Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Here's Henry Blackaby.

Dr. Henry Blackaby: The culture, the Evangelical culture, leaves us to believe that if you give God 15 minutes of a quiet time in the morning, God ought to be very pleased with you. I'd say, “No, no, no, He is your life.”

Leslie: You're listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, November 28. We're in the final week of a substantial series called Seeking Him: The Joy of Personal Revival. We've looked at what happens to someone experiencing revival.

In this final week, we're learning how to keep the fires of revival burning in our hearts through prayer and God's Word. Nancy had a chance to talk with Henry Blackaby about maintaining a devotional life, and we're about to hear that conversation. Dr. Blackaby begins in an interesting way, listing what he calls some of the great chapters of the Bible.

Dr. Blackaby: Psalm 119 I read several times a year. I go through it carefully because it tells me the incredible difference in my daily life that the Word of God will make. It will keep me from sin. It will open whole doors of my walk to God. Then Isaiah 35 and Isaiah 55, Deuteronomy 30—“My Word is not hid from you. I set before you life and blessing, death and cursing” (verse 15 paraphrase). “Don't leave the relationship to Me.”

If a person who might be listening would say, “Where could I turn in the Bible to some of the greatest chapters that unfold the heart and mind and soul and love of God for my life?” I would say, if you have any doubts about your salvation, read carefully through First John. It's wonderful! Romans eight—what an incredible chapter! There are great chapters. Philippians two—but you see, regardless of what we're hearing, we all have access to the Word of God for ourself.

Nancy: For a woman who may be in a difficult marriage to a non-believer . . .

Dr. Blackaby: Exactly

Nancy: . . . and may not have people around her who have this heart and hunger for God?

Dr. Blackaby: Environment does not keep you from the Scriptures, but the Scriptures can help you overcome the environment. You can live a victorious Christian life. It doesn't depend on the environment. It depends on your relationship to God. You need to hear God saying that to you in some of the great chapters of the Bible, and everyone has that opportunity.

I get up in the middle of the night and read when nobody's bothering me, and I can, in the daytime, take some time. I can carry a little New Testament with me with Psalms and Proverbs, and I can, in all of those often-wasted moments, when I'm waiting for a bus or I'm waiting in a doctor's office—well, why can't I just take some Scripture with me and begin to fill my mind and heart with Scripture? Every Scripture is an invitation from God to experience Him fully.

Nancy: You really find Christ and life in the Scripture as it comes alive in you?

Dr. Blackaby: Oh, I do indeed! I do indeed. Every time I look into the Scripture, I'm face to face with the Author.

Nancy: It's alive.

Dr. Blackaby: It is Him.

Nancy: It's not just words on the page.

Dr. Blackaby: It is not. It is Him. This Book is different than any other. It's a living book, and the Scripture says several places, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). 

This entire Bible is in-breathed by God. Every word is a word from the mouth of God, so every word in the Bible carries with it the potential of life that God has for me. You see Him, and you see His nature. You see His ways, His purposes so that you can adjust your life immediately.

It's almost as if God is talking, which He is, and says, “Henry, this is the one I want. This is what it is about Me I want you to know now. You've got some things in place, but this one now is way beyond anywhere you've ever been. I wanted you to know that I'm this way, too, so right now the reason I'm opening your mind to this is because I'm right in the middle of wanting to do that for you.”

Nancy: Have you ever opened the Scripture, begun to read, and found that your heart was not warm toward the Scripture or that the Scripture seemed to be just words on a page, that it was a matter of wrote, and it wasn't coming alive? How did you come to just love the Word and find the life?

Dr. Blackaby: Well, my life—and according to Scripture says it that way—has to go from babyhood to childhood to adolescence to adulthood. I don't come full-blown as a Christian. I have to go through the process, and so there's milk. It's satisfying, and there's meat. That's satisfying, but I have to go through the process.

I would watch others, and they would tell me about how the Word of God is so exciting. It wasn't that way to me, but it wasn't because it couldn't be. It was because of my immaturity, but I always felt that God had me on the front end of my maturity.

