Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Crying Out From a Heart of Brokenness, Day 1

Leslie Basham: You’ve probably heard that a horse can’t be useful to it’s rider until it’s been broken. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth asks what does that mean?

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Does that mean you take a 2x4 and hit it over the back and break it? No, it means breaking its will so that it will be trained, it will be submissive, it will be responsive to the direction of the rider.  

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Monday, October 31, 2016.

In 1995, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth delivered a message on brokenness. The Lord used that message in an extraordinary way to revive that audience and others who heard the recording of it later. In 2016, Nancy updated that message and delivered a version specific to our day. She spoke on brokenness at True Woman '16 just over a month ago in Indianapolis. We’ll hear that message over the next three days here on Revive Our Hearts. So would you set aside some time and concentrate on what the Lord may have to say to you about humility and brokenness before Him? Here’s Nancy.

Nancy: My husband often prays as I’m getting ready to go speak or record. He prays, “Lord, help Nancy to be the one to go first. Help her to say “yes” to You about the things she’s teaching before she’s teaching them.” He prays that God will do the work in me first. And I prayed that myself for many years, and I’m so thankful now to have someone who is praying that specifically as we come into a time like this.

Tonight, we’re going to come together with tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of other women around the world to cry out to the Lord on behalf of our families, our churches, our nations, and the world. But before we can do that, we need God to do the work in us first.

As I was seeking the Lord about what I should speak on this weekend, actually I normally speak on the opening night, Robert said to me a few weeks ago, “I think you need to speak on the subject of brokenness.”

He had heard a message that I’d given on brokenness many years ago, and he said,

I think that’s the message you need to give, and I think you need to do it on Friday morning before you have the concert of prayer, before you have the Cry Out! time.

Well, I had not thought for a moment about doing this message. It’s been many years since I’ve shared it. It’s a message that’s very dear to my heart. I’ve written a book on this subject. But it just wasn’t on my mind. But I listened, and I thought, I think God is leading through Robert’s counsel.

Our team talked. We prayed together. And we agreed that before we pray for others, we need to let God do this work of humility and brokenness in our own hearts so we can pray effectively tonight and in the days ahead.

So over these next moments, I want to talk about the principle of brokenness, what it means, what it is, what it isn’t, and then illustrate it in God’s Word with a number of people that show us what it is to be broken, or not to be broken. Then I want to talk about the fruit of brokenness, and then invite us to take a step of brokenness, however God is speaking.

Now, I know what’s in my notes. I know what I’m planning to say, and I’m praying that the Lord will direct me as I speak, but what I don’t know is how the Holy Spirit will apply what I’m about say to your heart, to your situation.

One of the things I pray going into conferences like this, I’ve been praying it over this past week or so, is, “Lord, would You create circumstances in women’s lives who are coming to this conference that will make them realize how much they need You? Will You make us desperate for You by circumstances that You create in our week?”

How many of you would say, now that you’re here that, God answered that prayer in your life this week? Now, don’t blame me, but God loves us enough that He knows that if we walk into a place like this, and we’re fine, and we think we have no need, why are we going to cry out to Him? You don’t call an ambulance unless you have a need. When you call and say, “9-1-1; it’s desperate. Somebody’s had a heart attack here, or somebody’s fallen down and is injured,” the ambulance comes racing to the scene of need.

I envision God’s grace as being a little bit like that ambulance. You might call it a grace ambulance that comes racing to the scene of our need. When we call out for it, we say, “Lord, I need You.” I think there are hardly sweeter words that God could hear us say.

I think there are hardly sweeter words that God could hear us say than, “Lord, I need You.”

So God creates circumstances. You thought it was your two-year-old who was the problem. You say, “I wouldn’t have been so reactionary; I wouldn’t have been so angry if my two-year-old hadn’t painted the living room furniture with butter.” But God knew you were an angry woman, and He used that little two-year-old and those circumstances to squeeze you, and what was inside of you came out.

