Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: All this month on Revive Our Hearts, we’re focusing on crying out to the Lord—crying out to Him with humble hearts for our families, our nations, our churches, and our world. We’re believing Him for revival! Before we begin today’s program, here’s Leslie Bennett to lead us in crying out to the Lord for the Church.

Leslie Bennett: Lord Jesus, we proclaim Your excellencies for calling us out of the darkness and into Your glorious light! Thank You for dying for Your beloved Bride! The body of believers cannot love You without also loving Your Church, and judgment begins at the house of God.

So would You give us eyes to see how far we’ve fallen? Your throne is a throne of mercy, so we plead for You to purify Your church, to make her holy, to infuse her with heavenly joy, to restore her gospel brilliance so that once again her light will penetrate the darkness surrounding us! Oh, would You call back Your church to be on mission making disciples, boldly preaching a crucified and risen Christ and fulfilling the great commission!

As Jesus prayed, we too cry out for unity within the Church. Demolish the walls that divide Christians and denominations. Jesus, You said, “My house will be a house of prayer for all nations,” (Mark 11:17) so all around the world, would You cause an explosion of prayer to erupt among all churches? Cause Your people to fall on their knees in humility, repentance, obedience, and reverence for Your Word.

We echo the prayer of the Welsh revival: “Bend the Church and save the world!” How long, O Lord? How long before You awaken Your sleeping Church? Come now and have Your way in every pulpit, in every heart! We long to see Your glory in our day! Won’t You revive us again? We lift Your name high and higher, and we crown You Lord of all forever and ever, amen.

Dannah Gresh: Erin Davis is here with good news.

Erin Davis: What hope can we hold onto when cultural darkness feels oppressive? We’ve got to remember: each day takes us one day closer to life forever with Jesus!

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Brokenness: The Heart God Revives, for October 13, 2020. I’m Dannah Gresh. 

We’re in a short series from Revelation chapter 21 called “Looking to a Better Country.” Erin Davis joined Nancy and a studio audience to share hope with all of us. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy: So, Erin, have you ever traveled outside the United States? 

Erin: I have been to the sunny island of Jamaica and the cold North of Canada!

Nancy: Okay, and you probably found, as I have when I’ve traveled to different countries, that there are some things that are different. There are beautiful aspects of the countries we’ve been to; there are challenging things that every country faces. Here in the United States, we’re facing some difficult challenges right now, but it’s true of every country in this world.

One of the things that I love about the passage you’re opening up to us this week, Revelation chapter 21, is that we’re going to be pointed to a coming country, a different country that the Scripture tells us God is preparing for those who love Him.

I’ll just tell you, as I’ve been listening to this series, I can’t wait! I feel like our hearts are ready. We are longing for that day when all that is sinful and stained and struggling and sorrowful about this present world is going to be done away with, and we’re going to be in a new city, a new country—the city of God, the country that God has prepared for us!

So if you have your Bibles, open up to Revelation chapter 21. Erin, I can’t wait for you to take us there! 

And, Lord, I pray that You would open our hearts, open our eyes, open our ears to hear and to receive the hope that You have for us in Christ—the hope that is not here, is not now, but lies ahead and is a sure thing. Your promises are sure; they are true. No matter what we may be facing this day in this country—in any country of the world—and within our own hearts, we know that the day is coming when all things will be made new. We long for that day and we wait for You to come and fulfill Your promises. So give us hearts to receive those promises as we listen over these next moments. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Erin: Amen. Thank you, Nancy. The first series of books we read aloud to our little boys was The Chronicles of Narnia. I can blink my eyes and picture them in their footed pajamas, nestled close to me and their daddy as they discovered for the very first time, “the world beyond the wardrobe” through those books!

Sadly, that was several years ago. But I asked them before I taught this session if they could still remember—and they could!—the moment when Reepicheep (our favorite brave little mouse) crested the waves and entered Aslan’s country.

Maybe you can picture being snuggled up with your little ones as I read you just a part of it. 

Then he bade them goodbye, trying to be sad for their sakes; but he was quivering with happiness. Then hastily he got into his coracle and took his paddle, and the current caught it and away he went, very black against the lilies.

But no lilies grew on the wave; it was a smooth green slope. The coracle went more and more quickly, and beautifully it rushed up the wave's side. For one split second they saw its shape and Reepicheep's on the very top.

Then it vanished, and since that moment no one can truly claim to have seen Reepicheep the Mouse. But my belief is that he came safe to Aslan's country and is alive there to this day.” ~ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C. S. Lewis. Excepted from chapter 16.

Aslan’s country! This part of the story is so permanently seared into our hearts, because it represents a moment, the moment, when every child of God, great and small, will enter the home we’re longing for!

