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Divine Encounters, Part 1

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD
The Truth Network Radio
October 27, 2020 8:00 am

Divine Encounters, Part 1

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD

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October 27, 2020 8:00 am

People with a vibrant faith are often called on-fire Christians. Join Dr. Tony Evans in this lesson as he reveals what gets them lit and keeps them burning in this lesson on the nature of an up-close-and-personal relationship with the Lord.

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If you want an encounter with God, you got to hang out where He is. Dr. Tony Evans talks about the nature of an up close and personal relationship with the Lord.

The pursuit of God's person must mean you're willing to go into God's presence. 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. People with a vibrant faith are often called on-fire Christians. Today, Dr. Evans will tell us about what gets them lit and keeps them burning as he takes us to Exodus chapter 3.

Let's join him. I have a relationship with God that is more like a flicker of a candle than the brilliance of a noonday sun. We have church, we have Christianese, when what we really need is a fresh encounter and experience with the Most High God. There are many references in Scripture to men and women who encountered God, and I thought we would look at just a few of them and gain some principles and hopefully some motivation to pursue a divine encounter. One of the most famous encounters in Scripture is the encounter with God by Moses at a burning bush.

Some backstory will help us to appreciate qualifying for an encounter. Moses is pastoring a flock of his father-in-law's sheep in a wilderness. This is the same Moses who grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth.

He was picked up out of the Nile River by Pharaoh's daughter, brought into Pharaoh's house, raised as Pharaoh's son, and was an heir to Pharaoh's throne. But at 40 years old, he had a misstep. At 40 years old, even though he had made a commitment to God, he blew it. He decided to go independently of God, to take matters into his own hands, and to depend on his own expertise and self-sufficiency to accomplish the program of God of delivering his people. And out of that miscalculation, he committed murder, a sin that you really can't recover from because the person that the sin is against is gone.

His murderous act was discovered, and he had to run for his life. When we find Moses in chapter 3, he's 80 years old. There is a 40-year gap between his misstep and his encounter. There's 40 years between his failure and him running smack dab into God.

During these 40 years, he's in a wilderness leading sheep. He's no longer in the spotlight. He's no longer the man. He's no longer this macho leader.

He's an outcast, keeping as far away from Egypt and Pharaoh as possible because his act had a high price tag on it. I wonder whether there's anyone here today who are leading sheep. Life is not working out like you had hoped it would. Something happened years ago, and you're still wandering with sheep now.

If you could go back and redo it, rehash it, correct it, you would if you could, but you can't. And so you're just trying to make it. You're just leading sheep.

You're just doing the best you can with what you got, and you're trying to make it life. And it's been going on a long time. Moses has gone on for 40 years, from the time of his infraction to the time of his encounter. So I want to start off by giving you some good news, particularly if you're in a wilderness with some sheep. If you're in a dry place, if life has become dull and dreary, as you perform your routine day-to-day task, as you watch the calendar simply go by tick-tock, tick-tock, day after day, week after week, year after year, decade after decade, the good news is that even though there's a 40-year gap, God had not forgotten Moses. So if you're still here, that means there's still hope for a fresh encounter with God. Let's look at this encounter.

And the reason we want to look at this encounter is because I wanted to inform your encounter that we're praying that God gives you and me and us. First of all, notice where Moses is. According to verse 1, he's on the west side of the wilderness, and he came to Horeb, the mountain of God. Now the mountain of God, or Horeb, is Mount Sinai. Mount Sinai is the mountain where the Ten Commandments were given, where God's presence would be manifested in a miraculous way a few chapters from now.

But it's called the mountain of God. So before he ever experiences an encounter, he's in God's vicinity. He's in the mountain of God. See, a lot of people want an experience with God who don't want to hang out with where he's located. If you want an encounter with God, you got to hang out where he is. The mountain of God was his location. The pursuit of God's person must mean you're willing to go into God's presence. It says he came to the mountain of God. He did not get the encounter until he reached the location.

So as long as we insist on a long-distance relationship, that is precisely the relationship we'll have. It will be absent of an encounter. Now Moses is, to use New Testament terminology, he is a believer. He is what we would call today a Christian, but he's one without an encounter.

He's one just going through the routine. But now that he enters into the vicinity of the mountain of God, God's location, he has positioned himself for an encounter. We're told that the angel of the Lord appears to him. Now this goes on to tell us that the angel of the Lord is in fact God, because it says, and God said to him. So the angel of the Lord is equated with God, or to put it another way, the angel of the Lord when equated with God is Jesus Christ operating in the Old Testament.

