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When Life Turns Sour

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD
The Truth Network Radio
January 25, 2022 7:00 am

When Life Turns Sour

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD

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January 25, 2022 7:00 am

Some of the healthiest people you know may be the most in need of healing. Dr. Tony Evans explains why as he spells out God's plan to sweeten up sour lives.


The great danger when life gets bitter is to forget what God did yesterday. Dr. Tony Evans says, even though our momentary pain may cloud our memory of God's power and goodness...

While the circumstance has changed, God has not. 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. Some of the healthiest people you know may be the most in need of healing.

Today, Dr. Evans explains why. Let's join him as he spells out God's plan to sweeten up sour lives. It's a bad day when you wake up in the morning and you hear birds singing outside your window and it's a buzzer. It's a bad day when you call your answering service to get your messages and they tell you it's none of your business. That's a bad day. A lot of us are having bad days, and when it's a really bad day, it's really not funny. Our world is having a bad day. Some of us find it hard to fully sympathize because we're still struggling through our own earthquakes. We have our own areas where tsunamis are wrecking us.

It just doesn't look like it's going to get any better. My attention was taken to Exodus 15. Verse 22 says, Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur. And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. When they came to Myra, they could not drink the waters of Myra, for they were bitter.

Therefore it was named Myra. They've come out and they have discovered two problems. There is no water, and then when they get the water, finally think they've got their prayer answered, their change is gonna come.

Things are gonna get better. The water was bitter, the waters of Myra. When life gets sour, bitter, when it doesn't have any taste anymore, when you have to spew it out.

And it's really worse when you think you got it. First there's no water. Then we finally get to some water. And when we get to some water, we're praising God. He made a way out of no way.

Jesus said He was gonna fix it. And we finally get over there, and it's not what we thought it was. The waters of Myra were bitter.

All of us knows what it is for life to get bitter on us. Sour tasting. You can't swallow it because it's not what you thought it was. It's not refreshing. It's not meaningful.

It's not productive. It's sour, bitter. You know when life has gotten real bitter, verse 24, because the people grumbled to Moses saying, What shall we drink?

They didn't just ask, What shall we drink? It said they grumbled. They complained. Now, what's interesting about this passage is they're complaining and they just left church. Look at verse 21. Miriam answered them, Sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted.

The horse and his rider He has hurled into the sea. Now, why are they having a praise service? They have a praise service because Moses is living through the Red Sea. That means they just came through some water.

You with me? They just came through a whole bunch of water. So they're praising God because He's a delivering God. He's a victorious God. He's a powerful God.

He has destroyed the enemy. And she said, Sing to the Lord, because He is highly exalted. That's a worship service. After church was over and the benediction was given in the parking lot, they ran into a problem.

No water. And when they finally find water, it's bitter. Throughout the Old Testament, you will find God in a multiplicity of ways, reminding His people that He was the one who delivered them out of Egypt. The reason why He was reminding them is so that when they ran into something new, they would not lose sight of something old. They would not forget the God who delivered them. The great danger when life gets bitter, when you run into Myra, is to forget what God did yesterday. Now, we can't live it yesterday.

That's another story. But neither are we to forget the faithfulness of God before. Because what you're going through now can suck you dry so that you forget that while the circumstance has changed, God has not. But the people forgetting that they just got out of church from praising God for what He had just done, and they complained. Then He cried—Moses cried out to the Lord. And the Lord showed him a tree, and He threw it into the waters, and the water became sweet.

So let's follow this. They're in a praise service because God had done a great thing, and they're shouting. They leave the praise service and run into a problem. They go from praise to problem. In the midst of their problem, they began to complain.

Why are we having this problem? We just left praise. They're praising. They run into a problem. So they grumble, and they complain at Moses.

What are you gonna do? Moses went from praise to problem to prayer. Because verse 25 says, he cried out to the Lord. Now, whenever the Bible talks about crying out, that's not like saying grace. You know, Lord bless this food I'm about to receive. In Jesus' name, amen. Crying out means you desperate. In other words, this is really serious. Moses has got almost two million people on his hands, and there is no water, and the water he has is bitter.

What you have is not working out. Moses cried to God, and God showed him a tree. And he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. This is natural water.

This is the kind of stuff you buy. It says, when he cried out to God, God showed him the solution to his problem that was his complaint. And it was a tree. Now, nobody think about a tree to solve my problem. God had to show him a tree. God didn't show him a tree till he prayed. He prayed because there was a problem. The problem came after the praise. Don't be surprised after your praise that you run into a problem. When after your praise, you run into a problem, that is God's invitation for a prayer.

What's going on here? Why do we go from praise to problem to prayer? There, the end of verse 25, he made for them a statue and regulation, and there he tested them. And he said, if you will give earnest heed to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his sight, and give ear to his commandments and keep his statue, all of his statues, I will put none of these diseases on you which I put on the Egyptians, for I the Lord am your healer. God's names, God has all these names throughout the Bible that's designed to describe his work or his activity.

