Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Discovering the Joy of Daily Devotions, Day 1

Leslie Basham: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth knows that busy moms are always on the job.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: You just wish there was one little place in the whole world that you could get away from the crowd. You say, “I know, I’ll go in the bathroom.” Right? And then these little fingers come under the door, and they go, “Mommy!” (Laughter)

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Lies Women Believe, for Tuesday, January 17, 2017.

Nancy covers a lot of topics on Revive Our Hearts, but she often says that if she could only speak on one topic, it’s the one we’re about to hear. Nancy delivered this message at Moody Bible Institute, and I hope it invites you to greater intimacy with God in 2017.

Nancy: What I’m going to do (I’m just telling you in advance) is to ask you to make a commitment that, as God reminds you and enables you, that every day for the next thirty days that you will take some time each day to spend alone with the Lord in His Word and in prayer. So let me just tell you, that’s coming. But in order to lead us to that point, I want to talk about the priority of a daily devotional life.

I’ve been so thrilled to see how God has caused the messages thus far to dovetail and to lead up to what’s on my heart this morning. The priority of a devotional life is illustrated beautifully in the lives of three biblical characters that we’ve heard about already this week.

Monday night Dr. Nyquist talked to us about David, the man after God’s own heart because he was a seeker of God’s heart.

I’ve been memorizing this week and meditating in Psalm chapter 27 where David talks about all of his enemies, his foes, his stresses, his pressures, all that’s going on in his life, and then in verse 4 he says, “One thing have I asked of the LORD.”

You think about all the things David could have asked God for, all the things David could have desired for God to do for him, but he said, “There’s one thing, if I had to reduce it to its irreducible minimum; if I could only ask God for one thing.” What would it be, David? “One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after” . . . that will I pursue, that will I be intentional about. What is it? “That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.”

David says, “With all that’s going on around me, all the crises in my lifethe crises in my government, the crises with the opposition, the political decisions that need to be madethe one thing that matters most to me is that I can live in the presence of God. I can look upon His beauty, gaze upon Him. I can live in His presence. I can look upon His beauty, and I can learn from Him every day of my life.” That’s the one thing, David, a man of one consuming passion that drove his life.

What’s your passion? What’s the one thing that you desire from God above all others? Would it be what David said in Psalm 27:4?

Last night Pastor Jobe took us to Exodus 33. I was actually thinking of speaking on this text, and I’m glad I listened in last night to hear that he took us in such a powerful way to that picture of Moses in Exodus 33, how Moses had that regular habit of leaving the camp, going out to the Tent of Meeting to meet with the Lord. We heard about the effect that had on Moses’ life.

Then yesterday morning Pastor Ford, speaking about Mary of Bethany, took us to John 12 where she gave that extravagant offering of worship to the Lord. He referenced that wonderful passage in Luke chapter 10 where Mary and Martha had Jesus over for dinner. Remember how Mary sat at the Lord’s feet listening to His Word?

The priority of cultivating an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ by spending time in His presence, listening to His Word.

Now, the contrast in that passage—and you know the story—is the sister Martha, who, unlike Mary, as the Scripture tells us, is distracted with much serving.

Now, I just have to tell you, I far more often find myself in Martha’s shoes than in Mary’sdistracted with much serving. Busyness. Doing good things. Serving the Lord. Spending so much time in the work of the ministry that we don’t have time for the Lord of the ministry.

Ministry itself, tasks in the ministry can actually keep us from seeking God’s heart. Now, they don’t have to, but they can. So Jesus says to Martha, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things” (Luke 10:41). 

Think about your to-do list, your agenda, all the things on your list, and at the end of the day, you say, “Boy, I just didn’t even get to those things at all.”

“Martha, Martha, you are troubled and anxious about many things, but one thing is needful.”

David said, “One thing have I asked of the Lord.”

Jesus says to Martha, “One thing is absolutely necessary. If you don’t get anything else done on your to-do list today, will it be this one thing? One thing is needful.”

What is that thing? It’s what Mary has chosento sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to Him, to commune with Him. He says, “Mary has chosen that good portion, [that one needful thing] which will not be taken away from her” (vv. 41–42). This requires a conscious, deliberate choice.

