Revive Our Hearts Podcast

A Humble Beginning

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss doesn’t claim to know everything about running a national radio ministry, but she does know one important thing.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I know what matters to God is that I have a humble, teachable spirit, that I receive counsel.

You say, “You’re the director of this ministry.”

That’s right. And directors of ministries need people that they’re accountable to.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, August 18.

You’ll often encounter two opposing ideas about wisdom—the world’s and God’s. But the world’s definition is far different than God’s definition. Nancy explained that yesterday, and if you missed the program, you can hear the series The Way of Wisdom at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Today she’ll continue with some practical examples.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We’ve been looking at the book of Proverbs and seeing how much practical wisdom it has that applies to every area of our lives including our work habits and our choice of friends.

Let me show you three other areas today that Proverbs has a lot to say about. The first topic is the area of child-rearing. Listen to what Proverbs chapter 29 says,

The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself [that is a child who doesn’t have correction, reproof, and discipline] brings shame to his mother [so], discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart (verses 15 & 17).

Some of you have young children. I hope that you’re reading the wisdom of God’s Word and not being unduly influenced by the wisdom of the world which would say, “Let your children make their own decisions. Let them have those choices—don’t correct them and don’t discipline.”

Of course, some of us are a product of a whole generation of “Dr. Spockites” who told parents that if they disciplined their children they would warp their personality and would harm their character. Then we saw the fruit of that and even those in that generation came back to apologize and say, “We weren’t quite right.” God’s Word gives us wisdom about child discipline and child training.

The second area is of self-control. Proverbs has a lot to say about that as it relates to pleasure, recreation, food, and drink. Listen to this verse in Proverbs 21.

Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil, will not be rich (verse 17).

The Lord is not saying that there is anything inherently wrong with pleasure or food and drink inherently. But He’s saying if you love these things, or if you are habitually drawn to them, you will be a poor man. For example, a person who spends his or her life playing computer games is not going to earn a great living—right?—if you love pleasure, if you love recreation.

This is something you can teach your children. If all you love to do is play, you’re going to be poor. You’re going to have consequences.

Along with self-control is the issue of food and drink. Proverbs 23 says,

Be not among drunkards, or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags (verses 20-21).

We don’t like the words drunkard or glutton; instead, we like to say someone has a problem with drinking or a problem with overeating. But it might help if we would call it what God calls it.

You might say, “Well, I’m not a drunkard!” Most of us in the room probably aren’t, but some of us are gluttons and some are drunkards.

We’re hearing from listeners who have horrible issues with alcohol, food, and other addictions. God’s Word says not to hang around people who don’t practice self-control because if you are one of those people or you could become like one of those people, you will come to poverty.

Listen to this. It’s even clearer in the rest of chapter 23, beginning in verse 29,

Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who tarry long over wine. 

Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. [Oh, it tastes so good, feels so good, and covers the pain.]

In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things. You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, like one who lies on the top of a mast. [Like you’re sea sick. You’re on this rocking boat out in a storm. You won’t be able to walk straight if you get drunk.] "They struck me," you will say, "but I was not hurt; they beat me, but I did not feel it." [You lose all sense.] When shall I awake? I must have another drink” (verses 29-35).

What’s the picture there? It is of someone who has indulged to such excess that they can’t live without whatever it is they’ve been indulging in. That sound’s like an addiction. “When I awake I must have another drink.”

Most would say, “Certainly, Christians don’t have a problem with drunkenness or gluttony!” That’s what you think. Many, many Christians—our whole culture is so out of control—are not in control when it comes to issues like food, and drink.

We don’t understand temperance, self-control, and God’s Word says that there are consequences. We are such a highly addictive society. I have seen in my own life a tendency to easily take good things to excess, to easily become addicted to things that in and of themselves may not be wrong but result in addictive behaviors.

It can be something as simple as computer games, pleasure, entertainment, recreation, hobbies. Dieting can be as great as an issue as overeating. Obsession with beauty or with physical appearance, these things if we don’t have self control will end up controlling us. That’s what he’s saying here.