As I’m recording this teaching, it’s mid-August. Two words seem to find their way into every conversation: “coronavirus” and “unprecedented.” Death and fear are the top stories for every news outlet every day. Here in the United States, we are moving toward a presidential election, and both parties have announced that this election determines the fate of our nation.

And though this is normally the time of year when we would be buying pencils and binders and backpacks, and preparing to return to the routine of school, everything looks different this year as schools try to navigate education in the midst of a global pandemic.

And children—my children—are struggling to understand why they can’t hug their teachers, why they can’t give high fives to their friends in the hallway. Families, including my own, are scrambling to adjust. Many churches are still closed or unable to meet in person.

Depression and suicide rates have spiked, the underpinnings of the global economy are fractured at best. From my limited human perspective, it seems the darkness is growing! 

Together, we are looking at a passage of Scripture that has transformed my view of brokenness—the brokenness inside my own heart and in my home and the widespread brokenness I see everywhere else!

Over and over and over in my life, this has become a passage that I turn to when I experience brokenness fatigue. It’s been very precious to me in recent years. Let me read to us Revelation 21:1–5. I hope you’ll read with us.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people . . ." 

Maybe take a minute right now and underline that phrase, “loud voice.” Your translation might say “great voice” or “loud shout.”

What I want you to know is that this is not a whisper. This is not a whimper. This is the Spirit of God announcing with power in a loud voice what comes next. Let me pick it up in verse 4: 

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." 

As we look around at our communities, which are broken; at our countries, which are broken; at our world, which is broken, Scripture gives us the answer to a critical question that all of our hearts are asking, whether we know it or not: “What are God’s promises for our broken culture?”

Now, anyone who thinks we’re in the darkest moment in human history has not paid close attention to the gap in their Bibles!

There is a four-hundred-year span between the Old Testament and the New Testament when God’s children were waiting to hear His voice again. It was surely a very dark moment. Or the moment when Jesus died on the Cross, which we celebrate now, but when the whole world was covered in darkness! There have been many moments of darkness.

Right now I’m reading a biography of Winston Churchill, and I just got to the part where he made the decision to fire on the French fleet. Now, these were Britain’s allies! Churchill made the decision to fire on them to keep their ships from getting into the hands of Hitler’s army. More than one-thousand French sailors were killed! I had to shut the book and shut my eyes, because it was truly a dark moment in human history! 

Brokenness and darkness have dogged God’s children since the Garden of Eden, and they dog us still.

We face real challenges in this generation! Have you noticed that here in America, the Church is no longer “the home team”? Our conviction that the Bible is God’s best for all of mankind is no longer widely accepted or embraced. But our ultimate hope is not in changing public opinion, it’s not in a single election, it’s not in government policies, it’s not in Hollywood acceptance, it’s not in our human ability to push back against the forces of darkness. 

Our hope is in the day described in Revelation 21:1–3. I’m going to read it to us again: 

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God."

Scripture is inviting us to reach out and to grab onto this promise with both hands. Here’s the promise: a new city is coming! The Bible calls it “New Jerusalem,” and it’s being prepared right now by God. This is the true and sure home for God’s children.

The original hearers of John’s words would have thought of Jerusalem as the place where the temple was, the meeting place between God and His people. John is describing a new city, a redeemed city, where we don’t just meet with God. We live with God! A city where our souls will experience true and lasting peace!

For the original hearers, they would have thought Jerusalem was the ultimate place to be. John is saying, “No, there’s a better Jerusalem is coming!” I want you to think about the culture around you; start small. Consider the culture in your own home. Every home has a culture; think about the culture in your own home.

Now, expand your thinking a little bit to your neighborhood. Think about your community; think about your state. In these days there is so much talk about how communities differ and can’t get along—what’s different about how this State this and this State decides this. I want you to think about those differences.

Now think about your country, think about your world, and absolutely pray for revival! Pray for God to appoint leaders who know Him and will follow His Word. Pray for God to win hearts to Him, because that will cause cultural shifts. God hears and responds when we pray for these things! 

Absolutely protect yourself and your little ones from the cultural messages that contradict God’s Word. But put your hope, your ultimate hope, in the City that’s coming! This Holy City, this New Jerusalem, it can feel so far off! Maybe it feels too supernatural to give us real hope when we face the realities of cultural darkness, and when those realities impact our daily lives.

So let’s put some flesh on it. Flip with me to the book of Hebrews chapter 11. You may already be familiar with this chapter of the Bible. It’s often called The Hall of Faith, and it’s one of two such lists we find in Scripture. One is here in Hebrews 11, and we find the Jewish Hall of Faith. 

