot. This desire to have this force we can't grab, hold on to, embrace, but to count on it to make things better for us, to want the luck of the draw. When luck is embraced, or its siblings, chance, fate, or happenstance, when it is embraced as something you look to, call upon, hope for, you have now created an idol called luck. Because it is the thing you're looking for to make things work out for you, to help things to work out for you, to wish things would work out for you. And whenever you look to something or someone to work it out, that thing becomes the God to which you are appealing to make it work. Many people are hoping to luck their way into their destiny, that enough positive forces will happen around them that will produce this amorphous concept that will bring about what life was meant to bring your way. Well today, I want to change your vocabulary.
I want to walk you away from a thing called luck. I'm going to give you a new word for some, perhaps it's a new word. The word I want to talk to you about from the life of Joseph is a word pronounced, Providence. Providence is the way God arranges things to achieve his sovereign purposes. Sovereignty is his rulership. Providence is how he hooks things up, integrates things, connects things, detaches things, arranges things in order to wind up at the sovereign goal to which he is moving. So, Providence is the arrangement that facilitates sovereignty.
The Bible is clear that our God is sovereign and that he does all things, Ephesians 1 verse 11, after the counsel of his own will. We have watched Joseph's life, and it is filled with ups and downs. He's in a coat one day, he's in a pit the next day. He's got a good job one day, he's accused of rape the next day.
He's in prison, he's forgotten, he's remembered. I mean, this guy is going through stuff. It looks like one day he's got good luck, the next day he's got bad luck. But look at how Joseph looked at his life in verse 19 and 20. But Joseph said to them, do not be afraid, for I am in God's place. As for you, you meant to evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result to preserve many people alive.
You know what he just said? God did this on purpose. What looked like an unlucky day and a lucky day was God fulfilling his purpose to bring me to my destiny. God used your mess in my life to bring me to this location. It's because you messed over me, I'm fulfilling my destiny.
It's because you were trying to do me in, I'm in God's place. Those of you who have dogs probably have a leash for your dog. You have a leash for your dog. Your leash for your dog grants him a degree of freedom. Depending on how long the leash is, that's how free he is to move about. But there comes a point where he wants to go too far based on the length you have allowed for the leash.
He wants to go beyond what has been allowed. And so he pulls to go further this way when you don't want to go that way. When he stretches the leash out too far, he's going to get a neck ache. Because he's going to come against a resistance.
He's going to come against a resistance. And if he keeps insisting on going his own way, his neck is going to hurt worse because you're going to jerk it back this way and show him you're controlling where this direction is going. The folk who are messing with you are on a leash. Some of your bosses are on a leash. Some of your neighbors are on a leash.
Some of your family members are on a leash. They just ain't hit that length yet. Because the sovereign God, when they hit that length, whoo! So then why is God letting it happen? Because God uses evil to accomplish good. I know that that's uncomfortable because we want to smooth sailing and naturally so in our lives we don't want to look for problems, but God in his sovereign, sovereign providence, he says, you meant it for evil.
You are out to get me. But God used that thing to bring me to this location. We all have watches on. Virtually everybody here has a watch.
If I said, what time is it? You would look at the face of your watch and you would give the time because it's on the face. It's on the face. The face will show you what time it is. But the only reason you can see the face is because underneath, if you would open it up, all these little itsy bitsy particles that are connected and interrelated and turning with one another in the right order in order to let you see the face time. In other words, what you see exists because of what you can see. So you can't see all the little integral parts that make up what you can see. All you see is what you see, which means when you look at your watch, if all you see is what you see, you do not see all there is to be seen.
Because there's so much more than what's on the face. See, all you see is what's happening in front of you. All I see is what's happening in front of me. What I don't see and don't understand are all the gadgets behind the scene and all the strings that God is pulling for me to see what I see. And when you're dealing with the providence of God, watch this now, you never see all there is. You never see all that's taking place. You never see all the details that God is working out behind the scenes. In fact, what you do see often doesn't connect.
There are parts that don't seem to relate to one another. That's because God is always doing more than one thing at a time. He's dealing with 50 million things at the same time. That's what makes him such a unique being.
