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Watch 2022 online sermons » Dr. Tony Evans » Tony Evans - Keep Digging Your Ditches

Tony Evans - Keep Digging Your Ditches


Tony Evans - Keep Digging Your Ditches

I wanna talk to you about godliness, and I would like to suggest to you that is our assignment. A lot of Christians today are working on the wrong assignment. We're working hard, we're putting in all the effort we think we can put in, and it's just not working. Everything is coming up "F". We're failing in our lives, we're failing in our priorities, we're failing in our families. We're failing in our commitments. We're failing, while working hard. And I'd like to suggest to you that is because much of what we're doing is not tied to the assignment we've been given. He wants you to see him at a level you've never seen him before, so the question on the floor is, how bad do you want it?

Sometimes things go from bad to worse. Sometimes when you think things are on the upswing, they go south. When that happens, you become disappointed, you become just irritated, because hope is dashed when things go from bad to worse. In 2 Kings chapter 3, we have a story, and I have a simple challenge to you from this chapter for this year, and that is to keep digging your ditches. The situation is explained to us in the first eight verses of the chapter. I'll summarize it for you; feel free to read the whole thing. But three kings have come together in a conflict with Moab. 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. So the kings gather together to now deal with this problem that has confronted them. That's the situation, but we have a problem in verse 9. "So the king of Israel went with the king of Judah and the king of Edom and they made a circuit of seven days' journey, and there was no water for the army or for the cattle that followed them". They were on their way to battle, but there was no water. Now, they already had one fight, 'cause they getting ready to go fight Moab. They got one battle, 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. There was no water. 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? The king of Israel, Jehoram, said, verse 10, "Alas, for the Lord has caused these three kings to give them into the hand of Moab". So the king of Israel, Jehoram, says, "God has put us in a hot mess. God done hooked us up together to be beaten by the enemy". You ever feel like God set you up? He kinda set you up for a defeat. Hey, I'm out here trying to fight. 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 says, "God has set us up to fail". The truth be told, even if you too scared to say it, sometimes it feels like God has set you up for a defeat, 'cause you're in a battle and then things go from bad to worse. There is no water, and you blame God. You feel it, you think it, even though you don't say it, because he's the one who can make sure that there was water. Jehoshaphat is the king of Judah. Israel is the northern kingdom, Judah is the southern kingdom. But Jehoshaphat said... now, Jehoram is Israel. He said, "God has set us up to fail," but Jehoshaphat in verse 11 speaks and says, "'Is there not a prophet of the Lord here that we may inquire of the Lord by him?' And one of the kings of Israel's servants answered and said, 'Elisha the son of Shaphat is here who used to pour water on the hands of Elijah.'"

Stay with me now. Jehoshaphat says, "I know you wanna blame God, Jehoram, 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"? He said, "I need somebody in this particular situation who can bring clarity to what we're going through, because Jehoram, what you're talking about, blaming God, is getting us nowhere. I need to find out what God is up to in allowing the situation to transpire as it has. 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 that water on the hands of... he was Elijah's servant.

So Elisha was the servant of the previous prophet, Elijah. He says Elisha is, yes, he is nearby. So, Jehoshaphat, stay with me here, said, "The Word of the Lord is with him". So the King of Israel, Jehoram, and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him because they needed spiritual clarity, watch this, for a physical situation, two physical situations: one, they in a war, and number two, they have no water. Now, that's a physical reality, but they need a spiritual clarification about the spiritual reality. 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's 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 they go down to get spiritual clarity.

Now, Elisha 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, the king of Edom, and Jehoram, but he only turns to Jehoram, the king of Israel, and said, "Why are you here? Get out of my face. I don't wanna see you. Move on. I don't mind talking to these other two guys. I don't wanna talk to you". But he only said it to the one king. He doesn't say it to the other two, although there were three there. All right, go back to verse 1. "Now, Jehoram, the son of Ahab, became king over Israel and Samaria". The beginning of verse 2, "And he did evil in the sight of the Lord". Verse 3, "Nevertheless, he clung to the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he had made Israel sin. He did not depart from them".

