Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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An End to the Waiting

Dannah Gresh: Time for an exercise, my friend. Here's Nancy.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: I want you to think of a time when you wanted something very, very badly, something you waited for, for a long time. 

Dannah: Okay, have you thought of it? Keep that thing in mind while listening to today's episode. 

This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, coauthor of Seeking Him, for Tuesday, December 22, 2020. I'm Dannah Gresh.

We're in the middle of a series about Anna, from Luke 2. Don't worry if you missed any days, you can hear them or read the transcript at Nancy'’s picking up with the question, “What’s something you’ve been waiting for?”

Nancy: Maybe you’re like one woman I know who has waited for years to be able to have a child. God hasn’t yet blessed her with a child, and now she and her husband are hoping to adopt. But they’ve waited for an adoptive child for a number of years, and still God has not fulfilled the desire of their hearts.

I think of some women I know who have waited for years for God to bring them a mate and wanting so to be a wife and a mom; they have waited and waited. Maybe you’ve waited to own a home or to have a different kind of home. Maybe it’s something that you really wanted along the line of the salvation of a loved one, somebody that you’ve prayed for; you’ve longed for God to touch their life.

Maybe it’s the restoration of a broken marriage, yours or a relative’s or a friend’s. Maybe a son or daughter who’s been far from God or a grandchild and you’ve waited and longed for God to do it. And people around you, people who know you well, know that you have been waiting, know that you have been longing, know that this has been a desire on your heart.

How did they know? Because if it’s a deep desire in your heart, it’s something you talk about. It may not be something you can talk about to everyone, depending on what it is. But chances are, if you’ve had this deep-down longing for a long period of time, an unfulfilled desire, you’ve probably shared it with others.

You might have asked them to pray. And from time to time they would say, “How’s it going?” as I email my friend periodically who’s waiting for an adoptive child. “Any news yet on adoption?” So it becomes a subject of conversation.

And then, maybe, in some of these situations, the day came when God answered your prayer. God fulfilled your longing, what you had been praying for, what you had been waiting for. It happened!

You got pregnant after years of infertility. The adoption came through. God brought a husband into your life. That just happened to a friend of mine who’s been waiting for years and God just brought, out of the blue so it seems, providentially, a godly man into her life; and she is just ecstatic. Maybe the Lord provided the home you were waiting for or the Lord saved that loved one or brought that child back to Himself.

What happened next? You said, “Praise the Lord!” You got on the phone. You called your mother. You called your best friend. You called your small group. “Guess what God did?” You told them the incredible news. You sent out an email. You couldn’t wait to share the good news with the people who had been waiting and praying along with you.

Well, that’s exactly what we see that happens to Anna who we’ve been looking at in the gospel of Luke chapter 2. Let me read again the verses that relate to her and then we want to look at the last verse about her life. Luke 2:36–37:

And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.

We’ve said a lot about the character of this woman, the heart of this woman, the focus, the preoccupation of this woman.

Verse 38: “Coming up at that very hour.” If you’ve not been with us, let me reset where we are. We’re in the temple. Mary and Joseph have brought the newborn child Jesus to dedicate Him, to present Him to the Lord. Simeon has come up and has recognized that this is the long-awaited consolation of Israel. He has sung or prayed, spoken a hymn of praise. He’s spoken words of prophecy about what will happen with this child’s life.

Then Anna comes up, led by the Spirit of God at that very moment. She sees the same thing that Simeon’s eyes have been opened to see—Christ! We’ve said earlier in this series that the Holy Spirit is the One that had to show them that this was Christ. This baby, I don’t believe, looked any different than any other baby.

Coming up at that very hour, what did she do? She began to give thanks to God and to speak of Him, to speak of Christ, to all who were waiting, as she had been all these years, to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. The redemption of Jerusalem was here. The Redeemer was here!

So what does Anna do when she sees Christ? What is her response? Well, we see a vertical response, and we see a horizontal response. The vertical response came first, and that’s a response of worship. She began to give thanks to God. Gratitude.

That word "to give thanks" is a long compound Greek word that I can’t pronounce that means “to acknowledge fully; to celebrate fully in praise with thanksgiving.” It’s a celebrative term. She began to give thanks to God. It was just the natural, irrepressible expression of a heart that had been waiting and longing, just as if you were waiting all those years to have a child or to have a husband or to see someone that you love come to Christ.

And when it happens nobody has to say, “Okay, now thank God.” They don’t have to script it for you. It comes out.

