Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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An Appetite for the Word of God

Dannah Gresh: Did you know getting into God’s Word is like eating a balanced diet? Kelly Needham says this.

Kelly Needham: It is a food for our souls. It’s spiritual nourishment, and so it creates a spiritual vitality and health in us. In me I feel that in some really specific ways and in some just general sense, where there is a general feeling of joy and contentment that’s present.

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolglemuth, co-author of Seeking Him, for January 12, 2021. I’m Dannah Gresh. 

Well, Nancy, it’s January. I don’t know about you, but I just kind of like to consider what new habits I want to learn this new year. Sometimes it’s working out—although that’s usually short-lived in my life! Or sometimes it’s being more organized or reading more fiction. 

But every year it’s, “What new habits do I want to learn about how I read the Bible?” That’s the most important thing for me each January. Do you do anything to push “reset” in January?

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: I do. When I was growing up, we used to call them New Year’s Resolutions. That term isn’t as popular anymore. But my dad got us in a habit of saying, “As you look at the new year and it’s a fresh start, what do you want to be intentional about, what do you want to focus on?”

It may not be something you really carry with you through the whole year. In some cases it gets forgotten. But when it comes to God’s Word, I think this is something we want to keep resetting and keep resetting, to make sure our hearts are grounded in the truth of God’s Word.

Revive Our Hearts is in its twentieth year—hard to believe!—and almost every year since we’ve started, we‘ve done a special emphasis during the month of January, early on in the month, about the Word of God.

I’ve taught on it. We’ve done interviews on it, and we’re going to do an interview with a precious friend of ours this week on Revive Our Hearts. We always want to start the year by saying to women, “Let’s get into the Word more than we were in the past year!”

Dannah: Yes, a lot of people ask me when I get excited about thinking about getting in the Word, “Why do you do that every year, and why do you get so excited about reading your Bible?” Well, that’s a question that we want to answer, just because I think our passion can subside throughout the year. 

If we go back to “why?” . . . “Why do we read the Bible? Why did God give it to us? Why do we need to spend time in it?” . . . it can spark the passion we need to really start this year well. And to help us answer that question, we have a familiar friend of Revive Our Hearts, Kelly Needham.

Kelly has been a Revive Our Hearts blogger for quite some time; she has spoken at some of our events, and she’s an author of a book called Friendish: Reclaiming Real Friendship in a Culture of Confusion. Kelly loves teaching women to study the Word! Welcome, Kelly.

Kelly: Thanks Dannah, Nancy. It’s great to be with you guys today!

Nancy: I am so looking forward to us having this conversation! One of the things that has most inspired me over the years to love God’s Word more is to be around people who love God’s Word. And when I think of you, Dannah, and when I think of you, Kelly, anytime I get around you two women, I come away with this greater love for Jesus and a greater love for His Word. 

You inspire me to want to open my Bible, read it, saturate my heart in it and live my life based on it. So, Kelly, I join Dannah in saying thank you so much for being with us for this conversation here on Revive Our Hearts this week.

Kelly: Yes, and I feel the same way about you two ladies. It is such an encouragement . . . and to see that desire in you guys not wane over the years, but just deepen and grow stronger. I want that to be true of my life for as many years as God gives me.

Nancy: So, Kelly, I’d love to know, when did you first develop a love for God’s Word? How did that happen in your life?

Kelly: The first time that happened was actually in the privacy in my own bedroom. My parents would take us to church regularly, but we didn’t talk much about spiritual things outside of that. But one day as a junior high student, I opened my Bible outside of Sunday school, which was not common.

I don’t remember why I opened it. I don’t remember what I read. I don’t remember what it said, but I remember the feeling of, “God is speaking to me!” Like, “This answers my little junior high problems and questions,” in some way that felt so real and present and applicable. It was that moment that God’s Word is alive! 

It felt alive to me! It helped me in the eyes of my heart see God in a way I hadn’t before. After that it ruined me!—in the best way! I could never get enough. I met a woman shortly after that who was one of my Sunday school teachers. I would say she was really the first person who watered that seed. 

