Dr. Tony Evans is the founder and senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, founder and president of The Urban Alternative and author of over 100 books, booklets and Bible studies. The first African American to earn a doctorate of theology from Dallas Theological Seminary, he has been named one of the 12 Most Effective Preachers in the English-Speaking World by Baylor University. Dr. Evans holds the honor of writing and publishing the first full-Bible commentary and study Bible by an African American. His radio broadcast, The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, can be heard on over 1,400 radio outlets daily and in more than 130 countries. Dr. Evans’ sermons are also streamed and downloaded over 20,000,000 times annually.









today i want to look at an encounter

with god’s

power and this encounter with god’s

power comes in the context

of a dilemma so

a dilemma is when you’re in a no-win

situation anybody here ever been in that


it’s no win i mean any direction that

you look in

is a lose-lose you’re in a dilemma

the most noted story in

israel’s history the crossing of the red

sea which was its biggest celebrated

miracle happened when they were

simultaneously in a dilemma

most celebrated story the one that’s

repeated over and over and over

in the old testament is the story of the

crossing of the red sea

it’s repeated in the new testament but

what i want you to catch

today is that they had their divine

encounter with god’s problem in the

context of

a dilemma so i want to prepare you today

for an encounter with god

but i also want to prepare you for a


that provides the context for that


now the background to this

is very clear

moses has come through the 12 plagues

the 10 plagues and he’s

now leading the children of israel out


egypt pharaoh has responded now

finally to moses’s call to let my people


and so the people now are on their way

out from slavery to freedom

they’re excited they’re looking forward

they’ve been told that there’s this

promised land this purpose of god that

god is going to take them to and

things are looking rosy

as they leave

on their way out it says in verse 17 of

chapter 13

that god did not leave them by way of

the land of the philistines

even though it was near

i want you to catch verse 18 hence god

led them so watch this

their dilemma is going to come about

when god is leading them

their dilemma is going to happen when

they’re in

the will of god their dilemma is going

to occur

when they’re being obedient because it


god was leading them

not only was god leading them into

what would be a dilemma it says

god led them the long way around

he did not lead them in the short


not only that

but god was going before them verse 21

of chapter 13 says in a pillar of cloud

by day

and a pillar of fire by night

he’s walking with him in every step of

the way

and when they are doing this zigzag

through the wilderness

it says in chapter 14 pharaoh will say

to the sons of israel verse 3

they are wandering aimlessly in the land

and the wilderness has shut them in

and the wilderness will shut them

in so when he says and the wilderness

shall shut them in they’re going to be

in a no-win situation that they can’t

get out of

without coming back toward us

and it says and god was leading them

he was leading them into a cul-de-sac

or what you and i would call a trap

see a lot of us figure god wouldn’t do


oh god does do that and the reason god

does that is because only in those

contexts will you see that he’s god

because the one thing about a dilemma is

you can’t get out of it

the one thing about a dilemma is you

don’t see an exit

and every direction you look in is

a trap when god

is ready to move you to a new spiritual

experience with him

he will regularly do it in the midst of

a contradiction

and a conflict and that is their


verse 4 says of chapter 14 thus i will


pharaoh’s heart and he will chase after


hmm to harden the heart means to make

you more rebellious than you already


to harden the heart means to make you

meaner than you already were

to harden the heart is to make you worse

than you

already were i think the verse says and


harden pharaoh’s heart because when god

is ready to give you a new experience

with him

he will allow you to be put into a


that only he can get you out of

when god is ready to make this move

doesn’t matter who you know what contact

you have how much money you

you possess or where you live or the car

you drive

when god is ready to give you a new

experience with him

he will regularly trap you where you

are verse 8 of chapter

14 says the lord hardened the heart

of pharaoh king of egypt and he chased


the sons of israel

what’s frustrating to me about god

is he will make it look like he answered

your prayer

come on anybody been there it looked

like you

you praising him you you all excited

you’re ready to give your testimony

and then he go left on you

they finally get out of egypt they’ve

been praying to get out of egypt

he lets him out of egypt then he hardens

pharaoh’s heart to come after him

looks like he changed his mind

as pharaoh junior verse 10

the sons of israel looked and behold the

egyptians were marching after them

and they became scared

it says they were very frightened and so

the sons of israel cried out to the lord

water here pharaoh and his chariots here

and they’re closing in on the jews and

so they are

terrified so they

do what many christians do they cry out

to god

help help

while simultaneously complaining to man

verse 11 they said to moses is it

because there were no graves in egypt

that you have taken us away to die in

the wilderness

why have you dealt with us in this way

bringing us out of egypt

is this not the word that we spoke to

you in egypt saying leave us alone

that we may serve the egyptians for it

would have been better for us to serve

the egyptians than to die in the


so the conflict that they are in the red


and the egyptians produces a spiritual

conflict within them

because on the one hand it says they

cried out on the god

but then on the other hand it says they

complain to moses

so i’m calling on god but i’m blaming


not only that but i’m confused

because the dilemma will confuse you

they said did not we tell you leave us


we were happy being a slave in them

cornfields we were

we were happy being a slave picking that

cotton we were we were we were just

we were just swing low sweet chariots we

were just

happy slaves

never mind that they had been crying out

to god all the time

for god to get them out of here

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so let me give you something you must do

