Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth points you to the Lord in your post-Thanksgiving blues.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: You’ve got a full belly and an empty soul today? Let God use the emptiness to make you more aware of your need for Him, more dependent on Him, more reliant on Him.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Choosing Gratitude, for November 23, 2018.

It’s the day after Thanksgiving. Are you feeling a post-holiday let-down? Perhaps you’re tempted to feel guilty about all that you ate yesterday, or you’re stressed out about all that lies ahead in December. Today Nancy is teaching from Psalm 103 on how to counsel your own heart with the truth when you feel down.

Nancy: Well, happy day after Thanksgiving—or Black Friday, as many call it. Yesterday, Thanksgiving Day, “turkey day,” football day . . . I don’t know what it was mostly in your house. And let me just say, as we’re recording this, it’s not actually the day after Thanksgiving because I, along with my husband and our team—and many of you—are taking a long weekend here to give thanks!

So we’ve pre-recorded this program, but we want to focus on something that was on my heart last Thanksgiving as I dealt with some “stuff” that weekend, things that I was pondering and thinking about.

The Lord brought some passages to my heart that were really an encouragement to me and I said, “I want to record a program for next Thanksgiving—day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday)—that I hope will be an encouragement to people, as these passages have been to me.”

On this day after Thanksgiving, you may be feeling really super-satisfied. Maybe you’ve had sweet times with your family, your friends, you had plenty to eat, you’re grateful for a long weekend, you’re celebrating and mindful of the Lord’s mercies in your life, and you’re just . . . whew! . . . life is good! You’re satisfied.

But I have a feeling that a lot of us (maybe a lot listening to this program), instead of feeling satisfied, maybe you’re feeling a combination of things like: stuffed, stressed, or maybe even sad. Stuffed—maybe you ate way too much turkey and stuffing and sweet potato casserole and pumpkin pie and pastries, and you’re going, “Groan! Yeah, I am so stuffed!”

You had a sugar high yesterday, and now you’re, like, semi-comatose. So that’s not going well for you. You’re saying, “Oh, why did I eat all that?! I’m stuffed!” Or maybe you’re stressed. You just spent the last few days traveling, preparing for guests, cooking. And now you’re overwhelmed with all the Black Friday ads and deals and sales and, “Only 32 shopping days ’til Christmas!”

There’s kind of just a tightness in your chest as I’m talking about this right now, because you’re thinking of everything that needs to be done. You’re wondering how you’re going to pay for it all, and besides that, you’re annoyed with all the Christmas decorations and all the Christmas music everywhere you turn. And you’re just . . . stressed.

Or maybe you’re feeling sad. Maybe it’s just a natural post-holiday let-down. Maybe you had some hopes and expectations of Thanksgiving being different this year. Maybe you have some unfulfilled longings. Things just didn’t go the way that you’d hoped.

You don’t know why you hoped it, because it’s never been any different with this particular group of people that you have Thanksgiving with, but you just kept hoping, “Maybe it will be different this year.” But it isn’t, it wasn’t, it hasn’t been.

Or maybe it’s another holiday—yet one more—that you’ve spent alone while everybody else had family and friends together. Maybe this is your first major holiday with an empty seat at the table. Your heart is just broken, longing, missing the mate, the son or daughter, the grandchild . . . the person who isn’t here this year.

Or maybe you spent the day with family members, but it wasn’t a happy time, it wasn’t a thankful time. There’s tension, there are unresolved issues, there’s an “elephant in the room” that’s unaddressed one more time.

I don’t know what your story is, what the details are, but I know there are a lot of people who are just feeling sad today. So, in many of our cases, the belly is full, but the heart is empty today. And I want to wash us today with two passages that have been on my heart since last Thanksgiving, as I said.

These are passages that are appropriate for any day of the year, but maybe even more so today. So let me invite you to turn first, if you would, to the book of Psalms (the songbook). Psalm 103, a familiar passage to many of us.

We’re not going to look at the whole passage, just the first five verses, and not even in great detail because I want to spend a little more time on another passage. But, again, I just want to speak hope and courage and faith and peace and joy and fullness into what may be some empty hearts today.

Psalm 103, beginning in verse 1. This is the Word of the Lord.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's (vv. 1–5).

And just take a deep breath and think what a great balm, an antidote, that passage is to all the competition, all the insecurity, all the rushing around, all the discontent, all the greed that some may be feeling or experiencing today while shopping for great deals on Black Friday.

I watched a couple of youtube videos (getting ready for this session) of like the most hectic, crazy, chaotic Black Fridays in some of the major big box stores. All the shopping carts are lined up and the people lined up and the people just rushing through the open doors at 4 a.m.! I think these days it’s a lot earlier than that—even the night before.

