Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Here's Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Imagine this situation: The Lord is leading His people in an exciting new direction. You're ready to move forward, but almost everybody else is afraid. What do you do? Well, we'll talk about it today on Revive Our Hearts.

But first I want to remind you that you are able to hear this program today thanks to a group of listeners that we call the Monthly Partner Team. These friend help make Revive Our Hearts possible in three ways:

  • They pray for the ministry.
  • They give monthly to help support our expenses.
  • They tell others about the ministry and the message.

In order for Revive Our Hearts to continue airing throughout the U.S. and spreading around the world by the means of Internet, we're asking the Lord to provide at least 800 new monthly partners here in September.

When you become a monthly partner this month. I want to say "thank you" by sending you a copy of my book, The Wonder of His Name. In this book you'll find thirty-two devotionals, each on a different name of Jesus. This is the brand-new, hardcover version of this book. It is a special gift edition. Timothy Botts created the artwork. This is a resource that will add beauty to your home and will help point people to Jesus.

As a monthly partner, you'll also receive a free conference registration each year. That can include True Woman '14 coming up in October.

There are other ways we stay connected to our monthly partners, including a letter that I send out each month that gives an update of what is going on in the ministry and what God has put on my heart. Each month you'll also get a special devotional that we have created just for our partners. It is called, "Daily Reflections."

As you invest in this ministry, our heart is to invest in your life so that you can experience greater freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.

So if God has used this ministry in your life, would you ask Him if He would have you to join the Monthly Partner Team? You can visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com to sign up as a monthly partner or to get more information. Or you can give us a call at 1-800-569-5959.

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss tells us about two biblical characters who demonstrated their belief by their actions.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: In Caleb and Joshua’s day, there were a lot of people who claimed to know God, but only Joshua and Caleb had the kind of faith that was demonstrated in their willingness to fully follow the Lord. They were the only ones who ever entered into that Promised Land.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, September 8, 2014.

Joshua shows us what it looks like to follow the Lord with all our hearts. We're exploring the fascinating life of Joshue through several teachings throughout this fall. Nancy's here to begin another one of those series called "Lessons from the Life of Joshua (Part 4): Following God's Lead to Lead."

Nancy: Well, if you’ve been with us over the last several sessions, you remember that we’ve been looking at what was a very tragic scene in Israel’s history. They came right up to the border of the Promised Land, the land that God had intended to be a place of rest for them, a home. Yes, there would be battles to face. Yes, there were giants in the land, but God had promised to go with them into the land.

Instead of believing God, the Israelites believed the ten spies who came back with the negative report, and as a result, God said, “Back into the wilderness you go. No Promised Land for this generation.” So for the next thirty-eight years, a total of forty years, the Children of Israel went around in circles in the wilderness, and when we come to Numbers chapter 26, we see that a new census was taken of the next generation because over those next years, the entire adult generation died off in the wilderness.

We find that of the 600,000 men who had been delivered from slavery out of Egypt, plus their wives and their children, a total of a million or more people, that not one of them was left. Not one of them was left to go into the Promised Land except, the Scripture tells us, Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua, the son of Nun, the two men who believed God. Forty years earlier, they had exercised faith. That faith became their life, and God preserved them alone out of that entire generation.

Now, let me ask you to turn to the book of Numbers chapter 14, and I want to just wrap up this section on Kadesh-barnea and the belief of these two men and the unbelief of all the other Israelites. In chapter 14, the Scripture gives us an additional insight into why Caleb and Joshua were spared the fate that befell the rest of the Israelites, and we see the difference between Joshua and Caleb and all the other Israelites.

Look in Numbers chapter 14, picking up at verse 22, The Lord said,

None of the men who have seen my glory and my signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have put me to the test these ten times and have not obeyed my voice, [none of those people] shall see the land that I swore to give to their fathers. And none of those who despised me shall see it (vv. 22-23).

What did God say of those Israelites? “They have not obeyed My voice, and they have despised Me.” “But,” verse 24,

My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has [I want you to catch this phrase] followed me fully, I will bring [him] into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it.

That phrase, “he has followed Me fully,” is a phrase that is used several times in the Scripture to refer to Joshua and Caleb, the only two in their generation who fully believed God and who went into the Promised Land.

Turn over a few pages to Numbers chapter 32. This is now thirty-eight years later as the Children of Israel are getting ready to go into the Promised Land, and Moses is rehearsing for them the events that had taken place back at Kadesh-barnea. In Numbers 32, verse 10, we read,

And the LORD’s anger was kindled on that day, and he swore, saying, "Surely none of the men who came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, because they have not wholly followed me.

None except Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua the son of Nun, for they have wholly followed the LORD (vv. 10-12).

See, two kinds of people, those who wholly followed the Lord and those who did not fully follow the Lord.