You thought, I’m this sweet, loving, gracious, kind, godly, Proverbs 31 mother until my two-year-old filled the dryer with water. And then you realized, I’m crazy. I am an angry woman.

God created circumstances to make you realize you didn’t just need the gospel when you got saved fifteen or twenty, or in my case, fifty-four years ago. I need the gospel today. You need the gospel today. Those circumstances help us realize how much we need God.

By the way, did you bring your hanky with you? Because you might be needing it. If not for tears (we ought to sell water-proof mascara at these events) . . . Tears are a good thing. Maybe it’s just some surrender that’s needed through this morning.

You have that handy. I don’t want to just see white hankies—I want to see them–but God wants to see hearts that are saying, “Yes, Lord. Yes, Lord,” to whatever He says.

Need is something that makes us eligible. Acknowledgment of need makes us eligible to receive the grace of God.

Let me read to you a few verse from the Old Testament that speaks to us about this matter of brokenness.

Isaiah 57, verse15:

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: [God says] "I dwell in the high and holy place, [that’s God’s address, infinitely above us, but God says, ‘I have another address.' I dwell] also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”

And then Psalm 34, verse 18 says something similar:

The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart. And saves such as have a contrite spirit. (NKJV)

Psalm 51, verse 16, David says after he sinned this great sin of adultery with Bathsheba:

"[Lord,] You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it. You will not be pleased with a burnt offering." [How much could I give in the offering? What could I do for You? How many hoops could I jump through? How many verses could I memorize? How much could I beat myself up with guilt? That’s not what You want. That’s not what You are looking for.] "The sacrifices of God [the sacrifices He’s looking for] are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise" (vv. 16–17 NASB).

Isaiah 66, verse 2:  “This is the one,” God says, “to whom I will look.” As the eyes of the Lord go to and fro throughout the whole earth this day, what kind of person is He looking for? Will He stop and look at you at your seat? Who’s He looking for? God says,

“This is the one to whom I will look [today]: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.”

So, what kind of heart does God revive? What kind of heart does God look to? The heart God revives, as we see in those verses and many others, is the broken, humble, contrite heart.

Now, our emphasis in this era is on everything but that. We want to be whole. We want to be full. We want to feel good. When we think about revivals, we often think of revival as a time of great joy and blessing and fullness and celebration. And it will be all of that and more, in its time, but we want a painless Pentecost. We want all the fullness of God’s Spirit. We want to be this great, godly, free and full and fruitful woman without getting to the cross. But God’s Word teaches us that the way up is down. The way to wholeness is through brokenness.

We want to be this great, godly, free and full and fruitful woman without getting to the cross. But God’s Word teaches us that the way up is down.

One revivalist, a man who was greatly used of God in revival in the 1970s in Borneo, said, “Revivals do not begin happily with everyone having a good time. They start with a broken and a contrite heart.”

You and I cannot meet God in revival until we first meet Him in brokenness—humility and brokenness.

James chapter 4 says it this way: “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” The problem is, God is holy, and we’re not, so we can’t get anywhere near a holy God as we are. So how are we supposed to draw near to God? How can He draw near to us? Well, he goes on to say:

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep (vv. 8–9).

Now, can I just say that there are very few modern therapists who will give you that counsel. They’re trying to make us have good self-image, feel good about ourselves. But James says, “Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.”

Nobody walks into a Christian bookstore today or goes online to Amazon or and says, “Can you find me a book on how to be gloomy, how to be sad, how to be mourning, how to be wretched?” But God’s way is first down and then up. “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”

This is God’s way. It’s totally counter of what is natural to us. I think a lot of people are afraid of this whole idea of brokenness. When somebody suggested that I write a book on brokenness, I talked with our publisher about that, and I thought, They must not have a marketing department because that is not exactly a popular topic today.

But I think sometimes we’re afraid of it because we have some misconceptions about what brokenness is.

