Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Studying and obeying God’s Word is not just the right thing to do, though it certainly is that. But I want you to see as we are continuing in these themes from Psalm 119, I want you to see that being in God’s Word is a means to great joy!

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, January 4. Here’s Nancy continuing in a new series called, Revive Me According to Your Word.

Nancy: I was visiting in a friend’s condo not too long ago, and I saw a book that was kind of intriguing to me. The title was, 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die.

Now my first thought about that is you are going to have to live a long time probably if you are going to read 1001 books—especially books like the classics that are referenced in this book. It was edited by an English lit. prof., so it includes books like: Arabian Nights, Wuthering Heights, Lord of the Flies. But, astoundingly to me, in this popular book, 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, it does not include the Bible! Now something is wrong with that picture. If there is only one book you can read before you die, it’s got to be the Bible. It is the book above all books in all of human history.

We’ve been taking a survey with our listeners recently online, and 36% of our listeners who responded to that survey said they had never read through the entire Bible. Now it was encouraging for me to think that 64% of listeners have read through the Bible at least once. But if you were to take the general Christian populace, I think there are not even 64% of the population that have read through the entire Bible.

There are a lot of reasons for that. We’ve been surveying our listeners about some reasons. Interestingly, the number one reason they gave of the options we offered was laziness for not reading the Bible more. And I’d have to say in my own life that is probably one of the most frequent reasons, as well, why I don’t read the Bible more.

But a lot of people think—a lot of believers—think of reading/studying God’s Word, listening to preaching of God’s Word and so on, as an obligation. But in Psalm 119 we see a man, a psalmist, for whom his relationship with God’s Word is not cold and dry. This psalm pulsates with life, passion, joy, fullness and warmth.

As you read Psalm 119, as we're looking at it in this series, I want to encourage you to be reading this passage perhaps every day. It will take you about fifteen minutes. Take time each day at the beginning of the year here to read Psalm 119. And as you read it, you can’t escape the fact that the person writing this prayer loves God’s Word. It’s not a duty; it’s not a drudgery. It gives you the feeling that this is the one Book you must read before you die—not just once, but over and over, again!

You see, studying and obeying God’s Word is not just the right thing to do, though it certainly is that. But I want you to see as we are continuing in these themes from Psalm 119, I want you to see that being in God’s Word is a means to great joy. It’s not just a task or a chore to be checked off the list—I read my Bible today—but it’s the source, the spring of great immeasurable blessings and benefits.

And that is what I want to focus on today, the blessings and benefits that come to us from being in God’s Word.

Now let me go back to verse 1 of Psalm 119. You’ll see that in the first two verses of this lengthy psalm, there is a double blessing—a double blessing.

Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways!

This doesn’t sound like a miserable person does it? Now here’s a great remedy for unhappiness. You go to the doctor; you have an illness; he gives you a prescription; he says, “Take this.” Here’s a prescription, a remedy for unhappiness. In fact, that word blessed actually could be translated “happy.” In fact, I started reading this psalm in the HCSB, the Holman Christian Standard Bible, several weeks ago and it actually translates it that way. It says:

How happy are those whose way is blameless, who live according to the law of the Lord! Happy are those who keep His decrees and seek Him with all their heart. 

Now the world would have you believe that living this kind of blameless, holy, God-centered, Word-driven life is a recipe for misery. One of the things we need to recognize here is that Psalm 119 reflects the heart of a child of God towards God’s Word. A person who doesn’t have a relationship with God is not going to really enjoy reading God’s Word unless God is drawing his heart to faith.

But if you know God, if you have a personal relationship with Him, you are going to experience blessing and benefit from being in God’s Word. And you see the psalmist saying this is the way to happiness. As Charles Spurgeon says in his commentary on Psalm 119: “Settle it in your hearts . . . that holiness is happiness!” 

And, by the way, when you are tempted to sin, remind yourself that sin does not bring happiness. Ultimately, it can give short-term pleasure, but in the long run, holiness is happiness.

