You can pray till you're blue in the face. If you don't dig ditches, the prayer won't be answered. Dr. Tony Evans says God may be limiting His answers to our prayers, but that limits based on what we do in order to receive His answers. The problem is we are not giving God what He requires to work with. 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. The most common motto in scouting is, be prepared. That's good advice for when you're planning a trek into the wilderness, but it's also something you should practice in your interactions with God. Today, Dr. Evans lays out what we should be doing in preparation for receiving answers to our prayers.
Let's join him as he begins. Moab was paying a tax, if you will, to Israel. They decided to no longer pay the tax. This created a conflict with Israel and Moab. Israel went to Judah and Edom about the problem that Moab was no longer fulfilling its obligation and a war is about to break out.
So that's the scenario. There is a conflict between these groups of people, the three nations, Israel, Judah, and Edom against Moab. There's gonna be a clash. But on their way to fight this one battle, a new problem shows up. There has been a drought, a dry spell, and there's no water for the soldiers, there's no water for the cattle.
So one problem, Moab, has become two problems. There is no water and you know water is essential to life. What do you do when your life is in a drought, when there is no water? Water is regularly used in Scripture to talk about life. The Holy Spirit is referred to as the life-giving fountain or water for the soul. And of course, physically, you are without water long enough, you die.
There was no water. How can we fight and we can't be refreshed? Many of you already see battles that you're gonna face. It's one thing to have to fight the virus. It's another thing to have to fight all the inconveniences. It's another thing to have to fight all of the restrictions and requirements. But when you have to do that and there is no water, there is nothing refreshing you, nothing replenishing you, nothing sustaining you, but you're still in this battle.
That's the problem. So the king of Israel, Jehoram, says, God has put us in a hot mess. God then hooked us up together to be beaten by the enemy. You ever felt like God set you up? We know God controls rain.
He controls the water. There is no water. Where is God when I'm in a drought? King of Israel said, God has set us up to fail.
Jehoshaphat says, I know you wanna blame God, but I ain't gonna listen to you. I wanna talk to somebody who knows God. When I'm in a drought and my world is falling apart and it looks like I'm gonna be defeated and there is nothing to sustain me, is there not somebody who can hear from God to tell us what to do, who can inquire of the Lord, who can get some information from heaven for our situation on earth? Is there a prophet? Well, the servant said, well, there is a prophet here named Elisha who used to pour water on the hands of Elijah, to pour the water on the hands of, he was Elijah's servant.
So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Eden went down to him because they needed spiritual clarity, watch this, for a physical situation. If you're in a drought right now, or if you're in a battle right now, in your life, in your world, with your career, with your finances, with your family, with your future, you're in this battle and there is no water. In other words, every place you look is dry.
Every place you look is empty. Every place you look, there is nothing that's giving you life sustaining clarity and help. Then that means you need a prophetic word.
You need something that will zero in where you are and what you are dealing with. You need a prophetic word. So the question on the floor is, is there a prophet somewhere?
Is there somewhere I can go and get spiritual clarity on this cultural confusion since the physical is not working itself out? You need some clarity because the prophetic word is always relevant. Now, Elijah said to the king of Israel, watch this, a little funny, but it's serious, in verse 13, what do I have to do with you? Now there are three kings who went, Jehoshaphat, king of Edom, and Jehoram. But he only turns to Jehoram, the king of Israel, and said, why are you here?
He says, why are you coming to me? Why don't you go back to your people? To the folks that your mom and dad believed in, Baal and Asherah.
Why don't you go back to your false gods? But now he's with the king of Judah and he's with the king of Edom. He's like a lot of folk. He was an emergency worshiper because he in a crisis. He in a drought. He in a situation he can't fix.
He's in a problem that he can't resolve. So now he want to go to church. He says, verse 15, Elisha, but now bring me a minstrel. And it came about when the minstrel played that the hand of the Lord came upon him. Oh no, you didn't.
He said, is there anybody here with a keyboard? You can show up here for the sermon and you'll only get the sermon. Their situation didn't need a sermon. They needed a prophetic word. And a prophetic word is God speaking personally into your situation. So in order for them to get a prophetic word, they were going to have to worship, not just sit down and listen to a sermon. The purpose of music in worship, the minstrel, is not to simply be a prelude to a sermon. It is to set the atmosphere for God to speak. God did not speak to the prophet Elisha to give him a prophetic word until the atmosphere had been affected. So if you want a prophetic word, don't you just show up for a sermon because you'll only get a sermon. You need to be part of an atmosphere where God is free to express himself on a personal level because you are a worshiper and not just an attender looking for a sermon.
