Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Leslie Basham: When Jimmie Ruth Matthews was in her darkest days, abandoned by her husband, she needed the support of her church.

Jimmie Ruth Matthews: They prayed with me and for me to a certain point. Then after that I felt like they would have been more comfortable if I had gone down the street and joined the other church, then they wouldn’t have to deal with me any longer.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, February 10, 2015.

All week we’ve heard a story of a marriage covenant under attack. And the courage of one woman to believe in her marriage when it would have been easy to give up. Here’s a recap of what we’ve heard from Lorne and Jimmy Ruth Matthews.

Lorne Matthews: I said, “I’m committing adultery, and so you have a right to divorce me. Go ahead and divorce me.”

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: So you wanted her to divorce you.

Lorne: Please divorce me. You can own the home, the car.

Jimmie Ruth Matthews: I just could not see that that was what God was saying in the Word.

Lorne: My problem is not my wife or this other woman or even this woman. My problem is me.

Jimmie Ruth: I just had to deal with me. I couldn’t settle Lorne’s problems. I had to deal with my problems.

Lorne: I just cried out to God. He said, “If you’ll repent and go back to your wife, I’ll use you in your brokenness.”

Jimmie Ruth: Repentance is turning around and going the other direction. I said, “When you’re ready to repent and turn from your sin, you are welcome to come back.”

Lorne: I didn’t see the same person. This clutchy, fearful woman that was so blanketing and mothering and controlling wasn’t there.

Leslie Basham: When we left off last time, Jimmie Ruth had welcomed Lorne back home after he’d left and committed adultery. Neither of them felt much for the other but wanted to obey God’s will.

Is it possible to regain closeness after something like this? Could you forgive after being hurt so badly? Jimmie Ruth tells us what she learned about the power of forgiveness.

Jimmie Ruth: In sign language the word forgiveness is an act of sliding your two hands together, two open hands together. And the thing that that communicates is . . . I kept this imaginary pad where I recorded the negative things about the people who had hurt me. And every morning I could get up and add new things to that pad. Then at night I could turn on my mental computer and rehearse those things over and over. It just kept getting heavier and heavier.

I came to the place where I said, “God, this load is too heavy. I don’t want to carry it any more." I think the most joyous experience is receiving Christ as your Savior. I think the next joyous experience is coming to the place where you can say with your will, “I choose to forgive you.”

Forgiveness is not an emotional choice. It’s not natural. It goes completely against my nature to forgive. It’s a supernatural experience. But I remember so well saying, “God, I want to forgive the people who have hurt me.” I had to forgive the Body of Christ because I didn’t feel like they were there for me. They prayed with me and for me to a certain point. Then after that I felt like they would have been more comfortable if I had gone down the street and joined the other church, then they wouldn’t have to deal with me any longer.

They could not handle my standing through that pain and not giving up. So I had to forgive the Body of Christ. When I made the statement of volitional choice of my will to say, “I choose to forgive,” there were no fireworks or anything. It was just an act of my will.

Nancy: Was this after Lorne came home?

Jimmie Ruth: Yes. Then actually what happened is, as I slide my hands together, speaking in sign language, I wiped the slate clean.

Nancy: That’s what you’re doing with your hands right now. Our listeners can’t see that, but it’s just like erasing the record.

Jimmie Ruth: I’m erasing. I’m giving those people who have hurt me a clean slate to live the rest of their life. That is one of the most glorious things a person can give to another person.

Nancy: And there were a lot of people on that list.

Jimmie Ruth: Oh yes.

Nancy: And a lot of offenses. So Lorne was on that list.

Jimmie Ruth: Oh, he was at the top of the list.

Nancy: The other woman?

Jimmie Ruth: Yes. I remember the other woman; I really had a hard time forgiving her. She had been my friend. As I was studying the Word, I realized that it’s not only a process of forgiving, but you have to go even further than that if you’re really going to be set free. You have to make a choice to bless that person.

I remember as I was journaling these verses that told me I was to love that person, do good to them, and bless them. I said, “Lord, I don’t know how to bless. What do I do if I bless that person?”

And He said, “What do you as a woman enjoy?”

I’m just here speaking in a carnal way and saying, “I enjoy having a new dress every once in a while.”

The Lord said, “Well, you just asked Me to give her those things that you enjoy.” I found that very difficult because I didn’t think she deserved it.

Nancy: And she didn’t.

Jimmie Ruth: No. But the Lord wanted to set me free. I was releasing myself by doing that. I remember gritting my teeth and saying, “God, give her a new dress today, and You know I don’t mean it.” This is one of those painful times of choosing to obey when it didn’t feel good. I kept praying over and over, “Lord, I pray that You’ll give her a new dress today.” I’ve learned to pray more spiritual things than a new dress. It was the starting point. I got so spiritual one day I even asked God to give her the accessories to go with it.