She became for me a companion, a conversation partner who never grew tired of me trailing along after her, after Sunday school, to ask her all the things that I was wondering about the Word. So that’s really where my love for His Word started.

Nancy: Has it been a non-stop love for God’s Word? Has it sometimes waned and then had to be revived, or has it been pretty continuous? 

Kelly: I would love to say it’s been the same passion all the years, but that’s not true, and for different reasons. There have been some years where it’s just been busy; we toured a lot. My husband is a musician. So for many years we were on the road, and it was just hard to find the time in-between sound checks and sleeping in tour buses and all that, and it was hard to want to.

There were some other seasons of suffering where, honestly, reading the Bible brought a lot of questions and doubts and, it didn’t feel comforting like it used to. It wasn’t the warm, cozy blanket, you know. It was a wrestle, and it would challenge.

So there have been several seasons where there has been something, a form of a hindrance or a hurdle, that has been there to that consistent Bible reading. And in God’s kindness, He’s provided people and provision through local churches and friends to help along the way with that. 

But it’s definitely not been a constant, just enjoyable passion for the Word. It’s been a journey, as I’m sure it has been for you guys as well. But I keep coming back to, “This is where I meet the living God!” No matter how long I stay away from it, that deep ache in me just draws me back eventually.

Nancy: Let’s explore that just a little bit. What you experience when you are “eating” the Word of God in a healthy diet and getting large doses of it into your heart, and what happens when you don’t. Because we all have those times when we’re just eager for the Word of God, and then we have times when busyness or sin or circumstances kind of pull us away.

As you think about the best of times when you’ve had a Word-saturated, really nourishing, appetite-satisfying diet of the Word, what were some of the benefits? What were some of the things where you said, “Wow! This is so rich, this is what I love about this!”? What does God’s Word do in you when you’re getting it into you?

Kelly: I think you just said it. It’s nutritious. It is a food for our souls! It’s spiritual nourishment, and so it creates a spiritual vitality and health in us. In me I feel it in some really specific ways, and in some just general sense, where there is just a general feeling of joy and contentment that’s present.

I don’t always notice . . . Sometimes other people will say, “You seem a little less anxious lately,” and I’ll go, “I wonder why that is.” And generally, that’s in tandem with my time with God and His Word being a lot more consistent. And so my soul is filled, I’ve been drinking from the fountain of living water regularly, so I’m not dry and thirsty on the inside. 

I can also weather the storms of life a little bit better, just those daily annoyances, inconveniences, things don’t go your way, conflict that happens with kids and spouses and the person on the street you bump into . . . and it doesn’t throw me off my balance quite so easily. 

Even when it does, those words are fresh in my mind, the things that I had just read. I’m not pulling from something I read two months ago, but something I read two hours ago. I’m going, “Oh Lord, thank You that you’re the One who’s . . .” You know, in Nahum, it says that the clouds are like the dust of the feet of God. (see Nahum 1:3)

There was a time where something hard happened in my day and I had just read that, and I looked up at the sky, like, “God, that’s how big You are! Please remind me of that in a real way right now!” So that Word is there to give that. It gives the spiritual vitality for all the little things we weather throughout the day.

Nancy: When we talk about the Word, I often think of the way we eat physical food. If you have a balanced diet, you’re not just living on potato chips and pizza and popcorn, but you’re getting a nutritious balanced diet.

You often can’t tell the results right away or in an obvious way, but over a period of time you realize, “I’m feeling good; I’ve got energy. I’m able to keep going, and I’m not having some of the aches and pains that I had.” 

I think of the diet I had when I was in my teens and twenties! I won’t name the fast-food restaurant, but I should have had stock in them for all the drive-through burgers I got at that restaurant! And then I hit thirty, and all of a sudden I realized, “Ugh! I’m not feeling great!”

Dannah: That’s when it hit me, too! Thirty.

Kelly: Yep!