The prophet said, give me a musician because I need the atmosphere for God to speak into. The Lord came on him, Elisha, verse 16, and said, thus saith the Lord, make this valley full of trenches. I want you to dig ditches, trenches, ditches. Make this valley full, fill it up with holes, with trenches, for thus saith the Lord.
But what's going to happen when I do this? Because that seems weird. Verse 17, for thus saith the Lord, you shall not see wind nor shall you see rain, yet the valley shall be filled with water so that you shall drink both you and your cattle and your beast.
When God gives you a prophetic word, it may not make sense. There's going to be no wind, no rain, and there's going to be water everywhere. That does not fit the natural scheme of things.
That's not normal. It's dry. There is no water here.
And there's going to be no rain and it's going to be filled. That does not make sense. See, that's why if you're a secular saint and you only listen to your five senses and you don't know how to use your six sense, then you will not see what God can do. Do you know why he told them build ditches? He told them dig ditches so that they could make room for God. So you got to make room for God in your life and in your circumstances and in your situations.
But what a lot of us do is we don't make room for God because to make room for God means I have to go outside of my education. I got to go outside of my notoriety. I got to go outside of my popularity. I got to go outside of my influence. I can't limit myself to what my physical world dictates. And sometimes the information will come back weird.
It won't make sense. When Dr. Evans returns in a moment, he'll explain how the mountains in our lives can turn into nothing more than molehills when we place them in God's hands. Now, if the answers you've been seeking seem to be blocked by an insurmountable obstacle, there's a perfect book Dr. Evans has written that's just for you. It's called God is Up to Something Great, and it reviews the lives of Paul, Peter, and Joseph to show how the positives of your past combined with your failures, sins, and even the failures of others can all work together to help you discover and fulfill God's purpose for your life. For a limited time, we're making God is Up to Something Great available as our gift when you make a contribution to help support Tony's ministry here on the radio and around the world. Along with it, we'll include all the messages in his brand-new current teaching series called Bold Belief. We're in the middle of one of the ten lessons in this collection today. Bold Belief will help you grasp the reality of God's promises and presence with you, and in turn teach you how to live out your life with renewed confidence, conviction, and purpose. Get this special double-resource package when you visit us today at TonyEvans.org, or call us day or night at 1-800-800-3222 and let one of our resource team members help you.
That's 1-800-800-3222. I'll repeat that information for you after Part 2 of today's lesson and this. I love this in verse 18. This is but a slight thing in the sight of the Lord.
He will also give the more bites into your hand. Okay. Okay, this is a sermon right there, right there, right there. He says, this ain't hard. This is but a slight thing. It ain't all that. You mean to tell me we're going to dig ditches, the plate's going to be full of water, we're going to be able to feed, the people are going to drink, the animals are going to drink, and we're going to defeat Moab. You mean to tell me that? I'm not only telling you that, it ain't nothing but a thing. It ain't that hard for the Lord. A woman came to G. Campbell Morgan one day and she says, I don't bring big things to God. I only bring little things to God. G. Campbell Morgan said, lady, anything you bring to God is little. He said, this is a small thing. You got a wayward child, it's a small thing. You got a marriage that looks like it's going to end in divorce, it's a small thing. Your career is on the downside, it's a small thing.
I don't know how big it feels, but when it gets placed in the hands of God, He says, this ain't nothing but a small thing. This ain't that hard when it's your prophetic word, because it's what God plans to do. It ain't that hard. But notice He said, you're going to have to dig the ditches. God's not going to dig the ditches. You dig the ditches, because God wants to see your faith at work. He don't just want to hear you talking, I believe in God, I trust the Lord.
No, no, no, no, no. You're going to have to dig some ditches. Yeah, I know He told you He had a job for you, but you got to go job hunting. You got to dig some ditches, and He will only fill the amount of ditches that you dig. He said make the valley full of them. You bring a thimble to the Pacific Ocean, all you going to do is get a thimble worth of Pacific. If you bring a glass to the Pacific Ocean, you'll get more than a thimble, but you won't get more than a glass. If you bring a bucket to the Pacific Ocean, you'll get more than a thimble and more than a glass, but you won't get more than a bucket. If you bring a barrel to the Pacific, you'll get more than a thimble, more than a glass, more than a bucket, but not more than a barrel. If you bring a tanka to the Pacific, you will get more than a thimble, more than a glass, more than a bucket, more than a barrel, but you won't get more than a taika. Not because the Pacific can't handle what you bring. Whatever you bring is a small thing to the Pacific.
