Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Character and Nature of God

Leslie Basham: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth reminds you of a powerful truth that will affect the rest of your life.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Regardless of what it may feel like to you at any given moment, God is good. And regardless of whether you feel it or not, God loves you and wants you to have His best. These are truths about God that we need to counsel our heart with.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of The Quiet Place, for Monday, September 3, 2018.

Today is a special occasion here at Revive Our Hearts. For starters, the first Revive Our Hearts program launched seventeen years ago today. And speaking of birthdays, today is a special day for you. I know all of our Revive Our Hearts family would want to join me in saying, “Happy birthday to you, Nancy.”

Nancy: Thank you, Leslie. And yes, today is a big one—the big 6-0. I want to say how incredibly grateful I am as I look back over the span of my life and thank the Lord for His amazing grace, His faithfulness in my life, His goodness, His mercy. I do not deserve the blessings that He has showered on me over all these years.

Now as I'm heading into this next decade of life and ministry, my longing and burden and prayer is that He would find me faithful in serving Him for as long as He gives me strength and breath and life. So I really am grateful.

I'm grateful for all the greetings, the encouragements I've received from Revive Our Hearts listeners over the last few weeks leading up to this special day. Thank you so much. And thank you for your support of Revive Our Hearts over these past seventeen years. Wow! What a sweet journey that has been and continues to be. Day after day we are seeing God's provision, His faithfulness, His kindness, and the joy of seeing Him transform lives through this ministry as women around the world are experiencing greater freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.

My heart is so full today, and I want to say a huge thank you.

Leslie: Last week Dannah Gresh was here to interview you and reflect on another special marker as you recently completed forty years of serving the Lord on a full-time basis. If any of our listeners missed any of that conversation, you can hear it at ReviveOurHearts.com.

This week we thought we’d share with you some highlights of Nancy’s teaching throughout her years of ministry. And we especially want to feature some of the main themes she’s focused on during those forty years.

And Nancy, what would you say are some of the main recurring themes throughout the course of your ministry?

Nancy: Well for anyone who’s listened to Revive Our Hearts for any length of time, I don’t think any of these will come as a surprise. For starters, I have really focused on our vertical relationship with the Lord—spending time with the Lord in His Word and prayer and a lifestyle of repentance, holiness, and surrender. 

I’ve also talked about our relationships with others—how the vertical affects the horizontal when it comes to things like forgiveness, keeping a clear conscience, mentoring, passing on the baton of truth to the next generation.

Then I've also sensed a need in our day to focus on what have called biblical womanhood—helping women to understand and embrace our unique, God-created design as women.

And then I think another theme that has figured prominently in my teaching over these years has been the whole area of suffering—how to deal with dry times, difficult times, times of despair, and how to get God's perspective on our suffering and how to glorify Him in the midst of it all.

Leslie: And we’ll focus on each of those topics this week. Today, though, we’re going to focus on your teaching about God Himself. We’ll review some of the teaching you’ve provided on the nature and character of God. Why is that such an important part of your teaching?

Nancy: Looking at the character of God is the absolute best place and right place to start because what we believe about God affects what we believe about everything else. And one of the best things to do when you’re facing difficulty or a challenge in a relationship is to take our eyes off that problem and look to the beauty, the goodness, and the grace of God. Focusing on Him can change the way we look at everything else in our lives.

Leslie: One of the ways Nancy has helped us focus on God over the years is to remind us that we can trust Him to keep us safe, even when storms are raging around us. One of the early series Nancy recorded for Revive Our Hearts was called “Under His Wings.” Let’s listen.

Nancy "Under His Wings": That was quite a storm we had here last night. I was lying in bed listening to that wind and wondering from the sound if this could be the makings of a tornado. I don't know this part of the country very well, but that was quite a storm, and I was thinking about how we find refuge and safety and shelter under the wings of God.

Psalm 57 paints for us a picture of the wings of God providing us refuge. The setting of this psalm is, again, David speaking when he was fleeing from King Saul, who was a violent and insanely jealous king. So he cries out to the Lord, Psalm 57, verse 1, and he says, "Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by" (NKJV).

I would not want to have been outside in that storm last night. I'm glad I had a shelter in the midst of that storm. And David is saying, "Lord, there's a storm passing by; there are calamities that are pouring in on my life. But I have a shelter." The shelter is the wings of God; that's a refuge, and I'm going to stay in that shelter until these calamities have passed by.

