Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Does Anything Last Forever?

Leslie Basham: There are few things in life that are permanent. But according to Nancy Leigh DeMoss there is at least one thing that lasts.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: The Word of our God—it will stand forever. It will never fail. God’s Word is eternal. Every prophecy in God’s Word, every promise in God’s Word will be fulfilled. Put your hope on it.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, December 29.

One of our listeners contacted us and wrote about the program that aired yesterday. She was struck by God’s full forgiveness while listening to the program. She wrote,

No matter what I’ve done, the Lord, my Lord, has totally and completely forgiven me. And He allowed me to sense His nearness in perfect peace. I was completely undone. My heart melted in joyful tears.

Those comments were made about the teaching series Behold Your God. Let’s listen as Nancy continues that.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We’re walking through Isaiah chapter 40, and this passage, as I’ve shared with you, God has used in recent weeks to minister such grace and encouragement and peace to my own heart.

I hope that you’ll love it as I have grown to love it over these past weeks. Let me encourage you through the course of this series to be reading Isaiah chapter 40 for yourself, perhaps choosing particular verses that you want to memorize and want to meditate on. There are some verses in this passage that are very familiar and maybe some that you’ll want to re-memorize. But I want to encourage you to just soak in this passage.

We’ve seen already that God is using this prophet to bring words of comfort to people who will be going into captivity because of their sin, but then God will be delivering them from their captivity after 70 years. Isaiah is looking ahead and telling the people who will be at the end of that captivity period, “Here’s how you can receive comfort.”

These are people who by that time are discouraged; they’re disheartened. This is a great chapter for discouraged, depressed, disheartened people. I want to tell you, if you get your heart and mind grounded in a text like Isaiah 40, you will find a cure for a lot of depression, a cure for a lot of discouragement, a perspective that will cause you to look differently on your life circumstances. So we’ve seen that these are words of comfort, words of strength, and that God has promised an end to their affliction and forgiveness for their sins.

And with forgiveness of sins, what more could we need to comfort us? I mean, if your sins are forgiven, you can live with a lot of problems and pressures down here on earth if you know that you are right with God, that you are not under the guilt of sin, that your sin is forgiven.

Now, we come today to verse 3 where the prophet says,

A voice cries: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken” (verses 3-5).

Let’s just look at that passage and see what it has to say to us. “A voice cries. ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.’” The picture here is one that would make immediate sense if you lived in that era. It was the custom of oriental eastern kings or monarchs periodically to go visit their people. They would send a messenger in advance to say, “The king is coming! Make ready a way for the king.”

Now the king would have his entourage, and they wouldn’t have these vehicles, all-terrain vehicles that can cover all the ground. The ground would have some rough places. There were no super-highways. So they would clear out a way, a pathway, a highway that the king and his entourage could use to come visit their people. They were to make a road for the king.

“Roll out the red carpet,” we might say. The king is coming. It’s worth whatever it requires to make way for the king. Make preparations for his coming. Well, Isaiah’s saying, “The King is coming. The Messiah is coming. The Comforter is coming, and you need to prepare the way for His arrival.”

Now we know from the New Testament that this passage was referring to John the Baptist who would prepare the way for the coming of Jesus to earth. He was a forerunner. "Prepare the way. The Savior is coming. The Lamb of God is coming. The Son of God is coming. Repent! Make ready a people prepared for a visitation from the Lord."

I believe that the Lord wants to visit His people again in our day—not as He did in His first coming to earth by making a literal, physical appearance. I believe that God wants to visit His people, visit His church, in revival. God wants to revive His church, revive the hearts of His people. He wants His manifest presence to be known in our churches, in our homes, in our lives. But it requires preparation.

Prepare the way for the Lord to come and visit your family, for the Lord to come and visit your life, for the Lord to come and visit your church. God wants to visit. He wants to come and meet with His people.

Notice where they’re preparing this way, this highway: in the desert, in the wilderness. As I was meditating on this passage in the last few days, it just struck me that the wilderness, the desert, is an unlikely place for a king to visit. Isn’t it wonderful that God would be willing to visit and meet with us in the middle of our wilderness, in the middle of our desert?