He can take billions of people at the same time and connect everything in order to accomplish our purpose and his destiny in our lives. And he's doing it all at the same time. But because we can't see it, sometimes it doesn't look like he's doing a thing. Sometimes it looks like he sleeps. Sometimes it looks like the phone is busy. Sometimes it looks like he's on vacation. That's because all you see is what you see. And if all you see is what you see, you do not see all there is to be seen.
He says, you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good in order to accomplish his purposes. This man has reached his destiny. He's in the place God was taking him all the time. It took him 22 years to get here. When we started, he was 17. This is 22 years later. So it took him 22 years to arrive at this spot. Because we don't arrive at our destiny overnight.
Very few people arrive there. It depends on what God's purposes are and whether we're cooperating or contradicting those purposes. Whether we're walking with him or walking against him, which can affect the delay or the development of our destiny. Our goal through this series is for everybody to end your life having reached your destiny, even if it meant evil had to be used to get you there.
Dr. Evans will come back with a look at God's goal for us when he continues our message in just a moment. But first, if the trajectory of your life seems to be heading you down paths you never thought you'd take, consider doing some deeper study into today's topic by requesting a copy of Tony's current teaching series, Joseph Detours to Destiny. This nine-part audio collection will help you see that when life takes a sudden left turn, God may be steering you down a bumpy road that ultimately leads toward the future he designed for you.
Trials, temptations, setbacks, things others do to us, and the things we do to ourselves. You'll see how God uses them all to help you develop your faith and discover your destiny. Right now, we'd like to send you a copy of the Detours to Destiny series on CD or digital download as our gift in return for your contribution toward keeping Tony's teaching on this station. We depend completely on your support to keep this ministry going, and we want you to know how grateful we are that you're standing with us. Visit us at TonyEvans.org to make your contribution and get your copy of the Detours to Destiny collection, or call us at 1-800-800-3222.
Team members are standing by 24-7 to help with your resource request. Again, that's TonyEvans.org, or by phone at 1-800-800-3222. Dr. Evans will return with more of today's message right after this. It's beyond a Sunday sermon, a chance to really dig into the Bible and the kingdom in a new way, anytime and anywhere, because it's all online. The Tony Evans Training Center, in-depth courses on all kinds of topics, cultural transformation, intro to expository preaching, Jude, John, Hebrews, Old Testament, New Testament, and so much more. These aren't sermons. They're teaching courses to help you engage, understand Scripture, and not just to hear about, but to explore the kingdom of God on your own. Find out more at TonyEvansTraining.org.
TonyEvansTraining.org. Here's the goal of God's providence. You know the Scripture well.
Romans 8, 28. All things work together for good to them who love God and who are called according to His purposes. All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purposes.
God's goal in our destiny is always His glory and our good. God is the master weaver, and things are rarely as they appear. You have to know that. There's a statement in this story.
I love this statement. Jacob, Joseph's father, he says this. He thinks Joseph is dead. Benjamin, his son, is being held hostage by Joseph, for those who read the story. They're getting ready to lose Simeon. They're hungry because there's a famine in the land. And Jacob did like many of us, when everything is going wrong, he threw up his hands and said, All these things are against me.
You ever felt like that? Nothing's right. Everything's wrong.
And what's broke gets broker. Just everything is just wrong. He says, All these things are against me. Little did he know. Joseph was fine. Prince in Egypt. Benjamin was fine. Joseph taking care of him.
Simeon was going to be fine. And they were all getting ready to go up to Egypt to eat, because you never see all that God is doing when you're looking at it. You only see that piece that he wants to show you right now. You say, Why won't you show me the whole thing? So that you learn to walk by faith and not by sight.
So that you and I learn to walk by faith and not by sight. Have you ever seen an orchestra? You come out and the orchestra's getting ready to play. And everybody's like warming up on their instrument. And it sounds like crazy. It sounds like nobody knows how to play because it's just different sounds all discombobulated all over the place. Everybody's sitting with their instrument.
You got a lot of sounds going on, but no harmonizing. There's just sound. Then all of a sudden, out walks the conductor. He stands, he puts out his little stick.
Everybody sits up in their chair. And then he starts, and all of a sudden, the sound comes together. Before the conductor showed up, it sounded random, disconnected, discombobulated, and non-harmonious. But once the conductor comes up and taps a couple of times and waves his hand, what looked like and sounded like chaos, now makes sense.