He is the manifestation of the second person of the Trinity, who is the spokesperson for the Father. The angel of the Lord appears to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush. Now Moses is in the wilderness. He's seen plenty of bushes on fire in the dry atmosphere of a wilderness. Brush fires happen all the time, but this particular fire was unusual because the fire was burning and the bush was not being consumed.

Let me say that again. He saw a fire. That is not what caught his attention. What caught his attention was the fire wasn't doing what fires normally do, which is consumed, that which is burning.

Let me say this another way. What he saw was a contradiction. He saw something taking place outside of the norm. One of the ways you know you're on the precipice of an encounter with God is when he presents you a contradictory situation. Throughout the Bible you will see contradictions occurring when God shows up, things not operating according to their normal flow. If a bush is on fire, it's supposed to be burning.

We've got a bush on fire and the wood is staying the same and whatever leaves are on it are not being consumed, and this is not normal. This is not how things roll. When he sees this, he sees after he's gone into God's presence something that does not make sense. When you see something happening in your life when you are pursuing God and it does not make sense, why is this happening like this? It doesn't make sense.

It doesn't add up. Then you need to do what Moses did, because when he saw it, Moses said, I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight why the bush is not burned up. He didn't skip it. He investigated it further.

He said, I've got to understand what's going on there because this doesn't make sense. Many of us have missed an encounter with God because we ignored the contradiction. We've ignored the thing that didn't add up.

They just say, oh well, it didn't add up. Now Moses doesn't ignore it. He investigates it. Remember where he's located. He's in the mountain of God. He's in God's presence. So he turns aside. I love verse 4. When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called him.

God did not call him until he responded to the contradiction. Dr. Evans will come back in a moment to tell us about some surprising things that happen when we pay attention to those contradictions. First though, I want to let you know about a brand new book by Dr. Evans just released a short time ago. It's called Kingdom Encounters, a collection of stories about biblical characters who found God at times they least expected, usually in the middle of conflict and trials. You'll discover why sometimes when God feels farthest away, you're right where you need to be to have your life changed.

We want you to experience Kingdom Encounters of your own. That's why we're offering a copy of this brand new book as our thank-you gift when you make a contribution to help us keep Tony's teaching on the station. We're a 100% listener supported ministry, so there's no way we can do that without your help. Along with the book, we'll also include CDs and instant digital downloads of all eight full length messages in the series Tony Began Today, Divine Encounters. This special offer won't be around for long, so make it a point to visit tonyevans.org today to get the details and make the arrangements. Or reach out to our Resource Center at 1-800-800-3222, where we have team members standing by day and night to help you.

Again, that's 1-800-800-3222. Well, Dr. Evans, we'll come back with more of today's lesson after this. Too often it's an us versus them society, even among believers.

It shouldn't be like this, and it can't be like this. Unity is key to spiritual victory, and when believers stand shoulder-to-shoulder in prayer, darkness is overcome. In his book, Stronger Together, Weaker Apart, Powerful Prayers to Unite Us in Love, Dr. Tony Evans urges you to unite in prayer, providing a starting place, and then inviting you to pray in your own words. Find out more about Stronger Together, Weaker Apart.

Visit tonyevans.org. There's a biblical principle that is stated in the New Testament that simply says, when you respond to what God has done, He will give you more. He that hath, more will be given. He that does not have, that which he has will be taken away. Which is another way of saying, when God shows up, don't ignore it. Respond to it, and He will give you more, for God is not about to waste His glory. When God gives you a contradiction, it does not make sense. That is not to be ignored, dismissed, or passed over.

That is to be investigated. That is, you're seeking a clearer understanding of what has occurred. And it says, when the Lord saw. In other words, God didn't do anything until He saw something. Moses said, I must turn aside. That's what Moses said.

But talk is cheap. Because you can say, I must turn aside, not turn aside. A lot of us have said, I'm gonna do this, I will do this.

Some have said, I'm gonna fast, I'm gonna pray. It's easy to say it, but God had to see it. When God saw him turn aside, it says, He called him from the midst of the bush. Now, Moses doesn't know that this is God. All he knows is, this is different.

All he knows is, this is not normal. But when he investigates the abnormal, God now speaks to him. We start off with him being in God's presence. He's now trying to investigate a problem, trying to make sense of this predicament. And then God speaks to him and says, Moses, Moses.

We call that a Rhema word. This is when God calls your name. This is when you know he's talking to you. Perhaps you've been in service and the sermon was for everybody, but you heard it for you. It was though you are the only person there and you knew God was talking to you in your circumstance.