That is, I don't try to get my six-year-old to function like a twelve-year-old. I want him to live fully as a six-year-old, and if he can do that, then as a seven-year-old, he's ready to experience all that a seven-year-old can.

I found that God has always kept me, from the beginning, living to the maximum of my spiritual maturity. That prepared me for the next stage in my maturity, but I couldn't jump a stage. I couldn't go from 12 to 20. Now, at 12 or 13, I wanted to drive a car, but I couldn't. I was not at the maturity level that I could, and I found spiritually that was true.

I'll get into a prayer meeting and hear some of the dear saints pray for an hour, and I couldn't do that. I'd say, “I wonder if my spirituality is such that I just couldn't pray for an hour. I wouldn't know what to say,” and God says, “You're praying to the maximum as a twelve-year-old, so enjoy being a twelve-year-old.”

Nancy: But press on to further levels of maturity.

Dr. Blackaby: Yes, always live to the cutting edge of your maturity level, but never get discouraged because you're around people who are much more mature. It has nothing to do with physical age. A person who becomes a Christian at 40 needs to recognize they're a baby Christian. They may be 40 physically, but they're a baby Christian.

Don't feel bad that you're a baby Christian. Don't let anyone intimidate you that you don't know all the Scriptures, and you're not walking in the full doctrines of the Bible.

Nancy: But make sure you're growing.

Dr. Blackaby: Yes, and enjoy every stage. I think the reason my kids grew up well is they enjoyed, and we tried to help them enjoy every age to the fullest. When they hit the next stage, they were able to now go from there, and I tried to do that as a pastor. I never expected the new believer to know everything, and I tried to watch to see where they were spirituality. God can give you that insight.

Now, because a person's a pastor does not mean that they're spiritually mature. They may be academically mature but not necessarily spiritually mature. I was talking with a pastor and his wife. They called last week, and I never met them. They said, “Our church is dying, and we're discouraged. We're disheartened.”

I let them talk, and they pretty well described the mess they were in. Then I turned to him on the phone, and I said, “Tell me where God has you in your time in the Scripture. What portion of the Scripture does God have you at?”

There was a pause, and he said, “I have to confess, the only time I read the Bible is to prepare a sermon.”

I said, “My brother, part of your problem is you're dying spiritually. You have moved from a relationship to God to religious activity.”

Nancy: That can be true of a mom, a layperson. It's not just pastors.

Dr. Blackaby: Oh yes, absolutely! We can do all the activity and lose the relationship, and the activity is not equivalent to the relationship.

By the time I was finished—and I spoke the truth in love—they were both weeping and saying, “This is the best call we've ever had. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

I said, “You know, God may have let you come to this point because it would drive you to Him, and that's the best thing that could ever happen. If He had helped your church to grow successfully, you would never have come to this point, but to miss this point is to miss Him. To miss Him is to miss life.”

Well, the Spirit of God took those words and others and helped them to come to the reality of what's happening in their life. I said, “I am convinced when you return to the intimate relationship to God, you'll see a radical difference in the way your people respond. They're not hearing a word from God. They're hearing a sermon, and people who come to church broken from a heavy week, they don't need a sermon. They want a word from God.”

Nancy: That's true of a mom raising her children, that her children need a mom who has been with God . . .

Dr. Blackaby: . . . spending time with God

Nancy: . . . has heard from God, and it's not just communicating content, how they ought to live. . .

Dr. Blackaby: or rules, you know

Nancy: . . . or rules, but is passing on relationship

Dr. Blackaby: Yes, and bearing witness to the excitement of the relationship.

Nancy: Dr. Blackaby, you probably don't know this, but I have been not as impacted by the things that you have written, the books you've written, as I have over the last ten years or so in the times that I've been around you to just sense that you have been with God, that you are experiencing the reality of God in your life, and that your time with God in His Word is consistent. It's sweet. It's real.

I have to say that your life has been a real challenge to me in this way because the more God has given fruitful ministry to me and opportunities for ministry, the greater has been the battle . . .

Dr. Blackaby: greater demand

Nancy: with busyness, hurry.

Dr. Blackaby: I can tell you.

Nancy: 've heard you talk some in your own pilgrimage about dealing with hurry and demands. Moms experience that, too. It may be toddlers or nursing baby.

