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Encountering God's Provision, Part 1

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD
The Truth Network Radio
November 4, 2020 7:00 am

Encountering God's Provision, Part 1

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD

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November 4, 2020 7:00 am

We say we believe that God provides, but Dr. Tony Evans knows how easily we can start doubting that when our circumstances take an unexpected turn. Join him as he tells us the story of a lady who learned an important lesson about trust during trials.

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J.D. Greear
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J.D. Greear

God hates pride, and He hates when you feel like you can make it without Him. Dr. Tony Evans talks about what it often takes to break that bad habit. So God will allow us to get into circumstances we can't fix even when we're in His will in order to take us to a deeper level of experience with Him and deepen our faith. 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. We say we believe that God provides, but Dr. Evans knows how easily we can start doubting that when our circumstances take an unexpected turn. But today he'll tell us the story of a lady who learned an important lesson about trust during trials.

Let's join him. There was a building that was on fire and a man was trapped in it. The man of steel, Superman, whisked in and grabbed this man in trouble of being consumed by the fire and lifted him out of there. As he began to fly and take the man from the fire and go up into the sky, the man who had been delivered became very afraid. He was being held in the arms of this man who was taking him very, very high. And he let Superman know, I'm scared.

That's when Superman said to him, what makes you think that I could deliver you from the fire but can't hold on to you after I've set you free? If you know Jesus Christ, you have been delivered from the fire. If you're here today and you have been converted, you have come by faith alone to Christ alone for the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life. He has delivered you from judgment.

You've been delivered. But what makes you think that the God who delivered you from the fire can't take care of you? What makes you think that the God who took care of eternity can't take care of time? Our series is divine encounters. What we're talking about is you having an experience with God and not merely knowledge about Him. And through this series, we looked at numbers of scenarios of people in Scripture who have had various kinds of encounters with God that showed His power, that showed His promises. Today, I want you to experience an encounter with God and His provision in 1 Kings 17.

Beginning in verse 8, this is what we read. Then the word of the Lord came to him, that is, Elijah, saying, Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.

So he arose and he went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, Please, get me a little water and a jar that I might drink. And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, Please, give me a piece of bread in your hand. But she said, As the Lord your God lives, I have no bread, only a handful of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar. And behold, I am gathering a few sticks that I may go in and prepare for me and my son that we may eat it and die. Then Elijah said to her, Do not fear, go do as you have said, but make me a little bread cake from it first.

And bring it out to me, and afterwards you may make one for yourself and for your son. For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The bowl of flour shall not be exhausted, nor shall the jar of oil be empty until the day that the Lord sends rain on the face of the earth. So she went and did according to the word of Elijah.

And she and he and her household ate for many days. The bowl of flour was not exhausted, nor did the jar of oil become empty according to the word of the Lord, which he spoke to Elijah. Here is one of the great stories in Scripture of God's provision. First of all, why does God allow us to be in circumstances where it looks like He is not providing? I am certain that there are plenty of stories here where you have felt like God has let you down by leaving you out, by not coming through when you wanted to, when you needed Him to, when you asked Him to, when you desired Him to.

And it looks like when you're in a hurry, He's taking His time. And He is not satisfied the need for provision. There are a number of reasons why God allows His people to be in circumstances where provision is lacking. In this particular chapter, it was because of the sin of idolatry. God had made it clear that when you go after other gods, you let those other gods take care of you. When you abandon me, Deuteronomy 11 verses 16 and 17, if you leave me for other gods, then I will close up the heavens and there will be no rain.

For an agricultural environment, rain was critical. In other words, don't call on my blessing when you're worshiping another god. Let the competition take care of you. So when we abandon God through our sin and our idolatry, we walk away from the provider. So one of the reasons why provision is absent is that we have moved away from the provider. Through our sin, through our idolatry, remember an idol is any noun, person, place, thing, or thought, that you go to and appeal to as your source. He says that the reason why Israel right now was dried up and there was a drought is because they had abandoned God for the idols of Baal. So one reason why provision may be lacking is God has been abandoned, which means you are now left to your own resources to provide for yourself because he's no longer appealed to, respected, and followed as your Jehovah Jireh.

That's one reason, but that's not the only reason. Another reason why God allows lack of provision in our lives in a multiplicity of arenas, areas of our lives, is because he is trying us, testing us. Deuteronomy chapter 8 verses 1 to 3, God says, I let you get hungry. I let your food get low so that I might test your heart. You get on a stress test at work, they're testing your heart. Now you may think you're fine until you start taking the stress test because under stress they're reading whether your heart is as fine as you feel. See, one of the ways God lets you know, because he already knows, whether you are as spiritual as everybody else thinks you are and as you declare yourself to be is to put you on a stress test to see how you will react under pressure so you can see you because you can't see your heart until it's under stress. He says, I let you go hungry that I might test your heart.