I was talking with a woman last night. The last time this group met together for one of our Revive Our Hearts recordings, one of the women who is here today shared a prayer request for her son who has not been walking with the Lord. We talked about this issue of praying and holding up one another’s arms in prayer. That was about a month ago.

She told me last night that some of the women in that group began to pray, women who didn’t even know her son, and that in the last couple of weeks God has been drawing her son’s heart back to the Lord. He's broken up with a girlfriend who was a big part of the issue. There was no script to say, "Now is the time say that this is a great thing that God has done." It was on her heart. She’s thankful. She’s grateful for what God is in the process of doing with her son.

And when Anna saw physically, visibly, there this child who was the fulfillment of all her hopes and dreams and fasting and prayer, the thing she had been focused on and longing for for all these years, what could she do except give thanks to God? She’d been praying. She’d been asking God.

That’s what Paul says in Philippians. Tell God your requests and don’t forget to thank Him for His answers. She’d been asking God and now she says, “Lord, You have been faithful to do that which I’ve asked You to do. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!”

I was thinking about other instances in Scripture where people had encounters with the power of God and how their natural response was to give thanks. I think of that leper in Luke chapter 17 that Jesus healed. Actually, Jesus healed ten lepers. But one of those lepers came back. And it says he began praising God with a loud voice, hanging onto Jesus and saying, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for what you’ve done.”

Remember in Acts 3 when Peter and John went to the temple at the hour of prayer and there was a lame beggar there and in the name of Jesus of Nazareth he was healed? It says he began leaping and jumping and praising God. It’s a natural response when God has been gracious and merciful and has given us the good gift of Christ.

So on the vertical plane, Anna worships God as her response to what He has done. And then on the horizontal plane, she witnesses. She worships toward God and then she witnesses toward others.

Luke 2:38 says, “She began to give thanks to God and to speak of him,” that is of Christ, of this baby, “to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” She began to speak of Him.

It’s not clear so we don’t know whether she began to do it right there in the temple with people who were gathered around. “Look! This is Christ! This is the one we’ve been waiting for. This is the redemption of Jerusalem!” And maybe a little crowd gathered there or maybe she began to go around in the temple.

She had spent a lot of time in the temple. She knew who the other worshipers were. She knew who the other heart-worshipers were. She knew who the other people were who were longing for the redemption of Jerusalem. So maybe she went around the temple right then and there telling them, “He’s here. He’s here. The redemption of Jerusalem has come. After 400 years of silence since the book of Malachi, the prophecy of Malachi, God has come and visited this earth.”

Or maybe she left the temple and went out and found others in Jerusalem, people she knew who had been longing to see and to have God send the consolation of Israel. We don’t know. But she knew who the people were who had been waiting, and she went out and found them. She was one of the very first witnesses of Christ. She thanked God; she worshiped, and she witnessed.

It’s similar to the response of the shepherds earlier in this chapter. Luke 2:16-17 says, “They went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.”

Luke 2 goes on to say, “All who heard it were amazed” (v. 18 NIV). The word-of-mouth began to spread.

No one had to sit these shepherds or Anna down and say, “Here is a course on how you share your faith with others. Here are four steps you can share.” I’m not disparaging the use of tools or training or classes or outlines or becoming more effective in how to share our faith. But you know, the most effective means of sharing our faith is someone who has encountered Christ just sharing what they’ve seen. That’s what the word witness means, to tell what you’ve seen.

I’m convinced the reason most people don’t witness for Christ is because they’ve never really seen Christ. You can’t witness to something you’ve never seen. I know there can be fear. But I’ll tell you what, there was no fear in Anna at this point. She’d been waiting so long she just had to tell it. So she did. She thanked God and she told others.

In the city of Jerusalem, there were apparently some devout men and women besides Simeon and Anna who were consciously, earnestly, expectantly waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. Most Jews were not thinking about this in those days. They were just going about their business. They were religious, but they were not searching for Christ.

But there was a remnant, people scattered in pockets throughout that city, a small number presumably, who had been seeking God, seeking the Lord, longing for Him to come. These people were not looking for a military hero to come, riding in a chariot to deliver them from the Romans. They were looking for the Prince of Peace, the Redeemer, the One who would save His people from their sins. That was what was uppermost on their minds.

Anna knew who those people were. She spoke of Him to all those who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. You know what? "Birds of a feather flock together." She knew who the other birds were of the same feather. She knew who the other people were who had her heart. They were kindred spirits.