You say, my life is in chaos. Keep your eye out for the conductor. Because when the conductor shows up, what looked like random things that were disconnected, all of a sudden have a clear sound. Don't leave the concert too early just because it doesn't sound right. Wait for the conductor.
Because when he shows up, he brings harmony out of discord. We have an employee, and he was happy to be in my office, and we were just chatting for a few moments. And I said, how's your job? How's your job coming? Oh, he said, I got laid off last week. I said they had a cutback, and I was one of the ones to cut back, and I got laid off, you know, and got a brand new baby coming, and, you know, it's just not a good time. I really was hoping to get into this field over here based on my training and everything, and based on my desire. I was hoping to get into this field over here, but, you know, now I just need a job.
But I was hoping to get in this field over here, but now I'm laid off, and I got a family baby coming, and I got to take care of my baby. So I said, tell me more about the field, and he told me about the field. Well, little did he know that the person in the field that he was trying to get in who was already in our ministry resigned last week. He resigned last week. This guy was fired last week. These two guys don't know each other.
There is absolutely no connection between these two guys. He was fired last week. The guy resigned last week. It's the exact same job, and he just, by luck, by chance, by fate, happened to be in my office.
I happened by chance to ask him, how are things at work? He happened to want to come into the field that was the same field that I've been resigning, and I happened to give him a job. Now, you can call it luck, chance, or faith if you want to. I'd rather call it providence in the hands of a sovereign God. And when you understand providence, you are looking to see what he's doing. Sometimes, God closes his hand and he blocks things. When you and I get to heaven, you have no idea of the stuff God's gonna show you on video cam of what he blocked, that if it ever had gotten through to you, you would have really been messed up, but by his grace, he blocked it. But sometimes, he opens his hand and he lets stuff get through, stuff you don't like, stuff you don't want.
But anything that happens to you must come through his hand first, because he's a sovereign God who's providential. I know we got some bakers out here. I know we got some folk who know how to bake. You don't bake a cake. You don't bake a cake.
And so you put out the flour, you put out the butter, you put out the eggs, you put out the milk, you have all the ingredients out there, the ingredients to bake a cake. None of those items by themselves are enjoyable and edible. You don't eat a stick of butter. You don't dip your hand in the sugar and pour sugar in your mouth.
You don't dig in the flour and pour flour in your mouth. But why not? They're all part of the cake. You don't take the raw eggs and just pour the raw eggs in your mouth.
But why not? They're all part of the cake. The reason why you don't do it is because they have not been mixed yet.
See, independently, they're of little value to you. It's when they get mixed by somebody in a blender, when the egg gets mixed with the butter and the butter gets mixed with the flour and the flour with the milk and the nutmeg, when they all get mixed and blended together, all things are now working together inside the blender. But not only are they working together, after you have blended them, then you set them afire.
You place it in the other and light it up. When you take what has been blended and set it in the fire, all of a sudden, what was nothing meaningful by itself becomes something that will levitate you out the bedroom into the kitchen, because that which was independent has now been blended to produce something that is awesome to the taste. I know it looks like God's got your life right now with some butter over here and some flour over here, some nutmeg over here, some eggs over here, some milk over here, and it doesn't look like it connects at all, and you don't like the taste of any of it by itself. But wait a minute, it's not over. God hasn't turned the blender on yet, because when he turns that blender on, it's going to be good.
All things are working together for good to them who love God and are called according to his purposes. Dr. Tony Evans, with an encouraging lesson for us on the detours of providence. Don't forget, we'd like to send you the full-length version of today's message, including material we didn't have time to present here on the air, as a part of Tony's current nine-lesson audio collection called Joseph Detours to Destiny. It's our gift to you when you make a donation to help keep this broadcast coming to this station and others like it around the world. Just visit tonyevans.org, where you can find out how to get your copy right from the home page.
Or, if you'd prefer, give our resource request line a call at 1-800-800-3222, and let one of our friendly team members help with your request. Again, that's at 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. When we think of hostages, we picture people being held against their will or threatened in some way. Tomorrow, Dr. Evans will tell us about the kind of hostage who could walk away at any time, but refuses to go. Be sure to join us for that. 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.
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