Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: As we eat food, we get less hungry, but reading the Bible is just the opposite. Here's Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You may not feel very hungry spiritually, but if you will eat anyway, if you will partake of the Word of God, you'll find that your hunger grows. It increases.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It's Tuesday, January 13. During the series Getting Into the Word and Getting the Word Into You, Nancy's been offering helpful techniques for understanding the Bible. Those techniques won't do any good if you don't open it up and read it. We're about to hear how to cultivate a hunger for God's Word.

Nancy: Most of you are familiar with the name of George Mueller. He was a man of great faith. He was a man of prayer. He was used by God in a significant way to establish many orphanages throughout England in the 1800s, but George Mueller was also a man who loved the Word of God.

In one of his journals, he said,

I believe that the one chief reason I have been kept in happy, useful service is that I have been a lover of Holy Scripture. It has been my habit to read the Bible through four times a year in a prayerful spirit, to apply it to my heart, and practice what I find there. I have been for 69 years a happy man, happy, happy, happy.

I love that, and when I have been at the place where I have walked with the Lord for 69 years, I want to look back and say, “For these 69 years, I have been a happy woman, happy, happy, happy, kept for God in useful service.”

Isn't that what you want? You want to be useful for God. You want to serve Him. You want to be faithful. You want to make it all the way to the finish line, and you want to find a light in your relationship with the Lord.

George Mueller said, “The one main thing to which I attribute my lifelong happiness is that I've been a lover of the Word of God.” I'm reminded of the psalm we've looked at several times throughout this series, Psalm 119, and I would encourage you, if you have your Bible, to open to that passage.

I want us to just pick out several verses that say what George Mueller was really saying, that talk about the delight, the joys, of being a lover of the Word of God. Throughout Psalm 119, the psalmist talks about how the Word of God is worth more to him than any kind of material or financial gain, that it's the Word that makes him truly wealthy, and it's the Word that makes us truly wealthy at all.

He says, for example, in verse 14, “In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.” And then verse 72, “The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.” Verse 127, “Therefore I love your commandments above gold, above fine gold” And verse 162, “I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil.”

There's treasure to be had in the Word of God. The reason I take time over and over again on Revive Our Hearts to challenge you to get into the Word and get the Word into you is because I know that once you dig in, you are going to find treasures that are worth more than all the things we spend the rest of our time looking for.

We look for happiness in things and places and people and circumstances and relationships, but there is joy and happiness and delight to be found in God's Word and abundance more than we can find anywhere else because it's the Word of God that gets us to God. It's in His presence that we find fullness of joy, and if you read through Psalm 119, one of the things that stands out to me is how often the psalmist says, “I delight in your word.”

This is not just something to check off my to-do list—“I read my Bible today. I had my devotions today.” As I've said before, you can have devotions but not have devotion. There's a big difference, isn't there? I've done a lot of having devotions, but what I want is to have devotion—through the Word, come to the place where I actually meet with God, encounter Him, and my life is transformed in His presence.

The psalmist says, “There's nothing more delightful to me.” Look at verse 24, “Your testimonies are my delight.” Verse 35, “Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it.” Verse 47, “For I find my delight in your commandments, which I love.” Verse 103, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Verse 111, “Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart,” and on and on you'll see throughout this psalm.

Just circle the word. Talk about repeated, emphasized words—delight; I love your law; it's a blessing; it's a joy to me. Now, you may be thinking, “I just don't have that kind of hunger for the Word of God. It's not a delight to me. It's drudgery to me.” I will tell you, I have been there plenty of times myself.

How do you cultivate a hunger and a delight in the Word of God? Can I just say that the more you get into it, the more you read it and study it and meditate on it and do it and watch it change your life and then go out to share it with others, to reproduce it in the lives of others, the more you will come to delight in the law of the Lord.

It's kind of the opposite of the way it works with physical food and appetites. If you are hungry physically—you're just feeling famished or starved, you say, “I've got to eat.” I was that way last night. “Give me some food.” But once I got food, once I ate, I wasn't hungry anymore. I didn't want any more to eat.

With the Word of God, I find it often works just the opposite way. You may not feel very hungry spiritually, but if you will eat anyway, if you will partake of the Word of God and do the things we've been talking about to get into the Word and get the Word into you, you'll find that your hunger grows. It increases.

