Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Direction from the Word

Leslie Basham: When you’re sharing the gospel with someone, the words of the Bible itself can be much more persuasive than man-made arguments. Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: The Word of God is powerful enough on its own to break down all human resistance and opposition.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, February 16.

Earlier this year Nancy began challenging listeners to read the Bible every day in 2012. If you do, it will have a big effect on your year and your life. It's not too late to begin. Visit ReviveOurHearts.com to sign up for reminders and to get some helpful resources on Bible study.

As part of our current series, The Wonder of the Word, we'll get fresh perspective on the ability of the Bible to change lives.

Nancy: Martin Luther had this to say about the Word of God. He said, “The Bible is alive; it speaks to me; it has hands—it lays hold of me; it has feet—it runs after me.”

I love that description. What a great picture of the Word of God. “[It’s] alive; it speaks to me; it has hands—it lays hold of me; it has feet—it runs after me.” We’ve been talking about the wonder of the Word of God, and we’ve seen that it’s peerless, that it’s pure, that it’s precious and priceless.

Today, I want us to see that the Word of God is powerful. It’s alive—it changes lives! It converts hearts. The Spirit of God can use the Word of God to do what no other book can do in changing lives. As you read back over the history of the Christian church, you’ll find person after person whose life was converted—transformed—in dramatic ways by just the reading of the Word of God.

I think of Augustine, one of the greatest theologians in the history of the church. He had spent his young years as a wild, immoral man. He broke the heart of his godly, praying mother, named Monica.

But when he was twenty-two years old, running from God, having already wasted his life in so many ways, he heard a voice telling him, “Take up and read!” He opened the Bible that he had with him, and his eyes fell onto a passage in Romans 13 that confronted his wicked lifestyle. He believed; he was converted; he repented, and he became one of the greatest church fathers and theologians in the history of Christianity.

Martin Luther (who we just quoted) as a twenty-year-old college student was first exposed to the Bible, which was a Book, at that time, practically unknown. But he read it, and he kept reading it, and he kept reading it. While his guilty conscience was plagued with the fact that he couldn’t get right with God, he kept searching the Scripture. As a monk, he was trying to get right with God, trying to earn God’s favor, but at one point, the words of the prophet Habakkuk began to ring in his ears: “The just shall live by faith. The just shall live by faith” (Hab. 2:4 KJV).

Then when he came to the book of Romans, he realized it was faith in Jesus, faith in Christ, that was what alone could save him from his sins. He believed; he was converted, and out of that truth—justification by faith in Christ alone—came the Reformation. All of our lives have been impacted as a result.

I think of John Wesley, one of the men greatly used of God in the First Great Awakening, a British evangelist. Though he was a religious man in his upbringing, he didn’t know God—he didn’t have a personal relationship with God.

The day came, May 24, 1738, when as a seeking man, seeking for the Lord, he went to a meeting, and he heard someone read Martin Luther’s preface to the epistle of Romans. And he says, “[My heart was] strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.” It was the reading of the Word that God used to bring about the conversion of John Wesley.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, one of the greatest preachers in the history of the Church, when he was fifteen years old, on a snowy day, stepped into a primitive Methodist church, January of 1850. He heard a preacher whose name I don’t even know say a few simple things about one text. Here was the text: “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth” (Isa. 45:22 KJV).

The preacher looked directly at young Charles Spurgeon and told him he would be miserable all of his life if he failed to look to Jesus for salvation. Well, Charles Spurgeon looked. He believed; he was converted, and he became one of the greatest preachers in Christian history. For over thirty years he preached to 10,000 people every Sunday in the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London. 

Where did it start for him? With the power of a single text—the power of the Word of God is what was used to bring about his conversion.

I think about my own mother. She was raised in a religious family, but she didn’t know the Lord, and her parents didn’t know the Lord. When she was a senior in high school, she took an elective course in the Bible. They had those (Bible courses) in those days in public schools—it was a public school! And as a result of a Christian teacher getting these students to read the Word of God, my mother believed; she was converted. My life today, knowing Christ, is the fruit of what God did in her life through that exposure to the Word of God.

The Word of God is powerful enough on its own to break down all human resistance and opposition. In Jeremiah 23 God says, “Is not My word like a fire? . . . and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” (v. 29 NKJV). The Word of God is powerful. It can take the hardest heart and break it down, bring it into submission.

