Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Here's Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You may have experienced having a pastor at your church for decades. People loved him, and he fed the people. He nurtured them. Then the day comes when he retires, or he's taken away. Can the church go on? Can the people of God go on? Well, we're reminded that the work of God is not dependent on any, single, human leader.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, September 15.

For several weeks, we’ve seen what it looks like to trust God through battles and through big life changes.  Nancy’s been taking us on a biblical study of the life of Joshua, starting in the book of Exodus. Today we’re in the series, "Lessons from the Life of Joshua (Part 6): Grace in Loss." 

Nancy: Well, some of you who've been following along with us in this series on the life of Joshua over the past several weeks are wondering, is she ever going to get to the book of Joshua? Well, today, we're going to get to the book of Joshua, and there's been so much rich material in Exodus and Numbers and Deuteronomy about the life of Joshua. If you've missed any part of this series, you may want to order that series or go to ReviveOurHearts.com and pull up the archives so that you can listen to it.

We've followed Joshua through the early years of his life as he was in training for leadership, as he was being a follower, as he was learning to know God and standing in Moses' shadow. He was Moses' assistant for all those years, and we've been following along now as there's been a transition being made.

The baton has been being handed off one step at a time to Joshua, and today, in Joshua chapter 1, we're coming to the actual changing of the guard as Joshua assumes the mantel, the cloak, the role of leadership over God's people, the Israelites.

Now today, and for the next several days, we're going to be looking at an incident in the opening verses of Joshua chapter 1. Whenever I read this passage, I'm reminded of a service that I attended in September of 1979.

Ten days earlier, at the age of fifty-three, my father had suddenly dropped dead of a heart attack. My mother, who was only forty years old at the time, and the seven children in our family, ages eight to twenty-one at the time, sat lined up on the front row during the memorial celebration, and we listened as Pastor Jerry Falwell opened the service with this heartfelt prayer.

Our heavenly Father, we are reminded of those inspired words, “Moses, My servant, is dead. Now therefore, arise and go over this Jordan, thou and all this people.” That is what we wish to do, but we need Your help.

Help us, then, even tonight, to hear what we need to hear, to feel what we need to feel in order that we may go out of here this evening and over this Jordan and those Jordans that are yet to come, that the work of our Lord, manifested through this, Thy servant, Art DeMoss, might be extended through us.

May many Joshuas be raised up tonight, men and women who would not have been raised up had Art not fallen, and cause that the greater day of fruitfulness and evangelism and expansion of the kingdom of God be affected because, contrary to our logic, Your ways, far above our ways, have prevailed. In Jesus' name, asking for this dear family grace beyond anything we can imagine, amen.

I think of how God has answered that prayer and how God did give grace to my mother, to our family, not only in that immediate period following the loss of my dad, but has given so much grace to my life and to my family over all these years, even as God gave grace to Joshua as he faced the death of Moses, the servant of the Lord, who had been such an incredible leader and man of God.

Now, Joshua's being asked to follow in Moses' steps, and I want you to follow along in Joshua chapter 1, the passage that was just referred to here in that prayer, but beginning at verse 1 of Joshua chapter 1. “After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua,” and let me just pause there for a moment and remind us that Moses died.

“After the death of Moses,” and we're reminded that no one and nothing under the sun is forever. People die. Moses died. Every person that you've read about in Scripture died. My dad, Art DeMoss, died.

There comes a time, sooner or later, when every leader, every person that we love or look to for wisdom, for leadership—they pass on. They're not forever, and “After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua.”

I love that part of this verse because we see that Moses had died, but God had not. God was still very much alive, and as I've been meditating on this verse, I've thought back to that passage in Isaiah chapter 6, verse 1, “In the year that King Uzziah died.”

King Uzziah was a long-time, bulwark king of Israel. For fifty-some years he reigned, as I recall, and Isaiah says in the year that this great man died, “I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up.”

As I think about both of these passages, I'm reminded that it's been sometimes in my periods of greatest loss that I have seen the Lord in a way that I had never seen Him before, high and lifted up and exalted. And your time of greatest loss, whether behind you or yet ahead of you, may be the moment when you hear the voice of God and see His face in a greater way than you have ever experienced before.

Let me pick up again at verse 1.

After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' assistant, “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses” (vv. 1–3).

"No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them” (vv. 5–6).

