When God is getting ready to take you to a new place, when God is getting ready to do a new thing, He will regularly shake stuff up first. Dr. Tony Evans talks about the labor pains that come along before our revival is delivered.
It is God setting stuff up by creating chaos that men in their own ability can't fix. 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. Childbirth is a painful process with a joyous result, and today Dr. Evans explains why revival can feel the same way when our restoration is right around the corner.
Let's join him. We talked about the first chapter of Haggai when the people of God had returned back to the land. But for 16 years, they had not begun building the temple. They had put it on delay. The reason why they put it on delay is God was no longer a priority in their lives. In Haggai chapter 1, they said it's not time, not time, not time to take care of the spiritual priorities that forced God to ask them in verse 4, you seem to have time for your priorities.
In other words, He said, you don't have a time problem. It's just that I really don't matter that much. It's a matter of priority. As a result of their mixed up priority, things were out of whack in their lives and in their world. God said to them, verse 10 of chapter 1, because of you the sky has withheld its dew, the earth has withheld its produce.
I called for a drought on the land, on the mountains, on the grain, and on the new wine, on the oil and the ground products, what the ground produces, on men, cattle, and the labor of your hands. I'm your problem because I am not your priority. At the same time that Haggai is prophesying, we went over that Zechariah is also prophesying to the same group of people. And we looked at Zechariah chapter 1 where he says, return to me and I will return to you. So Zechariah says, the issue of your loss of priority is that you have forsaken God. Haggai says, the fact that you have forsaken God is manifested by the low priority you've given to the temple because the temple was the place where God's manifest presence was to be located. So what the people were saying is, we don't care that we don't have God in our midst.
We don't care. And the fact we don't care is the temple is not a priority. Zechariah says, that's really because you've left God.
And that's why it's not a priority. We went on to say that the way you know that you're returning to God is where you place Him. You place Him first.
He's not if you have time or whether you have time or talents or treasures. It's the positioning of God. You know you've returned to God not because you feel a return in your spirit, not because you think you're returning to God. There is a prioritization that demonstrates you're returning to God. So you're seeking Ye first the kingdom of God. He has become the priority not if you happen to have something left. So God calls for Him to be prioritized as a way of demonstrating you are returning and you're not talking it. You're moving with it, walking with it. Zerubbabel, verse 12, gets the message.
He is the priest and he begins a process of saying, wait a minute, you know that's right. Haggai is right. We've not prioritized God and that's why stuff is whack in our situation. That's why stuff is not right. We're trying to make progress and we're putting it in a bag full of holes. It's not going anywhere.
All of our efforts aren't producing anything. And Zerubbabel begins the process of prioritizing or getting the nation to prioritize God. God is not ignoring Zerubbabel's leadership in getting the people to reprioritize and put things back into their proper order. And that leads God to chapter 2, where he says in chapter 2, the promise I made you when you came out of Egypt. God told them, when you come out of Egypt, I have a place for you. I've got a place of blessing for you. I have a promised land.
And while they had been removed from the promised land, God was still going to keep His promise by returning them back to the promised land. He says, I have a plan for you in spite of all the stuff that's gone bad. He says in verse 5 of chapter 2, my spirit is abiding in your midst. Don't be afraid. Even though stuff is not going right, things don't look good, things are on the downturn, I have not forgotten you.
You've forgotten me, but I have not forgotten you. And now that Zerubbabel has taken the leadership to pulling my people back to me, then this is what you can expect. He says in verse 6, for thus saith the Lord of hosts, once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land and the nations. A whole lot of shaking going on. What does he mean, I am going to shake?
Pay close attention to this truth. God says that I'm going to shake stuff up to turn things around. I am going to shake stuff up to turn things around. What do we mean by shaking? Shaking refers to God's intentional interruption into the natural order of our affairs.
It is when God creates stuff in the normal flow. You know, we're in the normal flow. Stuff is just going like it goes, you know?
Things are steady, if you will. And all of a sudden there is a volcanic interruption in our situation. A situation we didn't think about, we didn't anticipate, we weren't counting on, and our worlds are turned upside down, inside out. That's shaking.
There is a disruption in the normal flow of things. He says, once again, once again, he says, in a little while, I'm going to shake some stuff up. Now, why does he say once again? Because in chapter 1, he had already shaken some stuff up.
The rain's not flowing, the crops are not producing, we're in a bag full of holes. He says in chapter 1, stuff is shaken up, but the shakeup in chapter 1 is a shakeup because God wasn't first. Zerubbabel has begun a process of making God first. So now God says, well, we're going to do a second shaking, a chapter 2 shaking. A chapter 1 shaking is a shaking because I'm not first. But in a little while, we're going to shake, rattle, and roll again. It's a different kind of shaking. Because when I do that second kind of shaking, I'm going to be shaking stuff loose for you. In chapter 1, the shaking is to keep stuff from you. But I'm going to, in a little while, do a chapter 2 shaking because between chapter 1 and chapter 2, Zerubbabel has begun to bring the nation into prioritizing God again, demonstrated by putting him first in the temple. Not just thinking about their house, but thinking about his house, or that is prioritizing God in their midst. So he says, in a minute, I'm going to shake again, and I'm going to shake heaven, and I'm going to shake earth, and I'm going to bring something new about.