Now, fast forward a few years to when the Children of Israel are now in the land of Canaan. The next generation has gone into the land of Canaan. That’s what we’re going to be studying over these next few weeks as Joshua takes them in.

A few years into the land, Caleb comes back to Joshua, the leader of the people, and Caleb says in Joshua chapter 14—listen to these words, “My brothers who went up with me,” the other ten spies, “made the heart of the people melt; yet I wholly followed the LORD my God,” (v. 8). That was his testimony. “I fully followed the Lord,” and verse 9, he says, “Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden shall be an inheritance for you and your children forever, because,’” why? “'because you have wholly followed the LORD my God.’”

You see that recurring theme there? God said it of Caleb and Joshua. Moses said it of Caleb and Joshua. Caleb said it as his own testimony, “I have fully followed the Lord.”

We see these two groups of people in that day and in this day as well, I might add. There were those who did not wholly follow the Lord, which was the vast majority of those who had come out of slavery in Egypt—did not fully follow the Lord. God said of that group, “They have not obeyed My voice, and they despised Me.”

Now, if you asked those people, “Did you despise God?” do you think they would have thought of themselves as despising God? Isn’t it true today that people who half-heartedly follow the Lord or follow Him mostly but not in everything—most of those people would not say, “I despise God.” But God is saying of those who have not wholly followed the Lord, “They despised Me.”

Then we have those who did fully follow the Lord, and that was the clear minority, only two men out of that entire generation of whom it could be said, “They fully followed the Lord.”

That reminds me of the words of Jesus. Remember on the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 7 where Jesus says, "Enter by the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction." That's the broad way. There are many that go in by that way because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life and there are few who find it.

The way of religion is broad, but the way of those who walk by faith in Jesus, those who fully follow the Lord, that is a narrow way. Scripture says there are not many who find that way. 

So the evidence of Joshua and Caleb's faith, the evidence that it was genuine saving faith was what? It was that they wholly followed the Lord. That was the fruit of their genuine faith, and as I think back on this passage, that’s a sobering thing to me as I realize that our destiny is determined by whether we wholly follow the Lord.

Now, sometimes fear may cause us to shrink back from following the Lord into uncharted territory. We’ve not been there before. It’s scary. We don’t know what to expect, or we think there may be danger going into this particular place that the Lord has for us.

That’s what happened with the ten spies and with the Children of Israel. They said, “There are giants in the land.” They were terrified. They were scared, and to them, the giants seemed to be bigger than God.

Fear caused them to shrink back, but you know, as we look at Joshua and Caleb’s lives, we realize that ultimately, it is far more dangerous not to follow God, even as those Israelites discovered as a whole generation perished in the wilderness needlessly. Needlessly, a whole generation met untimely deaths. Of that entire generation, only the two who had fully followed the Lord—by faith—lived to experience the reward and the blessings of the Promised Land.

Fully following the Lord is one of the chief characteristics for which God and others remembered these two men. That was a mark on their lives, one of the outstanding legacies of Joshua’s life and Caleb’s life. I told you that I’ve been studying the life of Joshua over the last year or so because I’ve wanted to see, how did Joshua make it all the way to the finish line? How did he stay faithful in the battle?

One hundred ten years of age at the end of his life, and he’s still loving God fervently and serving God wholeheartedly. How did it happen? Well, one of the clues that I get from reading these accounts is that he fully followed the Lord, that Joshua and Caleb followed Him when no one else did.

They followed God and His Word and His ways when all visible appearances seemed to be against them, when all human odds seemed to be against them. I mean, they were just two in a whole generation, but they said, “I’m going to follow. Though no one join me, still I will follow. No turning back. No turning back.”

They followed God when all visible appearances seemed to be against them, when all human odds seemed to be against them. They were just two in a whole generation, but they said, "I will follow, though no one join me, still I will follow." They followed God fully even when the unbelief of others, the whole—all their peers, forced them to endure affliction and wilderness wanderings.

Joshua and Caleb had to wander in the wilderness, too, for all those years. They still decided to fully follow God, even when they had to endure affliction for doing so. When they experienced a forty-year delay before they could enjoy the blessing of the Promised Land, they kept following. There was no adversity that could make them turn their backs on God. They fully followed, and that was the testimony for the whole of their lives.

So what does it look like to wholly follow the Lord? Well, one, we see that it is to be in a decided minority. You will never be in the "in crowd" if you are wholly following the Lord. Could I say that that’s true even within the evangelical world, that most in the so-called evangelical world are not wholly following the Lord? If you are going to fully follow Christ—no turning back, no turning back—you will be in a minority.

