Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Your outlook on the future is greatly shaped by the friends you choose, according to Holly Elliff.

Holly Elliff: Find people who will speak truth into your life, who will foster hope. I think the combination of faith and hope in our life is what allows us to get to God, and that can be just as contagious as the fear the enemy so loves to use to get us to doubt that God is good.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, August 28, 2014.

Through several different series this year, Nancy is leading us through the story of Joshua. We’ve been looking at the faith of Joshua and Caleb. They were ready to march into the Promised Land when the other Children of Israel held back in fear.

Nancy’s friends, Kim Wagner and Holly Elliff, are pastors’ wives and have faced many fearful situations. They’re talking with Nancy about moving forward in faith rather than fear.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: As I’ve been living in this passage over the last year, it’s been so interesting how at different points and seasons of my life, I find applications here. I think one of the reasons the Scripture must give so much attention to this incident at the border of the Promised Land was because there are so many applications to us in different seasons of life.

This thing of fear paralyzing us and keeping us from experiencing God’s best—isn’t this where so many women live a lot of their lives?

Kim Wagner: I think you’re exactly right, Nancy. I think there are a lot of fears out there ruling women, and in many cases they don’t even realize that they’re being controlled by fear or that the fear is causing them to try to manipulate and control the situations around them.

That’s the tragic thing about fear: It’s really a reflection of us trying to usurp God’s authority, His control. By doing that we’re saying, “I can do it better than You can, God.”

Holly: I think a lot of the time it may be that we just expect God to do it in a different way. So when God’s answer or solution is so different from what I had assumed He would do, then my natural response is to think that God is not good, or that He doesn’t love me, or that He’s not leading me. Maybe our expectation is what sets us up for that disaster.

NancyI think expectations are a huge issue here, and that goes back to what we said in an earlier session. What did they think was going to be in the Promised Land?

God had said, “There are going to be giants there, Canaanites and Perizzites and Hittites” and all these things. Somehow they missed that and must have thought they were just going to march in scot-free, and the land would be theirs.

It makes me wonder if we don’t have expectations of what the Christian life is going to be like. You know, “If you love God and please Him and serve Him and read His Word and go to church and do a few other things, the Christian life is going to be a free, easy ride.”

Then when you have some of the life circumstances that I know some of you women have been walking through, and other women we know have been walking through, with sick elderly parents, with children issues, with children not walking with the Lord, with life being just busier than you ever dreamed it would be . . .

Holly, not too long ago you buried your father, and then in the process of moving your mother . . . Life is hard!

I think sometimes, if we have the expectation that it’s going to be something other than hard, we set ourselves up for disappointment or disillusionment when the Christian life turns out to have some giants in it.

Holly: I have found that even when I’ve been staying in the Word and having time with the Lord, there are just moments when I’m being squeezed so tightly that it’s very hard not only to remember who God is but to see Him in the midst of those circumstances.

You know in your head that He’s still there. You know that He is all those things He says He is. But you’re just trying to breathe at that moment, and the circumstances are so tough that it’s hard to remember those truths.

Kim: I am thankful that the Lord draws me to His Word daily. I need that. I desperately need His Word.

I know that God is good. I’ve walked with Him long enough to know that He’s good; He’s faithful. But there are times when you are so squeezed that . . . you’re not thinking that God isn’t good. You’re just thinking, I can’t survive this!

So what I’ve been doing is working through the Bible, beginning with the Old Testament and writing down Scriptures about who God is. I have a log that I’m keeping of that, and at times during the day when another crisis hits or another struggle with fear comes along, I pull out my log and I state out loud who God is.

I begin thanking Him that:

  • He is my King of old who works deeds of deliverance in the midst of the earth.
  • He is my strong shield.
  • He is my refuge and strength.
  • He is the Mighty One, God the Lord.
  • He’s my helper.
  • He’s my stronghold.
  • He’s my rock and my salvation.

