Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Discovering the Joy of Daily Devotions, Day 2

Leslie Basham: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has to fight for time alone with God.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: It's a recurring battle for me, I'll tell you that. But I believe it's a battle worth fighting. The Devil knows that if he can stop me here, I can do all kinds of things for God, but not really be fruitful and not be any threat to the Devil's program.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Lies Women Believe, for Wednesday, January 18, 2017.

Yesterday we heard part one of a message Nancy gave at Moody Bible Institute. It’s an important reminder to begin habits here at the start of 2017—especially to spend time alone with the Lord in prayer and in His Word. Yesterday, Nancy began showing us the incredible busyness of Jesus. Here’s Nancy, continuing in the series, "Discovering the Joy of Daily Devotions."

Nancy: Luke 5 tells us that Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. He left the crowd and went and got with His Father. In this passage we see in Mark 1 that it was none too soon, because verse 36 tells us that,

Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, "Everyone is looking for you." [Jesus] said to them, "Let us go on to the next towns" (vv. 36–38). 

 Right at the height of His popularity there in Capernaum.

“Let us go on . . .  that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out." He went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons (vv. 38–39).

How did He know it was time to go on? Where did He get the wisdom, the direction for His day? Where did He get His to-do list for the day? He got it in that time alone with His heavenly Father.

Let me just touch briefly on some of the purposes of a devotional life. I'm just going to touch on these, but I hope they'll whet your appetite. There are eight of them. Let me give them to you in two sets of four. The first set relates to our inner-life, our inner-walk. The first—and I think the highest and holiest purpose of a devotional life—is communion with God—fellowship with God, friendship with God, and knowing God. We're talking here about a relationship.

In Exodus 29 God gave us the purpose for the tabernacle. It's just a tent. But He said that’s the place where I will meet with you and speak to you. We go to our devotional life to meet with God, to let Him speak to us, and to speak to Him. Moses says to the Lord in Exodus 33, “Teach me your ways so that I may know you” (v. 13 NIV). We read in the passage that we heard about last night, that the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face as a man speaks to his friend.

Listen, we're not talking here about having devotions or doing your devotions like it's something you just check off of your to-do list. "I had my devotions, now I can go on to the next thing." We're talking about devotion. Some of us have had devotions. I've had many days in my life that I had devotions, but I hadn't had devotion. You know the difference? Communion, friendship, and fellowship with God.

The second purpose is purification of my heart and my life. This is where God's Word shines the light on the real me—the dark places of my heart and the hidden places of my heart. This is where I pray, “Lord, search me and know me. Try me. Show me if there's any wicked way in me (see Psalm 139:23). Don't show me what my press reports say, my press releases. Show me what you know.” This is where I confess and say, “Lord, wash me, cleanse me.” Purification.

Number three, restoration of my soul. He restores my soul in this quiet time, this devotional time with the Lord. Listen, you know it, but the world is loud and noisy and busy. It never ceases to press in on us. So many of us today are living with our tongues hanging out. We're distracted and discouraged, and we're distressed. It's time in God's presence that quiets our hearts and restores our souls.

This is where we get replenished. The resources that have been depleted as we've given out to others. This is where we get filled back up. This is where God calms our spirits and settles our hearts. It's where we get renewed strength and power to go back out and do it again. Restoration.

Then number four, in this time we receive instruction in the ways of God. The psalm I’ve been meditating on this week is Psalm 27. The psalmist prays, “Teach me your way, O Lord” (v. 11). Lord, I want to know Your way. I want to know how You think. I want to know what matters to You. I want to know how You work. I don't want to know the world's ways of thinking. I can get that in plenty of places. But I want to know Your ways. Instruct me, O God.

Then, four purposes that relate to our outer-walk, which is the outflow of our inner-heart. The fifth purpose, submission to God and His will. It's in this time alone with the Lord that I get in alignment. Where we say, "Not my will but yours be done, O Lord."

This is where I get direction, number six, direction for my life, my relationships, my responsibilities. We hear so many voices today yelling at us about what we're supposed to be doing and what we're supposed to be thinking. We need to be still enough and quiet enough, long enough to hear His voice and get His counsel; to let Him give me His assignments for my day, His priorities for my day.