I've been walking with the Lord now for 40 years, reading His Word, day after day, year after year, and I find that my delight in the law of the Lord grows. It increases the more that I'm in the Word.

One of the problems is that we so fuel our flesh with things of this world, with entertainment. And let me just say, if you are filling your time with books and magazines and recreation and hobbies and television and movies and entertainment, things that are entertaining to your flesh, though they may not in and of themselves be wrong, if you're filling your time with those things, chances are, you're not going to have much of a hunger for the Word of God.

This is why I have tried increasingly, as I've gotten older, to live a quieter life, a simpler life, to get rid of some of the clutter, the things that distract me and steal my heart and my attention and my focus so that I could long for the Word of the Lord. Fuel your hunger for God, and you'll find that your hunger for other things will diminish.

I want to share with you a letter I received some time ago that illustrates the transforming power of God's Word and how it really can bring joy and delight to our hearts. This is a woman who had just read a book I wrote on the subject of the devotional life called, A Place of Quiet Rest, and she was writing to tell me how God had used that book in her life. She's married to a man who's in vocational ministry. She at the time had a toddler. She was very active in the ministry of her local church, so keep that background in mind. She said,

For the past year, I've been keeping up the external signs of a walk with God, but my heart and my focus have been far from Him. [You ever been there? I surely have.]

I know He's been trying to call me back, but I have been completely unwilling to surrender and obey. At one point a few months ago, I paced my kitchen crying, my heart convicted, knowing I needed to repent and return to the Lord.

I cried and yelled at Him that I wanted to come back, but my pride would not allow it. I was not willing. My walk with God was non-existent. Oh, I would go to church every Sunday and Bible study on Wednesdays. I would stand and sing of God's goodness to the congregation. [She had told me that she was in the church worship team.] I had everyone fooled, everyone but Jesus. 

I wonder how many of us will go to church this Sunday, and it could be said of us what was said of this woman. No one else knows. I wonder how many people standing in our churches and singing this coming Sunday, it will be true that they look spiritual. They're going through all the motions. All the external signs are there, but they're empty, hollow, shallow, rebellious—non-existent walk with God.

I used to be pretty consistent with spending time with God each morning, but since my daughter was born, I've been overwhelmed. I would let myself be drawn away to her needs or to chores or to other unimportant things I wanted to do. Soon enough, quiet time with the Lord was mostly tossed aside, and I began to dry up, slowly but surely.

It came to the point where I could not read the Bible at all. I couldn't even bring myself to unzip the cover. I thought I could do it on my own, that is, live life on my own, and that I didn't need God anymore. I all but walked away.

Notice how gradually it happened. She didn't intend to just walk away from the Lord, but she let go of the lifeline, the means that she had of getting God's grace to live the Christian life that would have been given to her through the Word of God. She forfeited that. She neglected it and one day woke up and realized, I am a mess, and that's what she goes on to describe.

I've suffered much. I'm emotionally a mess. I've always struggled with anxiety. Now it has become overwhelming. I am physically ill, unable to cope with or handle even the small things in life without breaking down in tears.

I've been in almost daily pain for months. I have been joyless, impatient, angry, riddled with fear, doubt, and anxiety. I began doubting my sanity as I felt quite often that I was on the brink. [I believe there are a lot more Christian women in exactly that condition than would ever want to admit it. This woman got honest enough to admit it.]

God gave me the child I prayed and prayed for, and now I scorned her. I resented her intrusion. I wanted my old life back. I actually had the audacity to blame God by telling Him He knew I couldn't handle being a mom, and yet He made me one anyway. I really had become a twisted mess.

My marriage also suffered. I closed up to my friends and my husband. We would talk about things, just not deep and meaningful things. I was here physically but not here emotionally.

Feelings of bitterness and anger began to creep in. I started shopping a lot and spending our money foolishly on clothing and shoes that I don't need.

Finally, I found and prayed Psalm 51:12. [And this may be the prayer you need to pray today.] “Return to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey.” I so longed for the joy and zealousness for the Word that I once had. I longed for that hunger and thirst for the Word.

I guess my husband did know what was going on” (I'm sure he did) because one day a package from the ministry arrived at the door with your book and tapes on this subject. I knew I didn't order it, so I called my husband. He said he heard your radio program and felt the Lord prompting him to order this for me.