And then that leads us to the third issue about which Proverbs has so much to say—our morals, sexual life, and sexual purity—issues of morality and immorality.

Over and over again Solomon says, “My son listen to me. I’m going to tell it to you straight. Here’s what will happen if you are not morally pure.” And he issues these strong, repeated, stern, straightforward warnings.

For example, in chapter 5 of Proverbs, the father, Solomon, is talking to his son, and he’s talking about women who are seductive—women who are not morally pure. He says to his son, “Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door to her house” (verse 8).

We think we can get close to sin. We think we can play with it without getting bit. But he says, “Don’t go close to the person or the situation that might lead into moral or sexual sin.”

Then he tells us why in verse 11, “At the end of your life . . .” Think to the end. Think to the long-term consequences. Don’t think to the momentary pleasure that you will get now. Think down the road and here is what will happen. “At the end of your life, you groan, when your flesh and your body are consumed.” Doesn’t that sound like some of our sexual diseases of today?

Your flesh and your body are consumed, and you say, "How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof! I did not listen to the voice of my teachers or incline my ear to my instructors" (5:11-13).

He says it this way in chapter 6:

He who commits adultery lacks sense. He who does it destroys himself (verse 32).

Now all the ads and the programs and the songs and the pictures that would make one lean toward having an illicit relationship, they don’t tell you that. They don’t tell you that if you do this you’re stupid. They don’t tell you if you do this, if you indulge, if you give into this, you will destroy yourself.

They’re saying, “No. Live it up. You can have fun. You deserve a break. Your husband’s not such a great, hot guy anyway. An affair can be healthy for your marriage. It can just spice things up a little bit.” We hear this wisdom of the world. It is foolishness.

And the writer to Proverbs says,

“If you commit adultery you lack sense; he who does it destroys himself. Wounds and dishonor will he get and his disgrace will not be wiped away” (6:32-33).

There are women listening to this program today who are playing with fire when it comes to an emotional attachment over the Internet, an emotional relationship at work or with a counselor. Maybe it’s already become something of a physical relationship.

And they’re saying, “Oh, it’s not adultery. We haven’t had sex.” But they’re playing with fire. They’re committing emotional adultery, mental adultery, relational adultery. They’re not honoring their covenant with their mate. There will be consequences.

I have heard from these people. They have written to us, and I’ve heard them cry out, “Why, oh why, oh why, did I not listen to counsel? Why did I not listen to God’s Word? I knew the truth!”

I want to say to some of you listening right now, God is giving you one more chance to choose the way of wisdom and to repent of your foolish ways.

Let me read to you an email I received recently from a woman who, thank God, made a right choice at a moment when many, many women would have made a foolish choice.

She wrote us recently as Revive Our Hearts to say,

I was several years old in the Lord when I turned down a job for a scientific research cruise to Antarctica. Initially I was thrilled that I was going to assist scientists from all over the world in geology and biology projects, including drilling ice cores. Many graduate students would die for the opportunity I had! I had been fitted for an ice suit and was arranging my flight to Chile when God started speaking to me.

One of my supervisors had approached me to cultivate a romantic relationship on the cruise. I told him no. [Remember, she’s a fairly new believer at the time.] But I started struggling with fleshly delusions of finding "love" on the Antarctica adventure. Scripture started coming to mind. [Thank God for His Word and how it can deliver us from temptation, if you have it in your mind.]

Scripture started coming to mind and I started actually becoming fearful about going. I finally realized that being a lone Christian woman on a ship in Antarctica (without even a phone to call a friend for prayer) with an unbelieving man who would be pursuing me would not be good.

So she started seeing the way of wisdom. You say, “It took her that long?” Listen, some people never get it. Some people never get it.

I agonized terribly and finally gave up my spot on the cruise to the shock of my professors. I was tormented for years about having given up what seemed to be the chance of a lifetime to cultivate success and a name for myself in such an interesting area of work. But you have helped me see and establish total peace in my mind and heart that I chose the right thing, because I chose holiness.

You said in your teaching about sexual purity that if temptation arises at a particular job, QUIT if you have to in order to maintain your purity. That is what I did, but it felt so bad because it felt like WAY too drastic of a measure. I felt so foolish.