Nancy: It hit me, and I said, “Something’s got to change here!” Well, when you change away from good food or toward good food, you don’t notice the difference right away, but over time you do. When you plug your heart into a steady diet of God’s Word, you don’t notice immediately. I mean, you may, but all the benefits for body, soul, and spirit of having an intake of the Word.

You don’t see all of that right away, or when you drift away from it. You don’t see all the consequences right away. But then you look back or you look up and you say, “What happened!? I’m cranky. I’m irritable. I’m frustrated. I’m angry . . . what happened?” 

Well, one thing to check is, “Am I getting a sufficient, balanced diet of God’s Word?” So often we aren’t, but we’re still expecting and hoping for all the benefits!

Dannah: It reminds me of two things. One: thinking back to how Jesus said, “Man [does] not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceed[s from] the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4 KJV). So He’s giving us that food analogy, right?

Recently I’ve been noticing that people are into superfoods; that’s what they’re called.They’re always green, and they always have names that I can’t pronounce, and they always taste bad! I was telling my doctor her I’m just feeling really tired. She said, “You might try some superfoods.” I thought, “Uhh! Like, that’s the buzzword right now! Right?”

But I have been using superfoods, and after about two weeks, my husband said, “What are you doing? Where are you getting that energy? You’re not sleeping much; you’re getting up happier.” And it really impacts me when I get the nutrition I need for my physical body!

The same thing is true of our spirits! On the days when I starve myself and I don’t get in the Word, I feel like my day is frustrated. It’s like I’m pressing through it. It’s hard and the joy isn’t there, and I feel confused. I don’t know how to describe it.

I feel like when I spend the firstfruits of my day in the Word, that the minutes in my day are multiplied, that my time is expanded, that it slows down. I feel, well, spiritually nourished, because I face everything much more joyfully and with much more energy!

Kelly: Totally! There’s a picture in my head, that saving time thing that happens when we sit with God. To me, it’s like putting on a pair of glasses. If I wake up in the morning and I don’t do that, my literal view is cloudy. I’m bumping into things, “Where are my keys!?” I might spend time keeping up five or six different things before I find what I’m looking for.

But if I’ll just take the time to put those glasses on and see things more clearly, it’s giving me a better vision of what’s actually happening in my life and where things actually are and how to avoid some of those things.

When I read my Bible and I sit with God, I feel like that’s what it does. It helps put my life in perspective. When little things happen that I might have spent four hours on because I really was just determined to do it . . . But I have a sense that like, “No, this is what’s in front of me today, that the Lord has given me to do.” It just gives me a better sense of clarity.

I think that does save us time, and it does give us wisdom in how to proceed and how to interpret the events in our day-to-day lives and respond appropriately and have the right view of it—with a big view of God in our lives and seeing ourselves rightly.

Nancy: There’s no sweeter passage in Scripture about the Word of God than Psalm 119. It’s also the longest chapter in Scripture—one-hundred-seventy-six verses. You can read the whole psalm in about fifteen minutes. I would encourage you, at the start of this year, to take time to read Psalm 119. 

In fact, read it aloud! I just find that speaks to me in a way that is so fresh, each time I read it aloud. You’ll see throughout that psalm the concept of delighting in God’s Word, loving God’s Word, savoring God’s Word. I’m thinking of verse 97: “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.”

And then, verse 103: “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Now, I’m looking at the psalmist, and you get this sense all the way through that he just delights in the Word of God!

But I think, truth be told, there are a lot of Christians who would say, if they’re being honest, “Well, I know God’s Word is important. I know it matters, but I can’t say that I love God’s Word, that I delight in it, that it is sweet to my taste, that it means more to me than anything else!”

So, Kelly, if you don’t have that longing, that appetite, for God’s Word (that we’re longing; that’s through Psalm 119 over and over again: “How I long for Your Word!”) what do you do? How do you develop that? How do you cultivate that kind of longing and love for God’s Word?

Kelly: This is what I encourage other women in my life with those same questions to do. It starts with, “What is our motivation for getting into God’s Word?” or “What is our motivation to stay away from it?” What is driving our thoughts about the Word of God?