I have no idea how my prayers have affected the woman.

Nancy: And of course what you really ultimately want God to bless her with is a spirit of repentance and restoration of her relationship with the Lord.

Jimmie Ruth: Exactly. I have learned to pray that God would have mercy on her. It really struck me one day when I heard a knock at our door. I went and this lady is standing at my front door with all of these dresses thrown over her shoulder. I hadn’t seen her for years. She said, “I was cleaning out my closet today.” And she said, “God spoke to me and told me to bring you all of these dresses.”

Nancy: That’s a blessing returned.

Jimmie Ruth: Well Lorne said, “Keep praying,”

Nancy: Did it make you wish you’d prayed for more?

Jimmie Ruth: Lorne said, “Keep praying that prayer because it’s really helped our budget.”

So that did help to set me free. There were just a lot of people. The counselor, this man, he had been our friend for many years, and every time he’d see us he’d go in the other direction. So one day I determined I’ve got to deal with this man. So when he turned and started walking the other way, I starting turning and walking the other way right behind him.

We both ended up in a corner together. I walked to him, and I called him by name. I put my arm around him, and I said, “I want to forgive you for the counsel that you gave to my husband to leave our marriage.”

He wiped his forehead, and he said, “Whew. I really needed that.” But he wasn’t the one who needed it. I was the one who needed it. As long as I hung onto that, I could not be free.

So the Lord has taught me a great deal about the forgiveness issue. You know, the act of forgiveness is not a one-time act. I can’t believe how the forgiveness has flowed to so many members of our family.

One day I was in the kitchen cooking, and my oldest grandson came up behind me I think it was at Christmas or a holiday. He came up behind me and wrapped his arms around me. He got right next to my ear and he said,

Grandma, I want to thank you for forgiving Papa and keeping our family together. My friends come from broken homes. At holiday times we have so much fun playing games and being together and hilarity. My friends have to spend the whole day going from this house to this house to this house to this house.

I think that when we forgive someone, we do not realize the benefits that go beyond just that relationship. It impacts every member of our family. Then the healing that took place between Lorne and my mom was absolutely miraculous.

Lorne: Her mother totally hated my guts. She wouldn’t forgive me. I’ll never forget the day when her precious mother walked into the kitchen and said, “Let’s go into the living room to talk.” She poured her heart out to me. She said, “Can you ever forgive me for being so bitter against you?” And it broke my heart.

I said, “Mother, I’m the sinner. Please forgive me.”

She said, “No. I’ve been holding bitterness in my heart all these years. Please forgive me for having such hate. Please forgive me.”

We fell in each other’s arms, and the Lord healed. My mother-in-law became my mother-in-love. For the next six years, she and I were close. When she died, she died in our arms going to heaven. I kissed her goodbye. I looked her in the eye, and I said, “Mama, thank you for accepting me back in the family and for forgiving me.” And I’ll never forget it. She smiled. She lifted up, took her last breath and went to be with the Lord. Just a precious thing.

We have a thought we give in our concerts, and that is we can have a choice to be bitter and to carry the rocks, or we can drop them. And my precious mother-in-love dropped her stones toward me.

How do you do that? When she came to me, it blew my mind. She came to me and asked me to forgive her. It’s so powerful, powerful that she would ask me to forgive her. I didn’t expect that. It was in that moment she opened up. Any defense, things she had in her past, whatever. She became totally vulnerable, opened up to me. And I said, “Oh Mom, of course I forgive you. Please forgive me.”

I’ll never forget it, Nancy, when she came to me and embraced me. Remember, the counselor said I’d never feel nurture love because my father was an alcoholic and her mother was a shut-down religious type, defense type thing. That was true. That’s the past reality. But in that moment, when my precious mother-in-love put her arms around me and did that, I felt nurture love. I can’t talk about it. This is many years later now, and I can’t talk about this without feeling it right now.

I feel so awesomely indebted to her that she was willing to lay down her life and say, “Please forgive me,” because it opened up the whole thing. All the love that was locked up in that precious woman poured out on me. I sensed it and felt it. I just feel like that love from God is possible in every marriage. If it can happen for us, then it can happen for anybody. I believe that.

Jimmie Ruth: Out behind our house we had some woods, and Lorne through the years would clean and dig and get rid of the clutter that was back there.

Lorne: It’s not our house anymore. It’s our daughter’s house.