I think of that verse—it’s a tragic passage in John chapter 6 where all the crowds had thronged around Jesus. They saw the miracles that He did. They saw how He provided meat. They experienced the euphoria of being part of an "in thing," part of the crowd. But then when Jesus began to lay down the claims of discipleship, what it really meant to be His follower, John 6 says that,

When many of his disciples heard these sayings, they said, "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” . . . After this, many of his disciples [so-called disciples], turned back and no longer walked with him (vv. 60, 66).

They were part of the crowd. They were called disciples. Everybody thought, “These are followers of Christ,” but when they found out what it really meant to be a follower of Christ, it says, “Many of them turned back and no longer walked with Him.”

They were not fully following Christ. To fully follow the Lord means to follow Him in everything, in every circumstance, in every choice. It is to stake our life on His Word, when to do so seems futile or foolish. It is to follow Him when our hope of survival seems improbably or impossible. There is no way, but still we say, "I will follow." 

To follow Christ wholeheartedly is to do so over the long haul, not just for the short term, not just when it’s fun, not just when we have friends who are going along with us, but over the long haul, over the entire course of a lifetime.

I will often sign my notes to other Christian workers, "May the Lord keep you faithful all the way to the finish line." And I sign that to them because that is what I want. I want to be faithful all the way to the finish line. That's what it means to wholly follow Christ all the way through the course of a lifetime.

Let me ask you to turn in your Bible to the Gospel of Luke, chapter 9, and I want to show you a New Testament contrast to Joshua and Caleb. Joshua and Caleb wholly followed the Lord. They followed Him fully. In Luke 9, we meet three people who professed to want to follow Christ, but they were not prepared to follow Him fully.

Look in Luke 9, beginning at verse 57. “As they were going along the road, someone said to [Jesus], ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’” Now, that person seemed wholehearted, don’t you think? They came up and said, "I will follow Jesus wherever He sends. I will sing that song, 'Where He leads me, I will follow. Follow, follow Jesus, I will follow.'" We hear someone like that and we say, "Sign here on the dotted line. You are in. You are a wholehearted follower of Christ." Because we can only hear what they say with their lips. But Jesus knew what was in this man’s heart, and Jesus challenged this man as to whether he really knew what he was saying and what that might involve. “You want to follow Me—fully, wherever I go?”

Look at verse 58, “Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’” What was Jesus saying? “You’re going to follow Me anywhere, wherever I go? Does that mean that you’re willing to follow Me if it means doing without some basic creature comforts?”

I can’t tell you how many times over the years during my twenties and my thirties—I traveled in ministry full time virtually year-round for most of those years. The glamour of that wore off after about the first three months. It was years of one hotel after another, one airport after another, one new setting after another, and there were times when I would honestly cry myself to sleep at night. I was just feeling disoriented, "Where am I? What am I doing?" I would have pieces of my luggage that I had left behind in other cities. At times I felt, "Why did I need to be doing this? Why is there this cost to following Christ?" I loved what I was doing, but the traveling part of it would get to me at times.

So often, God would bring back this verse to my heart. “Jesus said, ‘Foxes have holes. Birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’” God’s word to my heart would be, “Is a servant greater than his master? Are you willing to follow Me anywhere?”

I would say, “Yes, Lord. You are Lord. I’m willing to travel. I’m willing to go. I’m willing to spend and be spent,” but I had to face that challenge over and over again. Am I willing to follow Him if it means doing without, if it means constant change, if it means the unfamiliar becomes the norm? Jesus challenged this man as to whether he was really willing and ready to fully follow Him.

Then there were two other men who wanted to follow Jesus, but both the second and the third people had prior commitments, that is, other things they wanted to attend to first before following Jesus. Verse 59, Luke 9,

To another he said, "Follow me." But [the man] said, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." And Jesus said to him, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 

Yet another said, "I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home." Jesus said to him, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (vv. 59-62).

Think about that picture of the farmer with his plow. The farmer who puts his hand to the plow and then looks back cannot hope to plow straight lines. His plowing is going to be affected if he’s trying to plow going forward but he’s looking back at something else.

See, both these men had relationships that took precedence over the kingdom of God and the call of Christ. Both of them involved family matters that would have kept them from pursuing and proclaiming the kingdom of God. They wanted to follow, but they wanted to follow later. First, let me do something else with my life.

I think of young people who listen to Revive Our Hearts. They’re making some crucial life decisions right now about schooling, about vocation, about marriage. They’re saying, “Lord, I want to follow You—later—when I’m older, when I’m my parents’ age, after I get out of school, after I get my first job. I want to follow You later, but first, let me have my fun. First, let me have my way. First, let me have my friends. First, let me do my thing.”

Some of you who have children and you want to follow Christ, but you’re thinking, “After I get these children grown and gone from the home, then I can really follow Christ and be committed to His kingdom.” So many so-called believers spend their lives saying, “I will follow Christ fully—later, but first, let me do this. Let me do that.”