We think we need all kinds of things, plus the Word of God, to change people’s lives today. So many of our church programs have so many activities and so many efforts to get people to change their lives. We’ve got to have great big impressive programs and music and dramas and messages and great orators and communicators—and you know what? We’ve lost our confidence in the power of the Word of God to transform people’s lives.

One of the greatest stories I’ve ever heard along that line is told by Dr. John MacArthur in his book called Our Sufficiency in Christ. And I want to read this story. As I’ve shared with women before, they have told me that it’s been so meaningful to them, so let me just read about this exchange.

Pastor MacArthur says:

Not long ago a man I had never met before walked into my office and said, “I need help. I feel strange coming to you because I’m not even a Christian. I’m Jewish. Until a few weeks ago I had never even been in a church. But I need help from someone, so I decided to talk to you.”

I assured him I would do my best to help him. The conversation went something like this:

“I’ve been divorced twice,” he said, “and now I’m living with a woman who is my lover. I don’t even like her, but I haven’t got the courage to leave her and go back to my second wife.”

“I’m a medical doctor,” he continued. “Worse, I’m an abortionist. Last year in my clinic we did nine million dollars’ worth of abortions. I don’t do only therapeutic abortions; I do abortions for any reason. And if a woman doesn’t have a reason, I give her a reason.

“Six weeks ago I came to Grace Community Church on a Sunday morning, and I’ve been coming every week since. Last week you preached a message called ‘Delivered to Satan.’ If there was ever anyone on earth who was delivered to Satan, it’s me. I’m absolutely miserable and unhappy. I’m continually seeing a psychoanalyst and I’m not getting any help at all. I can’t stand the guilt of all this. I don’t know what to do about it. Can you help me?”

Dr. MacArthur says,

I said to him, “No. I can’t help you.” He looked at me startled. Sheer desperation was evident in his face. I let it sink in. Then I said, “But I know Someone who can help you: Jesus Christ.”

He said sadly, “But I don’t know who He is.”

I said, “Would you like to know who Jesus Christ is?”

He said, “I would if He can help me.”

I reached over and took a Bible off my desk and opened it to the Gospel of John. I said, “I want you to take this book home and read this part called the Gospel of John. I want you to keep reading until you know who Jesus Christ is. Then call me again.”

Later that week I was recounting the incident for the pastor of another church. He said, “Is that all you gave him? Just the Gospel of John? Why didn’t you give him some help, some tapes, some questions to answer—something? Just the Bible?"

I said, “Don’t worry. The Bible is like a lion. You don’t need to defend it. Just open the door and let it out. It’ll take care of itself. If his heart is open at all, the Bible can do more to reach him than I could do with reams of other study material. What could I possibly give him that’s more powerful than the Scripture itself?”

The next Friday I received a telephone call. The doctor wanted to see me again. We made an appointment. He showed up precisely on time, came into the office, walked past me as if I weren’t there, sat on the couch, dropped the Bible beside him, and said, “I know who He is.”

I said, "You do?"

He said, “Yes, I do.”

“Who is he?” I asked.

“I’ll tell you one thing—He’s not just a man.”

I said, “Really? Who is He?”

“He’s God!” he said with finality.

“You, a Jew, are telling me that Jesus Christ is God?” I asked. “How do you know that?”

He said, “It’s clear. It’s right there in the Gospel of John.”

“What convinced you?” I asked.

“Look at the words He said, and look at the things He did! No one could say and do those things unless He was God.” He was echoing the apostle John’s thesis perfectly.

I nodded enthusiastically.

He was on a roll. “Do you know what else he did? He rose from the dead! They buried Him, and three days later, He came back from the dead! That proves He is God, doesn’t it? God Himself came into this world!”

I asked him, “Do you know why He came?"

“Yes. He came to die for my sin.”

“How do you know that?” I asked.

“Because I liked John so well, I read Romans. And as soon as I clean up my life, I’m going to become a Christian.”

I said, “That’s the wrong approach. Receive Him as your Lord and Savior now, and let Him clean up your life.” Then I asked the man, “What would such a decision mean in your career?”

“Well,” he said, “I spent this afternoon writing my resignation letter to the abortion clinic. When I get out of here I’m going to call my second wife and bring her to church with me.” And he did.

“Is not My word like a fire?” says the Lord, “And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” The Word of God is alive, Hebrews tells us. It’s powerful. It’s sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of the joints and morrow; and it’s a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Heb. 4:12 paraphrased).

So often today in our efforts to reach people, we underestimate the power of the Word of God. And when we do, we’re forced to rely on our human efforts, our ability to talk, to impress, our strategies, our resources, and our methods.

