Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Crying From Your Heart

Leslie Basham: Is it right to cry out to God expressing your frustration? Nancy Leigh DeMoss says it depends on your heart.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: When our circumstances drive us to tears, are we wailing from our beds in self-centered, demanding ways, or are we crying out from our hearts and saying, “O God, whatever it takes in my life to sanctify me, to make me like Jesus—that’s what I want”?

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, April 5th.

It’s not popular to warn people about a coming judgment. In fact, in a lot of circles it’s considered selfish and evil to warn someone about eternal punishment. But it’s actually very loving to tell the truth about the future. Nancy’s going to explain why as she continues in a series called A Time for Tears.

Nancy: The 19th-century preacher Charles Spurgeon tells a story about a man who’s on a journey and he goes into an inn. He sits down and begins to order his dinner. He looks at the most expensive things on the menu. He orders those. He gets the most expensive room in the place.

He ends up staying at this inn for quite some time, just racking up this bill but never thinking about the bill. Anything he wants, he orders. And then, in time, the bill comes due, and the man looks at the owner in surprise and says, “I never thought of that. It never occurred to me that there was going to be a bill.”

And then Spurgeon says that the landlord will say, “Why, here is a man who is either a born fool or else a knave. What! Never thought of reckoning—never thought of settling with me!”

Spurgeon’s comment was, “Is it not foolish to be living in this world without a thought of what you will do at the end of it?” He says, “After this fashion too many live. They eat, and drink, and sin, but they forget the inevitable hereafter, when for all the deeds done in the body, the Lord will bring us into judgment.”

Judgment. That’s not a very popular concept today. There’s not a lot of talk about the judgment of God. Most of us are not really comfortable with the view of a God who is a judge. We want a God who is merciful and gracious and longsuffering, which He is. But we’re not sure we want a God who is going to hand us a bill, who’s going to call us to account for what we have done.

We’ve been looking, over these past days, at the weeping prophet: the prophet Jeremiah. We saw in the last few sessions that Jeremiah was grieved over the spiritual condition of his people, the people of God, and the ways they had sinned against God.

But there’s something else that grieved him—not only the sin of the people. He looked ahead, and he saw that payday was coming. God was going to give a bill to His people, that there was going to be a day of accounting, a day of judgment, a day of reckoning.

Jeremiah saw the connection between the way the people were living and the ultimate judgment of God. He saw things that other people couldn’t see. He made connections that other people didn’t make. As a result, he was grieved; he wept.

Jeremiah was a definite minority with his message of the impending judgment of God. And let me say this: The message of God’s judgment is never a popular message. It wasn’t then, and it isn’t now. Most of the Old Testament’s true prophets were stoned when they spoke the truth to God’s people.

Jeremiah saw that there were two aspects to the judgment of God. I believe we have those two aspects at work throughout history. One is what someone has called the “remedial judgment” of God. It’s circumstances that He brings into our lives—into our culture, into our individual lives—that are not permanent. They’re remedial. They’re intended to bring us to a place of repentance so that we will be spared greater judgment down the road.

Then there is that greater, cataclysmic ultimate judgment from which there is no escape. The immediate circumstances that we find ourselves in are often God’s way of giving us the chance to repent so that we will be spared from greater judgment down the road.

Now, through the book of Jeremiah, if you’ve been reading along with us, you’ll find that over and over and over again Jeremiah refers to this theme of judgment. Let me just read several verses, and you’ll see that this is a recurring thread.

He says, “From the north disaster will be poured out on all who live in the land” (1:14). I’m not going to give you references because I’m just picking and choosing verses from throughout those chapters. But you can go back and read these for yourself.

He says, “I will pronounce my judgments on my people” (1:16). God says, “I am bringing disaster from the north, even terrible destruction. . . . Your towns will lie in ruins without inhabitant” (4:6-7).

And then Jeremiah says, “Oh, my anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain. Oh, the agony of my heart! My heart pounds within me, I cannot keep silent.” Why? “For I have heard the sound of the trumpet; I have heard the battle cry. Disaster follows disaster; the whole land lies in ruins. In an instant my tents are destroyed, my shelter in a moment” (4:19-20).