So, let me tell you about Jehoram. Jehoram's daddy was Ahab; Jehoram's mother was Jezebel. You starting to track with me? Ahab and Jezzie... led a whole herd of false prophets. They went about killing the prophets of God and bolstering up the prophets of Baal. They had Elijah, who was the spiritual father of Elisha, running for his life, they were so oppressive. Like father, like son. Elisha says, "I know about your daddy, I know about your momma, and you as bad as them. You a chip off the old block". In fact, he says in verse 13, "Go to the prophets of your father and to the prophets of your mother," and the king of Israel said to him, "No, for the Lord has called these three kings together to give them into the hands of Moab," okay. He says, "Why 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 'cause 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 wanna go to church, now he wanna hear what the Bible has to say, now he wants to hear what the Word of God has to say because he's in a crisis. You know, that's what folk do. They want God in an emergency. So, he says, "Go back to your people. You don't believe in God, you haven't called on God before. You haven't been looking at God all the time then, now you wanna just show up and get spiritual. What are you doing here? You don't believe in the true God. You just using him right now".

And so, they've got this emergency. Elisha says, verse 14, "As the Lord of Hosts lives, before whom I stand". In other words, I don't just visit him, I stand before him. In other words, he's my lifestyle, not just my Sunday morning experience. "Before whom I stand". In other words, this is how I roll, this is how I operate. "Before whom I stand, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look at you nor see you". The only reason I'm talking to you is 'cause Jehoshaphat is here, the godly king of Judah. So, you gonna get the benefit of a saint in your midst. You gonna get the benefit even though you need to go home to momma and daddy, and they dead. You gonna get the benefit of Jehoshaphat being in the mix.

That's why the Bible says, "The presence of the righteous affects the condition of the wicked," because the righteous in a vicinity can give credit to the evil in the environment. Because Jehoshaphat is here, I'm gonna answer his questions that's gonna bless you. Verse 15, they wanna know, is there a word from God about this crisis of no water? 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? Is there anybody here with a piano? Is there anybody here with an organ? Is there anybody here with a violin? Is there a minstrel that is a musician in the vicinity"? Hmm, the prophet asked for a musician. 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 the sermon, 'cause 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 worshipper 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".

So, no, music isn't just 'cause a song is supposed to be in church; it's supposed to be an atmosphere where God feels comfortable. And so, before he ever heard a specific word, a rhema word, a rhema word is a specific utterance, not a general, preached truth. Before he got clarity, he had to have an atmospheric change. So, when you get alone with God during the fast, when you get with him as a general rule, create some atmosphere so that you can hear a prophetic word. So, 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".

Now, he only heard this after he heard the minstrel, after the atmosphere was changed, because, I mean, there are a million options out there related to our decision-making. A prophetic word gives you a specific word for you. This is the strategy right now for this thing you are dealing with. He says, "What God told me to tell you was to dig plenty of ditches in a valley". Now, valley is a low place. The valley, you low. So, they in a war, there's no water, and they low. "I want you to dig ditches, and I want you to fill up the valley with them". So, he worships, he gets a specific word, fill the low place, the valley, with ditches, with trenches. But what's gonna happen when I do this? 'Cause 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.'"

Okay, listen to this now. When God gives you a prophetic word, it may not make sense. There gonna be no wind, no rain, and there gonna 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 gonna be no rain, and it's gonna be filled? You know why he told them build ditches? He told them dig ditches so that they could make room for God. He says, "This ain't hard. This is but a slight thing with the Lord. It ain't all that". "You mean to tell me we gonna dig ditches, the plain's gonna be full of water, we gonna be able to feed, the people gonna drink, the animals gonna drink, and we gonna 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".

But notice, he said, "You gonna have to dig the ditches. God's not gonna dig the ditches. You dig the ditches, because God wants to see your faith at work". And he will only fill the amount of ditches that you dig. He said, "Make the valley full of them," 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, talking a good game, listening to sermons, praying prayers without any ditches for God to work with. It happened in the morning. Verse 20, "By the time of the offering of the sacrifice, they behold water came by the way of Edom, and the country was filled with water".

Let me explain something, do me a favor: don't box God in, don't say how he gonna do something. 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. That's why I love, I love Ephesians chapter 3, 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 in this new year 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 or in 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 ditches.

The motivation for pursuing godliness is that we get to experience God at a deeper, richer level. For many people, even Christians, God is distant. He's out there somewhere; believe in him, maybe have a legal relationship with him with very limited experience of him. His closeness, his work in our lives, answered prayer, governance and guidance along the way, provision; all of those things come tied to proximity. So, the closer you are to God through pursuing godliness, the more of the God you are pursuing you get to experience. God is not far away. We're far away. Draw near and watch what happens when he draws near to you.
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