Revive Our Hearts Podcast

An Opportunity

Due to the timeliness of this material, this transcript may contain additional material not aired on the actual radio program.

Leslie Basham: Here's Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You know, the natural tendency when we're in times of conflict or pressure or problems, the natural tendency is to care most about me. But, you know, as children of God, our greatest concern needs to be "What is God doing in this world?"

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

As we hear about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq or about nuclear weapons in North Korea or about terrorist threats to the U.S., we all have a tendency to think about one thing--ourselves. Let's join Nancy to get a different perspective, an eternal perspective.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Did you know that in World War 2, anxiety actually killed more Americans than the war itself? During that war, some 250,000 Americans were killed in combat.

But, during that same period of time, another 2,000,000 Americans reportedly died of heart disease. And physicians suspected that one‑third to one‑half of those heart disease deaths were directly related to worry. Fear‑induced heart problems killed more Americans than the war itself.

Now, the Scripture tells us in Luke, chapter 21, that there will come a day when men's hearts will fail for fear. And we all know how fear can cause our hearts to pound more quickly, can actually create all kinds of cardiovascular and stress‑related physical issues related to our hearts.

So, when those days come, and we're living in those kinds of days right now, where fear can cause our hearts to actually fail--what are we supposed to do? How are we to respond? Could I suggest first, that the Christian's response to stressful times should be qualitatively different than those without Christ.

Now that's not to suggest that Christians won't have to go through stressful times, they will, and we do, and all of us in different ways are facing stressful times, if not as we look at the world events, than as we look at our own lives.

Let me suggest first that the Christian's response to stress and pressures, whether in our own homes, our workplace, our churches or on the world scene as we look at world events, our response as Christians should be qualitatively different than the response of those who are without Christ.

That's not to suggest that we won't have to go through problems. Jesus has told us in the passage we've been studying over the last several days, Mark, chapter 13, that we should expect trouble.

And that believers will not be immune or exempt from those problems. And we should expect that the problems will get worse and worse. But Jesus has given us, as His children, some instructions to help us walk through those times without our hearts failing from fear.

So, as we come to verse 7 of Mark 13, Jesus said, "There will be wars and there will be rumors of wars, but don't be alarmed." Don't be alarmed. That word "alarmed" means in the original language, "to clamor, to frighten."

It reminds me of another word in the Gospel of John, chapter 14, where Jesus said, "Don't let your heart be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in Me." That word "troubled" means "to stir or to agitate." Jesus is saying, "Don't have heart problems caused by fear. Don't be alarmed, don't be troubled."

Now we think, well, if the world problems would just go away, if my marriage problems would just go away, I wouldn't be troubled any more. But Jesus is saying that the believer can walk through wars and famine and earthquakes and marriage breakups and pain and broken relationships and can face those realities of life on this fallen planet without being alarmed--without having a troubled heart.

You see, for the Christian, the answer to fear will always be, turn your eyes upon Jesus for He is our salvation. He is our strength. He is our sufficiency. He is our resource for every need.

It's Christ and our faith and our hope in Him that delivers us from our fears. And it enables us to face our fears, to sleep at night, even when we don't know what we're going to find out when we wake up in the morning as we turn on the news.

He enables us to conquer our worries. He gives us words of comfort. "Don't let your heart be troubled." He brings victory over fear and He gives us that abiding sense of peace that is so hard for the unbelieving world to understand as they look at us.

Oswald Chambers, who wrote My Utmost for His Highest and was a servant of God greatly used during World War 1 to minister to troops, said, "It's the most natural thing in the world to be scared. And the clearest evidence that God's grace is at work in our hearts is when we do not get into panics.

"The remarkable thing" he says "about fearing God is, that when you fear God, you fear nothing else--whereas, if you do not fear God, you fear everything else." Did you get that?

One of the greatest evidences we show to our world of our faith in Jesus Christ is that we can walk through these distressing days, times like these, without being in a panic, without our hearts being troubled, without our hearts being agitated.

I've been talking recently with a friend whose marriage is in very serious trouble. Her husband has left her and has been involved in an adulterous affair. I don't know, as of this moment, what's going to happen to that marriage, to that dear friend of mine.

But I do know through all of this, through the tears and the pain and the frustration and the sense of rejection that she has been experiencing, that there has been an indescribable, unexplainable sense of peace in her heart.

Now, she's shed lots of tears. We've had lots of conversations and she's hurting. But there's a peace. She's not alarmed. She is counseling her heart according to the counsel of Christ.

And He is saying to her day after day, "Don't let your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in Me." And as she is choosing to do that, one day at a time, to turn her eyes upon Jesus, God is giving her grace and peace that those of us who are watching her and are aware of that situation can hardly believe the sense of peace and grace that God is giving to her. He'll give it to you as well.

And then He says in the midst of these times that there is something else we are to do.

And that is to believe and proclaim the Gospel. Jesus says in verses 9 and 10, "They will deliver you over to councils in these last days. You will be beaten in synagogues, you will stand before governors and kings, for My sake," to bear witness before them. Then he says in verse 10, "And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations."

