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Water in God's House

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD
The Truth Network Radio
October 11, 2020 8:00 am

Water in God's House

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD

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October 11, 2020 8:00 am

Water in God's House


God's first concern is not what's happening in the White House. God's first concern is what's happening or not happening in the Church House. Dr. Tony Evans says God's kingdom agenda is more important than any political agenda.

Because judgment starts in the household of God, and then it moves out into the culture. 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. Without water, no living being could survive. But no matter how much it rains, a spiritual drought can be even more deadly. Today, Dr. Evans will talk about what it will take for the people of God to restore the flow of living water to a thirsty world.

Let's join him. Our eyes are riveted during this season, because this season that we are experiencing today, and which we experience every four years, is a season where we will determine who will occupy the White House. People will cast their vote during a national election because they want to influence who lives in that house. They want to influence who the first family is in the White House.

There's not going to be full agreement. In our own church, there are plenty of Democrats who want the Democratic Party to be represented in that house. And yet, in our church, we have a host of Republicans who are desirous that someone from their party occupies those premises. And then there are the Independents, those who are wading through it all because they're not quite sure yet. But whether you are Democrat or Republican or Independent, the issue is the same.

Who's going to be in the house? Now, the reason why the concern about the occupants of the house is so critical is that we know that house is more than a location to eat and sleep. We understand that that house at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., is not merely the residence of a family. It is a representative location for the nation. In other words, the White House isn't just an abode, although people do live there.

It is a representative presence of leadership that not only affects that house, that street, and that city, but actually affects the whole nation and even, because of the standing of America in the world, it affects the whole world. We understand that there may be only one person in that house, but that house has a whole bunch of say-so about your house, too. It has a whole bunch of say-so about the millions of homes, the millions of families, the millions of businesses, the billions of dollars. It has a big say-so, even though it's only one house. In other words, that house has got a little something-something on it.

It's got a little juice based on who occupies it. God has a house. In the Old Testament, that house was called the temple.

The temple was the representative abode of the presence of God among His people. Now, no one building can house God. Let me tell you how big God is. God is greater than the sum total of His creation. But God is bigger than the sum total of everything He made, and He made the universe.

So just think of God as greater than the universe, which is why it will take all eternity to discover Him, because He's just that big. But when He wanted to show His presence in history among His people, He had them build Him a house. That's why throughout this passage and throughout Scripture, the temple is called God's house. Not because He limits Himself there, but that is His specifically designated location for His experiential presence among His people. It's where His concentrated presence would be made manifest to His people. So He had them build Him a house. It started with the tabernacle, a roving tent through the wilderness, and then when they got their own homeland, David's son Solomon built God a house.

There was a problem. God left the house. The Bible says that the glory of the Lord departed from Israel. So they had the building without the resident. They had the property without the person.

Now watch this. When God left the house, even though they still had the building standing, the country of Israel fell apart. When God left His house, the temple, the nation was in trouble. So in the Old Testament, in the book of Ezekiel, it's about why God left the house and God coming back to the house. In chapter 43, the first five verses, He talks about the return of the glory of the Lord to the temple. That is, the return of God's presence in the midst of His people, because He's coming back to the house.

God is coming back home. Well, in the New Testament, God has a house. In fact, the book of Ephesians, chapter 2, verse 22, says that the church of Jesus Christ is the temple of God. What the temple was in the Old Testament to God, the church is in the New Testament to Jesus Christ. God still has a house.

In fact, He got a whole bunch of houses. Wherever there is a church that is fulfilling the divine mandate, it's God's house. God has a place He wants to hang out. Yes, He wants to hang out with you, but He also wants to hang out with y'all, with us. He wants to have a collective presence whereby the person of Jesus Christ, the head of the church, I will build my church, the gates of hell will not prevail against it, Matthew 16, 19 says, God has a collective place, watch this, where His personal presence is to be experienced.

Here's the point. The purpose of the house is not simply where you come. It is the place where God lives.