Now Psalm 119 that we are looking at this week and next has an amazing resemblance to two other psalms. Do you know what they are—two much shorter psalms? Psalm 1 and Psalm 19. All three of these psalms, Psalm 1, Psalm 19, and Psalm 119, easy to remember, are about the Word of God. Psalm 119, in a sense, is a more thorough exposition of the short, little Psalm 1.

Listen to Psalm 1 verse 1:

Blessed is the man
   who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
   nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
   and on his law he meditates day and night (vv. 1-2).

Blessing promised to the one who centers his life on the Word of God. You see the same thing in Revelation chapter 1 verse 3:

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it.

We see in Psalm 119 that the Word of God is of greater value than any amount of material gain—any amount of money. Verse 14 says:

In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.

Verse 72:

The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

I don’t know what gold is going for now, or silver, but I think any of us would be really delighted to have thousands of gold and silver pieces. The psalmist says, "The law of your mouth [Your word], is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces." Now, don’t just read over a verse like that with glazed eyes and move just on to the next one. Stop and think about it. That’s what meditating is, by the way. "The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces."

Do I really believe that? Think about if your husband or you went to work tomorrow and you found out that you are going to get a 100% raise. The boss is just really in a good mood after the holidays and he is doubling your salary. Would you be blessed? Would you be excited? Would you be enthusiastic? Would you think that was really amazing? Can you think of some things you could do with that money? Yes!

Do you get at least that excited about getting into God’s Word? And having the riches of His Word become yours? "The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces." 

Verse 127:

I love your commandments above gold, above fine gold.

Now the fact is most of us love money and stuff more than we love God’s Commandments—more than we love God’s Word. Let’s be honest. So as you are reading a psalm like this, you may want to confess, “Lord, I wish this was true of me, but I have to say, I really love my stuff more than I love your Word.” You can tell by where you spend your time, by where you spend your affection, what your priorities are. The psalmist says "I love your commandments above gold."

Verse 162:

I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil.

I hit the jackpot! That’s how much I rejoice at Your Word.

Today and tomorrow, I want us to look at ten blessings that the Word of God brings to our lives. We’ll look at five today and five tomorrow. Some of these we’ll just mention very briefly and others we will devote a little more time to. But let’s look at some of those specific riches some of the blessings that come to us through God’s Word as we find them in Psalm 119.

The first one is liberty. And I am thinking here of verse 45 in Psalm 119: "I will walk at liberty, for I seek Your precepts" (NKJV). The ESV says there: "I will walk in a wide place." Another translation says, "I will walk freely in an open place" (HCSB).

Now, again, the world would have us believe that if you live your life according to the Word of God, you are going to live a fettered life. You are going to be chained to the principles of God’s Word. But the psalmist says, "No, I will walk at liberty."

Remember, when God put Adam and Eve in the garden and said, “You’re free to eat from all the trees in this garden except one. And that one restriction is for your blessing. You will walk at liberty if you listen to my precepts—if you follow my word.” But Satan comes along and says, “God’s put you in bondage. God says you can’t eat from the fruit of that tree.” They lost sight of the liberty that they could have from seeking and obeying God’s precepts—liberty.

Number two: God’s Word gives us hope. Verse 49: 

Remember your word to your servant in which you have given me hope.

Verse 81:

My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word.

We have people coming off the holidays right now who need some hope. Maybe the holidays were for you a time of despair. Maybe you feel alone or lonely or stressed over family situations. You need hope? God’s Word will bring hope to your despairing heart.

There’s a third benefit and that is comfort.

This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life (v. 50).

Verse 52:

When I think of your rules from of old, I take comfort, O Lord.

Verse 76:

Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant.

The Word of God is like a salve on a wounded heart, on a wounded life. And some of you are in a wounded situation right now. The psalmist talks about how affliction can make our hearts soft and pliable and tender and responsive to God. Versus the wicked who have hard, unfeeling hearts. You can read that in verses 69 and 70. So trials are meant to make us responsive to God. When we turn to His Word out of our affliction, He brings comfort to our wounded hearts.