when you’re caught

in a dilemma and god himself is

confusing you

you must appeal to someone if you cannot

appeal to yourself

who has a spiritual perspective

see if you’re confused and you’re only

talking to

other confused people

who do not share a proper view

of god then all you’re going to do is

reinforce the frustration of your


if god has allowed you to be there

because you’re

in the will of god even though you are


then god alone has to give you


and so even though they were complaining

about moses

only moses could give them the proper


because moses was in touch with god

so moses said to the people because

they’re crying out to god

and complaining at the same time

so moses says to the people do

not fear okay

stop worrying be calm it’s going to be


stand by and see the salvation

of the lord so he brings in a spiritual


to their human dilemma which he will

accomplish for you

the egyptians whom you have seen today

you will never see them again

the lord will fight for you

while you are silent

not while you are talking

what he is referring to was the

complaining they were doing

not the crying out to god but the


god will fight for you while you keep


they were now in the position

of submitting the spiritual authority

you must have spiritual authority in

your life

spiritual people to whom you can appeal

when you don’t have spiritual answers


and all you can see are the


ah verse 15 then the lord said to mo

the lord said to moses

why are you crying out to me

tell the sons of israel

to go forward he says to moses

why are you crying out to me

tell israel to go forward

now the problem with that verse

is there’s nothing stated about moses

crying out to him

there’s no statement about moses crying

is that the people cried out

but then god turns to moses and says why


you crying out

says what i want you to do is tell

people now it’s time to move

tell them to move forward now here is

a principle he had just said

stand still do nothing

but now he gets another message that

says tell a man to go forward

so here it is when god puts you in a


and there is nothing that you can

do or should do you do nothing

when god hasn’t given you something to

do that means he

there is not something he wants you to

do yet

but now he tells him to move forward

it says by faith they cross the red sea

remember faith is in your feet not in

your feelings

hebrews 11 29 says they did it by faith

because faith often has to operate

when fear is present

okay faith does not automatically

eradicate fear but

faith when it is operating

overrides fear because fear immobilizes

faith moves even when you are

fearful but when he gives you something

to do

you move he says tell the people to move

and so the people move moses lift up

your staff he lifts up the rod

now called the rod of god

he says i will again this word in verse

17 harden

the heart of the egyptians i’m gonna

make them harder

i’m gonna make them hate you more i’m

gonna make them come after you

worse than before so that they will go

in after them and i will be honored

through pharaoh and his army

through his chariots and his horsemen

so moses stretches out his hand with the

rod verse 21

and the lord swept the sea back by a

strong wind

all night and turned the sea into dry


so the waters were divided the sons of

israel went through

verse 23 then the egyptians took up


to see a sea open up

the water wall on both sides

this whole army of almost two million


walking through and you go in there

after them you got to be crazy

but they were made crazy by god

hardening their heart

so god may be hardening the heart of

your coworker

making them treat you bad worse

he may be hardening the heart of your


making him treat you worse or that


in your life or that circumstance see

that’s why you’ve got to be in the will

of god because when he makes it worse

he’s using it

i will harden pharaoh’s heart and the

egyptians will come

after you it says in verse 31

when israel saw say saul

see not they heard they saw when israel

saw the great

power which the lord had used against

the egyptians

the people feared the lord and they

believed in the lord

and in his servant moses

why does god put you in a dilemma

when you’re in his will so you can see


it says when they saw the power of the


they encountered god’s power

they said you know what those people are

saying they’re saying take us back to


you know what god was trying to do he

was trying to deliver them from

something in their past

egypt was their past but you can get so

used to yesterday

that when the day goes bad on you you

want to go back

he says i’m going to deliver you from


because i have a different tomorrow but

for me

to deliver you from yesterday to take

you to a different tomorrow i’m going to

create confusion today

so i want you to look at your dilemma

that you’re either in or that you will


differently if you’re not