I think it’s not reading into the text to say that she was in community with those people. She was in fellowship with those people. She was in relationship with those people. We don’t know, but perhaps these people met together periodically or regularly at the temple to pray for the redemption of Jerusalem, to pray for the Messiah to come.

Maybe they met in homes. Maybe over dinner conversations they would talk about when will He come, the longings to be set free from sin, the longings for a Savior. Maybe they talked about the prophecies of Isaiah. A child will be born. A son will be given. His name will be Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace (see Isaiah 9:6). When will He come?

They talked together about the hope that welled up within their hearts and united them. That’s what brought them together.

In the third chapter of Malachi—you remember Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament, the last prophecy that God spoke before that 400 years of silence, which is now being broken by the birth of Christ—in Malachi chapter 3:16, the Scripture says, “Then those who feared the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name.”

I call it “the fellowship of those who are waiting.” It’s the tie that binds our hearts together, that sacred tie. There are some people in the Body of Christ that you can be closer to than even members of your own family sometimes because their heart beats like yours. You resonate over the same things.

I have friends like that. We’re “the fellowship of those who are waiting,” those who are waiting for revival to come, those who are calling out to God, pleading with Him to come and visit His Church in our day with a fresh outpouring of His Holy Spirit. The fellowship of those who are waiting.

There’s a fellowship of those who are waiting for the return of Christ, the second coming of Christ, who are waiting for the trumpet to sound and the bridegroom to come back and claim His Church. The fellowship of those who are waiting, praying, longing, and expecting.

Are you part of that fellowship? Do you know who the others are in that fellowship? So the question is now as we come to the end of this year, what do we do now? Well, what did Anna do? She worshiped, and she witnessed.

What are we to do? Worship and witness. Worship and witness. Give thanks to God not just at Christmas, not just leading up to Christmas when we have all the beautiful music and the ornaments and the lights.

Give thanks to God. Give thanks to God who loved this world so much that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). Give thanks to God, and don’t stop giving thanks.

And then speak of Him, talk about Him to others who are waiting for Christ, others who love Him. Christ has come and we need to speak of Him to those who don’t know that He has come. This is a great opportunity. Life is a great opportunity. As long as God gives you breath, there is a great opportunity to speak of Him to those who don’t know Him.

Throughout the course of the year and the year to come,

  • Be speaking of Him to others who are part of "the fellowship of the waiting."
  • Keep the coal of your heart close to the other coals. That’s what keeps the fire burning. Don’t be isolated.
  • Be part of "the fellowship of the waiting," those who are waiting for the Lord to come and visit His people.
  • Worship and witness.

So we’ve seen in the life of Anna, who I hope you’ve grown to love and appreciate in a fresh way, a woman of blameless character, a woman with a godly reputation, a woman with deep devotion and love for God, a woman who lived a separated life not of this world, a life of self-denial and spiritual disciplines instead of self-indulgence, a woman of prayer, a woman of steadfastness and consistency. She worshipped, serving God in the temple night and day. A woman who was waiting, longing, expecting the redemption of Jerusalem, a woman who was part of the community of faith, the fellowship of those who are waiting, a woman of worship and a woman of witness.

We’ve seen a woman who had a Godward orientation, a woman whose whole life revolved around the Lord and others. For her, that was a way of life. Can I say, by the way, that’s what it means to be a Christian? It’s to have a life that is centered in Christ. At a season of her life, perhaps 104 years of age or more when many would have felt useless and bored, Anna lived a life that brought glory to God, a life that furthered His kingdom, as an old lady.

She was a blessing to people of her day. She’s been a blessing to us this week as we’ve studied her life. Your life can be a blessing today at whatever season or stage of life you may find yourself. We’ve seen a woman who lived a purposeful life even in old age and widowhood, a God-centered, useful, productive life, not a wasted life.

As I think about Anna, I’m reminded of a passage in Psalm 71 that has been a prayer of mine through most of my life. It continues to be one of my prayers. Psalm 71:17–18:

O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.

I’ve gotten a lot more gray hairs since we started Revive Our Hearts. I’m several years older than when we started Revive Our Hearts. But as I’m advancing to older age and more gray hairs, I’m saying, “Lord, with every breath You give me, let me love You. Let me seek You. Let me be a woman of prayer and steadfastness and faithfulness. And let me proclaim to others Your wondrous deeds, Your power, Your might. Lord, don’t ever let my life bring You disgrace. Don’t let me fritter away any season of my life. As long as You give me breath, all the way to the finish line, make me a faithful, holy, useful woman of God.” That’s my prayer for you as well.