My life and marriage have changed drastically since then. I've been getting up early every morning to spend time in the Word and in prayer. I've confessed sins and have asked the Lord for spiritual healing, and He has provided it.

I feel like for the first time I understand why daily devotional time is so vitally important. I understand why I need the Word in me every day, especially first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I feel the joy and peace coming back into my life. I feel like I can now make it through the day with God's help.

I now hunger and thirst for the Word. I've been reading the Word during nap times and at night and in the morning. I just can't get enough. I can't explain with words how my heart wants to sing with joy and praise the Lord for His goodness and His mercy.

For the last many months, I would sing at church on the worship team, but all I was doing was singing, grudgingly most days. Now I want to sing to Him all day. He has returned to me my first love.

He has met me where I am, face to face, and has gently and lovingly lifted me out of the miry pit I had dug myself into and placed my feet upon the solid rock, and my heart says, “Thank You, Lord. Amen."

May it be so in, not only this woman's life, but in my life, and in the lives of women who are listening to this program today, that God may be glorified as our lives begin to reflect the beauty of the Lord Jesus that we have seen in His Word.

My prayer is that as we've talked about the delight of God's Word and the joy and the transformation that it can bring to our lives, that God is giving you a new hunger and a new thirst to get to know Him through His Word.

I want to remind you about our 30-day challenge. It's not too late to get started. If you don't have this habit already, say, “Every day, by God's grace, for the next 30 days, I will take some time every day and spend it alone with the Lord in the Word and in prayer. My hunch is that if you will do that over the next 30 days, you'll find that you don't want to stop at 30 days, that you want to make this a lifetime habit of getting to know God through His Word.

Leslie: That's Nancy Leigh DeMoss inviting you to savor the richness of God's Word, and she'll be right back. I'm inspired to get into the Bible. How about you? Hearing a message like this is very helpful, but you and I both need consistency.

Let me offer two suggestions. First, take the 30-day challenge Nancy's been offering throughout this series. Spend some time each day for 30 days praying and reading the Bible. For more on that challenge, visit ReviveOurHeartsRadio.com. Second, read Nancy's book, A Place of Quiet Rest. It's packed full of practical ways to get more out of the Bible, and it will also keep the passion for God's Word burning in your heart.

We'll send you this book when you send a gift of any amount to Revive Our Hearts. Your donation will help us continue speaking to women in your community, and to show our thanks, we'll provide the book for you. Ask for, A Place of Quiet Rest when you donate online. The web address is ReviveOurHeartsRadio.com, or you can call 1-800-569-5959 and ask for the book.

Some members of our audience have had their own journey with God's Word, and as they've listened to this series, they've reflected on how they connected with the Bible.

Elizabeth: I have to thank the girl who led me to the Lord. Her name was Lisa Pertusi at the time. Now it's Lisa Tatch, but she led me to the Lord. She was my teacher, and how she got me into the Word is we started the book of John. She said, “Read a chapter, and I want you to write one verse down. Then I want you to write that verse in your own words.”

We'd meet once a week, and she'd say, “Okay, show me your journal. What'd you write?” She'd do a little check mark. So I have her to thank for just teaching me the discipline of being in the Word. That was in 1988, and I just count it as really from God that I hunger for His Word.

For most of my life, it has been a joy to read His Word, but I've struggled lately at just compartmentalizing. It's almost like it's a discipline to read the Word. Then you get busy in your daily duties of whatever the Lord has put into your life, and as far as taking time to being sensitive to the Holy Spirit throughout the day, to listening to Him and not just reading the Word and going on your day without Him.

Nancy: This is the suggestion that, not only is it important for us to get into the Word, God wants to use us to challenge others to get into the Word. Some of you do have a meaningful, consistent, daily devotional life. Is there someone around you, someone in your church, someone in your small group, someone in your family, your children, that you can challenge to develop this habit?

I have a devotional life habit today because of my parents—the illustration, the example, the challenge of my parents who began each day seeking the Lord in the Word and in prayer and challenging us to do the same. So become a spiritual reproducer. Don't just keep the joy and the benefit and the blessing for yourself. You may need to be in someone else's life what Elizabeth's friend was to her, and help them get started.