That's a Rhema word. It is an utterance with your name on it. Question is, do you hear it for you? Do you hear God calling your name in the situation you're in, in the wilderness that has been an extended place for you because there is a contradiction that does not make sense? It is when God grabs your undivided attention because he wants to show up in your presence. It's God's—we call it in theology Shekinah glory.

That is, when he manifests himself. Now God exists even when you don't see his glory, but to see his glory is to experience his existence. When you walk outside, the air is everywhere. When the wind starts blowing, you experience moving air.

The air is there when it's not moving, but when the air is moving, the air becomes an experience that's there, but now you're experiencing it. God is everywhere. He's omnipresent. He's everywhere present simultaneously, but Shekinah glory is when you experience it, when he is moving in the midst of it, and he says, Moses, Moses, if you are seeking a personal word for God this year in your personal wilderness, in your personal circumstance, then you must be in his presence. You must respond to the things that don't make sense until you hear him call your name. To be in his presence and prayer and the Word positions you in the mountain of God. And so, now God meets Moses. This was something that Moses couldn't explain, but it was also something Moses couldn't ignore.

The Word of God now becomes a word from God with his name on it. Moses says, here I am. You called me and I'm not running from you. I'm running to you. I'm here.

I'm here. In the midst of my contradiction, in the midst of something I do not understand, in the midst of something that makes absolutely no sense to me, a bush that does not burn, I'm here. And now the Lord gives him more information because he responds to his name being called. Do not come near here. Remove your sandals, verse 5, from your feet, for the place on which you stand is holy ground.

Now if you'll read this too fast, it would be easy to miss something. God is speaking from the bush. Moses is standing on the ground. Take off your shoes where you are, because you in my territory right now. So the holy ground, he wasn't the bush.

The holy ground was the place he was standing, which wasn't the bush, because he told him don't come to the bush. In other words, I'm not gonna let you get this close to the fire with your shoes on. God has invited us, is inviting us into his presence in bare feet. Why must we take off our shoes?

If you go into Muslim mosque, the mosque is considered a holy place. You've been walking on the streets of Jerusalem. You're not about to bring all that dirt up in here. You gotta take off your shoes. You cannot have an encounter with God if you're unwilling to deal with sin.

If you're unwilling to acknowledge it, repent of it. If you're unwilling, you can't get to the bush. Because before you ever get to the bush, you got to be willing to take off your shoes, the accumulated dirt. Because this is holy ground, holy means to separate. It's something that's sacredly separated. I want to separate you from your sins so that I can give you an encounter with the Holy One. Take off your shoes. On the ground on which you're standing is holy ground. I want to set you on fire, but I can't set you on fire with your shoes on. You cannot treat my location like it's any location, because this is holy ground.

This is the vicinity. Now, please notice how he spoke to Moses. He spoke to Moses in a contradictory situation using an ordinary object. See, the bush was already there. It's an ordinary bush that's been invaded by a supernatural presence. So I don't know how God is gonna meet you, but any old bush will do.

He can use the most ordinary thing and set fire to it, to create the most ingenious contradictions in order to manifest Himself. But if this is going to happen to you and to me, you cannot be an asbestos Christian. Dr. Evans will come back in a moment with a final thought about what asbestos Christianity looks like as he wraps up this first message in his series, Divine Encounters. Remember, when you make a donation to help support Tony's ministry, we'll send you this eight lesson set as our thank-you gift, along with the brand new book I told you about earlier, Kingdom Encounters.

This special double resource combo won't last long, so don't wait. Call 1-800-800-3222, where someone on our resource team is waiting to help you. That's 1-800-800-3222. Or drop by our website, tonyevans.org, where you can check out our huge collection of resources and sign up for Tony's free weekly email devotional. Again, that's tonyevans.org. Tomorrow, more from Dr. Evans on Moses' personal encounter with God and what we can learn from his experience.

Right now, though, he's back to wrap up today's message with this final thought. You know, people put on asbestos suits so that they don't catch fire. Some of us will never burn from God because we wear evangelical asbestos. We really don't want to get that close to the fire. We really don't want God to rub off on us like that. We're satisfied with services, seminars, programs, and preaching, but we don't want to catch fire. So we put on our asbestos suits and our asbestos dresses. We come to church. We leave on our shoes and wonder why we don't catch fire. 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 / 2024-02-01 12:05:29 / 2024-02-01 12:13:09 / 8

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