We see the same thought in Psalm 61, where David says, "Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed" (vv. 1–2 NKJV). We don't like to be in places where calamities are passing by or where our hearts are overwhelmed. But more often than not that's what it takes in our lives, I find, to get us to the place where we cry out to the Lord. When there are no storms, we can just go through life without ever thinking about God! But when the storms come, that's when we think, I need a refuge! I need a way to get out of this storm; I need some protection, a shelter in the midst of this storm!

So David says, "In the midst of this storm I will cry out to You." "When my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings" (vv. 2–4 NKJV).

You see what he keeps coming back to? Lord, You have provided a shelter, a refuge for me. So what do I have to do? I have to run into that place, and then I have to trust. As those little birds, those little chicks come under the wings of the mother, the wings of the hen, and trust, and wait on that parent to meet their needs.

A few moments ago some of you shared some of the storms, some of the challenges that you're walking through in your life. There are a number who mentioned physical challenges and health issues. Someone mentioned that a daughter's marriage is in crisis. Some of you are facing the challenge of an empty nest (no pun intended here). And then some were challenges and storms even bigger than what we have mentioned. I was just reminded, as we were listing these challenges: You and I have a safe place, a refuge, a shelter in the midst of the storm.

So we come to the Lord and we say, "Lord, I come to find refuge under Your wings. You are enough; You are sufficient; You are my hiding place, and in You I am safe."

Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth from a series on Revive Our Hearts called “Under His Wings.” It’s one of many series over the last seventeen years that focus on the nature and character of God, and that’s our topic today.

Another series Nancy taught early in the history of Revive Our Hearts is called “El-Shaddai.” She told us the biblical story of Abraham and Sarah and how God revealed Himself as El-Shaddai, the All-Sufficient One.

Nancy "El-Shaddai": This is a wonderful name of God that shows the tender care and compassion and grace of God on our behalf.

The name El is a short form, as many of you know, of the name of God—Elohim. It’s the name of God that speaks of His power, His omnipotence, His strength, His might. I love that name because it says that God is able to do anything He wants to do.

But He’s not only El, He’s El-Shaddai. That word Shaddai is a tender, touching word that is actually formed from the Hebrew word, Shad (S-h-a-d), which is the Hebrew word for breast. It speaks of a nursing mother who takes her infant to her breast and supplies for that child all that the child needs.

It’s a picture of God as a tenderhearted, compassionate, nursing mother. Now you put that with El, the powerful, omnipotent, mighty, all-able God who also is the tender, nursing caretaker and provider for His people. He’s the one who supplies. He’s the one who nourishes. He’s the one who satisfies.

So we see God not just as the almighty God. Everywhere you see this name translated in our English Bibles, it’s translated Almighty God or God Almighty. But as you study this word out, the commentators agree that a better translation would be the All-Sufficient One. The All-Sufficient One! El-Shaddai!

This is the God who delights for us to be at a place where we are helpless, as Abram and Sarai were. Helpless to meet their own need. Helpless to fulfill God’s promises. But the more helpless we are, the more we’re forced to rely on El-Shaddai.

When we rely on Him, then the promises are fulfilled. The wonderful thing is: We can’t get the credit. God gets all the glory.

Everyone knew that Abraham and Sarah could not have children. So when that little child, Isaac, was born, everyone knew this is a miracle. God has done this. God is the provider.

Abraham had to learn his own insufficiency, the futility of relying on his own efforts, and the foolishness of impatiently running ahead of God.

Is there a need in your life today for which El-Shaddai is your solution? Physical? Financial? Emotional? Relational? Vocational? Spiritual?

God says, “For all of your need I am your El-Shaddai. I am your provider. I am your nourishment. I am your All-Sufficient one.” We’ve seen that God sometimes waits until we’re at the end of our own sufficiency, when we’ve come to end of our own resources, and there’s absolutely nothing else we can do to solve our situation. Then in desperation we stop looking outward, we stop looking inward, and we look upward, and we say, “O Lord, I need you.”

Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, from a series here on Revive Our Hearts called "El Shaddai: The All-Sufficient One." We’re reviewing past series this week in order to celebrate! Nancy has been serving the Lord in full-time ministry forty years and we’re marking the occasion by highlighting some major themes she’s taught on over the years. Today is the nature and character of God. Here she is reminding us how God is our father, from the series “The Lord’s Prayer.”

Nancy "The Lord's Prayer": All real prayer starts with God, not with us. The prayer is directed toward God. Our Father are the first two words. That puts God at the center of our prayer, not us.

You say, “Why do you need to keep saying that?” Because we keep forgetting it. We’re so self-centered, and we’re so naturally bent on “Me” from the time we’re infants. When we grow up, we find more sophisticated ways of being self-centered, but we’re still self-centered, nonetheless.