I just repeat these over and over, thanking Him. I’ll tell Him, “Father, I know, because You work deeds of deliverance in the earth, that You desire to work in this situation, and I can’t wait to see what You are going to do, because there is nothing impossible with You.”

Then I recount times in the past that I’ve seen Him work, when I have seen Him do what people say is impossible, when I’ve seen Him transform lives and bring individuals out of the pit of destruction. I tell Him, “I trust You to work again. I know You are working. I know You care.”

Holly: I think sometimes there are moments when there is an initial period of faith at the beginning of that crisis, but when hard things go on for a long period of time, it’s hard to remember those truths unless you’re doing what you just said, Kim—daily going to the one place that has truth for you, and that’s God’s Word.

Nancy said to me one day, “You need to be recording all these things that are happening to you,” because for several months we’ve had numerous tough things going on—health issues with my parents, and my grandson who was in danger when he was born—we’ve just had one thing after another.

So I sat down at my computer one day, and I was just glibly beginning a list of all the things that had happened. I had to stop writing because it was almost overwhelming to put those things down in black and white and see them in one place.

I think sometimes, if we look at the overwhelming mass of what we’re walking through rather than what God requires us to walk through that day, that moment, then it is overwhelming.

We have to pull back and say, “God, I know who You are. I know who You are at this moment. I know what You have for me at this moment.”

Go back to those primary truths of who God says He is, of what He says about Himself and who He will be in the midst of those things. I do think the enemy loves to take us to all the “what ifs” to create doubt about whether or not God is really sufficient for what we’re walking through.

We have to pull our mind and our thinking and our focus back to the fact that God is who He says He is, that He does have what I need to be able to get up the next morning and take a breath and put my feet on the floor and trust Him for that day.

NancyBut you can see how the opposite progression works, just as you go back to Joshua and the Israelites. As the twelve spies come back, they report on the land and say, “It’s a good land, but there are giants. There are fortified cities. The people are big. They’re strong. There are lots of enemies.” [See Num. 13:28–31.]

First of all, God wasn’t going to ask them to go in and overcome all those enemies at once. It was going to be one city at a time, one battle at a time, and God would give them grace for one day at a time.

But the spies didn’t think that way. They didn’t point that out.

So they listed all the possible negative things that could happen, inciting fear in the hearts of the people. And the people then began talking with each other, apparently, because Caleb had to hush them and quiet them down.

It’s amazing how that fear can just move through us. It’s a matter of the mind.

It starts to snowball. “If this happens, then this is going to happen, and then this is going to happen, and then this is going to happen, and we’re all going to be dead!”

Then we’re accusing God. “He brought us out here to kill us! We may as well go back to Egypt.” [See Num. 14:2–4.] Doesn’t fear make us irrational?

Kim: Yes, and I think that’s a good point, too, that the crowd began to stir one another up in fear.

Nancy: Yes, it fueled it.

Kim: But I think the opposite can happen.

Holly: Exactly.

Kim: For those women listening right now who are in a church body, I want you to think: Are there women in your church right now who are struggling, who are going through a difficult time, who need to hear a word of encouragement and faith and truth about who God is?

Over the past few months, as I’ve been walking through a difficult season, I can’t tell you how much it has meant to me just to receive a little card in the mail or a little note with a Scripture on it. Minister to your sisters in Christ; encourage someone that is struggling right now.

Holly: I think sometimes we don’t do that because we don’t think we’re going to know what to say to help them. I think women don’t necessarily need the solution. They just need to be reminded of the truth.

Kim: I had a lady in my church that sent me a little card, and on it she wrote the Scripture 1 Peter 5:7. She said, “I felt so impressed to send you this Scripture that says the Lord cares for you.”

Sunday I went up and I hugged her, and I thanked her so much for the card. She said, “Oh, I really felt kind of funny sending that to you. I know you know Scripture, and I felt like, ‘What can I say to you? You’re my pastor’s wife.’”