But people pell-mell, hustling. And why anybody, honestly, would go out shopping on that day, I’m really not sure. But people do it. Maybe you’ve done it. And this passage I just think speaks perspective and peace—whether it’s actual, literal moments like that (where you’re about to get run over in a store), or just where your heart is feeling run over or not at peace.

In many of David’s psalms, David’s heart is just full of praise.vIt just seems to overflow. It just flows out of him. But in other psalms, David talks to himself; he tells his heart to praise the Lord. And this is one of those psalms.

We are not told what the circumstances were surrounding this psalm, what it is that David may have been facing at this moment, but we know that he talks to his soul. He says, “Bless the Lord, O my soul!” It’s like he takes himself by the scruff of the neck and he says, “Praise the Lord, soul! Self, bless the Lord! Don’t forget what He’s done for you!”

Why would you tell yourself not to forget it unless you thought you were in danger of forgetting? “Don’t forget, my soul!” I don’t know what kind of benefits package you may have at the place where you work, but I’ll tell you, there is no benefits package at any job on the planet that could be better than the one that God gives to His children: “Forget not all His benefits.”

So David says to his soul, “Don’t forget the many benefits that God has given you!” And he rehearses a catalog of God’s amazing goodness to him. He reminds himself of specific blessings that he’s received from the Lord: forgiveness, pardon for sin, physical health, and healing.

Now it says, “Who heals all your diseases.” This is not necessarily an across-the-board promise. In fact, in Deuteronomy 32, verse 39, we read that God both wounds and heals—and either can be for His glory. But David says, “I’m thankful for the physical health God has given me, for the many times that He has brought healing to me. If there’s healing that’s taken place, it’s God who did it.” That’s a benefit that God has given to us.

He says, “He’s redeemed you, my soul, from eternal destruction and condemnation; He crowns you with steadfast love and mercy; He satisfies you with good things; He renews your youth like the eagle’s.” I like that one! The eagle is a symbol of strength and speed. As I’m getting older, I remind my soul how thankful I should be that God enables me to continue to serve Him and to do what He’s called me to do.

And so on, throughout the whole psalm, David is listing, enumerating, counting the blessings of the Lord. “Name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done!” Now, it’s important to thank the Lord for these mercies and benefits every day, all the time.

But I think it’s a particularly healing, helping, wholesome, holy thing for us to do when our hearts are feeling heavy or burdened, or our bellies are full but our hearts are empty. Talk to yourself.

Now, the fact is, we all talk to ourselves. We do it all the time. The question is, what are we telling ourselves? We have to be sure that we’re telling ourselves the right thing. We need to counsel our hearts to bless the Giver and not to forget the many gifts He has given us . . . because some days it seems like there aren’t that many gifts.

That’s why we need to go back and read Ephesians 1, the blessings that are ours in Christ Jesus. No matter how bad your day is going, no matter how difficult your family situation may be, no matter what kind of family you wish you had but don’t have, no matter what losses and adversity you may be experiencing, these are still blessings that are ours in Christ Jesus!

Tell your soul to bless the Lord, and that will be an antidote for dissatisfaction, for discontent (a desire for more), discouragement. It doesn’t mean all the problems will go away, not by a long shot! But God will give perspective and grace and joy in the midst of those hard times.

Now, let me ask you to page back in your Bible to the book of Deuteronomy. We’ve looked at Psalm 103, but I want to look at the book of Deuteronomy for the rest of our time today, chapter 8. And we’re just going to do a thirty-thousand-foot view of this chapter. Someday maybe we’ll do a whole series on it.

As you’re finding Deuteronomy 8, if you’re listening to the podcast or the broadcast and you’re in a place where you can pick up your Bible and follow along or you can find it on your phone and follow along, let me encourage you to do that. Of course, if you’re driving, don’t do that! Just listen! (laughter)

Let me give you a little bit of context for this chapter. The Israelites are at the end, the tail-end, of their forty years of wandering in the wilderness, and they’re getting ready to go into the Promised Land. They’ve been waiting for this; they’ve been longing for this; they’ve been looking for this! And before they go in, Moses sits down and tells them, basically, the book of Deuteronomy.

Now, it’s long, and you’re thinking, That’s a long speech when you’re dying to get in! But God is saying, “Before you get in, there are some things you need to remember. There are some things I don’t want you to forget.” And you’ll see through the book of Deuteronomy this theme: “Remember, remember, remember! Don’t forget, don’t forget, don’t forget!”

Moses was not going to go with the children of Israel into the Promised Land (another story). But he’s sending them in, and he’s saying, “Don’t forget! Don’t forget! When I’m not here to remind you, remember that God is your God, not just my God. Remember, remember, remember!” He’s reminding them of their history. He’s preparing them for what lies ahead.