So they're descriptive in nature. And most of the names of God have come out of Zitzelaben. Zitzelaben is a German phrase that means situation in life. In theology, one of the things I had to study when I was coming through is Hebrew and Greek. Then you had to study German and French. And the reason I had to learn German and French is because a lot of theological works come out or used to come out in German and French, and they hadn't been translated yet back when I was coming out of school. So you would have to read these works in German and French. And one of the great religious phrases in the German nomenclature in the theological world was the Zitzelaben.

And the Zitzelaben was the situation in life. In other words, that the way you came to understand God was in the context of the situation you were in. And when you think about it, that's how the Bible was written. See, the Bible wasn't written at one time in one place by one person. The Bible was written over 1,600 years by approximately 40 different authors.

We call it the progress of Revelation. And the reason it was written that way is God would reveal Himself in the situations that people were in. And that's why when you read the Old Testament, you're reading stories, narratives, because you're reading the Zitzelaben. You're reading the situation that life was in and the involvement of God with those scenarios. And so it is in the situation, the Zitzelaben, it is in that scenario of life where you discover God in a way that sermons can't give you.

Sermons have their place, teaching is foundational. But it's one thing to sing a song, He's my rock, my sword, my shield, He's my wheel in the middle of a wheel, and it's one thing for Him to be that in your situation. See, those are two different songs.

One is a song about Him, the other one is a song with Him. It's a different experience with God. And far too many of us are satisfied to know about Him rather than have an experience with Him. But the experience with Him comes in the situation. The situation has to create a need for Him. See, to experience Him, there usually has to be a need for Him.

So the need for Him usually means there's some circumstances that you need to summons Him about, because it's serious in nature. It was there He tested them. It was there. It was in this context. It was in this scenario.

It was in this situation. See, the only time you really know the value of an anchor is in a storm. Now, everybody want an anchor, but the only time it really becomes valuable is in a storm to hold you steady while everything else is shaking around you. But what happens when things in our lives progress from bad to worse? Dr. Evans will take a look at that when he returns after these words. You will find that the Comforter can do what a movie, what a television show, what a friend, and even what comfort food can. He can give you rest to your soul.

And that's sweet rest. Go to to find out more and request your copy of Hope for the Hurting. Tony's latest book, Hope for the Hurting, goes hand in hand with the message we've been hearing today. And that's why we've created a special bundle that includes the book, the entire 20-message Coming to the Comforter collection, as well as the optional companion Hope for the Hurting Bible Study Guide and DVD. Together, these resources give powerful insight into the purpose behind our pain, afflictions, and the difficult times we all face.

When we approach the Comforter, we can find the help and hope we need to carry on. And right now, we'd like to offer this package of resources to you as our gift, and thanks for your contribution to help support the ongoing work of Dr. Evans and the Urban Alternative. To get the details and make the arrangements, just go to Or if you'd prefer, give us a call at 1-800-800-3222 any time of the day or night to let one of our team members assist with your resource request. Don't miss out on this limited-time offer. Visit us at or call 1-800-800-3222 to request the Hope for the Hurting and Coming to the Comforter offer. I'll have that contact information for you again after Part 2 of today's lesson.

Here's Dr. Evans. They come to the Red Sea. When they come to the Red Sea, they don't have water. They finally get water, think they got a blessing, and blessing turns out to be a curse.

Things are going from bad to worse. First, God says, now I want to use this time as a lesson. I want to test you, and I want to give you My instructions, My statutes, My commandments, My ordinances, so that you will follow them. And if you follow them, none of the diseases that I put on the Egyptians will be yours. I am your healer.

I am the one who will oversee your wellness or your well-being. Then this is the verse, verse 27, Then they came to Elam, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy date trees, and they camped there beside the waters. Now follow the flow here.

The Red Sea is open. That's water. They're thirsty. There is no water. They finally get the water. It's bitter water. God has a tree to turn bitter water into sweet water. Then He gives them some commandments and says, look, I am the God who heals you, who keeps your well-being intact. Then He led them to Elam, where He had springs of water.

Guess what? The answer to their complaint was right around the corner. He was moving them to a place of blessing on a trip through the wilderness. And there were twelve springs and all these date trees, and they camped there. This was—this was take a deep breath.

We are home now. Now why am I telling you this? They are in the wilderness. They have just come through the Red Sea. They're in the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land. They run into a situation that is unsatisfying and that causes them to complain. While God walks you through your bitter situation, there will be the temptation to complain rather than cry out. God keeps pit stops in the wilderness. The wilderness is not the Promised Land. The Promised Land is where it's normal to have wells flowing with milk and honey.

That's the normal. That's when Paul says, I know how to be, you know, abound. But the wilderness, that's when it's dry and bitter, and when you think you got something, you don't have anything. God creates pit stops.