Jimmie Ruth: One day he came in with this old, ugly, corroded faucet. I looked at that faucet and I thought, Well, this faucet looks like the faucet down in my basement where I have my washtubs. It was a real old house. It was corroded; it was old. As I was meditating about it, the thought came to me that it didn’t matter what the faucet looked like; that was not the issue. It was what flowed through the faucet that was the issue.

If the least little stone became buried in the pipeline, then the flow of the water could not go through that pipeline. If we keep the least little stone of bitterness in us, there’s a whale within us. We don’t make ourselves spiritual. It’s as we have that developed relationship with God that there’s a source. Out of our bellies shall flow living water.

Nancy: It’s Christ.

Jimmie Ruth: Yes. Then if we keep the smallest stone of bitterness, then we block the pipeline of the flow of that living water that comes out of us.

Lorne: I feel that the Lord has taught me a lot. I'm smart, but I was a failure and weak. But in that weakness, because my wife was willing to forgive, I learned a lot. Women need to understand that when their man comes and says, "I don't love you anymore," he doesn't have a correct understanding of what real love is.

In our society today . . . I know I felt this way . . . I thought love was a feeling, an emotion. We have now seen through my wife's faithfulness, that Christ has shown us that love is the kind of thing that would say, "I'll be willing to go to a cross and die." This is what I believe the Lord is calling us to in marriages.

I would say to any man that is listening to this. If you are being tempted to think that you need a divorce and that you need happiness with someone else, please listen to the voice of the Lord. Put all of the strength of your investment in your family and in your wife. Lay down your life and die for them. God will do things for you that are beyond your wildest imagination.

These last twenty-six years, God has taken us to the world. We do our Gospel music concerts. In every concert we give a Gospel witness about the Lord's resurrection power in our marriage and of His saving power. We see people saved and marriages healed. God is so good!

I have a two-fold ministry. One is I brag on Jesus—how wonderful He is, how merciful and kind. I also brag on my wife. The Lord says that's okay. He says a virtuous woman, her husband will greatly praise her. I do thank the Lord for a wife who was willing to forgive and who was faithful when I was unfaithful.

We were traveling one day, and I looked at her and said, "Oh baby, God has a special reward for you for being faithful." She said something to me that I'll never get over. She said, "Faithfulness is its own reward." It's not something to earn brownie points or anything. It's just a gift of God that when you're faithful, you receive Him. It's nothing to glorify me, it's God in me.

Nancy: That's important for women to remember who are being faithful to their marriage vow and covenant if their husband doesn't come back. There's not the promise that he will. It's a fallen world; it's a sinful world. You have a now "happily ever after" story, but it doesn't end that way for everyone.

God's not promising that if a woman is faithful that necessarily her husband will repent and come back. I know some situations where he went off and married the other woman. But we have to say to the wife who is listening, "Your faithfulness is what God is looking for. God can restore your heart regardless of what your husband does."

Jimmie Ruth: When I stand before God, I don't have to answer for the choices that Lorne has made. When I stand before God, I have to answer for the choices I have made. 

I've got a tuning fork in my hand right now.

Nancy: Being a pianist myself, I know exactly what that is.

Jimmie Ruth: This teaches me a lot. The tuning fork helps us to start out at a certain pitch.

Nancy: It's used for tuning pianos. It's set at a standard.

Jimmie Ruth: It doesn't matter how much I sing off-pitch, the tuning fork doesn't adjust. That's the way the Word of God is. It is a tuning fork. It does not adjust to fit the circumstances of my life. I have to adjust my life to fit the Word of God.

I can't believe how defensive people are of things that go contrary to the Word of God. The consequences of those choices are not worth it.

Nancy: Lord, how I thank You for this precious couple and for the trophy that they are of Your grace and for Your miraculous intervention. If it had not been for You, this couple would be on the ash heap, and there’d be many destroyed lives, marriages, who knows for how many generations to come.

But You are a great redeeming God. You have done what with men was impossible. You have overcome the strongholds of Satan and the deception and the blindness and the bitterness and the hatred and the controlling. You have overcome that, Lord.

I just think of how many marriages are at that eighteen-year point where Jimmie Ruth and Lorne were when the unfaithfulness came into their marriage. For many couples that would have been the end of that marriage. Yet You had plans and a purpose. You put it in Jimmie Ruth’s heart to stand for her marriage against all odds and against all of much of human counsel, well-meaning counsel. But You caused her to root her heart in Your Word and to let You work in her life and to take her eyes off of her husband’s failures and to let You just be God.

And Lord, You were God in Lorne’s life, and You were that hound of heaven. You did pursue him in spite of all odds. You overcame the enemy’s lies. Thank You, Lord, that You restored the years that the locusts had eaten. You have given them now forty-five-plus years of grace and mercy and now being instruments of redemption in the lives of others and many other marriages.