We're so stressed trying to keep all of those balls up in the air. I think that sometimes we just need to stop and say, “Lord, are these the balls You're wanting me to be juggling right now?” Maybe it's not the season for that ball, for that task. What really matters?

Number seven, intercession on behalf of the needs of others. Intercession is where we take the needs from those that we love before the throne of God's grace. We say, “O Lord, I can't fix this person. I can't change them. I can't help them. I can't meet their need, but You can. O God, would you do it?” Intercession.

Then finally—this is one of my very favorites—transformation into the likeness of Jesus. We all with unveiled faces, 2 Corinthians 3:18 tells us, “with unveiled faces [we] behold as in a mirror the glory of the Lord” (NASB). What did David say he wanted? "To gaze upon the beauty of the Lord" (Ps. 27:4).

What happens as we behold? We are transfigured. Not just changed on the outside, to look like good Christians, but made new on the inside. We are transfigured. We are transformed into His likeness from glory to glory to glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

I find myself thinking as I look at myself and live with myself, and I think, I have so far to go. I'm so not like Jesus. It's in these areas that you get to be like Jesus. You get to be like the ones you spend the most time with. You don't get to be like Jesus just by going to Bible college. You get to be like Jesus by being with Jesus. That's where He transforms us into His likeness.

You get to be like Jesus by being with Jesus.

Let me spend just a few moments talking about the practice of a daily devotional life. I want to give you general suggestions and then a few specific practical suggestions. 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 (see Mark 1:35).

In the tabernacle, you read in Exodus 30, that the priests would offer sacrifices and incense every morning and every evening. Every morning, every evening. Every morning, every evening. Every morning, every evening. Didn't that get to be like a religious routine? Yes, it did. In fact, that's why Jesus came to put new wine into those wineskins and to get rid of those old wineskins. He said, "Here's new life for that routine."

But I tell you this, I have found that it's a whole lot easier to breathe fresh life into an existing routine than it is to find that fresh life if you don't have any routine at all. So yes, you want to keep it fresh. Yes, you want to guard against it becoming just a routine. But don't throw off the routine just because it's become routine.

There are some days where my quiet time for me feels like I’m trudging through it, and I’m so distracted. It's amazing where my mind goes when I sit down in that quiet time chair. I get a new burden for house cleaning. It's just incredible. But I say, “Body, you are going to sit here.” Somedays it just feels like this is so purposeless, this is so meaningless. But in the big picture, in the big scope of things, I look back and I see God shaping, molding, building, growing, and conforming my life because of that time sitting spent in His presence.

Number two, it needs to be—I used to be a little sheepish about saying this, because I knew I was going to get some push-back in people's minds. But now that I look at the Word and how many times it emphasizes this, I think it's not something we should be embarrassed to say. I think, ideally, this time we set apart to be alone with the Lord should be early in the day. You say, “How early?” I can't tell you how early, but in Isaiah it says, “He wakens me morning by morning” (50:4 NIV). 

Ask God when He wants to waken you. Then be willing to get up when He does. God said to Moses, “Be ready in the morning and come up and meet with me” (Ex. 34:2 paraphrased). Psalm 88, “In the morning my prayer comes before you” (v. 13).  Psalm 5, “My voice You shall hear in the morning, O LORD” (v. 3 NKJV). 

Psalm 57—this is a verse I wish was not in the Bible, but it is, “Awake, my soul! I will awaken the dawn" (v. 8 NIV). Psalm 119, “I rise before the dawning of the morning, and cry for help; I hope in Your Word” (v. 147 NKJV). Psalm 143, “Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning” (v. 8 NKJV). 

Some of you are thinking, I'm just not a morning person. I think we are wired differently. I will grant you that. But I tell you what, you would probably be more of a morning person if you got to bed earlier at night. Just remember, a morning devotional life starts the night before. "I can't go to bed at ten o'clock like your dad did." I'm not telling you when to go to bed or when to get up. I'm just saying, if the number one desire of your heart is to know God, then you will do whatever it takes to seek His heart and to cultivate spiritual hunger.