And as the place where God lives, when you come, He wants you to experience His reality, not just come to His building. For far too many Christians, a two-hour church service is like going to a two-hour movie. When you go to a movie, you get your soda, you get your popcorn, you get your candy, you take your seat, you sit down, the lights are dim, the sound comes up, and for two hours you watch the screen to be entertained. You want the screen to put on a show, and you leave after two hours of the show critiquing it.

It was bad, it was aight, or it was great. You leave having been refreshed, having had two hours of enjoyment, until next week a new movie comes out, and you show up again. In other words, when you go to the movie, it's for a spectator experience. You want to watch what they are doing up there on the screen to make you feel good about being in the theater seat.

Far too many people come to God's house to be entertained. They want to know what's happening on the screen of the pulpit. What are the lead actors doing?

How do the support cast sound? And for two hours they want the experience of having enjoyed themselves. The problem is, when you go to the movie, no matter how good the actor is, you have not gotten to know them.

All you see is the performance that they can put on. The purpose of God's house is for you to experience Him, not simply show up to see what He can do to make you feel better. When God returned His glory to the temple, His glory to the temple meant He wanted His people to experience His reality. The church in the New Testament is the temple.

Here's the key. How things were going to work out in the society, stay with me, would be determined by how things were going on in the temple. How things would be working out out there would be determined by what was happening in here. So if God wasn't free to do anything in here, it would never show up out there. If God had to leave the temple, the problem would show up in the streets. If God had to leave the temple, the problems would show up in the culture.

Let me put it another way. God's first concern this political season is not what's happening in the White House. God's first concern this political season is what's happening or not happening in the church house. If God can't get the church house right, it doesn't matter who you put in the White House because judgment starts in the household of God and then it moves out into the culture. So God's problem is not that house. God's problem is this house.

And if He could ever get His glory in this house, maybe He could let it show up in that house. God's presence wanted to be His manifest reality in the midst of His people. Dr. Evans will tell us how our lives can overflow God's presence to the culture around us when He returns in just a moment. But first, many of us are concerned about what we've been seeing in the news these days, the cultural unrest and divisiveness that seem more prevalent than at any time in recent memory. If you're distressed about what's going on and looking for a place to begin the process of healing and reconciliation, Tony's written a great devotional book that can help you do just that.

It's called Stronger Together, Weaker Apart. This powerful collection of prayers is the perfect way for believers to pull together in unity and love for one another, and as we've been learning today, to prime the flow of God's love in us, through us and out to the culture that needs the true reconciliation that only God can provide. For a limited time, we're bundling this book together with all 14 messages in Tony's current teaching series, Turning a Nation to God, and offering them to you as our thank-you gift when you make a donation to sustain this important daily ministry. Just visit today to get all the details on this limited-time offer. That's

Or call us at 1-800-800-3222, and one of our resource team members will be happy to help you with your request. I'll have all that information for you a little later on after Part 2 of today's message and this. What good is a beautiful church with a wonderful choir, with great preaching, with awesome programs, with remodeled facilities, if God didn't show up and come to the sanctuary? The purpose of the temple was for God's presence to be made manifest so that it would not only change the temple and change God's people, but overflow into the culture. And that is the scenario we find in Ezekiel, Chapter 47. Ezekiel is being led by an angel through the temple, and he's being led there with a discussion about water, because in Scripture, water is tied to life and tied to the work of the Holy Spirit. In John, Chapter 7, speaking about the individual person, it says that there is a well of water in every believer that wants to bubble up and bubble out as your life is being expressed and expanded within you, and John 7 says, and of this he spoke of the Holy Spirit. Even here, in Chapter 43, it says that the Spirit came when the glory of God came, bringing life to the temple. So the water refers to the work of the Spirit bringing life, just while you drink water, it brings life to you. So he's talking about life, just as water gives life, and he will say that in this passage.