I just want to read through this chapter with some brief commentary, insights, and reminders for us today on this (what some call) Black Friday. Verse 1 of Deuteronomy chapter 8: “The whole commandment that I command you today . . .” In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses restates, reiterates, the commandment of God.

That’s why when you’re reading through the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), some of those books you say, “Haven’t I read this before? Like, it seems really familiar.” It is familiar! Because Moses is repeating the law of God.

Your eyes kind of glaze over, and you think, Let’s just skip ahead to Joshua. No, don’t just skip ahead to Joshua. Read it! Because if they needed to be reminded, we need to be reminded as well.

[This] whole commandment that I command you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land that the Lord swore to give to your fathers. And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness (vv. 1–2).

Now, in those verses, there are two distinct different lands referred to. What are they? There’s the land that you’re going into, the Promised land, the land that the Lord swore to give to your fathers. And then there’s this land, the wilderness; the land that you’ve been in these past forty years.

Verse 2 reminds me—and I want to remind you today—that there will be wilderness seasons until we get to the end of our journey . . . the very end. The Promised Land is not here; it’s not now. We have precious promises that will sustain us through this season, but this world is not our home. God’s going to bring a new Heaven and a new Earth, but this world as we know it today is not our home.

We’re looking for that country that He has promised to us, as we read in the book of Hebrews. And sometimes the seasons that we walk through that are wilderness seasons here, we’re in the wilderness because of our own sin, our own unbelief. And so God says, “Okay! Thirty-eight more years in this wilderness!”

Sometimes those wilderness seasons are simply a part of God’s sanctifying and training process in our lives, preparing us for future battles, future seasons, future fruitfulness. These seasons may last a long time, these wilderness seasons, “these forty years.”

When you’re in a wilderness, forty years seems like an eternity, right? Sometimes four years can seem like an eternity, or four months, or four days can seem like a really long time in some wilderness experiences! But what we see in this passage is that no matter how long or how hard our wilderness journey may be, God leads His people each step of the way.

“Remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness” (v. 2). He never takes His eye off of you. He never stops leading, He never stops being all that you need in that wilderness.

Now, these wilderness seasons are not random or meaningless—they’re purposeful. “Remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, [so] that . . .” In order that, there’s a purpose, there’s a reason. This is not happenstance. God didn’t just take a nap and you ended up in this wilderness! Why did He do this?

“[So] he might humble you, [so He might test] you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not” (v. 2). God uses these hard seasons, these hard places (you may be in one right now) to humble us, to test us, to find out if we’ll obey Him, even when we can’t see Him or when it’s really hard.

And then in verse 3 he gives another reason for these wilderness experiences: “He humbled you and let you hunger . . .” God lets you go without! Why? So He could, “[feed] you with manna [bread from Heaven], which you did not know.” It was a different kind of provision than you’d ever experienced before: “nor did your fathers know.”

Why? “[So that, in order 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” (v. 3). God uses emptiness. You’ve got a full belly and an empty soul today?

Let God use the emptiness to make you more aware of your need for Him, more dependent on Him, more reliant on Him. Realize there is no family, there is no experience, there is no place, there is no gift, there is no provision, there is no amount of money, there is no job, there is no “nothing” on this earth—short of Christ Himself and His Word—that can fill the empty places of your heart.

You’ve heard me say it many times on Revive Our Hearts: Anything that makes me need God is, what? [Ladies respond: a blessing.] A blessing! You say, “Well, I’ve got wa-a-a-y more blessings than I ever wanted!” Thank God. Tell your soul, “Bless the Lord oh my soul.” Give thanks that God is making you realize your need for Him.

He’s creating circumstances to make you more dependent on Him, to make you more reliant on Him. You’ve put your hope in having a husband, or in having a different husband, or having a child by this time of your life, and it hasn’t happened. You’ve put your hope in seeing that prodigal return home; it hasn’t happened.

You’re disappointed, you’re discontent, you’re striving, you’re struggling. I’m just saying on this (what some call) Black Friday, remember that God has purposes! Anything that makes you need Him today is a gift; it’s a blessing!

And then, when the wilderness feels too long or too hard to go on . . . You say, “I just cannot put one foot in front of the other. This has done me in.” Some of you have come back from your Thanksgiving holiday, and you’re a mess! You’re a bundle of tears. You’re dissolved in a pool of tears. When it feels too long or too hard to go on . . . remember. Remember!

“Remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness” (v. 2). Remember how He has faithfully led you in the past, how He got you through.

And then remember, verse 4, how He has supernaturally provided for you in this journey. “Your clothing did not wear out on you.” Forty years, and their clothing didn’t wear out! I’d like that wardrobe! You think, Did the styles wear out? I don’t know! Wilderness attire. “Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years.” God supernaturally provided for you!