Number three, it needs to be alone, a solitary place away from the crowd. Mark 6, “When He had sent them away, He departed to the mountain to pray” (see vv. 45–46). You've got to have time that is quiet. You get a quiet place, a quiet heart. You turn off the radio. I hate to be saying this while we're on the radio at the moment, and I thank the Lord for Moody radio. But there are times when you need to turn off your Christian radio station, too. Times when you need to unplug the electronics, the email, the Facebook, the whatever.

Let me just suggest a few specific ingredients. I don't have time to do this justice. Let me just say to you that a number of years ago, in partnership with Moody Publishing, I wrote two books to help encourage people wanting to know how to have a daily devotional life. People kept asking me for resources. I knew they were hungry. I could find a lot of devotional books, but I couldn't find a book on how to have a daily quiet time and have a meaningful time with the Lord.

So, I wasn't a writer. I didn't aspire to be a writer. But the Lord orchestrated my path to connect with Moody. We wrote this book called A Place of Quiet Rest: Finding Intimacy with God Through a Daily Devotional Life. If you need some help on getting started, let me encourage you perhaps to pick up a copy of that book. It's available at a resource center here.

Then, a companion book, if you need a track to go on for these next thirty days, as I’m going to give you that challenge in just a moment. Here's a help for some of you if you don't already have your own track. It's A 30-Day Walk with God in the Psalms. Those resources are available if they'd be helpful to you.

You want to make sure that in your quiet time, in your devotional life, you have a balance of receiving from the Lord and responding to Him. Receiving from Him in His Word.

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether (Ps. 19:7–9 KJV).

I'll just say, students, thank the Lord for the privilege of a Moody Bible Institute education. But I’m going to tell you, you do not get to know God if the only time you spend with Him is in a classroom, if the only time you open this book is to study for a test or to write a paper. You've got to get into this book and let this book get into you—just you and the Lord cultivating intimacy in relationship with Him and saying, “Lord, speak to me.”

It was my privilege this morning—I can't say this every morning, but I knew I was going to be speaking on this topic—but I had the joy of starting today in a passage that I wasn't speaking on. Just saying, “Lord, speak to me,” and He did. He did, and He does. You need to be reading this book. That's the number one reason, by the way, people don't get a lot out of the Word of God. They don't read it.

They say, “I can't understand it.” You'll get to understand it as you read it.

  • Read it.
  • Ponder it.
  • Meditate on it.
  • Dwell on it.
  • Don't hurry through it.
  • Memorize it.
  • Practice it.
  • Study it.
  • Share it with others.
  • Reproduce it in others' lives.
  • Tremble at the Word of God.

As Augustine said, “When the Bible speaks, God speaks.”

Martin Luther said, “The Bible is alive. It runs after me. It has hands that lay hold on me.” This is God's Word. Let it speak to you. Let it transform you. Let it fill you and change you. As you read, as you study, as you memorize, get to Christ. Get to Him. Don't miss Him. Jesus said to the Pharisees, the theologians of His day, you read the Word, but you don't have it in you, and you miss Me. It's all about Me. Let it point you to Christ.

Make sure you're not just receiving from Him, but responding to Him in worship and in prayer. When I was in my twenties, I used to live, for the most part, at fast food and restaurant drive-thrus. Give me my tacos to go. I can't tell you how many Wendy's burgers I had over those years. When I hit thirty, something strange happened. I realized I wasn't feeling well, and I knew I had to change my eating habits to nourish my body. I confess to you that many times over the years, I have found myself spiritually in fast food drive-thrus as it relates to my time with the Lord.

I know the importance of grabbing a Proverb for the day or a Psalm for the day, but my heart was not there, not still and quiet. I was letting the world and ministry crowd out that time with the Lord. I'm so thankful that again and again the Lord brings back my heart, gives me a hunger and a new heart to seek Him early in the day.

It's a recurring battle for me, I'll tell you that. But I believe it's a battle worth fighting. The Devil knows that if he can stop me here, I can do all kinds of things for God, but not really be fruitful and not be any threat to the Devil's program.

You say, “I don't have time.” You have time for Facebook?

You say, “Are you against Facebook?”

No, unless it's become an idol in your life. This whole issue exposes the idols in my life. Anything that crowds out time for God is an idol—work, study, recreation, physical fitness, relationships, ministry, sleep, computer games. Ours is a culture that is always seeking to be amused, entertained, and satisfied. I'll tell you what Satan does. He sits there and laughs, down wherever he is, because he's got us amusing ourselves to death and never getting truly satisfied with the bread of life.