I’ve found, and I’m sure you have, too, that if I just try and fit God into my day, He’s going to get crowded out. What I need to do is plant Him in the middle of my day, first in my day, core central in my day, and then let everything else fill its way in. “Mary has chosen that good part.”

Our churches and our ministries, so many of them, are filled with stressed-out servants, busy, people who need to get to the feet of Jesus and sit and listen to His Word.

I’m so thankful for the example of this principle that I had in my life of a dad, Art DeMoss, whose first priority at the beginning of each day was to seek the Lord in that quiet timecall it devotions, quiet time, holy hour. I don’t really care what you call it. I do care that you get it.

My dad became a Christian in his mid-twenties. He was not from a godly background. He had been a wild profligate rebel, and in his mid-twenties the gospel of Christ was presented to him, and God rescued him from himself, brought him to Christ. It was a dramatic conversion, and his life was totally transformed . . . which is the way I think it’s supposed to be with all of us.

Then somebody challenged my dad in his first year as a Christian to begin giving to God the first hour of every day in the Word and in prayer. My dad took that challenge, and he kept that commitment every single day for the rest of his life until twenty-eight years later when he went home to be with the Lord.

Now, he started a business later on, when we were little, and he was a very busy man. He traveled a lot. He had a lot going on in his life, but nothing to him was more important, nothing was more important than that time in the morning of seeking the Lord. He was a man of ritual, a man of habit. It wasn’t a legalistic thing for him. It was a delight, but he didn’t vary his routine much, if at all.

He had a little kneeling pad (I don’t know how many of those he wore out over the years) that he’d pull out from under his bed, and that’s where he would kneel. We kids knew that before we were up in the morning, our dad had been up on his knees praying for us and for many, many, many others who were on his prayer listpeople who needed Christ; marriages that needed put back together.

We knew that he was going to be in this Book reading two chapters from the Old Testament, one chapter from the New, five chapters from the Psalms, and one from the Proverbs. That was his practice. That’s not “the right practice,” but it was one that kept him in the whole counsel of God, seeking God for wisdom every single day of his life.

No matter what was on the schedule, no matter how late he’d come in the night before . . . although I’ll tell you this: A devotional habit in the morning really begins the night before, and my dad was religious about getting to bed the night before. We’d laugh about how we’d have company at the house, and at 10 o’clock he would exit. No matter what was going on, he’d say, “You all turn out the lights and lock the door when you leave.” (Laughter) Because he had an appointment in the morning.

By the way, it’s also a reason that the whole time we were growing up we didn’t have a television in our home. Poor, deprived DeMoss kids. The biggest reason (there were other reasons) but the biggest reason was he didn’t want himself or us frittering away nighttime hours that would be keeping us from having a heart and a hunger and the alertness to get up and meet God in the morning.

Let me just say, by the way, to those of you who are parents: My parents made a lot of mistakes; they’d be the first to say that. But there’s something very powerful about your children knowing that you are meeting with the Lord at the start of every day to seek Him.

When I get ready to hit my day running, to hit my email, to hit the tasks of the day, I have this indelible image imprinted on my heart of a dad who was up first thing in the morning to seek the Lord, and I’m so thankful for that example and that image.

Now, I want to take us today to another example of the priority of a devotional life, and none greater than the Lord Jesus Himself. So let me ask you if you’d turn in your Bible to the gospel of Mark, chapter 1.

David and Moses, we’ve looked at their examples, but both of those spiritual giants pointed to ChristChrist the greater Moses; Christ the son of David, the greater David.

I want us to look at a day in the life of the Lord Jesus because there are a lot of us in this room today and listening on the radio or over the Internet who are thinking, I just don’t have time in my day to do one more thing, and you’re just piling one more responsibility on me.

If you’re going to be spiritual, let me just say, this is not a spiritual good-luck charm, like your day will go better if you have a devotional time. We’re talking about relationship here and how you cultivate relationship with the God of the universe.