When we talk about the desert, we call them oases. A pit stop, a place for a watering hole. Now, let me tell you about a pit stop. When God provides pit stops in the desert, a pit stop—watch this—is only designed to get you to the next pit stop.

Okay? A pit stop is not the Promised Land. It's not the ultimate goal.

It's not the ultimate end. It is a place of refuel. It's refuel to get you closer to where you're going, but to get you to the next filling station.

So when you travel across country, your goal may be California, but you can't skip stations to get there. You got to do pit stops for refueling. God has a way along the way of refueling you. Sometimes it comes out of nowhere. Sometimes it's God showing you something you didn't see before.

Sometimes it's an encouraging word. Sometimes it's somebody in your life who loves you and who speaks into it, and it just picks you up when you didn't think you could go another minute. And it becomes a pit stop along the way. We are all on a journey. We're at different places in our journey.

The temptation will be to grumble. And that is the time you've got to hold on to God like you've never held on to Him before. You've got to wrap yourself around your faith, because your faith is all you've got.

Listen, let's tell the truth in shame of the devil. Sometimes all we have is our faith, because we can't see a thing. God has showed us nothing.

He is showing us nothing. From our standpoint, God is in regress. He puts transmission in reverse. And I'm going backwards here.

And it happens. And I can't explain that in any individual case, because you've got yours and I've got mine. He says, but during those times, I want you to embrace my statutes, my ordinances, and my commandments. I want you to embrace me and my word and my will. I want you to cry out for me. Why? Why, God?

Why do I have to go through this? Because I want you to discover me. I am your healer. I am your provider. I am.

I am. And you cannot discover me. You will not discover me until you're forced to live by faith. Or as Hebrews 11 says, without faith, it is impossible to please God. So He's gonna force you, and He's gonna force me to faith. He's gonna force it. So you can skip it today, but He's got something new for you tomorrow. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.

Remember that song? God is not trying to be mean, although it feels mean to be thirsty and drink better water. That feels like being mean. No, God wants to show you what He can do with a tree.

He showed you that you didn't even know it was there. Because then you discover it. But the temptation is to forget the lesson once you've experienced it. So that's why they're complaining in chapter 17. So these people have a spirit of complaining.

Every time something goes wrong, they whine. Listen, here's the second most important thing you need to know about God. The first most important thing is the gospel. You need to know how to get saved, okay? Through faith alone in Christ's law, okay?

That's the most important thing you need to know. But having, now as a Christian, here is the most important thing you and I need to know and remember about God. And that is His sovereignty.

The sovereignty of God is the most important doctrine in terms of day-to-day living. Because so much comes our way, you've got to know that when it is out of control, it is simply out of your control. When it is out of control, it is simply out of your control, okay? And the tendency when it is out of your control is to complain and to whine.

Christians who whine—I'm not talking about Christians who are struggling and Christians who have a bad day. I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about that that's their spirit. That's their modus operandi. That's their way of life.

Those are Christians who have lost sight of a sovereign God. Because the sovereignty of God, the fact that God is in control, even when it is out of my control, means that I can cry to Him because whatever is confusing me has not confused Him. He is totally aware of my situation. Dr. Tony Evans will come back in just a moment to wrap up today's message. Before he returns, though, let me quickly encourage you to take advantage of that special package of resources I mentioned a little earlier for a few more days when you make a contribution to help keep Tony's messages coming to you and others here on this station. We'll say thanks by sending you all 20 full-length messages in his current audio compilation called Coming to the Comforter.

You'll get 10 lessons on CD and 10 as downloadable MP3s. And as an added bonus, we'll also send you one of the first copies of Tony's latest book, Hope for the Hurting. Just reach out to us while there's still time, make a donation, and request this special resource bundle. You can make the arrangements online at or by phone 24-7 at 1-800-800-3222. We look forward to saying thank you for your partnership in this ministry by sending you this helpful package of study tools. In fact, you can also get the companion Bible study guide and DVD. Check it out when you contact us.

Once again, that's online at or by phone at 1-800-800-3222. When we're stuck in difficult circumstances, we can call on God to get us out. But tomorrow, Dr. Evans will explain that even when the storms of life are getting worse, we may already be right where God wants us. Right now, though, he's back with his final thought to wrap up today's message. So I want you to just try it.

Just try it. As you go through your bitterness, and I hear you, I feel what it is like when it's just not working. Life is not working. You know, sometimes it's our fault. But that's when we've got to reconnect with him, draw near to him, and tell him like, Jacob, I'm not gonna let you go. When God does those things in your life and comes out of nowhere, you know, what some folks call the aha moment, then you know him in a way you didn't know him, because you've experienced him. It's one thing to learn a doctrine. It's another thing to see the glory show up. 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 / 2023-06-18 01:19:12 / 2023-06-18 01:28:11 / 9

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