Nobody would sign up for trials; nobody says please give me more trials. But the fact is they do come. Martin Luther said,

Trials teach you not only to know and understand but also to experience how right, how true, how sweet, how lovely, how mighty, how comforting God’s word is.1

And in this psalm you see the psalmist understands that suffering is unavoidable. And interestingly, he doesn’t ask God to deliver him from suffering, but to minister grace to him in the midst of his suffering. He sees God’s promises and God’s Word as a means of comfort and grace when he is hurting.

Here’s a fourth benefit and that is strength, or stability. Verse 28 is a verse that I’ve found myself spending some time in recently. It says:

My soul melts away for sorrow.

Another translation says there: "My soul melts from heaviness," (NKJV) or "it weeps because of grief," (NASB) depending which translation you are using.

That word “to melt or to weep”—it’s a word literally that means "to drip." You can just see the teardrops dripping down someone’s cheeks. My soul drips, my soul weeps, my soul melts away for sorrow or heaviness. That word sorrow means literally depression of spirit.

I don’t know how many people I have heard recently talking to me about a depressed spirit. And again, post-holiday blues? Maybe you are experiencing some of that right now as you know you spent more money than you had; you ate more food than you needed; you went to more people’s houses than you cared to. Now it’s the first week of January and you are just a drooping, dripping spirit, depressed spirit. My soul melts away for sorrow.

Maybe it’s some really great heaviness that you’re bearing. Maybe it’s you’ve just been through your first holiday season without the mate that you spent decades married to and now they’re gone.

So what does the psalmist say? Strengthen me according to your Word. That word strengthen me means "to rise up, to establish." It’s used of individuals standing up from a sitting, kneeling, or reclining position. You say, “Lord, my soul melts away for heaviness. I’m downcast; I’m depressed; I’m down. I need You to raise me up! I need You to get me back on my feet. Strengthen me according to Your words." It’s the Word of God that does that.

And so we see a psalmist here who’s facing great troubles. You see that throughout this psalm. And he feels felt heavy-hearted and weak and depressed from it all. He looks to God’s Word to provide strength and stability and to get him back up on his feet.

And here’s a fifth benefit or blessing that we get from God’s Word. And it’s this God’s Word gives us life. And you see this throughout this passage. Verse 25:

My soul clings to the dust. [Can you just picture that? I just can’t go any lower. My soul is down.] Give me life according to your word!

Verse 93:

I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.

That phrase, given me life in the translation I’m using appears nine times in this psalm. Sometimes it is translated "quicken me." Other times it’s translated, and I love this, “revive me;” bring me back to life. It’s a word that means "to enjoy life; to live anew; animate; to refresh; to recover; to revive; to keep alive; to save a life; to spare a life, keep a life." It’s bringing back to life.

Now we know how in the book of Genesis God created life by the power of His spoken word. And we are reminded throughout the Scripture that we gain our very life from His Word. We can’t live without it.

And so Moses says to the Israelites in Deuteronomy chapter 8:

[God] humbled you and let you hunger and [He] fed you with manna . . . so that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord (Deut. 8:3).

That’s our life; it’s how we live. First Peter one says it this way:

You have been born again, [come to life] not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God (1 Pet. 1:23).

God’s Word is alive. It’s powerful. As we get it into us, we become quickened, revived, made to come back to life.

I know so many Christians who would say, and it’s true of myself far too often, that they are just going through the motions of spiritual activity—the Christian life. But inside, truth be told, they’re hard, cold, barren, empty, dry, hollow.

The psalmist who wrote Psalm 119, I think it was probably David, we don’t know for sure, but he is not satisfied to just exist, going through the motions. He's not satisfied to be just be a shell. He longs for authentic, spiritual vitality, the abundant life that Jesus talked about.

He acknowledges that he is utterly dependent on God to breathe life into his soul. So he presses into God for what only God can give. Give me life. Revive me according to Your Word. And by faith He believes that God can infuse us with that abundant life by His Spirit and His Word.

Jesus said it this way, in John chapter 6:

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63).