Dr. Blackaby: They do.

Nancy: How have you, in your devotional life, your time in the Word with the Lord, dealt with hurry and busyness and kept that unhurried time a priority in your life?

Dr. Blackaby: Well, number one, God told me to love Him with all my mind. It is obvious that my time with God is more important than any other single factor. Even though I have a lot of things that may be on my agenda, there is nothing that compares with what I will have lost if I diminish the time alone with God.

Nancy: So do you have to fight to get that?

Dr. Blackaby: It may have been at one time in my immaturity, but it is not today.

Nancy: You probably have to say no to a lot of things.

Dr. Blackaby: He helps me to know when to say no. He helps me to know how to order the day, when to get rest, and so I know my time with God is the greatest time-saver of any other thing I do. He can direct me around some things during the day. He can alert me to some things that I'm not even aware of, but the time alone with God in the morning is the greatest time-saver in my day.

There's nothing in my life that affects my day-to-day, moment-by-moment time than my walk with God. I keep saying to people, “Does God take up residence within you? Is He with you all the day? Then, is there any time of the day that He could speak to you? Well, why do you limit it to the quiet time? Why do you say, 'I'll give Him 30 minutes in the morning'? What an affront to a holy God!”

The culture, the Evangelical culture, leaves us to believe that if you give God 15 minutes of a quiet time in the morning, God ought to be very pleased with you. I'd say, “No, no, no, He is your life.” Jesus said, “It's like the vine and the branch.” Do you say to the vine, “Well, I'll get juiced up in the morning, but then I'm going to depart from the vine. I'll be alright during the day”?

You can't. He's your life, and He said, “Without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). When I read that, I just say, “This is absolutely true,” so I have fellowship with God all during the day.

Nancy: You also set aside concentrated time away from the crowds, away from other people to be alone with the Lord.

Dr. Blackaby: Oh, yes.

Leslie: It's such a privilege to be allowed to listen in as Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Henry Blackaby talk about the richness available in God's Word and prayer. You can get a copy of that interview of your own when you order this week's series on CD or MP3 CD.

The focus all week has been on the personal devotional life. Even better, get a copy of the entire twelve-week series we're in called Seeking Him: Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com to order.

One of the most common barriers to a devotional life is busyness—people busy in church know this more than anyone else. We asked some of our listeners to share how they overcame busyness to connect with God. We'll start with Kim Wagner.

Kim Wagner: My husband was pastoring in Indiana about twelve years ago, and I remember I was hurriedly trying to make my way to Indianapolis to a ministry opportunity. As a pastor's wife, I had gotten very caught up with the busyness of ministry.

In my car, I'm so thankful that God sovereignly and heavily convicted my heart that, “You're on your way to ministry, and you didn't have your time with Me this morning.” I was just trying to take whatever I got on the way. My fast-food spiritual food for the day was the Christian radio station. I said, “Oh, but this is my quiet time, Lord, right here.”

He said, “No, you didn't let Me speak to you.” I'm so thankful for Christian radio, but I fear that many Christians in our fast-paced society today are using that as a substitute for meeting with God.

I am so thankful that He had to drive me to my knees to make a commitment to Him that I would never, never, never go on another day without meeting with Him first and hearing from my Father, not hearing from somebody else that had met with Him or not hearing from someone else teaching from the Word, but that I would allow Him to speak to me and convict my heart and to talk to me about where I am, where He finds me that day.

That's been the most important change in my life other than my salvation—since my salvation—has been that commitment to the Word and to prayer and to daily quiet time. But it's so easy, I mean, even as a pastor's wife, even as people in a ministry, it is so easy to get caught up in busyness and set aside the most important meeting of all.

Woman: Well, I am what, as Paul said, “the chief of sinners.” That devotion time, you want it to be so right. You just struggle with it constantly, but I've tried to stay, continued the struggle.

One specific thing I just wanted to share on just being consistent was I took care of my dad for nine years, then he had a stroke. I'd been to the doctor, and the doctor had said, “He will probably live about six weeks.”