First of all—what it’s not: Our idea of brokenness sometimes is not the right one. For example, we may think of brokenness as always being sad or gloomy or introspective, downcast, never smiling, never laughing, always going on this witch hunt to try to find something else that’s wrong in my life. Now, there may be moments of sadness, moments of gloom, moments of looking inward, but that in itself not necessarily brokenness.

Some think of it as a false humility, always putting yourself down. For some, the idea of brokenness conjures up an image of crying lots of tears, having a deeply emotional experience. You can shed buckets full of tears in a prayer room or at an altar or in a deeply emotional experience without having a moment of brokenness. And you can have brokenness sometimes without necessarily shedding a tear.

Some equate brokenness with having been deeply hurt by tragic life circumstances. “Back in ’95 this happened to me. I was in this accident, or was somebody unloved, and this happened, and I was broken.” Well, you may have been, but maybe you weren’t. Sometimes those deeply hurtful experiences can make us more hard and less broken, more resistant.

You see, brokenness is not a feeling, though it certainly involves our feelings. But it’s not first and foremost a feeling. Rather, it is a choice. It is an act of our will before a holy God.

Brokenness is not just a one-time crisis experience, although there may be points of brokenness when God deals with us in a specific way and there is a moment of brokenness. But more than that, brokenness is an ongoing, continual lifestyle.

So I don’t want to just know: Were you broken back at True Woman ’08? I want to know: Are you living as a broken woman today? Are you walking, am I walking, in humility and brokenness?

Brokenness is not necessarily all those things. So what is brokenness? What is God’s idea of brokenness?

Well, brokenness is a lifestyle of agreeing with God about the true condition of my heart and my life, not as you think it is, but as an all-seeing, all-knowing God knows it to be.

You see, I’ve had help with hair and makeup and wardrobe. I think I look okay. You just see me up here. You see Robert and me up here. We’re holding hands. We’re smiling. I’m not saying it’s fake, but I’m saying you don’t live with me, and I don’t live with you. So what you think of me when I’m up here on this platform doesn’t really matter. Brokenness is a lifestyle of agreeing with God about what He knows, what He sees when He looks at my heart.

Brokenness is a lifestyle of unconditional, absolute surrender to Jesus as Lord. It’s a lifestyle of waving this white flag and saying, “Yes, Lord. Whatever God says, whatever His Word says, Yes, Lord.”

Think of that stallion, that horse, and we say, “That horse needs to be broken.” What do you mean by that? Does it mean you take a 2x4 and hit that horse over the back and break it? No! They’re talking about breaking its will so that it will be trained. It will be submissive. It will be responsive to the direction of the rider.

It’s a lifestyle of brokenness, of saying, “Yes, Lord.”

Brokenness is the shattering of my self-will so that the life and the spirit of Jesus may be released through me.

Brokenness is my response of humility and obedience to the conviction of God’s Spirit, the conviction of His Word. If I’m living in His Word, and if I’m walking in the light of His Word and His Spirit, then that conviction will be happening all the time, just in the course of things, and not just because I do something that I act out sin. Sometimes it’s just something I’m thinking.

It’s an attitude, and God convicts my heart: “That was pride. That was selfish. That was self-seeking. That wasn’t loving. When you spoke to your husband that way; you’re looking at that woman and acting like you’re really interested in what she’s saying, but in your heart you’re thinking, I wish she’d go away.” Now, I know you never do that, but God convicts me at times.

What you’re seeing on the outside is not true of what’s on the inside. And so if I’m broken, I will continually be humbling myself and saying, “Yes, Lord,” and then obeying the promptings of God’s Holy Spirit.

You see, brokenness goes in two directions. There’s a vertical dimension, and you’ve already heard this referenced today. And there’s a horizontal dimension. There’s brokenness toward God, and there’s brokenness toward others.

One writer has likened it to our lives being a house and saying that we need to live with the roof off and the walls down. Roof off: nothing between my soul and the Savior.