Give them an assignment. Don't assume that people know how to get into the Word. Remembering what it was like when you first started to read the Scripture and how you needed someone to come alongside and help you know “How do I do it?” The Bible is a big book, and if you just hand it to someone and say, “Here, read this, and get something out of it.” It's daunting.

They don't know how to get something out of it. They don't know how to eat, how to feed themselves. That's why you start by feeding them till they can learn how to feed themselves. So who is it that God may be bringing to your mind that you could call and say, “I'd like to encourage you in something that's been very meaningful and helpful in my Christian life. I'd like to help you get started in this habit as well. Maybe a young believer, again one of your children, someone that you know is new to the faith? Get them started in what will be a wonderful foundation for all of their Christian life.

Listener: There wasn't anyone that really taught me to have a daily quiet time, but just from desiring to read the Word and understand it. I began doing that as a young girl. My daughter did the same thing. It wasn't something I set down and said, “Okay, you need to do this every day,” so I really hadn't thought about needing to form that habit in my son.

I just thought, “It'll come to him just like it did to us.” Being a homeschooling mom, we will have Bible time where I teach him, but I didn't ever think about, that needs to be a part of his daily routine that I need to establish in his life.

I thought, “No, the Holy Spirit will let him know, and he'll start that eventually just like Rachel did and I did.” The Lord really convicted me about that recently, that I've established other daily routines in his life. I expect him to brush his teeth whether he likes that or not. I expect him to eat food, and so I needed to help him by establishing that in his life.

Earlier this year, I said, “Caleb, this is going to begin to be, as soon as breakfast is over, you go and have your quiet time, just as Rachel and your mom do. You go and have yours.” It has been so awesome to see how God has used that in his life. I feared that it would become a legalistic thing by me impressing it on him, that he wouldn't have that same hunger and desire that had developed with Rachel and I because we did it because we wanted to.

I thought, “That's going to be impressing something on him that he'll just do it as ritual,” but the Word is living. The Word has developed that hunger within him. We were recently gone away. When I came home, he said, “Mom, I just want you to know that, even though you weren't here, I did my quiet time because I am just so enjoying it.”

He said, “You know, this has really been neat.” He'll come to me and ask me questions about what he's reading. God's just really used it in his life. I think God is so faithful, and I'm so thankful He convicted me to do that with him because what he would be missing out on right now if I hadn't encouraged that to be an established habit in his life.

Sometimes we may have to encourage it as a habit, but because the Holy Spirit is powerful and the Word of God is powerful and alive, God will then do the work to carry it on.

Listener: I was struck by the power of the Word of God to transform about six years ago when a mentor of mine challenged me to do a Precept Bible study. I loved discovering the treasures in God's Word, but what amazed me was a couple years later seeing the fruit of that coming out in my life in so many ways, carrying me through difficult situations, giving wisdom that I didn't know was there when I was dealing with other people.

As you were speaking yesterday, I was just reminded how easy it is to let the Word of God not become central. God was convicting me that in our home school, I need to make the Word of God central, and in my family, I need to be encouraging my children—to let that be central in my own life. I need to be growing deeper in that. It's so easy to drift away, so that's where the power is, knowing God and being in His Word.

Leslie: It would be tragic to have a refrigerator full of food yet never opening it. All of us drift away from God's Word just like a hungry person forgetting to open the refrigerator. Some members of our audience have been describing their own struggles to develop a consistent habit of Bible reading.

They've been listening along with us to a helpful, practical series from Nancy Leigh DeMoss called Getting Into the Word and Getting the Word Into You. If you've missed any of this series, you can catch each program at ReviveOurHeartsRadio.com.

This series will wrap up tomorrow, and I hope you'll take action on the opportunity I've been telling you about the last couple of weeks. During this series, when you make a donation of any size, we'll send you Nancy's book, A Place of Quiet Rest. It will walk you through practical steps for cultivating a hunger for the Bible. It will help you when it gets tough to stay consistent, and it will help you understand and apply God's Word.

It's yours when you make a donation of any size, but you need to contact us today or tomorrow to take advantage of this special offer. Ask for A Place of Quiet Rest when you call 1-800-569-5959 or visit ReviveOurHeartsRadio.com. 

Tomorrow, hear about an episode of Nancy's life when fast food and fast devotions caused her a lot of trouble. I hope you'll join us for Revive Our Hearts.

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

All Scriptures are taken from the English Standard Version.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.