When I start to ask those questions to other people, sometimes it will reveal that, “Oh, the reason I don’t want to read the Bible is because I believe that that’s what I need to do to make God like me or be pleased with me. And that feels intimidating. I don’t even really know how to read it. So it feels like I’ve failed before I’ve started. I feel condemned before I’ve started!” 

There are these undercurrents of condemnation or works-based mentalities that are associated with Bible reading. Or it may be something else. For some people (some women that I know) the Scriptures were used in some really distorted ways by some people in their lives, and they have real negative feelings about it. Because of that, they want to distance themselves from it. 

So I think whenever we find ourselves avoiding the Bible, my first question is “Why? Why am I doing that? What am I afraid of? What am I wanting to avoid? What do I think of God? How do I think that God thinks of this practice of me doing that?”

Then I start to ask myself, “What do I know to be true about what the Word does say? What my pastors and people that I trust have told me? That, if I’m in Christ, then I am already righteous, God is already pleased with me because of what Christ has done!”

So I can tell myself that, and then say, “Now, why then should I get into the Word of God?” When we start to correct those motivations for getting into it, it’s just taking some obstacles out of the way, to then make our journey toward it.

What the biggest motivation for me to dive into the Word of God is that it’s showing me a Person that I love! As women, we’re so relational! We long for deep and meaningful relationships; we were made for that. We were made primarily for that relationship with God, and it starts with getting to know Him in His Word.

I mean, that’s what we love about social media, right? There are these famous people we want to know. We want to learn about their lives, so we follow them on Instagram or Twitter, and we will read all sorts of facts and information about people that we look up to and are impressed by. We will spend hours researching them.

That’s really what I’m doing when I’m studying my Bible: I want to know God! I want to research Him. I want to know what He’s done, what He likes, what He doesn’t like, who He has revealed Himself to be. It’s digging into and cultivating a relationship with Him that’s already been provided for by all the work of Christ!

When I think about it that way, that motivation carries me through the hard work it sometimes is to dig through different parts of the Bible I’m unfamiliar with. I think that’s where we start in overcoming those hurdles, addressing our hearts. “How do I think about the Word? Is that a right way to think about it?”

Nancy: I think sometimes we don’t have an appetite for healthy physical food because we’ve been filling ourselves with . . .

Dannah: . . . potato chips.

Nancy: Potato chips and pizza and popcorn and—what’s that stuff called that you get at the fair?—cotton candy! You know, it’s so sweet, so pretty. When you were kids you just thought this was something you had to have! Then you get it, and you realize there’s not much to it! It looks more impressive than it is!

If we’ve been trying to fill ourselves with stuff that isn’t lasting, that is temporal, then we’re not going to have much of an appetite for the healthy stuff that truly satisfies our souls. I’ve found over the years that distractions and preoccupations with things of this earth . . . 

You mentioned social media. That’s a huge distraction for me. I can get going on my phone in the morning and be into news and Twitter and then, boy! An hour can go by and I haven’t really tasted of the thing I most need and my soul most longs for, which is to know God! 

In order to cultivate an appetite for that which truly satisfies—which is God and His Word—I have to sometimes just wean myself off of some of those other things that are maybe not sinful, but they’re not motivating me toward pursuing God and knowing Him. At first those can be hard choices.

Since we were dating, Robert has had this line he has said: “The throne before the phone!” I remember the first time I heard him say that about his own heart was to go to the throne before he goes to his phone. And I kind of had this, “Ooh! Ouch! Right!” 

But I’ve watched in his life, no matter what project he’s working on, no matter how much work he has to do, no matter what’s in his Inbox, I’ve watched him start his day (in his case, very early in the morning) with getting to the throne, in the Word of God, before he gets into all this other stuff. 

I see the love for God that that cultivates in him, the love for God’s Word, the tender spirit, the calmness, the ability to face whatever gets thrown at him that day. I realize that it’s because he starts his day where it matters! 