  • Open 
  • Transparent 
  • Honest before God 
  • Not defending 
  • Not rationalizing 
  • Not excusing my sin 
  • Not blaming somebody else 

Saying, “Lord it’s me. You’re right. I’m wrong.” Justifying God rather than ourselves. That’s roof off brokenness.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been giving us a very helpful picture of brokenness and humility. She’s talked about the roof off and the walls down. She just told us about the first part of that illustration—having the roof off, with nothing between you and God. Tomorrow she’ll talk about letting the walls down and living out humility before other people.

Nancy writes powerfully about our need to humbly come before God and others in a book called Brokenness: The Heart God Revives. You can read deeper about some of the ideas you heard today and explore what the Bible says about being open and honest before God. I think hearing this message and reading this book will be a lifelong turning point in the lives of a lot of our listeners.

We’ll send you copy when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount. Your donation will help us continue bringing biblical messages like this to women in your community. Ask for the book, Brokenness, when you call 1–800–569–5959, or visit*.

Nancy delivered that message at True Woman '16. At the same time she was speaking, Dannah Gresh was speaking to younger women at the teen track. She was challenging them to come to the Lord in genuine worship. Not just singing, but as a lifestyle. As we close today, let’s hear some of what she had to say. Here’s Dannah.

Dannah Gresh: Listen, girls, when our prayer lives become authentic, there are times when we don't have to be encouraged to worship, because it is spontaneous. It turns into something like what we do on Saturday afternoons for our favorite football team. 

When was the last time you jumped up and down and leaped with joy because God did something big, as God said He is.

Today I'm here with my friends Stephanie and Kim. They are going to come back and worship. I want to tell you about my dear friend Stephanie and my friend Kim. How many of you got to be prayed with or by or for Kim today? You'll know if you did. She is our prayer warrior. She is praying for the room. Raise your hand over there, Kimmy.

Kim, Stephanie, and I are in a prayer group. We love praying for each other. I want you to know, there is leaping when we pray. I remember one time . . . we would gather once a month and we would pray for a few hours. We were often too busy to gather each week.

One time Kimmy walked in late—well, almost every time. She comes in, and she's joyful in the Lord. We are all being calm and sedate because we are going to go to prayer. She's just giggling, and it just gets infectious sometimes when she gets started. You can't stop her, and then you can't stop.

So the next thing I know, we are all on the floor laughing, and we don't know why. The she just starts praising, "Thank You, Jesus. I just praise You, Lord." We don't know why, but we just go with it. Finally, one of us sits up and says, "Kimmy, why are we praising Jesus?" God had done a miraculous work of answering a prayer request for her marriage.

That's just how our group goes. We just leap, and we rejoice, and we worship. The best, best leaping we've ever done is . . . this girl right here was single for a lot of years. Sometime along the way, the Lord told her it's not a bad thing to pine to be married. It's not a bad thing to desire it. Marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church. But when that is our first desire and not a desire that comes through Christ, then it becomes unhealthy.

So she is serving the Lord and traveling with our ministry team and traveling doing worship on her own, all over the world. The Lord tells her to begin collecting little, copper pennies. And that one day she will use those little, copper pennies to buy a wedding band for her man. 

Now, pennies aren't worth a lot, are they? So she's saying to the Lord, "Not only do I hope this, but Father, I'm willing to wait. And if it's a long time, that's okay. I will serve You with my whole heart while I wait."

Well, this man right here was a volunteer worship leader at one of our LIVE events. When they saw each other, my friend, Erin Davis, and I said, "Did you see the way they looked at each other? Do you think they know what's happening between the two of them?" We didn't say anything. We were just . . . 

Well, our prayer group went to cash in buckets of pennies. We went to the bank, leaping, laughing, joyful, and we broke the coin machine five times! There were over 20,000 pennies. And show us the ring that those pennies bought. And the inside is inscribed: You are worth every penny.

Girls: Awwww . . . 

Dannah: Listen, girls. I don't want you to hear my stories of faith, Stephanie's stories of faith, Kim's stories of faith. I want you to have your own stories of faith, so that you leap for joy with the way God moves when you pray.

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

All Scripture is taken from the ESV unless otherwise noted.


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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.