Our lives are so barren sometimes, so empty, so fruitless, so hard. The wilderness is a hard place, and sometimes we live in a hard place. You may have a wilderness in your home. Your church may be a wilderness—so little sense of the presence of God there. And God says, “In the wilderness, prepare a way for the Lord . . . in the desert make a highway for our God” (verse 3, NKJV). God wants to come and meet and visit with you in your wilderness, in your desert, in the most unlikely place.

Now what do they have to do to make this highway, to make this road? Well, verse 4 tells us they need to make some changes. “Every valley shall be lifted up, every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.” I think this is a picture of getting back into a right relationship with God.

There are things that are wrong that need to be made right, things that need to be straightened out that are crooked now. There are low places that need to be filled in, and there are high places that need to be brought down so we can have this highway for our God. There are changes needed.

And it says, “Every valley shall be lifted up, every mountain and hill be made low.” You can’t deal with just the big ones, just the obvious ones. You’ve got to deal with them all. All the things that need to be changed, every hindrance, every obstacle that Christ presents in your life needs to be dealt with if you want to experience revival in your heart, in your home, in your church.

What are some of those hindrances? What are some of those obstacles, those mountains that need to be removed?

  • start with the big one of P-R-I-D-E, self-centeredness
  • sins that need to be confessed
  • habits that need to be gotten rid of
  • things that are preoccupying our lives that are temporal

They’re not eternal; they don’t matter. We’ve become consumed with temporal matters—broken relationships that need to be straightened out.

Don’t expect that you can have a father or a child that you haven’t spoken with in years . . . . There’s a breech; there’s a wall in your relationship, and you expect God to come visit your life on that highway? That’s an obstacle; that’s a hindrance. You need to deal with it. You need to make a highway. You need to bring down those mountains.

You need to fill in those low places. Those may be low places of hopelessness, despair, or self-pity. Fill them in with the goodness of God, the promises of God, trust in God. Whatever’s wrong, whatever needs to be changed in your life to make a place worthy for King Jesus, be willing to deal with it. You don’t have to go on a witch hunt searching for those things. God will show you what they are.

If there are issues that need to be dealt with in your life, ask God to show you what they are, and He will be faithful to do that. Then respond to Him. Say, “Yes, Lord. I want to deal with those things.”

Is your life prepared for the Lord? Would God be comfortable really showing up, manifesting Himself, His presence, and His glory in your life, in your home, in your church? Are you prepared for revival? See, we wait for everyone else to get prepared. We wait for everyone else to bring down their mountains. We wait for that parent or that child to come back to me to seek forgiveness. God says, “No, you prepare the highway.”

Yes, it’s a wilderness; yes, it’s hard. Yes, there are boulders that have to be removed. It’s not easy to build a highway in a desert. It does take work; it does take time; it does take effort, but it’s worth it.

We’re going to see why it’s worth it because there’s a glory that God wants to show us when we take the time and make the effort to prepare a highway for our God.

What do you need to do to be ready?

Now we come to verse five in Isaiah chapter 40, and this is one of the most important verses in this chapter and in all of God’s Word because it tells us why we should pray for revival, why we should prepare the way for the Lord. What is the goal? What is the outcome? What is our motive in praying for revival?

Verse five: “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Even as I read that verse maybe you’re thinking as I am of that song in the Christmas portion of Handel’s Messiah where we hear about the glory of the Lord being revealed.

That’s the purpose of Christmas. That’s the purpose of the incarnation. That’s the purpose of Jesus Christ coming to earth and giving His life on a cross. That’s God’s purpose in reviving our hearts. So we can just be happy? So we can just have easier lives? No, so the glory of God will be revealed.

That’s the motivation for seeking God for revival. That’s the motivation for being right with God. That’s the motivation for having right relationships, so the glory of God can be revealed, the character of God, the splendor of God. So the world can look at us and see that’s what God is like.

“The glory of the Lord will be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.” The best advertisement for the truth of Christianity is Christians whose lives are filled with the glory of the Lord—Christians who have prepared the way for the Lord.

But listen, the world looks at the average Christian or church or Christian family and sees in us so many failures, so many faults, so many flaws: complaining, depression, discouragement, divorce and all these issues that they see us having just like the world does. And they say, “Who wants that? Why would I need Christianity? How can you prove that it’s true? We’ve not seen any evidence of it in your lives. We’ve not seen Christ making a difference in your life. We want to see the glory of God.”