“Know then [verse 5] in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the Lord your God disciplines you.” Remind yourself that He is a good Father and that He intends all this for your good and for your blessing. Verse 6, “So you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him.”

In the midst of the wilderness, whether you’re in one now or you’re headed into one in the days ahead, keep holding fast to Christ! Keep obeying Him even when you can’t see where or how all this is leading.

And then, cling to His promises and remember, as we’ll see in verses 7–9, that the best is yet to come. Cling to these promises, keep reminding yourself, “Here are the promises God gave to the children of Israel, who’d been forty years in that wilderness.”

Deuteronomy chapter 8, verse 7: “For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey” (vv. 7– 8). You’re getting hungry! You say, “I want to go there!”

“A land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper” (v. 9). As you look to the future, it may seem hopeless to you. The children of Israel have been going ’round and ’round.

It wasn’t just the wilderness. It was enemies; it was opposition; it was lack of water. It was all kinds of obstacles and hurdles and enemies and frustrations and disappointments. In the midst of it all, God was present. God was powerful. God provided. But God also said, “There are promises. The best is yet to come!”

And as you look to your future, purpose to bless the Lord, to thank the Lord, in times of plenty as well as in times of scarcity. Look at verse 10: “You shall eat and be full.” That’s what a lot of us did yesterday. “You shall eat and be full.” You’re stuffed! And what do you do when you’re stuffed? Now, when we have times of scarcity, we cry out to the Lord, “Help! I need You!”

But what do we do in times of abundance? We tend to forget the Lord, because we’ve got everything we need, right? Verse 10 is saying to us,

“Don’t forget God when you’re full!” “You shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.”

Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied . . . (vv. 10–13).

When you’ve got all that you want or all that you think you wanted, there’s a danger in fullness! That’s why God doesn’t let us have fullness all the time. Now, we can have heart-fullness, but in our circumstances, sometimes He blesses us with scarcity so we’ll be reminded how much we need Him.

But then there come the times of abundance, the times of overflowing blessings, and that’s a danger! “Beware lest you forget the Lord your God . . . when you have eaten and are full . . . and your heart [is] lifted up [pride!], and you forget the Lord your God, who [did what? brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water” (vv. 14–15).

How did you get through all that? “I took you through that,” God says. I “brought you water out of the flinty rock, who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know” (vv. 15–16).

Don’t forget what God did for you when you needed Him! You need Him no less now. And why did God do that? “. . . that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth’” (vv. 16–17). Self-reliance is deadly!

You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish (v. 19).

That’s kind of a downer way to end this day, but that’s just a reminder: If we forget to bless the Lord, if we forget His benefits, if we don’t remember Him, if we don’t remember to obey Him when our hearts are feeling like they’re on empty, if we forget His promises, if we forget to cling to Him, if we forget to “Bless the Lord, O my soul,” then we will experience true emptiness, poverty of soul, poverty of spirit.

So, O Lord, on this day after Thanksgiving, what some would call a Black Friday (for lots of reasons that relate to merchandising and stores and shopping and sales), help us in whatever we’re doing today to not forget You, to remember You. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.” In Jesus name, amen!

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been teaching through Psalm 103 on remembering God’s promises even when you’re feeling down and discouraged. For many people, the holiday season is one of the loneliest times of the year. Can you relate?

I want to let you in on a brand-new resource from Revive Our Hearts that will help give you perspective as you enter into the Christmas season. The story of Jesus’s birth is a familiar one to most of us, but there’s an aspect of this story, perhaps, to which you haven’t given much thought.

Nancy writes about the first Christmas from a slightly different angle in her 31-day Advent devotional. It’s called The First Songs of Christmas. Now these songs aren’t the Christmas carols you hear playing in the mall. These are songs from Scripture found in Luke chapters 1 and 2.

Each of the 31days gives a brief devotional thought based on a line from one of these songs. It also includes other Bible passages to look up and a journaling question to contemplate. Our hope is that you will be comforted and refreshed as you spend time each day with Jesus.

We’re offering this devotional as a thank you for your gift of any amount to Revive Our Hearts. Your gift helps us continue sharing the light of Christ to a world cloaked in darkness. To send your gift of any amount, go to ReviveOurHearts.com, or call us at 1–800–569–5959, and ask for the Advent devotional.

Many people try going on a new diet following the holiday season. Do you want to hear an outrageous diet claim? “Eat My bread and live forever!” Monday, Nancy explains why this claim Jesus made isn’t so outrageous after all. She’s picking back up in the series “The Wonder of His Name.” Please be back on Monday for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is sharing the light of God’s Word. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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