These are names like Abraham, Isaac, Moses, David . . . even Rahab, who started out as a Canaanite, but became one of the Israelite people. Then in Romans 16, we find the Gentile Hall of Faith, people like Priscilla and Aquila. They were co-laborers with Paul for the spread of the gospel to the Gentiles. People like Epaenetus, the first convert to Christ in Asia.

And Persis, who Scripture simply says, “worked hard in the Lord.” You can go ahead and put that on my tombstone. I bring up both lists because their cultural heritage was very different. Some were Jews, some were Gentiles, and they lived during different eras in history, and they even lived in different parts of the world. 

That means they likely faced different kinds of challenges as they tried to live as children of the light in dark days. Here’s what united them; here’s what unites us: they were citizens of a different city! 

Listen to Hebrews 11:13–16. It is a manifesto for all children of God in every culture and era! “These . . .” Who are the “these”? Well, they’re the heroes, the champions of our faith. 

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.

You might circle those words “strangers” and “exiles” in your own Bibles. 

For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return.

But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. 

What city is the writer of Hebrews describing? He’s talking about these people from all kinds of different places. He’s talking about the city found in Revelation 21. 

Hear it again in Revelation chapter 21, verse 2: 

And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 

What is more beautiful than a bride adorned for her husband? Think of every moment you’ve been to a wedding, and those church doors open, and you see the bride for the first time. Everyone instinctively holds their breath! That bride is special! She is worth waiting for. This is the description that God gives us in His Word of the place He is preparing—right now, right this very moment—for us!

If we move back just a few verses from where we were in Hebrews, to Hebrews 11:9–10, we read the description of Abraham: 

By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

Abraham gave up a stable life to live life in tents because he was looking forward to a city with foundations. That doesn’t make sense, humanly speaking. How could Abraham stand to leave his own country to live in a foreign land? Why would he forfeit the comforts of home for life in tents? For the same reason we can have hope when the culture around us feels foreign. For the same reason we have peace and joy when the world around us treats people of faith like aliens and exiles. 

Because Abraham wasn’t looking forward to a city with foundations built by human hands; he was looking forward to a city with foundations that cannot be shaken. Scripture says the designer and builder of that city is God!

Some translations say that the “architect” and builder is God. From the ground level, the Lord is building a city for His people! He’s pouring the foundation, which is good, because the foundations of this earth are deeply fractured by sin. As the people of God, we do not put our hope in those fractures being repaired.

My family and I live in an old farmhouse, and as old farmhouses tend to do, ours is showing some signs of age. A couple of years ago, the floor in the dining room developed a significant warp. A friend of ours who’s a builder crawled under the house, and he was able to shore that up . . . temporarily.

But he warned us that a day is coming when those temporary solutions for the foundation of our home are going to fail to hold. This is a picture of our broken world. The day is coming when all of our temporary, human solutions are simply going to fail to hold us up . . . but we have hope! Because Scripture gives us the blueprint for a new city—a city unfractured by sin, a city whose builder and architect is God! 

One more important description of this city is also in Revelation 21. This comes from Revelation 21:23–25: 

And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 

What hope can we hold on to when cultural darkness feels oppressive? Even as we push back against the darkness in love and in truth and with prayer, we’ve got to remember we’re pilgrims. We’re simply passing through, and each day takes us one day closer to this city that Jesus is preparing for us.

I was in a Zoom meeting recently, and one of the other people in the meeting had a calendar behind her on the wall, and she had clearly been marking every single day.

Someone else in the meeting said, “What is it that you’re counting toward?” 

And she said, “I don’t know.” 

And I said, “You’re counting towards the day when we are with Jesus!” 

Because every mark on that calendar means we’re one day closer to this city—one day closer to life forever with Jesus. And that’s worth keeping track of!

God has promised us a place where we won’t need anything to fight against the darkness, because there is none. Jesus will be with us in that better city as our Light! Let’s pray. 

Jesus, You’re the Light of the World. Thank You that You’ve prepared a place for us, that it’s foundations will not crack, where darkness will not make it past the city gate. What a beautiful promise! Help us to live in light of that reality. It’s in Your name I pray, amen.

Nancy: Amen! And wow, how timely this message is, Erin, and how we need this in our day where we need to learn to live in this world as God has put us here. We’re to be salt; we’re to be light, but our hope is not here. Our hope lies ahead!

As you were teaching, I was thinking of an old-time gospel song: 

This world is not my home, I’m just a-passing through.
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door,
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore!

(“This World Is Not My Home” by Albert E. Brumley)

So as we live here as children of light, as we love well, as we honor the Lord, as we lift up His name in this country, in this city in which we live, this world system; our hearts are fixed on another country, another city, the new city, the Holy City, the place where God dwells and where we will dwell with Him as His people forever!