You see, as we get closer and closer to the end of this age, as the birth pains we talked about in our last session, get closer and closer together, there's going to be persecution against the Christian faith.

We see it already today, where it's very popular to talk about God, it's popular to talk about religion; but if you start talking about Jesus Christ being the Way to the Father, you can expect some opposition.

"What do you mean, you Christians, you're so exclusive, you think all these other religions are wrong?" And we're being challenged about the truth that Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father and that Jesus says that part of the purpose that we are here on earth to fulfill during these end times is to bear witness to the name of Jesus Christ.

Not only are we to live godly lives, not only are we to be loving and kind and good neighbors and good citizens, but we are to boldly profess and confess and proclaim the Name and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

God is giving this world time to repent, time to turn to Christ. And you and I have a sacred, awesome responsibility to be telling our neighbors, our friends, our family members about Jesus so that they can be prepared to face Christ in eternity.

Every problem that you and I face on this planet, whether it's in your marriage or your workplace or your community or in our nation, every problem that we face is really an opportunity. It's an opportunity to proclaim the Gospel. It's an opportunity to proclaim Christ and to help people come to know Him, Who is the only source of peace and life and eternal hope.

I think of Corrie ten Boom and her sister, Betsy, who spent those awful years of suffering in the German concentration camp Ravensbruck and how those women who were suffering and tortured and persecuted took advantage of every opportunity they could to proclaim Jesus. They told their fellow prisoners. They told the guards. They told everyone they could about the Gospel and the grace of Jesus Christ.

You know, the natural tendency when we're in times of war or conflict or pressure or problems, the natural tendency is to care most about how this affects me--my hope, my future, my comfort. What's going to happen to me, what's going to happen to my family.

But you know, as children of God, our greatest concern needs to be "What is God doing in this world? And how can I make Christ known through the way I handle the situation and through the words that I speak to others who are walking through similar situations."

I talked to my friend recently whose marriage is in deep trouble. And we talked about the fact that one of the reasons that she has peace at this time is that her ultimate goal is not to have a happy marriage as much as she would like to have a happy marriage.

Her ultimate goal is that in her responses, in her witness through this time, that people would come to know Christ, that His kingdom would be established, that the Gospel would be known. And so we want to be more concerned about the Kingdom of Christ than our own comfort and convenience and well-being--about making Christ known.

Now, you may be thinking, Well, I don't have much of a witness. I'm just a nobody. I'm just minding my business, doing my thing, and who would listen to me?

Can I remind you that these early disciples to whom Jesus was speaking in Mark, chapter 13, were not well educated, they were not well-connected, they were "blue-collar" workers. They were nobody's. They were common ordinary laborers.

But God chose them. He made Christ known to them and then gave them the filling of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and sent them out into their world to proclaim the Gospel of Christ, a Gospel that was more powerful a weapon than any weapon that the Roman Empire could wield in that day.

So, regardless of how much influence you think you do or don't have, know that God has a purpose for your life in these days. So, ask the Lord to help you be alert to opportunities to make Christ known.

And can I say that even if the opposition rejects your witness, if they won't listen, if they refuse to hear, the fact that you have given the witness means that someday when they stand before God in the judgment, they will never be able to say, "Nobody told me. I didn't know"? Your witness will serve as evidence against them.

So, in these days, Jesus says, "Don't be alarmed, don't let your heart be troubled. Don't cave in to fear. But instead, look for opportunities to believe and live out and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That is the Good News in a world that desperately needs to hear some good news."

Leslie Basham: That is Nancy Leigh DeMoss reminding us that we can either see this as a time of fear or as a time of opportunity.

One opportunity you can take advantage of is to pray. Nancy's written a booklet called In Times Like These: Praying For Our Nation and Our World.

It will help you pray effectively. For instance, you may have prayed for our President but have you thought to pray for his wife, Laura, and their daughters, Barbara and Jenna? That's just one example of the types of things this booklet will bring to your mind.

In Times Like These is our gift to you when you make a donation of any amount to Revive Our Hearts. The booklet is available on-line at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Now, we hear information and analyses about the conflict in the Persian Gulf all day long. But nothing compares with the Holy Spirit to give us insight and direction. We'll hear about that on Monday. Now here's Nancy to close our time in prayer.

Father, it's such an incredible thing to me to be reminded that in the midst of the darkest valleys, in the worst of times, You still have a plan. You still have a purpose. And You are still on Your throne. You are fulfilling your purposes.

Thank You, Lord, for keeping us as Your children here on earth long enough to make Jesus known because Your Word says that the Gospel must first be proclaimed throughout all the earth and then the end will come.

So, as we believe You, as we walk in faith, as we refuse to be alarmed or to let our hearts be troubled and as we believe and proclaim the Gospel of Christ, we're hastening the time when the end will come and Jesus will reign and rule forever and ever. Amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is a ministry partnership of Life Action Ministries.

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