Jesus, in teaching us to pray, says, “Get your eyes off of yourself, and lift your heart and your eyes up to God, our Father.” 

When Jesus says that we should pray, “Our Father,” it reminds us that prayer is something very personal. It’s the personal nature of prayer.

We’re not talking to the air. We’re not talking to ourselves. Prayer is talking to God, to a Person. You know He exists. There’s the assumption here that God exists, first, and secondly that He hears us, He’s listening to us, and He’s going to do something about our prayer.

Hebrews 11:6 tells us, “Without faith it is impossible to please [God].” If you come to God, you “must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

So when we come to pray, it’s an expression of faith. It’s, “Lord, we can’t see You, but we believe that You’re there. We believe that You really do exist. We believe that we have a Father who wants us to pray, who is listening when we pray, who can hear us and who can do something about our needs.”

I think that Father is one of the most distinctive names that we Christians use for God. I learned while I was doing this study that Muslims have ninety-nine names for God—names like The Powerful, The Irresistible, The All-Compelling Subduer, The Magnificent, The Majestic, The Sublimely Exalted, The Protector, The Benefactor . . . on and on—ninety-nine names that Muslims have for God.

But not one of those names is Father. Only Christians, in the truest sense of the word, can call God “Father.”

Jesus is telling us to pray to our Father, and I want us to stop and realize: If we had been in the setting of those disciples in those days, coming out of the Old Testament era in this bridge to the New Testament era, I want us to get a picture of how astonishing it would have been to hear Jesus say that we should pray, “Our Father.”

We’re so used to this prayer; it doesn’t strike us as anything out of the ordinary. But to the ears of those Jews living in the time of Christ, this was an astonishing way to start a prayer.

The disciples would have never thought of starting their prayer, “Our Father.” Jesus said, “You should prayer to our Father.”

Leslie: It’s amazing that we can call God by the intimate name, “Father.” Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been showing us why that’s so amazing, from a series called “The Lord’s Prayer.”

She also showed us why it’s so amazing that God is willing to dwell with us in a series called “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” The series was based on Psalm 46, and here she is focusing on verse 5, which tells us that God is in the midst of His people.

Nancy "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God": God is interested in relationship. God is interested in being near to His people. Proximity matters to God. He doesn’t want to be just some god out there that we hear about and we talk about, or we give mental assent to.

He wants to be in us, to dwell in us, to be related to us, to make His dwelling place in us. That is the picture that we have in the Old Testament temple, the tabernacle. What was the point? It was not just a building or a tent where people go to have religious services, but God says, “I will dwell with you. I will be in you, I will be among you.”

We have even the sense of that being God’s goal in the Old Testament. Zechariah chapter 2, verse 10, “Sing and rejoice O daughter of Zion! For behold, I come and I will dwell in your midst, declares the Lord" (NKJV).

Some of you are looking at me like, "What is the big deal?" It is a big deal. God, the God of the universe, Lord of Hosts, Yahweh, Elohim, the God, the transcendent God, the Creator, the preserver, He says, “I will dwell in you. I will dwell your midst. I will dwell in your church, in your family, in your life!"

The presence of God, everything in our lives that’s good and holy and valuable and wonderful flows out of God dwelling in our midst. God says, “I will dwell in your midst.” John chapter 1 (this comes to the New Testament), “The Word became flesh,” God put on human flesh, “and dwelt among us.” He “tabernacled” among us, “and we have seen His glory.” We know Him as Emmanuel, God with us. That’s what Psalm 46 looks forward to, God is in the midst of her.

When Jesus returned to heaven, He promised He would send the Holy Spirit. John 14, Jesus said, “He dwells with you and he will be in you” (v. 17 NKJV). Christ in you, the Holy Spirit in you, your hope of glory. This isn’t just a phrase you can just pass over, Psalm 46, “God is in the midst of her.” So what? There’s a huge “so what” to all of that. “God is in the midst of you,” makes all the difference in the world.

Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, from a series called “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” Today we’re focusing on the nature and character of God, one of Nancy’s main themes as she’s had the opportunity to serve the Lord vocationally for forty years. We’re celebrating that milestone this week.

As we review some of Nancy’s teaching on the character of God, it seems fitting to end with what’s probably her most well-known message about God. Her book Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free has sold over a million copies. In it, Nancy challenges women to confront lies they believe about God. Here she is reminding us of some of those truths about God.

Nancy "Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free": I read a tweet the other day, as I was thinking about this subject. I want to share it with you. It said: “When we are anxious, depressed, or irritable, it’s likely because we’re believing a lie about ourselves or about God.”