She made a right choice, but the enemy is blinding her. For years she felt like she made a foolish choice even though it was a wise one.

I thought that I had "missed the boat," literally. I CRAVED for someone, anyone, to confirm that I had made the right decision, but I couldn’t find anyone who would do that.

Why? Because the world is foolish; it doesn’t value God’s wisdom. Now she’s been listening to Revive Our Hearts and she says,

I believe that if I had asked you for counsel at the time, you would have assured me that my relationship with God is my highest goal and treasure and that I had made the right decision. (Now she says—and it’s all in capital letters.) YES, I MADE A GOOD AND RIGHT DECISION!!!

She did make a good and right decision. You know why? Because it was a wise decision because she followed God’s way. She had some second thoughts about it, some second guessing, and some remorse. She wondered, “Did I miss the boat—the love boat?”

Think of all the things she missed that could have created a lifetime of heartache and heartbreak for her and countless other people whose lives would have been affected had she gone the way that seemed to be right to a man—the way of the world—the foolish way that leads to death.

Choose wisdom and live.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back with more in this series The Way of Wisdom. During this series we’d like to help you develop practical godly wisdom, so when you make a donation of any amount we’ll send the Bible study workbook that has benefited so many listeners. Nancy co-wrote this study called Seeking Him: Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival.

Sexual purity is one of the topics you’ll study in this workbook, finding out what the Bible has to say and understanding how it applies to you in 2009. We’ll send Seeking Him when you donate at ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 1-800-569-5959.

Well, another topic that you’ll thoroughly study in Seeking Him is humility. Nancy picks up on that topic as she continues to show us wisdom from the Proverbs.

Nancy: A wise person is teachable. He’s humble, and we’re going to see that through a number of verses that we’ll look at in Proverbs today.

For example, Proverbs 18 says,

An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge (verse 15).

The person who’s wise looks for knowledge. He wants to learn. He wants to grow.

A wise person, according to Proverbs, never stops growing, never stops learning. He never feels like he’s arrived. He’s always learning.

Proverbs 9, verse 9 says, "Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser.” You can become wiser. “Teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.”

According to Proverbs 10, verse 8, a wise person receives instruction. “The wise of heart will receive commandments.”

You know it’s our natural tendency to want to buck up against commandments. I don’t want anybody telling me what to do.

But Proverbs says the wise person will receive direction, will receive commandments. The wise person listens to reproof, listens to correction.

Proverbs 15 says, “The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise” (verse 31).

Listening to others who point out blind spots in our lives, listening to correction—that’s having a humble and teachable spirit.

It’s so rare to hear in the body of Christ of people saying, “I was wrong. I’ve seen that I was wrong.”

I got an email from a listener recently. This listener said, “God has been working through my boss and others around me to show me how prejudiced, critical, impatient, and stubborn I am.” That woman has a teachable spirit. She’s learning from the reproof she’s received from her boss and others around her.

Instead of being defensive because she’s been criticized or instead of criticizing back, which is often our natural tendency, she’s saying, “You know what? If all these people are saying this, maybe they’re right. She has a teachable spirit." She says, “God has shown me through these people.” That’s a person who listens to reproof.

In fact, Proverbs goes so far as to say that a wise person loves the one who reproves him.

Proverbs 9, verse 8, “Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you.”

I want to say that the people who’ve been willing to speak truth into my life, to speak correction into my life, have become some of my very dearest, most treasured friends because I know that they care enough to risk what I may think of them to tell me the truth.

The wise person loves the person who reproves him; whereas, if you’re a scoffer, you’re going to hate the person who corrects you.

The wise person listens to advice. I have seen this characteristic all through Proverbs over and over and over again. Listen to advice. Listen to advice.

What kind of person does that? A humble person, a teachable person.

The opposite way of thinking is, “I don’t need your advice; my way is the right way. I’m going to do it my way." Now, most of us would never say that, but don’t we often have that attitude? The wise person listens to advice.

Proverbs chapter 12, verse 15, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.”