Here's what I want you to notice. I want you to notice how the water flowed. He says that when he got started, verse 2, the water was trickling from the south side. So we started at the end of verse 2 with a little trickle, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip. He's getting a little, he's just getting a little bit of water.

He's getting his picky toe wet. He's getting enough to know that there is water. So the first thing you want to ask the question when you visit the house, is there any water at all? Is there any presence of God in this place?

Can I just risk this house? Is there enough of God that I'll even get a little wet? Or is all this just fluff? See, because you can come to church and you can feel good with fluff. Have you ever had cotton candy? Cotton candy is fluff, but it's sweet fluff. It's sugary fluff. It's melt-in-your-mouth fluff. But as soon as you put it in, it's gone, because there's no substance there.

And it's easy to settle for cotton candy church and cotton candy religion. You may have ate a lot of nothing that just had a little sugar on it. He said there was just a little bit, he saw a trickle coming out. But a trickle coming out means that there's something in there. So he starts out with knowing he has something to work with. But watch this now. It says that he led me. See, the man's moving. He led me, verse 3, through the water. This is a trickle of water. And the water was now reaching his ankles.

So he starts out with a little trickle. His toes can touch a little water. Remember, the water is the experience of God's life, the water's life.

So he's touched some life. He knows God is in the place. But because he now goes deeper and further, it's now gone up to his ankles. In other words, he's getting a higher experience of water, and water is life. So he is experiencing more of the life of God the further he goes in to the sanctuary. But it doesn't end there, because he goes on to say in verse 4, the end of the verse, he led me through the water, and the water was reaching his loins.

That is his waste. The further he goes, the deeper he gets. One of the reasons we're not experiencing more of God is we're not going further with him. If there is not a growing relationship with the Holy Spirit, since the job of the Holy Spirit is to bring the life of God and make God's reality experiential in your life, if you're not walking with the Spirit like he was walking with the angel, then you're going to stay on a trickle, if that much. People say, why am I not experiencing more of God? The Holy Spirit says, why are you not moving more with me?

It says he led him, and he cooperated with the movement. You can't stay still and experience more of God. He says it reached his waste, his loins. He's not finished yet. Verse 5, again he measured a thousand. And it was a river that I could not ford, for the water had risen enough water to swim in, a river that could not be forded.

Watch this now. My man going swimming, he couldn't walk it anymore. He started walking, he was good. It reached his ankles, he was good. It reached his waist, he was good.

But now there was so much God and so much life, he had to go headstroke, because now it was over his head. See, if you've never experienced God over your head, if you've never experienced what Ephesians 3 says, him doing exceedingly abundantly above all that you can ask or think, if he has not yet blown your mind, if he has not yet shaken your world, if he has not yet overwhelmed you because you can't walk anymore, the only way you're going to get somewhere is you've got to swim there, because his glory has overtaken you that you and I, and we collectively, have not seen what God can do. And I don't know about you, but I want to see some more. I want to see some more water. I don't want just my foot wet. I don't want just my ankle wet. I don't just want to see enough God to reach my loins.

I want God to overwhelm me so he make me have to swim, that the only way I can go is I've got to stroke there, because the glory of his presence has overwhelmed me. Let me put it this way. You come to this house to get a greater experience of God, not to go to the movies. You don't want to know what the show is from the folk on the screen. You want to know what the glory is from the occupant of the house, because worship is about God as the audience. You're not the audience. You can go somewhere and please the crowd. And if you can put on a good enough show, even in church, if you can put on a good enough church show, you can please the crowd, and you can get a bigger crowd if you can put on a bigger show. The problem is, when the church becomes showtime at the Apollo, then it really has become amateur night.

When the church becomes showtime at the Apollo, that's a low-time church. I don't care how many folk are sitting in the crowd, because in God's house, God is the audience. When you come to God's house, you don't come first and foremost for God to make you happy. You come first and foremost to make him happy, and then he gives you some water to swim in. The greatness of our church moving forward is not buildings and furniture and programs and personalities.