That early church in the book of Acts displayed the glory of God and the lost world around, they didn’t all believe, but they all stopped and took notice. They saw there’s something different in these people’s lives.

"Look how they love one another! Look how they give to meet each other’s needs. There’s no poverty in this church. They’re ministering to each other. They’re sharing with each other. They’re forgiving each other. They’re assuming the best of each other. Their marriages work. Amazing!"

“The glory of the Lord will be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.” And where is the glory of the Lord going to be revealed? Where did we start this passage? In the wilderness, in the desert.

Listen, your church may be a wilderness. Your home may be a wilderness. Your life may be a wilderness. Your marriage may be a wilderness, but there is no wilderness so great that the glory of God cannot be revealed in that wilderness.

God wants to reveal His glory to you right where you live, right where your situation is. We think, “If I could just get out of this wilderness, then I could see the glory of the Lord.”

But God says, “No. I want to meet you there in the wilderness. That’s where I want to reveal My glory to you.” And all flesh will see it together.

Now, who is the glory of God? Christ is the glory of God. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory,” God’s glory. The glory is “the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Hebrews 1 tells us that Jesus “is the radiance of the glory of God” (verse 3). So what is it people are going to see in us when we prepare that highway and the King comes to visit His people?

They’re going to see Christ who is the express representation and image of the glory of God. Christ in you, your hope of glory. It’s Christ being revealed in us. That’s what people need to see today in our lives. That’s what they want to see and need to see in our churches—the glory of God, the Spirit of Christ.

When the world sees that they will stop. They will take notice. They will not be able to deny that God is among His people. And we have it on the authority of God’s Word that God will send His glory when we prepare the way.

“The glory of the Lord shall be revealed . . . for the mouth of the Lord has spoken” (Isaiah 40:5). That’s God’s promise. That’s why we can pray for revival. That’s why we can believe Him for it. As we cooperate in preparing our hearts, we can believe that His glory will be revealed.

Now verse 6 says, “A voice says, ‘Cry!’ And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’” And here’s the message. Starting at this place and continuing in these next days beginning with this passage we see a contrast between all things human, all things created and God who is the Creator. So the contrast here is going to help comfort us in our weakness. We look around at our circumstances and we see that we are weak and frail and flawed and human, but we’re going to see a contrast of what God is like.

So the voice said cry this: “All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the LORD blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (verses 6-8).

So we’re going to begin here a contrast, a comparison, between Jehovah God and all earthly things whether they’re exalted kings and princes (we’ll see that later in this passage) or the most lowly of people. There is no comparison between God and everything else here on earth.

Scripture says that all human life at its best is just like the grass of the field, like the flowers. They’re here today; they’re gone tomorrow. We see the leaves falling off the trees in the fall. They die. They fall off. They’re gone. We blow them away. They’re not lasting. It’s a picture of all human flesh.

“What is your life,” James says in chapter 4, “for you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (verse 14). Poof—gone. We think we’re so great. We think we’re everything. God says, “No. you are nothing. You are temporal. You are weak. You are fleeting. You are fading.

Psalm 39 says it this way: “Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!” (verse 5). I mean, suppose you live to 95 years of age or 195 years of age as people did in the past. What is the extent of your days? It’s like a few handbreadths, just a tiny span of time on this great, vast eternity in which we live. Nothing—so short, so small.

Listen, it’s important that we get a right view of ourselves because then we’re going to see the contrast in these next parts of Isaiah chapter 40 of how great God is by comparison to man. The prophet is going to challenge people in his day. If they want to be comforted, if they want to be encouraged, to get their eyes off of themselves and to get their eyes on God. Behold your God.

So man is here today; he’s gone tomorrow. What are the implications of that? First of all, don’t exalt yourself. Don’t think too highly of yourself.

I remember Dr. Bill Bright who was the founder and many years the president of Campus Crusade for Christ. He is now with the Lord. And this man was a great servant of the Lord, a great leader, a great man of God. But he had such a humble view of himself. He said, “We’re just tiny peons.