Those things can be helpful, but they’re no replacement for the power of that great Lion, the Word of God.

Leslie: Do you tend to lean on your own strength or on God’s Word? Nancy Leigh DeMoss is in a series called, The Wonder of the Word. She'll be right back. 

Not only do we want to inspire you to get into God's Word more consistently. We also want to put you in touch with resources that will help you study.

Nancy explores some of the ways technology can aid Bible study in a bonus Revive Our Hearts series. We aren't airing the series on the radio, but you can hear it this week on our podcast. [You can also listen to or read the program here.]

For more details on subscribing to the Revive Our Hearts podcast and hearing this bonus series, just visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Nancy's back, continuing in the series, The Wonder of the Word.

Nancy: Many of you will remember the name Cecil B. DeMille. You remember him as the man who made the movie, The Ten Commandments. Here’s what Cecil DeMille had to say about the Word of God. He said, “After more than sixty years of almost daily reading of the Bible, I never fail to find it always new and marvelously in tune with the changing needs of every day.”

We’ve been looking at the wonder of the Word of God, and we’ve seen that the Word of God is powerful; it can transform lives. It’s just like a lion—you just need to let it out of its cage, and it will do its work. We’ve seen that it’s peerless, that it’s unique, that there’s no other book like it. And we’ve seen that it’s priceless—it’s precious; it’s our greatest treasure, and it’s pure. Every Word of God is pure.

I want us to see today that the Word of God is intensely practical. As Cecil B. DeMille said, it’s “always new and marvelously in tune with the changing needs of every day.” And over the next moments, I just want to highlight some of the things that the Word of God does for us in a practical way. Now, I say it does it for us, but if you’re not reading the Word of God, then it’s not going to be doing these things for you.

So what will the Word of God do in our lives if we’re reading it and letting it have its way in our lives? Well, the Word of God communicates. It communicates who God is. It communicates His heart, His way, His will. If you want to get to know God, you need to find His communication about Himself, and that’s the Scripture.

It gives us wisdom about every area of life. It communicates God’s heart about relationships, about friendships, about marriage, about parenting, about finances, about morals, about eating. Every area of life, the practical areas of life, we find communication of God’s heart and His wisdom in the Word of God.

Then the Word of God corrects us. According to 2 Timothy 3, it reproves us (3:16). It shows us where we’re wrong. 

Then the Word of God cleanses our lives. Psalm 119 says, “How can a young man keep his way pure?” Here’s how: “By keeping it according to [Your] Word” (Ps. 119:9 NASB). The Word of God purifies us. Jesus said, “You are clean through the Words that I have spoken unto you,” in John 15:3 (paraphrased).

In John 17:17, Jesus prayed to His heavenly Father, “Oh God, would you sanctify (or cleanse) them by Your Truth. Your Word is Truth” (paraphrased). It’s the Word of God that purifies my heart, and when I read this book, many, many days I pray, “Oh Lord, would You wash me in the water of Your Word. Purify my heart with Your Word.”

The Word of God comforts us. I can’t tell you how many times I have been at a point of grieving, a point of enormous loss or sadness in my life, circumstances that could not be changed, the deaths (multiple deaths) of people who have been close to me, family members. I’ve gone to the Word of God, and I have found encouragement and comfort and grace to help me at my time of need. God has used His Word to be like a spiritual ICU at those times when I felt like I could hardly breath to comfort my distraught heart.

God’s Word gives counsel. It counsels our hearts; it gives us directions; it’s a road map for life. I can’t get anywhere without a map, and sometimes even with a map, I’m not really good, but I know I could not get through life without the counsel I get from the Word of God.

And then the Word of God changes me. I am so thankful for this because I need to be changed. Day after day I need the Word of God to rescue me from myself and to transform me into the image of Christ. That’s God’s commitment to you and to me: If we are children of God, He’s committed to making us like Jesus.

But I look at my life, and I think, “I am so far from being like Jesus.” That’s why Paul said to the Romans in chapter 12, “Don’t let the world press you into its mold. Don’t be like this world. Be a new and different person in all you think and do” (Rom. 12:2 paraphrased).

How will you do that? “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” By the Word of God—it will change your thinking. It will make you a new and different person. And then you can prove what that good and acceptable and perfect will of God really is.

Listen. The Word of God communicates; it corrects; it cleanses; it comforts; it counsels; it changes our lives. I’ve watched the Word of God changing my life just in recent days. I found myself recently in a conversation where I was sharing some information about other individuals.