Oh Lord, how we pray that this story will be replayed over and over and over in many, many lives for couples where they’ve lost hope. You are the God of all hope. You are the God who can bring life out of death and who can resurrect the dead. Lord, this marriage was dead, but You miraculously intervened. You can do that for listeners.

I pray for women who have given up on their marriages, or husbands who have given up on their marriages. Lord, would You cause them to stand by faith and believe You for what only You can do. I pray that You would redeem our churches from the scourge of infidelity, adultery, divorce, and these things that are so grievous to You and so destructive to Your testimony and to the gospel witness in the world.

Lord, it breaks our hearts that the incidents of divorce and remarriage in the church would be no different substantially than what it is in the world. Lord, we pray Your forgiveness and Your mercy for us as Christians allowing and approving of a divorce culture and looking more for loopholes and exceptions and reasons to divorce, to justify it, than looking for ways to stand for our marriages.

So Lord, even those of us who aren’t married and whose marriages are not in trouble, I pray that You would help us to be those who stand for the permanence of marriage and who extend our arms and our hearts around those who are in the midst of unfaithfulness and divorce and to intercede and to reach out and extend that hand of help and mercy and grace and say, “We want to stand with you for the redemption and the reconciliation of your marriage.”

I pray that You’d give pastors the heart and the conviction to stand for the permanence of marriage. Lord, we’ve gone so far on this subject that it’s really counter-cultural today even in the Christian world to stand for the reconciliation of marriages. But You are a God who has given up the life of Your Son in order to redeem and restore us who were Your enemies. Through the cross of Christ You’ve taken down the barriers that had been erected between us and You. You reached over those barriers and over that gap from heaven to earth and gave Your life.

Lord, help us to reveal to the world Your great redeeming heart as we stand for the marriage covenant. Lord we pray for a revival in our marriages. Would You do it? Would You redeem? Would You restore? Would You reconcile?

I pray that those for whom that’s water over the dam; it’s something that’s already happened. I pray that they would not live in guilt or regret or shame or judgment. But where there has been a violation of Scripture, may there be repentance, and then may there be the grace and the mercy and the forgiveness that flow through them, into their lives and through them to other lives.

Lord, thank You for what You’ve done in this couple. I pray that even in the remaining years that You have for them that You’d give them much, much fruit for Your glory that would flow and that other marriages would receive the overflow of the blessing that You’ve done in this marriage. Thank You, Lord, for letting us see the power of the gospel as You have redeemed and reconciled and restored. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie Basham: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss. She’s been talking with Lorne and Jimmie Ruth Matthews about the freedom that comes through forgiveness. Forgiveness is possible even after something as devastating and evil as adultery. To hear the complete story from the Matthews visit ReviveOurHearts.com. The interview series is called “The Beauty of Radical Commitment.”

Today’s program is possible thanks to listeners that support the ministry with their gifts. When you donate any amount, we’ll send you a book Nancy recommends called The Incomparable Christ, by Oswald Sanders. 

Nancy will teach on the life of Jesus, following the outline of this book. That series starts February 18. We hope you’ll read one chapter a day during this series leading up to Easter. You’ll also get a companion journal with some questions to help you live out what you’re reading and hearing. We’ll send The Incomparable Christ book and journal when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size.  

Now we know that some listeners simply can’t give as much as they’d like. In fact, we received a letter that said,

Your program has changed my life. I want you to know that I’ve heard you say you need donations, and it’s in my heart to give to your ministry when the opportunity arises. I’m waiting for a financial situation to be settled and have said to my husband that it’s your ministry that I would like to donate to. He’s agreed. Please know that I won’t forget you.

Nancy, I love the heart behind this letter.

Nancy: Leslie, I was so touched when I read this email and so grateful for the reminder that God always does provide. He has faithfully done that for this ministry. I really appreciate the fact that this listener has such a heart to give even though her finances are not currently where she’d like them to be, and I’m grateful that she’s talking with her husband about what their giving should look like.

Now, God may have provided for you in some unique ways and put you in a position right now where you are able to give. So would you pray about giving a special gift to Revive Our Hearts? Your gift will help us keep bringing this podcast to you each weekday.

You’ll be helping Revive Our Hearts call women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ. When you make a donation of any amount, we’ll send you The Incomparable Christ book and journal. We’ll send one set per household for your donation. The number is 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com

Jesus called His disciples to get away and rest. If He asked you that, would you accept the invitation? Or would the busyness of life threaten to keep you from intimacy with Him? My friend, Carrie Gaul, will show you how to find true rest in a busy world, tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

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

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

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About the Speaker

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 …

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