You know why he had a right view of himself? Because he had a right view of God. God is great; we are nothing. For us to have an exalted opinion of ourselves is foolish. Just blow, and we’re gone—here today, gone tomorrow.

Here’s another implication of the brevity of human life. Don’t exalt others above measure. Don’t be overly impressed with anyone. If you have expectations of your pastor or your husband or some Christian leader or some friend always being all you need them to be, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. They will all fail.

And by the way, that’s one reason, among others, that we don’t call this “Nancy Leigh DeMoss Ministries.” It’s not. This ministry does not center on Nancy Leigh DeMoss. If you’re putting your hope in me or you’re looking to my teaching as the savior for your life, you will be disappointed. I will let you down.

For one thing, I might not be here tomorrow. And that literally could be true. But even if I’m here for another 50 years, I am temporary; I am weak; I am flawed. God is great. Don’t exalt people above measure.

Then, don’t be unduly terrified or threatened by evildoers. They exist, but they’re just men. They’ll be gone. They won’t last forever. You may be living in a difficult marriage. You may be working for an impossible boss. You may be facing a situation where someone is terrorizing your life in some way. And that’s very real. I don’t want to minimize your experience, but could I say step back and get the bigger perspective that that person who is so big and difficult an image and an object in your life will not be here forever. Compared to God, they are nothing.

We’re going to see that comparison as we get into the rest of this chapter. By comparison to man:

  • God is sovereign.
  • God holds our very breath in his hands.
  • The Word of our God, it will stand forever.
  • God's Word will never fail.
  • God’s Word is eternal.
  • Every prophecy in God’s Word, every promise in God’s Word will be fulfilled.

Put your hope on that. Put your trust in the Word of God and the promises of God. His plan will not be thwarted.

Remember, Isaiah is writing this to people 170 years before it actually happens? You’re going to be going into captivity. You’ll be in captivity for 70 years, and God will then send relief and comfort you. He’s writing this 170 years before it actually happens. God has a plan; and God’s plan is bigger than the Assyrians, bigger than the Babylonians, bigger than all their armed military might, all their forces.

God is great; man is (poof) nothing. Short—here today, gone tomorrow. Put your hope in God and His Word that will never fail.

Leslie Basham: There is something so secure about knowing God’s Word is completely dependable. We’ve been listening to Nancy Leigh DeMoss teaching from Isaiah 40 in the series Behold Your God.

I appreciate being pointed to God’s Word every weekday when I listen to Revive Our Hearts. It’s a message and ministry that’s been growing, and here’s Nancy to tell you more.

Nancy: I’ve always loved Isaiah 40 because it’s such a beautiful reminder how great and big and powerful our God is. And here at the end of 2009 I’m thanking that great big God for all that He’s done through Revive Our Hearts this past year.

For example, He’s allowed us to expand our radio network by almost 200 stations. Moving forward on opportunities like that requires faith and involves some financial risk. But as Isaiah reminds us, there are no limitations to God’s resources and power.

I’m confident that God will provide by raising up more financial partners like Liz. Liz emailed us saying, “Your ministry has blessed me deeply. At 72 ½ years of age, I learn daily from your teachings. And I contribute when I can.”

Liz goes on to explain that she gives to her local church first, and I hope you do as well. She goes on to say that even though economic challenges have affected her, she continues to give to ministries that mean a lot to her including Revive Our Hearts. She says, “I give when I can, and I pray for your ministry.”

If you’ve never given to Revive Our Hearts, let me challenge you to consider Liz’s example. First of all she prays for Revive Our Hearts. Would you commit to doing that in 2010?

I can’t tell you how much we need those prayers.

Second, she gives sacrificially to her church. And that’s so important for each of us to be doing.

And then third she gives what she can to ministries like Revive Our Hearts that are teaching her the Word of God.

As we prepare for 2010, we’re aware that close to half of the donations that fund this ministry for the entire year are received during the month of December. If God has used this ministry at some point during the past year to provide growth or encouragement for your life, would you ask Him if He would want you to send a special gift this week to help meet our needs at this important time?

Leslie: Partner with us by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 1-800-569-5959.

For many people the last year and a half has been full of bad news. Nancy will offer some good news tomorrow—not just wishful thinking but solid, good news. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts 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.