That gives us hope; it gives us perspective; it gives us a sense of meaning and purpose down here. We don’t give in to despair, no matter who wins the election, no matter what happens in natural events, in disasters and economic situations. Our hope is not tied up in any of that.

I think it also gives us a sense of why it matters that we share the gospel, that we make Christ known. Most of the people who live around us—the people we work with, go to school with, live near in our neighborhoods—most of them have no better country ahead. So not only do we have this hope, but as we proclaim Christ, we make that hope available to others.

Dannah: What an encouraging reminder! I hope that you’ve been inspired and that your hope has been refueled by these words today! When this message was recorded, a small studio audience was listening to Erin teach. Hannah was one of those women.

Hannah: I live in a very sweet little house with my husband, and I love it very much. But if someone were going to build me a mansion that they were going to give me, I might get excited to hear about the decorations and the light fixtures and maybe the pool, but I think my first question would be, “Is Bridger going to be there with me? (Is my husband going to be there with me?)”

Because if he’s not, I don’t want it! I’d rather have my little house that we have made our home. When I look at Revelation 21:3, the most exciting thing to me in this new city, in this new home that we’re going to get is, “They will be his people, and God himself will be with them [and will be] their God.” 

Being with God and living with God—by sight, not just by faith—will be the greatest part of this new home, and that’s what will make it our home. I’m just so excited about that! So being there and living with the Lord, living by sight and not just by faith anymore, will be what makes that home.

It’s not that we will have a beautiful city where we have no problems and everything works well and we’re never sad. But if the Lord is not there, it’s not our home, and it’s not where we would want to be.

Erin: I love that, Hannah! I’m so fascinated by how Scripture doesn’t tell us every detail about heaven. I don’t think that’s because the Lord wants to leave us guessing. He’s told us the most important thing. The most important thing is that, “I will be there.” 

His disciples had anxiety about Him leaving, and He said, “No! I’m going to prepare a place for you, and if that wasn’t true, I would have warned you!” (see John 14) That’s all He left them! He didn’t tell them how to get there or what size it was, or what the buildings would be like, or anything like that.

But they knew, and we know, that it’s the place where Jesus will be. That is what makes it our true home!

Nancy: And we have the Holy Spirit within us now; we have the presence of Christ. He is with us of course, but the anticipation we have is of being bodily, physically forever with the Lord, never to be separated from Him again!

So the Holy Spirit is the downpayment, the guarantee of that eternal presence of Christ, that we will have literally, physically, forever. What greater hope or anticipation could we possibly have?

Erin: Yes. I love that verse that promises that God is close to the brokenhearted (see Ps. 34:18). But Revelation 21 is telling us that God will close to the wholehearted, that we’ll be with Him in ways we’ve never been with Him before! And we’ll be with Him forever! What a day of rejoicing that will be!

Nancy: Amen! Thank you so much for encouraging our hearts with this word. Let me say that as we’re looking forward to the second coming of Christ, we also celebrate His first coming, the first advent of Christ. That word “advent” means “coming.”

You’re saying, “It’s only October; why are we talking about Christmas?” Well, it’s really just around the corner, and it’s something that we celebrate year round—that Christ has come to this world to give us hope and to point us to our future hope. 

As we head into this year’s Advent season, we want to make you aware of a brand-new, thirty-one day Advent devotional that I’ve written that we’re making available to our listeners. It’s called Born a Child and Yet a King. This is a resource we’ve prepared for our listeners; it’s not available anywhere else. 

We want to make it available to you, something you can use during the Advent season—the thirty-one days throughout the month of December—to encourage you in the hope we have in Christ. This is the third in a series of three Advent devotionals.

In this one we’re going to walk through several of our most-beloved Christmas carols. They’re familiar to you, but I think they’ll take on new meaning as you meditate on their lyrics during the month of December. We’d love to send this Advent devotional to you as our way of saying “thank you” when you make a donation of any amount to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts this month.

You can make that donation online at ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can call us at 1–800–569–5959. When you make your gift, be sure and let us know that you’d like a copy of this year’s Advent devotional. And let me say, if you’re one of our ministry partners, we’ll be sending this devotional to you automatically as a way of saying “thank you” for your monthly commitment to support this ministry.

Now, as you go through your day today and you look around, you read the headlines or you see what’s going on in your world or in the world around us, make sure and lift up your eyes. Don’t fix your focus on what’s going on down here. 

Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, who is coming again. Keep your hope fixed on that Holy City, that better country that He is preparing for those who follow Him. I can’t wait! Be sure and be back with us again tomorrow for Revive Our Hearts.

Dannah: Tomorrow my friend Erin Davis will be back. She’ll share three words that she says give her great comfort! Find out what they are on the next Revive Our Hearts. 

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you live in the light of eternity! It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.
 

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

About the Speaker

Erin Davis

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. She is the author of many …

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