In another passage he says the people “have lied about the LORD; they said, ‘He will do nothing!’” There won’t be any payday. There won’t be an accounting. “‘No harm will come to us; we will never see sword or famine. The prophets are but wind and the word is not in them’” (5:12-13).

But then God responds to that message, and He says, “O house of Israel . . . I am bringing a distant nation against you—an ancient and enduring nation, a people whose language you do not know, whose speech you do not understand. Their quivers are like an open grave; all of them are mighty warriors. They will devour your harvests and food, devour your sons and daughters; they will devour your flocks and herds, devour your vines and fig trees. With the sword they will destroy the fortified cities in which you trust” (5:15-17).

Over and over again throughout this book, Jeremiah says, “Look and see the connection between the way that you’re living and the fact that God is going to require something of you, that there’s going to be recompense. There’s going to be a settling of accounts.”

Now, if you’ve read the Old Testament, you know something about the days in which Jeremiah was preaching and prophesying. Forty years, by the way, he preached without really winning converts, just faithfully pouring out his heart. In fact, God had told him, “The people are not going to repent.”

Can you imagine being faithful for all those years to keep proclaiming the message, even if you knew that no one was going to heed your message? Well, those dark days in which Jeremiah lived resulted ultimately in the destruction of the nation, as you remember, by the Babylonians.

And in Lamentations, also written by the prophet Jeremiah, he reflects now on the devastated, desolate city—the nation and its cities. Jeremiah says, “She did not consider her destiny; therefore her collapse was awesome” (1:9). She didn’t consider her destiny. She didn’t think ahead. She didn’t plan for the judgment of God.

You see, Jeremiah wanted the people of his day to realize that God was in control of the historical and the political events of their day. God was in control of the weather and the climate and the crops and every part of their lives. God was in control, and He was wanting to use adversity to chastise His people, to warn them of even greater judgment to come.

Now, there’s a danger when we try and make precise connections between sin—whether it’s ours or someone else’s—and the consequences. Sometimes the consequences are clearly the result of our sin. And sometimes it’s not clear exactly where the dots get connected.

If we try and say, “Okay, this devastation happened to this family because they were sinning,” or “This devastation happened to this nation because of its sin,” we can get in trouble with that. Most of the time, we don’t know exactly how God connects those dots.

But one thing we do know, and that is that sin does have consequences. We also know that a holy God must judge sin. Which of those consequences are related to which of those sins we would be best not to say. But we do know that sinning people will experience consequences.

Jeremiah wanted the people of his day to see that their greatest threat was not the Babylonians. Their greatest threat was God. They needed to fear God and turn to Him before it was too late. Their greatest threat was also their only hope. And it’s true not only in Jeremiah’s day; it is as true in our day.

Psalm 9 tells us that “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (verse 17). I think we have to remind each other today that this nation will be no exception, that any nation of this world that forgets God will experience the judgment and the wrath of God.

Now, in light of these things, Jeremiah issued a plea, a call to the people of God. It was really God’s call—it was a call right from the heart of God. And it was a threefold message. First of all, he begged the people to repent. He begged them to turn back to God, to submit to God’s discipline, so that they could be spared from greater chastisement and discipline. The goal was always that they would repent so that God could restore them.

As the people were deciding whether or not they wanted to repent, Jeremiah kept issuing a second message, a message of warning: If you refuse to repent, there will be judgment—individually, as families, as a nation, as the people of God. We cannot shake our fists in the face of God and get away with it.

So Jeremiah warned over and over again, just crying out, “The judgment is coming! The judgment is coming! The bill is coming due. You will have to pay! Don’t keep eating and drinking and sinning as you are without thought, without heed for what will be the consequences.”

And then, finally, it was a message of hope: If you do repent, there’s grace. You can be restored. There’s a God of hope. God wants to be relating to you. He wants you to be His people, and in fact, one day He will restore you and give you a heart to seek after Him. It’s the message of Jeremiah.

We live in a nation today that is eating and drinking and sinning without thinking of the bill that is coming due. We can see the evidences of that all throughout our society. But I wonder how many of us as individuals are going through life making choices, ringing up a bill, without thinking of the fact that one day we have to pay up. One day there will be consequences.