in the will of god get in the will of

god so that he can turn it

into something he can use if you’re not

walking by faith but only walking by


begin to walk by faith and no longer

live a life of complaining

acknowledging the reality but not

blaming man for something god has done

because you now have this bigger view of


who wants to show you his power so that

he can blow your mind in a catch 22.

some of you have heard this story

because you’ve been here for a while

but the newer people may not have heard

the story and so

i want to conclude my time with telling


one of my dilemma moments we were


at a school in the early days of our

ministry the school board said we could

no longer meet there we would have to

in a couple of weeks find another place

we were in a catch-22 we were in a

dilemma what would we tell the people

we went back to the school board and

asked them for an extension of time

they said they do not think we can get

it because there were too many board


with this whole thing of church and

state that were against

the church meeting in a school

but then they said but we will have a

final official vote but

the person who we talked to said let me

tell you now there are too many people

against you

all we did was call on god

to intervene and to do something that

was out of our hands

it was now the day of the vote and we

knew the votes were against us

we’ve been told that by an insider

the meeting was supposed to happen at a

certain time

but the time went on and on and on i

guess we’re sitting out there

close to two hours when it should have

been finished in 30 minutes

waiting for a decision

finally a lady comes out of the meeting

she says i am sorry it’s taken so long

but two of our board members are missing

they have not yet gotten to the meeting

so we tried to wait for them so we could

have a

full council vote but they have not

showed up

and we have decided to go ahead with the


we went ahead with the vote and by one


you have gotten approval to stay in the


by one vote when she finished

coming out the two who were missing

rushed in

the two were missing rushed in but the

vote had already been taken

oh but that’s not the good part of the

story the good part of the story is

why they were late these two decided to


together when they decided to ride


they got off of poke and 67

and there was an accident at the light

the accident at the light held up


for almost two hours where the traffic

could not move

so within that two hours the vote was


so by the time the traffic got cleared


and they rushed in it was too late

because god had already

set up a block


the story in exodus chapter 18

says that the cloud and the pillar of


went from in front of the jews and went

to the back of the jews

to create a block so that pharaoh’s army

could not get to them

until they crossed over so what god did

was he took the angel of the lord and he

left from in front of old cliff

he went to the back of oak cliff he went

down to

poke and 67 allowed an accident to occur

at just the right time for just the

right amount of cars

in order to block what god’s purpose was

he created a dilemma now the good news

of that for you

is that i have never forgotten it so

anytime now we run into a dilemma

i remember what happened at the end of

the 1970s

anytime we run into a problem i remember

that god is the same yesterday today

and forever i remember to tell you

let’s move forward when god says move

even though we don’t see how it’s going

to work out because the god

who can create an accident at just the

right time

can do whatever he decides to do in the


in our lives as long as we are in the


of his will come on and praise him


because he’s worthy because he wants you

to see him

for yourself in the dilemma

of your life







when the children of israel were at the

red sea

they were in a pickle weren’t they you

got pharaoh coming one way and you’ve


you’ve got a whole sea out in front of


and nowhere to go they were at rock

bottom but you know

when you hit bottom and you can’t go any


there’s only one direction you can you

can go in isn’t it

you have to look up god will

often put us in circumstances that we

can’t fix to reveal his awesome power

when the people you know the money you

have the influence you possess

can’t get you out of it look up

when you’ve hit rock bottom it is there

that you discover he’s the rock at the


so keep your eyes on heaven when earth

can’t help you

keep your eyes on eternity when time

has confused you it is in those moments

that there is an unveiling of god’s

omnipotence his awesome power

to intervene to reverse

and to open up a way out of no way

if you haven’t been there yet keep

living you’ll get there

and if you have been there then you know

what i’m talking about

our god is a powerful god and he meets

us best with that power

when we find ourselves in circumstances

we just aren’t able to fix