For those of us who think we are so busy, I want us to look at this single day in the life of the Lord Jesus, who, by the way, when you think about a long to-do list . . . Think about the fact that Jesus was given three years to accomplish the eternal plan of redemption. Now somehow I don’t think my agenda is more important or more difficult or challenging or demanding than His, and I think my days are so full. But I want us to look at just a day in the life of the Lord Jesus, beginning in verse 21 of Mark 1.

They went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes (vv. 21–22).

Now some of you are involved in teaching the Word, ministering the Word. You teach a Sunday school class, you lead a small group in your Bible study, you’re involved in one-on-one discipleship, you’re imparting the Word of God to others. Hundreds of you here are students who are studying to do that, Lord willing, for the rest of your lives. Let me just say I know, as a woman who is teaching the Word to other women on a consistent basis, that it takes something out of you to do what Jesus did here.

You’re giving, and you’re not just giving on the spot. There’s the preparation. I’ve been laboring over this message since last March, April, or May, whenever it was that Ed Cannon called me and said, “Will you speak at Founder’s Week?” There’s always in your heart this kind of churning, this, “What does God want me to share?”

There’s this preparation; there’s time in the Word; there’s not only this preparing your notes, but there’s this preparing your heart and asking God to make your life consistent with what you’re about to pour out. There’s this giving out in the moment of giving out the Word, and then afterwards the ministering to people.

There’s this whole process there when you’re teaching the Word that involves being depleted, giving out to others, and Jesus knows about what that is like.

Verse 23:

And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God." But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be silent, and come out of him!" And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, "What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him” (vv. 23–28). 

As you read the Scriptures, wherever Jesus went, Hell reared its ugly head. And by the power of God and the anointing of the Holy Spirit on and in and through Jesus’ life, Hell was shattered wherever Jesus went.

You say, “Well, I’m not involved in exorcisms and all of that.” Well, according to my Bible, Ephesians chapter 6 and other passages, we’re all in a spiritual battle and Satan is alive and well, and there are enemy forces always seeking to undo, to stop the progress of the gospel in and through our lives.

Day after day we are involved in that warfare, in dependence upon the name of Christ and the power of His Holy Spirit, and that takes something out of you. This is not just like an ordinary, every day Sunday service. There’s stuff going on here. This is battle, and we are sent into battle.

Some of you who are parents, some of you moms, you say, “Yes, I don’t even have to leave my house, and there’s a battle going on. I’ve got all these little kids, and it’s just so tough.” Life is tough, and there’s an enemy who is always seeking to destroy and to defile. So there’s that giving out, that expenditure in the battle.

Then, verse 28:

And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.

So all of a sudden Jesus is front page, headline news. Everybody’s talking about Him. Everybody wants Him to come to their event and speak. Everybody wants Him to sign their copy of His Book. Everybody wants a piece out of Him.

For those who think they’d like that kind of popularity and fame, chances are you’ve never had it, because it’s exhausting. People all the time wanting something from you.

You see that as you get into verse 29 and following:

And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of [His good friend] Simon and Andrew, with James and John.

You think, “Whew!” Finally, a chance to let your hair down. You’ve had a long day of ministry; finally you get to relax at home, kick your feet up, pick up a copy of the newspaper or magazine, whatever, check your email . . . look what happens.

Verse 30:

Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her.

There’s still someone with a need, and who are they going to look to? The one they know can meet the need, the Lord Jesus. So, as you would expect, in verse 31,

He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

“Whew! Now I can just let down.” Right? Look at the next verse:

That evening at sundown [same day] they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. [The crowd is knocking at the door.] And the whole city was gathered together at the door (vv. 32–33).

Now, I don’t know how many people were in that city, but it sounds like a lot to me. Do you ever feel like the whole city is gathered at your door?

I mean, you’re an R.A. here on campus, and you’re trying to get your studies done and trying to seek the Lord and trying to do the ministry God’s called you to, and there’s always somebody knocking at your door. “I want help.” And it’s not just normal daytime hours. You can’t just say, “Okay, these are the hours you can have a crisis.” (Laughter) It’s the middle of the night.