Nothing wrong with them. They have their place, but the greatness lies in whether we are recognizing the presence, experiencing the presence, acknowledging the presence of Almighty God. It's about God. We started in the sanctuary. We started in the house where God hangs out.

The church in the New Testament is the house. It says that the water flowed to the sea, the dead sea. And when it got to the sea, the water became fresh. He goes on to say, and fish started to swarm in a place where there was no life. The water didn't get better because there was a Clean Up the Water program.

I'm going somewhere. The water didn't get better because a committee gathered together and said, how are we going to make something live in this mess? The water got better because there was something happening in the sanctuary that got so big it flowed out of the sanctuary and rolled to where death was located.

So I have a question. How can we have all these churches on all these corners with all these members led by all these preachers with all these choirs, all these buildings, all these programs, all this money, and still have all this mess? There's no water coming out of the sanctuary.

He said the dead sea lived because of the water flowing out of the sanctuary. Our problem is not that house. Our problem is this house.

How in the world can we get water flowing down the street if it can't flow down the aisle? If God's presence can't even show up in his own house, how are we going to get it showing up in the communities and neighborhoods and in the nation and in the world if God's light can't flow down in his own home? How is his glory going to fix other homes that don't even know him, don't even recognize him, don't even follow him? That's because we've been anesthetized by religion. All of us, we've been anesthetized by religion and we've been made to go to sleep because we feel good on Sunday morning. That's not what God is after.

He's not after a weekly movie thrill. What he wants you to do is see his glory, manifest his presence, be led by his Spirit so he can grow your experience of water in this house. Tony will be back with us in just a moment to wrap up his message with a final challenge for the church. But first, if you'd like to get the full-length version of today's lesson, it's called Water in God's House, part of Tony's current teaching series, Turning a Nation to God. Get all 14 messages in this powerful collection on CD or digital download to review on your own or to share with your church or small group. And as I mentioned earlier, we'll include a copy of Tony's important book, Stronger Together, Weaker Apart, as our gift when you make a contribution to help us keep this program coming your way.

This is a limited-time offer, so don't wait. Get details and make your request today at or call us at 1-800-800-3222, where we have team members standing by day and night to help with your resource requests. Again, that's 1-800-800-3222 or online at If your spiritual life feels as empty and lifeless as an old skeleton in the desert, Dr. Evans has some good news for you. And next week, Tony will explain how God can restore you to the point where you just feel like dancing.

Right now, though, he's back with a final word for today. A number of years ago there was a tragic hurricane and her name was Katrina. Katrina was horrific and brought death, disease, and destruction to New Orleans, Louisiana. It was a terrible hurricane. But what made the hurricane worse was that the levees didn't hold. The levees collapsed, which flooded the city. The city was flooded not merely because there was a hurricane, but because the thing that was set up to hold the hurricane back wasn't functioning properly. Allowing the evil of the hurricane to do damage it would not have otherwise been able to do if the levees would have held up. So what they did is rebuilt the levees. Fast forward. Isaac shows up.

Isaac, brother man, wants to make his presence known. He makes his way to New Orleans. But on this occasion, the levees held because the levees had been built up. Now, don't get me wrong, the levees don't stop the storm, but they limit what the storm can do if they're strong enough to hold who they are. You know why our culture is falling apart? Because God's got some levees that don't hold up. So when the culture starts blowing, it not only blows itself down, it blows us down when we're supposed to be the one holding it back. But if God could ever build up His church and make us the people He has created us and recreated us in Christ to be, it won't mean there is no evil in the culture.

It means it won't be able to do everything it plans to do because it's coming up against the kingdom of God and the church of Jesus Christ. It's coming up with God-built levees. So there's only one question on the floor. Do you want more? Are you satisfied with drip, drip, drip? Are you satisfied with a little ankle worth of God? Or do you just want a little waist worth? Or maybe there's some folk here who want to go swimming. 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 / 2024-02-05 18:46:12 / 2024-02-05 18:56:06 / 10

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