Anything that crowds out time for God is an idol.

Jesus said to Martha, “You're anxious and troubled about many things, but only one thing is absolutely needful” (see Luke 10:41–42). Have you chosen that good part? Are you choosing it? This time will tether your heart to God, to His kingdom and His ways. It will keep you from being set adrift in this world, being driven by your emotions and by your circumstances and by other people.

Students, let me tell you this, it will not get any easier when you get out of here. You think you're busy now? I thought I was busy in Bible college. It won't get any easier. When you get out into ministry, you've got a family of your own; it will provide a stability for your life.

Remember what Jesus said to the man who built his house on the foundation of a rock? When the storms come, and they will, your house will stand because you were the wise person that Jesus said heard His words and kept them (see Matt. 7:24–25).

I told you I’ve been meditating on Psalm 27. The psalmist says, “You have said, 'Seek my face'" (v. 8) The ESV marginal note says that command to seek My face was given not just to one person but to many. God says to all of us, “Seek My face.” But then David personalizes it. He says, “My heart says to you, your face, LORD, do I seek” (v. 8). What's he saying? "It doesn't matter whether anybody else does or not, I’m going to be one who will choose that most needful thing."

Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, showing us how to discover the joy of daily devotions. Maybe you’ve had a long-standing habit of meeting with the Lord in prayer and Bible study. I hope that message has encouraged you to keep going in 2017! And if this isn’t a regular habit for you, would you commit to spend some time each day in the Bible and in prayer for the next thirty days? You can write and let us know you’re up for that challenge. Visit ReviveOurHearts.com to send us feedback.

This program is possible thanks to listeners who pray and who support the ministry financially. Nancy’s here to tell you about a unique opportunity when you support the ministry this month.

Nancy: When you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount, we’d like to show our thanks by sending you a special version of the latest CD by our friends, Keith and Kristyn Getty. It’s called Facing a Task Unfinished. One of my favorite songs on that CD is a duet Kristyn sings with Fernando Ortega. It's called "My Worth Is Not in What I Own."

Fernando Ortega & Kristyn Getty singing:

I rejoice in my Redeemer,
Greatest Treasure, Wellspring of my soul.
I will trust in Him, no other;
My soul is satisfied in Him alone.1

When you make a gift to Revive Our Hearts, not only will you get this complete audio CD, but as a Revive Our Hearts listener, you’ll get a bonus DVD featuring an interview with Keith and Kristyn. And that DVD also includes a video of Kristyn Singing with Joni Eareckson Tada at one of the True Woman Conferences. It was a highlight moment for sure. The DVD includes a documentary of a young woman whose life was changed in that moment when Joni and Kristyn sang together.

When you support the ministry,not only will you be getting this unique album, you can also know you’re helping Revive Our Hearts call women to greater freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ. Be sure to ask for the CD from Keith and Kristyn Getty. It's called Facing a Task Unfinished when you call and make your gift. The number is 1–800–569–5959, or you can make a donation at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Those of us who speak and lead others need to constantly be careful that how we live matches what we say. Dr. Eric Mason will be here tomorrow to show us the role of repentance in the life of a Bible teacher. Let me play you a quick preview.

Dr. Eric Mason: What God called every human being to do is take off the make-up. Take the wig off your soul. God says, "I want to see the real you. I can't deal with the dressed up person because you are living out a reality that doesn't really exist. I love you. I don't love that person you created. I love you, actually, as messed up as you are, as triffling as you are, in the decisions that you make, at the worst point of you committing your worst sin, I was still deeply in love with you." That's the beauty of the gospel.

God doesn't love the caricature and the action figure and the doll that we make of ourselves. God loves the actual person that we are.

That's why I love the fact that the Bible says, "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Yet many of us believe as believers that we still have to get ourselves right to be liked by God. But God is still desperately, madly in love with you.

Nancy: Hear more from Dr. Mason tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

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

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

1 Keith and Kristyn Getty. "My Worth Is Not in What I Own." Facing a Task Unfinished, © 2016 Getty Music Label, LLC.

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

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