Well, to all of these individuals, Jesus stressed that the call to follow Him had to take priority over all other claims and priorities, and it required a willingness to sacrifice even basic physical necessities if necessary in order to pursue God’s eternal purposes and agenda. It meant a willingness to leave everything and everyone else behind.

Following Christ takes precedence over every other priority, every other commitment, obligation, and personal need. If you are going to be a follower of Christ, there can be no looking back, no turning back.

You see, that third man said, “I will follow You, but . . .” I will follow You, but. Now, the contrast to that is the Lord Jesus, who, earlier in this passage it is said that Jesus had set His face to go to Jerusalem where He knew He would be crucified.

There was no “but” to Jesus in following the call of God, and He expected the same of those who claimed to be His followers. He expected that they would follow Him as He followed His Father, with their whole heart, with no prior claims, no competitors, no “later,” no “but.”

Is there a “but” in your willingness to follow Christ? Yes, I’m a follower of Jesus. Yes, I’m a Christian. Yes, I’m a believer, but:

  • Don’t send me there.
  • Don’t make me do that. 
  • Don’t make me give that up. 
  • Don’t make me go back and deal with that issue in my past. 
  • Don’t make me forgive that person. 
  • Don’t make me clear my conscience about that issue.

I will follow Christ. I want to go to church. I want to be with the program. I want to be active in youth group or in ministry or in the choir or the praise group or the whatever is in your church.

I want to lead Bible studies. I want to influence others, but, there’s some reservation, some holding back in your willingness to follow Christ. Fully following Christ is at the heart of what it means to be a Christian.

You see that all through the Scripture. When Jesus went and recruited His disciples, what did He say to them? “Follow Me. Leave your nets. Leave your fishing. Leave your past. Leave your—whatever commands allegiance in your life. Lay it down. Let it go. Follow Me.”

Jesus said, “Whoever does not take [up] his cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Matt. 10:38). Jesus said to the Rich Young Ruler who said, "How can I have eternal life?" What did Jesus say? "Go, sell what you possess because it possesses you was the implication there, and give it to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven and come follow Me."

That’s what it means to have eternal life is to be a follower of Christ, to have heard His call and with all your heart to have responded to that call and said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow You.” Jesus said, “Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

He says in John 10, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they,” what? “they follow me” (v. 27). That’s an evidence that you are a child of God, that you hear His voice, and you say, “Yes, Lord, I will follow.”

In Caleb and Joshua’s day, there were a lot of people who claimed to know God, but only Joshua and Caleb had the kind of faith that was demonstrated in their willingness to fully follow the Lord. They were the only ones who ever entered into that Promised Land.

Today, there are millions in this country, many in your church and mine who claim to be Christians, but they are not following Christ. I would say what God’s Word would say of those who are not fully following Christ. They have no basis for having any assurance that their faith is genuine or saving.

The evidence of genuine, saving faith is that your heart is to say, “Lord, I will follow You,” not later but now, no buts, no prior commitments, nothing else to take precedence in my life. "Lord, I will follow You with all my heart for a lifetime in everything."

Let’s pray. As we pray, let me just ask you to let the Lord search your own heart, and is it your heart to fully follow Christ? Now, fully following Christ doesn’t mean that you’ll never stumble. It doesn’t mean that you will never have second thoughts or that you’ll never be tempted to take back something that you’ve given over to Him. But it means the inclination, the bent, the direction of your heart is to say, “Yes, Lord.”

Are you fully following Christ, and have you settled the issue that the whole goal and purpose of your life is to follow Him? If not, then now would be a good time to just from your heart to His say, “Lord, I’ve heard Your calling. I’m Your sheep, and I want to follow You.

“Give me grace, Lord, to fully, wholly follow You all the days of my life. Whatever that means, whatever it requires, whatever it takes, whatever that looks like, Lord, by Your grace, I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back.”

Lord, would You hear the cries of our heart, and would You give us grace by the power of Your Holy Spirit to fully follow You all the days of our lives? I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been offering an exciting invitation. Well, actually, Jesus offers it, and Nancy’s just been passing it along. She’s a follower inviting you along for the journey in the role Joshua filled, exhorting the Children of Israel to follow God’s lead, just like he was doing, and it can be your role, too.

That message is from "Lessons from the Life of Joshua (Part 4): Following God's Lead to Lead." If you've missed any of the series, visit ReviveOurHearts.com. You can listen online or read the transcript. You'll find today's program, plus year's worth of archived programs. Again, the site is ReviveOurHearts.com.

One final question: Do you ever feel like your area of ministry is too small to make a difference? Well, if you are not faithful with the little place of ministry and influence that God gives you, what makes you think you'll be faithful when God gives you a bigger sphere and scope of responsibility and ministry? We'll talk about that tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

 

 

 

 

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