Give me life; revive me according to Your word. As we come to the end of this session, I want to invite you to join me in a prayer for revival that I put together by taking several verses from Psalm 119 where in the New American Standard Version, it prays, “Revive me, revive me according to Your word.”

We are going to put these verses up on the screen. I’ll read the first line of each one. And if you would join me in reading aloud the bold line, the second line. Let’s make this our prayer that God will use His Word in the coming year to revive our hearts. I’ll read the first line; you join me in reading the second.


My soul cleaves to the dust;
Revive me according to Your word.

Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity,
And revive me in Your ways.

Behold, I long for Your precepts;
Revive me through Your righteousness.

I am exceedingly afflicted;
Revive me, O Lord, according to Your word.

Hear my voice according to Your lovingkindness;
Revive me, O Lord, according to Your ordinances.

Plead my cause and redeem me;
Revive me according to Your word.

Great are Your mercies, O Lord;
Revive me according to Your ordinances.

Consider how I love Your precepts;
Revive me, O Lord, according to Your lovingkindness. 
(vv. 25, 37, 40, 107, 149, 154, 156, 159 NASB)

Anybody here whose heart needs to be revived? You may be in a season of grief or sorrow. You may be facing affliction, adversity, opposition. Your heart may be heavy, bowed down, dripping perhaps from a strained family relationship that you’ve had to deal with over the holidays.

I faced some of those things that the psalmist talks about in Psalm 119, myself, over the past year. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s the futility of looking to people or circumstances to sustain me, to strengthen me and to give me life. I’ve also learned, I’m learning the power of the Word of God to infuse life into my weak, my weary, my flagging heart. It’s the life of Christ!

Now on the other hand, you may be in a place where you just had a really terrific Christmas celebration. I rejoice with you in that. But I want to tell you this. Even if everything is going fine right now, it’s likely that in the year ahead you will face troubles and challenges—big, little, in-between. The question is, when you do, where will you turn? Will you be prepared to face those challenges? And when the storms come, will your heart be securely anchored to the solid rock of God’s Word?

That’s why this year we’re challenging our listeners to read the Bible every day in 2012. "By your word you have given me life. Revive me O Lord, according to your word."

Listen, this radio program cannot revive your heart. God’s Word can revive your heart, and He will, but you’ve got to get into His Word. It’s His Word that gives life. So I want to encourage you to go to ReviveOurHearts.com and just sign up for the Daily Bible Reading Challenge.

Now, this is not a vow. You may miss a day or two here or there, but the intent of your heart is, "I want to read God’s Word every day in 2012." You can sign up there. There’s an online forum where you can share what you’re learning from God’s Word. You can interact with others who are reading God’s Word. We’ve prepared a "Personal Bible Reading Journal." It’s just a simple thing with lines for each day of the week that you can write down what you’re reading and a sentence or two that spoke to you about that passage. We’d be glad to send that to you when you send a donation of any amount to help with the ministry here at Revive Our Hearts.

We have other resources that are available on the website there. So please go to that website. Look for the Daily Bible Reading Challenge and agree in your heart. Let me encourage you to take that challenge and not just to hear me talking about it or think that this just applies to somebody else. But take that challenge yourself. By God’s grace, I want to read the Bible every day in 2012. And Lord willing, for the rest of your life. As you do, I believe that God will revive your heart and give you life.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been offering you a challenge. Will you read the Bible every day for the rest of 2012? To get some help in following through on this commitment, check out all the resources at ReviveOurHearts.com. If you sign up, we’ll send you a couple of reminders each month about this Bible Reading Challenge.

And when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size, we’ll say thanks by sending you "My Personal Bible Reading Journal." You can mark down what you’ve read each week and take notes. Then, at the end of 2012, you can look back and see how much you’ve learned during this challenge.

Ask for "My Personal Bible Reading Journal" and Psalms from the Heart when you donate any amount by phone. The number is 1-800-569-5959, or get your copy by donating at ReviveOurHearts.com.  [For a two-week page of the journal to get you started, click here.)

If you stay connected to God’s Word in 2012, it will lead you to a place of great peace no matter what happens in the world around you.

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

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

Join the Discussion