Again, some of you are moms, and that’s who I’m usually ministering to. You moms know. You just wish there was like one little place in the whole world where you could get away from the crowd. You say, “I know, I’ll go in the bathroom.” Right? And then these little fingers come under the door, and they go, “Mommy!” You want to say, “My name’s not Mommy anymore. Go find another mommy.” (Laughter)

The whole citythere’s always someone with a need. If you haven’t experienced it yet, if you’re going to be in ministry, you will experience that, especially if God is using you. People are going to want help. People are needy. It’s a fallen, broken world, and the whole city is gathered at the door—same day. It’s not like Jesus is fresh and first thing in the morning. He’s been serving all day.

He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him (v. 34).

Now, as I read about this day, I think about my own days. My tendency in days like this is to get frenzied and frazzled and really tired of the crowds. I say, “How did Jesus do it? How did He keep His cool? How did He not start to resent these people?”

I’ll just be honest with you: There are times at the end of a long day or a long weekend of ministry when I just want all the people to go away. I’m basically an introvert. When you’re on the platform, people don’t usually think of you that way, but crowds drain me. There are times . . . I’m not proud of this; I’m not bragging about it. I’m just telling you, there are times when I can start to resent the very people the Lord sent me to serve.

Now nobody will come up and talk to me afterwards because you’re afraid I’ll resent you! (Laughter)

I look at Jesus, and I say, “How did He do it?”

You say, “He was God.”

Well, He was God, of course, but He was serving as a man to show us how we as humans filled with His grace and His Holy Spirit could serve like Him.

I think the very next verse, verse 35, gives us the key. Are you ready?

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark Jesus got up.

Now, there’s more, but let me just stop there for a moment. I can just tell you that after a day like Jesus just had, that full of giving out and spending and pouring out in ministry, there’s only one thing I want to do very early the next morning while it’s still dark, and that is spelled S-L-E-E-P. (Laughter) Keep those curtains down. I like breakfast. It’s my favorite meal of the day . . . if I can have it at 11:00. (Laughter)

But “very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus gets up,” and what does He do? He left the house and went off to a solitary place where He prayed.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been giving us a message called "Discovering the Joy of Daily Devotions." We'll hear more of that tomorrow. 

You’re able to hear practical messages like that one thanks to all those who support Revive Our Hearts through their prayers and financial support. At the end of 2016, we let you know about a need of 1.8 million dollars, and Nancy’s back to let you know the results.

Nancy: I want to say a huge "thank you" to everyone who gave generously at the end of 2016. You’ve helped Revive Our Hearts continue calling women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness here in 2017. During the month of December I let you know about a matching challenge of $600,000 some friends of this ministry were offering. I’m so thankful that listeners like you rose to the challenge and met that entire matching amount. Now as you may have heard, we were praying for 1.8 million in December to help the ministry enter 2017 in a healthy position. We didn’t quite see that entire amount come in and as a result, we are needing to make some adjustments as we evaluate how that affects ministry budgets.

That means, and I was just praying about this this morning, your gift here in January is especially helpful. And when you donate any amount to support Revive Our Hearts, we’d like to send you an exclusive version of a music CD by our friends Keith and Kristyn Getty. It’s called Facing a Task Unfinished. That album will come with one CD of the Gettys’ worship music, and you’ll also get a video DVD exclusively for Revive Our Hearts listeners. It includes a behind the scenes interview that we conducted with the Gettys at True Woman '16, and that DVD also includes a lot of other bonus material that I know you'll enjoy.

When you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts, ask for the special version of the Getty's CD. The number is 1–800–569–5959. You can also donate and take advantage of this special offer at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie: Thanks Nancy. Okay, think about this: What would it look like in 2017 to spend consistent time alone with God in the Bible and in prayer? Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth knows what it’s like to fight to protect that time. She’ll provide practical insights, steps you can take right away, on how to cultivate time alone with God.

Nancy: The practice of a devotional life. First of all, generally speaking, it needs to be regular. Jesus often withdrew and went to solitary places and prayed. In the tabernacle, the priests were to offer sacrifices and incense every morning and every evening.

You say, "Didn't that get to be a religious routine?"

Yes, it did. I've found that it is a whole lot easier to breathe fresh life into an exisiting routine, than it is to find that fresh life if you don't have any routine at all.

Leslie: That’s tomorrow on 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.

 

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

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