Now, the death of Moses had to be a hugely traumatic event for Joshua and for all of Israel. For forty years, Moses had been God's man. He had been the spiritual leader of the Children of Israel. He had been the civil leader of the Children of Israel.

He was the one who had heard from God and had represented God to the people. He was the intermediary between God and His people. He was the one who went up on Mount Sinai that was covered with dark clouds and lightning and thunder, and Moses was the one who went up into the presence of God and then brought down the Word of God, the Law of God for His people

In times of crisis, everyone would look to Moses. When God wanted to tell the people something, who did He tell? He told Moses, who then communicated with the people.

Now, Moses was gone. The sheep had lost their human shepherd, so who would lead them? Would they be left to flounder in the wilderness? Who was qualified to fill Moses' shoes?

There was no one even close to Moses in terms of spiritual depth, in terms of leadership ability. We're told that at the end of Deuteronomy. There was no one like him before or since. He was a unique man, uniquely gifted of God for his generation, for his season, for his purpose, so who was going to take his place?

Yet, true to His character, God had providentially looked ahead and made provision. Isn't that what providence is? God looks ahead, and He makes provision for what hasn't even happened yet.

That's exactly what God had done. He'd made provision for His people and for His purposes to be fulfilled even in Moses' absence. You see, God's redemptive plan and His purposes for the Children of Israel were not dependent on Moses, and they weren't dependent on any other human being. They're not dependent on any other human being today.

You may have experienced having a pastor at your church for decades. People loved him, and he fed the people. He nurtured them. Then the day comes when he retires, or he's taken away. Can the church go on? Can the people of God go on? Well, we're reminded that the work of God is not dependent on any, single, human leader.

Moses' death was actually an opportunity for the people to be reminded that God was their leader and that they were dependent on Him, not on Moses, to meet their needs. How many times in the previous forty years had the Lord spoken to Moses? We read it over and over and over again in the books of Moses.

Now after Moses' death, we read in Joshua 1, verse 1, that the Lord spoke to Joshua, and I think that it was a gracious reminder that God was not through with His plan and that God was not through with His people and that His people had not been left without a means of hearing from God. God said to Joshua, “Moses my servant is dead.”

Now, Joshua knew that Moses was dead. The people had been grieving and mourning the death of Moses already. But don't you think it must have been encouraging to Joshua to hear God acknowledge that He knew that Moses had died and to be reminded that God knows our circumstances? He is not oblivious to our losses. He is not unaware of the events that impact our lives, and He's got the whole world in His hands.

He still does, even when Moses has died. Moses' death did not catch God off guard, and it didn't thwart God's plans for His people. You see, God's kingdom and His work in the world do not depend on any single human being to be fulfilled.

Leaders come. Leaders go. People come. People go. But of the increase of His kingdom there shall be no end. The kingdom of God goes on and on and on and on.

What may seem like a hopeless ending to us is not even a blip on the screen for God. So God acknowledges to Joshua the fact that Moses is dead. There's no escaping it. There's no running from it. It's a reality that has to be squarely faced, but God is reminding Joshua that Moses' death is not the end of the world, that the world has not ceased to be, that the planets have not ceased to be, that the universe is still in place, and it's all still in God's hands.

I think, as I've been pondering this passage, of the home going of other Christian leaders. I think of Dr. Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, and how later in life he died, and the baton of Campus Crusade was passed on to other leadership. The founder of the ministry that I've served with, Del Fehsenfeld Jr., died at the age of forty-three of a brain tumor. We did not plan that. We never would have scripted it that way.

Each of these leaders' deaths represented huge losses to their ministries, but their deaths did not spell the end of the ministries that God had raised up. In each case, looking back now, we can see that God graciously supplied and raised up other men, though they were different, and they were gifted differently, but God gave other men to lead the ministry into its next season.

So whether it's a pastor or a leader of a ministry or your husband or somebody that you love and trust and respect who is taken away, remember that God still lives, and God's work still goes on. God still has people in place to whom He can and will entrust the next season of your life and everything that that involves.

Now, the fact that God speaks to Joshua and says, “Moses my servant is dead. Now arise and go forward,” that doesn't mean that we don't mourn the loss of the leader, and in fact, if you were to go back a chapter to Deuteronomy chapter 34, you would read in verse 8, “And the people of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days. Then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended.”