I said, “ Ruth Anne, the day I received that card was the day that in my devotional time, I had read 1 Peter 5:7 from Charles Spurgeon’s devotional Morning by Morning. That devotional had ministered to me so much that I made a copy of it that I keep in my Bible now, and you sent me the card on the very same day with 1 Peter 5:7. That was such a confirmation that God was at work, that He does care.”

NancyI’m thinking about a particularly dark night in the process of my wandering in doubt that I shared earlier in this series. I was on the phone talking about it with a friend who prays, and who prayed with me that night.

The next day, I got an email from a praying friend who was part of this discussion. The email said, “I really believe that the enemy has just got you believing a lot of lies right now. I don’t know what else I can do at the moment. If I could do anything else, I would. But the one thing I know that will minister grace is to speak some words of truth.”

That friend typed out, “Here are some things you already know but I want to remind you of.” And there were one, two, three, four, five, maybe six of them, just basic truths about the purposes of God, the heart of God, the plan of God, the call of God in my life.

That was such a huge gift for me, in my wavering and floundering and doubting, to be able to counsel my heart according to the truth. And God used another member of the body of Christ to speak that truth into my heart.

I’m sure that person may have been thinking, She already knows this. Why tell her this?

But I needed to be told what I knew to be true so I could counsel my heart according to that truth. And it did. God used it to bring huge encouragement and grace.

I kept that email printed out for some time and would go back to it through some of those dark times.

Kim: That’s what 2 Corinthians talks about—that we walk through sorrowful times in order that we can comfort others with the comfort that we have received. [See 2 Cor. 1:3–4.]

Nancy, I know you turn that around, too. You were ministered to by that person speaking truth to you, and you have spoken truth to me within these past few months.

Holly has spoken truth to me. I’m trying to pass on truth to others.

That’s the beauty of the body of Christ and how God is at work. Just as fear can be fueled in a group setting, I believe faith is what God desires for us to fuel in each other’s lives.

Holly: Choosing faith is contagious, just like fear is. If you surround yourself with voices that are going to tell you the opposite of what God’s Word says, it will be very, very tough, very difficult to hear the truth.

But if you will plunge yourself into God’s Word . . . Allow people to speak into your life who are going to point you toward truth.

That’s why Scripture says we are to encourage one another toward love and good deeds. Find people who will speak truth into your life, who will foster hope.

I think the combination of faith and hope in our life is what allows us to get to God. That can be just as contagious as the fear the enemy so loves to use to get us to doubt that God is good.

Leslie: Holly Elliff has been talking with Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Kim Wagner about the dangers of fear and the power of faith. The three of them have been in the studio talking about practical applications of Nancy’s series "Lessons from the Life of Joshua (Part 3): Trusting God for the Promised Land."

While Nancy was teaching this series in front of an audience of women, she asked Holly a very personal and practical question about faith and her children. Other women told us about the fears that tempt them as well. Here’s Nancy to introduce that conversation.

NancyYou had four children at one point and thought maybe that was what God had in mind for you and what you could manage. Then the Lord kind of shook your world on that point and pushed you into a realm of faith that you weren’t necessarily thinking you wanted to go into.

Holly: He did, and it was a big faith step for me. For my husband it was easy because . . .

Nancy: He wasn’t having the children.

Holly: Well, he’s also just quick to get to faith. I mean, that’s easier for him than for me because I kind of want to move from A to B to C and know where Z is. But God doesn’t many times tell us that.

So for me it was a real faith step just to release that area to the Lord and then trust Him, and to continue trusting Him as He continued to give us children. I was forty-three when I had my last one.

So when I took my first one to college, I was eight-and-a-half months pregnant. It was an interesting experience to be the only parent there who was also still having babies.

So to continue to trust the Lord for year after year after year and to leave it in His hands, to continually choose faith instead of fear . . .

NancyBut you have seen the Lord come through and manage in areas where you felt you couldn’t—take you beyond your comfort zone, beyond what you knew you could handle. And isn’t that part of the point of faith?