I got home from that conversation, and God brought a passage to mind from Proverbs that says that one of the things God hates, something that is an abomination to Him, is those that sow discord among brethren (Pro. 6:19).

I realized that what I had said about another believer was creating a wedge between the person I was talking to and the person I was talking about. I had sown discord. Now I didn’t intend to be destructive with my tongue, and I wasn’t trying to do anything ugly, but God’s Word showed me that this is something God hates.

I got on my knees before the Lord. God is using the Scripture to change me, day by day, into the likeness of Jesus.

The Word of God is practical. You can’t grow spiritually without it. You will live a spiritually defeated life without it. You can’t know God without it. You can’t know the gospel without the Word of God. Paul talks about in 2 Timothy chapter three about the "Holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Jesus Christ" (2 Tim.3:15). That’s how we know the gospel.

You can’t know the will of God without the Word of God. Don’t come and tell me stories as I’ve heard people tell about, “God told me to leave my husband.” “I know God’s leading me to borrow this money for something that is not a need.” Don’t tell me God told you that! You may have had a vision; you may have had a dream; you may have been up too late the night before and got confused; you may have had hallucinations; but if it’s not according to the Word of God, don’t tell me God told you that.

You can’t know the will of God if you don’t know the Word of God. You’ll starve spiritually without the Word of God. You can’t overcome the enemy, Satan, without the Word of God. It’s our only offensive weapon that we are given in Ephesians chapter 6, where we’re given the armor of God. The only offensive weapon we have to do battle against Satan is the Word of God.

That’s how Jesus did battle against Satan in the desert where He was tempted by Satan. Jesus kept coming back and saying, “It is written.” That’s your sword. That’s what allows you to be victorious over the enemy.

The Word of God will help you to walk in liberty and in freedom. It will strengthen you, encourage you, protect you, feed you, sustain you, train you, and bless you, day after day after day. The Word of God is powerful. It is practical. It is life-changing.

Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss in the series, The Wonder of the Word.  

If you’ve missed any of the programs in this series, you can hear them or read the transcript at ReviveOurHearts.com. This series is part of a year-long emphasis on Revive Our Hearts.  Nancy’s here to explain.

Nancy: Some of you will remember that a few weeks ago, in the first part of January, I gave our listeners a challenge: To read some of the Bible each day in 2012. I'm delighted to say that many listeners signed up for this challenge at ReviveOurHearts.com. I know that they’ve been experiencing the riches of God's Word as they’ve been reading each day.

Let me just step in here now in the the middle of February, when most people have forgotten their New Year's resolutions, they've forgot many of the commitments they may have made at the beginning of January, let me just say that it’s not too late to make this commitment. 

The commitment is simple. Take some time each day to read God's Word. I know that by getting into God's Word each day, and getting God's Word into you, you are going to get valuable insights that will affect you in significant ways.

To help make your Bible reading an even richer experience, we’d like to send you a copy of My Personal Bible Reading Journal. This is a resource our team developed that  is designed for daily Bible reading. It's got blank pages for you to record what you read that day and for how God is speaking to you through His Word.

We’d also like to send a book by my friend, Kay Arthur, called Discover the Bible for Yourself.  I'm really excited to be able to offer this resource because in these pages you'll get some tools for understanding the Bible. You’ll learn how to follow a word or idea through Scripture to understand it better. I'm doing that right now in my personal Bible study.

Not only will you learn to accurately interpret what you’re reading, but you’ll also learn to apply it to your situation and live it out in the course of your daily life.

When you give a donation of any amount to help support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts, we want to send you both these resouces, My Personal Bible Reading Journal which is only available through Revive Our Hearts and Discover the Bible for Yourself. Ask for them when you donate by phone. The number to call is 1-800-569-5959. Or if you'd prefer, you can make a donation online at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Again, remember when you give to Revive Our Hearts, you're becoming an instrument of blessing in the lives of others, encouraging them to get into God's Word and to get God's Word into their hearts. You can know that hearts and homes are being transformed by the Word of God as a result of your investment in this ministry.

Thank you so much.

Leslie: As you make decisions, do you ever think about what the Bible says? Or are you more like this person?

Street Interviewee 2: If I was doing one thing and the Bible said to do something else, off-hand I would probably follow my own beliefs because, I mean, the Bible is an important work, but it’s not the answer for everything.

Leslie: Tomorrow, Nancy will challenge you: Do you really trust the Bible? Please be back, for Revive Our Hearts.

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

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

About the Speaker

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 …

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