Now, you think about that. When we’re anxious, when we’re depressed, when we’re irritable—like, who hasn’t been one or more of those things within the last week, twenty-four hours, maybe the last hour? Anxious, depressed—some of you live this way—anxious, depressed, irritable.

This writer said, “When we’re anxious, depressed or irritable, it’s likely because we’re believing something that isn’t true—about ourselves or about God.”

We don’t want to just focus on the lies. We want to point ourselves and others to the truth.

Susanna Spurgeon, the wife of my friend, Charles Spurgeon said,

In times of trouble, the soul is greatly helped by cherishing great thoughts of God.

In order to do that you have to stop. You have to get rid of some of the noise and the clutter that is in your head that is putting all kinds of other thoughts to fill your mind. You need to pull away and be quiet and get into this Book and let this Book get into you—that's the Word of God, that Book.

In times of trouble, your soul will be greatly helped by finding, discovering, receiving, embracing, and cherishing great thoughts of God.

The reason I wrote the original Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, and the reason we’ve spent the last year or two updating and expanding that book, so now we have the new Lies Women Believe, it’s all to encourage you to cherish great thoughts of God. That’s the purpose.

So throughout this book, not only in the chapter about God, but throughout, we talk about the truth that God is good. Regardless of what it may feel like it to you at any given moment, God is good. And regardless of whether you feel it or not, God loves you and wants you to have His best. These are truths about God that we need to counsel our heart with.

Here’s another truth: God is enough. If we have Him, we have everything that we need for our present peace and happiness, and not only our present peace and happiness, but our eternal peace and happiness. God is enough. “The Lord is my shepherd,” the psalmist said, “I have everything that I need.” That’s the truth about God.

Here’s another truth: God can be trusted—God can be trusted.

My husband and I are going to be writing a book this year, to release next year, Lord willing, called, You Can Trust God to Write Your Story. Whether it’s your love story or your financial story or your pain story or your children’s story—whatever your story is—you can trust God to write it.

God keeps His promises. He has promised never to leave us, never to forsake us. He has promised that those who trust in Him will never be disappointed, Isaiah 28:16.

And at times I have to remind myself—you may need to remind yourself of the same thing—“Listen, soul, has God has ever once let me down?”

“Well, no. There were times when I thought He might.”

“But has He ever?”

“Well, no. God has never once let me down—and He’s not going to start now!”

We need to remind ourselves of these truths about God.

Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, reminding you of truths about God you can base your life on.

Today we’ve been exploring the nature and character of God by hearing from several series Nancy has taught over the years. You can hear all those series by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com. Click on “resources” then “programs.”

This week we’re celebrating Nancy’s forty years of full-time service by reviewing some of the main themes in her teaching that come up again and again.

As we celebrate this week, we’d like to send you Nancy’s book, The Quiet Place. Here’s Nancy with some thoughts on what this book means to her.

Nancy: It hardly seems possible that Revive Our Hearts turns seventeen today. What a sweet journey this has been. What a joy it is to meet people as I travel who say, "I've been listening to this program for the past several years," or "I've been listening to this program since I was a young, single woman, and now I'm a mom with three kids." Some have listened since the very earliest days.

This ministry has been made possible over all these years, and it continues today, because of the generosity of friends who have said, "I want to support this ministry so that women around the world can experience greater freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ."

Perhaps you'd like to make a donation today to help celebrate this seventeenth birthday of Revive Our Hearts and say, "I'd like to see this ministry continue reaching women in the days ahead."

Well, if the Lord prompts you to send a gift to support Revive Our Hearts today, we'd like to say "thank you" by sending you a copy of a book that I've written called The Quiet Place. It's a collection of 366 devotional readings. Many people have shared with me how they enjoy using this devotional book as a supplement to their daily Bible reading. I think it will be an encouragement to you as well.

As you read The Quiet Place, you'll reflect on many of the themes that we will be talking about through the course of this week. We'd like to send you a copy of The Quiet Place as our way of saying "thank you" when you send a gift of any amount to support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts this week.

To make your donation, you can give us a call at 1–800–569–5959, or visit us online at ReviveOurHearts.com. When you make your donation, be sure to let us know that you'd like to receive a copy of The Quiet Place, a one-year book of daily devotional readings.

Thank you so much for your support of this ministry over these past years and, Lord willing, many years to come. God bless you.

Leslie: Tomorrow we’ll continue reviewing some of the main themes in Nancy’s teaching over these forty years. We’ll focus on our vertical relationship with Jesus. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth want to help you know what God is really like. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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