In other words, are you as committed to me as you say you are? In addition to that kind of test, he goes on in that same passage and says, and I did it to humble you. In other words, to get rid of some of your self-sufficiency. One of the reasons God will allow lack, emotional lack, physical lack, financial lack, career lack, one of the reasons God will allow lack is to strike a death blow at our independence. God hates pride, and he hates when you feel like you can make it without him. And to address independence from him, he will allow your contacts not to come through, the promotion not to come through. He will allow just when you thought you had a saving for something else to break down and eat it up.

He will allow lack to let you know that you are not self-sufficient, that on your best day, on my best day, you and I are dependent. Paul says in 2 Corinthians chapter 1, he says in verse 8 and 9, he said we were undergoing a great deal of affliction. We were being overwhelmed to the point of death.

We were going through a great deal of affliction to the point of death. God, why did you let Paul, who loved you, get that low where he didn't even think he could live anymore? Then Paul says that we might learn to trust him who raises the dead. He said he let us get that low to deepen what it means to trust God at a point we couldn't fix. So God will allow us to get into circumstances we can't fix even when we're in his will in order to take us to a deeper level of experience with him and deepen our faith. But see, if you don't know that, then you just get mad at God.

If you don't know that, then you're just getting frustrated at your circumstances. And so God does allow lack. And in the case of idolatry, even causes it. And so that's the situation here. We have a prophet who is in a sinful environment.

The people have gone to idolatry. And now we've got a widow who just can eke out a living and only has enough flour for one more day. God tells Elijah, go to this woman and she's going to feed you. Now, she don't even have enough to feed herself.

But you go to this woman and she's going to feed you. Stay with me here. If I could ever get this principle into our heads, I know you hear me say it a lot. I'm going to say it again today and I'm going to say it a number of times today because if you ever get it, your whole life changes. And the principle that you've heard a million times is you only have one source. There it is. As simple as that sounds, it is a life-transforming principle.

You do not have multiple sources. Dr. Evans will have more about the important difference between a source and a resource when he returns in a moment with more of today's lesson. Right now, though, I'd like to give you a chance to be among the first to get Tony's brand-new book, Kingdom Encounters. It explores the unique ways you can move beyond just reading about God to actually experiencing Him, especially when you feel alone, abandoned, or when life seems to be closing in around you.

There's nothing like being fully connected to Christ. And to help you reach that goal, we'd like you to have this brand-new resource, with full-length CDs and instant digital downloads of all eight messages in Tony's current teaching series, Divine Encounters. Both of these powerful resources are yours as our thank-you gift when you make a contribution in support of Tony's ministry. We are a completely listener-supported ministry, so your faithfulness is the only way we can keep bringing you this broadcast each day. As always, you can make all the arrangements at or give us a call at 1-800-800-3222.

That's 1-800-800-3222. Well, Dr. Evans, we'll come back with more of today's lesson right after this. God has granted all of us more power than we realize, power to overcome hatred, power to heal division, power to unify others in love, and power to impact our world for Christ. The way we access that power is through prayer. Discover how with Dr. Tony Evans' new and timely book, Stronger Together, Weaker Apart, powerful prayers to unite us in love.

Get your copy today at or anywhere Christian books are sold. Anything outside of God is a resource, not a source. It's merely a vehicle. The grocery store is not your source. It's merely a resource you go to. They don't make the food.

They sell you the food. It's not your source. It's a channel through which you get something.

It's not the origination of the something you get. Over and over again, the Bible declares that God is your only source. In Psalm 104 verses 10 to 17, God says, The animals only eat because I feed them. The birds only eat because I feed them. And people only eat because I feed them. God declares, I am your source.

I am your starting point. So watch this. Whenever you treat a resource as though it is the source, you have now made your resource an idol. So for some people, their job is their idol. Or their bank account is their idol. Or their contacts, that's their idol.

Or their edumacation, that's their idol. Because they think, because I have this resource, I am taken care of. Which then makes that resource your God, because God wants to be your only source. Until you establish that principle, then you will always be controlled by the presence or absence of your resource. Because when your resource goes left on you, your boss goes left on you, the stock market goes left on you, or your friends go left on you, then you think, you throw up your hands. What am I going to do?

What am I going to do? Because you made that thing your source. God tells Elijah to go to a widow who can't even take care of herself. So God had to prepare Elijah for this command. And he prepares him back in verse 4. He says, it shall be that you will drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to provide for you there.

There's our word provide again. Wait a minute. Wait a minute, God. You're going to tell the ravens to feed me. Now why is that a big deal? Because ravens are unclean birds. The Jews were prohibited from eating ravens. They were unclean birds. And yet he says, I'm going to tell the unclean bird, Deuteronomy 14 verses 11 to 14, ravens are unclean. And yet God says, I'm going to tell the unclean bird to take care of you. So let me tell you something about God. He can use the unclean to answer a prayer. God said, you can eat a raven.