Now, let me give you some bad news so I can lead you to some good news. When you decide to put God first, when he's not extra, leftover, if I have time, when God is prioritized and made preeminent, Colossians 1.18, that Jesus Christ might have first place in everything. When God is now put in the prime place of life, and God is ready to do something new, he will create a disruption first. Remember when God led Israel out of Egypt? He put them in an uncomfortable situation. Pharaoh on one hand, the Red Sea on the other hand, they were in an uncomfortable situation. But he put them in an uncomfortable situation because he was getting ready to do a new thing. He was getting ready to do something they had never seen before, the opening of the Red Sea.
But he set it up with a shakeup, that is creating an interruption into the normal flow of things. They thought they were going to ease on out of Egypt, and they wind up being caught between a rock and a hard place. Not only that, when Abraham had the offer of Isaac, that was a shaky situation.
I've got to kill my son, the son whom I love, the only begotten son, that was a shaking up thing. But that was because God was getting ready to do something new. When God is getting ready to take you to a new place, when God is getting ready to do a new thing, he will regularly shake stuff up first. But if you're not putting him first, and you're not, we'll talk about this in a minute, attuned to him, all you see is the shakeup.
You don't see that the new thing is coming. There is no greater experience you can have with God than when everything around you is shaky, and you're unshakable. There's no experience like God creating a shaky situation, everything around you is in a shaky situation, and you are in an unshakable kingdom.
Your stuff ain't moving. You are secure, and everything is insecure. You are stable, and everything is unstable, because God has revealed something new to you about himself that shows you he is God in the midst of God looking like he's nowhere in the vicinity. You have grown into a new experience with God. See, God wants you to see he's God even when all hell breaks loose. He wants you to see he's God even when you don't know how it's going to work out. He's shaking stuff up so you can see something you have never seen before. See, once you come out of Haggai 1, where he shook you up for you to put him first, and now you're putting him first, when he shakes you up again, he's going to let you see something you've never seen before.
You've never seen before. He says that you might see an unshakable kingdom. He says, well, watch this now. He says, since we are part of this unshakable kingdom, this thing that doesn't move when everything else is rotating around us, he says, let us give thanks. Watch this now.
He said, let us give thanks. Wait a minute. I'm in a shaky situation. Stuff around me is crazy. And he says, don't complain, give thanks.
Wait a minute. But if I'm in a shaky situation, because it says God is shaking the earth and the heavens, he's shaking stuff up and down all over the place, what am I giving thanks for? I'm giving thanks for my position in the unshakable kingdom.
Now, why do I need to know that I shouldn't fuss and cuss, complain, when I'm in a shaky situation, since I'm in an unshakable position, I'm in an unshakable kingdom? Dr. Evans will have more for us in a moment on how to stand steady during tough times. And the shaking we're experiencing in our country and our world these days makes it all the more important to understand God's agenda for how his people should interact and come together, not only in times of unrest, but at all times.
That's the point of Tony's book, Stronger Together, Weaker Apart. It's a powerful collection of soul-searching prayers and devotions that will help you pull together in unity and love with other believers. For a few more days, we're bundling this book together with all 14 messages in Tony's current teaching series, Turning a Nation to God, offering them to you as our thank-you gift when you make a donation to sustain this important daily ministry. Just visit tonyevans.org today to get all the details on this limited-time offer. That's tonyevans.org, 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, after Part 2 of today's message and 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. You remember when Jesus ran low on food? He had two fish and five barley loaves. He ran a little low on food. He had to feed 5,000 men, not counting women and children.
20 to 25,000 people. I call two fish and five barley loaves being a little low on food. You're a little scarce on what you need to solve the situation. He asked the disciples, how are we going to feed all these people? Their response is, this is a shaky situation. Because we don't have enough money, one of them said. Another one said, we got some fish and a few pieces of bread, but that won't do anything among all these people.
Let's just sell them home. Another one, the situation is unresolvable. The situation can't be fixed. This situation is not one that we can turn around.
We just have to quit, give up, throw in the towel, because there is nothing that can work in this situation. Jesus said, give me the fish, the not enough, and the bread, the not nearly enough. But here's the key. Jesus put the fish in front of him, put the bread in front of him, and the Bible says, look up to heaven and gave thanks. Wait a minute now, how you going to give thanks for two fish, five pieces of bread, in a shaky situation, when it's not nearly enough to fix the problem we're in? Because Jesus was a part of another kingdom. He was a part of an unshakable kingdom. So he didn't look around to determine how he was going to be. He looked at the kingdom that he was a part of, and rather than complaining about everything else around him, he gave thanks for the little itsy bitsy stuff that he had. He winds up opening his eyes to the biggest fish fry in history, says he's not able to feed 5,000 people, not counting women and children, and have 12 basketfuls left over, because he wasn't looking at that kingdom. He was looking at the kingdom that does not shake. You need to know which kingdom you are a part of, but you can only experience it if you're putting God first. He says, give thanks. Because God wants to show you something, and that's why Jesus could say in Mark 6, the disciples didn't learn the lesson of the fish in the loaves.