We want to be in a realm where we can manage it, we can see the outcome, we can see the steps, and we can handle it. But “ whatever is not of faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23 NKJV), and God wants to push us into a place where we know we cannot do this without Him.

In Holly’s case—and in any mother’s case—having more children is something that pushes you (am I right?) into a realm where you know you cannot do this without God.

Holly: I think what happens a lot of times is that the more you’re put in a position to need to trust God, the easier it is for it to become a lifestyle. It doesn’t mean that you don’t still have to make those choices.

But when you’re always put in a position where you have to walk in faith, then it literally becomes the way you have to live. And it’s good.

I wake up every morning very, very aware that I cannot live the day God has given me apart from getting to Him, trusting Him for that day. So it becomes a lifestyle of faith, and it becomes a little easier to recognize, I think, when you are stepping into fear, because that does still happen.

It’s always a faith venture. But it becomes a lifestyle sometimes. For some of us, God tends to keep us there; and I think I’m so stubborn He knew He needed to keep me there.

Woman 1: I have a recurring fear. It happens every year just about the time my husband goes to Burma. It’s the fourth worst dictatorship and the second most corrupt country, and it’s on the other side of the world.

Every year, I think I’m prepared. Then once he leaves and I realize where he is and what’s happening (and he comes home sick every time, so I’m concerned about that), I have to call on the Lord to be my strength and give me peace, because I think sometimes it would be easier just to go with him than it would be to stay home and wait.

But the Lord is always faithful to help me get through this time. He came back home safely this year, so we’re grateful for that.

Woman 2: About a year-and-a-half ago, someone that I care about very much made a decision, a choice that would potentially affect me and my family. I did not realize it at the time, but fear just shot through me like lightning. For sixteen onths I lived in that, struggling—almost like treading water but not going anywhere.

I stayed in the Word, and every day I would hang on to maybe just one word, like wait or rejoice or sing. It was just those little snippets.

But you know, the Lord was faithful to get me through. Just very, very recently, the Lord showed me that it was fear and anxiety and worry, and those were symptoms of my doubt and unbelief.

What was so amazing to me about that, not just the potential of all that could have happened, but I had the thought, Well, I know better than that. I’ve taught the Word. I know the Word. Why did I respond like that?

Then the Lord said, “Listen to that.” It was almost like replaying how many times I had said to someone sharing about their fear, “Well, I have no fear. The Lord worked on my heart ten years ago on this issue, and I have no fear.”

He started replaying how many times I had said that. So what I was really dealing with also was my pride, thinking that I had no fear. I had no fear because of God’s grace, so I’m just so grateful for that.

But the giant for me was: first, I didn’t even realize it was fear, like I shared. But the biggest giant was the unknown, and that’s where the Lord was saying, but “God has not given the spirit of fear; but of power, and love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7 KJV). Even if the worst thing happens, His grace will be sufficient.

But boy, that was a long sixteen months, and it’s so exciting to feel like you’ve come through that valley. And like you’ve said, there will be others. I just hope there’s a nice break before the next one!

Leslie: Fear is real. Some members of our audience have been sharing about some of the fears that tempt them. But faith is more powerful. The Bible says, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17 NKJV).

Reading Scripture is an important way to build your faith. So we’ve compiled a list of promises from the Bible and put them in a booklet, Promises to Live By. It’s an easy way to review promises from the Bible when you’re tempted to fear.

We’d like to send you that booklet to show our gratitude when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount. Your support makes the teaching on Revive Our Hearts possible. We’re offering Promises to Live By through tomorrow, so call us at 1–800–569–5959. We’ll send one booklet per household. Again, the number is 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

When you want to find true rest, what do you do? If you listen to the advertisements, you should buy a new mattress or take a vacation. But there’s a deeper rest, far better than anything money can buy. Find out what it is tomorrow when we return with Revive Our Hearts.

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

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

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