I think that's an important, inspired statement in the Scripture. It reminds us that God is not insensitive to our loss, and He doesn't forbid grief. What He doesn't want us to do is to get stuck in the grief or to let it paralyze us from moving on to do His will.

We have to face the facts. We have to deal with what has happened and trust that God is wise and sovereign and in His providence has brought this series of circumstances about, and then we have to be willing to get the grace to move on, to move forward.

God now turns to Joshua and tells him what to do next, and what is Joshua to do next? What is God going to say? Is God going to retract the plan that He had originally given for the people to go into Canaan and into the Promised Land? Is God going to revise His plan? Are the people no longer going to be able to go into the Promised Land because Moses is gone?

Well, to the contrary, and you know the story, God said to Joshua, verse 2, “Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them.” Now, it strikes me that God's very first instruction to Joshua, as the new leader of His people, is by no means an easy task.

I mean, we read it glibly because we know the story. We've read it so many times, but look at it. This was an impossible task. “Go over this Jordan, you and all this people,” the first instruction God gives Joshua. There is simply no human way for one to two million people to cross over the Jordan River, for starters, much less to move into a land that is already occupied and whose cities are well fortified.

It's impossible, so from the outset, Joshua is made aware that his calling exceeds his capability and that what is being required of him is humanly impossible and will never be accomplished through his own ability or efforts. For his very first assignment and for all the rest of his life, Joshua will have to be dependent on the supernatural presence and power and enabling of God.

As I've been reflecting on this passage, I have memorized these first nine verses of Joshua one, and I've been meditating on them for the past several months. I just think, This has been the story of my life, God's calling exceeding my capability, and I see some heads nodding in here because I think many of you can relate to the fact that what God has asked you to do again and again has been beyond what you could do humanly.

I remember those early days—it's been more than ten years ago now—when I first sensed that God was calling me to believe Him for a counter-revolution among Christian women, to take back the ground that had been given over to feminist thinking. I remember just being terrorized in a sense because I knew that this was something that only God could do. Yet I knew that I was to make myself available to be God's servant and to be used in any way that He would choose in that mission.

Then I remember the time that a Christian leader urged me to consider starting a radio program for Christian women, and my first response was, “No way. That's a great idea, but somebody else should be called to do that. Certainly God's not calling me to do that.” But I spent those next months praying, fasting, seeking the Lord, asking the Lord.

Then I remember, as the Lord directed me that, “Yes, you are the one I want to do this.” I remember so clearly the day I called that leader to say yes, that I believed God was calling me to move forward. Once again, as I made that call, I felt so intensely my own weakness, my own inadequacy for this calling, but I knew that God was greater than all the giants in the land and that God could do it.

Then there came within that year the transition. Some of you who've been with us for a while in Revive Our Hearts, know that Revive Our Hearts was a program that followed after Gateway to Joy, the program that Elisabeth Elliot did so effectively for thirteen years. Elisabeth Elliot had had an extraordinary ministry to women over the years.

Thousands of women considered her their spiritual mother, a spiritual mentor, and they had looked to her for guidance and instruction. In God's providence, God knew when she would have to relinquish an active public ministry. For decades, God had been using her, unbeknownst to her, but God had been using her, among others, as an instrument to influence and impact and mold and shape my life, through her teaching, through her books, through her ministry, and to give me the resources in God's Word to take that baton and to go on and influence and mold and shape a new generation of women.

As we started into that transition . . . Elisabeth Elliot just cast such a long shadow. She has been such an extraordinary woman. I think of how Joshua must have felt dwarfed by Moses' shadow. There was no one like Moses.

I remember thinking and believing, “No one will ever fill Elisabeth Elliot's shoes.” No one could fill her shoes, but God didn't call me to fill her shoes. God called me to fill the shoes He gave me. As God chose and called and commissioned and enabled Joshua to follow after Moses, to be God's man for that generation that was to take possession of the Promised Land, so as Revive Our Hearts began, I had to trust that God would give me exactly what I needed to give out His Word to the next generation of women.

I think of how often Joshua must have had to battle a sense of his own weakness, his own inadequacy, how many times he must have been tempted to be afraid or discouraged. You say, “How do you know he was tempted to be afraid or discouraged?” Well, how many times did God tell him, “Don't be afraid. Don't be discouraged”? Don't you think God was speaking to his natural temptation?