You see, because we don’t see those consequences immediately in most cases, we think we’re getting away with it. We think God has maybe just gone to sleep, or he’s not paying attention, or we’ll get away with it. But I’m telling you, you will see the consequences in your own life. Some of you have seen the consequences in your children and in your grandchildren.

Over and over again, I read notes from women who come to our conferences, and they say, “There’s this issue in my life, but then there’s this big issue in my children’s lives.” So seldom do they see the connection. They’re experiencing consequences.

Now, that’s not to say that if you obey God you will never have adversity. God has purposes for adversity that are not always ones of judgment. But we cannot escape the reality that when we choose to go our own way—as individuals, as the people of God, or as a nation—there will be consequences.

Leslie: An important message from Nancy Leigh DeMoss. This teaching on repentance is part of the series A Time for Tears. If you’ve missed any of the sobering programs this week, you can hear them at ReviveOurHearts.com. You can stream the audio of past broadcasts or order a copy of this series on CD. Now let’s get back as Nancy shows the difference between two kinds of weeping.

Nancy: When is it time to weep? As we go through the Scripture, I find several instances that give us a clue as to when we should weep. And it’s obvious, in numbers of places in the Scripture, that we should weep during times of crisis, especially when the well-being of God’s people is at stake.

Two particular illustrations come to mind there. You remember the story of Esther, when Mordecai learned about the edict that had been given against the Jewish nation—Mordecai himself being a Jew. It says, “He tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly. . . . In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes” (Esther 4:1-3).

The book of Esther records that at this time of crisis when the well-being of God’s people was at stake, the people stopped their partying. No one had to tell them to do that. It was just the overflow of their hearts that were grieved. They knew their time was short if God didn’t intervene in this crisis, so they began to weep and to mourn and to grieve.

That’s a similar story to what we read about in Nehemiah one where Nehemiah received the report from his relatives who had been in Jerusalem and have seen the devastation. They came back from Jerusalem and said, “Those who survived the exile are back in the province and are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates have been burned with fire.”

Then Nehemiah says, “When I heard these things I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.”

Paul talks in Philippians chapter 3 about a time when professing believers will live as the enemies of God. And he says, “For many walk of whom I have told you often and now tell you even weeping that they are enemies of the cross of Christ,” those who claim to be the children of God but are living in such a way that they’re acting as enemies of Christ. Paul says, “That makes me weep.”

And then the psalmist in Psalm 119 says, “Streams of tears flow from my eyes, for your law is not obeyed.” That’s a time to weep when God’s law is being rejected.

In a very true sense this is a time in our nation and in the life of the church that is really not a time for partying and for playing, not that there isn’t some appropriate place for that. But more than that I believe it’s a time when we need those who will weep, those who will grieve, over what is happening among the people of God in particular.

Now in the Scripture there’s a passage that tells us there are two different kinds of weeping. I’m referring to Hosea 7:14 where God says, “My people do not cry out to me from their hearts, but they wail upon their beds.” Not all weeping is productive.

God says there are two kinds of weeping. "There are those who cry out to Me from their hearts, and then there are those who wail upon their beds." What’s the difference?

The person who wails upon his bed is remorseful, but he’s not willing to move. He’s not willing to get out of bed to do the right thing. He’s not willing to change. Whereas the person who cries out to God from his heart demonstrates true repentance, has a repentant heart, and is really willing to forsake evil.

Those who wail upon their beds cry out for relief from the pressure and from the problems, but in their hearts they’re still defiant against God’s authority. They haven’t surrendered. Those who cry out from their hearts cry out in surrender. “Lord, You win. Have Your way.”

Those who wail upon their beds focus on their pain and their woundedness and their problems. Those who wail upon their beds are still blaming others. They may seem to be repentant, but God knows that they’re not crying out from their heart. Because those who cry out from their heart take personal responsibility for their own lives, for their own failure, for their own sins.

Those who wail upon their beds are self-centered. “This hurts me. This bothers me.” Whereas, those who cry out from their heart have a pain that is God-centered. They’re grieved because God is grieved.

Those who wail upon their beds are asking the question, “How does this affect me?” Whereas, those who cry out from their heart grieve because a holy God has been offended.