They didn't learn that lesson, because they ran into another problem and forgot that they are part of another kingdom. So what God does is disrupt the order of things to remind you of the group you're really a part of. You're not part of the group that's shaking. You're part of the group that's unshakable. That's the group you're part of, but you will only discover that when he shakes things up and you put him first. If you've not put him first, he'll shake things up, and all you'll do is be miserable. But once you put him first and he shakes things up, then he'll let you see you are part of an unshakable kingdom.
I bet there's some testimonies in here of some people where everything else was collapsing around you and God kept you steady in a shaking situation. When you ladies go home and cook, if y'all still do that, when you ladies go home and cook, you're going to put stuff in the oven if you're baking something or, you know, roast or whatever. You're going to put it in the oven and you're going to put heat on it.
You're going to put heat on it because it needs to be done. You won't take it out too early because then it's not done. You won't leave it in too long because then it'll be burnt. So you're going to time that thing.
How long you're going to leave the food under the heat? Tell us, ready. You can't bring it out too early.
It ain't ready yet. If you can't leave it in too long, you're going to hurt it. God has a timer on your situation and he knows when you're ready. He knows when you need to be in there longer because you ain't ready yet. You haven't learned the lesson yet, but he knows not to overcook you so that you can't function.
He knows when you're done when you're ready. Your clothes were wrinkled and you didn't want to wear wrinkled clothes to church. So you went and you pulled up the ironing board and you plugged in the iron until the iron got hot. When the iron got hot, then you ran the iron over the wrinkled situation. There were creases because of how it was hanging up on the hanger. There were creases perhaps because of how long it had been on the hanger. It was squiggly lines and you wanted to straighten it out. You had to straighten something out because you were going to wear it and you wanted to look good when you came to church wearing it.
You didn't want to stand up with a wrinkled dress or wrinkled blouse or wrinkled pants or wrinkled jacket. You wanted it to be smooth. So in order to get it smooth, you got your iron hot and you put the hot iron on the crinkly situation. You put the hot iron on the messed up creases in the clothes that you had on. You could see the steam coming up as you abused the clothes with the heat of the iron. You weren't hating.
You weren't trying to be mean. You were just trying to straighten some stuff up that was crooked and that needed to be straightened up. And so you put the iron on there long enough not to burn it but long enough to straighten it out. If you didn't put it on there long enough, you'd still have wrinkled clothes.
If you left it on there too long, you'd have burned clothes. So you have to put it on there long enough to straighten stuff out. Well what God has to do when he wants to straighten us out, when he wants to straighten us out, is he wants to put some heat on our situation because we got some wrinkles in our lives that need to be straightened out.
So since he wants to straighten it out, he'll let the heat be on there long enough to straighten it but not too long to burn it. Now why does God have to put all this heat on me? Because he wants to wear you. He wants to look good when you represent him. He wants to look good in your life. He don't want no wrinkled up saints. He wants saints that have been smoothed out. But the heat is necessary to smooth you out so that when you say I'm a Christian, you look good as a Christian because the wrinkles have been addressed in your life.
So he allows a heat situation because he's trying to do something to make him look good and be glorified in your life. So when God shakes up the world around you, don't you get all shook up because God is doing something new in your life to give you a brand new experience with him. Bless the name of the Lord in this place. If you want to have that brand new experience with God starting today, stay with us.
Dr. Evans, we'll come back to walk you through how to do it. But first, if you'd like to get the full-length version of today's lesson, it's called Shaking Things Up for Revival, 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 a special bonus, we'll include a copy of Tony's powerful book, Stronger Together, Weaker Apart, as our gift when you make a contribution to help us keep this program coming your way.
This offer runs out in just a few days, so don't wait. Get the details and make your request today at TonyEvans.org 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 go online to TonyEvans.org. We often try to blame Satan when we find ourselves facing tough times. But tomorrow, Dr. Evans will talk about another explanation and why a crisis may be the best thing that ever happened to you. Right now, though, he's back to talk about making the most important decision you'll ever make.
Dr. Evans? Well, the good news, Dave, of the gospel is that God loves you and me so much and wants to have a relationship with us so bad that He dealt with the one thing that keeps that relationship from taking place, and that is our sin. On the cross, God's Son, Jesus Christ, took the penalty for our sin. God placed on Christ the sin of the whole world. He credited the sin of the world on the Christ.
And then the good news. God will credit back to any man or woman, boy or girl, who comes to Christ the righteousness of Christ. And that's perfect righteousness, for He was sinless. So the good news of the gospel is God will trade your sin for His righteousness, freeing Him then to have a relationship with you, and giving you eternal life, the hope of heaven, when this life is over. And all of that's for free. God promises to give it to anyone who comes to Jesus Christ for it, because the price for sin has already been paid. And so I would invite any of our listeners who are unsure, uncertain, about your eternal destiny to go to God right now and to tell Him you're placing all of your trust in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior for the forgiveness of your sins and for the gift of eternal 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.
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