How often have I had to battle my own sense of weakness and inadequacy and sense of fear and “who is sufficient for these things?” Then I come back, and I'm reminded of God's promise to Joshua:

Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them (Joshua 1:5– 6).

I'm reminded that the same God who was with Joshua is the God who has promised to be with me and to enable me to do all that He has called me to do.

That same God has promised to be with you whatever the task, whatever the calling, whatever the season of life. You say, “I can't parent those kids. I can't raise that grandchild that has been given to me. I can't do that job. I can't teach that class. I can't love that husband. I can't fulfill that responsibility or that thing I believe God is asking me to do.”

You're right. You can't, so what do you do? Through your tears, you sing, "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms." You say, “God, I thank You that just as You were with Moses, just as You were with Joshua, so You have promised to be with me.” Then you say, “Lord, thank You for putting me in a place of blessed dependence.” It's the best place to be. It's scary, but it's the best place to be.

Leslie: Each of us is going to experience loss. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been preparing us for moments of fear, grief, or panic that may result. She's been teaching on the life of Joshua through several series this year. Today's is called "Lessons from the Life of Joshua (Part 6): Grace in Loss."

The teaching today is something all of us can apply. At some point we all need to turn to God when facing loss. One listener wrote to tell us how God supported her through this kind of trial. Nancy . . .

Nancy: I received a touching email from a listener who told us about the loss of her mom. This listener was just twenty-four, and this loss had been hugely difficult for her.

She told us something that complicated her grief. She wrote,

My mom’s dream was to see me in a white wedding gown, and sometimes I feel like I disappointed her.

This young women is single, and her mom died before seeing her daughter married. And this had been involved in some sinful relationships which led to a lot of pain in her life.

Revive Our Hearts was one of the means God used to help this women to experience freedom and forgiveness and to encourage her and give her godly perspective on her situation. After using Revive Our Hearts resources, she wrote and said,

I have come to realize and understand that my singleness IS a gift—despite what society, culture, and even some churches say. I have decided to devote my life to service to Christ, and if it be His will that I remain single for the rest of my life—I rejoice in that! Whatever will make my heavenly Father happy and bring Him glory. My only desire is to become a woman after God's own heart, no matter my marital state. Thank you for walking through that difficult time with me. Your words are truly a blessing.

When you support Revive Our Hearts, you are helping hurting women, like this twenty-four-year-old woman, find hope and biblical perspective on tough life situations.

This ministry was able to be there for this woman in large part thanks to the help of our the monthly partner team. In many respects, this partner team is the lifeblood of this ministry. They pray for us. They support the ministry financially each month. And they are involved in helping to spread the message to others who need to hear it.

This month, we’re asking the Lord to raise up 800 new monthly partners for Revive Our Hearts. Now, I realize that requires a significant level of commitment. But we have some listeners who have been listening to this ministry for months or years. You've been blessed by it; you've been encouraged. It's been helpful in your life or the life of your family members or friends, and now you are ready to get on board and help us get this message out to others.

It's a real partnership. As you share with this ministry, we want to share with you and help you in your spiritual growth.

One of the major benefits of being involved in this team is that you'll know that the Lord is using you to help women like this twenty-four-year-old girl find godly, biblical help in her life situation. 

And when you sign up as a new monthly partner this month, we’ll welcome you to the team by sending you a copy of my book called, The Wonder of His Name. This is a new edition. It is a special gift edition, a hardcover of this book. It is beautifully illustrated by Timothy Botts. It will be a great addition to your heart and your home.

And as a partner, you’ll also get one free conference registration each year. Other benefits is that I send out a monthly letter sharing what God has put on my heart and updates on what is happening in the ministry. We want to stay connected with you as you become a part of the partner team.

I believe that this month there are listeners whose hearts God is touching to say, "I want you to be a part of the partner team. You want to be a part of it, and you can do that. Just give us a call at 1–800–569–5959. Let us know that you'd like to become a part of the Revive Our Hearts monthly partner team. If you have questions, we'll be glad to answer those. You can also get more information by visiting us at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Thank you so much for considering becoming a part of what God is doing through this ministry to call women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.

To say something is indispensable is pretty serious. Nancy tells us two indispensable ingredients for life as she continues to look at the story of Joshua. Please be back tomorrow for Revive Our Hearts

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

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

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