If I start my day somewhere else, as I often have and often do, I’m not going to have that peace, that calm, that serenity, that fullness. I’m going to be twisting and turning in the wind all day long because I didn’t anchor my heart. And really, an anchor is another word picture, Kelly, for what the Word of God does for us.

Kelly: Yes, it reminds me of when we were kids. We would go to the beach and my mom would always tell us, “Look for the umbrella that’s ours, because you’re going to drift, because there’s a current.”

She would always tell us, “Every five minutes, turn around and look toward the beach and make sure you’re where we are.” And sure enough, you can’t even tell if you’re waist-deep in ocean water, that you’ll be feet and feet down the coast before you even realize what happened. You can’t tell that it’s happening. 

That happens to us the same way, right, if we’re not consistently going back to, “Who is God? Who has He said He is? How has He said the world works? What is mankind like? What am I like? What’s the answer for my problems?” And that anchors me to interpret all the news and information.

But if I don’t look at it, I’ve drifted way over here into all sorts of bad habits or ways of thinking, and you can’t even feel it happening! Reading the Bible every day is that way to sink our anchor into the ground, into the consistent and unchanging Word of God. Just go, “This is true today; I’m going to anchor here!” It keeps us from that drift that’s a danger to all of us!”

Nancy: Well, we’re going to continue this conversation, talking all this week about anchoring our hearts in the Word of God. And, Kelly, you just said something about reading God’s Word every day. Now, that may sound to you like drinking salt water or something! Maybe you don’t have a great appetite for right now!

But I will promise you that if you will start every day reading something from God’s Word—and we’re going to talk this week about how to do that in a meaningful way—you will want more, not less, of God’s Word! Your appetite will grow.

In fact, in the physical realm, if you eat a lot, you’re not hungry anymore. But in the spiritual realm, the more you “eat” of God’s Word, the hungrier you are for it. The more you want of it!

Dannah: That’s because it tastes so good, Nancy! Psalm 119.

Nancy: Exactly! Reading something from God’s Word every day can be any time of the day; you choose what works for you. When we continue this conversation with Kelly Needham, we’re going to talk about how to read the Word of God in a way that fills your soul, that accomplishes the purpose of really getting to know God, and cultivating a more intimate and personal relationship with Him.

Dannah: I hope you’re inspired to get in the Word and join us in reading the Bible every day this year! You can head to ReviveOurHearts.com and there you’re going to find a page of recommended Bible study tools to help you get started.

One source you can start with this January is our newest Women of the Bible study on the book ofRuth. Spend six weeks with us looking at the life of Ruth, and you’ll see the power of God’s restoration in her story. You’re also going to see how Christ has come to redeem and restore you!

The new study is called Ruth: Experiencing a Life Restored, and we’d sure love to send you a copy when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount today. Visit ReviveOurHearts.com to give right now, or call us at 1–800–569–5959. When you call, be sure to ask for the Ruth study when you make your donation.

Plus . . . the new season of the Women of the Bible podcast on Ruth just released! You’ll hear from Erin Davis and friends as they walk through the book of Ruth. You can supplement your study as you follow along with their conversation every week. Listen or watch the episodes online at ReviveOurHearts.com/Ruth.

Let me say that, if you’re a newcomer to God’s Word, or the Bible seems daunting, we want to help you make sense of it. Kelly Needham will be back again tomorrow to share how the Word of God speaks to us, and where to start in our reading. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Helping you delight in God’s Word, Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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

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About the Teachers

Kelly Needham

Kelly Needham

Kelly Needham is married to singer/songwriter and speaker Jimmy Needham. She first began writing and speaking to his fan base in 2008 as they traveled together and has since garnered a much wider platform. Kelly is a regular contributor for the True Woman blog and is author of the book Friendish: Reclaiming Real Friendship in a Culture of Confusion. She has been on staff at two different churches, serving in youth, college, and women's ministry. Whether writing or speaking, Kelly’s aim is to convince as many people as possible that nothing compares to knowing Jesus. She and Jimmy live in the Dallas area with their three children, Lively, Sophia, and Benjamin. You can find more of her writing and speaking at kellyneedham.com or follow her on social media.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.