I have an advisory council in my life. Before I take speaking invitations or make ministry decisions in various areas of the ministry or my personal life, if I have questions or I need counsel, I will go and ask my advisory council. I will ask or one or more members of it, “What do you think? What is your counsel?” My advisory council exists to give me advice.

There’s such freedom just submitting my will to God and to council and saying, “Okay, that’s what I’ll do.” There’s protection in that.

By the way, one important kind of advice the wise person listens to is his parent’s instruction.

A wise son hears his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke (Proverbs 13:1).

Young people, God gave you your parents for a reason. They’re not perfect; they’re not always wise; they’re not all-knowing, and they know they’re not. But God has given them to you to protect you, and there is wisdom in listening to their instruction, listening to their counsel.

Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is honored (Proverbs 13:18).

We need counsel; we need input, whether it’s a very practical area of our work and ministry or our personal lives. I have people who speak truth into my personal life. They love me enough to be willing to challenge me, to point out blind spots in my life.

And of course, sometimes I feel very defensive. Sometimes I don’t agree. But I’m learning that the wise in heart will humble themselves.

  • Do you solicit counsel?
  • Do you ask for advice?
  • Do you welcome input into your life?
  • Do you have people who will speak the truth to you?
  • Are you easy to correct? Or do you get defensive?
  • Do you have teachable spirit?
  • Do you listen to counsel? Do you heed it?

Ladies, you can learn the hard way through painful, personal experience, or you can learn from other’s experiences. I want to say that to some of you younger women. You don’t have to experience all the heartache and the heartbreak that many women do in their lives if you would learn to listen to counsel.

Some of you younger moms, find an older mom who is further down the road; listen to counsel. Listen to your own mom. Listen to your mother-in-law. She may just have something wise to share with you that will help you be a better wife to her son.

That doesn’t mean all their counsel is right, but if you have a humble, teachable spirit God will be able to show which counsel you should take and where, perhaps, you should not take the counsel.

Do you have a humble, teachable heart? That is the number one characteristic of a wise person.

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been showing us why a wise person is also a humble person. That message is part of the series, The Way of Wisdom. Pride will lead you to all kinds of other sins, but humility is the starting place for repentance.

Nancy, I remember that from the helpful workbook you co-wrote called Seeking Him: Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival.

Nancy: Our goal in writing the study was to lead people through a process of experiencing personal revival, and the starting place for that is humility.

So in this study we deal a lot with the issue of pride. And that’s not always an easy thing for us to face. Well, it’s easy to face it in other people’s lives but not always in our own. This is one of the key issues that God deals with in people’s lives early on in the Seeking Him study.

For example, a woman comes to mind who went through the Seeking Him study with a friend. She said,

The Lord has been showing me things in my life that I never before thought of as being pride.

The word ouch has been very prevalent as my friend and I have been doing this together. But it’s wonderful!

Then she goes on to explain why it’s been wonderful to have the Lord convicting her of pride in her life.

The Lord laid several people on my heart that I needed to seek to have a clear conscience with. And although that was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, I’ve actually experienced restored relationships—something I never thought possible with one person in particular.

So as hard as it is to take the mask off and get to that place where we let God deal with the pride in our lives, the joy and the freedom that we experience not only in our own walk with the Lord but in our relationships with others makes it worth dealing with that pride.

That then sets us on a pathway to be able to respond to the Lord in basic areas of purity and obedience and holiness that lead us to the great rewards of seeking Him.

So we’d like to send you a copy of the Seeking Him workbook. It’s our way of saying thank you when you give a donation of any amount to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. We’re able to continue broadcasting this program in your area thanks to the gifts of friends like you who have a heart for this ministry.

Thank you for partnering with us as we call women to seek Him and to experience the joys of personal revival.

Leslie: Ask for Seeking Him when you donate by phone. Our number is 1-800-569-5959, or donate online at ReviveOurHearts.com.

So where do you find wisdom? Ask most people and they’ll list books, libraries, maybe even the Internet. But tomorrow we’ll find out why wisdom isn’t found in a thing but in a person. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

 

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.