Lord, I know we’ve had younger women listening who are not even thinking about old age at all; it’s the furthest thing from their minds. But I pray that through this series, You would have challenged them to be pondering what kind of woman they want to become.

Lord, we want to honor older women that we know who have been faithful to You and to Your Word, who have mentored us and set us an example. We thank You for them. We pray Your blessing on them.

And Lord, I do pray now for older women who may have been listening, who perhaps may have thought, I don’t really have much to contribute at this season of life. Oh God, may they see how much they have to contribute. Would You make them fruitful, productive servants of Yours all the way to the finish line?

And Lord, may all our lives, young and old, married, single, widowed, divorced, whatever season of life we’re in, children, no children; in each season of life may our lives point people to Jesus for whose name and whose sake we pray it all, amen.

Dannah: I hope you’re hanging on to that encouragement, that your life can be a blessing in whatever stage you find yourself. That was Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth in the series, “Anna: The Woman Who Welcomed Christ.”

At Revive Our Hearts, we pray that the Lord uses teachings like this one and other resources to help women discover, embrace, and delight in Christ.

Nancy: That’s right, Dannah. And we are seeing evidence of how God is answering that prayer. Let me share just one story from a women we'll call Sarah. She resented her husband because she felt he wasn’t the spiritual leader in their home.

Then a woman at her Bible study shared some material with Sarah from Revive Our Hearts. And God used those resources to change her attitude about her husband. Sarah says, “God revealed to me that I was the one that needed to be ‘fixed,’ not my husband.” 

As she responded to the Lord’s leading, she watched her husband begin to change. She says, “He started to grow and get a desire to be in the Word. I honestly believe this saved our marriage. We were so dissatisfied with each other that deeper sin could have easily ensnared us. Praise the Lord, it didn’t, and our marriage is thriving now.” 

What a sweet example this is of the way God is using this ministry to lead women into freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ. My prayer is that the Lord would continue to allow Revive Our Hearts to be a part of stories like Sarah's.

As we often share with you, this ministry is supported and made possible by gifts from our listeners. That may come as a surprise to you. In fact, a good friend asked me just a week or so ago, "You mean the radio stations don't pay you to take Revive Our Hearts?" Well, no, they don't. In most cases, we carry the expenses related to producing this program and making it available to stations all across the country.  

Dannah: That's why the prayers and finacial support from listeners like you are so important. They allow us to continue speaking to women like Sarah. The opportunities and the needs are huge. There are so many Sarahs out there feeling such deep pain and resentment. But you can be part of God's life change in their lives.

Nancy: Did you know that this ministry is supported and made possible by gifts from our listeners? In fact, someone once asked me, "You mean the radio stations don't pay you to take Revive Our Hearts?" Well, no, they don't. We carry the expenses related to producing this program and making it available to stations all across the country.

Dannah: So the prayers and financial support from our listeners allow us to continue speaking to women like Sarah. The opportunities and the needs are huge. There are so many Tristas out there feeling such deep pain and resentment. But you can be part of God’s life-changing work.

Nancy: Whenyou pray for Revive Our Hearts and when you support this ministry financially, you’re joining with us to point women to Christ, who is able to meet every need they have. And with Christmas coming in a few days, we want women everywhere to know the hope of Jesus in this and every season. That hope is truly life-changing.

Dannah: And as we’ve been sharing throughout the month, some dear friends of the ministry believe in what God’s doing through Revive Our Hearts. They want to be part of declaring this hope to women everywhere, and they want you to join them. In fact, they have decided to double the gift of every listener between now and December 31, to help us reach our year-end need of 2.2 million dollars. I’m so incredibly thankful for everyone who has given toward the match so far. God's people have stepped up in a difficult year. They've not been less generous; they have been faithful.

Nancy: It's so encouraging, and I've been deeply moved to hear about new people partnering with us the first time—some who have made a significant sacrifice. They've said, "We want to be a part of what God is doing through this ministry." So if God has used this ministry in your life to be a blessing, a help, or an encouragement, would you consider giving a special gift at this time to help meet this year-end need? Ask the Lord what He would have you to give, and then visit to make your donation, or call us at 1–800–569–5959. 

Dannah, our team is praying, and I'm eager to see what the Lord's going to do over this next week or so between now and December 31 as we trust Him to meet this entire need.

Dannah: Me too, Nancy.

We end today with this thought: if you want to become a faithful, godly woman like Anna, who we learned about today, you need some examples. We’ll hear about some modern-day Annas tomorrow. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you delight in Christ. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.