He didn't say, I can't use one. One of the things you need to know about God is that he trumps his rules. He's never inconsistent with himself, but anything he created he can use to accomplish his purpose, even if it belongs to the devil. I'm going to throw a curve ball to you right now, but God can use the devil to answer your prayers. That's how good God is.

So if you have this tiny view of God, and God can only do it this way that I understand, that I'm used to and I can see, you're going to miss out on some stuff. Do you know how Israel got the money to leave Egypt? It says that the Egyptians got so tired of the plagues that God had sent them that the people started giving the Jews their silver and their gold and all that stuff. So God used evil Egypt to finance Israel's walking away from Egypt to fulfill his command to let my people go. So he used evil people to fund it. Do you know how Jerusalem got rebuilt and the temple got rebuilt in the book of Nehemiah? It says that the king of Persia provided Nehemiah the wood, the passage, and everything.

He used the federal government to fund the rebuilding of his program. So you've got to stretch your view of God. He is so good at providing that even the devil's got to hand it over when God calls for it. In fact, the Scripture says that God uses the wealth of the wicked to support the righteous. See, so your view about your unsaved boss, your view about those evil people in your vicinity has to understand that if God is your source, they are not the bottom line of how things are going to work out for you. So God feeds him with an unclean bird because he's sending him to an unclean location.

So he gives him a little bit to work with over here because he's calling him into something bigger over there. If you've never seen God provide in a weird way, then you have limited your view of God. So God knows you're going to need an encounter, which means he's going to have to create for you a situation. He's going to have to put you in a scenario to either deal with your idolatry or take you deeper in your faith, and that usually means it's a scenario you can't solve yourself.

Because if you could solve it yourself, he knows you would go to that earthly solution rather than his heavenly intervention. Let me tell you a true story. A young lady in our church came to me one day, and she said, I'm in a crisis.

Please let me see you. Then we got her in, and she said, my boss has asked me to do something illegal and unethical. He has asked me to do something illegal and unethical. I told him I was a Christian, and I couldn't do that. He told me, oh no, you're going to do it because if you don't do it, I will fire you. She called me up, and she came to see me, and she says, I'm in a crisis.

I desperately need my job, but I know I'm not supposed to do this unethical thing, and I'm afraid, and I'm struggling, and I just need some help. I said, well, this is not even a close call. This is a clear issue. You know you can't do it. That's why you came to me. Let me help you.

Let me reinforce. Yeah, this is something you cannot do, and you're just going to have to believe God because this boss has the upper hand, and so I just kind of encouraged her and gave her a little bit more courage than perhaps she had initially. She went back to work the next day and told the boss, I can't do that.

That would be unethical, and I just can't do that. He gave her a pink slip and fired her because she would not conform to that, which was clearly unethical. A week later, she calls me back, and she's all excited on the phone, and I said, what's going on? She said, you won't believe what happened.

I said, what happened? She said, my boss's boss called him in. My boss's boss called him in and challenged him why he did that thing that I told him I could not do. My boss's boss fired my boss.

Then my boss's boss rehired me and gave me his position. Dr. Evans will have a word about how that kind of story can be your kind of story when he comes back in a moment to wrap up this lesson from his current series, Divine Encounters. First, though, don't forget to request your copy of our current double resource package, Tony's new book, Kingdom Encounters, plus his current eight-message teaching series, Divine Encounters. As I mentioned, they're both yours with our thanks for your donation to keep this listener-supported program coming your way.

This special offer won't be available for long, so don't wait. Visit before time runs out to make the arrangements, or call our resource center at 1-800-800-3222 any time of the day or night. Again, that's 1-800-800-3222. Then be sure to join us tomorrow as Dr. Evans tells us more about why we can count on God to provide for our needs even if he doesn't do it on our timetable. Right now, though, he's back to wrap up our time together with this final word. On the front end of God's provision, it may not look like it's in your favor. On the front end of God's provision, it may not look like God is anywhere to be found. But if God is your source, then your boss is not. If God is your source, then your company is not. They are merely vehicles, and God knows how to change cars.

He knows how to switch vehicles. And it takes away any sense of being owned by this world. This world is not supposed to own you.

The Bible says, use this world, benefit from this world, but don't make this world your God or a competing deity. Until we understand that we only have one source, until we understand that God is your only source and he doesn't want any competitors, then you'll be bouncing from resource to resource hoping this resource works out. Maybe it's this resource. Maybe it's that resource. You'll be jumping and doing, you know, hopping jacks all over the place hoping that maybe this is the resource. I'm trying to free you up. You only have one source. 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 / 2024-01-30 10:40:31 / 2024-01-30 10:49:22 / 9

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