Well, he was connecting me then with Hospice. I had taken care of him with this strength the Lord had given me. I had just done so well, but here was a finality that I had to accept the fact that it was going to be about six weeks. Hospice meant finality. So the next day, the nurse was coming to talk to me, to interview me about registering me for Hospice care for Daddy.

I had gone to bed, and I was tossing and praying and crying, and I said, “Lord, I just can't accept the finality of it. I don't want to talk to the nurse tomorrow. I just don't want that interview. I just can't handle it,” and I went on to bed and went to sleep.

At 4:30, the Lord woke me up. My Bible was laying on the floor where I had just laid it beside the bed, so I just reached down and picked it up with this weakness, to open it to where I was just reading the Bible through. My marker was there, and I wasn't looking for anything.

When I opened it, it was First Corinthians 15. It's the chapter that talks about death. I started reading that, and I closed it. I thought, “Oh well, I don't need to be reading this today.” Then I thought, “No, that's where my marker was. God knew I was there at that point. I will read it.”

I started reading. Well, it was so difficult to read at first, as I began to read about death, and yet, God began to work in me and comfort me. The one verse in there that says, “Though the outward man is wasting away, the inward man is being renewed” (2 Corinthians 4:16, paraphrase). I said, “Lord, let me see that the inner man is being” (Daddy was just a real, fine man) “and let me not focus on his wasting away.”

I was prepared then to talk to the Hospice nurse when she came, but that was just such a special time. It was my devotion time, and yet I was just there routinely. I didn't try to find it, so stay consistent in your devotion time.

Woman 2: I'm thankful for when I became a new Christian. God penetrated His Word to my heart, not only through the Holy Spirit, but through gifted men and women that He put into my life that knew how to articulate the truth, that challenged me, that made me want to get into that Book. There are some people that God blesses with the gift of articulating His Scripture in such a way that it makes you want to get in there and dig out truth for yourself.

I have had a heart condition. It's called hardness of the heart. I don't know if any of you have ever encountered that, but there have been points in my life when I've moved away from God because of either I was mad at Him, or I was mad at me. It's caused hardness in my heart. Sometimes, out of that condition, I could not enter into the throne room, but I would hear songs of praise that would point me back up. He would remind me that He is the lifter of my head.

Secondly, just a couple of years ago, that Scripture when Samuel spoke to Saul, and Saul had gotten harder of heart as well. Samuel said, “To obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22). God used that to remind me that even when I could not know what to say before Him, that I would sit there silently, and the obedience of getting up early in the morning, whether I wanted to or not, and sitting there and opening my book and looking and just trying to sit there and capture my mind and not let it wander away but just sit there and wait—that that obedience. After time, it became a well-spring for me. I praise the Lord because I was drying up, but He met me.

Suzanne: Well, I am just so blessed. I have so many wonderful friends in my life. The Lord Jesus is first, but sometimes I don't treat Him that way. Every Wednesday, we have a grandmothers group. We always start out with Scripture, and we always start out just praying for our grandchildren but focusing on a hymn and the Word.

It's just so special, and I just want to praise the Lord for the wonderful people He keeps putting in my life to help me to be more like Him. They're just great models. Anyway, I want to take up that 30-day challenge, and I just want to become more like Jesus.

Leslie: Some Revive Our Hearts listeners have been describing valuable time alone with God. We just heard from Suzanne, who mentioned the 30-day challenge. Our host, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, has challenged us to spend at least some time each day in the Bible and prayer for the next 30 days. This challenge could be one of the most important you've ever taken.

There are a lot of tools available at ReviveOurHearts.com to help you study the Bible more effectively, including Nancy's book, A Place of Quiet Rest. Does the phrase “quiet rest” sound like a far-off dream? In this book Nancy will help you learn how to handle distractions, create some consistency in your prayer life, and understand the Bible more clearly.

When you make a donation to Revive Our Hearts, we'll send you A Place of Quiet Rest. Ask for it when you call 1-800-569-5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Nancy says, “You can't hear God's Word and stay neutral. You have to respond in some way. Find out more tomorrow when we're back for Revive Our Hearts.

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

All Scriptures are from the New King James Version unless otherwise noted.

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