Those who wail upon their beds cry out for relief. That’s what they want. They just want to have a trouble free life. They just don’t want any more problems. “Relieve me.” I find that a lot of women who come to me for counseling, many of the women who call or send letters or emails that sound desperate (and they are desperate) really want relief from their pain.

Whereas, those who cry out from their hearts are crying out to God for mercy. They’re saying, “Lord have mercy upon me. It’s my condition that needs to be addressed. I’m not just wanting relief from my pain, but I’m wanting to be delivered from my sinful, selfish, demanding heart.” That’s crying out from my heart.

As we look at the crises in our nation, we see some tears. We see some national disasters. And invariably following those national disasters there are tears. But I think we have to ask, “What kind of tears are they?” Are we just wailing upon our beds as a nation or are we crying out from our hearts? Do we want to just be delivered from the pain, or do we want to get right with God?

Actually, what concerns me even more is not what kind of tears our nation shedding, because our nation doesn’t know God as a whole and can’t be expected to cry tears of true repentance. The bigger question to me is: What kind of tears am I shedding?

When I weep, when you weep, when our circumstances drive us to tears, are we wailing from our beds in self-centered, demanding ways? “Just get me out of this pain. Get me out of this marriage. Get me out of this problem. I can’t go on with this any longer.”

Are we wailing from our beds? Or are we crying out from our heart and saying, “Oh God, whatever it takes in my life to sanctify me, to purify my heart, to make me like Jesus, that’s what I want.

If it means I have to endure pain for my faith to be purified and for You to be glorified and for me to be an instrument of healing and help in the lives of others, then God I’m willing to endure that. But I’m crying out from my heart and saying that what matters most to me is that You would be glorified and that my life would be pleasing to You.

Are you crying tears of true repentance or are you wailing upon your bed, making a lot of noise, seeming to be concerned but really mostly concerned about you? Or are they tears of true repentance crying out to God for mercy? Those are the tears that God hears, that He honors, that He blesses. Those are the tears that will reap a harvest of joy in time.

Leslie Basham: Have you been guilty of wailing on your bed lately? Each of us could probably name something today that concerns us, and we’ll all be tempted to complain or worry in an unproductive way. That’s why Nancy’s message today is so timely.

When it’s time to weep, we need to know how to respond. Would you learn more fully what it means to cry out to God with life situations? We’ll help you do that by sending a booklet by Nancy Leigh DeMoss at no cost to you. It’s called Begin at My Sanctuary. It will help you to learn to grieve and weep in an appropriate way over issues that truly break the heart of God. And that leads to true joy.

Ask for Begin at My Sanctuary when you call 1-800-569-5959, or look for this free offer at ReviveOurHearts.com.

When you visit our website keep in mind that it’s not too early to think about Mother’s Day. Plan now to make it a meaningful time for your mom with a Revive Our Hearts Mother’s Day gift set. It includes a devotional book from Joni Eareckson Tada along with Nancy’s calendar called A Heart at Rest. This is a perpetual calendar, which means your mom can keep using it year after year. Each day features a quote from Nancy.

A woman who ordered one wrote to say, “Dear Nancy, the daily encouragement flip calendar is already a tool to dig deep into my daily life where the rubber meets the road: at the bathroom sink.” She told us that the daily quotes remind her of the depths and riches of the love of Christ.

Get more information about this calendar and the complete Mother’s Day gift set when you visit ReviveOurHearts.com, or ask for the gift set when you call 1-800-569-5959.

God knows about every tear you cry. He’s ready to provide compassion and comfort that no earthly person can give. Hear about that tomorrow when Nancy will bring us the final part of A Time for Tears. Now let’s pray.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Oh Father, I do pray that You would give to us hearts that weep and grieve and mourn over the things that grieve your heart. Lord we confess as women that we’ve been self-absorbed and often times weeping over our own issues, our own healings, our own circumstances, and at the same time playing games, just going on with life as it is, not taking seriously the condition of our homes, our walk with You, of our nation, of the people of God.

Oh Lord, I pray that You would stir up within us genuine grief and repentance, that we might not just wail upon our beds but that we might cry out to You from our hearts so that You may come and heal our hearts, heal our land and be glorified. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

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

All Scripture is taken from the New King James Version unless otherwise noted.

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