It depends on what you bring. Depends on the dishes you dig. How committed are you? Amen. You can pray till you're blue in the face. If you don't dig ditches, the prayer won't be answered. People say, I'm trusting the Lord, but let me see your ditches. Let me see what acts of faith he can supply my needs. Let me see your ditches in giving.
He can win back my mate. Let me see your ditches of being the right kind of mate that God can work with. He can bring my child back. What kind of ditches are you digging to be the right kind of parent that you ought to be?
He can change my trajectory of my identity. What kind of ditches are you digging to affirm the identity that God says you are? If you're not digging the ditch, you're wasting your time praying the prayer. He not digging your ditch, but he'll fill your ditch with water. See, the problem is we are not giving God what he requires to work with.
And if you are struggling digging your ditch, find a Jehoshaphat who will encourage you to dig ditches, who will not let you just hang out, talk in a good game, listening to sermons, praying prayers without any ditches for God to work with. It was one group of people. They were praying for rain because it hadn't rained in their town for a long time. They were praying for rain, praying for rain, praying for rain, but it wouldn't rain. But it wasn't because they weren't praying. They were praying for rain, but it wouldn't rain. They got discouraged and they all went back home. The next day, after they went back home, it started to get cloudy like it was gonna rain.
And in the town square was one little boy holding an umbrella. See, he came expecting God to move. He came expecting it to work. Everybody else was praying.
He brought an umbrella. He said, I'm gonna dig a ditch. I'm gonna show God I believe what he said. Yeah, man. I'm going to act on it, not just talk about it or go to church to discuss it. And so it happened in the morning.
Verse 20, about the time of the offering of the sacrifice that behold, water came by the way of Eden and the country was filled with water. Don't box God in. Don't say how he gonna do something. You can declare what he's gonna do. What you can't declare is how he can do something because he knows how to throw a curve ball. He can come in so many different ways.
He can come around in so many different avenues. That's why don't get discouraged, don't quit, dig ditches. Dig your ditch in your valley, in your low place, dig your ditch. In your difficult place, dig your ditch.
Whatever God tells you to do that you know. He told Martha, move the stone. You won't see the resurrection of Lazarus as long as you appear talking to me, as long as you appear discussing it with me. Didn't I tell you, you won't see until I see you believe. And that means I need you to move the stone. You talking too much. Some of this stuff don't take that long.
Cause a lot of our talking is explaining why we won't dig ditches. Dr. Tony Evans, talking about being ready to handle God's blessings. And he'll come back with a closing comment about that in just a moment, so be sure to stay with us.
But first I wanna remind you about that special double offer I mentioned earlier. As our way of saying thanks for your contribution to help keep Tony's teaching on this station, we'll send you all 10 lessons in his brand new series, Bold Belief. Along with this powerful audio collection, we'll also include his popular book, God is Up to Something Great. Together this package will reveal how to find God's strength, peace and promise in your life.
Enabling you to live with confidence, unshakable, even in a culture in decline. Get the details online at tonyevans.org or give us a call at 1-800-800-3222. Our resource request line is always open, so there's no need to wait. Again, that's tonyevans.org or by phone at 1-800-800-3222. You know the Bible tells us one of the attributes of God's Holy Spirit living and operating inside of us is kindness, and that's something we can never have too much of. Dr. Evans encourages you to share a kind word or gesture with someone this weekend as you seek to carry God's light to a world in need of his love. Well coming up on Monday, Dr. Evans will talk about pursuing the Lord's power and why it's so important for us to reach out and take hold of Christ. Right now though, he's back with this final illustration. You know I have in my house power strips, and these power strips like yours have five or six connections.
Now on the wall, I just have two, but when I plug the power strip into the wall, I have expanded my capacity for power. See, when you accepted Jesus Christ, certain things came with the house. It's just, you know, your eternal destiny was secure.
That's on the house. I love Ephesians chapter three, verse 20. Now unto him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all you can ask or think. Be glory, honor, and dominion through the church. So now unto him who can meet you in your dry spot, in your spiritual battle, in your trial, in your tribulation, in your singlehood, in your marriage, in your career, on your job with your parents, with your children. Now unto him who can meet you in your discouragement, in your depression, in your frustration, in your irritation, now unto him who knows your hurt, who knows your mistrust, who knows your mistreatment, now unto him be glory, honor, and dominion now and forever. Somebody better give him some praise up in here, up in here. He is worthy to be praised while you dig your ditch. 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. Thank you.
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